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Eberron is a Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting created by Keith Baker. Eberron was the winner of Wizards of the Coast's Fantasy Setting Search in 2002, and became an official setting with the release of the Eberron Campaign Setting (2004) for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Eberron has since returned for 4th edition and 5th edition. Eberron was also the default setting for Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Development[]

Fantasy Setting Search[]

Following the release of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3e) (2001), Wizards of the Coast's Research & Development and Brand Team departments were interested in a new setting. The Brand Team suggested opening it as a contest to the public.

On June 6, 2002, Wizards of the Coast announced the Fantasy Setting Search, a contest soliciting proposals for a new campaign setting. Entrants were instructed to submit a one-page proposal, with around ten winners going forward to a second round. The deadline for entries was June 21.[1]

At early meetings on the project, Wizards of the Coast expected to receive no more than 4,000 entries. The panel of judges, consisting of Wizards of the Coast employees, received nearly 11,000 entries,[2] delaying the start of the second round from July 3 to the end of August.[3][4] The original plan was for the entire team to review every entry, but the large number of entries made this impossible. Instead, the submissions were divided among panel members, each bringing ten entries to a committee, of which in total around ten would be selected.[5]

Eleven proposals were ultimately chosen to go forth to the second round. These entrants were tasked to produce a longer ten-page setting proposal, with up to three entrants going forward to a third round. On 15 October, three winners were announced: Philip Nathan Toomey, Rich Burlew, and Keith Baker. Each was awarded $20,000 a part of a work-for-hire contract to take part in the third and final round, where entrants were tasked to produce a 100-page setting bible.[6]

On February 3, 2003, Wizards of the Coast announced the winner as Keith Baker, a freelance game designer from Boulder, Colorado. He was awarded a grand prize of $100,000 as a consulting fee.[7]

Finalists Toomey and Burlew's proposals became property of Wizards of the Coast, and were covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement, meaning that they were never released. However, elements of their works may have appeared in other Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks.[8]

The other entrants were not bound by the same terms, and retained the rights to their own settings. Of the eight other runners-up, a number went on to publish campaign settings based on their entries. They are believed to include Dawnforge, published by Fantasy Flight Games; Morningstar, by Ronald Scott Kennan; Code of Unaris, by Gary Pratt; Cappedocio by Alexandre Gélinas et al; and Reign of Ashes, by ENWorld user MissHappen.[8] Urbis by Jürgen Hubert was also an entrant.[9][10]

Baker's proposal[]

Keith Baker's original one-page entry described his world as "Lord of the Rings meets Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Maltese Falcon.[11] His submission was originally titled Thrilling Tales of Swords and Sorcery, a name which which it would retain even in the 100-page story bible. It included elements of pulp adventure, film noir, and the concept that magic would naturally evolve to become part of society. It was substantially different to the final published Eberron setting, and consisted largely of a noir-style detective scene in a fantasy context.[5]

Fantasy Search Setting committee member Bill Slavicsek chose Eberron's one-page submission because it had unique concept, was the first entry which excited him. The title also interested him. Slavicsek avoided entries which, although innovative, did away with core D&D concepts, such as worlds without deities, low-magic worlds, or water worlds.[5]

The shifters were first added in the 100-page setting bible. Th inspired first appeared in the original proposal, but their ability to survive the death of their host was too powerful for a player character, leading to the kalashtar. The changelings were likewise a player-character level variant of the doppelganger, inspired by Baker's interest in what a civilization of doppelgangers might look like.[12]

The warforged were first added in the setting bible, although their name and origin were different. James Wyatt is credited with the name "warforged". Baker's basic concept described them as sentient constructs built for war, seeking meaning in a post-war peace. However, he originally intended for them to have a more alien nature, more construct traits, and the ability to bond magic items to themselves.[13]

An unused concept was that every person in the world would have at least one natural cantrip, with the ability to increase that power through a character class option. This would later be focused in the the concept dragonmarks, which appeared only in certain family bloodlines. The initial proposal also described a unique source of power in Eberron, which served as a coveted resource like oil in the real world, and could serve as a point of conflict to inspire adventures. This would later be developed into dragonshards.[14]

Development[]

Following selection, Baker spent several weeks in Seattle working with Wizards of the Coast designers Bill Slavicsek, Chris Perkins, James Wyatt, and others. Among the changes made during this time were dinosaurs mounts, the Dragonmarked Houses, the Last War, the Undying Court, the Mourning, and the Church of the Silver Flame. Bill Slavicsek convinced Baker to take the setting in a more serious tone than in his original concept.[5]

Bill Slavicsek created the name Eberron. His goal was to create a unique, memorable, and easily trademarked name that would look good on a logo. He had previously worked on the Star Wars Sourcebook (1987), which involved inventing numerous names.[5] At one point, "Warforged" was considered for the name of the setting.[13]

The initial Eberron campaign sourcebook was written by three designers: Bill Slavicsek, James Wyatt, and contest winner Keith Baker.

