Over the years, I’ve grown to love Eberron. Not at first, no, I saw lasers and robots and thought someone at Turbine had steampunk’d their way right out of heroic fantasy. Then I learned it wasn’t Turbine at all, it was Wizards of the Coast, and that mainstream Dungeons & Dragons was even more steampunk’d than DDO.
I learned. I adjusted. I adapted.
In time, I came to appreciate the creativity involved. A lot of D&D writing, especially the earlier stuff, consisted of putting a veneer of new names on existing ideas. For instance, no creativity is needed to create an all-powerful wise wizard; Tolkien provided all of that creativity already.
Eberron initially looked like yet another renaming of existing ideas. New names for old planes. Dragonmarks that are each a fragment of a greater prophecy (hello Dungeon Siege). Etc.
But no. Keith Baker (Eberron’s creator) was far more innovative than I originally realized. Warforged struggling to find their place in society is new. The 13 trope. The loosening of alignment ties to specific races (a lawful good undead beholder?).
And most innovative of all, the way that the existence of magic transforms society. I used this in my own campaign back in the day. Most fantasy is basically inserting a few magic swords into a historically medieval setting. But that is an incomplete imagining that entirely misses the point. How would your everyday life be different in a world where one could learn to cast spells that really work?
- The physical world would differ: cities in the desert? Why not, the spell Create Water is available to any 1st level divine. Agriculture anywhere
- Faith becomes obsolete: religion would be very different in a world where gods offer tangible proof of their existence
- Even basic emotions would be effected: are you really in love? Or Charmed? How would you know?
The differences would be many, very many, and each would be incredibly significant.
Eberron is the only fantasy world I’ve encountered that attempts to logically extend the consequences of magic into everyday life. Kudos to Keith Baker, and to DDO as well.
With the latest update, DDO has moved beyond Eberron and back into the more mainstream fantasy world of Faerun. Hello Gandolf-I-mean-Elminster. This is not a bad thing, not at all, but it is a different thing. And just when I had come to love the steampunky lasers and robots.
I hope Turbine continues developing content in both worlds.
🙂 😀 🙂