Eberron: Rising from the Last War released! For those who aren’t familiar, Eberron is an arcanepunk setting with a brand new book for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Arcanepunk as a genre focuses on magic with a twist. In the case of Eberron, the twist is magical technology, AKA magitech! Magitech is an amazing way to inspire fantastical wonder and alien mystery into your world. By assimilating (no pun intended) elements of science fiction into our fantasy we build something new, something… more intense that hits the grandiosity of fantasy while still amping up the science fiction suspense. However, there’s something else I want to talk about when it comes to 5E D&D narrative, but rather than introduce it in the traditional sense, indulge me while I make a point through narration.
Arcanepunk, magitech and more in 5E D&D
Searing blue light blazed from Dorian’s shield at the head of the party, but it wasn’t enough. Inky darkness drank the light away, allowing only a few feet of visibility ahead, into the stone corridors of the abandoned keep.
“Who would want to live in a dingy place like this?” Prudence, the group’s cleric, kicked at the tattered carpet with a hoofed, tiefling foot.
“Quiet!” Estellian, the rogue, hissed. “Unless you want to announce our presence?”
“They say you can hear them working late into the night.” Kyle, the group’s halfling mage, struggled to keep his voice even. “Working on what, though?”
Prudence maintained her volume flippantly. “Have you heard anything, yet?”
“No,” Estellian tapped the tip of her elven ear. “And that concerns me.”
“You’re all blowing this thing out of proportion,” said Prudence. “I maintain that it’s all a farce.”
“You think?” Kyle perked up, twisting his pointed hat.
“A farce that has an entire town too frightened to enter a castle just sitting in the middle of it?” Estellian lowered a brow. “Come now, Prudence. You’re a cleric. If nothing else, you should think of ghosts. Maybe an exorcism is in order?”
“Dorian’s awfully quiet.” Kyle quickened his pace to catch up with the paladin at the head. “What do you think about all of this?”
The human sniffed. “I’m not worried about the sounds half as much as the smell.”
“Come to think of it, I had noticed an odor,” said Estellian.
Prudence nodded. “Like burning oil, with traces of a magical after-stench.”
The hallway ended in a “T.”
“Right or left?” Kyle asked.
“R—” Dorian stopped short.
A high-pitched squeal precipitated the whirring of tiny gears.
Immediately to the left.
Dorian whirled, a prick of red light glaring at him from the blackness. He raised his shield. The light reflected off metal, shaped like a clawed foot. The metal leg stood beside an organic one, both clothed in tattered breeches. The legs stemmed from a hulking behemoth of a man… or rather, a machine?
Though mostly flesh, the muscled body possessed a mechanical leg and arm, as well as a glowing red eye.
Vapor snorted from the creature’s nostrils. “What are you doing in our castle?”
Dorian nearly dropped his shield. “It speaks?”
That’s right, everyone; we’re talking about cyborgs… basically.
While perusing the assets in the Nerdarchy store, I stumbled onto this lovely gem: Vargarian Collective. With Eberron: Rising from the Last War in our hands now, what better way to surprise your players even more than with this supplement?
I understand the Vargarians aren’t necessarily part of Eberron, but I think they’d feel right at home. As a personal fan of cyborgs as a trope, it feels like a natural progression of technology. In Eberron’s past, the warforged race was developed to fight in the war. Now, with things in ruins and a world turned against itself, it would make perfect sense if people began incorporating technology into their biology. What’s more, I think it would offer an interesting, yet eerie and familiar twist to your particular Eberron.
Fair warning: if you use this supplement, you will almost surely have at least one player that wants to be a cyborg — er, Vargarian. While the spirit of the article is to introduce this supplement to people who might not yet have discovered its coolness, I’m coming at this more from a mindset of a Game Master aiming to use this in an Eberron campaign.
Cyborg doesn’t scratch the surface
Just imagine for a moment you have a Vargarian player character linked directly to the hive mind. The PC knows the enemy’s next move, but so long as that character stays in the loop with the rest of the party, the enemy knows their next move also! An interesting twist, for sure.
The Vargarians really give me a strong Borg feel (like, from Star Trek), and I dig it. It’s ominous, yet one can’t deny the benefits an allegiance with these creatures could offer. The stat blocks help carve out how one could (easily) incorporate Vargarian modifications to practically any creature. There’s a map, some lore, and more in this supplement.
I’d probably take time to criticize aspects if I were doing a proper review, but when I was looking through this, my mind just sort of took off, and I wanted to really dig in with some of these ideas while they were fresh.
What do you think?
Do the Vargarians appeal to you as enemies, allies, or other? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think! If you want to incorporate a Borg-like race into your TTRPG, or you’re looking for new ways to spice up Eberron, then check out the Vargarian Collective in Nerdarchy the Store here!