Earthdawn Setting Through the Ages


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Back in the day, I'd purchased a copy of Earthdawn and read through it. I stayed up late, hidden under the covers and with a flashlight clutched in my tiny claws, as I turned page after page, greedy for one tale after the other. Unfortunately, that was ages ago, and I am now old.

As a benefit of being old, however, I was able to afford my (current copies) of ED 4e.

As a downside of being old, I have less time to read than I did than in my teens.

What should I expect, or look forward to, in terms of how the story changed, from 1e to 4e?

And, side question: Is there an OGL for the mechanics? Or, something I could point players to?


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It depends a little on when you left off in 1E. For the sake of completeness, I'll go over the high points (the order may be a little off - this is from memory):
  • The Theran behemoth Triumph lands at Ayodhya Liferock, kicking off Prelude to War the events therein. [1509 TH]
  • King Varulus III is assassinated, succeeded by Neden. The assumption is Thera was responsible for the killing. [1509 TH]
  • Neden leads an attack against Triumph in the Battle of Prajjor's Field, during which Thera provides proof to Neden Iopos was behind his father's murder. Things get complicated and it's clear the Denairastas are pushing Thera and Throal into conflict while looking to pick off the weakened victor. Politics in Throal regarding war with Thera or reconciliation further complicate matters.
  • Cara Fahd is (re-)founded. [1509 TH]
That marks the end of 1E. 2E went in a different direction than 4E, so everything in that edition can be ignored as far as "official canon" is concerned. 4E proceeds as follows:
  • An event known as the "Harwood Incident" where a Throalic merchant caravan which may or may not have been secretly supporting resistance against Therans was attacked by Therans, saved only by the actions of a group of adepts (insert your PCs here). King Neden used this as a political wedge to show Thera still viewed Barsaive as its property and force Throal into war, drumming up support from the province (shades of the RMS Luisitania). [1512 TH]
  • Throal makes war against Thera, with a decisive battle against Triumph taking place with support from across the province. The assault would have failed without the aid of elite adept groups who penetrated the behemoth's protective dome of True air and struck from the inside (insert your PCs here). The command structure retreated to Sky Point, leaving the behemoth behind.
  • The burgeoning alliance moved against Vivane and Sky Point next, gaining more support from across the province, including everyone's favorite great dragon, Vasdenjas. Some very bad things went down in the battle against Vivane and Sky Point. Notably the Horror cloud at Stormhead moving and settling down on Vivane. This was bad news for anyone in the area, or perhaps good news for people who like bad news. The Therans had a new super weapon at their disposal, that focused the magic from magicians into a single blast, like a star of death. Or something. A group of adepts infiltrate the defenses and take down the super weapon (insert your PCs here). During the battle, a series of unfortunate events caused Sky Point to drop on Vivane, also crushing Neden and his flagship in the process, though Neden's body was never found.
  • Thera was driven from the province, but Throal withdraws from the greater province and has civil unrest over Neden's succession. He had no heir and various factions vie for political power. [1514 TH]
  • Iopos uses the aftermath of the war to expand their influence and seize control of Jerris. This nearly brings Throal to civil war over a response, but ultimately no one does anything. [1514 TH]
  • Throal elects Kovar as the ultimate compromise candidate. If you've never heard of him, that's because no on has. He's entirely unremarkable and now in charge. Still entirely unremarkable so far. But he's literally better than nothing at all, or at least that's how the people of Throal feel. [1515 TH]
  • Present day. [1517 TH]
Iopos and the Denairastas represent a looming threat to the province as Thera's power significantly wanes. Travar is doing soul-searching on what their role may be as Throal continues to withdraw from external politics.

Edit: I almost forgot, here are links to the free ED4 quick start:

My apologies if there are some things I missed or events a little mischaracterized. Hopefully this is helpful.

Best regards,



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That is the best summary I have seen, great job Morgan! :) I'll have to point people to this when this comes up.

*One small note, the shanty town beneath the fortress of Sky Point was Vrontok (not Vivane), and this gets destroyed when the fortress collapses.
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