how to avoid player information overload in Eberron


I'd like to adopt the Eberron setting for my upcoming campaign, but after learning the design philosophy behind the Points of Light default, I'm worried about overwhelming my players with background information. For example, the Five Nations sourcebook describes the average citizen's opinions of 5-10 other nations, old and new. The dozen dragonmarked houses are brands familiar to every inhabitant of Khorvaire. The continent just emerged from a century of warfare, leaving several veterans quite well-traveled even before they start their careers as adventurers. How do I introduce my players to the wealth of common knowledge that their PCs almost certainly have? If I only go into these details as they come up, will we miss out on some of the richness Eberron has to offer, especially when it comes to character creation?

I'd appreciate any advice, insights, or potential links to previous threads that I should have unearthed first. Thanks!


The easiest way if for you as the DM to be the filter. When the player is doing something that background would help on, give it as part of the brief. I am not familiar with Eberron, but in almost any game the DM will have far more detailed background than the players have, much of which is likely to be common knowlege. Rather than have the players read tons of background, most of which they will never need, feed it to them.

You head to the market, carefully skirting the east side of the market which is controlled by the Malthusy clan who hate elves and wizards, making it a very dangerous part of town for you. You walk past the largest magical supplies shop which looks dirty and bit run down as its owner was allegedly involved in the riots after the Croops won the Spartball league last year and pull into Grimbo Glurbs shop to look for your supplies.
I'm actually in a similar situation, although I avoided it by starting out in a self-contained city none of the pc's were familiar with. Despite that, I've introuced the major players in the campaign. They know of the quori as a threat, and have met one of the daelkyr. Next session, I'm tangetially introducing a vampire that's broken free of Vol's control and is roaming through shipping lines (in the Behemoth, no less) feeding, creating spawn, and hoarding cargo.

As we move away from that into Khorvaire, I'm going to start deliberately focussing on one or two setting elements each session. The party is going to be shipwrecked in Zilargo, so I will be sure to focus on House Sivis and the Trust. Certainly the other houses have a presence there, but unless they are sought out I won't need to mention them right away. Depending on how long they are in Korranberg - judging by past actions it won't be long before they have to flee the Trust - I'll get into the relationship between the Zil and Breland, possibly some of the other Five Nations, as well as more of the Dragonmarked Houses. After Zilargo, it's hard to say where things will end up, but I'll maintain the steady introduction of information.

Also, I allow my players to read all the books, so they do get a goodly amount of information from that (for the ones that bother).


Spawn of Khyber/LEB Judge
Preparing a short (1-2 page) summary of what is common knowledge helps a lot; this should also include where your players start and what not. I'd make it easier and give sections of the Campaign Setting and Player's Guide that are open knowledge and let them read it at their leisure. Otherwise, Tancread are good: Just introduce bits of flavor organically as needed. Folks won't need to know the obscure history of the War of the Mark, but a simple "There are twelve hereditary groups that occasionally exhibit magical abilities that have formed together to create an economic empire based upon their talents" would summarize the dragonmark houses pretty succinctly as an example.

Details on demand.