This weekend I’ll be at my first convention in almost two years: PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with my company Twogether Studios. We’re involved in a lot of great events at the convention and even some you can watch at home!
As a small business, conventions are a double-edged sword with exhaustion and financial risk balanced against the absolute high of positive energy and meeting people in real life who enjoy our games. Don’t ever be worried about saying hello or telling us you enjoy something we made—it’s those affirmations that keep us going and remind us why we do this. So if you see us at the show, we’re always down for an elbow bump, ghost high fives, and socially distant tips of the hat!
Here’s where you can find me and Twogether Studios at PAX Unplugged…
Twogether Studios will be at Booth 3355. You can see our current line-up of games, including Illimat, TheAdventure Zone: Bureau of Balance, and a small supply of TAZ hoodies!
Friday 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM: Exploring Eberron with Keith Baker. Join me for a discussion of Eberron, along with a look at my current projects and what I have planned for the future! This is in Mothman Theatre and should be streamed on one of the PAX Twitch channels.
Friday 7:30 PM-9:30 PM: Instant RPG—Just Add You. I’ll be a player in this event organized by Ninth Level Games—playing a game developing live by the audience!
Saturday 1 PM – 2 PM: Eberron Meet-Up. This is slightly mysterious—it’s not listed on the official schedule and the location is simply “the Queue Hall.” But I’ll be in the Queue Hall at 1 PM on Saturday for an informal gathering with anyone who shows up!
Sunday 11 AM – 12 PM: Signing at Booth 3355. I’ll be at the Twogether Studios booth off and on throughout the convention, but this is the one time you can be SURE I will be there! If you have something you want signed, this is your chance.
Sunday2:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Add Drama To Your Game (Screening). Andrew Barth Feldman, Alex Boniello, B. Dave Walters, Jenn Ellis, and I unpack what drama is and how to add more intrigue, tension, and investment to your next D&D session, story telling game, or murder mystery party.
Happy holidays! Here’s the latest news from KB Presents.
2020 has been a wild ride for KB Presents and we’re excited for things to come!
In July, we released Exploring Eberron, a 247-page book that gave Eberron creator and designer Keith Baker the freedom to write about topics he never had the opportunity before. As extensive as the book is, there is so much more to explore! While working on Exploring Eberron, we were also looking towards the future. An outline for a new book, codenamed FOES, was discussed. In August, we began development work on a project codenamed Fool’s Gold—a PDF product that was planned as the next release. Thomas Bourdon worked on the cover and development began in earnest.
However, inspiration is tricky and you never know when it might strike!
The first idea wasEberron Confidential—a book of character secrets inspired by Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden that inserted itself into the production cycle. It launched in November 2020 and is now our second Eberron product on digital shelves.
The second idea was Threshold. For years, Keith has run Eberron campaigns set in the jungles of Q’barra. Fans have expressed great interest in this fantasy western approach. In September, we began development on an adventure, codenamed Hunger, that drew on the same principles—but set on the actual western frontier border between Breland and Droaam. Hunger is intended as an ideal starter campaign for new players to the setting. As Project: Hunger grew, Keith decided to run an online campaign in this region, focusing on the town of Threshold. The game will be played with a shifting cast of players drawn from his Patreon supporters. While Project: Hunger is not the focus of this announcement, more information will be forthcoming in 2021.
Which brings us to the announcement! We are proud to reveal Frontiers of Eberron: Threshold, a sourcebook that will provide everything you need to run your own campaign and adventures in the exciting Breland-Droaam border region. In addition to a full chapter focused on the town of Threshold and its denizens, this book will contain expanded locations, power groups, adventures hooks, and monsters that can be found on the frontier, along with a host of character options. It will be available both in PDF and print when it is launched on Dungeon Masters Guild in 2021!
Frontiers of Eberron: Threshold (Project: FRAG) is designed by Keith Baker, supported by the talents of Will Brolley, Laura Hirsbrunner, and Wayne Chang, along with an expanded group of playtesters. In the coming months, we will continue to tease and preview as we always have. You can even get a sneak peek at Threshold by joining Keith’s Patreon.
What about Project: Fool’s Gold? It’s still in development and on the production slate. In fact, we have significantly expanded the scope of Project: Fool’s Gold—now Project: Fool’s Platinum—and it’s scheduled for an early 2022 release.
There are exciting times ahead! Stay tuned and we’ll see you on the frontier!
Everyone has secrets—and sometimes, those secrets can shape a story.Eberron Confidential is available now on the DM’s Guild, and it includes the following…
54 character secrets, ready to be printed out and distributed as player handouts.
