Eberron is one of the newer setting for Dungeons & Dragons. It's a Dungeon Punk setting influenced by pulp serials, Indiana Jones and Film Noir, as opposed to classical High Fantasy. Eberron has taken a different path compared to most D&D settings in that it averts and subverts most classical D&D tropes (Color-Coded for Your Convenience for example).The setting focuses on the continent of Khorvaire, which has just concluded a hundred-year long war between five nations that has left a once-unified kingdom shattered. But even though the articles of peace have been signed, everyone knows that the enmity still lingers, and a new Cold War is being fought in the shadows of the four remaining thrones. The world of Eberron is full of Chessmasters, from the lowly mob boss that wants to rule the underworld of his city to an entire race of extraplanar Eldritch Abominations that have used a century-long plan to effectively bring an entire continent under their control. And above of all this is the mysterious Draconic Prophecy and those who seek to control it; and by extension, the very fate of Eberron itself. Cue the Big Damn Heroes.Eberron was the result of the 2002 setting search conducted by Wizards of the Coast. The winner was Keith Baker's Eberron. When Eberron was announced there was an outcry against it due to its unconventional nature, though this seems to have mostly subsided.The following works taking place in the Eberron setting have their own pages:
The setting handbook does indicate the existence of neutrally-aligned mind flayers and/or beholders, though these are usually Lawful Evil instead of Chaotic Evil. Interestingly, the alignment listed for daelkyr is "usually neutral evil," which means that technically there can be good daelkyr.
Archaeological Arms Race: Eberron provides the page quote, and the setting is a fantastic environment for it. However this trope isn't given any note worthy attention in canon. It is worth noting that the house of Cannith may have learned how to create creation forges from the ruins of Xen'drik, and indeed did according to a sample adventure in the book "Secrets of Xen'drik". Creation forges create war forged. Warforged were used as soldiers toward the end of The Last War. However, Cannith was an arms dealer that did not discriminate who it sold to, so it wasn't really an arms race, and as such it doesn't count. Despite the lack of its presence in canon, this trope can be incorporated into the game with little effort.
Arch-Enemy: The Eberron books and adventures have a few of these.
Arc Number: Everything important follows the pattern of there being 13 of them with one lost/evil/destroyed.
Faiths of Eberron (a sourcebook on religion in Khorvaire) makes the pun much more obvious and blatant with the 13 holy days of the Silver Flame, one of which is on its way out as minor and seemingly pointless - "Baker's Night," ostensibly an excuse to celebrate and eat pastries.
Arm Cannon: Warforged have this little friend called "Armbow."
They also have the Wand Sheath, which might be better, as it can shoot (among other things) -diameter fireballs and bolts of lightning instead of just wimpy little crossbow bolts. Though you could put some supplements to work and create an infinite-ammo armbow that shoots explosive crossbow bolts to really have some fun with it...
Authority Equals Asskicking: Mostly averted. Keith Baker himselfclaims, "The general premise in Eberron is that influence does not equal personal physical power. Typically, the king won't be the mightiest warrior in the kingdom (Boranel aside)." And many groups like the Aurum have their power based on money and influence rather than personal power. However, the trope is played straight in the following instances:
Jaela Daran, normally a 3rd level character — gains the powers of an 18th level Cleric within the walls of Flamekeep simply by virtue of being the head of the Silver Flame church. To top it off, she is eleven years old. Of course about the only reason she has these powers is Executive Meddling - Baker eventually conceded that this world needs at least one person who could cast True Resurrection.
The talking tree Oalian is the leader of the Druid sect called "The Wardens of The Woods" and is a level 20 Druid, making him the highest level character whose level is explicitly revealed in the campaign guide (Erandis Vol has templates that give her a higher effective character level, but that only matters for XP).
In 4E, the Lord of Blades is now level 21. They also retained the whole "level 11 is legendary status" thing, so that makes him even more awesome.
An article in Dragon Magazine had statistics for one of the rakshasa rajahs, the fiends the Lords of Dust hope to free (or siphon power from). In a campaign setting where level 10 is considered masterful and level 15+ legendary, the rajahs are level 60. Make note that 20 is the traditional level cap of the system, and though supplemental rules do allow for and support higher levels, these officially only go up to level 40 for PCs. This puts them literally on par with gods who rarely have more than 60 levels, and only a few are even that high.
