When I started writing blog entries again on this site, my goal was to have something insightful written every week. It is not for the lack of subject matter that my last post was over a month ago, but a series of unfortunately life circumstances and heavy burnout. Writing is both a creative endeavour and a skill–forgo your practice and see it whither. So allow me to continue with something on my mind recently…
I had very high hopes for Embers of the Last War the Eberron campaign for D&D Adventurers League. The editor’s initial words to the audience sounded promising. I will dispense with the rhetoric and say that the campaign is a disappointment–worse yet, might signal the end of any additional Eberron organized play.
Allow me to elaborate. Individually, several of the adventures are quite good. They are fun, well thought out, and are worth the $4.99 purchase price. I have run DDAL-ELW01 Murder in Skyway several times over Roll20 for members of the Eberron community and a few D&D Adventurers League players who wanted to try Eberron. But the campaign is poorly executed, has bad proofing, and is an overall failure of story.
DDAL-ELW00 What’s Past is Prologue was not good. The editing was entirely missing, the world lore was incredibly wrong, and the story and game premise was entirely weak as to make it a story to read, rather than a game to play–and even then, it had huge logical errors. The author is a friend and a great adventure writer, but I can say this is probably his worst ever adventure I have ever read. But why were none of these problems caught by the editor? I forward that that the editor did not even look at the adventure before it was released. Indeed the creator of Eberron, Keith Baker, had quite a negative reaction when the adventure was brought to his attention–and that was only to the lore problems.
Next are three adventures in a row that are all heists. Break in and steal something, for DDAL-ELW02, 03, 04. So that is all characters do in Tier 1. The editor took one look at this and did not think that variation might be important? Eberron is more than one long heist novel. Also, residences in Sharn, City of Towers, do not have basements! Most places are at least half a mile in the air! I understand that the authors might not have as much experience (or any) with Eberron, but that is what editor does, supposedly. My biggest issue in these adventures is where one of the bonus objectives is to murder someone and take their identity. Shades of grey does not mean murder, that is not moral ambiguity, that is EVIL. Eberron is more than being a murder hobo and last time I checked, evil alignments were off the table for player characters.
Finally it is “revealed” that the mastermind of these adventures is a mentally unstable Merrix d’Cannith. Not only is canon out the window, the campaign starts to go off the Eberron rails. As one person in the Eberron Discord said: “I can’t believe that they took Eberron Lex Luthor and turned him into Eberron Norman Osborn“. This is not at all what the character is supposed to be. No research, no thought went into this and the Guild Adepts have direct access to Keith to ask questions!
(I understand there is an argument to be said about #ItsMyEberron, but not for an organized play campaign that will expose new players to the brand. There are whole essays to be written about Eberron’s lore and the community’s adherence to canon in spite of comments to the contrary.)
I am upset with this turn of events and the Eberron community has basically boycotted the products. The fans of Eberron refuse to play and therefore, refuse to buy. Did you know that only one of twelve of the authors are even in the Facebook group where Eberron is discussed daily, and that it is not the editor? That perhaps the audience of these adventures should be consulted and understood? Most of the adventures, as of this writing, sit under 250 paid downloads on DMs Guild. My guess is that is not an impressive number to anyone at Wizards. Even though several of the authors are my friends and their adventure work as standalone products, there is nothing that will bring more players when this is the quality of the editing and behind the scenes work.
I am not a negative or critical person at the worst of times, but they are seriously messing with Eberron. My thoughts? Fire. The. Editor.
…and if your question then becomes, “So you think you can do better?”