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13 June 2008 @ 12:12 am
OK: Races, already.  
Let me start off with the standard disclaimers. I'm not going to go into detail here. I'd like to; we've got lots of cool ideas in the works, and I'll admit that I never liked the eladrin until we hit on our current story for them. But this isn't the place for those details, all the more so because until the 4E Eberron books go to print, anything could change. Even with the limited level of detail I am going to provide, this is not canon. And even if it was, don't let that stop you from doing your own thing. If you think it's cool to turn the Aereni into eladrin, do it. If you want to give the eladrin a floating cloud continent, do it. WE aren't going to do either of those things, but hey, knock yourself out. But if you are interested in canon, I'd keep an eye on DDI. We've already seen the warforged; if the full Eberron eladrin story is going to come out early. I'd expect it to be there.

Anyhow, let's talk races.

Warforged. The warforged have just gotten a full player-race treatment in Dragon, complete with flavor, racial feats, paragon paths, and equipment. So warforged are good to go.

Shifters. The Monster Manual provides basic info on the Longtooth and Razorclaw shifters. It's enough to make shifter PCs, and I've got one in one of my games right now. It works fine. Hopefully the shfiters will get a similar DDI treatment to that of the warforged, and you'll see feats that capture a broader range of their old abilities. But even without all the bells and whistles (and who among us will bell the shifter?), they are a playable race as stands.

Changelings. Likewise, the MM gives basic changeling (well, doppelganger) data. The default is +2 Int/+2 Cha - IE, great fey warlock - but as a house rule, I've allowed changelings to go +2 Dex/+2 Cha as their ability modifiers. I've always seen them as more rogue than wizard. They're fairly straightforward as written, but I'd hope to see a DDI article to give them more depth (or write one - I did write The Complete Guide to Doppelgangers, after all!).

Now, a question that's come up with the relationship between changelings and doppelgangers. As stands, they are two words for the same thing. It's basically a level of trust and hostility. I'm worried that a doppelganger has replaced the mmayor; while Dek the changeling is a decent fellow, even if that gray skin is creepy. Use the word you want to use. As a random factoid, the original Eberron proposal didn't actually have changelings; it just had doppelgangers as a base race, using a Savage Species-style level progression to gain access to their full abilities. Changelings came out of the desire to just have a simple, LA +0 race. So the current model is actually closer to the original. I'd like to see some racial feats and paragon paths that draw out some of the old doppelganger ideas we all remember, but there will be time for that.

Kalashtar. Not happening any time soon. If you want kalashtar NPCs, I'd look at the psionic abilities of the mind flayers and gith for ideas. But at the moment, they aren't around for PCs.

Gnomes. They're still in Zilargo, and their knack for stealth is a boon for agents of the Trust. The MM entry is works just fine. I let 'em spend feats to be able to use prestidigitation or ghost sound, because to me those are a big part of Zilargo (and it lets a Trust agent whisper a warning into the ear of a would-be criminal... steering them from an unwise course so you never have to get into conflict). But that's a me thing - I'm not saying it's balanced, and I'm certainly not saying it's going to be in the 4E Eberron books. In any case, I've got a gnome wizard in one of my games, and he's been having a fine time.

Half-orcs. Right now, there's no rules for half-orcs. You can take the kalashtar route and hang back from making half orc PCs. You could make your own half-orcs. Or you could make a "half-orc" by using a human or an orc, and simply describe the character as showing clear signs of his heritage - if human he may have grayish skin, prominent teeth, etc. Looking specifically to a human, use his ability bonus on either Strength or Constitution; use his racial feat on something like Toughness or Power Attack; and use his racial skill training on something like Intimidate, Athletics, or Nature. Bingo - half-orc.

I believe that covers the OLD races. Looking to the new races...

Tieflings. I can't talk about the full history of the tiefling in Eberron - it's just not the right time. I know that's frustrating for those of you planning to make tiefling characters, but you'll have to come up with your own story (there's certainly a lot of good ideas out there) or be a tiefling of mystery. However, what I can do is point back to what's already been said in 3.5 sources. Tieflings do exist in Eberron. They're rare in the civilized world, but not unknown. And they are most common in the west - notably Droaam and the Demon Wastes.