And let us not go without mentioning the city of Io'lokar in Argonnessen. A city built of five tiers, each tier with more and more powerful residents. The lowest level tier has an average level for its resident (in 3.5e) of between 8 and 11. That's right. The Lord of Blades is level 12, and the lower to lowest residents of this city can make him sweat. That doesn't even get into the next tiers, which go from 12-15, 15-17, 18-19, and 20+. And the high council that runs the city ranges from high level to epic level in scope. One of the NPCs on the council has twenty-nine levels to his name. 29. He may just be the highest-level character around short of the Rakshasa Rajahs themselves. Woe betide the adventurer, or party of adventurers, who thinks they can attack this city. It's perhaps best for everybody else in Eberron that the residents have little to no interest in the outside world.
Berserk Button: Vadis nia, meaning "disgracer of the blood," is THE worst insult in the culture of the Valenar elves. A human in one of the tie-in novels who is enslaved by a particularly nasty clan of Valenar uses this to get the clan's leader to go apeshit on him before killing him with his own blades.
Big Bad: The Dreaming Dark, the Daelkyr, the rakshasa Rajahs, and Vol are some of the most common, but there are a lot of forces out there that can be story-spanning antagonists if rubbed wrong. Even some of the supposedly nice ones, as Secrets of Argonnessen tells us.
And as their evil counterparts, the Inspired, who have been deliberately bred to be Bishounen and Bishoujo.
Bishounen Line: Daelkyr, the ultimate rulers of the plane of madness, lords and creators of monstrosities such as beholders and mind flayers, resemble "perfectly formed athletic human males, possessing unearthly beauty." Well... mostly. They don't actually have certain characteristics necessary to be considered 'male', after all...
Word Of God is that the Daelkyr aren't the worst creatures Xoriat has to offer- just the worst that have any interest in the mortal world. Also, we shouldn't think too closely as to why the ultimate EldritchAbominations are so humanlike...
The Dragon Below trilogy has a Khyber cultist encounter a daelkyr, and he contemplates some of his cult's lore: "They have no flaws except those that they choose to have..." That particular Daelkyr was called the Master of Silence, and had no mouth.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The dinosaur names—"clawfoot" for velociraptor, for instance. In a world where Latin and the like doesn't exist, and science has a lot more mysticism in it, it's no wonder that no-one calls a dinosaur a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Inquisitives (detectives) and chronicles (newspapers) also qualify.
Character Alignment: Corrupt Clerics of good religions and Good Clerics of evil religions can still cast spells as long their faith is strong enough. Unlike normal D&D, which has a "one-step rule" for clerics.
While the Church of the Silver Flame is based on noble ideals and the binding of evil supernatural beings, the powerful rakshasa rajah bound under Flamekeep is said to whisper ideas into the minds of the faithful, misguiding them to do evil in the name of good.
The setting does not believe in "racial alignments" for monsters (except for demons and the like who pretty much are the embodiment of such an alignment). One can't guess a dragon's alignment from his species. A silver dragon—in most setting known to be noble and chivalrous—might in Eberron be a villain of the worst kind while the usually tyrannical red dragon might have an individual who selflessly fights for the lesser races.
Some of the listed alignments for certain NPCs can be misleading or outright wrong. The Queen of Aundair is Chaotic Good, yet she's actively preparing for the next big war with the intention of having Aundair win it. The King of Karrnath is Lawful Evil, despite having been one of the original instigator of the treaty that put an end to the Last War and working protect and fix the mistakes he made during the war that cost his people dearly. His being a vampire most likely explains his alignment.
The Chessmaster: So, so many. Hell, there's an entire nation of Chessmasters! To say that trying to outwit their Secret Police is akin to robbing a police station.
In a Dragon magazine article, it said that if you asked a member of the Lords of Dust why, if they've been manipulating events for hundreds of thousands of years, they don't rule the world yet, their reply is likely to be, "Don't we?"
Crapsack World: To make sure there were plenty of varied threats to keep characters of all levels busy and to keep every campaign from being the same battle against the same villains, the world seems on the verge of being wiped out by all manner of ultrapowerful threats. Not to mention the chaos of the world meant to make it Adventure Friendly.
The mainland for humans, Khorvaire, has just got out of a hundred years war. An entire country was destroyed, and many other counties have been divided up by various groups vying for independence, leading to the once great empire being a shadow of its former self.
Daelkyr, Lovecraftian lords of madness, want to rule everything that is above the ocean. Although they are a Sealed Evil in a Can, they are just waiting for the seal to get loose for them go after everything. And the organization that keeps them sealed is in decline.
The Quori, the omnipotent lords of the dreamworld, already control one entire continent, using their psionic powers to keep everyone content. Now they want to extend their control over the rest of the planet. They already have spies in every nation of the world, and their control grows by the day.
The Lords of Dust scheme to free the demonic rakshasa rajahs (Beings that would be considered gods in most other D&D settings) from their imprisonment. They've been working at this for tens of thousands of years.