Tips for Dungeon Masters to integrate each secret into a campaign.
Options for introducing secrets to your players, whether at character creation or during an ongoing campaign.
Ideas for using rumors to add drama to party dynamics.
Tables for quickly generating NPC secrets whenever you need them.
These secrets give each character a unique connection to the world of Eberron, and to provide an intriguing story hook for the DM to explore. Each secret also provides a minor mechanical benefit. In this, they’re similar to backgrounds, but where a background provides a very general story, secrets are specific and unique. It’s possible everyone in a party of adventurers could be former soldiers—but only one is hiding an aberrant dragonmark or was raised by gnolls.
These secrets are broken into categories, allowing the players and the DM to decide just how significant they want these secrets to be. Looking at the two examples above, Dated Daask is a casual secret designed to be used in a campaign based in Sharn—while Prince of Blood is a huge secret that could become a major part of a campaign if the secret heir chooses to pursue their claim. These secrets aren’t intended to cause strife between player characters, but rather to give each character a story to explore—something that could be exciting for the entire party.
While I’m proud of Exploring Eberron, there’s a lot of Eberron left to explore and KB Presents is working on a number of different projects. We’ve already teased a project codenamed Fool’s Gold. This is something that is still in development, but over the last month I had two new ideas that have taken precedence. The first of these is Threshold, an online Eberron campaign that I’m developing and playing with my Patreon supporters. I’m excited about this, and once I had the idea I wanted to get started on it immediately. I’m still going through the Session Zero on Patreon and working out some details about the town, and I’ll be running the first adventure in November.
In addition to Threshold, I had another “Hmmm” moment—an idea that I loved and wanted to create right away. We initially called this project Skeleton, but I can tell you now that the actual name is Eberron Confidential. I’m not going to say too much about it just yet, but I’ll tell you that it’s short, it’s fun, and it’s something both players and DMs can enjoy. It’s currently in editing, and I think it will be available as a PDF on the DM’s Guild by around November 10th. While this pushed Fool’s Gold, that work isn’t lost; I have two major DM’s Guild Eberron releases planned for 2021.
Of course, Eberron is only part of my professional life! I also create games with my company Twogether Studios. After long complications due to COVID-19, we finally have our games back in stock, including Illimat and my RPG Phoenix: Dawn Command. In addition, we’ve developed a collaborative storytelling game based on The Adventure Zone with the McElroy family, and we’ll be releasing it soon! You can get on the release mailing list here, or you can watch us play it with the McElroys and other friends on our Twitch channel!
If you have any questions about Threshold or The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance, post them below! As for Eberron Confidential, I’ll be sharing more details once it’s through editing!
Exploring Eberron is now available on the DM’s Guild. I wanted to take a moment to answer questions about the book, both general questions and some very specific ones…
GENERAL What’s “Exploring Eberron?”
Exploring Eberron (ExE) is a 248 page sourcebook for the Eberron Campaign Setting, using the fifth edition rules of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s written by setting creator Keith Baker (hi!) along with Will Brolley, Wayne Chang, and Laura Hirsbrunner.
No, I mean what’s IN the book?
ExE is a deep dive into elements of Eberron that haven’t been explored in past sourcebooks, including the planes of Eberron, the aquatic civilizations of the Thunder Sea, Droaam, the Dhakaani goblinoids, the Mror Holds, and the Last War, along with Keith’s personal thoughts on the religions and races of Eberron. All in all, about 200 pages of the book are lore, with a heavy focus on how you can use this information to generate interesting stories or characters. The remaining 48 pages include new races, subraces, feats, backgrounds, archetypes. magic items, and monsters. You can check out the table of contents here.
Is it official content?
No. This is not produced by WotC and it does not match all previous canon sources. This is Keith’s personal view of Eberron and what he does in his Eberron campaigns.
If I buy the PDF now and then want to buy the hardcover later, can I retroactively get the bundle?
No, the DM’s Guild doesn’t have a system in place that makes this possible.
Is it going to be available on D&D Beyond? Roll20? Fantasy Grounds?
It’s not official content and will not be on D&D Beyond, for a host of different reasons. We are exploring the possibility of conversions on other online platforms. At the moment it is only available on the DM’s Guild.
What parts of Exploring Eberron were ideas you’d had for years as opposed to ideas you developed while writing the book?