Dragonborn. Novels and such have already pointed to the presence of dragonborn in Argonnessen. However, Argonnessen is going to remain as mysterious and offlimits in 4E as in 3E, which means you aren't going to have a steady stream of PCs from Argonnessen. "Oh, yeah, I was hangin' with the Conclave the other day, and one of the Eyes of Chronepsis, she says 'Wasssup!', and I say..." No no no. But where dragons have ventured beyond Argonnessen, you might find dragonborn. That's all I'll say for now - but the point is that you do have dragonborn in Khorvaire, albeit in small numbers. One of the PCs in my playtest game (and bear in mind, this is before I even started talking with WotC about Eberron 4E, so don't take this as official) is a dragonborn paladin of the Blood of Vol, whose ancestors fought alongside the original Emerald Claw in the war in which the line of Vol was erradicated; his ancestors immigrated to Lhazaar and later to Karrnath along with the elven exiles. Again, don't expect us to suddenly say "Karrnath is crawling with Vol-loving dragonborn" - but it's an example of how you could find a few around.

Eladrin. We're standing by what we said in 3.5: Eladrin are denizens of Thelanis. Again, there's a big story here we'll reveal in time, but for the moment, just bear in mind that Thelanis is one of the easiest planes to move to and from. Obviously you've got the Twilight Demesne in the Eldeen Reaches, but any manifest zone will do when the time is right. Perhaps you came during the Last War and lost your heart to a human, or simply to their cause. Perhaps you are an exile, doomed to wander the mortal realms until you can solve an unsolvable riddle or find the livewood staff holding the soul of your betrothed. Perhaps you are a trickster wishing to test your wiles on tyhe dull-witted people of Khorvaire. There's lots of options to choose from... and while we have other things in the shadows, none of these would contradict the larger scheme. As with the Dragonborn and Tieflings, eladrin aren't common in Khorvaire, but neither are they unknown - though you'd probably end up being mistaken for an elf most of the time.

Now, I know lots of people expected us to make the Aereni into the eladrin. Why didn't we? Well, if it was our intention, we could have made the Aereni and Tairnadal separate races in the first place; goodness knows 3.5 had enough elven subraces, and we kept them one race under that. The difference between the Aereni and the Tairnadal is supposed to be purely cultural. They share common ancestors, and have taken different paths to compensate for the tragic loss of those ancestors. The Aereni now seek to preserve their heroes through necromancy; the Tairnadal, through martial and religious devotion. But both stretch back to the same roots... and as has been noted in a few places, it's possible for a youth from the south to head north to join the Tairnadal, or for a Tairnadal to turn his back on his people and join the Aereni. The eladrin are similar to elves, and their may be good reason for that - but they are a different race, while the Aereni and Tairnadal are simply different cultures.

Now you may be saying "But the elf makes a great ranger, while the eladrin is clearly an awesome wizard - aren't the Aereni all about magic?" The Aereni ARE accomplished at the arcane arts, sure. But you don't HAVE to have a +2 racial Int modifier for that to be the case. When it comes to min-maxing, it's not the best choice. But hey, while you might not be able to match that tiefling wizard in terms of pure Int, with your Wisdom and Dexterity modifiers, you can excel at your wand or orb mastery.

Beyond that, however, in my opinion the Aereni aren't the best wizards in the world. They're good at the arcane arts. They've developed impressive stuff. But in my opinion, they're stuck in a rut; they haven't really accomplished much NEW magically over the last few thousand years, especially when you set them next to the achievements of the Twelve. Airships! Warforged! Eternal Wands! And that's just in the last century. Elven magic is ancient and impressive - but innovation is not their strong suit. On the other hand, the Aereni have one innovation no one else has matched: the creation of a true divine force, in the Undying Court. It is this power that has allowed them to hold off the might of Argonnessen; and so it is the field of the divine where their true power lies. That means it's their clerics you should really watch out for... which means Wisdom, and that elves have.

Which is a long way of saying the Tairnadal have great rangers, the Aereni have mighty clerics, and the elf race works for both - and that's how we're leaving it!

And at this point, I'm going to sign off for at least a few days. I know that you'd all like more information on this and other topics, but frankly, I have paying work I need to get to! Obviously there's lots of questions remaining, such as how to handle dragonmarks. That one isn't a question I can answer for you right now, but I've seen lots of people developing homebrew ideas on the WotC boards and elsewhere, so if you need dragonmarks now see what people have come up with. The word is that the artificer will be in DDI next month, and hey, my article on Mordain's domain should be coming up on Dragon any day now - so enjoy those, and good luck overcoming the obstacles that remain in your way!
Current Location: Still Boulder
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mouseferatu on June 13th, 2008 07:58 am (UTC)
I was a little disappointed to note that the MM doesn't specifically mention that some doppelgangers are called "changelings." But I figure we'll see that called out in an Eberron-specific book.