Many other organizations conspire and manipulate events, including the Aurum, the Chamber, The Blood of Vol and The Order of the Emerald Claw, to name a few.
Death is no release. In 3.5, it's confirmed that people who die end up wasting away to Oblivion in the afterlife that is Dollurh. 4E is a bit nicer, leaving a few exit strategies (one of which requires one to side with the Silver Flame, which unwittingly BEARS A LORD OF DUST). So ya see, even if you die, you're still doomed. Creates the idea that the Blood of Vol and the Undying Court are right.
Creating Life: House Cannith did this and created the Warforged. Things went better than expected.
Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Silver Flame, led by Jaela Daran, is based strongly on the Roman Catholic Church.
Damaged Soul: When Dollurh is coterminous, this might happen.
Darker and Edgier: Ultimately averted. Despite the myriad ways things could go wrong, there is still hope.
Dark Is Not Evil: What in most settings would be a "monster" is in Eberron a "tax payer". And the goblin nation is quite similar to the elf nation on the main continent.
In the elven homeland of Aerenal, the elves have a culture that revolves around death, produce the most skilled necromancers, and are both ruled by and worship their reanimated ancestors. They also tend toward Neutral Good.
Death World: Let's just say that some places are not tourist attractions. At least half the planes of existence will kill an unprotected mortal in a matter of moments.
Deconstruction: The classic D&D good alignments are cheerfully sebverted here and most of the evil ones, aside from the Always Chaotic Evil types, as well. Fits the setting, considering that it's a fantasy equivalent of the modern era up to the first two decades of the 20th century.
Demonic Possession: Possession by extraplanar entities is quite common. Hell, the aforementioned Quori actually designed a drug which sends the user on out-of-body highs—so that they can steal the user’s body.
Demon Lords and Archdevils: The rakshasa rajas. They're not actually rakshasas any more than gods are humans—rakshasas are just the most common fiends on the surface of Eberron, so the name stuck. The rajas are the most powerful fiends, which also includes demons and devils.
Demon Slaying: The Church of the Silver Flame, the Gatekeepers, and the Chamber.
Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Byeshk, targath, and crysteel weapons don't exist in all settings. Take care when borrowing Eberron monsters fellow DM.
Evil Counterpart: The Blood of Vol is remarkably similar to the Undying Court, except for being less patient about it. This is partly because the Vol herself, is, well, an elf, so it is in many ways an offshoot of the Undying Court.
Fantastic Racism: There is hatred against warforged, changelings, and shifters. And against goblins, partially because of the events that led to the formation of Darguun. And against all the nasty things that live in Droaam, but that’s to be expected. And the lizardfolk/common races conflicts going on in Q'barra. And the dragons against everyone else, the Inspired against anyone else, the Qualitar drow against everyone else... actually, name a canon character or a faction in this setting, there is a good chance it has racist tendencies.
Fantastic Science: Thanks to artificers and forward looking Wizards and others, we get this.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Mostly averted. Aside from the Five Nations having a vague western European feel, almost all of Eberron's cultures are completely original. The biggest exception is Adar, a mountain land of peaceful monks strongly influenced by Tibet.
Breland may come off as a Fantasy Counterpart America with some traits of Eagleland to some, with its patriotic citizens being characterized as loud and boorish when travelling, having a love of democracy and strong belief in fundamental legal rights, and the presence of a Poor Richard analogue called Beggar Dane as well as having Sharn (the fantasy New York) and a general acceptance of most races and classes.
it doesn't stop there either, Aundair is Italy, Karrnath is Germany, Thrane is any Theocracy, Riedra is North Korea, The Talenta Planes is comparable to Native American cultures, The Mror Holds is Russia, The Shadow Marches resemble Vietnamese rice paddies, Valenar is the Middle East, Xen Drick is Mayan or Aztec south america, The Ancient Rakshasa cities resemble ancient India, Cyre is Greece, and The Eldeen Reaches is the English countryside.
Final Solution/Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": The Church of the Silver Flame executed the "Lycanthropic Inquisition," AKA the Purge, just before the Last War, where they hunted down and executed every were-creature they could find, and took a number of innocents (especially shifters) with them until some shifters turned informant and someone else produced reliable detection magics. The Church tries to justify it with various excuses (some which may hold water, depending on the DM) and even has an annual holiday to celebrate the Purge, but ultimately it's a black mark on their reputation and history with others.
The supplemental material unfortunately backpedals a bit on this moral ambiguity and seemingly goes out of its way to excuse or outright Retcon statements made in the campaign book, with the Church of the Silver Flame presented in a more traditionally Lawful Good light and Kaius, the vampire king, coming across as considerably less well-intentioned.
