Review: Wayfarer’s Guide to Eberron

Earlier this week (in a fairly confusing announcement!) Wizards of the Coast announced the release of some substantial playtest material for Dungeons & Dragons’ Eberron setting. You can purchase the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron for US$20 on DriveThruRPG or D&D Beyondbut remember this is playtest material. It’s unfinished and unofficial.

What is Eberron? I would describe the Eberron setting as noir magepunk set in a period of renaissance cold war with a focus on high adventure and cinematic action.

That seems like a lot of themes, but I think these themes are well integrated. In Eberron magic has been industrialised and is largely controlled by groups called Dragonmarked Houses, a lot like corporations. Magic is widespread, but most people only have access to low-level magic.

Wayfarer’s Guide provides an overview of the nations of Khorvaire, a continent where the borders have been recently redrawn in the wake of a world war. Questions have arisen about the rights of warforged (sentient constructs manufactured to fight in the war) and traditional ‘monsters’ like goblins and orcs. There’s an overview of each nation, with info about places to explore; local factions and their plots; and suggestions for creating characters from that region. There is also information about more distant lands and about Eberron’s cosmology. This world doesn’t fit into the standard Dungeons & Dragons multiverse – the planes seem to have a much more direct impact on the material world, and there’s a sense that Eberron is cut off from the wider multiverse.

This playtest material includes rules for four new player races: warforged, changelings, shifters and kalashtar. Some of these options seem a bit more complex and powerful than those in the Player’s Handbook. I think that’s okay given that Eberron isn’t the core setting for Dungeons & Dragons. Most new players will probably be making a character using the basic options in the Player’s Handbook. However, I would prefer that the rules for dragonmarks were more consistent. At the moment, there are three different ways that they can be applied, depending on character race. I’d like to see all the dragonmarks depicted as feats. In Eberron all player characters could get a feat at first level, which would also mean you could make a level 1 magewright character without having to choose a spellcasting class.

Wayfarer’s Guide includes a lot of new magic items: specialised arcane focuses, common items representing industrialised magic, items that can only be used by dragonmarked characters and augmentations for warforged. There are also lots of powerful magepunk maguffins, many of which would fit into the plot of a campaign’s big bads. There are also guidelines for manufacture of magic items, which could be used in other settings.

Wayfarer’s Guide ends with a strong section about the very vertical city of Sharn, which provides a good place to start off adventuring in Eberron. There are details about the levels of each district: who lives where, what kind of conflicts exist and what adventures may be in store. Three locations get more in-depth treatment, and each one could be used as a base for an adventuring party. One is a university where you could run a Harry-Potter-style coming-of-age campaign. This chapter also includes some tables for generating plot ideas and simple urban encounters (which could become side quests or plot hooks).

You can purchase the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron at DriveThruRPG here or at D&D Beyond here.

We also published this article earlier in the week to clarify the confusion about the Ravnica and Eberron setting announcements.

Ravnica & Eberron Announced – Tale of Two Settings

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

The long-awaited announcement for the Dungeons and Dragons settings came Monday morning (Pacific Time) on July 23rd was met with overall excitement from the D&D community though not without some hiccups. Wizards of the Coast released details on their collaboration with D&D and Magic: the Gathering to bring Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica with a release date on November 20th and that the Eberron setting will be making its triumphant return to the franchise as well. Eberron’s return starts with a digital PDF release of Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron on the DMsGuild marketplace by Keith Baker in collaboration with the creative team at Wizards of the Coast.

What you need to know about Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica:

  • Release Date: 20 November 2018
  • Price: $49.95 USD
  • Accessories include a Map Pack and a premium dice set featuring the Guilds of Ravnica
  • Ravnica is a plane of existence in Wizard of the Coast’s Magic the Gathering franchise, released originally in 2005 in Ravnica: City of Guilds, followed with a revisit in Return to Ravnica in 2012, with a planned third Ravnica return in Guilds of Ravnica to be released in October 2018 & spring 2019.
  • Ravnica is an ecumenopolis, a vast city that encompasses an entire planet. Like Coruscant in Star Wars
  • There are ten iconic guilds in Ravnica that serve unique functions in the daily life within the city, with their brand of rivalries and adversaries, all governed by an oath known as the Guildpact. Not every citizen is part of a guild, but their presence is felt throughout Ravnica.
  • The current price point suggests a product akin to Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.

