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[Earthdawn/Shadowrun] The Six Worlds, and putting it all together

Evil Dr Ganymede

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Banned
I'm just rambling here, just going through Earthdawn's history and figuring stuff out. (I'm sure none of this is particularly new and has been thought through before, but humour me :))

Let me see if I've got the full history of the ED/SR world correct here... if assume that Shadowrun is indeed the future of the setting and is the "Sixth World", then is Earthdawn set in the Fourth World? So our current (non-magical) era in the setting is the Fifth World, which implies that the magic levels in ED start to drop again at some point in its future, the Horrors flee back to the Astral Plane, and the non-human races die out, giving way to something resembling our recorded history.

We also know that the Books of Harrow were written in a 'non-magical' era many thousands of years earlier, but describe a previous 'magic-rich' era similar to that described in Earthdawn. They also describe a Scourge, which presumably occurred between the earlier magic-rich era and the time that the Books were written.

So if we assume a sinusoidal rise and fall of magic, the full (recorded) history of the world starts with a waxing magical era (described in the Books of Harrow), followed by a Scourge, which is then followed by a waning magical era (not described, presumably survivors were picking up the pieces then). Then there's a non-magical era (during which the Books of Harrow were written), followed by a waxing magical era (described in the ED history, when the Books of Harrow are discovered and translated and Thera is formed), then a Scourge, then a waning magical era ('present day' Earthdawn).

After ED, the magic levels start to drop again to enter a nonmagical era - our "real world" - during which the magic levels drop. One might argue that the BC period of history is when there's still a bit of magic left, and that 1 AD to 1900 AD is when there's no magic, and then in the 1900s AD the magic levels have risen again to become slightly noticeable. They continue to rise through the early 2000s, and reach critical mass in 2012 (or whenever it is that the Sixth World starts in Shadowrun) and continue to rise throughout that era (I'm not clear on what happens in the later parts of the SR timeline, but from the sound of it there's been more metahuman-forming activity). Eventually, at some point in SR's future there will be another Scourge.

If that is correct, then what eras do the First, Second, and Third Mayan Worlds correspond to? Are the periods with Magic in them (around the Scourges) the even-numbered worlds, and the non-magical periods the odd-numbered ones? The entry in the ED1e Horrors book about Verjigorm that seems to describe an earlier Scourge 10,000 years earlier where It trapped a number of dragons, and the story the Dragons tell there seem to describe a Scourge-like era before that when Verjigorm ruled the world. So it seems the rise and fall of magic has been going on longer than the Mayans figured. :)

Does this sound about right?


One thing has always bugged me about the ED setting though - why DID the magic level stabilise after the last Scourge? According to the Books of Harrow, it was supposed to continue to drop til it reached non-magical levels when it would be safe to leave the Kaers. Instead, it seems to have stopped falling, leaving Barsaive in a stable magic-rich environment. Is this just a 'fact of life" in ED - an axiom of the setting - or is there a canonical in-game reason for this happening (maybe something Verjigorm's engineered?) that can be discovered?

And is Shadowrun really heading for another Scourge? Is anyone preparing for it?
 

Katsue

Young Witch
Validated User
Evil Dr Ganymede said:
One thing has always bugged me about the ED setting though - why DID the magic level stabilise after the last Scourge? According to the Books of Harrow, it was supposed to continue to drop til it reached non-magical levels when it would be safe to leave the Kaers. Instead, it seems to have stopped falling, leaving Barsaive in a stable magic-rich environment. Is this just a 'fact of life" in ED - an axiom of the setting - or is there a canonical in-game reason for this happening (maybe something Verjigorm's engineered?) that can be discovered?
As far as I know there's no canonical reason for it. It could be something to do with the Mad Passions, or Theran Blood Magic having odd effects, but basically we don't know. Apparently Shadowrun is more high mana than it should be as well - somehow the Great Ghost Dance speeded up the mana cycle.
 

Evil Dr Ganymede

New member
Banned
Katsue said:
As far as I know there's no canonical reason for it. It could be something to do with the Mad Passions, or Theran Blood Magic having odd effects, but basically we don't know. Apparently Shadowrun is more high mana than it should be as well - somehow the Great Ghost Dance speeded up the mana cycle.
So Shadowrun is speeding towards a Scourge faster than it should be? Hmmm.