It’s not quite so clear cut. Almost all of the topics in Exploring Eberron are subjects I’ve wanted to write about for a decade. I sketched out the Thunder Sea—with the balance of power between the powerful Sahuagin nation and the sea elf colony, with the neutral, nomadic merfolk—as part of the setting bible in 2003; that setting bible likewise included the idea of the nation of monsters that eventually became Droaam, and the idea of the goblins having lost a great empire. I developed the planes with Bill Slavicsek, James Wyatt, and Chris Perkins as we developed the ECS in 2004. But all I had were the basic IDEAS. I didn’t work out the SPECIFICS of the Sahuagin nation or name the noble line of sea elves. We knew Fernia was the Sea of Fire, but back in 2004 we DIDN’T know exactly how it differed from the elemental planes.
Over the course of the next decade, all of these things evolved in their own way. Writing The Queen of Stone and “Backdrop Graywall” gave me an opportunity to explore Droaam in more depth. I established the basic framework of Mabar in the article I wrote on this blog a few years ago. But that was essentially a first draft. Notably, I said that one of the powers of Mabar was the Queen of All Tears. But at the time, I didn’t know who she was. I had a general vision of a tragic undead figure. But it wasn’t until I was writing the Mabar section of Exploring Eberron that I decided she was once mortal, and thought about what tragic figure from established canon could fit that part. I always knew that the slaadi were residents of Kythri, but it wasn’t until working on ExE that I thought about what made them different from the slaadi of other settings.
So most of the BROAD concepts had been in place for decades; the primary exception would the the Mror Dwarves (with the Realm Below and Ruinbound dwarves), as that’s new angle we specifically developed in Rising From The Last War. But many of the specifics were developed over the last year, because I finally had an opportunity to spend sufficient time to really think them through.
Is there some chapter or meaningful content that didn’t make the final cut of ExE?
There’s not a lot of material that I WROTE that we didn’t use. There’s a few things, like the Shavarath denizens table I’ve posted as a Patreon exclusive. But keep in mind that the book is 80 pages longer than we originally planned, precisely because I DIDN’T want to cut a lot of ideas that I loved. However, it is the case that I had to limit the scope of some of my original ideas. For example, originally I planned to do a write up on each of the major warlords of Droaam, similar in scope and style to the write-up for the Cults of the Dragon Below: describing the warlord, their personality, their history, their minions, their story hooks. We actually commissioned a fantastic image of Sheshka, the Queen of Stone. But as things went on, I realized both that we didn’t have room and that it didn’t actually feel like the right content for what is largely a player-focused book… that it was more appropriate for a book that mainly focused on organizations, threats, monsters, etc. Honestly, that’s the biggest piece of restricted scope that comes to mind, and it’s something I definitely WILL write at some point; it just didn’t fit here. But again, it’s not that I WROTE it and then we cut it; it’s that I realized it didn’t fit, so I DIDN’T write it.
What is your favorite new thing in “kanon” that appears for the first time in this book?
It’s a difficult choice. I love all my children. I’m particularly happy with the Queen of All Tears; I always liked the concept of her, but when the final piece of her story fell into place, it was just such a perfect fit. In general, I’m thrilled with all of the planes; there were a number (Kythri, Risia, Fernia) where initially I wasn’t actually sure they would be especially compelling… but whn I sat down and actually explored the idea, something wonderful came together.
Insofar as you’re thinking ahead right now, are you planning on focusing on your non-Eberron, non-D&D work for a while? When you do your next project for DMG, do you anticipate an adventure pack, or a more focused book of lore? Do you envision ever doing another book on the scale of ExE, or is the prospect too horrifying to contemplate at the moment?
I’m still determining the answer to that question. Wayne and I started working on Exploring Eberron over a year ago, and until last week we didn’t actually know how well it would do. This is what I do for a living, so that matters; if it doesn’t make enough money, I HAVE to pursue work that will keep a roof over my head. So I didn’t make plans for another major book because I didn’t know if I could afford to. But I love writing about Eberron and there are many more elements of the world I WANT to explore; it’s always just been a question of what’s feasible.
I do have non-D&D projects I’m working on, including The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance and a new Gloom project I’m working on. And I do want to do SOMETHING with my roleplaying game Phoenix: Dawn Command; I love the system and I’ve wanted to revisit it for some time. However, I still love Eberron and don’t want to lose momentum. I will be continuing to work on this website and working to increase the value of being a Patreon supporter; the more supporters I have, the more I can do with the site.
So having said all of that: Wayne and I have already talked about a number of possible projects for KB Presents. I will say that I’m not going to jump right into another 240 page book; I want to work on a few smaller projects before diving into that again. But I think you’ll be happy with all of the things we’re considering, and I’ll share more once there’s something concrete to share.
