Learning a new campaign setting is a daunting task. At least it can be if you want the setting to be meaningful. There’s nothing wrong with playing loosely in a setting where a series of adventures have little impact on the world at large. It works great for my somewhat irregular online group in which we mostly play one-shots that are setting-neutral and unrelated. But for a more immersive experience it’s good to know the setting intimately and that can be challenging. You can pour through fandom articles or wikis to your heart’s content if you like. Or you could take a semi-guided tour through the setting like you get with Eberron Random Events: Sharn and the Five Nations by Michael J. Winegar.
Eberron Random Events: Sharn and the Five Nations
Writer(s): Michael J Winegar
Publisher: DMs Guild
Product Length: 106 pages
Available Format(s): PDF
As I previously mentioned, you could go read as much Eberron content as you can make time for and likely learn a lot. But that’s a great deal of work and it’s passive learning. What Winegar has created instead is a series of random events that references several key events. Better still, he gives you a sense of why these events matter and you can be an active participant in them. Here’s an example from one of the tables:
The random events aren’t exactly adventure hooks, though they could be. Instead they serve as brief encounters for players in between larger sessions. The author suggests awarding 500 xp per event regardless of outcome. There are tables for all five nations of Eberron (Aundair, Breland, Cyre, Karrnath, and Thrane) and even Sharn itself. Each entry is as thoughtful and detailed as the next so there is no shortage of events to be had.
What I found particularly interesting was the Wanted Scores. In an ongoing campaign, PCs build reputations. If those reputations aren’t favorable, there are consequences. This is no different than in real life. If a PC (or NPC) becomes too egregious then they start attracting a lot of attention. A Troublemaker is at the low end of the spectrum and is likely to face little more than harassment here and there. But at the opposite extreme is an Enemy of the State. Good luck to anyone who achieves such infamy. It’s unlikely that players would be this terrible and thereby face those associated consequences (such as execution…or the execution of their associates). For me, the sweet spot is in the middle with Lawbreakers and Criminals. Some criminals are wanted dead or alive, which would definitely attract the attention of bounty hunters.
The production of Eberron Random Events is professional, but also stark. The sections are all bookmarked and while not entirely necessary, the appendix with Encounter Stat Blocks is a nice touch. This supplement references the Player’s Handbook, the Monster Manual, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, as well as the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron. I believe those first three books are the trinity that all DMs should own. The last one is a nice to have but probably not an absolute requirement. But it seems to me that the DM who is interested in immersion would pick up the WGtE as well as Winegar’s supplement.
- convenient tool for letting PCs mill around Eberron without hard and fast objectives
- brilliant Wanted Scores in one of the appendices
- good way for players to learn about Eberron through experience
- stark white pages with lots and lots of text means it’s not a page-turner