In any event, the next time I run an Eberron game, I think I'm going to decide that

A) "Doppelganger" is the race's name in its own language.

B) "Changeling" is the name given them by humans, in the Common tongue.

C) Doppelgangers have a culture of racial supremacy, and consider those of their numbers who accept the term "changeling" and live openly among others to be "race traitors."

Dunno why, just strikes me as a cool cultural distinction.
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 13th, 2008 08:20 am (UTC)
Personally, I've always loved the potential in doppelganger societies (with The Complete Guide to Doppelgangers exploring one way you could go). I like the idea that changelings often appear in human communities as the result of a disguised doppelganger mating with a human - hence the surprised parent THINKS the baby has been swapped, whereas really the father was swapped at the time of conception. In this case, the powers of the two aren't different - but I still see doppelgangers as being frightening figures. The changeling isn't as scary because you're familiar with it. But the doppelganger is unknown. How many are out there? Where are they? What do they want? They may be the same race biologically, but the cultural difference combined with the ability to assume any form will make them FEEL very different.
gothamgm on June 13th, 2008 10:25 am (UTC)
Keith, you've really done a great service to the Eberron community with your 4e posts and a hearty thanks for it. Would this breakdown be accurate then from a Khorvaire perspective?

Commons (3.5 PHB races)
Uncommons (Warforged, Shifters, Changelings)
Rares (Kalashtar, Dragonborn, Eladrin, Tiefling)
(Deleted comment)
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 13th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
I'd almost say Tieflings and maybe even Dragonborn have a good shot of being more numerous than half-orcs pretty much anywhere but the Shadow Marches and the Eldeen Reaches.

The thing is that in any city where you've got a Tharashk enclave, you have a decent chance of having half-orcs. Not in great numbers, but they'll be there. Tieflings and Dragonborn are similar to half-orcs in that their true communities are largely isolated in distant places (let's face it, there's less traffic between the Five Nations and the Demon Wastes than there is between T5N and the Shadow Marches), and because they aren't part of an established dragonmark house that has a strong international presence. That's not to say that the new races are only found as stragglers and loners; you might fine a troop of dragonborn mercenaries in Sharn, or a tiefling guild seeking to challenge the Boromars - or Droaamite tieflings operating as part of Daask. But that's not quite the same as the true international influence of Tharashk, which has drawn half-orcs out from their homeland and spread them across the civilized world. I agree that they are the LEAST common of the "common" races - but if you've got a Tharashk outpost, odds are you've got half-orcs.

Of course, there are parts of the world where dragonborn are more numerous - thinking again to the role dragons have played in history - but within central Khorvaire, they're definitely in the kalashtar category of "People have heard of them, but many people have never seen one." A lot of people will have trouble telling the difference between dragonborn and lizardfolk.
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 14th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)
you might fine a troop of dragonborn mercenaries in Sharn...

Assuming, of course, you're playing the exciting Taxes & Tariffs civil servant expansion.

Figured I'd better get that before someone else did...
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 13th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
Commons (3.5 PHB races)
Uncommons (Warforged, Shifters, Changelings)
Rares (Kalashtar, Dragonborn, Eladrin, Tiefling)

I assume the question is "When I'm walking around the streets of Passage, what do I expect to see." If so, this is reasonably accurate, although yes, anywhere but the Shadow Marches half-orcs are likely going to shift up to uncommon... going to rare if there's no Tharashk outpost in the region. Warforged are pretty rare once you get outside the Five Nations. And changelings are a tough call; I'd leave them as uncommon in Breland (one of the reasons you can't trust the Brelish), but I'd say they're pretty rare elsewhere, setting aside places like the Gray Tide or hidden communities in Droaam. (And of course, in the Eldeen Reaches, shifters are more common than most of the PHB races!)
(Anonymous) on June 13th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Keith
Hi Keith. I just recently started a weekly 3.5 Eberron game with some friends as a way to quell summer boredom. I was excited about 4e, but I enjoyed your world so much after picking up the ECS I decided to hold back on the 4e in my campaign until next year when the Eberron book comes out. I ended up running KotS with some folks (one of my players bought it for the quick start rules), and they all fell in love with 4e, and wanted to re-start the Eberron campaign with fourth edition rules. This scared me to no end, but the posts you've made the last couple of days on here has saved me. Now I'm actually enjoying the concept of reworking everything with things like skill challenges and paragon paths in mind. Thanks for being such an asset to players.
(Anonymous) on June 14th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
Are you involved in the creation of 4E Eberron?
Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask this, but i was really curious as to whether or not you are at least in part helping to design 4th Edition Eberron?
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 14th, 2008 01:41 am (UTC)
Re: Are you involved in the creation of 4E Eberron?
Yes, I am. As is James Wyatt - one of the co-creators of 3.5 Eberron - and for that matter, internationally celebrated game designer Ari Marmell, who posted above as Mouseferatu.
bossemeyer on June 16th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC)
I would like to Point out a thought i had...

