Exploring the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron

When WotC announced the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron as a PDF release it caused a great disturbance as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy and frustration. The joy is because the most requested setting in the player surveys was finally being released for 5th Edition. The frustration is because it's not a physical book, it's not legal for D&D Adventurer's League and it said that Wayfinder's “will serve to collect feedback on adjusted races, dragon marks, new backgrounds and more,” making it seem like a beta release. By contrast, Curse of Strahd Ravenloft was presented as an adventure and source material.

While the disappointment is understandable, Wayfinder's is a meatier release than I expected. At 176 pages, it does an excellent job of presenting Eberron's setting, tone and the type of adventures.

However, Wayfinder's isn't a comprehensive guide to Eberron. It has a lot – far more than I expected from the announcement – but no classes and the world background focuses primarily on Khorvaire, with only brief information on the rest of the world.

Despite what's missing, a GM could could home brew an Eberron campaign for 5th Edition using Wayfinder's. Several times through the book Wayfinder's gives tips or idea starters for how to blend Eberron with the Forgotten Realms setting or a home brew campaign. In fact, it has a section in Chapter One called “If It Exists in D&D, There's a Place for It in Eberron.”

Chapter Three includes the Eberron-specific races Changelings, Kalashtar, Shifters and Warforged along with Eberron customizations for the classic races and as less commonly used ones like gnolls, minotaurs, etc. Eberron's tendency toward shades of gray is much appreciated for those who want something other than “orcs are evil” stereotypes.

Chapter Four focuses on Dragonmarks, a key characteristic of Eberron along with Warforged and Artificers. These inherited sigils of power designate a person's house and special abilities. Dragonmarks allow you to roll an Intuition die for a specific ability check associated with the mark. The abilities provide a boost without overpowering a character. Meanwhile the house connections provide a lot of prospective character and plot hooks.

As with Curse of Strahd, Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron was created in cooperation with its original creator. According to Keith Baker, Wayfinder's represents the setting refinements he has made over the years in his private games, adapted to 5th Edition. As with other 5th Edition books, it presents a lot of options for roleplay and characterization.

One's of Eberron's strengths has always been how it imagined magic would affect every day life and create technology. That remains and fits with the description of Eberron magic being wide but not deep. Minor magic is common. Powerful spells are rare or don't exist in Eberron, depending upon the situation.

To help a GM create an Eberron adventure “A Quick Sharn Story” provides a series of random tables. Additionally the “Starting Points” are interesting locations and adventure ideas for each section of the city.

The artwork is lovely and really helps to set the tone for Eberron's pulpy, magicpunk adventures, though two pieces were jarringly cartoonish. Not only do they not fit in with the rest of Wayfinder's, but they also don't fit the consistent art tone established in 5th Edition books.

While Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron is less than I had hoped, if it's testing whether people will buy the older D&D settings, it's definitely worth it. Whether you're an Eberron fan already or a newcomer looking for break from Forgotten Realms, Wayfinder's provides a lot of material while still leaving space for a formal book release. I hope we get one soon.

This article was contributed by Beth Rimmels (brimmels) as part of ENWorld's User-Generated Content (UGC) program. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

Sorry, you’d be wrong.

Dragonlance was first published in 1984 with Dragons of Flame. The first Realms product was Darkwalker on Moonshse published in 1987.

Mystara is older, being namedroppped in the Basic set and related adventures. Like Greyhawk and 1e adventures.

Err, wut? I was there, you know! Darkwalker on Moonshae was the first FR novel, but it was already a well established setting when it was published. there was a "Waterdeep" supplement advertised in the back of the 1st edition DMG (published 1979), and I owned "The World of Greyhawk" supplement in 1980.
 

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Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Err, wut? I was there, you know!
That will never stop those young whippersnappers from saying what they thought they heard about one time must be the absolute Truth, and writing your recollection off as just another old curmudgeon from Days of Yore.

- Another Grognard
 

Reynard

Legend
That will never stop those young whippersnappers from saying what they thought they heard about one time must be the absolute Truth, and writing your recollection off as just another old curmudgeon from Days of Yore.

- Another Grognard
Too bad there wasn't some way to know for sure, some massive and accessible repository for all the worlds knowledge, indexed and searchable even.

Alas, I guess we'll never know.
 

Err, wut? I was there, you know! Darkwalker on Moonshae was the first FR novel, but it was already a well established setting when it was published. there was a "Waterdeep" supplement advertised in the back of the 1st edition DMG (published 1979),
Show me.
Let's have a screen shot of that.

It'd be an impressive feat since TSR didn't acquire the Forgotten Realms until 1987.
Prior to that it was referenced in Greenwood's various Dragon articles, but it was hardly "well known" outside of his homegame.

and I owned "The World of Greyhawk" supplement in 1980.
I did not mention Greyhawk for that reason. Just like I didn't mention Mystara.
I mentioned Dragonlance and the Realms.
 


FR1 Waterdeep and the North was published in 1987.

That said, there was a very long history of FR publication in Dragon prior to that and I think it is a little inaccurate to suggest it wasn't well known outside of Ed's home game.

