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Earthdawn is a Fantasy role-playing game, or RPG produced originally by FASA and has since been passed on to Living Room Games.

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 otherworld dimensions by a race 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 and 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.

It's an interesting idea to create characters who have been living in underground shelters for most of their lives before emerging to reclaim a world most only knew by stories told by their grandparents and pictures seen in books.

Barsaive is a region of city-states but the two major power groups are the Dwarves of Throal in the north-east and the Theran Empire who's capitol city is on an island to the South of Barsaive and who controls much of south-west 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 the 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.

Magic in Earthdawn Earthdawn's magic system is simultaneously Earthdawn's most innovative and most derivative aspect. It is highly varied but its 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. Simply pick up a magical item and it works exactly like a mundane item of the same type. If you spend experience to activate the item however, you unlock some of the magic in the item. By adding more experience you can unlock more and more power within the item. Most items have a ceiling where adding more experience doesn't help it, but that ceiling is different in different items as are which powers that the item grants. 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 it's 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 the FASA allowed Living Room games to continue with the product through a licensing agreement. There have been 2 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 rules changes in 2nd Edition, some classes have slightly different or altered abilities as compared to the original but otherwise it's the same game.

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