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Reviews of 'Races of Eberron'

Races of Eberron

by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jesse Decker, Matthew Sernett, Keith Baker
D&D Race Supplements, Volume 2


Reviews of 'Races of Eberron'

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Reviewer: Trampas Whiteman

Rating: Stars

Races of Eberron is the latest in Wizards of the Coast's races series of books. What is interesting is that this book details the races of Eberron, yet doesn't carry the Eberron color scheme, instead going for the generic races look. This does feel a bit odd, but Eberron has been designed from day one so that people can take elements from the setting and use them in other settings, including homebrew settings. In those regards, I'm a bit indifferent on the choice of color scheme. While I feel it should be an Eberron product, I can see the logic (see my comments below).

Chapters 1-4 are each respectfully dedicated to the new races of Eberron: warforged, shifters, changelings, and the kalashtar. While not the entire entries of the races are reprinted from the Eberron Campaign Setting in this book, the racial traits are so that those who do not play Eberron can make use of this book. Great move on WotC's part there. Each of these chapters also have sections such as A Day in the Life, Psychology, Life, Society and Culture, how the races deal with other races, creating characters, and communities. What I like about these chapters is that they fully detail each of these races, and give a little something extra for those who already own the Eberron Campaign Setting sourcebook.

Chapter 5 goes into how the standard Player's Handbook races fit into Eberron, as well as a couple of other race additions. What I really like about this section is that there's a sidebar for each of the races talking about how to roleplay a member of that race. Plus there are notes on encounters and adventures for each of the races. Perhaps the most refreshing change are the drow, who are jungle dwellers who worship a scorpion-god. It's nice to still have the arachnid touch, and scorpions are much more interesting, in my opinion, than spiders. Plus there's another new race called the Inspired, who are psionic in nature.

Chapter 6 is all about character options. There are quite a number of racial feats and a set of tactical feats. Shifter and warforged each have their own sets of feats from the Eberron Campaign Setting book as well as several new options. The warforged especially have some good options, such as silver tracery, which works nicely against creatures vulnerable to silver. As with the other races books, there are substitution levels for the races. Again, I wish they had substitution levels for each of the classes for each race. I've had the opportunity to playtest some of these options along with a friend in an Eberron game I recently played in. I used the Kalashtar Telepath racial substitution levels, which worked out okay. My buddy used the warforged paladin substitution levels. The smite construct ability turned out to be real handy. While I wish the substitution levels were more all-inclusive, I do think the selections were quite good and representative of the races.

Chapter 7 is prestige classes. I'm not sure why this is its own chapter rather than part of chapter 6, especially when both deal with class levels. All of the prestige classes are great, and the Quori nightmare especially will give players the willies. I'm glad to see that there are roleplaying notes on the prestige classes, as well as notes of the prestige classes in the world and game. This is a trend that I'm particularly glad to see continued. The reforged and spellcarved soldier prestige classes especially stand out from this chapter.

Chapter 8 is next with equipment. There are new weapons and armor, but a small number – much smaller than I'd anticipate for Eberron. There are some wondrous items, some of which are so-so and others are more interesting. There are notes for a couple of psionic items as well. I would rather they be listed as "psionic" than "universal". This chapter also has a bunch of new items for warforged characters, including winged capes! This chapter also includes a minor artifact – the Deck of Transformations.

Chapter 9 is new magic and psionics. I'm pleased to see the focus on psionics in this chapter, even with the name. There's new artificer infusions as well as spells for each of the classes – save for paladins. I'm sorry that this class didn't get any good lovin'. There are two new cleric domains – Transformation and Truth. There are, unfortunately, only two new psionic powers, which makes the chapter seem a bit unbalanced. While psionics probably will never have the focus of magic, I would expect a chapter with psionics in the name to have more than just two powers.

This is, by far, the best of the races books. Unlike the others, which are primarily rehashes of old races and the introduction of a few bland races, this book introduces players to some new races that are truly interesting.

This book had few problems that stood out to me. As is usual for WotC, there are some editing problems, such as how the chapter 9 header appears to be totally dropped from the table of contents (making it appear that chapters 8 and 9 are one big chapter). Most of the other stuff I caught were mainly nitpicks (i.e. whether prestige classes should be part of the character options chapter). This book does seem odd having the D&D color scheme over the Eberron color scheme. Races books that are generic D&D should be usable in any campaign setting for the most part. With the Eberron focus, that seems a bit odd in presentation. This is coupled with the WotC online catalog, which has the book under Eberron and not D&D. The editors undoubtedly wanted this book to be open to other campaigns, but I feel that if a DM is going to mine Eberron for races, it won't sell the product any better to have the D&D color scheme. Also, I note that this book (like too many WotC books of late) is missing an index.

If you're playing in an Eberron campaign, this book is for you. If you want to use the Eberron races without buying the Eberron book, this book is most definitely for you. It is a great buy, fun to read, and it provides tons of character options. And if that isn't enough to whet your appetite, maybe the free preview book for Keith Baker's City of Towers will get you going. Above all, this book has proven to be much more useful to me than any of the other books in the series. Definitely a great buy.


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