Rising From the Last War Review, Part 1

I love the Eberron setting for D&D. I’ve gotten every official book put out since it debuted in 3e and I’ve bought a significant number of fan creations since it was opened up for the DM’s Guild. I’ve also written a ton about it here and on other sites… So clearly I’m excited about the latest book from Wizards giving official versions of the setting material for the game’s fifth edition.

In this post I’m going to be covering the first one hundred pages of this book and leaving the other two-hundred-odd pages for the next post. Why am I splitting the book up so unevenly? Well Chapter 1: Character Creation cover a lot of stuff and there’s a lot to say about it. There’s plenty of other interesting points in the rest of the book (including setting geography, monster stats, and DM advice) but I want to get through all the player-facing stuff today so that you can be informed consumers.

It’s really exciting to see Eberron back in official print but I have to give a warning up front. If you have Keith Baker’s Wayfinder’s Guide and Morgrave Miscellany, two DM’s Guild products from the setting’s creator, and the artificer class from Unearthed Arcana then you have versions of nearly everything in the book’s first chapter. There are some tweaks but the mechanics in those products seem about 80% identical to the character creation chapter here.

Image © Wizards of the Coast

The book starts off with a section called Welcome to Eberron that covers a lot of familiar ground for an Eberron book. There’s a breakdown of the chapters, an updated version of “Seven Things to Know” about Eberron, and a very short history of Eberron. For players there’s a run down of languages, surnames, the calendar, and currency in the setting and then a discussion of how to include the pulp, noir, and magical pillars of the setting. The Last War gets several pages of discussion as well as the Draconic Prophecy, including how to tie your characters to these huge topics.

Mostly, though, these fifteen pages catch up folks just joining us for the Eberron conversation, or alternatively giving you some references so that you don’t need to carry around previous edition’s Eberron sourcebooks. 

Races

The character creation chapters (C3?) begins with player character races and how they fit into Eberron

The section on changelings is relatively unchanged from what’s in the Wayfinder’s Guide but there are tweaks to the racial traits. You get to pick any ability score for your +1 (instead of Dex or Int), which I like, but the dirty-tricks power of Unsettling Visage and the description of Divergent Persona are unfortunately gone as well.

The flavor of kalashtar is unchanged, although I love that the quori names are ungendered now. They now split their ability score modifiers between just two ability scores instead of three like in Wayfinder’s. They automatically gain advantage now on Wisdom saves from Dual Mind and Mind Link is both easier to use and scales with your level. Psychic Glamour is gone now, which is a fine price to pay for an upgraded Mind Link.

Image © Wizards of the Coast

There are some big changes with shifters who have no default ability scores (it’s all in the subraces now) and they lost Keen Senses. The subraces are all changed as a result of this, but Swiftstride and Wildhunt shifters are missing their non-shifted abilities. I think it’s all for the best but it does mean people might be fighting over which version they want to use.

Lastly, warforged have some big changes as they no longer have subraces. Essentially every warforged follows the Envoy design in Wayfinder’s without the Integrated Tool. Honestly, the official version now seems a little less exciting and more like the standardized version of the warforged from the original book. I much prefer the dynamic, versatile warforged versions that the setting has developed over the years. I’d definitely push for the Wayfinder’s version in an Eberron campaign that I was playing in.

The Player’s Handbook races in Eberron are also covered in this chapter and they have a lot more context than in the Wayfinder’s Guide, like twice as much text. There are more options on random tables as well as stats and options for goblinoids and orcs included here. They are all really great and I love the expanded information, some of which is new to the setting as of this book. For instance, dwarves are now associated with daelkyr symbiotes which some have turned to in desperation to save their homeland, and half-elves have a great random table on various origins.

Image © Wizards of the Coast

Dragonmarks

The version of dragonmarks in Rising From the Last War has some similar set-up information compared to the Wayfinder’s Guide and some additional information to flesh out how people in the setting see and interact with dragonmarks. The Dragonmarked House profiles are pretty awesome but they all are written to fit into a single page with a nice art deco heading, a portrait of the house at work, and the abilities of the dragonmark. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for background so there’s something like half the information on each house as you find in the Wayfinder’s Guide.

