"I ate giant saucy lamb balls last night. They were good at first, then a lot less good. The waiter was nice though, he put lapkins in our laps personally. My brother said it was kind of creepy but I found it mildly enjoyable." - Glip the Gnome
absolutely great system, I think. a *bit* clunky maybe, but still very fun and very unique.
did you get the old version or the new edition? if you go here and check the FASA section under rpgs. you can purchase most of the old books; in particular I'd recommend the earthdawn companion, the adept's way (a must for fleshing out the classes), and maybe the two denizens books.
as for how the system works.. basically, everything is based around "step die". they go up in the standard way - d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20. but as your rank in attributes or damage on weapon or what not goes up, your step goes up - so whereas a step 4 might be a d6, a step 15 might be a d10+d8+d6. heh interesting way of doing rolls.
classes are all varied and have their own identities. warriors and swordmasters, for instance, have completely different flavour and overall mechanics. a warrior is about being tough and taking & dealing lots of damage, whereas a swordmaster revolves around lots of feints, taunts, and such to get extra dice for attackings.
spellcasters don't "memorize" spells, but instead work off of a spell matrix. starting out you can only have one or two (I think, only ever played one caster for one night) spells in a matrix, and you can cast those as much as you want. however, if one of the spells you know (and spells are based on your class rank) isn't matrixed and you want to cast it, you cast it as raw magic and have to make a certain roll.
or something like that, I forget :P
there are certain racial-only classes, like the elven woodsman. also animal based classes like the beastmaster (works on having pets), or the calvaryman who seeks out more powerful mounts to ride in combat.
races are a mix of standard and not-so-standard. elves are your typical beautiful, high society forest loving folks, but also include blood elves, whose bodies are permanently pierced by thorns and only live in one forest.
orks are generally second-class citizens, but there are also lots who live more as nomadic raiders.
trolls are more nordic mini-giant based, and have a very strong culture based on (airship) raiding. w
indlings are basically pixies, humans are humans, and dwarves are somewhat the "main" race as dwarven is the standard tongue.
the t'skrang are lizard men who have a natural tendency towards agility, and excel as pirates.
finally, there are obsidimen, who are basically very tall humanoids with hard, rock-like skin. one of the major black market trades is in obsidiman-skin, as it offers great protection, but anyone wearing it will be attacked by obsidimen on sight.
the main enemy of earthdawn are known as the Horrors, creatures from another plane that feed on fear, misery, and pain. they are extremely powerful, and long ago swarmed into the world when the magical cycle reached a high enough point to open gates to their home.
the basic world history goes like this:
hundreds of years ago, someone discovered (through scrolls or divination or whatever) that a great age of death and doom and evil bad stuff was coming from another plane, in the form of the Horrors. at the time, the two great nations were those of thera and barsaive, with thera being culture who supported slavery, and barsaive against it.
when a theran mage devised a way of protecting cities and villages from the Horrors, these spells and runes were offered to barsaive in exchange for slaves. most of barsaive took up the offer, though certain nations (such as the elven court which became the blood wood) refused. when the Scourge came, much of the world was protected in their kaers.
however, many kaers did end up being breached by Horrors. but, after a while, most of the horrors left, as they had nobody left to feed on. the basic plan was that each kaer had a ritual that would let them observe the magical level of the world - when this ritual (which basically was a magical ball on a pole that slowly slid down) started to fail, they would know when the magic level was low enough for them to safely leave.
but, for some reason, in every kaer the ball stopped just above the ending point. it was still too early to leave, there would still be horrors. people continued to wait, and yet the ball stayed where it was. so finally people started leaving their kaers.
that's where characters in the original rulebook starts out - "mankind" has only been above ground for a fairly small amount of time, sightings of theran ships are beginnign to occur, and not all of the horrors have yet left.
if you want a more in-depth history, go to the living room games earthdawn history page. I was just going off of memory for the most part, and it's been years since I've played :P these guys did make a second edition apparently, but I haven't read it yet.
The best fact about Earthdawn is the fact that it links to Shadowrun and visaversa Marauder ShadowCross Bladesong
Everquest: Marauder Shadowcross Bladesong,
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