Races of Eberron




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First Post
Bringing mechanics and role playing details to every D&D campaign.

Races of Eberron brings warforged, shifters, changelings, and kalashtar to the D&D game. Clocking in at 192 full color pages for $29.95, Races is priced very competitively Writers include Jesse Decker, Matthew Sernett, Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrel and Keith Baker. Wayne Reynolds handles the cover art, but the real shame is that the full picture is found on the inside and is a much better showcase of his talents.

Interior artists don’t cover the action packed comic style feel that the Eberon campaign book does, but does include a wide range of artists like Steve Prescott Charlie Wen, Joe Madureira and others. Overall I enjoy the art but miss favorites like Wayne England and Ron Spencer. Layout on the cover is similar to the other races books instead of the Eberron campaign book, and interior sections are done similar to the other races books.

What this means, is that each race starts with racial traits, a section about a typical day, psychology, life, society and culture, how the race relates to other races, how to create these characters, and typical communities. As a D&D sourcebook, it staggers quite a bit. It’s not that it doesn’t include full game mechanics on how to play the races. It does. That information is also available in the Monster Manual III. It’s that for a D&D book, instead of using the generic setting of Greyhawk, it uses Eberron. Each race includes a section on using them in D&D. It’s a short section, probably less than a quarter of a single page. That means that all other information is based on the Eberron setting.

While it’s not hard to imagine using the material in other campaigns, it does require a bit of work. For example, the warforged are living golems that were crafted to help win the Last War. Now they seek to discover how they fit in the land now that the war is over. The details and background are not something that can be easily lifted whole cloth and dropped into a regular D&D campaign. I can understand that they’re trying to increase the appeal of the creatures, but to do so, the authors should’ve made the Races of Eberron use a default campaign model that was Greyhawk, as every other Races book does, and included new generic deities as opposed to the specific references to the various Eberron pantheons.

In terms of what the book provides, it brings a reader perspective into how each of the races act. For example, the warforged, due to not sleeping, make perfect camp guards, but if they’re going to be used in this situation often, the book recommends taking an Alertness feat to increase spot and listen rolls. Good advice but at this point, the player is starting to fall into the roll of cleric in that they’re there for support instead of to do their own thing.

Ideas also present themselves when reading. For example, the kalashtar are a unique breed of human and the rogue spirits of Dal Quor, the Region of Dreams. In reading a Day In the Life, where they hunt down a preacher, I can’t help but wonder if you used them in a standard campaign, how much fun it would be to make them insane. “You don’t understand, he was possed by a quori spirit and was leading the masses against the rich!” They’d make perfect pawns if their origins were merely the warped result of having psionic or mental powers as opposed to having that be their true origin. A race of paranoid psionic masters has potential.

While not one of my favorite races, the shifter, a human whose ancestors had lycanthropic blood, has some great campaign potential. For example, the Changegate is a portal that leads to a dangerous and dark area. Perfect for those who have Lords of Madness and want to add some aberrant material to their game. The shifters now guard the Changegate and are druids. Druids are a natural fit for the shifers who already have animal features. A whole campaign can be built around protecting the gate or perhaps even leading an expedition to the other side.

Another different race, the changelings, are shape changers whose heritage includes some doppelganger blood. The theme of humanity changing and evolving from different bloods is a common one from the old Planescape days and it’s interesting to see the directions that the book pushes humanity. One thing that may be a little odd is that none of these races are templates, but since they breed true these days, I can see both methods, true race versus template, as being appropriate.

Changelings have minor abilities compared to their ancestors, but they also are natural linguist, have bonuses against sleep and charm effects and can use many charisma based skills, like Bluff, Intimidate, and Sense Motive, with a bonus. Combined with a rogue favored class, the changeling will have enough skill points to be useful in almost any situation.

The Eberron material is pushed even further onto the reader when looking at chapter five, other races. What need for role playing notes on elves, dwarves, gnomes and half-orcs when we have books devoted specifically to them in the other races series? Well, it’s for how those races function in Eberron. And this would be great, if the book was aimed as an Eberron book.

However, how can one use the information on goblinoids, especially when they were a race whose had empires? In the Kingdoms of Kalamar, that might fit, but most settings have goblinoids as a bother save in numbers, when they’re a menace. What’s worse is that the game information or mechanics, isn’t included. Want to make a goblin or hobgoblin? Better have your Monster Manual.

Last, one spot that could’ve made the book more useful to an Eberron player, is that they could’ve included how the new races from the various other Races of books fit into the Eberron campaign. This opportunity was not taken however. It would’ve been interesting to see how the Illuminus or Whisper Gnomes fit into this setting.

