D&D review! Eberronicon, A Pocket Guide to the World.

A very interesting product has crossed my metaphorical desk: Eberronicon, A Pocket Guide to the World. Project lead Laura Hirsbrunner asked if I’d like to review it and clearly my answer was “yes”!

My interest is partly curiosity: Eberron sort of passed me by. I did own the campaign setting, which was released at a time when I picked up pretty much every D&D book published. Yet the world just didn’t grab me. Truthfully I don’t know how much of that was incompatibility between myself and the setting and how much was the fact that, for me, D&D 3.5 was on the way out. It wasn’t long after Eberron released that I started to feel very tired of the edition and stopped playing it, never to pick it up again. I didn’t buy anything Eberron related until the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron a, which I bought for new game content rather than lore. Likewise, my chief interest in Rising from the Last War was additional character options, magic items, creatures, and so on. I could read the lore sections of either book to try and see if I grock Eberron better these days, but that’d be a lot of reading. A “pocket guide” is an attractive alternative! I’ll be reading through Eberronicon with interest to see just how much information is packed into its 54 pages. What I’m most curious about going in is whether I would feel comfortable running a game set in Eberron just using information gleaned from this guide, or whether it’s more useful as a supplemental resource.

Laura is also Editor-in-Chief at Across Eberron, a community project that published Convergence Manifestoa 13-strong adventure path. Many of the writers for this book are also authors of one or more adventures in Convergence Manifesto, and those adventures were executive produced by Keith Baker, creator of the Eberron setting! Keith is also given a special thanks in the credits of Eberronicon for “lending his insight”. We can therefore be quite confident that this team know what they’re about, and that the lore in this book ought to be accurate! Hopefully it’ll serve as an excellent primer for me to refresh myself on the setting.

Before I begin, the usual disclaimer: I was provided a copy in order that I could write this review, but that won’t bias my thoughts on its content.

Eberronicon, A Pocket Guide to the Word.


Eberronicon, a Pocket Guide to the World is $12.99 for 55 pages (54 excluding the cover). I’ll obviously talk more about production values in the next section, but I need to briefly mention them in terms of impact on the product’s value. Suffice it to say that the quality standard of the book is very high. But there’s also a text only version for more efficient printing, which is a useful addition.

I’ve seen larger DMsGuild products with a smaller price tag, but those are invariably undercharging. That’s what happens when indie creatives try to feel out their price points amidst a market for which there is little clear guidance and is frankly hostile to the idea of creatives being fairly paid for their efforts. $12.99 is a reasonable asking price for the amount of content and professional quality standard. I did do some napkin math on this and while I won’t bore you with the details of my working, all things considered Eberronicon is about on par with the value of a WotC release. If you consider that WotC benefit from economies of scale which simply don’t apply to indie publishers, it’s easy to realise that this product really couldn’t be much cheaper than it already is and still pay its contributors. If the price seems like a lot to you, consider how many times you’ll refer to this book as you plan your campaign, how many hours of play it will help facilitate. I could spend more on a cinema ticket!



Eberronicon is beautifully presented with an attractive layout, and it makes excellent use of art from DMsGuild creator packs and other artists. The overall impression of quality is very high. If you had a print version, it wouldn’t look out of place among the other source books on your shelf.

If you thought that the so-called Pocket Guide to the World would actually fit in a pocket (if in print), you’d be wrong. The page size is actually typical of a product of this kind: US Letter (8.5 x 11inches). I was slightly disappointed by this since I’d thought it would be a nice quirk, and I know pocket-sized RPG books are possible. I have fond memories of the 3.5 era’s Mongoose Pocket Player’s Handbook!

Considering the book isn’t pocket sized after all, the body font is smaller than I’d expect: it’s size 10, and bear in mind that a font’s size attribute is also relative to the scale of the font itself. For a point of reference that’s easily grasped, the scale of Crimson Text is about half that of Arial at the same font size. If I used Arial in my products (I don’t, I use Merriweather, but it’s almost exactly the same scale as Arial) I wouldn’t go lower than font size 10.5 for body text. This means that the size 10 Crimson Text used in Eberronicon is less than half the size I’m comfortable using for body text in my own products. So when I say the font is small, I mean it! It is legible, particularly if the pdf is opened in a full screen window. I wouldn’t recommend a window much smaller: I usually like my pdf windows to occupy the right half of my 1920×1080 monitor while I make notes in my word processor on the left side. I couldn’t do that with Eberronicon. While the text was still legible to me when scaled down into that window, I found myself straining to read it more than I liked. I didn’t test the pdf on a mobile device but it is probably a bit of a pain there too.