The news about Ravnica was unintentionally leaked on Amazon Brazil’s website site with product pages screenshotted across Reddit and later on other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter sometime on Sunday, July 22nd. News and speculation on the authenticity of the screenshots & cover art were eventually confirmed by the cover artist later on. The story left many fans with a mixed reception.

There was even a poll on the r/Dndnext subreddit with close to half of voters displeased with the setting choice.

While Nathan Stewart, director of D&D, indicated that “fans of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering have been asking for years about when these two amazing brands would play together.” Impressions from the Magic: the Gathering community seemed pleased with the official product news. Various MtG pundits were excited upon the leak on Sunday, with notable individuals such as Evan Erwin showcasing his excitement. The early leak only heightened the general anticipation for the Monday announcements from Wizards of the Coast.

The second setting announced was Eberron, a beloved setting created by Keith Baker for the Fantasy Setting Search in 2002. Content creators on the DMsGuild took note of a new setting category option titled “Eberron” early Monday morning almost 6 hours before any formal declaration. Wizards revealed an ebook product, Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron, with a collaboration between the creative team and Keith Baker that would serve as a “living document” for feedback before any official product is released.

What you need to know about Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron:

 

  • Product Type: Digital PDF
  • Price: $19.99 USD
  • A 175-page book that encompasses playtest materials that include unique races, an overview of Khorvaire and the city of Sharn, dragonmarks, magic items, and a host of backgrounds to jumpstart players and DMs to their Eberron adventures
  • Iconic races: Shifters, Changelings, and Warforged make their 5th Edition debut from the mind of its creator, Keith Baker.
  • The release of Wayfinder grants DMsGuild content creators the ability to create and distribute content within the Eberron setting.
  • According to the Introduction by Keith Baker, this content is considered a playtest or a draft and therefore is not applicable for official Adventurer’s League use. If an official Eberron product is released, Wayfinders will complement the officially released material according to D&D creative lead, Mike Mearls. Mearls also commented that the product would eventually have a Print-on-Demand option for purchase later.

Initial confusion of the “official” status of Wayfinders as an official D&D resource left fans, and consumers concerned with their purchase of this playtest document.

Previous playtest documents by Wizards have been free in the past. When the official announcement was published, the lack of a playtest description on the official Twitter and Facebook posts felt misleading. At the time of this article, official Wizards staff have clarified that Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron is indeed a playtest document and the DMsGuild product includes this detail.

There is an “if” in front of the possibility for an Eberron print product with a clarification of additional content in THAT product with Wayfinder to complement it. You’re paying for two products, one that is not an official product that is labeled as a living playtest document (until otherwise), and then the probable (but not guaranteed) Eberron product.

Warning Signs?

Playtest documents for tabletop RPGs tend to change, as with the case of Wizard’s Unearthed Arcana column where some content was adjusted from player feedback. The practice to buy playtests seems to secure capital from dedicated die-hard fans possibly to ensure a quality product. The video game industry suffered backlash to Early Access business models for games due to extended production times and incomplete work with some games suffering from the inability to fulfill expectations. The practice has become unpopular, with many developers returning to traditional development timelines.

This Early Access practice has been seen with Paizo’s Pathfinder 2nd Edition playtest where prospective fans can purchase physical hardcover copies of the material. Paizo is a leading competitor for Wizards of the Coast on tabletop RPGs, though there are no sales figures to make any conclusions, the initial hype from the 2nd Edition announcement was met with enthusiasm.

Ultimately, Monday was supposedly Wizard of the Coast’s big day to shine and present their newest offerings. Instead, half of the surprise was leaked prematurely, and the other half was miscommunicated to the fans but before over a thousand copies were sold. One cannot help but feel somewhat entertained by the mishaps this Monday, the 23rd of July. Nonetheless, I am excited about the latest offerings and look forward to Ravnica and the future of Eberron.

Curse of Strahd: GM Prep (Spoilers – Ep. 7)

The Curse of Strahd streams live on Twitch Wednesdays, 4-7pm EST.

Here are the notes from Will’s DM prep session that chat helped build!