In terms of game mechanics, the book includes feats, PrCs, and racial substitution levels. The racial feats are designed to augment a feature of the race and make the character more representative of a certain aspect of the race. The good/bad news is that some feats from the core Eberron book are repeated here like Adamantine and Mitrhal Body. This is perfect if you’re not going to buy the Eberron book and makes this more of a self-reference manual.

The bad news though is that some things like action points are referenced to, but never explained and what’s worse, is that if you’re familiar with action points from Unearthed Arcana, you’re going to note that there is a vast difference in power between Eberron action points and the UA version. For example, Heroic Metamagic allows you to spend action points to cancel out the spell level boost. The number of action points required is equal to the amount the spell level is boosted. For example, is a metamagic feat required the spell to be cast as three levels higher, that would be three action points. In standard UA, you can burn one action point without having this feat to cancel out the level boost.

Strangely enough, despite having racial feats, they don’t break out all racial feats into their own branches and many fall under general feats. For example, Quick Change, allows a changeling to use Minor change shape as a move action. It’s only of use to changelings, as are personal immersion and racial emulation.

The feats are a good mix overall. When I look at new feats in a book, I determine if they’re ‘good’ by how many I’d want to take for my own characters or NPCs or if they can act as guidelines for making other, similar feats. Take Silvery Tracery. This gives a warforged the silver descriptor for his natural attacks and a +1 bonus on Fortitude saves against spell effects. I can easily see a warforged crafted in Rogukan with a Jade Enhancement where placement of jade in specific places gives the warforged the jade descriptor to overcome damage reduction of the various creatures of Rogukan.

How about the many new Tactical Feats? I like these because generally, they’re not a one trick pony and allow their possessor to do many things for the cost of one feat. Warforged who master two-handed weapons for example should take Brute Fighting. They can use either Combat Momentum where they gain a bonus to attack rolls, Dispatch the Fallen, where they gain a bonus to damage rolls on opponents they’ve either knocked down or knocked back, or Frenzied Attack, where they gain a bonus on attack rolls while using power attack. It’s good stuff.

For racial substitution levels, you take a level in a class as a racial level and gain different abilities. These can only be taken at specific levels and come with their own hit die, class skills and class features. The changeling has egoist (psion), rogue (favored class), and wizard. The kalashtar has monk, soulknife and telepath (psion.)

There is some nice synergy when taking specific feats and racial substitution levels as the feat Souldblade Warrior allows you to manifest your blade as a swift action and increases your effective level by two for determing the augmentations you can put on your mind blade.

Shifters have druid, ranger and wilder, while warforged have artificer, fighter and paladin. These substitution levels have more than just generic game enhancements though. Take the artificer for example. At 5th level, they can craft a weapon familiar which gains abilities as the creator goes up in level, much like a standard familiar, and provide bonuses based on the type of weapon. Similar in some respects to the item familiar from UA, this book changes them and makes them part of Eberron.

For those looking for something beyond feats and a few racial substitution levels, new prestige classes are included. These are more detailed than those found in older books and include background, information on becoming the PrC, class features, how to play the PrC, how that PrC works in the world, lore, including knowledge checks with different DC levels giving you different information, how the PrC works in the game, how to adapt it, and a sample character.

Included are the following:

Atavist: A 10 level PrC similar to the soul knife but dedicated to dealing with the enemy quori and able to banish them.

Cabinet Trickster: A changeling 5 level PrC that masters it’s doppelganger ancestry.

Moonspeaker, a 12 level PrC for shifters that augments they’re shape changing abilities and master’s summoning spells even as it increases it’s divine spellcasting abilities at every level.

Quori Nightmare: A 5 level PrC for kalashtar or inspired that continues to master it’s psionic powers even as it uses the realm of nightmare to fight it’s opponents with abilities like Terror (think the phantasmal killer spell).

Reachrunner, a 5 level PrC for shifters that masters the wild world with increased movement and ease of movement through the wilderness.

Recaster, a 5 level PrC for arcane spellcasting changelings that master’s changing a spell’s effects including the components, area or duration of a spell. Perfect for those who see magic as a malleable material.

Reforged, a 5 level warforged PrC that seeks to experience life to it’s fullest, including a bonus to social interaction skills, natural healing, and the ability to use magical healing.

Spellcarved Soldier, a 5 level warforged PrC, takes the traditional role of warrior and makes the character into a living magic item with spellcarved runes that protect and augment the character in combat.

Now that you’ve got all these racial options and customizations in place, you still need to arm and armor your character. New weapons are brief, mainly coming from organic creatures like scorpions in the form of chitin and breastplates while new exotic weapons include the drow long knife, another knife that does 1d6 points of damage, and the drow scorpion chain. New wondrous items include Shifter Clawbracers, granting shifters a bonus on attack and damage rolls with their claw attacks and Mind Blade Gauntlets, where a kalashtar or inspired soulknife gains an enhancement to their mind blade.