On the other hand, there’s a positive side to the font size: it means there’s much more information squeezed into each page than you’d think, and therefore you’re getting better value for money! Honestly though, I’m not sure why it needs to be squeezed in. Why not just use a larger font and have a higher page count?

The writing is excellent and well edited. There are a scant few places which could do with another editorial pass, but nothing I noticed during my read-through is serious enough to be considered a significant detractor in quality.



Eberronicon is a different kind of product to those I’ve previously reviewed on this blog: it’s all lore, no “crunch”. That means this section will be comparatively short as there is no mechanical analysis to undertake.

One thing to note up front: due to the lore heavy nature of this book, it’s useful regardless of your preferred edition of D&D (or even if you intend to run a game set in Eberron using another system entirely).

The book is broken up into 7 sections, as follows:

Welcome to Eberron

This short section summarises the defining characteristics of the setting and explains the purpose of the book. In a few short pages it does a very good job of capturing Eberron’s essence, and therefore is a good resource if you need to pitch the world to your players (or to your DM!). This section also explains how the rest of the book will include cross-references to existing Eberron material: each subsection includes a “Learn more” entry that lists a source and page number for further reading. I cannot overstate how stupendously useful this is! Particularly for a DM who already owns lots of Eberron books but intends to use the Eberronicon as a quick reference.

Chapter 1: Races

Chapter 1: Races (sample spread)

The book’s first true chapter briefly introduces each of the playable races, and up to 6 subsections with interesting lore and plot hooks that would help a DM create campaign elements or a player quickly flesh out their character. To take just one example, the section on Changelings includes 5 subsections:

  • The principality of Gray Tide, a changeling homeland founded by a privateer.
  • An acknowledgement that changelings are heavily recruited by intelligence agencies, and a list of organisations that would seek to employ them. 
  • Lost, a city populated by doppelgangers and changelings and formed of living, shape changing buildings… (that sounds like house hunters to me!) 
  • How the people of Riedra consider a changeling’s mutable form worthy of reverence, and believe that a good human will reincarnate into a changeling in their next life. 
  • An all changeling criminal organisation known as the Tyrants, one of three groups that dominates the underworld of Sharn.
The races described in this chapter are: changelings, dragonborn, drow (which for soem reason get their own section separate from elves, though eladrin do not), dwarves, elves, gnolls, gnomes, goblinoids, half-elves, half-orcs,halflings, kalashtar (psionically gifted humanoids unique to Eberron), kobolds, lizardfolk, orcs, planetouched (aasimar, genasi, tieflings, etc.), shifters (pseudo-werefolk unique to Eberron), and warforged (living constructs unique to Eberron). Some races are given a great deal more attention than others, though that likely owes more to the amount of lore available than any bias on the part of the authors.
The chapter also includes an extremely useful “Other Races” page which provides ideas for how a DM might incorporate other playable races that exist in D&D 5e into Eberron’s world. 

Chapter 2: Places

Chapter 2: Places (sample spread)

This chapter is all about important locations: continents, nations, cities, and even planes.
The first part of the chapter lists the world’s continents, as well as particularly important locations within those continents. As with Chapter 1, there is significant disparity in how much information is given in each section. Still, it certainly makes sense that Khorvaire has the most detail, given it’s the primary continent in terms of Eberron’s published literature and where most campaigns are expected to occur. There’s a very useful table at the end of this part of the chapter which tells you how to refer to a person hailing from a particular place, as well as how to refer to objects (such as a traditional food) that originate from that place.

The second half of the chapter is an exploration of Eberron’s planar cosmology. I’m a sucker for an interesting cosmology so I enjoyed reading this part particularly. Eberron’s planes seem to be distinct, separate places (as opposed to the Great Wheel, where travel directly between bordering planes is possible; however, as is the case with most D&D settings, all are connected through the Astral plane. An unusual quirk of this cosmology is that each plane moves, coming near and far from the material plane. As they come nearer, their aspect can influence the material, with the strength of that influence waxing and waning. The effects of that influence are noted in each plane’s subsection. Another interesting aspect of Eberron’s cosmology is the lack of a fiendish realm. Instead, we learn that fiends are actually native to the deep realm of Khyber, Eberron’s equivalent to the Underdark.

Chapter 3: Factions

As you’d expect from the title this chapter details significant organisations that exist in the setting, from established adventuring guilds, to hag covens, warforged supremacy movements, and Rakshasa-led fiendish cults. The chapter also lists well known newspapers as well as scholarships to educational establishments. Naturally, the twelve dragonmarked houses which are so central to Eberron’s lore are also described in brief here. There’s a lot of story hooks here for DMs and players writing character backgrounds alike!