Also, I've seen mention of "Invae" in Earthdawn... and a hint that they maybe the same as the Insect Brotherhood in SR - can anyone verify that at all? (and where are the Invae described in ED? All I know of the Insect Spirits in Shadowrun is... welll, just that they're there).

And are there any more relics of previous Worlds described in ED? Did anything else survived from the magical era before the Books of Harrow were written? And how long is the span between Scourges? The Scourges themselves seem to last a few centuries at least, it sounds like each Scourge is separated by at least 5,000 years...
 

Son of Kirk

Shatnertastic
RPGnet Member
I believe that the Theran Sourcebook holds the secrets you seek regarding the question about the magic level.

It doesn't 'out and out' say it, but there is a very big clue given in the book.
 
Evil Dr Ganymede said:
So Shadowrun is speeding towards a Scourge faster than it should be? Hmmm.
It was. Then Big D dis something, which included getting himself killed, and thus the Scourge was stalled for a while.

Evil Dr Ganymede said:
Also, I've seen mention of "Invae" in Earthdawn... and a hint that they maybe the same as the Insect Brotherhood in SR - can anyone verify that at all? (and where are the Invae described in ED? All I know of the Insect Spirits in Shadowrun is... welll, just that they're there).
I'm pretty sure that Invae haven't gotten a closer treatment in ED, and I'm 100% sure they are same things as the Insect Spirits of Shadowrun.
 

Toa

Freilanzer
Validated User
I remember reading something about some Theran hovering pillars havong something to do with the stability of the mana level. So the Theran Empire sourcebook might be a good hint. Didn't get to read it yet.

Evil Dr Ganymede said:
and where are the Invae described in ED?
Barsaive Box.

Shader said:
I'm pretty sure that Invae haven't gotten a closer treatment in ED, and I'm 100% sure they are same things as the Insect Spirits of Shadowrun.
See above. And they indeed are the Insect Spirits of Shadowrun.
 

Red Coyote

Retired User
If you read Dunkelzahn's Will and some Earthdawn sourcebooks you will notice some artifacts have made it through to the 6th world. If I remember correctly the Everliving Flower is one of them. Plus there are plenty of Immortal Elves supposedly in the 6th world as well. Eron the Scribe (not his correct name...) and Harlequin as well as others.

Dunkelzahn is German for Dark Tooth, a drake who worked for Mountainshadow in Earthdawn (who was basically a disguise for the dragon).

Ah, what else? Oh there is the description of a really old painting of an elf with thorns growing out of her in one of the Shadowrun source books.

As for the exact history of the world I believe it goes something like this:

The big V and his followers basically had Earth as their plaything, creating lifeforms and pitting them against each other for entertainment and whatnot. One day V forms a dragon for amusement but it flies away to a remote part of the world. There it propagates more of its kind somehow and forms the beginnings of the dragon race (7 dragons I believe). V eventually tracks it down and destroys it. The remaining dragons use their combined might to throw the magic energy out of whack, thinking to reduce the amount of magic available and thus starve the Horrors. It works but only too well. True the horrors leave but magic continues to decline and eventually the dragons have to slumber as well when magic dips too low.

Anyways, so the races of the world come about because the dragons wanted servants. (and here my memory is a bit vague). I believe Immortal Elves were mixed with dragon DNA to create a really valuable servant, one on par with the lifespan of a dragon. However the Immortal Elves led a revolt against the dragons with the other races and succeeding in killing a great number of them off. Thus why dragons generally despise the immortal elves (betrayers to them I guess). The first Scourge comes and nearly wipes out the population and with it a good deal of their knowledge. The survivors write the Books Of Harrow and hope that the people can prepare for it again.

As a conspiracy note, the Immortal Elves in Shadowrun have already prepared for the next Scourge but they would very much like to see a good chunk of the world destroyed by the Horrors thus leaving them in control. There have been some reports that Horrors have been already entering the world and a lesser Horror probably taught the American Indians the Great Ghost Dance so as to hasten the arrival of the Scourge.

I think that about wraps it up. Any questions?
 

Stauffenberg

Riding With Kalki
The length of each "World" is more like 5000 years than 2000. The civilizations of Barsaive are supposed to predate any other known human society. Some stuff in Shadowrun hints at archeological finds, and I believe Dunky's will offers a reward for the discovery of a Kaer in the Caucasuses, but I'm not sure.