Changelings evolved from doppelgangers in 3.5 Eberron and that both still walk around...

in 4E Eberron with what we have in the MM there is only one?

so what happen to the other? i don't know but in my mind i think if there were two races that looked just like each other and that could change their form at will? would you really know if one slowly died off and got replaced by the other? i doubt i could tell if one kind of oak tree replaced another in a near by forest unless i was an expect in trees....

And for that matter, would they know? does a changling really know if they aren't a doppelgangers if doppelgangers don't exist any more?
Raide_raide on June 17th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
Tiefling and Secrets of Sarlona
From Secrets of Sarlona, page 63:


If any force in Riedra actually frightens the Inspired, it is the dissident group known as the Heirs of Ohr Kaluun. Long ago, the nation of Ohr Kaluun was a center for sinister magic. Its priests performed terrible rituals invoking the Dark Six, and its wizards trafficked with fiends in their quests for mystic power. In the Sundering, the people of this land were almost completely obliterated. Some of the few who remains are skulks, transformed by foul spells so they cold hide from their enemies.

Am I the only one here to realize that this is an awesome and almost perfect background for tiefling? It correspond really well with the core ideas in 4E PHB. I can imagine them in few numbers, hiding in Khorvaire and gain their freedom from the grasp of the Inspired elites (because they're dark mystery even to the majority of Riedrans). Another possible concept are young tiefling being separated from their parents/Riedran' ancestors, and left free to roam the culture of Khorvaire in their twisted form.

So, we already established a deep cultural base for tiefling, and it resonates with the emotion and suspense of Eberron setting.

Under this surge of enthusiasm and high blood sugar level while typing, I assume my post are worth some cookies from Keith Baker. If it's not, at least it's worth to consider in Eberron's tiefling design, but who am I to judge? :3
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 17th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Tiefling and Secrets of Sarlona
Am I the only one here to realize that this is an awesome and almost perfect background for tiefling?

As I've said, at the moment WotC would prefer that I not get into the more in-depth story we have planned for the new races; again, until books go to print, anything could change. However, a casual observer might notice that my comment above places the tieflings of Khorvaire in Droaam and the Demon Wastes... which is to say, across the Barren Sea from Ohr Kaluun.

So yes, good eye - have a cookie.
thestormwalkerthestormwalker on June 18th, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
Re: Tiefling and Secrets of Sarlona
Hm, this is sort of related to races but... Keith, do you have plans on how to deal with the changes to lycanthropes? They no longer spread the lycanthropic disease, it seems, according to the 4E MM. Lycanthropy is now strictly hereditary. While that doesn't change the origin of Shifters in Eberron, it does screw up the story behind the Church of the Silver Flame's Purge.
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 18th, 2008 07:21 am (UTC)
Re: Tiefling and Secrets of Sarlona
I'm going to answer this in its own post, as it's come up a few times.
Raide_raide on June 18th, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
Re: Tiefling and Secrets of Sarlona
Yep, but since it's stated that "it's not canon" I thought I could try a shot. Seems that I'll go with my Sarlonan Tiefling ideas for my next 4e Eberron games, along with Valenar Dragonborn and Eladrin planar-invader. :D

Looking forward for your next 4e topic.
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 18th, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)
Re: Tiefling and Secrets of Sarlona
Yep, but since it's stated that "it's not canon" I thought I could try a shot.

Oh, I think you missed my point. I was calling out the fact that they are DIRECTLY across the sea from Ohr Kaluun... which is to say, the path refugees might take if fleeing the collpase of a kingdom under siege.

Which could just be coincidence - or could mean that they are, in fact, the Heirs of Ohr Kaluun. ;-)
ext_105497 on June 19th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC)
Shifter and Changeling Racial Traits suggestions?
I was wondering if you had any ideas or suggestions for racial traits in addition to the powers given in the MM?

I have a few, but I was thinking I'd ask the source, as it were.
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 19th, 2008 06:23 am (UTC)
Re: Shifter and Changeling Racial Traits suggestions?
Not that I can share at the moment. I've been spending FAR too much time on LJ recently - I have a huge backlog of work I need to deal with.