The traits are much the same but there is an important change in how they level up. In the Wayfinder’s Guide your Intuition Die (the extra die rolled and added a skill depending on the mark) starts at d4 and increases due to “feats, magic items and other features.” I’m not a big fan of 5e feats and magic items are a big investment to use on something like this so I’m glad that they dropped it. Instead, you get additional spells at third level which is more like what the original dragonmarks did in 3e. 

There’s a feat for aberrant marks but none for greater dragonmarks (likely because the spellcasting improvement now becomes standard) and the house agent background is unchanged mechanically and has the same random tables for the most part.

Image © Wizards of the Coast

Artificer Class

Many of the class features are just the same as the last Unearthed Arcana version including most proficiencies, starting equipment, Magical Tinkering, Spellcasting details (including, for the most part, the spell list), and Infuse Item. They also lose proficiency in crossbows (though they optionally start with firearms proficiency if you use that option from the DMG) and they know more infusions (start with 4 infusions and end up with 12) with a faster infused item increase starting at 10th level.

The Unearthed Arcana version has an extra proficiency bonus for tools starting at 3rd level but the Rising From the Last War version has the ability to create any artisan’s tools that they want using tinker’s tools. Seems like a lateral move… They get Tool Expertise at 6th level insteand and lose Arcane Armament altogether. Flash of Genius is a 7th-level ability that functions a lot like an Int-based Bardic Inspiration, and “The Right Cantrip For the Job” is lost in favor of an ability to attune to more magic items than usual (something that was was rightly pointed out as a potential headache for GMs) gained at 10th level and sterngthened at 14th and 18th level (in the end they can have twice the normal amount of magic items). They still have Spell-Storing Item but they get it at 11th level instead of 18th (nice), and Soul of Artifice now has a built-in death throes effect.

Archivist has been removed from the list of artificer specialists and that sort of sets the tone for the class abilities in general. This is no longer the wild-eyed tinkerer in a dusty Morgrave office learning the arcane secrets of yesteryear. The artificer of 5e is a badass spellslinger bristling with arcane gadgets who was trained up by the military arcanists of the Last War. I mean, maybe your backstory is different but I don’t think your abilities will be. Artificer infusions are an interesting part of the class, formulae for making magic items of combat and utility use, and there are some more options in here due to the book’s equipment chapter. Aside from some shuffling around of levels (and more granular progression with lists at 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 14th level instead of just 2nd and 12th) these work just the same as in Unearthed Arcana.

Image © Wizards of the Coast

The alchemist has proficiency with only alchemist’s supplies, a spell list similar to Unearthed Arcana’s with some more offensive options in there, no homunculus (that’s now an infusion available to everyone), strange elixirs instead at 3rd level (you roll for the effect? what?), keep their Alchemical abilities for healing and damage items (one level earlier, though!), and gain a new ability at 9th level to gain some kind of control over your experimental elixirs. They’re definitely leaning into “mad scientist” here.

The artillerist has been compared to arcane gunslinger classes but they seem more like World of Warcraft characters come to Eberron. They also lose some crafting ability compared to Unearthed Arcana, keep the exact same spell list, have their Arcane Turret ability renamed “Eldritch Cannon” (a slight improvement) which now improves at 9th level), and now instead of getting prototype wands just straight-up turn their wands into “arcane firearms” which are arcane focuses that do more damage. Oh and they also have Fortified Position still because you can summon foxholes?

With these military-themed arcehtypes you might wonder what the battle smith brings to the table. Well, they still gain the ability to make things well (same proficiency and crafting restrictions as the other two) and they’re proficient with martial weapons as well as able to use their Intelligence bonus for attacks with magic weapons. They have a steel defender homunculus instead of an iron defender (mostly the same) and can heal and hit both with extra vigor. These would be the swordmages of the artificer class except that the other archetypes deal huge damage.

