Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Let's Read Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron: Welcome to Khorvaire

The first chapter of Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron was succinct enough in its explanation of what the setting is all about that a few of your players might even read it; the second chapter takes a much deeper dive into the setting's major locations, religions, magic, and planes of existence. This is probably detailed enough that only the DM will read it.

The continent of Khorvaire is the main focus in Eberron. In the past, Khorvaire was home to a single nation called Galifar, but the death of Galifar's king set his children at each other's throats in the optimistically titled Last War to see who would control the nation. But no one won the Last War, and Galifar was split into a number of smaller nations:

  • Aundair: very focused on magic, has a floating Hogwarts-like school called Arcanix.
  • Breland: home of Sharn, Khorvaire's largest city, and lots of criminal organizations.
  • Cyre: now called the Mournlands because it was destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm during the Last War; it might now inhabited by radicalized warforged.
  • Darguun: a land of goblins, refugees, and smugglers.
  • The Demon Wastes: a land of rakshasas and fiends.
  • Droaam: a nation of monsters ruled by three hags known as the Daughters of Sora Kell.
  • The Eldeen Reaches: druids, fey, shifters, farmland.
  • Karrnath: a grim nation of militarists that has fallen under the sway of a necromantic religion called the Blood of Vol.
  • The Lhazaar Principalities: pirate islands for all your Jack Sparrow needs.
  • The Mror Holds: a loose confederation of dwarf clans with a lot of gold and silver; they are threatened by mountain-dwelling orcs.
  • Q'barra: land of ancient ruins, lizardfolk, and dragonborn.
  • The Shadow Marshes: a merged culture of humans and orc druids keeping watch over horrible aberrations. 
  • The Talenta Plains: dinosaur-riding halfing barbarians, for all your Land of the Lost needs.
  • Thrane: a creepy theocracy that worships the Silver Flame.
  • Valenar: a land annexed by elven mercenaries during the Last War.
  • Zilargo: gnome inventors with a secret police force.

As you can see, there is a lot going on in Khorvaire, and that's just one of the continents in Eberron. Although having a lot of options is nice, I've always felt like Eberron gives you too much to focus on--the core themes of the first chapter feel a little diluted when the setting tries to be all things to all people. That said, each of the regions mentioned above gets a nicely laid out page of information that prioritizes the stuff you'd want to know for adventures over deep lore, so at least the format is working in the harried DM's favor.

Next up is a section on the ever-present magic of Eberron. Eberron's magic is characterized as "wide" instead of "high"; magic is everywhere, but it isn't particularly powerful. Minor wizards called magewrights keep the streets lit with light spells, but they don't pack any really impressed arcane ability. Wandslingers, used as magic-using soldiers during the Last War, know a couple cantrips and a first level spell. There's also some discussion of how magic influences fashion, entertainment, communications, transportation (lightning rail and airships, of course!), and warfare.

As is tradition, after magic is covered we get a section on the faiths found in Khorvaire, which include:

  • The Silver Flame: a religion obsessed with crusading against evil.
  • The Sovereign Host: the main religion of Khorvaire; the gods of the Sovereign Host hit most of the D&Disms and to be honest they're a little boring and difficult to remember.
  • The Dark Six: The evil gods, of course. There's six of them, you see.
  • The Blood of Vol: necromancers who want you to seize the day.
  • The Path of Light: New Age stuff.
  • The Undying Court: many of the elves of Eberron worship their undead ancestors.
  • The Cults of the Dragon Below: dragon cults tied into the Draconic Prophecy, which seems like a big deal in the setting but also feels somewhat distant from the big themes of Eberron.

Overall, the religions of Eberron are more functional than interesting to me, though they do get more intriguing at the periphery (The Undying Court, the Silver Flame) than they are at the center (the Sovereign Host, the Dark Six).

As if that wasn't enough, we also get some short descriptions of the lands beyond Khorvaire:

  • Aerenal: the ancient land of the elves, where special trees are harvested for airships, etc.
  • Argonessen: a land of the dragons and the barbarians who love them.
  • Everice and the Frostfell: for all your arctic exploration needs.
  • Sarlona: a land of weird psychics.
  • Xen'drik: jungles! ruins! giants! drow! for all your Indiana Jones needs.

And if that wasn't expansive enough, the chapter closes on some brief descriptions of the planes connected to Eberron. This chapter kept things as quick and snappy as possible, but I'm exhausted by the breadth of detail--and possibly getting flashbacks to how big the lore drop is in the 3e Eberron books. But hey, if you were worried about buying a "prototype" campaign or eventually seeing Eberron in print again, check out Mike Mearls's tweet over on the left.

Next chapter: Our party is made up of a war robot, werewolf jr., a psychic weirdo, and one of the Faceless Men from Braavos as we tackle the unique races of Eberron.