However, I'm sure there's a lot of good ideas on the message boards.
(Anonymous) on July 11th, 2008 11:32 am (UTC)
About Druids
Good Morning Everyone

I have another question about this topic: any chance of a glimpse how druids (and druidic traditions) will work on Eberron 4ed?

In my Eberron campaign, I dispensed a lot of importance to druidic traditions, specially the Gatekeepers. Not just me, but my hole game group: we have, in the party, a human druid gatekeeper initiate, a shifter ranger who is the "guardian" of this druid, and a warforged barbarian who is interested in learn the ways of gatekeepers, and the whole party is going to meet the Great Pine in Eldeen Reaches with the purpose to learn more about the Wardens of The Woods teachings.

Aside that, we are moving to 4ed. right now, and the information about converting a druid character to the new system is very basic and do not offer the same flavor as a "real" Eberron druid (with the barbarian, we agreed that it will be a fighter).

Any tip that don't pu you on a bad place, Mr. Keith?


Keith Bakergloomforge on July 11th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
Re: About Druids
Any tip that don't pu you on a bad place, Mr. Keith?

I'm afraid not. The druids have an important role in the setting, and there's certainly no intention to remove them from it; it's my hope that by the time the 4E ECS comes out, a full druid class will be available. But there's not much I can do to help you in terms of playing a druid NOW in 4E; it may be a reason to stay with 3.5 until more information is available.
Morgan Bearheart... Touched by Eriselfwench on April 28th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
And what of Drow? Do they have a place in 4e Eberron?
Keith Bakergloomforge on April 29th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
Certainly - same place as in 3E Eberron. last I saw, Sulatar, Umbragen, and the Children of Vulkoor are all discussed in the ECG.
(Anonymous) on June 17th, 2009 08:20 am (UTC)
Missing the Old Changelings...
Okay, I know you like the new setup with dopplegangers and Changelings only really differing in a psychological and societal sense, but I personally liked the original changelings.
For one, it tied in with the theme of bloodlines and descent. Quori to Kalashtar, Lycanthropes to Shifters, Titans to Giants, Golems to Warforged, and, most notably, dragonmarks.
I know, I'm just the one complainer and there's nothing that can be done about it, but if I were wanting to have the same background as 3.5 for the 4e changelings in my game, would you have any suggestions?
Keith Bakergloomforge on June 17th, 2009 09:23 am (UTC)
Re: Missing the Old Changelings...
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<<I were wanting to have the same background as 3.5 for the 4e changelings in my game, would you have any suggestions?>>

Sure, it's trivially easy: make new doppelgangers. What 4E has done is to drop the 3.5E doppelganger in favor of the changeling. The monster called "doppelganger" in the 4E MM is essentially the 3.5 changeling. So make a new creature for 4E that more accurately represents the old doppelganger, and you're good to go.

With that said...

<<Lycanthropes to Shifters>>

Bear in mind that this point is open to debate. Many shifters claim that they are not descended from lycanthropes, but rather that the first lycanthropes were cursed shifters. After all, if a lycanthrope has a child in Eberron, it comes out as a natural lycanthrope, not a shifter.

Looking to changeling bloodlines in 4E, you've still got the origin of the name "changeling' as the idea of a person who unwittingly sleeps with a changeling and has a changeling child unexpectedly - thus thinking that the child was switched at birth.

Personally, I tie changelings to Dal Quor as well... saying that the first changelings were dreams made real at a time when Dal Quor was closer to the world. Hence there ability to change - to become whatever others dream of - and their proclivity for telepathic power. So they didn't have anything to do with QUORI - but they still have a connection to the plane of dreams.
Paul Miller: [Curious]pmiller1 on March 2nd, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
New Races from Player's Handbook 2 and 3
Okay, Have you find way to intoduce the Races form the 2nd and Player's Handbook?

I know about the Gnome, Half-Orc, and the Shifter.

But about the Deva, Goliath, Githzerai, Minotaur, Shardmind, amd the Wilden?

And wild we at is what about Primal Source?
(Anonymous) on March 30th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
Pathfinder and Psiforged
Hey Keith. What about the Psiforged do they get any love?

In the most unofficial capacity possible, if you are familiar with the few changes Paizo made to 3.5 with its release of Pathfinder, how would you suggest the race should be altered? What about the PF Psiforged and its favored classes? Perhaps a Trait or an Alternate Class Feature for the Psy Warrior that would combine bodies or change favored classes?

How would you do it? Hypothetically speaking, like a house-rule kinda thing.