Charles's Reviews > Sharn: City of Towers

Sharn by Keith Baker
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May 29, 12

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bookshelves: dungeons-and-dragons, fantasy, reviewed, stat_1

Stuff I Read D&D Edition – Sharn: City of Towers

Well it’s been a little while since I got through a D&D book, to be blamed mostly on the fact that I have been reading a lot of other things (mostly manga, for those paying attention to the blog). And really this was going to be one of the last of these for a while, but I received an insanely generous gift a while back and have since used a portion of it to buy some more books, so look for this series to continue into the foreseeable future. But to the topic at hand. Sharn: City of Towers is another Eberron supplement that deals with, you guessed it, the city of Sharn. The largest city on the main continent, Sharn is pretty much the go-to location for most campaigns taking place in Eberron, as it has the cramped, dark, and noir atmosphere that Eberron does so well. And, indeed, it was in Sharn that I began my Eberron campaign, though much before I really knew anything about the city. More than anything else, this book makes me want to go back and do the setting justice. It’s rather late for that, though, as Sharn was destroyed when it’s manifest zone was shifted away from one with light gravity to one with heavy gravity, causing the towers to come crashing down.

Really, though, I had very little idea what Sharn was when I was running my campaign in it. Which is a bit sad, because the information contained in this book on Sharn is in depth and huge. Reading through it I can see plot threads weaving throughout, NPCs and organizations that I would have liked to link together and draw out and have coalesce into a campaign full of political intrigue and mystery. Not saying that I am not happy with my current campaign, but I do regret to some extent that it really hasn’t been the most accurate Eberron campaign. I conceived of the campaign before I knew it would be in Eberron, after all, and so it was not tailored as it could have been. It also lacked the detail and a lot of the specifics. Events would happen in the city, but in no particular place. This was before I had the books, though, so I excuse myself and am happy that the campaign turned out well regardless. At least, it has been running for almost two years now, and is still fun.

The book goes into great length about each of the districts of the city, though, including important NPCs and places, and the information is appropriate for a DM that wants to run a campaign in the city. And that is the largest part of the book, surely, just like the largest part of the Forge of War was the information about the Last War itself. But like most of the supplements, the reference material is only a part of the book. It is an important part, vital to understanding the city and its many layers (haha, technically a pun), but the book also introduces new organizations and prestige classes, new spells, feats, and items. The book contains some very interesting things that are linked to Sharn but really don’t have to be limited to Sharn. It has a section on drugs, for example, and drug addiction, which would fit into almost any sort of campaign, and definitely in any sort of location. Some of the prestige classes and spells are much more refined to a Sharn campaign, but it doesn’t really detract from them. The monsters are interesting and the book as a whole works to show just how complex a setting can be for something as seemingly simple as a city.

And, ultimately, I have to judge the book on how well it accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is to provide the groundwork for running a campaign in Sharn. There are a number of elements that can be taken outside the city, but really this is a book that is about the city. It is designed to be used for Sharn, and in that the book succeeds quite well. All of the necessary information is there, and more than most campaigns could ever hope to include. The writers were sure to cram as many story ideas and plot hooks as they could, and again without going as far as to solve them all, or give all the information. Things are still left open enough to be compelling and to push the DM to want to come up with answers. The secret of Dragon’s Blood, the goal of the Dreaming Dark in Sharn, or the Cabinet of Faces, what dwells under the city, and what plots are afoot in the city of the dead all tease the DM on, or at least teased me on, making want to invent reasons and elaborate stories.

And perhaps one day I will get to come back to Sharn and tell the stories the book hints at. Maybe I will tell completely new ones. It’s fairly certain I’m not going to in my current campaign, but there will probably be another Eberron campaign eventually. It would be a shame to waste all the books, after all. So Sharn: City of Towers does what it sets out to do. And, more than that, it is just a good read, in the same way most of the Eberron books have been good reads. It stresses the gray and complicated, making people have complex motivations and personalities that do not begin and end with their alignment. So I like it, and give this supplement an 8/10.

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