Originally written March 1999
Earthdawn was long supported by its fans for its new take on traditional fantasy themes. In my opinion, it is one of the richest and best fantasy worlds ever created. Unfortunately FASA discontinued the Earthdawn line last summer, a month before this sourcebook was due to come out. Fan speculation on the Earthdawn Mailing List ran high, making this probably one of the most eagerly anticipated products ever released for the game.
Since the game was unable to find a new home, FASA has made the entire text of this “lost” sourcebook available for download from their website. It is in PDF format, readble (and printable) with the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.
As far as the look, this book is set up much like all the other sourcebooks in the Earthdawn line — most of the text is fictional “in-world” commentary, with only a dozen or so pages of game rules (pertaining to specific things mentioned in the text) in the back. It does lack many of the graphic bells and whistles that earlier sourcebooks had, due mostly to the fact that while it was completely written, there was still some editing and layout work to be done — this means that there are many typos, and the headers and such are little more than a larger typeface.
Also, while there was artwork commissioned (and completed) for it, it is not included in the document due to various legal issues. The layout has space for it, though, leaving big white spots in certain places of the text. All this aside, the core of the book — the text itself — more than makes up for the spartan look.
What does this text contain? The book consists of two parts — a document penned by the Great Dragon Vasdenjas (familiar to ED fans for his other book, Creatures of Barsaive) about the life-cycle, culture, and traditions of dragon-kind, including secrets about the hydras, wyverns, and other related dragon-kin. It reveals many things that previously had only been hinted at, but still leaves plenty of room for an Earthdawn GM to modify and tweak to suit his needs.
The second part of the book is a document describing the Great Dragons of Barsaive, as well as some of the more prominent adults. There are things revealed in this section that answer some questions, but raise just as many more.
At the risk of giving away too many secrets, all I will say is that this book is a must-have for any Earthdawn GM, and you certainly can’t beat its price (did I mention it was available free from FASA‘s website?). Fans of dragons of any sort will find it a wonderful new take on some classic ideas, and should be able to convert some of the concepts within to their own worlds witout too much fuss. All in all, a superb effort, and well worth the wait. It is a shame that the game is in limbo, and that this is the last supplement, but perhaps FASA will allow a fan-run project to keep an “official” timeline going.