I understand you’ve played characters in Eberron games using some of the subclasses in this book. Can you tell us about them?
The preface of Exploring Eberron has an image of a warforged druid. This was a gift commissioned by Wayne; it’s Rose, a warforged druid I played in a campaign run by my friend Dan Garrison, the co-designer of Phoenix: Dawn Command. The campaign began at a party in Metrol on the night of the Mourning, and Dan provided the players with a list of basic character concepts to choose from and expand upon. I chose the warforged companion of the Princess of Cyre, a special commission for the royal family; classes weren’t setting, and I decided the companion would be named Rose, and would have the capabilities of a druid. As I have long loved the idea of warforged druids turning into living construct animals, I did the first pass on what became the Circle of the Forged druid. Long story short: the party was epic; we danced the Tago with knives; Metrol was sucked into Mabar when the Mourning occurred; hijinks ensued.
So Rose actually predated Exploring Eberron by about a year, and the Circle of the Forged druid was the first subclass developed for it. The Maverick artificer was developed before I played one, driven by my love of the flexibility of the 3.5 artificer—specifically, of the 3.5 infusion spell storing item. I love the concept of the artificer as someone who can tinker what you need on the spot. So, when Dan started another campaign—this time set in Callestan, with the players assuming the roles of professional rat-catchers—I decided to play a Maverick. My character is a forest gnome urchin, born in the feyspire of Shae Joridal but orphaned and separated from his home in Ghaal’dar attack; he grew up on the streets of Lower Dura and doesn’t really understand the fey potential in his blood. With this in mind, he uses the Magical Thinking approach to artifice that I describe in ExE. One of my favorite elements is using the guidance cantrip, because every time I cast it I come up with a different explanation for what I’m creating based on the effect I’m assisting with. Someone’s about to make an Investigation check? Try these special spectacles I’ve put together. About to use Athletics to make a dangerous jump? Let me add my pep paste to the bottom of your boots!
(VERY) SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
Does House Ghallanda have any interest in recreating or importing the odder cuisines presented in the book to the Five Nations (perhaps homogenizing it in the process, see American “Chinese food”)?
I don’t think it’s been suggested, but I think it’s a fantastic idea. Of course, in order to introduce grist to Five Nations they’d have to figure out the secret of how it’s made, and bear in mind that while we’ve told YOU how grist is made, the people of DROAAM don’t even know what it is, and once that secret is uncovered, they have to figure out how the Daughters are making grist actually edible. But I could see a great Ghallanda heist one-shot based on stealing the secret formula for grist…
In Exploring Eberron, it talks about the daelkyr being trapped in specific demiplanes and unable to leave, but I was always under the impression that they were described as “trapped in Khyber” being free to move about in Khyber unlike the Overlords. Is this a shift from canon or did I miss or misunderstand something regarding to this?
It’s not a shift from previous ideas, it’s a clarification. The idea all along was that you can’t FIGHT a bound overlord; they are a spirit in a shard and do not physically manifest. They don’t have kingdoms in Khyber. By contrast, it was always the idea that the daelkyr ARE physically present in Khyber, that they DO have lairs and minions, and that you can go meet one. But it was never clearly explained how they were trapped or what limitations were on their movement. Likewise, the earlier sources suggested that Khyber was strange and wondrous, but never clear how its geography worked. Over the next decade, I presented the idea that Khyber contains many demiplanes—and that entrances to demiplanes can transcend normal space, which explains how Belashyrra could be fighting the Umbragen in Xen’drik and troubling people in the Shadow Marches. It’s not that the domain of the Lord of Eyes spans the Thunder Sea, it’s that the domain is a DEMIPLANE with entrances in both places.
So in ExE I just clearly state this idea. The daelkyr aren’t bound in the physical tunnels of Khyber. They are each bound in a unique DEMIPLANE in Khyber. Within that demiplane they have absolute freedom of movement, so each one rules their own bizarre kingdom. Their minions can leave the demiplane, and again, demiplanes have exits across the world. But the daelkyr can’t leave the demiplane, which finally gives a clear explanation of how they have SOME freedom of movement but can’t “leave Khyber.”
So the IDEA remains: the daelkyr aren’t stuck in shards like overlords. They have realms they rule and you can go meet one and fight one. But those realms are little pockets of reality, and the daelkyr can’t LEAVE them.