High Speed Hijack: While not explicitly given rules in the sourcebook, lots of promotional art and related fiction describes hijacking airships, or the Lightning Rail. It's also one of the encounters in the published adventure "Voyage of the Golden Dragon."
Interpretative Character: Most major NPCs are deliberately written as this, in order to keep plots fresh and prevent metagaming from players who know their established personality (eg. Cardinal Krozen handles a lot of church business behind Jaela's back, but is he trying to use her as a figurehead or to stop others from doing so? It depends on the DM). Even their official statblocks are based on hearsay, with some NPCs having different stats in different books.
Low Fantasy: Compared to other D&D settings, though only in the sense that it isn't High Fantasy. It is often stated that magic is weaker but significantly more common in Eberron than standard settings (to the point that nearly every blacksmith and baker can cast at least a couple spells), not to mention the flying ships, lightning train, intelligent Magitek robots...
Luck Manipulation Mechanic: In 4th Edition Eberron, the Dragonmark of Detection allows one to roll twice on perception checks and pick the best result.
Made of Iron: Warforged. Literally. They can have plating upgrades at first level that cause them to be made of mithril or adamantine. Both are much stronger than normal iron.
Metaplot: Averted. The setting does not advance with adventures, novels or new sourcebooks. Some executives tried to impose this on the setting for 4e, but they backed off when the fans strongly indicated their displeasure.
Mission Control: Steel, an intelligent (albeit unimaginatively named) dagger, wielded by the Dark Lanterns.
Mr. Seahorse: Changelings, thanks to their doppelganger heritage, can assume fully functional female forms, even if their "natural" form is male. It does render them stuck in female gender until they give birth, though.
Our Demons Are Different: Demons and devils are actually native inhabitants of the world rather than extraplanar beings, and they ruled the planet for millions of years before being ousted from power by the dragons. Also, "demon" is a term that can is applied to either Chaotic Evil fiends specifically or all fiends in general (true demons, devils, rakshasas, yugoloths, etc.). The most common fiends (on the surface of Eberron, at least) are actually the tiger-headed rakshasas.
Physical God: Mostly averted, as described below; the main pantheons of the setting (Sovereigns and Dark Six) don't like to manifest physically, assuming they actually exist as discreet entities at all (except for the Traveler- maybe- but being a Trickster Archetype you'll never be sure if the person you met really was the Traveler or not...) Played more or less straight with the Rajahs/Overlords; unfortunately, they were all Gods of Evil.
Physical Religion: Eberron mainly averts this. There are legends and myths, but nothing solid for the Sovereigns and the Dark Six.
Some Warforged revere Lord of Blades.
Erandis Vol is a Lich who is a holy figure to the Blood of Vol
The Lizard Folk of Q'Barra revere the Dragon Rhashaak, who rules over them as a god.
The Silver Flame has a physical presence in Flamekeep, the capital of Thrane.
Pirate: The Lhazaar Principalities is responsible for most piracy, with the Seren raiders coming in a distant second.
The Plan: The gnomes of Zilargo do this as a hobby. The dragons make them look like amateurs, though.
Prophecies Are Always Right: The Draconic Prophecy foretells every single possible event that has happened or can happen... with the twist that they tend to take the form of "If X happens, then Y will happen" instead of, "X, Y and Z will happen in exactly that order". This means that you can manipulate fate to a certain extent: if you want Y to happen, then you'd better make sure X happens. (This is a fact that has not escaped the attention of the various Chessmasters of the world.)
Punctuation Shaker: Xen'drik, Zharash'ak, Q'Barra... the list goes on. Subverted in that the ' is explicitly stated to represent a glottal stop... it's not just thrown in to make the word look all exotic-y, it's actually supposed to be pronounced.
Psychic Powers: Psionic powers are more common than magic on the continent of Sarlona due to the influence of the quori (psychic spirits from the dimension of dreams).
Reincarnation: The reincarnation spell is available as in most D&D settings, but is not the natural destiny for souls, most of which go to the plane of Dollurh after death. In Riedra, though, the citizens are indoctrinated in the Path of Inspiration, which tells them that they will be reincarnated in a higher caste after death, which helps them accept their lot in this life and keeps them from rebelling against the Inspired.
Religion of Evil: The Dark Six. Though the 4E campaign guide points out that they're really more like the Greek gods (i.e., still epic Jerk Asses, but really more the embodiments of destructive nature than truly malicious). Even before then, one of them wasn't really evil, just... mysterious. Terribly mysterious.