And yes, it is theoretically possible for the Horrors to come earlier in the cycle than they should. The Great Ghost Dance used too much high-level blood magic, and so created a "mana spike" which could be used to create a bridge to the Metaplane the Horrors come from. This is precisely what Aztechnology tried to do - Mr. Darke and the Blood Mage Gestalt built an "astral net" over Mexico to find a Locus (a place of extreme power) and then use it to punch through to the Horrors. However, Dunkelzahn sacrificed himself to power an extremely potent magical item called the Dragon Heart, which a team of runners plus Harlequin and Aina used to collapse the bridge just as it was finished. I suppose it's still possible to build another bridge, but the existing one has been destroyed, so the world isn't in any immediate danger.

Stauffenberg, Resident Shadowrun Nerd :cool:
 

Mataxes

Social Justice Troubadour
Validated User
Red Coyote said:
Ah, what else? Oh there is the description of a really old painting of an elf with thorns growing out of her in one of the Shadowrun source books.
The book is Tir Tairngire, and the portrait in question is of Alachia -- former Queen of the Elven Court in Wyrm Wood (Blood Wood). Alachia is an IE from the Second World, and outside of the dragons, one of the oldest Name-givers in the world.

The dragon creation myth is recorded in two places in ED canon: (1) The entry on Verjigorm in the Horrors sourcebook (now available in PDF form from RedBrick Ltd.! Buy it now at DriveThruRPG.com!) and (2) In Dragons: Revised and Expanded, available from Living Room Games.

Coyote mostly has it right as far as the legend goes, but the first dragon (Dayheart) was not the creation of "the big V", but rather the offspring/creation of the horoi Nightslayer (horoi is, apparently, a collective name for the Horrors).

Anyways, so the races of the world come about because the dragons wanted servants. (and here my memory is a bit vague). I believe Immortal Elves were mixed with dragon DNA to create a really valuable servant, one on par with the lifespan of a dragon.
Not quite. According to both tellings of the legend, the other Name-givers are also offspring/creations of Nightslayer. The immortal elves are dragon-kin, offspring of a dragon and the Name-giving race in question. Apparently, only the elves have immortal dragon-kin -- though there are other dragon-kin in the Earthdawn setting. By the age of Earthdawn, siring dragon-kin is a serious crime among dragonkind.

Let's see... what other stuff. There is a canon reason the magic level has stabilized, and yes, the Theran Empire is a part of it. The exact details have not been revealed in any published work, however. I suspect it relates not only to the orichalcum towers on great Thera, but also to the orichalcum loci scattered around the world.

The "Second Age" is referred to as the "Age of Dragons". I think there was an even earlier high-magic spike during which Nightslayer came to Earth and gave rise to the Name-giving races.

The "story" of the Books of Harrow is just that -- a story. At least, according to hints dropped by Lou Prosperi at the tail end of the FASA era. The Books are a forgery, probably created to further the agenda of the elf dragon-kin; it makes a nice cover for the gathering of orichalcum, and provides an excuse for them to "conquer the world" as the Theran Empire. I suspect that the Scourge, while nasty, wasn't actually going to be as bad as the propaganda would lead you to believe....
 

Ancient History

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Banned
For the Record:

**|* First World (Dark Age) - ?
**)* Second World (Age of Dragons) - Upcycle
*(** Third World (Prehistory) - Downcycle
**)* Fourth World (Earthdawn - Age of Legend) - Upcycle
*(** Fifth World (Modern History - Downcycle
**)* Sixth World (Shadowrun) - Upcycle

Now, while it's called the Sixth World in Earthdawn, technically speaking we don't know how long the mana cycle has been occurring...recorded history starts during the Age of Dragons, which numerically would be the Second Age. Before that is essentially mythology, such as the Dark Age.

This is the most accepted view, because simply logic would otherwise have the First World as a downcycle, when the Dragons weren't even awake!

For the record, each half of a cycle is approx. 5,000 years, with the Scourge lasting 800 years or so in the middle of the upcycle.

The mana level stabilization is supposed to be the result of the Therans, possibly with the aid of their giant orichalcum pillars and mana batteries know as Loci or mel'thelem

Yes a Scourge is due in Shadowrun in about 2,030 years or so. Yes, some are preparing for it.

Invae in ED are Insect Spirits in SR, look ye here.

Rumor has it Icewing may have arranged for the Therans to find the Books of Harrow, see the Alamais(e) Conspiracy for details (do a search on the rpg.net forums).

Aside from that, y'all might be interested in a complete list of ED/SR crossovers, and a look at all the great dragons and immortal elves.
 
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