Chapter 4: Faiths

Chapter 4: Faiths (sample spread)

The introduction to this chapter notes that Eberron’s deities are not reachable, and cannot be proven to exist (or not exist): belief in their existence is a matter of faith, and a divine spellcaster’s power is derived primarily from their faith rather than the target of that faith. The chapter describes Khorvaire’s primary three religions, although it’s really two religions. The Dark Six pantheon are former members of the Sovereign Host pantheon, so belief in one set of deities implies belief in the other. Pantheistic worship is the norm for the Sovereign Host, which I appreciate. It’s never made sense to me that just because a character worships one god in a fantasy pantheon, they would fail to give due reverence to other deities in the context of their specific domains: even if I happen to be a cleric of the harvest deity, you can bet when I’m at risk of drowning in a shipwreck I’m offering my prayers to a god of the sea! The last of the core religions is the Silver Flame, which is worship of an “eternal force of goodness”. Sounds like an ideal source of power for paladin types.

There is also a lengthy section of “Other Religions” which includes a variety of other cultural and racial belief systems, druidic sects, and cults. There’s even a subsection on atheism, which is a much more viable approach in a setting where power comes from the act of faith rather than the gods themselves than it is in a world where the existence of the divine is unquestionable.

A great sidebar near the end of this chapter is aimed at D&D 5e DMs: it talks about the reincarnate spell in the context of Eberron and provides a comprehensive alternative reincarnation table. This might actually be a useful resource even for DMs of other settings, as it incorporates other non-Eberron races that have been published after the Player’s Handbook. At the very least it could serve as a model for designing your own alternative table for the spell appropriate to your own setting.

Appendix A: Secrets

I’m not going to dwell much on this appendix because, after all, its contents are secret! This is where DMs should look to learn about truths of the setting that should not necessarily be apparent to characters in the world, or (ideally) their players. This is therefore a very useful reference when figuring out what your campaign is going to be about!

Appendix B: Further Reading

This appendix is an impressively curated list of additional resources. Neatly organised tables identify Eberron sourcebooks and adventures from previous editions, and provide an abbreviation for each sourcebook (which you’ll find useful when following the “Learn More” notes interspersed throughout the rest of the book). In addition to published sourcebooks and adventures, lists of other sources are provided: Dragon and Dungeon magazine articles, web articles, organized play seasons, novels, and “Kanon” sources (“Kanon” means not technically official, but derived from Keith Baker’s writings about his personal version of Eberron).

This appendix is extremely comprehensive! it’s a really impressive effort and I can see it being extremely useful both for DMs wanting an easy starting point for their deep dive into lore as well as new Eberron DMs wondering what sources might be their next best investment.


Final Thoughts and Rating

+ + =    
19 out of 20! A champion’s hit!

This is an excellent exploration of the Eberron setting which manages to squeeze an impressive amount of key information into a fairly short book. I wondered early in this review whether a DM could confidently run an Eberron game using only the Eberronicon and I think the answer is yes, to a point. With the brief summaries here you could flesh out your own take on Eberron which captures the same key themes, but without more detail you wouldn’t be able to run a version of the world experienced Eberron players would feel at home in. But if you want to flesh out the world in more canonical detail, then this book is also a great boon to you: I’m in awe of the excellent referencing in the Eberronicon which will help any Eberron DM immensely as they plan their campaigns.

There is almost nothing negative to say about Eberronicon, A Pocket Guide to the World. My only real complaint is with the font size of the body text.  As I noted, I found it too small to have the PDF side by side with my notes for this review on my monitor without having to zoom in resulting in significantly more scrolling around as I read than usual. DMs referring to it at their computer while planning their game may have similar difficulties, depending on their monitor size and set up, and I can only assume that it will also be more inconvenient than many other PDFs for mobile devices.

The final word: if you are or intend to be an Eberron DM, this is an astounding resource which you won’t regret adding to your collection. It’s pretty useful as a player reference, too, just don’t sneak a peak at Appendix A! Eberronicon, A Pocket Guide to the World is available on DMsGuild now.

If you’re curious whether I’ve become an Eberron convert based on my reading of this book: I’m probably no more likely to run an Eberron campaign than I was before, since I generally prefer to homebrew my worlds. But I have a new appreciation for the lore of the setting, and I can see better why other DMs and players enjoy the world. While I might not use want to use Eberron as a whole, I’m definitely more likely to take inspiration from it! I’d be more likely to want to play in the world, too.