How to Fit Eberron into D&D 5e? Keith Baker Explains

How to Fit Eberron into D&D 5e? Keith Baker Explains

Eberron Campaign Setting Book Cover

Designer Keith Baker explains the basics of how to run a 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign in the Eberron setting, before full support is released.

An issue a lot of Dungeon Masters are facing right now is the staggered release of the core D&D manuals. We have the Player's Handbook, but little else to work with. Worse still, if you happen to be running a campaign set in Eberron and were hoping to convert to the latest 5th edition, you're left wondering how to reconcile a number of discrepancies. Where are the shifters? The artificers? The high-magic setting?

Keith Baker has come to the rescue with some preliminary advice. "I am confident that there is going to be official 5E support for Eberron, but I don't know when it will happen or how extensive it will be," writes Baker on his website. He goes on to explain that he doesn't know the system well enough to provide extensive support for the time being, but does offer some initial tips on getting a 5E Eberron campaign up and running.

Baker's main piece of advice is to simply reskin: retain the 5e mechanics, while changing the flavor to fit an Eberron idea. For instance, a Beasthide Shifter Warrior becomes a 5e Half-Orc Barbarian with the bear totem spirit - his barbarian rage can be described as shifting. A Longtooth Shifter is a 5e Wood Elf - any time she moves 35 feet in one action (faster than a human), you could describe it as her shifting temporarily into beast form. An archer artificer may actually be a 5e Warlock with the Pact of the Tome - the crossbows he cobbles together to fire enchanted bolts are actually Eldritch Blast, Sacred Flame, Fireball, etc.

"I have thoughts on how to handle Dragonmarks, but my ideas are still very half-baked," writes Baker. He provides some reskinning ideas and some tentative mechanics for insistent players, but explains that it is simplest to avoid running a character with a Dragonmark.

As far as Warforged, Changelings, Kalashtar, and Psionics are concerned... "While all of these things are important parts of Eberron," writes Baker, "you can have an Eberron game without them - and for now, that's what I suggest you do."

But there's one thing that you can't run an Eberron campaign without - Eberron. The setting is decidedly high-magic, but the base 5e setting has magic remain rare and, well, magical. "The idea of 5E is that even a +1 magic sword is a special thing, and I'm okay with that as a concept," writes Baker. "Low-level magic remains a driving force of Eberron - it just turns out than many magic items that used to be low-level are now in fact high-level."

Are you running an Eberron campaign? Do you plan to convert?

Source: Keith Baker


Never been a big fan of Eberron, but as someone who has seen almost every major D&D changeover I'll say that this seems like par for the course. The PHB always comes first, and they tend to starve things for material to get people eager to buy. I can't speak for 5E mechanics and how hard they are to use things from previous editions with, but I've generally found you can do common sense conversions usually and they come out pretty close to the official supplements. When 3E came out a long time ago for example you just had the PHB and a short section of fairly low powered magical items in the back of the book. Needless to say things snowballed from those "low magic" beginning and the settings you'd expect to be chock full of that stuff like The Forgotten Realms had book upon book of stuff released for them.

That said my major suggestion is to simply not "upgrade" to 5E if you have an ongoing Eberron campaign or whatever, and just keep doing what your doing. Heck, on the rare occasions I find time to DM I usually go back to the archaic 2E AD&D rules, or bust out my old copy of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (one of the descendents of the red box that I first used while running my campaigns in cave systems, waiting for the dinosaurs to stop hunting the tribe). This kind of a "grognard" suggestion might not sit well with those in a rush to be current, but your pretty much GMing for your gaming group, not the general population, and to be painfully blunt it will be quite a while before 5E has anywhere near the supplements your favorite established edition does, and when it does... well that will be when they roll 6E out so you'll be back to square 1...

That said, I tend to make up a lot of my own stuff anyway, so it doesn't generally hurt me all that much when I start a new RPG without a lot of support.

I think the idea of starting out the new editions as being fairly low on magic is because it's easier to add lots of magic and crazy stuff, than to start out assuming it, and leave the GM to strip stuff down if he wants to run a lower magic campaign. Basically if you start out assuming the setting is going to be "The Forgotten Realms" or "Eberron" where magic is everywhere, and entire empires of massive magic might have already risen and fallen, leaving behind tons and tons of powerful loot for people to find, it can be somewhat tricky to say do a campaign going for a "Conan" or "Fritz Leiber" type vibe. In Eberron you have magical constructs walking around everywhere, elemental locomotives, shapeshifters, and people with inherent dragonmarked abilities, in The Forgotten Realms they have character types like the old 2E "Specialty Priest of Waukeen" where they pretty much hand you numerous magical conveinence items right off the bat. :)

I've been running an Eberron campaign for over 3 years now. We converted fully to Next in October of 2013 and are now converted over to 5e. My PCs are 14th level. Conversion was not that difficult though my biggest challenge right now is finding Monsters for the PCs to face off against.

