4 out of 5 rating for Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron
An imperfect and unfinished product, the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron is a lovely start. There’s a lot of potential and it might mean more similar guides for other settings.
The big deciding factor will be if Wizards or the Coast can actually manage to follow through with their plans and add the artificer then revise this product. The company has a long history of starting things like this and then not finishing; editing a “released” book and getting it ready for Print on Demand will always be at the bottom of to-do lists. After all, it’s been eighteen months since we last saw an update for the artificer.
The book isn’t finished and the content could use a polish in a couple places, but the balance is “close enough”. The few places things are funky are easily tweaked, but even if left alone they’re unlikely to break the game.
If you like Eberron and are running a game in that world (or plan to in the immediate future) then this product is a must-buy. If you’re not, or don’t plan on heading to Eberron in the next year or so, it might be better to wait and see if this book is actually revised or if it’s available in print.
4 out of 5 rating for Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron
While I'm a fan of Spelljammer, Dark Sun, and Ravenloft (in that order), my favourite published setting is Eberron. And while I'm a fan of 3e, the truth is that it has now been eclipsed by 5e, both in terms of my desire to run it, and also in the likelihood of finding players. Thus far, though, my efforts at running Eberron in 5e have fallen flat - I felt that the previous Unearthed Arcana materials just didn't quite hit the spot, which meant that the whole thing felt like a game being run through a glitchy emulator. It was close, but just not quite right.
So when WotC announced that Eberron was being opened to the DM's Guild, I was delighted. And when they further announced a guide to the setting in the new edition, written by the progenitor of the setting no less, I was even more pleased. You may wish to temper my comments below based on that enthusiasm!
The "Wayfinders Guide to Eberron" is (currently) a 176-page PDF, priced at $15 from DM's Guild. For the moment, print-on-demand is not available. The reason I say 'currently' is that the plan is to use this document as a playtest of some of the material, with updates being made as they go. Once the material is finalised, PoD will be enabled. (It's worth noting that there have been at least some minor updates to the document already - I happened to download it twice and found the bookmarks were better placed in the second iteration.) It's fair to say that some people may balk at paying for playtest material. Which is reasonable, except that the free updates mean that you're also getting the real material once it is released, so you lose very little by jumping in now.
It's also worth noting that all of the artwork in this PDF is recycled from previous Eberron books. I found that somewhat disappointing, if understandable.
The file has six chapters and three appendices. Three of the chapters are mostly overviews of the setting - chapter one recaps the concepts behind Eberron, chapter two details Khorvaire (the main continent), and chapter six likewise covers Sharn (the biggest city in the world). There is very little rules material here, and not a great deal that is new (though there are some nice tables that serve as ideas-generators).
I had distinctly mixed feelings about those three chapters. On the one hand, they were probably necessary, as this document necessarily has to cater to people new to the setting. On the other hand, I felt they tried to cover too much ground in too little space - for a better one-book summary of the setting I would recommend the 4e setting guide, while for the full-fat version I would point to the 3e sourcebooks. That said, it didn't hurt to be reminded of key elements of the setting...
The other three chapters had rather more rules material. Chapter three details the races of Eberron (including Kalashtar, who were omitted from that UA article I mentioned previously). Chapter four does the same with Dragonmarks, and Chapter five details some of the magic items of the setting.
These three chapters are largely excellent, and provided almost everything I felt I needed by way of "Eberron support". The major thing that is still missing is the Artificer (which I understand will be added to this document later) and the monsters of the setting.
For the most part, the mechanics here are pretty sound. Of particular note is the redesign of Dragonmarks, which are now presented as variant subraces for the relevant races, which is a very neat mechanic, and a definite improvement over the previous iteration. My only slight issue here is this means a character has to have a Dragonmark at first level or not at all - there's no scope for a 'found' Dragonmark in this model. Greater Dragonmarks remain defined using Feats, which is fine.
The other mechanic of note is the Warforged's Integrated Protection. This is mostly fine, but as written is a bit too powerful, and also makes the mistake of adding the Proficiency Bonus to the character's AC. This reflects the fact that most comparable characters may well find and use magic armour (which Warforged can't use). However, I would be inclined to treat any AC improvement as a Warforged Component, and thus make it exactly as common as magic armour for other PCs. It will be interesting to see how that is modified over time.
(Incidentally, I also really like the mechanic whereby Aberrant Dragonmarks power their abilities using Hit Dice. I wonder if we'll start seeing more use of mechanics of this sort elsewhere?)
The Appendices are purely functional: a list of the various Eberron sourcebooks and novels, a glossary of terms, and a set of Dragonmarked House crests. These are fine.
So, a recommendation...
For an existing fan of Eberron looking for more 5e support, I would recommend this product whole-heartedly - it provides most of what you need. For someone new to Eberron, I wouldn't recommend this as a starting point. Instead, I'd recommend combining this with the 4e Campaign Setting Guide (also available from DM's Guild) - I thought that was the better one-book guide to the setting, while this fills the gaps in terms of mechanics.
For the moment I've rated this a solid four stars. Much depends on how this product evolves. The biggest gap in Eberron support now is the lack of an Artificer. That's coming, but it's not yet clear what form that will take - the previous Artificer was a Wizard subclass, which I felt was a very poor approach (it really should be a class, and in particular needs its own spell list). So, we'll need to see how they implement their new version. Assuming that that is indeed done well, and assuming the issue with the Warforged is fixed, this would be a clear five-star product.