What Do I Know About Reviews? Dread Metrol: Into the Mists (DMs Guild Product)
If you detect a theme in the most recent reviews on the blog here, you may be able to determine how far behind I am on my reviews. With that in mind, let’s look at the totally seasonal review of Dread Metrol: Into the Mists. If you haven’t heard of this product before, this is another new Eberron related product from KB Presents, Keith Baker’s production company.
Dread Metrol: Into the Mists examines the former capital of Cyre, Metrol. In this case, it survived the destruction of The Mourning, but was transported to the Domains of Dread, complete with its own horror theme and darklord.
I purchased this product for review and did not receive a review copy. The product itself deals with the undead, animal cruelty, cannibalism, dismemberment, and body horror. If those are difficult topics for you, you may not want to delve too deeply into this product. The overall theme is also the general horrors of war, which may also be a problematic topic for some readers.
Shapes in the Mist
The PDF for Dead Metrol is 112 pages long. It has a two-column format, and there is full color artwork, some of which comes from previous Eberron products, and some pieces which are brand new for this release. The headers, tables, and sidebars are all similar to standard D&D presentation, but with colors and fonts that fit with the trade dress of the previous KB Presents Eberron products.
In addition to the full Dread Metrol PDF, the purchase also includes a 32 page Player Edition, which presents the information in the primary PDF which is most useful to share with players, including the general description of the city, the known disposition of various Dragonmarked Houses, backgrounds, character twists, and a new artificer specialty.
Geography in the Mists
The primary PDF is laid out with the following sections:
- The Domain of Metrol
- The Mourning After
The product presents the last moments of Cyre on Eberron, and what the intervening years have done to the capital as it transitioned to the Domains of Dread. This includes how uprooting the domain affected the power groups, the army, and the Queen.
After detailing the domain and its current state, it then presents player facing information, before moving into an adventure that can take characters from 1st to 4th level, with notes on how to run it for characters native to Metrol versus those that have been trapped in Metrol due to the Mists.
Player Facing Material
The player-facing material includes some of the expanded material that I have really enjoyed in the D&D 5e Eberron products. For example, there is a list of standard backgrounds, but there is a paragraph for each of them tying them more specifically to Metrol.
Twists are ways that you can take something standard about your character, and tweak that aspect to reflect the corrupted nature of Metrol as a Domain of Dread. Examples include having Warforged statistics but starting out as a human with artificial limbs added on to you over time or casting cleric spells because you are haunted by the spirit of a cleric that died in your neighborhood.
There is also a section called What Do You Have to Lose which includes a chart showing what connects you to Metrol and what you might stand to lose if forces are levied against you, or situations change radically.
This is a continuation of what has been some of the strongest roleplaying material in 5e. It falls in line with the Debts and Regrets section of Eberron: Rising from the Last War, and the Last War backgrounds section in Exploring Eberron. I really enjoy this extra step that helps to join the player characters to the setting, and I wish some of the other setting material had similar tables and connective tissue.
Mastermaker (Artificer Specialist)
The Mastermaker is a type of artificer that has developed from the last few years of Metrol’s history, specializing in merging artificial body parts with existing bodies. It is noted that you may not want to allow this specialty as a “general” artificer specialty, but only offer it to artificers that are native to this domain.
- 3rd–Tools of Integration, Mastermaker Spells, Prosthesis Expertise, Battlefist
- 5th–Extra attack
- 9th–Improved battlefist
- 15th–Construct apotheosis
At third level, you pick up the ability to use heavy armor and smith’s tools. If you are using a wider range of material in your campaign, I could easily see the tool proficiency being surgical tools as detailed in another recent product I reviewed. A lot of the mastermaker expanded spells deal with energy, enhancement, restoration, and smiting, which all makes sense for a subclass with “magical cyborgs” as its focus. Prosthesis Expertise allows the artificer to touch a non-magical object and turn it into a prosthetic limb. Battlefist allows you to replace one of your arms with a magical hammering fist. If you have ever wanted to have a rocket fist, that’s one of the options you can get with this, as well as making the fist a finesse weapon or a reach weapon. You can swap this out on a long rest.
This is one of the artificer specialties that grants an extra attack at 5th level. I can understand this, as this is a specialty heavily flavored as having developed due to an ongoing war. It also dovetails with getting heavy armor and a magic fist. Improved battlefist at 9th level lets you use your fist as a shield as well as a weapon, and it also allows you to add an additional infusion to your battlefist.
Construct apotheosis at 15th level allows you to take on more “construct” traits as you replace and fortify more of your body. This includes resistance to some forms of damage, immunity to being poisoned, an alteration in your type for magical effects, and a few additional spells added to your spell list, which are spells you can cast separate from your slots once per long rest.
I’ve talked about the time that a subclass has to establish its theme. This is a similar concept to the armorer specialty, in that it’s giving the artificer abilities that they can use in combat, except this specialty involves integrating these items into your body. I think the battlefist feature accomplishes this, but what I wanted to address is the prosthesis master. I love the potential roleplaying with this that they might use outside of the party to interact with NPCs. Although I understand why this is tied to Metrol and its history, I wouldn’t have a problem with this specialty in other campaigns.
Catching Up With Metrol
This product provides you with the history of Metrol as it transitions from Metrol, capital of Cyre and Galifar, to Dread Metrol, Domain of Dread. What exactly made Metrol attractive to the Dread Powers? It turns out prolonged war and a leader who slowly becomes increasingly willing to do anything to win gets the attention of the Mists.
