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The Guns of Karrnath?

My Eberron project, The Forge of War, has been officially announced, so I guess I can discuss it here, insofar as my NDA allows.
  • Yes, it's an Eberron book about the Last War.

  • Yes, I wrote it with mouseferatu and James Wyatt.

  • Yes, I wrote a lot of history and battle descriptions, as well as a little crunch.

  • James and I politely disagreed about some questions of historical motives (and as the in-house guy, I'm sure he gets the last word).

  • I patched up the gaps of Eberron's timeline, and I think people are in for a few surprises.

That about covers it; beyond that, I'm off the NDA, I think.

It's a project I enjoyed, but despite spending a fair amount of time sorting through the fine points and contradictions of the setting, Eberron hasn't quite won me over. Maybe it's just because I've been reading so much darker stuff lately (Poe, Stross, and Mieville), but Eberron's pretensions to noir aren't cutting it for me. Halflings on dinosaurs, magic trains, and the evil cardinals of the Silver Flame all add up to "slightly campy pulp" to me, not noir. That said, The Forge of War plays it straight: no jokes, no humor, downplay the goofy elements as much as possible. It's a military-focussed book, written to detail and incorporate the defining events of the setting. I'll be very curious to hear what people say about it.

Part of me wants to write an all-warforged Eberron one-shot done up in a Sgt. Rock or Nick Fury style, maybe for Open Design, maybe just to run for a local group. Everyone goes out in a blaze of glory!


Jul. 8th, 2007 03:20 am (UTC)
Re: So The 90% don't matter once again?
Hi Wolfgang!

Keith Baker here. First off, congratulations on The Forge of War. I have some differences over the depiction of Thrane, but that aside it seems like a truly excellent book.

With that said, I just wanted to touch on a few of the earlier comments. The message is too long for one post, so I'll have to split it up.

**the size of the continent, which doesn't seem to match the cultures described for it.**

That's because it doesn't. In my opinion, the scale on the maps of Eberron is off by a factor of ten. In my mind, the Five Nations should be along the size of nations like France and England, not Russia and China. It throws off travel time for adventures, skews population, and makes it hard to imagine events in the Last War pushing deep beyond the borders. This wasn't somehow inherent in the design of the setting (in fact, quite the opposite); in my opinion it was just a miscommunication with the art department that is sadly now part of the core book. But personally, MY Khorvaire is a much smaller place.

**Eberron's pretensions to noir aren't cutting it for me. Halflings on dinosaurs, magic trains, and the evil cardinals of the Silver Flame all add up to "slightly campy pulp" to me, not noir.**

That's because they ARE slightly campy pulp, not noir. The thing to understand is that when I describe Eberron as "pulp-noir", that's not a single thing - it's a spectrum. Eberron is "Lord of the Rings meets Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Maltese Falcon"... but not necessarily AT THE SAME TIME. I wanted a setting that could play in both directions and which COULD bring them together - but which could also allow DMs to play to the extremes.

So lost cities of Xen'drik, battles atop a moving lightning rail, tribes of raptor-riding Talenta barbarians, undead soldiers of the Emerald Claw seeking to activate the Necrotic Resonator - these things are pure pulp. There's no pretension that they are noir in any way; this is Raiders of the Lost Ark with swords and sorcery, with no trace of Sam Spade or Gutman.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the slums of Sharn. The Machiavellian intrigues of Zilargo. The lingering resentments between the Five Nations, overshadowed by the lurking fear that the Mourning will happen again - the quiet belief that this may be the last generation, that the world could end at any moment, coupled with the assurance that if it doesn't, the war WILL begin anew. The schemes of the Dragonmarked Houses, both the short-term quest for wealth and the long, slow unraveling of the monarchies. THIS is where the noir comes into Eberron. The old soldier who hunts warforged in the sewers of Sharn, seeking vengeance for his own slaughtered family and taking out his sorrows on these creatures who themselves have been abandoned by society. The cold war between the Five Nations balanced against the ancient hidden conflict between dragon and demon, a war that has continued while lesser civilizations have risen and fallen.

Then there are subjects that walk the line in between. The Dreaming Dark are a force most suited to subtle intrigues and the corruption of allies, but you can certainly work in a seen of over-the-top psi-fu action with an quori nightmare if that's what you want. The Lord of Blades can play the role of pulp villain, but he can also serve as a symbol of these discarded soldiers - weapons made for war and now lost and unwanted in a world that wishes to forget the conflict.

It's a mistake to look for noir in every atom of Eberron. It's not SUPPOSED to be there. The DM who loves pulp action and hates the darkness of noir can find exactly what he wants in Eberron - provided he picks the right locations and villains to use in his game. The same is true of the DM who likes noir and hates the over-the-top pulp. It's a spectrum - not a single flavor. There may be halflings riding dinosaurs... in the Talenta Plains. But if you hate them, there's no reason your players ever need to see a clawfoot.

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