The Blood of Vol and the cults of the Dragon Below, especially as seen in the first Blade of the Flame book and the Dragon Below trilogy.
The Lord of Blades seems to be working towards this, what with his "destroy all non-warforged" policies.
Religious Robot: Many warforged adhere to the faiths of other races, such as the Sovereign Host and the Silver Flame. In addition, some warforged have their own Robot Religion in the form of the Lord of Blades.
Robot War: The Lord of Blades is trying to start one of these.
Rocket Punch: Check the self-forged paragon path. Alternatively, a +1 returning battlefist.
Rule of Cool: Warforged and halflings that ride dinosaurs. Bedouin elves with double-ended scimitars. Viet Cong drow who worship scorpions. Elementals making longships fly. Half the setting is based on the Rule of Cool, for Flame's sake!
Saintly Church: Despite the corrupt clergy and atrocities associated with the Church of the Silver Flame, it's still a powerful force of good. The Sovereign Host is a straighter example of this trope. At least it tries.
Shape Shifter Mode Lock when the elves, most of which where the slaves of the giants rebelled, the Gyrderi, who where the free elves decided to help their kin. Being druids they had an ability called wild shape, which lets them shape shift into animals. "the giants enacted a terrible curse that forever bound them in the wild shapes they were wearing, trapping them and their descendants in the forms of animals"
Shrouded in Myth: Xen'drik. Partially because of the Traveler's Curse (things will never be in the same place twice).
Sealed Evil in a Can: Rakshasa Rajahsnote sealed in specific prisons in Khyber, mostly in suspended animation, though a couple- Bel Shalor being the most notable- are awake enough to influence the world very subtly, quorinote trapped on their own home plane, which is metaphysically turned on its side; they can only enter the material plane by hijacking mortal bodies, daelkyrnote like the Rajahs, trapped in Khyber, but are awake and with greater freedom to move around- they just can't go home, or come to the surface... and the list goes on.
Secret Police: Fun fact- the registered crime rate in Zilargo is suspiciously low.
Shapeshifter Default Form: Changelings have one. And, despite how easily they can change it, they actually do have default genders as well; a changeling is born a gender-neuter, then takes on one gender at around 6 years of age, not gaining the ability to use the Gender Bender aspect of its shapeshifting powers until early puberty. This first gender is the changeling's "true gender".
Social Darwinist: Children of the Winter, type 2. These guys are crazy, they go around causing plagues and other harsh conditions to kill of the weak. They are also trying to bring about a apocalyptic winter that will wipe out all but the strongest. They even engage in cannibalism.
Space Jews: Dwarves control the banks. Or rather, House Kundarak does. And House Kundarak is composed of dwarves. (And dwarves also happen to rule a sinister organization of bankers and financiers, secretly pulling the strings of Khorvaire's economy...)
The Chessmaster: As a general rule of thumb, any creature that has a lifespan greater than that of an average half-elf is a Chessmaster. To wit, the Lords Of Dust, the Dreaming Dark and the Draconic Chamber are organisations full of Chessmasters... and naturally, they tend not to get along.
The Dwarves might be an exception to this rule, as despite being long-lived by human standards they're considered fairly trustworthy. On the other hand, in the Banking Guild of House Kundarak they have managed to figure out a way to mine gold, trade it to other races for goods, then (and this is the brilliant part) get the other races to hand it back over for safekeeping. Along with various other valuable items. And pay for the privilege of doing so.
The Multiverse: 13 planes, of which one has been severed from the rest and remains unreachable through conventional magic. And for good reason, as it is currently the plane of nightmares. Another is going to be out of close contact with the main world for the next twenty thousand years, which is also good, as it is the plane of insanity and non-Euclidean geometries and the sort of place Cthulhu might fit in very well.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: Eberron used to have thirteen moons, thirteen Dragonmarks (with associated lineages), thirteen coterminous planes, thirteen dwarven clans, and the continent of Khorvaire had thirteen regions. One of the moons has vanished, one of the dragonmarks had the entire line who had it exterminated by dragons and angry elves (though it lives on in one person; however, that person - being undead – can't use her mark), two dragonmarked houses now share a mark, contact with one of the planes was severed forever (when its horrific inhabitants tried to invade), one of the dwarven clans mysteriously disappeared, and one region in Khorvaire was rendered a wasteland.
Took a Level in Badass: A few prestige classes, like the Extreme Explorer or the Heir of Siberys. Manifesting a dragonmark can also lead to this.
Word Of God: Keith Baker (aka "Hellcow") posts on the Eberron forums every now and then, though he can only give his opinion on certain things since Wizards has control over the direction of the setting. He also has a blog and a website.