Saturday, December 14, 2013

Earthdawn 4e Announced


FASA Games is pleased to announce Earthdawn: Fourth Edition, coming in 2014.

For the past twenty years, Earthdawn has built a loyal fan base as an original and engrossing fantasy gaming experience. As the game enters its third decade, we are taking the opportunity to update the game, revisiting the core systems to find a balance between the game’s legacy and more recent developments in game design.

We are also taking this opportunity to advance the game’s timeline. Earthdawn: Fourth Edition will be set about five years after the end of the Second Theran War. The Therans have largely been driven from the province of Barsaive. Throal has narrowly avoided civil war and has turned inward. The Denairastas clan continue their plans to dominate the province. And the Horrors, as always, lurk in the darker places, feeding on the pain, fear, and uncertainty the war left in its wake. More than ever, the world needs heroes.

In preparation for the release of the Player’s Guide and Gamemaster’s Guide—currently slated for Summer 2014 release—plans are under way for a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014 to fund the printing and new artwork for the core books.

Development is also under way on new, original sourcebooks -- the first since 2011. Currently in the works are books about the city of Travar, a closer look at the Passions and their Questors, and the elven nations outside Barsaive.

More information about upcoming releases, the Kickstarter campaign, and teasers about some of the changes in store for Earthdawn: Fourth Edition, can be found on the Earthdawn Developer’s Blog at


So by now you have probably seen the announcement that we are working on Earthdawn: Fourth Edition, with plans to release the core books next summer. No doubt there are a lot of questions, so let's get too it.

What about the Revised Gamemaster's Guide?

The book is not going to see print. The decision to move forward with a Fourth Edition is probably the biggest decision I had to make so far as line developer. I know that people have been waiting for this book for some time, and I am sorry to disappoint them, but let me try and lay out some of my thinking.

I don't think it is any secret that the last few years have been rocky ones for the public face of Earthdawn. Revised is tied to that history, and is pretty much Third Edition with a different skin. Fourth Edition -- hopefully -- represents a fresh start with a new hand at the helm. It doesn't make much sense to rush the Revised GM Guide to press, only to announce the new edition shortly after that. Not only would this hurt sales of the book, but I don't like the image it presents.

Honestly, I didn't find any of the options to be ideal. I believe the game needs a new edition, and I think it is better to be up front about that -- even if it does mean some disappointment and bad feelings.

What about the time jump?

This is another decision that represents a step forward. When FASA closed up shop on First Edition, Barsaive at War was in early stages of development. While Living Room Games made an effort to address it in Second Edition and advance the game's timeline, RedBrick's Earthdawn Classic rolled back the timeline to before the war, and Third Edition largely maintained this state of affairs.

One of the more common criticisms of the Earthdawn game over the past few years has been the lack of development in the setting. "The War" has been hanging over the line for a while, and Fourth Edition allows us to establish a new status quo. We may revisit the war in future products, but in Fourth Edition it has happened, allowing us to explore the consequences.

More details about how the war has affected Barsaive will be the subject of future posts here.

What can we expect from Fourth Edition?

Other than the setting changes? We're currently working on going through the rules, examining the core concepts and underlying assumptions with an eye towards what works well, what doesn't work so well, and what could simply use some polish. The core dice mechanic -- the Step System -- will remain largely unchanged, and the concepts of Disciplines, talents, thread magic, and other such fundamental game concepts will also remain.

Where we are looking to improve the game is to try and simplify some of the more complex rules, at least with regard to their explanation if not in actual execution. We're also hoping to bring a bit more attention to some of the game aspects that are important to certain character concepts, but are not very well supported by either the rules or GM advice.

There will be the inevitable revisions to individual talents, or the talent selection available to individual Disciplines. Some spells and magic items will see tweaks. All of this is being done with an eye toward helping actual play. Game balance is a nebulous thing, and is a little different for every group, but it is my hope that the books will give you a good set of tools to play Earthdawn.

As with the setting changes, I'll be going into more depth over the coming weeks.

Oh, and you can expect new art.

Hence the Kickstarter campaign?

Exactly. There was new art introduced in some of the Second and Third Edition books, but there has been a lot of recycled artwork -- along with other material -- in the line, and that is another thing that will help mark a fresh start for Earthdawn. A successful Kickstarter campaign will help cover those costs.

I've been going on for a while, but I've hit the high points. If you have questions, you can post them on our forums, or email me (josh at I may not be able to go into huge detail at this stage, but I will do my best to keep up with the discussion and answer the questions I can.