There are Krakens and Aboleths underwater, are there equivalents of the Gatekeepers or the Church of the Silver Flame? What about of the couatls themselves?
Underwater? Surely. In the Thunder Sea? No. I’m sure there was an aquatic counterpart to the couatl, and I’m just as sure that they were involved in the same celestial sacrifice that bound the overlords and created the Silver Flame. It’s likewise logical to think that there were serpent cults among the locathah of the Thunder Sea, but they were crushed by the Eternal Dominion and the Valraean Protectorate, both of which do not allow freedom of religion in their realms. You could certainly have a secret Silver Flame tradition lingering among locathah dissidents, but the basic philosophy of the sahuagin is fundamentally opposed to its principles; “the strong should make sacrifices to protect the weak” is NOT a theory that fits in the Eternal Dominion. This doesn’t mean that the sahuagin are unaware of or helpless against supernatural threats; but they are handled by the martial might of the Dominion, not by some religious cult.
The kalamer merfolk are druids who maintain the balance of manifest zones, so they are something of a parallel to the Gatekeepers, but they don’t share any specific traditions with them and have no history with the daelkyr.
Does the Undying Court know about the Queen of All Tears and does it care?
With any question like this, my answer is always what makes the story more interesting? In my opinion, it’s more interesting for this to be a secret the player characters can discover, leaving them to decide what to do with the knowledge, rather than saying “Oh, the Undying Court has known about that for centuries.” Among other things, if the Undying Court already knows about it, then either they don’t care or can’t do anything about it, because they HAVEN’T. If they don’t KNOW, then it leaves open the possibility that they will panic when they find out about it. But in general, I will always lean toward adventurers making a dramatic discovery NOW over NPCs making a dramatic discovery a thousand years ago.
Kind of as a broader version of this question, what level of knowledge do the Material Plane experts possess and to what degree is it relevant to daily living?
The book gives examples of what experts know when it quotes the Planar Codex and other scholars. The limits of what can be known through Arcana depend on where you are and on what the DM WANTS players to know. The Undying Court has spent thousands of years astrally traveling and gathering information, and they likely have the best knowledge of the planes; other scholars may have their information through Aereni accounts.
But in terms of what does EVERYONE know? Pretty much the names of the planes and their basic concepts, and they don’t always get those right. We’ve called out that the typical person thinks of Risia as the “Plain of Ice” and Irian as the “Plane of Light” and don’t understand the deeper symbolic roles of these places. People know about them because of manifest zones, but without an Arcana check they don’t know much.
Fernia and Risia seem to have moved away from the mildly evil aligned, while Syrania moved away from mildly good aligned. What led to those decisions?
I’d argue that Risia IS still mildly evil-aligned. Here’s a quote:
At first glance, Risia appears to be barren and empty. But some travelers have described a presence, a sense of being watched, and most feel this presence is malign. On the surface, the concept of Risia seems entirely neutral; there’s nothing inherently evil about ice. But there’s a hunger to Risia—an innate desire to consume warmth and to bury living things in ice. In the Planar Codex, Dorius Alyre ir’Korran calls this force the Killing Cold.
Exploring Eberron, page 182
By contrast, my view of Fernia is that it explores all symbolic associations of fire, both benevolent and destructive, and shouldn’t be inherently evil. Syrania is primarily about commerce and knowledge and didn’t need to be inherently good; this also helps to clearly differentiate it from Irian. Beyond that, I didn’t assign those specific traits in the original ECS, and Exploring Eberron is about how I see things, not canon.
I’m a big fan of Sarlona, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen HOW the kalashtar are slipping Riedra’s net and getting to Khorvaire. Is this ever spelled out?
There’s no steady stream of kalashtar into Khorvaire. As for how immigrants have managed it, they’ve done it in small numbers and disguised as humans. They’ve made their way to Arhdman in the Syrkarn, or worked with smugglers using the secret port of Dvaarnava. Some have made a dangerous pilgrimage through Khyber. And there have been one or two bold strokes that have involved major operations to disrupt or draw away the Riedran blockades. But it’s NOT a trivial thing, and they never travel openly under a flag of Adar.
There’s a bit about magic making permanent changes to the body being a relatively common thing. How does this work with the description on identification papers?
Actually, permanent changes are NOT common. Here’s the text from the book, with a few highlights.
Minor cosmetic transmutation is quite common; most professional beauticians can change your hair or eye color. Unnatural effects are rarer, seen mainly in Aundair and Zilargo… The effects of cosmetic transmutation typically last a week, but if you’re dealing with a magewright of sufficient skill, you can extend the effect to one month. In some cities, you might even find an expert who can make the change permanent. The more complicated the transmutation, the more costly—and hard to find—the service becomes.