EPISODE SEVEN: HARVEST OF INNOCENCE

Handout – In the caves they find notes of their experiments pertaining to Miles from within the Flesh Golem.

Journal4

Journal5

The Ritual: Harvest of Innocence

They need to travel back to Barovia but they have no way of doing so. An Arcana check reveals that the notes which they find in the cave are a ritual which can teleport them back to the realm of Barovia.

Several of the ingredients lie around the cave, and those ticked off the list are in a cupboard nearby.

The Holy Water was previously acquired in Episode 6 from Dapper the Butler, Enryn carries it. Tears of a Widower are also in one of Enryn’s vials taken from the Dream Hags called “Mother’s Milk”. There’s a Vampire Spawn in the corner of the room, they can remove his tooth to get it.

The Tiefling eye can only be acquired through Diligence.

Alternative: the Tielfling girl trapped in the cage – already only has one eye from previous ritual castings. They can free her or take the other eye. If they kill her, she will haunt them!

Upon completing the ritual they are taken to Barovia to follow Baby Lysanga.

 

Barovia:
Flees to the Church in Barovia where Donavich the Priest is.

On the hilltop they see the Church where black clouds gather ominously. She begins to brew up a new plague to send out into the village of Barovia.

Scene of Baby Lysanga striking the Pact with Strahd – vision sent by Madame Eva. Baby Lysanga is teleported to the village of Barovia via the tree.

Attempts to slow the Party down with the corpses of the children in the fields.

They are still stuck in Lysanga however, and must find their way out back to Barovia. The big crucifix tree can take them back to Barovia.

This town has been infected by her plague and people are starting to fall ill. They can ask around for word of Baby Lysanga but no one knows where she is at this point. Donavich tells them that there have been many people falling ill in the village and a sickness has started to fester here. There are people in the Church whom he is caring for but they are getting worse.
Plague Spread
Plague spread through the water system, and if they follow the trace it leads back to the Church.

What happens to the Plague Victims?
Fatigue, bones weakened, skin lesions, bloated stomachs ← something comes out

Adults begin to behave like children. Playing children’s games, holding dolls, acting petulantly, haunting giggle. They hear childlike voices in their heads. They rely on Father Donavich as a father figure. They begin to take on the appearance of children the worse it gets.

At the peak of the disease, the victims are killed and give birth to unholy children with no eye sockets and deformed bodies with gaping mouths. These demon babies are hungry and alien-style rip out of their hosts, eating their way out. They become bloated when they eat. Relatively easy to defeat when born, but after a day they become much more formed and dangerous, intelligent.

Plague word bank:
Supprucating, pulsing, festering, gangrenous, writhing maggot ridden, seeping, oozing, fetid, blood laced sweat, rancid, gloppy ooze, pungent, undulating, effervesce

Baby Lysanga’s Location
Baby Lysanga is in the attic of the Church, creating her plague from the rafters.

She herself is greatly wounded and weakened, relying upon the Demon babies to defend her while she stirs her cauldron.

Plague Affects PCs
The Players are not immune to the plague, and begin to show symptoms. They have already been infected during the Encounter.

Diligence and Enryn in particular is weak to this, being adults.

They start to have childish impulses, behave like children and start to become bloated themselves the longer this continues.

The Water System
Upon inspecting the central well in Barovia, going down shows that the supply is fetid and stinking and there is channel which can be traversed which leads back to the church.

In this tunnel they are visited by the creepy girl again (Abigail, before she was a Flesh golem) and Insanity checks ensue! Also the dead boy Johnny and sister Sarah from Ep. 6 arrives to haunt them.

THE LYSANGA PLAGUE INSANITY TABLE:

1d20
1-2 Starts to hum creepy child lullaby
3 – 4 Fear of the Dark
5 -6 Fear that your parent is going to abandon you
7- 8 Tries to engage Party member with a child’s game
9 – 10 Strong impulse to move around at child’s height.
11 – 12 Intense craving for sweets.
13 – 14 Loss of impulse control.
15 – 16 Crying uncontrollably/tantrum
17 – 18 Intense giggling/random laughter
19 – 20 Imaginary friend appears, tells them to do bad things.

 

Watch the full Episodes here!

 

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Curse of Strahd: GM Prep (Spoilers – Ep. 6)

The Curse of Strahd streams live on Twitch Wednesdays, 4-7pm EST.