It was familiar to the small percentage of players who read Dragon Magazine regularly enough to catch the references while also being familiar enough other worlds well enough to realise Ed wasn't describing Greyhawk or Mystara.
So was it known by some... sure. (The author of Grognardia certainly knew of it prior to the boxed set's publication.) Was it "well known"... arguably not. Only a fraction of players subscribed to Dragon, let alone read every article.

Back when I read Dragon, I don't think I ever payed attention to the byline.


For reference, the first D&D mention of the Realms was in a article on a monster known as the curst, published for the October 1979 issue of Dragon. Meanwhile, the first printing of the 1e Dungeon Master's Guide was available August 1979, several months prior (it premiered at GenCon XII).

So if there was an ad in the DMG for a "Waterdeep" it wasn't Greenwood's. (There are no ads in my DMG for that matter.)
 

Reynard

Legend
It was familiar to the small percentage of players who read Dragon Magazine regularly enough to catch the references while also being familiar enough other worlds well enough to realise Ed wasn't describing Greyhawk or Mystara.
So was it known by some... sure. (The author of Grognardia certainly knew of it prior to the boxed set's publication.) Was it "well known"... arguably not. Only a fraction of players subscribed to Dragon, let alone read every article.

Back when I read Dragon, I don't think I ever payed attention to the byline.


For reference, the first D&D mention of the Realms was in a article on a monster known as the curst, published for the October 1979 issue of Dragon. Meanwhile, the first printing of the 1e Dungeon Master's Guide was available August 1979, several months prior (it premiered at GenCon XII).

So if there was an ad in the DMG for a "Waterdeep" it wasn't Greenwood's. (There are no ads in my DMG for that matter.)

I was a Metzner Red Box kid, so I couldn't say from experience. Being that TSR did purchase the Realms, though, it doesn't seem unlikely that it was well known and liked among players.
 

I was a Metzner Red Box kid, so I couldn't say from experience. Being that TSR did purchase the Realms, though, it doesn't seem unlikely that it was well known and liked among players.
I think it was more they wanted an expansive setting that was broader in scope than Dragonlance, but wasn't Greyhawk, and they needed it right away. So getting one that was already made saved them a tonne of work.
 

In the late 70s/early 80s most players would be classed as "hardcore" by today's standards, so most where familiar with the content of Dragon magazine. I certainly was, and would share it with my friends.

Intially, it was just Waterdeep, and the rest of the FR grew out of that. Although in those days, at least in the UK, City State of the Invincible Overlord was the best known campaign setting.
 
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Staffan

Legend
The Eberron Campaign Setting hardback released in 2004, almost 15 years ago! Eberron IS an older setting! Of course, Blackmoor, Greyhawk, and Mystara are positively prehistoric!
I think it's easy for a lot of us old (well, more middle-aged in my case) farts to subconsciously ignore the passage of time. For example, in two years D&D will have been owned by Wizards of the Coast for as long as it was owned by TSR, but for many people that still feels like a new development.
 





Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
The only problem I have with WAR's art (and I do mean the ONLY problem) is that man either can't or won't draw feet. Almost all of his humanoids have a raging case of elephant feet: their ankles widen to be come pad-like structures that serve the purpose of feet but don't resemble them in form.
 


While I really like Reynolds' artwork, I also really love the cover for wayfinders guide. A warforged hanging from an airship about to drop down on the lightning rail? That's awesome.

The composition seems very empty and almost peaceful, like everything is barely moving and sort of paused. There's lots of plain, brown negative space that's not doing a whole lot for the piece. Its like the concept of the scene is great in theory, but it's not a final draft.

Compare that with the old WAR pieces, which always showed entire adventuring parties engaging in over-the-top, detailed, and dynamic action scenes. The new cover feels like a level 1 solo adventure while the old pics are like a crazy level 15 pulp action scenes. I miss the old stuff.

New Eberron:
latest


Old Eberron:
eberron-header.jpg

combat_eberron.jpg


feats-feats-of-eberron.jpg

eberron.jpg
 
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Bitbrain

ORC (Open RPG) horde ally
The composition seems very empty and almost peaceful, like everything is barely moving and sort of paused. There's lots of plain, brown negative space that's not doing a whole lot for the piece. Its like the concept of the scene is great in theory, but it's not a final draft.

Compare that with the old WAR pieces, which always showed entire adventuring parties engaging in over-the-top, detailed, and dynamic action scenes. The new cover feels like a level 1 solo adventure while the old pics are like a crazy level 15 pulp action scenes. I miss the old stuff.

New Eberron:
latest


Old Eberron:
eberron-header.jpg

combat_eberron.jpg


feats-feats-of-eberron.jpg

eberron.jpg

I prefer the 4e artwork myself.

sorry, but I think the Wayne Reynolds' art is simply too busy. Too much is happening within it, and I can't see enough of the background to get a "feel" for both the environment, and whatever the emotional context is supposed to be (aside from the 2nd and 4th pieces by Wayne Reynolds, because I can actually see enough of the background in those two to understand that it is going on)
 

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