Exploring Eberron, Page 28
So first of all, permanent transmutation is not common. What’s common is turning your brown hair red for a month, or getting permanent eyeshadow for a week — the sort of cosmetic changes people get in OUR world, and I don’t have to update my driver’s license when I change my hair color. Exotic changes — like having, say, silver hair or cat’s eyes — are NOT common and are generally only seen in the cities of Aundair or Zilargo, where people are used to a higher degree of arcane experimentation. Permanent transformation is not only out of the price range of most people, but it’s also not something that’s available most places — again, in a major city, you might find someone who can do it. And as noted later in the section, “as with any magewright, beauticians are often specialized; a hairdresser might be able to give you permanent exotic hair but be unable to change any other feature.”
A second point is that identification papers aren’t something you need in everyday life. The ECS calls out that they’re typically carried by members of the middle and upper classes; so common laborers don’t even have identification papers. They’re primarily going to be used when crossing borders, using letters of credit, or similar situations; but you don’t need to show identification papers to buy a beer at the Gold Dragon Inn. If your papers are accurate except for your silver hair, no one’s going to question that you had your hair done. If you ARE going to engage in permanent, dramatic physical transformation—changing your apparent species, gender, height, or the like—you will want to get your papers updated. .
I had a question about the Dol Udar. Are the Gatekeepers at all aware of it?
Keep in mind that the Gatekeepers aren’t a powerful, modern faction with widespread resources. They’re the last remnants of an order that has been in decline for thousands of years, dwelling in a backwater with almost no contact with the modern nations, doing their best to maintain the ancient seals that keep forgotten evils at bay. With that in mind, consider that the Gatekeepers don’t NEED to know what the daelkyr are doing elsewhere in the world; they know that as long as they preserve the seals, the daelkyr cannot escape their prisons—and again, the seals are NOT geographically linked. There’s no Gatekeeper seals in the Mror Holds; the seals that exist prevent Dyrrn from leaving his demiplane, no matter where it touches the world.
With all that in mind, the whole point is that THIS IS WHY THEY NEED PLAYER CHARACTERS. What’s a more compelling story—the Gatekeepers having vast resources and knowing exactly what’s going on? Or the Gatekeepers knowing that they DON’T know exactly what’s going on in the wider world and needing to send a young, promising champion—a player character—to investigate the disturbances they’ve felt in the distant east? With that said, if you DON’T have a PC in this role and your player characters are active in Dol Udar, you could introduce an NPC in that role—a Gatekeeper agent who’s been sent to investigate the situation and provide assistance. But I’d still play that as they don’t KNOW what’s going on, so they’ve sent an agent to find out as opposed to they’re entirely aware of the situation and have already made plans to deal with it.
If you have questions about Exploring Eberron, post them below and I’ll answer when I can!
Wayne, Laura, Will and I have spent over a year developing this book, and I am thrilled to finally unleash it on the world. The excerpt above is one of our favorite pieces of art—Tira Miron, whose sacrifice inspired the modern-day Church of the Silver Flame. I would walk through all the content that’s contained in the book, but why type all of those words when I can just share the Table of Contents, along with my absolute favorite piece of art: Marco Bernardini’s map of the planes.
While there are still many pieces of Eberron I look forward to exploring in future Eberron, this has been a fantastic opportunity to deal with topics I’ve always wanted to explore in more depth but never been able to explore in the official books: the planes of Eberron, aquatic civilizations, the Dhakaani goblinoids. the monstrous nation of Droaam. It investigates familiar ideas—presenting my personal vision of the faiths of Eberron, and expanding on the changlings, shifters, warforged, and kalashtar—while also building on concepts we developed for Rising From The Last War but couldn’t develop in depth. like the dwarves of the Mror Holds and their ongoing war against the daelkyr.
Exploring Eberron has 247 pages of content, including new subclasses, races and subraces, magic items, backgrounds, and monsters. It is currently only available on the DM’s Guild. It is available both as a PDF, print (print on demand, so it’s not a limited edition), or as a bundle. This is NOT official content and will not be available on D&D Beyond; this is my vision of Eberron and what I do at my table.
If you have any questions, post them below—I’ll start a FAQ tomorrow! In the meantime, I’ll be DMing an Eberron adventure for the band Magic Sword at 7 PM Eastern Time as part of GenConTV’s Twitch stream. And if you’re one of my Patreon backers, thanks for your support—I’ll be posting a tiny exclusive later today, a “deleted scene” that was cut from Exploring Eberron during editing.