I'm confident Eberron will be supported in 5e.

Berling's Beard:
I've been running an Eberron campaign for over 3 years now. We converted fully to Next in October of 2013 and are now converted over to 5e. My PCs are 14th level. Conversion was not that difficult though my biggest challenge right now is finding Monsters for the PCs to face off against.

I'm confident Eberron will be supported in 5e.

How do you handle crafting, magewrights and the like? I'm genuinely interested.

OT: I've always thought of Eberron as one of the better D&D settings because it was written for the system; it wasn't a generic hodgepodge like Forgotten Realms, or something relatively flexible like Dragonlance or Greyhawk which could be run in most fantasy RPGs with a minimum of fuss. Eberron is what happens when someone saw how 3.5 games were trending towards common magic items, crafting, scrolls, and NPCs with more class levels than you can shake a 10-foot pole at, and created a setting just for that to exist. It was a wonderful wedding of mechanics and story and I've always found it a lot of fun.

I've got no plans to shoehorn Eberron into 5E when there is a system that fits it perfectly waiting on my shelf, especially when I don't have the new DMG or any of the modularity it is supposed to bring that would give good guidelines for hacking the system apart to accommodate me.

Chaos Marine:
5E bloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooows. It's so overly simplified. I've played Rifts, I've played 3.0, 3.5, 4E, Pathfinder(my favourite) and everything about 5E seems to be adjusted for morons. Advantage/disadvantage? What brain trust came up with that blunder? You can argue with your DM what constitutes a DM. Uh... my guy has killed so many goblins he knows the best places to hit them for maximum damage so I always have advantage against them. Bullshit.

That's not how advantage works. I'm not a fan of it either, but it basically is there to take care of the fiddly modifiers.
Is your guy good at killing goblins, having slain them by the score? Then the character sheet will reflect that in base attack bonus and damage.
Is he taking steps to get the upper hand in the fight, such as flanking, blinding the goblins with smoke, or getting the high ground? Then that's advantage.

You can argue with the DM, true, but there was nothing stopping people from doing that in older editions (how many arguments about average DC and +2 modifiers have you had?) and it's easy enough realise that's a problem with the player, not the DM.

Anyways, this is not the place for this argument; this thread is about Eberron in 5E, so a general new edition hate thread should be located somewhere else.

5e's "magic items are so special, you can't trade those" solution to the magic item christmas tree every character becomes after a while is stupid. "I got this old item I can not use anymore, I want to sell it for... ah, whatever 25 gold pieces" Sorry, no one can afford that... If Eberron gets an overhaul to that "system" I can see people everyone adopting it, no matter the setting, magic items existing without any player agency will get old fast. AD&D gave you exp for keeping, or selling your magic items, for god's sake!

The reason for magic items not being priced is mystery pure and simple. its not that they aren't priced its that the players can't know the price or they lose their cool factor. boiling things down to flat bonus's is boring, the cool special effects is what makes magic items fun and so that's what not pricing things is trying to push to the fore front. If you have to go on a quest to get a magical weapon players are going to want something cooler than +1, that's why all the flaming, frost, vorpal stuff was invented to start, so magic weapons were cool. Letting magic items be equivielent to luxury cars (if you have enough money you get one) took a lot of flair away from magic items.
I'm tired of hearing the argument of how it ruins bounded accuracy, the problem with magic items ruining bounded accuracy is a moot point. In a high magic setting if you have magic items your enemies do too. there is no difference between strait to hit vs strait armor class and a magical +5 to hit and magical +5 armor class. As long as items are applied uniformly it's still boundedly accurate the range has just skewed north a fraction. Giving a goblin +5 sword is still threatening to a warrior in +5 armor under bounded accuracy. the point of that system was to make the characters and monsters threaten players regardless of level, so long as the magic bonus's are released slowly over time and in equal measure between characters and monsters magic does not damage this curve. if it did wizards would already blow the curve.
The real problem is simply not having a price list like every other item in the phb. I am going to guess that the DMG will have a price list based on bonus equivalents like every edition has had. I think it's perfectly reasonable to take that price list out of the players handbook and put it into the hands of the person that populates every store and treasure chest in the game. And beyond that even if it didn't have one there is one in the play test material that can be used reasonably well. Hell if you skew the playtest material list by 3 to 5 levels per step of item rarity the bonus values fall within the mathematical error margin of standard bounded accuracy.
A price list is a trivial addition to dnd 5e and not something to hate the entire system on. Eberron and other high magic settings will require more work to adopt their custom races, item creation functions, divine forces, alternate spell casting, and so on.


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