Here are the notes from Will’s DM prep session that chat helped build!

EPISODE SIX: THE FIELDS OF LYSANGA
There was a plague created by Baby Lysanga which infected this town, Lysanga. After they failed to help her with her own deformed child, Abigail, she sought revenge. The townsfolk were wary of the Witch and refused to help her. She then struck a deal with Strahd Von Zarovich in return for her loyalty. It affected the adults, causing them to fall sick and become unable to work. They were forced to send out their children into the fields of Lysanga and work in their stead in order to feed the town. Slowly the children became ill themselves and tied to the fields, unable to leave. As they died working, Baby Lysanga captured their souls/energy in order to grow her own children. Her children are the Scarecrows which feed on the souls of the children in their graves.

The Scarecrows are erected atop the shallow graves, and the corn roots go down below to leech off of the soul energy. Their bodies are made of straw but instead of heads they have crucified ravens instead. Below the surface of the Earth lies Baby Lysanga’s trueborn child – the one which the townsfolk of Lysanga refused to help before. She has stitched together different body parts of children to recreate a twisted version of her own.

Abigail is now a flesh golem, formed of different body parts of the children of the townsfolk and kept alive with a mixture of leaching the soul energy via the Scarecrows, and blood.

HOOK:
The Party are travelling, when they find themselves lost in green fog and mist. When they finally exit, they find themselves on the outskirts of a deserted town. All the houses are empty and abandoned, but there are skeletons here, but only of adult corpses. The town itself smells of death, there’s a wooden log used as a playpark by the children, and a defensive wall fallen down from decay. Giant tree in the centre of town, dead, with thousands of ravens perched upon it. Pungent smell of iron from the blood. Body of adult pinned to the tree with a wooden child’s toy driven into the heart, with a sign reading “Turn Back” upon it.

In one of the Houses they find a Journal of one of the workers from Lysanga. It explains the growing illness and plague which came after they stopped helping the local Witch “Baby Lysanga” with her own deformed child.

They find Journal Entries (see below)

journal1

journal2

journal3

THE FIELDS:
They come to the Fields of Lysanga where Miles (child) hears another child’s voice crying out. Walking through the fields, they see the Scarecrows with the crucified raven’s bodies stitched on as a head. At the foot of one, lies a bloody, rotten teddy bear. They get the distinct feeling that they are being watched. Looking back at a scarecrow shows them that they turn to watch them move.

At the foot of each Scarecrow is a shallow grave, revealing slightly rotting bodies of the children. Arcana/Nature/Medicine checks reveal that there is some form of connection between the roots of the Scarecrows and the children, likely some some of parasitic bond.

Every time a Scarecrow is killed, they hear the agonized scream of a child.

The voice coming from below pleads to Miles to come and save her. She sounds young and in distress, and can show him to a cave entrance.

 

THE CAVES:
Encounter with Abigail the Flesh Golem and Baby Lysanga.

The cave entrance is strewn with children’s toys and discarded straw dolls. There appears to be only one way down and the tunnel itself is only 5 ft. high, meaning taller characters have to stoop and are at Disadvantage for Attack and Dex. based rolls. The dolls appear to turn to look at them as they walk past deeper into the cavern. Worms writhe underneath their feet and crawl through the walls.

Abigail:
Dual Personalities. One is her child-like form, the other is possessed by the Devil Strahd.

Watch the full Episodes here!

 

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The Curse of Strahd

The Curse of Strahd streams live on Twitch Wednesdays, 4-7pm EST.

“Under raging storm clouds, the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich stands silhouetted against the ancient walls of Castle Ravenloft. The wind’s howling increases as he turns his gaze down toward the village of Barovia. […] The master of Castle Ravenloft is having guests for dinner – and you are invited!” (Wizards of the Coast)

Adventurers

Enron Cold (Mathematic) – Human, Ranger, lvl 5
Miles (Garreth) – Halfling, Bard, lvl 5
Diligence (Leigh) – Tiefling, Warlock, lvl 5

 

Summary
The Curse of Strahd is a Wizards of the Coast campaign module for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. You can find more campaign details and information on how to get your own copy here! Encounter Roleplay has not received any sponsoring to play this module – we just love it!

Watch the full Episodes here!

 

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