Keith Baker’s Exploring Eberron is finally out and it’s amazing. I went to start reviewing it and realized I never finished with Rising From the Last War! Part 1 and part 2 went up last fall and then the holidays and then the hell that is 2020 so it got lost in the shuffle. Rather than leave it unfinished I have my conclusion today and then next time we’ll start in on Exploring Eberron. In the meantime, let’s look at some treasure and monsters!
A major source of treasures in the Eberron setting is dragonshards, the magical crystals produced by the world itself which can be magical foci themselves and also enhance the abilities of dragonmarks. They come in Eberron, Khyber, and Siberys varieties, just like in other visions of the setting, and they are frequently cited as materials for artificers. Some dragonshard items include a docent (a sentient, spherical construct that is embedded into your body and can make skill checks and translate languages), finder’s goggles (boosts Insight checks), and the speaking stone (magical telegraph of House Sivis). One really cool, related magic item is the imbued wood focus which is an arcane focus made of wood from another plane of existence and so it boosts a damage type with your spells. Similarly, the orb of shielding is another type of focus made of extraplanar stone which protects instead.
There are also plenty of martial magic items coming from the Last War including the arcane propulsion arm (a magical version of Mega-Man’s cannon), prosthetic limbs (for wartime injuries), ventilating lungs (breathe even in vacuum), and the wand sheath (for spellslingers). Less violently, everyday items like a cleansing stone (cleans your clothing and body), glamerweave (illusory cloth for fashion), and shiftweave (same but they transform) are also discussed and appear throughout the setting.
Lastly, there are daelkyr items called symbiotes because they attach themselves to your body and (some would say) corrupt your own flesh by association. They are all bizarre and disgusting: Belashyrra’s beholder crown (a crown of eyestalks that give you beholder-like abilities), Dyrrn’s tentacle whip (a ship of tendons like Omega Red’s whips), the earworm (burrows in your head and gives you spells), Kyrzin’s ooze (can make you an ooze and gives you an acid attack), living armor (just what it sounds like), and living gloves (helps rogues, artisans, and musicians). Symbiotic items are powerful (they are all very rare) and they can’t be forcibly removed once you’ve attuned… nor can you voluntarily end the attunement. Once you’ve bonded with a daelkyr symbiote it takes a spell that removes curses or death to remove it.
Common magic items are abundant in Eberron thanks to the commodity of dragonshards and crafting them is a routine procedure for many adventurers. The Dungeon Master’s Guide already covers crafting magic items and then more nuanced rules with complications and the like are found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Both are supported here but if you have a dragonshard you can do it without spellcasting abilities. Someone who can use a herbalism kit or who just has proficiency in the Arcana skill, for example, can make a potion of healing and they can do it in about 8 hours and you can do it for half the normal price (potentially making a little side business). Potions of healing are specifically faster, but any common magic item can be made for half the price if you have a dragonshard, meaning finding a cache of those is a real win for PCs. If you’re using Xanathar’s there are setting-specific complications which look fun.
Creatures and NPCs
Thirty-eight new statblocks are found in the book to fill out your Eberron game. A few are relatively mundane creatures inhabiting the world like the dinosaurs of Talenta (the fastieth and clawfoot are described here), NPC blocks for kalashtar, shifters, changelings, and warforged, and setting-specific adversaries like undying councillors and soldiers of Aerenal, an assassin of House Tarkanan, an NPC magewright, and Karrnathi bone knights and undead soldiers. Other magical constructs such as the warforged colossus and titan are in here as well as living spells (living versions of burning hands, cloudkill, and lightning bolt appear along with guidance for making your own), iron defender homonculi, and expeditious messenger constructs for carrying messages.
Valenar horses are found in this chapter too, though they’re now fey creatures, and the Valenar elves also have fey hawks and hounds at their side. I love the idea of a Valenar dog (who look like boxers or sharp-eared mastiffs) and can see a character with one of those when I always felt limited by the baggage of a Valenar steed. Radiant idols (the fallen angels originally from Sharn: City of Towers) are detailed as well as hashalaq, kalaraq, and tsucora quori (all aberrations). The Inspired (humanoids) are provided with variant powers when they host each type of quori and the prophetic dusk hags of Droaam could be of use to any campaign.
Dolgaunts and dolgrim, the twisted creations of the daelkyr, are provided as well as two of the dalekyr lords themselves! Belshyrra, the Lord of Eyes and creator of beholders and mad visions, and Dyrrn, the Stealer of Thoughts and twisted maker of the illithids, both get full write-ups. They’re CR 22 and 24 creatures if you were wondering and they have legendary actions, lair actions, regional effects, and they’re own forms of madness like Abyssal lords in other books. I thought I would hate having statblocks for powerful creatures like this but I actually love how they came out. Likewise, a powerful rakshasa named Mordakhesh (and zakya rakshasa underlings) makes for an excellent campaign baddie and two demon overlords to serve: Rak Tulkhesh (the mad impulse to war) and Sul Khatesh (the secret keeper of curses).
Speaking of powerful icons of the Eberron setting, the next statblock to cover here is Lady Illmarrow (which I guess is what we’re calling Erandis d’Vol now; my notice must have been lost). She’s powerful (CR 22) with a host of spells, some devastating actions and legendary actions, and a lich phylactery so that you can’t totally kill her. I always saw the last surviving bearer of the Mark of Death as a plotting spider, though, and someone who drove mortals to their knees. This one will only do that conditions. It might have just been a preference, of course, but I consider this a new version of Lady Vol and I don’t know if I like it as much. On the other hand, the Lord of Blades rounds this chapter out and I definitely like the Final Boss feel of this write-up. One of his legendary actions, for example, is to rush through battle towards a target, slashing everyone on his way and making a powerful attack at the end. Perfect for bringing the fight to a dramatic head.
This is a great version of the Eberron campaign setting. Having all the previous editions, of course, the holes here are obvious. There’s very little on Riedra or the wilds of Xen’drik, and the limitations of the artificer are still disappointing to me. On the other hand, there are new interpretations and expansions of the material to tempt even veteran Eberron players. I’m excited to use all the aspects of this book in my campaign and also to get into Exploring Eberron next time!