Disclaimer: Once again, this PDF was provided to Epic RPG Blog for review purposes.
What you get: a 280 black and white PDF in 6.14" x 9.21" format.
Main review: One of the things I look for in a Savage Worlds book is mining ideas for my SAVAGE RIFTS conversion. This book definitely delivers in that arena. The disciplines from Earthdawn are presented as a series of Discipline edges, so there's plenty of ideas in there to mine. There are over 150 (I think I counted 188) adept edges, which are powered by karma points. It's a pretty good system it looks like, with adepts gaining two free adept edges per tier. Using karma points to power the adept edges keeps them from completely over-powered while making sure it feels like Earthdawn.
Overall the entire Earthdawn Savage Worlds edition does capture the feel of Earthdawn while maintaining the "Fast, Fun and Furious" aspect of Savage Worlds. The magic system refers to spell matrixes, though it's slightly different, as the matrix contain threads (power points). The system works fairly well as a standard Savage Worlds system. However, in my typical house-rule fashion, I would change it a little bit (instead of having 3 spells to start I would allow Smarts number of spells, but only allow 2 to be in the matrix, giving it a more Earthdawn flavor and making it have better utility. Additional matrices would be allowed as advances.
Chapter 1 & 2 are the same fluff you get in the Player's Guide for Earthdawn and Pathfinder. The story Inheritance, followed by Chapter 2's history, WHICH if you're not familiar with the World of Earthdawn, can be quite interesting. While there are Elves, Dwarves, Trolls and Orcs, they're not the exact same as other fantasy games, in fact, in Barsaive, dwarves are the most numerous race with approximately 32% being dwarf.
Chapter 3 covers character creation. This flows very similar to standard Savage Worlds character creation. Race, traits and derived stats are all very similar, though you start to see some variation in Edges, as you get TWO free adept edges, in addition to a Discipline edge; making Earthdawn characters a bit more powerful at character creation than perhaps a Seasoned character (which works with the fluff of Earthdawn, as adepts are much more advanced than non-adepts.) Next comes a list of forbidden and modified edges and hindrances. Gear comes next in character creation, using Earthdawn silver standard prices. Finally creation rounds out with background. Characters can choose from 8 races, dwarf, elf, human, obsidimen, orc, troll, windling or t'skrang. Most of those are obvious; though windlings, obsidimen and t'skrang are a bit different. Windlings being 18" tall fae that can only fly for short periods of time. Obsidimen are rock-like beings which are from various 'liferocks' around Barsaive. T'skrang are flamboyant pterodactyl headed lizard'man style race. The normal earthdawn Disciplines (read as a class for those who are unfamiliar with Earthdawn), are represented by edge choices with the 'free' discipline edge determining what discipline you start as. (as far as I can tell you can still train a second discipine in EDSW, just like in Earthdawn, of course it works a bit different in Earthdawn, as you could RAW, have every available discipline.)
Chapter 4 is more fluff from Earthdawn. This covers what it means to be an Adept. It gives lots and lots of information for each of the different disciplines. Basically, being an adept means that magic is strong enough in you that it flows through you and powers your abilities with magic. Each discipline guides your world view, an archer typically sees the world in arcs with various obstacles to overcome while a Warrior sees life as a conflict to be overcome. AThief sees everything in the world as riches to be won. Understanding what it means to be your discipline guides you on your path in life. Your discipline is more of a definition than your race.
Chapter 5 this is the edges chapter. Hank Woon went nuts in this chapter, converting most of the talents in Earthdawn into Edges! I mean there's almost 6 and a half pages of TABLES. Not descriptions, TABLES. There are 26 pages of descriptions of the edges. There are plenty of rock'n edges that can easily be lifted for conversions to other games. This book is gold if for nothing more than the massive number of edges.
Chapter 6 This is the Magic chapter, it's a fluff chapter, but it's really light, pretty much glazing over some information about thread magic, patterns and blood magic. It gives the basic ideas behind the mechanics of Magic. For actual spells you need to go to the next chapter.
Chapter 7 Spells. This is where the Savage Worlds edition did a better job than the Pathfinder edition at 'feeling' like Earthdawn. Power Points were given a quick name change to Threads. Mechanically this has no real different effect than a name change, but thematically it makes sense. As I said before, I think I would make Matrices act as the focus for which of your many spells you have available NOW. This is an issue that Savage Worlds has, and it's one of the few things I don't like about Savage Worlds, same as I don't really like Sorcerers in Pathfinder because they lack the utility of choice. In Savage Earthdawn, you suffer even more by being limited to THREE spells. Thus making spell casters a poor choice to me, and spells like Crunch Climb a trap that locks you into a limited use spell.
Chapter 8 Gear. Well it's a gear chapter, so of course there's gear in it, including the many cool items from Earthdawn that make it unique like the Tri-spear and Troll sword. Now I don't think it's perfect, for some reason dwarf swords actually give dwarves a bonus to parry, and only trolls can wield a troll sword one-handed, not obsidimen. I'm happy to see several things make it into this edition. Hawk Hatchets were always one of my favorite weapons in Earthdawn, so I'm quite pleased to see they made the cut. I'm also very glad to see that 'Mystic Armor' ratings made it. One of the other things that makes this version FEEL right. A minor issue in this edition is the lack of stacking armor. But with the smaller armor values it makes sense that stacking would cause issues. I would still allow armor to stack, taking the better value from the combined set. For example, wearing Fernweave over Chainmail would give +2 Physical/+4 Mystic armor. Another very Earthdawn set of items are blood charms, minor magic items that have many varied uses; Hank did another great job converting these items to keep the feel of them.
Chapter 9 covers religion, it covers the 12 passions, including the 3 passions who went mad during the Scourge. Now the difference between Passions and gods, is the fact that all the passions were once mortals. So they're more looked to as examples to strive towards. Questors are hinted at, but no edges are given for player Questors. Typically all the passions are given attention, but Questors actually strive toward the ideals of a single Passion and are typically rewarded with additional powers that they tap into with their magic.
Chapter 10 is about Barsaive, This is where the game takes place. Barsaive is Europe during the Age of Legends. It's a quick overview which is fine, as most players will be leaving their kaers (magically sealed underground cities) or citadels (magically sealed surface cities) and exploring the area around them at first, so you don't need too much information about the World, except that it's scary and for some reason the Horrors are not all gone. For some reason the magic levels which were supposed to drop back to nothing stabilized at a level high enough to sustain many horrible creatures, but also great challenges to make a legend for yourself with.
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