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Eberron Player's Guide (4e)
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Eberron Player's Guide (4e)

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The Eberron Player's Guide presents the film noir world of Eberron from the point of view of the adventurer exploring it.

This product includes everything a player needs to create their character for a D&D campaign in the Eberron setting, including new feats, new character powers, new paragon paths and epic destinies, and even a new 4th edition version of a classic Eberron class: the Artificer.

Product History

Eberron Player's Guide (2009), by David Noonan with Ari Marmell and Robert J . Schwalb, is the core player's book for the Eberron setting in D&D 4e. It was released in June 2009.

About the Cover. A warforged paladin and an artificer face an unknown foe … and the Eberron Campaign Guide (2009) might reveal who, as the two covers were originally part of one piece of art.

Continuing the Campaign Settings. The D&D 4e publication plan called for the release of one campaign setting a year as a trilogy of books: a hardcover player's book, a hardcover GM's book, and a softcover adventure. Wizards of the Coast published the Forgotten Realms in this format in 2008, then in 2009 they repeated the pattern precisely for their second campaign setting.

Wizards had many possible worlds that they could have picked for their second setting release, but the most obvious choice was Keith Baker's Eberron. It had successfully been released in June 2004 as Wizards of the Coast's big new setting for 3.5e and then had seen another twenty supplements over the next four years. Meanwhile, it had also become the setting for Dungeons & Dragons Online (2006), Atari's major multimedia expansion of the D&D brand. By 2009, Eberron was still big, and that's why it won out as 4e's second setting.

A player's book and a GM's book had already been published for Eberron in its previous incarnation: Player's Guide to Eberron (2006) and Eberron Campaign Setting (2004) for 3.5e. However the designers of 4e Eberron were adamant that the new 4e books were not just translations. The previous books had included a fair amount of duplication because they weren't planned as a coherent set. The new books were, which allowed the designers to create a complementary pair of releases, with the player's book including material intended for the player or both the GM and player. (It also was the crunchier book of the two.)

Marketing Dark Sun. Though the 4e plan was to support each setting with just three books, Free RPG Day 2009 let Wizards extend the Eberron corpus to four. Khyber's Harvest (2009) was a Free RPG Day adventure also released in June 2009 that helped to spotlight the Eberron setting. In 2010 Wizards would push even harder on marketing their third 4e setting, Dark Sun, through even more fan-oriented publications of this sort.

The Forgotten Heroes. Eberron Player's Guide includes one new character class: the artificer. This imbuer of items and creator of constructs had a short history in D&D. He first appeared in Player's Option: Spells & Magics (1996) as a wizard available for play in any AD&D 2.5e game. He then came of his own with a new 3e class in Eberron Campaign Setting (2004), a world where "magic is almost technology". During 4e, the artificer was the first character class to be playtested as part of D&D Insider, in an article that was collected in Dragon #365 (July 2008).

The 4e playtest artificer was updated quite a bit for his first official appearance in the Eberron Player's Guide, with the biggest change being to his healing infusions, which was intended to help differentiate him from other leader classes. A design & development article in Dragon #376 (June 2009) provides interesting insights into the development of the artificer (and into game design in general), such as the fact that special rules only used by the artificer (such as an "artifice" keyword) were replaced by more standard 4e mechanics (in this case, zones or conjurations) because the new rules "didn’t amount to enough mechanical benefit".

The Resurrected Races. Eberron's Player Guide also introduces three new races for 4e, all of which were drawn from the game's past:

Changelings are a shape-shifting race that was first introduced in Eberron Campaign Setting (2004) as a hybrid of humans and doppelgangers. Doppelgangers themselves dated back to OD&D Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975) and were later featured in one of the first monstrous ecology articles: "The Psychology of the Doppleganger" in Dragon #80 (December 1983). They also appeared in some of the earliest Monster Manuals for each edition of D&D and finally became a player character race in the 3.5e Monster Manual (2003) and Races of Destiny (2004). As of the 4e Eberron Player's Guide (2009), doppelgangers and changelings were now the same race.

Kalashtar are refugees from the realm of dreams. They were also the first new race that Keith Baker introduced for Eberron, appearing in the 10-page proposal that he submitted to Wizards of the Coast's Fantasy Setting Search as one of the eleven semifinalists. In 3e kalashtar were naturally psionic and had psi-like abilities. This couldn't be played up in 4e because psionics weren't on the schedule until 2010, but the new kalashtar still have a mental ability as their racial power.

Warforged are construct-soldiers from Eberron's Last War, akin to sentient golems. D&D's golems dated back to OD&D Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975) and The Strategic Review #4 (Winter 1975), but the idea of featuring them as a PC was an innovation for Eberron Campaign Setting (2004). The 4e warforged had first appeared in Dragon #364 (June 2008) and were polished to a lustrous hue for their reappearance here.

The Eberron Player's Guide also introduced many of 4e's new default races to the world of Eberron, among them: deva, dragonborn, eladrin, goliaths, and tieflings.

Expanding D&D. One of the most notable new game systems in 3e Eberron was the dragonmark. These marks, which existed in hierarchical levels of power, gave skill bonuses and spell-like powers to characters who took them as feats or prestige classes. Different marks did different things, and many of them were restricted by race — such as the Mark of Healing, which was only available to halflings.

However, the 4e designers decided that the 3e dragonmarks hadn't served their intended purpose. Most notably, players didn't take them often enough! This was in part because the marks' powers were often more interesting for NPCs of the dragonmark houses than for adventuring PCs. It was also the result of players not liking the racial restrictions. Finally, many characters never reached high enough levels to take the prestige classes that made the dragonmarks really powerful. Worse, when players did take marks, the designers thought they were often the "wrong people": the marks weren't very useful to classes that already had the associated powers, so they ended up being used as minor abilities for different classes. The designers explained the problem by saying: you never saw a cleric with the Mark of Healing.

These problems encouraged the designers to revamp dragonmarks for 4e. They wanted them to be relevant and exciting to PCs (not NPCs). They also wanted to ensure that players' story ideas weren't constrained by mechanical limitations — a general rule in the 4e design process. The 4e dragonmarks have thus been redesigned to improve existing powers and have been simplified so that there's just one of each type, rather than a whole hierarchy. Finally, they're no longer race restricted … for player characters. Though Marks of Healing are still mostly limited to halflings, PCs are special.

About the Creators. Noonan worked at Wizards of the Coast from 1998-2008. Most of his work was for 3e, but he also worked on several 4e products published in 2008 and 2009. The Eberron Player's Guide was thus one of his final books, though he'd also contribute to Revenge of the Giants (2009) and Draconomicon: Metallic Dragon (2009) later in the year.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on June 09, 2015.