Thanks to all of you who have made Eberron your own over the years, and to those who are just exploring it now, enjoy the journey!
Since Eberron began, I’ve wanted to explore aquatic civilizations. Merfolk, sahuagin, locathah—these creatures are just as intelligent (or more so) than humans. So what are their civilizations like? How do they interact with one another, and with the world above? With that said, there’s more land below the water than there is above, and no reason to think its cultures aren’t just as diverse as those of the surface dwellers. Dealing with every aquatic nation of Eberron would be a book in itself. So in Exploring Eberron I focus on the Thunder Sea, which lies between Khorvaire. Aerenal, and Xen’drik. Sharn and Stormreach are two of the ports adventurers are most likely to deal with; this explores the sea that lies between them and what you can find below it.
These two pages provide an overview of the chapter, and I’m not going to expand on it in depth here because the book itself will do that soon. But I can say that these two pages are literally the tip of the iceberg. The Eternal Dominion, the merfolk of Karakala, the Valraen Protectorate, the mysterious kar’lassa—all of these are dealt with in this section, and each provides a host of interesting hooks for adventures or adventurers.
The raw text of Exploring Eberron is complete, but I’m not going to predict a release date until layout is complete. The final text is still going through editing, and with a book of this size layout and review will take time. So we haven’t crossed the ocean yet, but we can see land on the horizon!
We’ve been working on Exploring Eberron for a long time, but some of you may not know HOW long it’s been! In this guest post, producer Wayne Chang pulls back the curtain…
We all hate that phrase, because it means something we are looking forward to—generally in the Dungeons & Dragons-o-sphere—is delayed. We want it NOW, but that is never an indicator of when.
My name is Wayne, and I am the producer and art director for Keith Baker‘sExploring Eberron. Many may not know or realize my involvement with the book–Keith’s book, my project–but I wanted to put some behind-the-scenes insights for all the fans waiting so patiently. I’ll also give an update on the status of the book at the end.
The first inkling of Exploring Eberron came about in the fall of 2018. Keith was attending a local convention as a guest and we had a chance to hang out, eat, and chat. We’d been recording Manifest Zone since 2017 and worked on a couple DMs Guild Eberron adventures together, but had never met face-to-face. We talked about a few ideas he had about possible Eberron products–smaller productions like warforged and dragonmarks–and I talked about wanting a physical D&D book with my name in the credits.
It wasn’t until PAX East in 2019, over a couple plates of wings, that we made the decision to really nail down and start on what would publicly be known as “Project: Raptor”. (The name comes from a joke Keith made about 300 pages of dinosaurs.) The premise was to consolidate Keith’s evolving ideas about Eberron over the past 15 years and to expand upon the things he didn’t have the chance to officially write with Wizards of the Coast. I wanted a book of Keith’s Eberron (i.e. Kanon) all in one place and not spread out over years of blogs and correspondences, with pretty pictures to go with. I really wanted to emphasize the “in my Eberron” aspect of Keith’s work and give my good friend a chance to write whatever he wanted.
Our brainstorm document for Eberron Expanded–the original working name for the book–is over 4,000 words for a book we planned on being 160 pages long. We started an imprint–KB Presents–and made project plans regarding the book and launch, including securing permission for print-on-demand. We were excited! On July 23, 2019, one year after the launch of Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron, we officially announced Project: Raptor.
This was not an idle time, however. Keith was already busy writingEberron: Rising from the Last War for Wizards of the Coast,The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balancewith the McElroy’s, additional projects with Twogether Studios, and family emergencies. I was taking time off with my newborn son and maintaining my brokerage from a distance while on leave. We produced plenty in the background, but every stone unturned brought about new subjects Keith wanted to write about and expand. Other background problems plagued us on the production side: artists missing deadlines or flaking out, layout designer issues (including one layout person who needed to be fired and refused to return their advance), and an ever expanding book that ballooned from the original 160-page estimate as writing progressed.
As the November 2019 launch deadline loomed, we pushed back to December. More problems and emergencies came around, and holidays would slow and stop progress on the book. We knew we were disappointing many fans, but we pushed back the launch date again into 2020. The book kept expanding, pushing well past 200 pages at this point. More art was ordered and more stock art was acquired to punctuate the growing number of pages. All of this brought on more delays, but we pushed through. Even the ENnies nomination deadline came and went, something I had hoped we would hit.
