A few days ago I posted 5 Things I Like About Eberron. In compiling the list I hit upon a few things that I disliked about the setting - not a lot of them, but they really stuck out at me. I’ll see if I can hit five.
- Too many cliches and half-baked ideas. There’s a lot among Eberron’s fresh ideas that just tastes a little stale. The destruction of an entire country mimics Greyhawk’s Twin Cataclysms. The demon-filled northern wastes remind me of the home of Lone Wolf’s Darklords. Khyber makes me think of a Carry On film. Nations are composed unrealistically of one race or gimmick each, and frequently evoke images of real-world equivalents. Some of this familiarity is a strength, but at other times it just feels old and unpolished.
- "Pulp noir" is kind of vague. I can’t really grasp it, and it seems that Eberron writers are having a little trouble catching on to the writer’s vision. It was a great concept, but I think that it worked better in its original intended setting of a videogame, rather than a pen and paper RPG which relies heavily on game masters getting a feel for the setting easily. Perhaps it’s just me.
- Wizards use it for everything. I’m perhaps a little harsh in my assessment here; only two recent D&D videogames are set in Eberron (D&D Online, Dragonshard) while Temple of Elemental Evil is Greyhawk and Neverwinter Nights 2 is Forgotten Realms. My complaint is that while both games use the setting in name, they set themselves in the continent of Xen’Drik, a continent intended to give a place for things which don’t really fit into Eberron. What you end up with is more like standard Greyhawk D&D with different deities and a few new races.
- Artificer is no good in regular D&D. As an NPC class or a PC in a game based on investigation and intrigue, I see nothing wrong with artificers. Try to fit those into the standard game and you’ve got a character who’s like a rogue, except he owns more magic items and can’t sneak.
Alright, I’m too sleepy to come up with a fifth. In Eberron’s defence, it has a lot of excellent ideas that I’m a fan of. Clerics able to change alignment and become corrupt is interesting, planar manifest zones open up all kinds of possibilities, the daelkyr add a new category of enemy to the usual hackneyed demons and devils, the quori are likewise an interesting and innovative set of creatures, and the Silver Flame is an interesting myth that fits with an anti-lycanthrope, Inquisition style church.
I had a Warforged Artificer who played in a mercenary game I ran once. He was so much more deadly at everything than everyone else in the party it wasn’t even funny: he outshot the gunslinger, he out-healed the priest, he out-spelled the sorceror, he out-meleed the barbarian (with the help of his mechanical dog familiar)… I’d have to ask him how he did it all again, but it was sickening to watch.
I completely disagree with your assessment of the artificer. They’re extremely useful characters, and have quite a bit of melee beef (especially, as mentioned above, the ‘Forged Artificer). If you need convincing, look at the metamagic spell trigger class feature (and metamagic item infusion). Yeah, you can burn through wands like nothing, but you can lay out some severe damage.
I agree that it can seem like an artificier is an NPC class, but I have an artificier that goes ethereal then dual fires wands (using the Cannith Wand Adept from Sharn: City of Towers) to blow the daylights out of opponents with the feat Transdimensional Spell (From Complete Arcane). And as for the fact that Artificiers can’t sneak, there are armor bonuses that give bonuses to that.
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