The city of Metrol is surrounded by the Mists, and undead armies besiege the city on a regular basis. While the inhabitants of the city assume these are the forces of Karrnath, this is the perpetual “gift” of warfare given to the domain by the Dread Powers. The war will never end, because the domain will always provide more undead to fight.
Metrol seems to be a bastion against the darkness, except for the secret police, the food shortages, and the forced amalgamation of human and warforged soldiers. Not only might a human be fitted with a warforged body part, a warforged might get the arm from a human soldier’s corpse, and the line between warforged, humanoid, and enhanced humanoid has begun to blur.
Queen Dannel has changed from a determined ruler to an obsessed monarch that cannot admit defeat. She has become the Darklord of Metrol and believes that any horror she inflicts on the city is justifiable if it allows her to finally defeat the “Karnnathi” that are attacking the city.
In addition to the houses, Queen Dannels’ personal forces, and the military, there are resistance cells that have sprung up in the city, attempting to deconstruct the worst of Queen Dannel’s extreme measures. The product discusses player characters working for Queen Dannel and realizing the degree of her obsession, or starting as members of the Unbroken, opposing her from the start.
There are several tables in this section that reinforce the cursed nature of Dread Metrol. There are curses that may be focused on a specific area of the city, and a table of “reminders of war,” to make sure that the effects of war are present even when fighting isn’t currently occurring. There are tables for alternate currency, suspicious behaviors, and random locations in the rapidly decaying city. There is a chart for determining how House Ghallandra manages to feed the city (this can get rough), and hidden Karrnathi agents working to destabilize the city. There are random charts for the Queen’s agents that might be encountered, as well as randomized Unbroken agents.
Some of my favorite tables involve the randomly generated Dread Metrol adventures, which are generated by rolling and connecting three separate columns to derive missions. There is a great table to roll on which tells you the effects of the previous night’s siege, allowing you to constantly explain the scars being inflicted on the city. Finally, there are some actual undead Karrnathi leaders that drift in and out of the Mists, which may take command of the domain’s endless undead armies.
In addition to all this information, there are discussions about using Mabar as an alternative to the Domains of Dread, for those DMs that don’t want to directly connect Eberron to the greater D&D cosmology. It also discusses the differences between characters brought in from the mists from Eberron proper, and those that have lived in Metrol since it was enveloped by the Dark Powers. This difference between these adventurer origins is further explored in the included adventure.
Overall, this section highlights what Keith Baker and his collaborators have shown to be their strengths when working on Eberron material. Lots of this expands what we “might” know about Eberron but does so as a flexible set of tools that leaves lots of room for customization. It’s also interesting to get more information on Metrol after the expanded information provided about Cyre in general in Exploring Eberron, meaning you could probably throw together an interesting “Last Days of Metrol” campaign if you wanted to go that route.
The Mourning After
The provided adventure gives you a nice tier 1 arc for player characters, taking them from level one to level four by the end of the adventure. As mentioned above, this provides alternate starting points for characters native to Metrol, and who have been trapped within since the Mourning, and characters that are transported there by the Mists. That means the opening encounter scene is a little different depending on how you want to start the campaign.
This adventure is a solid tour of the elements presented in the rest of the product. Characters will encounter the body experimentations of the Vadalis Kennels, see the effects on the ongoing war as they travel across the Bridge of the Dead, and encounter people scarred by Queen Dannel’s obsessive focus on winning the war. To progress they may have to make some hard decisions, reinforcing the horrors of war aspect of the domain, and will have to make a decision about what could amount to a doomsday scenario, and who can be trusted with that secret.
There is a sidebar on using the stress mechanic from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft in this adventure, and I would love to see that in other adventures. Not just horror adventures, but adventures with a grittier tone, as well. The adventure provides either a jumping-off point for a campaign in Metrol with the Unbroken, being transported to another Domain of Dread, or returning to Eberron after escaping the Mists.
Raise the Banners
I really like that even if you don’t end up running a long-term campaign, just running through the tier 1 adventure makes it worth picking this up. It could make for interesting roleplaying for the player characters to be the only people on Eberron that know what happened to Metrol, although it still doesn’t shed any light on the Mourning overall. The tools provided in the book, both for player character backgrounds and for random campaign inspiration, are evocative and extremely table-friendly.
Mud and Blood
While the book does emphasize this, with so much of the domain and the adventure focusing on body horror and body modification, it’s going to be very important that the DM running this takes to heart not to vilify people with prosthetics or disabilities. This is less a problem with this product and more a general aspect where tone and sensitivity are going to be important. Other than that, I think my only real complaint is that I might have wanted some infusions highlighting the mastermaker’s theme.
Recommended–If the product fits in your broad area of gaming interests, you are likely to be happy with this purchase.
This product has a lot of versatility. If you are a Ravenloft fan, you have a good introductory story arc that deals with a type of horror that isn’t as represented as some others. If you are an Eberron fan, you get a lot more details about a historic location and events, as well as an opening arc to a campaign. In addition, you get to see more well-crafted tools for integrating characters into a campaign, and a new artificer subclass to boot.
If you are of the persuasion of gamer that likes Eberron and not D&D 5e, this is still going to provide you with lots of tools and background for the setting that are easily ported into whatever game system you may be using for the setting.