The warforged, due to their machine nature, can be outfitted with compoents. Some of these include claws on the hands and feet to climb, to Dragonshard Cores, one of three components that augment a warfoged in powerful ways like spell resistance 25 for the Eberron core or sensing any dragonmarked creatures within 100 feet with the Siberys core.

One thing I like about Eberron is that it incorporates psionics. It’s not an in your face deal where you have to have the Expanded Psionics Handbook, but having it certainly helps. In that vein, there are new spells and psionics, including new artificer infusions. Spells are broken down by class and level and for arcane spellcasters by school. There are only two new domains, transformation and truth. Spells range in level from 1st to 9th but there isn’t a massive selection. Some of the spells are also racial in nature. For example, Shifter Prowess, a 1st level ranger spell, gives Shifter racial bonuses to skills a +8 bonus. For psionics, we only have two, primal fear and suggestion, impoanted. Primal fear is a 1st level psyhic warrior and psion power that makes a victim shaken while suggestion works as the suggestion spell that comes with a set of circumstances that trigger the suggestion.

If this had just been labeled an Eberron book instead of a book for D&D and come with the Eberron trappings, this review would be shorter. In terms of bringing the races to D&D, it succeeds and fails. The background material being specific to the Eberron world is a bit of a pain. The generic game information works, and the numerous new mechanics certainly are appealing for anyone considering playing one of the new races.

If you’ve been curious to see what the fuss about the warforged is, this is the perfect place to see if it’s for you before investing in the Eberron campaign setting.


First Post
"...the authors should’ve made the Races of Eberron use a default campaign model that was Greyhawk, as every other Races book does, and included new generic deities as opposed to the specific references to the various Eberron pantheons."



First Post
All the other books that are not specifically part odf a setting are greyhawk by default. From what I understand they choose not to make this an Eborran book so it should have been Greyhawk.


First Post
Good review, but:

Clocking in at 192 full color pages for $29.95, Races is priced very competitively

Try this at home. Grab a copy of Races of Eberron and another supplement from the previous year or two (The Expanded Psionics Handbook, Unearthed Arcana, Complete Arcane, et al). Lay them both open at the same time. Spot the difference.

If you don't have the appropriate visual aids, the upshot is that Races of Eberron is laid out at font size that would allow the book to easily double as an eye test chart. Doing a quick average count, one full page of Races of Eberron has 860 words as compared to Complete Arcane's 1100 words. This means that for the same price and with the same 192 page count, Races of Eberron delivers 80% of the actual content of a standard WotC supplement. Or, to put it another way, Wizards has published a 150-page supplement but figured out a way to charge you for a 192-page supplement. And don't even bother comparing those numbers to the copy/page ratio of one of the core books.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of Wizards of the Coast as... well, you know.

Jan van Leyden

Hmmh, so a book called "Races of Eberron" would not be campaign-sepcific?

If RoE would conform to the generic stuff, it would be a big mistake in my opinion. Eberron clearly deviates from the traditional stuff, which makes it a new and refreshing take on D&D.

But then, on man's vice is another man's virtue...


Jan van Leyden


Books that aren't tied to a specific setting aren't necessarily tied to Greyhawk. The previous Races of.... books didn't use the Greyhawk pantheons, for example.


Re: the non-genericness of the book, I think we should keep in mind that it wasn't until very late in the game that RoE was switched form Eberron trade dress to core D&D. Content-wise, this is an Eberron sourcebook. Ergo, I can't really fault it for containing a lot of Eberron-specific material. Probably could have rated five stars had it stayed an Eberron book.

As for the font size... sheesh. Worse layout/quality crimes have been committed. The content is top-notch, regardless.


First Post
I think Buzz has it.

This is an Eberron sourcebook. The color of the cover, chosen by some marketing wank, has little to do with the content and design.

Suggesting that it's not an Eberron sourcebook is completely in error, IMO (and does no favors to those reading the review).

font size

So, I was thinking to myself, "This is a great book, very readable, a pleasure to just kick back and absorb." And then I read the other comment, about the font size.....and that explains why, at least in part, I am probably enjoying it more. My tired old eyes don't have to strain as much. Hah!

Money well spent, I say, to get a book I can read. And which is not full of Greyhawk garbage that I have to keep explaining to my players does not belong in Eberron or my home campaign. :confused:


First Post
I completely agree with the reviewer. I was really upset that my Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting book didnt contain more Greyhawk campain. What good is information on Zhentil Keep when I need more about the Scarlet Brotherhood?! WOTC isnt the only publisher to try and sneak this by either. My last Ravenloft Gazateer from White Wolf didnt mention Mordenkain once. Its a sad day when a gamer cant pick up a random book without reading the title and not get Greyhawk specific stuff.

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