Live from Barsaive: Episode 17

Part 2 of our Earthdawn Crash Course:

  • Learn the ins and outs of magic in the world of Earthdawn
  • Detailed discussion of game rounds and combat
  • Specific phases of casting a spell

NOTE: We originally intended to finish the Crash Course in two episodes, but we ended up going into more detail about rules and combat. As a result, the Crash Course will be three fairly short episodes instead of two long ones.

  • Bjoern Kharramson

    Again, great show! I was a bit late to comment on the last episode so I tried to get in early on this one.

    I have some comments on the topic of adepts and magic. Just for clarification: Every player character is an adept, following a discipline and using magic to accomplish extraordinary feats. Not everyone in Barsaive is an adept, however. In fact, while adepts are not uncommon, the majority of the population are not adepts. At this point it should also be noted that the concepts of adepts and disciplines exist within the world of Earthdawn. This makes it perfectly normal for a PC to tell an NPC, “I am a Warrior adept”.

    The world of Earthdawn is actually full of magic, so that some things have become ordinary. The most common example is the light quartz, a crystal that produces a bright light. Smaller ones fit into a fist and are rather common (if a bit expensive). Larger ones were used to illuminate Kaers and are correspondingly larger and more expensive. On the other hand is magic responsible for the Scourge, and adepts are sometimes distrusted for their heavy use of magic and therefore higher risk for Horror taint or corruption.

    One thing I did for the Earthdawn one shot I did recently: To help spellcasters with their spells and spell matrices I put each spell on a small index card. I included the basic rules and stats, so it was a bit of work, but even if you just put the name on a card the player is able to visualize which spells are currently attuned. This makes it easy for the GM (and the player) to see which spells are ready for casting at any given moment. It also makes re-attuning the spell matrices less interruptive, as the player just switches cards.

  • Lou Prosperi

    Another great episode.
    Listening to this one made me think about why game companies don’t do something similar to this for their own games. Short video/audio introductions to their games would be a great (and relatively inexpensive) way for game companies to spread the word about their games.

    Or maybe they do this and I’m just really out of the loop.

    Looking forward to part 3!

  • Keith Atkinson

    I listened to this in 3 separate sections while driving, so I’m not sure if I missed this. I think it’s important, though, so I’m trudging ahead regardless.

    The Step system is confusing at first due to its complexity. It would be useful to mention why exactly it was set up the way it was. Namely, your Step value is (roughly) equal to the number you will meet or exceed half of the time. So a Step 6 will succeed against a difficulty 6 half the time. Step 7 against 7, 8 against 8, etc. This is further discussed on an old article by Josh Harrison:

    Additionally, changing Steps due to modifiers is painful for new players. While they can do what they want, the optional rule of supplying modifying the result is much simpler and not very different in final number due to the nature of the Step system’s basis in probability. Step 12 + 5 will tend to hover around 17, as will Step 17.

    Third, you mentioned rolling well providing extra effects. I completely agree diving into what those are would be crazy and too much. However, the fact that an extra success is gained for every 5 over the difficulty probably should have been mentioned. Then pointing the listener to the rules to look up what those successes get them. Your example of 22 against a 7 (I think) would be 3 extra successes. A 21 only gets you 2.

    Keep it up and heal quickly!