A core premise of Eberron was that if magic behaves reliably, it would eventually be incorporated into society in place of technology, with wide-ranging effects on warfare, commerce and daily life. At the same time, it was important to keep Eberron grounded to D&D's roots.[15]

The design team drew inspiration from movies. Bill Slavicek noted three movies in particular: Raiders of the Lost Ark, for its pulpy action feel; The Mummy (1999); and The Name of the Rose (1986), for its grounding in a medieval setting, a core design goal of Eberron. James Wyatt suggested Raiders of the Lost Ark; The Maltese Falcon, for its double-crossing and dramatic twists; and various film retellings of The Three Musketeers, for its swashbuckling action. Keith Baker added The Brotherhood of the Wolf, for its combination of swashbuckling intrigue and action, and Henry V (1989), for its portrayal of medieval war.[11]

Keith Baker's original concept of a resource used for magic was developed into the dragonshards. Originally, these were only Siberys dragonshards, which fell from the planetary ring which orbits the planet. Eberron and Khyber dragonshards were added as needed.[14]

Concept artist Steve Prescott designed the warforged's appearance. The warforged was particularly difficult to balance as a race without level adjustment, and required work by all three designers, the development team, and playtesters to settle on a balanced version.[13]

After the designers finished their work, a three-person development team (Jesse Decker, Michael Donais, and team leader Andrew J. Finch) reviewed the design with the book's original goals. Among their changes was to make the shifter's shifting ability a free action, to encourage its use in combat, and well as a rule that shifting feats automatically extend shifting duration, to differentiate it from a barbarian's rage.[12]

Previews[]

At Gen Con Indy 2003, which took place on July 24-27, Wizards of the Coast distributed Across Eberron, a booklet introducing the setting with concept art and some setting details. PDF versions of the booklet were prepared in August 2003, and were distributed on the Wizards of the Coast website on December 16, 2003. The booklet announced a release date of summer 2004.

Previews of the setting began to appear in Dragon Magazine beginning with Countdown to Eberron: Setting the Stage, Dragon #315 (Jan 2004). According to this article, the finalists' setting bibles were 125 pages, rather than 100.

Release[]

The world of Eberron was first published with the Eberron Campaign Setting (2004), a 320-page hardcover sourcebook released in June 2004.

External links[]

Campaign settings
Major
BirthrightDark SunDragonlanceEberronForgotten Realms (Al-QadimKara-TurMazticaArcane Age) • Nentir ValeGreyhawkMystara (Hollow WorldRed Steel) • PlanescapeRavenloft (Masque of the Red Death) • Spelljammer
Other
BlackmoorCouncil of WyrmsGhostwalkJakandorMahasarpaPelinorePharagosThunder Rift
Third-party and licensed
Diablo IIExandriaKingdoms of KalamarLankhmarMagic: The Gathering (RavnicaTheros) • RokuganWilderlands of High Fantasy

References[]

  1. You Could Create Our New Fantasy Setting! Wizards,com, 2002-06-06.
  2. Fantasy Setting Search Closes In on Finalists. Wizards.com, 2002-12-09.
  3. The New Fantasy Setting Search Second Round Delayed Due to Overwhelming Response. Wizards.com, 2002-07-02.
  4. Setting Search Results Delayed to Late August. Wizards.com, 2022-08-11.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 The Origins of Eberron: Bill Slavicsek
  6. Participants in Next Round of Fantasy Setting Search Announced. Wizards.com, 2002-10-15.
  7. Fantasy Setting Search Winner Selected Wizards.com, 2003-02-03.
  8. 8.0 8.1 who were the WOTC setting finalists? RPG.net, 2006.
  9. [Setting23] Urbis Redux
  10. Urbis - A World of Cities
  11. 11.0 11.1 Countdown to Eberron: Setting the Stage, Dragon #315 (Jan 2004).
  12. 12.0 12.1 Countdown to Eberron: Races of the New World, Dragon #317 (Mar 2004).
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Countdown to Eberron: Encounter the Warforged, Dragon #318 (Apr 2004).
  14. 14.0 14.1 Eberron: Dragonmarks, Dragonshards, and Dynasties of Power, Dragon #320 (Jun 2004).
  15. Countdown to Eberron: A World Tempered by Magic, Dragon #319 (May 2004).
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