Some people have wondered what kind of testing and vetting the book has received. Since the fall of 2019, a select group of playtesters has reviewed mechanics, text, and also fact-checked sources for us. This group carries the confidence of not only the production team, but are also experts in the field of Eberron lore. I will not reveal their names here, but they have our utmost thanks as well as credits in Exploring Eberron. I say “production team” because this project grew beyond just Keith and myself to include a multi-talented editor/layout/designer, as well as an additional designer. Some might be aware of the former, but both their identities will remain hidden for a little while longer. I joked once that I could put together an Exploring Eberron: Unabridged by stringing together chat messages between all of us–it would likely be longer than the book itself!
So, where is Exploring Eberron? The process for each chapter is: text, questions and feedback, response, editing, layout, review. The majority of art assets are already completed, additional art and resources might be required in the layout phase. As of the writing of this article, the raw text of the book is nearly done and down to the last 20 pages or so. Post production takes a while and we will not skip anything that may reduce the quality or polish on the book. After review is signed off, we will send the final documents to DMs Guild for approval. A hardcover is ordered and review begins again, this time looking for physical discrepancies. Once all that is done, we can launch. We cannot accurately give a timeline for everything you see above, which can take a month or two, but we are getting closer to a predictable estimate. I promised to be as transparent as possible when I can.
Exploring Eberron is over 240 pages in length, has over 50 pieces of custom and exclusive art, and has consumed over a year of our lives. It has cost blood, sweat, and tears–as well as conventional time and money–but working on the book has brought me great pride and amusement. We know you are waiting (im)patiently for it and our goal to exceed your expectations. So stick with us a little longer, you’re in for quite a book…
March has continued to be a crazy time. I was helping with gaming events on the JoCo Cruise, so I just returned from a week on the oceans… and I did come back sick, though fortunately not with Covid-19. So I’ve been recovering from that and adjusting to the new pace of life on land. I am still writing, and this means that we don’t have a firm release date for Exploring Eberron yet; I will tell you as soon as we do. However, editing and layout continue on the completed sections of the book. Wayne Chang and Laura Hirsbrunner have been working tirelessly to keep things moving forward, and I wanted to share the week’s previews!
Above is the opening of the bestiary chapter, featuring the daelkyr Valaara. Other sections of the book discuss Valaara’s cults and symbionts, while this chapter includes statistics for the Crawling Queen. Just to maintain some suspense, we’ve concealed the names of the other creatures in the section, but at least you know what types of creatures lie ahead. These creatures are tied to the other content in the book, so there’s a few tied to the planes, a few tied to the oceans, and a few other surprises.
We’ve also finished layout on Chapter 6, which covers magic items and other treasures. While the first page just gives examples of common, everyday items, there’s a wide range of treasures in this section tied to different cultures and places. That item hanging on the wall is a conversion of the Coat of Eyes, which originally appeared in my 4E adventure Khyber’s Harvest.
Work continues! We’ll have more news and previews next week.
The above image shows a two-page spread from Exploring Eberron, including art from Kristóf Köteles. I’m thrilled with how the book is coming together, but it’s a long journey and it’s not over yet.
Exploring Eberron is a huge undertaking. By the time it’s done, I expect the book to include over 180,000 words… which is longer than my first two Eberron novels combined! I know what I’m capable of when I’m writing at top speed, and that’s what my original estimates have been based on. But unfortunately I haven’t been able to maintain that speed. Over the last six months there have been family issues that have had to take priority, and once things pushed into this year it collided with the work I need to do for The Adventure Zone: Bureau of Balance. The production of board and card games is a lengthy process, and I have dates I have to meet to hit our GenCon release for Bureau. Exploring Eberron is my labor of love—but that also means it’s the one thing that has a timeline that can be pushed, and so it has been.
My hope had been to release Exploring Eberron by the end of this month. The art has been in hand for months now, and the first half of the book have already gone through editing and layout. But I am still writing the final chapter; the recent Lamannia article is a preview of that. Once I’m done, that material will have to go through editing and layout, and then the completed book will need to go through a final review process with the DM’s Guild for hardcover printing.
So when will Exploring Eberron come out? The short answer is that I don’t have an absolute answer. I’d hoped for this month, but that seems unlikely. I’m reasonably confident that it will be released in March, but I’m not prepared to say whether it will be at the beginning or the end of the month. What I can say is that we’re close, and that I’m excited about how it’s coming together.
So thank you for your patience and your enthusiasm. We’ll continue to release previews in the days ahead, and I’ll let you know when there’s more news!