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Earthdawn is a Fantasy role-playing game, or RPG produced originally by FASA and has since been licensed to Living Room Games. While it is still owned by FASA Corp, a second license has been granted to Red Brick Ltd.

The game differs from the fantasy troupe of games such as Dungeons & Dragons but draws heavily upon games such as Runequest. The game is tightly bound to its setting, a region called Barsaive.

In synopsis, the game world has suffered an invasion from otherworldly dimensions by a race of demonic creatures called simply Horrors that have scoured the land of life. The players take the role of survivors who, having hidden from the slaughter in magical shelters, are now emerging to explore the land and discover what has happened in their absence.

The game has an intricate history that helps set the tone and goals of the adventures that the explorers can undertake. The key points of the history are the prediction of the disaster, the creation of an empire in attempt to ready the population for its coming and the subsequent differences between the actual events and the predictions.

Barsaive is a region of city-states but the two major power groups are the Dwarves of Throal in the northeast and the Theran Empire whose capitol city is on an island to the South of Barsaive and who controls much of southwest Barsaive. The Empire had taught the people of the Barsaive how to survive the astral attack in return for their surrender and addition to the Empire, and the dwarves were some of their most astute students. However once the danger was past, the dwarves decided to rebel and set up their own independent kingdom. When the Therans returned to Barsaive they faced a rebellion against their distant rule.

The Therans in the area are based in the magical floating city of Sky Point while the dwarven realm's capital is the underground city of Throal.

Table of contents
1 Magic in Earthdawn
2 External link

Magic in Earthdawn

Earthdawn's magic system is both Earthdawn's most innovative and most derivative aspect. It is highly varied, but the essential idea that everyone has access to magic, particularly that used to perform their jobs and assist in daily tasks, is borrowed almost wholesale from Runequest.

Similarly Runequest Sorcerers can be seen to have a strong influence on Earthdawn's Astral Magic users.

One of the most innovative ideas in Earthdawn is how magical items work. Upon being picked up, a magical item works exactly like a mundane item of the same type. However, as a character spends legend points to activate the item, searches for information about the item's history, and performs certain tasks relating to that history, she unlocks some of the magic in the item. By adding more legend points, the character can unlock more and more power within the item. Most items have a ceiling where adding more legend points no longer adds to the item, but that ceiling is different in different items as are which powers that the item grants. For example, a common magical broadsword may only have 4 magical ranks and only increases the damage of the blade, while the legendary sword Purifier, which has slain countless Horrors, has 10 magical ranks and adds numerous powers to its wielder (to-hit, damage, physical defense, and spell defense to name a few).

Despite the similarities to Runequest, Earthdawn's ideas and particularly its integration of the setting's magical philosophy into the game's rule system are distinctive and enjoyable.

Recent Game History

FASA closed down production of Earthdawn in January 1999. In late 1999, FASA allowed Living Room Games to continue with the product through a licensing agreement. There have been two adventures since that point, as well as Earthdawn 2nd Edition and the 2nd Edition Companion (Jan 2002). The 2nd Edition does not alter the setting except for moving it forward a few years to show the metaplot advancement. There are a few changes to the rules in 2nd Edition, and some classes have slightly different or altered abilities from the original, but otherwise it is the same game. However a second license has been granted to Red Brick Ltd as of 2003 which will continue the first edition rules as many players wished it to, since many were disgruntled with Living Room Games' changes. Red Brick Ltd is a group dedicated to reviving the game in its original incarnation of first edition rules. It is based in New Zealand but is a world-wide effort.

External link

Red Brick Ltd