Chris's Invincible Super-Blog fame) invited me to play in the new game he's starting up--a Pathfinder campaign in the Eberron setting.
In getting ready for the game, I've been perusing the Eberron Campaign Setting book--something I haven't really looked at since I purchased it in curiosity, because it was the winner of WOTC's setting contest. The introduction has a section on the "Tone of Eberron." I think a lot of the elements mentioned here--the emphasis on "cinematic" action, the blending of pulp and medieval fantasy conventions--go a long way to explaining what the judges at WOTC found appealing about the setting. There's also references to "a thousand shades of gray" and "dark adventure," which seem to suggest moral ambiguity and edginess--things the kids are thought to be into.
What drew my attention in particular is that Eberron's version of the old "Appendix N" are all film references, not literary ones. Nothing wrong with that, in particular. The list of inspirations for my current campaign contains a filmography. What's particular interesting is not that its a list of films, but rather that its a fairly disparate group of films.
I can put Brotherhood of the Wolf, and From Hell together. These are "cinematic" (in the since of visually dynamic) and somewhat "dark" in tone. Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Mummy certainly fit together with over-the-top action and a bit of humor. Maybe Sleepy Hollow and Brotherhood and of the Wolf bridge the cap between those two and From Hell in slightly different ways.
The ones that really have me scratching my head are Name of the Rose, Casablanca, and The Maltese Falcon. I can put Name and Maltese together, or Maltese and Casablanca, so maybe by the transitive property I can group the three, but I have a harder time putting them with most of the films above.
I'm sure I'm over-thinking this. I firmly believe that inspirations can have dissonance as well as consonance. But without any explanation, I sort of think these references were slapped together for very superficial reasons without much thought to how one might conceptualize their elements to come up with a coherent "feel" for the setting.
Luckily, I'm not the DM this time, so I don't have to put those things together, and I'm certainly won't deny that there are some cool elements to Eberron, for all that.
And in the end, its gaming--with friends. And that ain't bad.
2 hours ago