Image © Wizards of the Coast

Group Patrons

So, we’ve seen a lot in this chapter that is repeated from earlier works, but there’s one really awesome section that’s brand new. Group patrons are mostly narrative elements in the story but they provide so much framework and adventure prompts that they are truly worth every inch of page space spent on them. There are eleven different patron groups listed and they work like guilds in Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica without the ranks (you just belong and are appreciated) and they have campaign structures built in that can inspire and support.

Patrons for your PCs’ group can be highly directive, leave parties to be highly autonomous, or they can even be player-directed groups using the Running a Business downtime activity found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Each type of patron detailed here comes with a list of different favors and benefits of being a part of it, roles to create in the party, and an example from the world of Eberron. There are random tables for contacts and adventure hooks to help players and DMs come up with awesome plots. Here’s the rundown…

  • Adventurers’ Guilds are professional agencies that support adventurers in exchange for dues and publicity, offering information, referrals, and accommodations. The Clifftop Adventurers’ Guild is a good example with allies and enemies throughout the City of Towers.
  • Crime Syndicates are shadier operations with an edge, something that you might be involved with in a campaign of greyer morals or out of desperation. Parties with this group patron have bruisers, burglars, masterminds, safecrackers, and talkers (the party face). Prompts include types of crimes, rival outfits, and infamous signs. The example here is the Boromar Clan which is a badass halfling crime ring with nightclubs and bribed politicians.
  • Dragonmarked Houses are a great option, or even working for the Twelve! There are so many house missions listed here (general and specific) and some excellent ideas for allies and enemies.
  • Espionage Agencies are a great noir option, especially for a noir wartime story like Casablanca. The King’s Dark Lanterns are the example group and the group structure ideas are awesome and sound like James Bond characters.
  • A Head of State is a really powerful patron and Prince Oargev, the exiled prince of Cyre, is a fantastic option. You could be an official state representative, a shadow agent off the books, or a double agent of another nation!
Image © Wizards of the Coast
  • Being a fantasy setting your patron can be an Immortal Being like Sora Kell of Droaam. Serving an immortal can be more demanding and also more freeing depending on the circumstances, either as visionaries devoted to the being or innocents snagged in their web.
  • An Inquisitive Agency is a very Eberron-appropriate option and House Tharashk’s Finders Guild is a worldwide option. It doesn’t all have to be a bunch of rogues, though, and the list of party options is great: client, consultant, interrogator, investigator, and tough.
  • A Military Force is a great option for a campaign where the Last War will be front and center. Active soldiers and veterans like the Redcloak Battalion mercenaries in Sharn are some great options and there is a list of some other ideas from around Khorvaire.
  • A Newspaper is also a great idea and the Korranberg Chronicle is the obvious choice. As a group of newspaper employees your party could be a face (for interviewing), the muscle (for getting people to talk), the civilian (less combat-ready but very ready to write), the networker (who knows people), and snoop (spying on subjects).
  • Religious Orders are a way to bring the party together through faith, including the example group of Templars of the Silver Flame which I hope will change people’s opinions about the church. They can fit into the church hierarchy however you feel and your party can include clerics and paladins as well as fixers, prophets, scholars, teachers, and zealots.
  • Universities are a way to provide reasons for traveling the world to tour dungeons, and obviously Morgrave University is the one to pick. There are some other universities around the world detailed as well and some cool mission ideas.

Conclusion and Next Time

Let’s  be frank and say that the material in Wayfinder’s Guide was definitely a playtest for this book. This first chapter is a rewrite of that material and the focus on that rewrite was changing up language and tweaking mechanics based on feedback. If you bought Wayfinder’s then you might feel a little let down here but if you have both that book and this one then you’ve still got information in Wayfinder’s Guide that will supplement info in Rising From the Last War.Additionally, you’ll see next time that there is still two-thirds of this book to go through and that’s where you’ll see the value in this book. Until then, happy pre-Thanksgiving to all my American readers!

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