In Eberron, magic is neither strange nor secret. It is a world filled with magic as the very land itself is imbued with arcane and divine energy totally entangled. It powers spellcasters into creating wonderful effects and terrible hazards, but magic itself is neutral before handled by mortals. In the words of Keith Baker, «Eberron is not a high magic setting – it’s a wide magic setting. Eberron is built upon the premise that arcane magic behaves as a science and would thus become integrated into the world in a scientific manner». There are equivalents to the railroad (the Orien lightning rail), planes (Lyrandar skyships) and even the telegraph (Sivis message stations), but there are no cars or telephones, and artifice has been key to these wonders. Artifice, as the practice of imbuing mundane items with magical infusions is neither divine nor arcane, and it is so prevalent in the world that a new classes were introduced in the setting when it was published: the magewright, for NPCs, and the Artificer, for PCs, who can create magic items for the adventuring life.
Along with the mentioned, the great towers of Sharn and the warforged who fought in the Last War are also products of artifice. The backbone of Eberron’s societies is built upon magic, but we need to keep in consideration that this means that high-level magic is still very rare. Using low-level magic, such as cantrips and 1st level spells provides people in different areas comforts that are unheard of in other settings. Think of what can be done with Prestidigitation, Light, Message and Mage Hand in the real world and you can have a pretty decent idea on how these commodities work in a fantasy world with no technology.
Three of the Artificer sublcasses made it into the hardcover: the Alchemist, the Artillerist and the Battle Smith (I must admit that the Archivist from Unearthed Arcana never quite «clicked» on me, and I felt it a little too psionic, but hey, maybe you want to put it to good use when running a Sarlona-based campaign and want to give your artificer a nice twist). We’ll have to wait a few more days to have a look at the definitive versions of these subclasses as well as the class features, but you’ll find everything you need to know here in a couple of days.
Magic of Eberron
Beyond the Campaign Setting and different sections in almost every sourcebook, magic was addressed in its own hardcover book back in the days of 3.5e. Magic of Eberron is an accessory that exposes the magic and eldritch wonders of the world. In addition to presenting new arcane and divine spells, feats, prestige classes, and magic items, the book offers new options and infusions for artificers, explores dragon totem magic and the twisted experiments of the daelkyr, sheds light on the process of elemental binding, and touches on other types of magic present in the world. It was written by Bruce Cordell along with Stephen Schubert and Chris Thomasson, and again beautifully set with cover art by Wayne Reynolds. The book is divided in six chapters:
- After an introduction, Magic of Eberron gives all the details DMs and players like need to incorporate new elements of magic to their games: Artifice, Elemental Binding, Dragonshards, the Draconic Prophecy, Daelkyr Magic, Dragon Totem Rituals, Psionics, and magic of Aerenal and Karrnath are all talked about. It finished introducing two new organizations: the Finders Guild and the Power of Purity.
- The second chapter, Character Options, presents mechanics to play a daelkyr half-blood, a psiforged, a psionic artificer and brings us Dragon Totem rituals and feats for PCs.
- Prestige Classes presented in chapter 3 include the Alchemist Savant, the Dragon Prophet, the Elemental Scion of Zilargo and the Quori Mindhunter.
- Spells and Powers starts with a short background about life in a magic-suffused society before offering a wide selection of new spells, infusions and psionic powers to choose from.
- Almost the longest chapter, Magic Items & Equipment brings to the table as many elements as you should expect: artificer items, Dragonshard-based items, schemas, daelkyr and psionic items, warforged components and grafts are joined by more mundane additional goods and services, even two new special materials.
- The book ends with the usual Creatures-dedicated chapter, in which we can find quoris, homunculi and symbionts.
The Flavor of Artifice
As an artificer, treat mastery of magic like a technical skill. Look for the patterns in energy and matter, understand how to manipulate the flow of magic in and around every object and creature, channel the energy into items using diagrams, complex charts and sigils that bright when activated. You might be a formal student or just a very talented tinkerer. Whatever your approach to artifice is, be sure to use the tools at your disposal to make your spellcaster feel different from the others: just as a bard uses art, you may want to look different from a wizard or a cleric.
When describing your spellcasting, think about what you’re using and how. The effect of the spell is the same as for a spellcaster of any other class, but your method of spellcasting is special. The Unearthed Arcana article with the class playtest gave us already some cool ideas using cure wounds as an example:
- Alchemist’s supplies: you could be quickly producing a salve.
- Tinker’s tools: you might have a miniature mechanical spider that binds wounds.
The same principle applies not only to casting but also when preparing your spells. Unlike a wizards who studies a spellbook or a cleric who prays to a deity, you are an artificer who works with different kinds of tools to create specialized ready-to-jumpstart items that will then produce the desired effects. I particularly have my artificers preparing spells creating some convoluted clockworks that then are ready to explode with a few twists of a keyed ratchet. I like to call them «spellbombs».
Just as stated in the Unearthed Arcana articles, these details mustn’t limit you in any way (or provide you with any benefit). Describing your spellcasting creatively is the best way to keep your character apart from more regular spellcasters.
Have you ever played an artificer before? Are you planning to do so? Hit the comments below and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for our interview with Keith Baker himself!