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8Apr/082

Earthdawn: Savaged

I've finally made my return to Gamemastering, kicking off a new campaign with my gaming group at the end of March. This time around I went for my long-time favorite: Earthdawn. Now that we've gotten a couple of sessions under our collective belt we're settling into the swing of things.

Although I've turned to the familiar setting of Barsiave for this game I've decided to try a few new things as well, the first of which was converting this fantastic game to a system more suitable to my players.

I'll be honest - I've been an Earthdawn fan since it's initial release a decade and a half ago. I'm not such a rabid fanboy to defend every aspect of the system but I do think it works despite it's few flaws. That said when thinking about running this campaign I came to the conclusion that the Earthdawn's Step System wasn't going to be the best choice for my current group. I myself like the complexities of the system and how the mechanics are tied in to the world but I recognize that it's not for everyone.

After looking over a few options I decided to try to convert Earthdawn over to the Savage Worlds setting. I'm fortunate enough to game with a couple of the hosts of Fear the Boot, and anyone who listens to that podcast can tell you that Luke has earned himself the unofficial title of Savage Worlds Acolyte. However as he talked about in Episode 92, after he and I discussed the possibilities of conversion he recommended against it, arguing that he didn't think that a Savage Worlds version of Earthdawn would run the same as the Earthdawn I've always been a fan of. While Luke had a valid point, it's also one of the reasons I wanted to try the conversion. In fact one of the things I wanted to see was how well I could preserve the feel of Earthdawn during a conversion as well as in play.

I did some research online and found a conversion over at Savage Heroes that looked promising. There were a number of concepts I thought could work but after looking at Discipline Edges (edges you have to be a member of an adept discipline to learn) I realized it wasn't exactly balanced. A Legendary Warrior could, for instance, bring himself back from the dead but a Legendary Beastmaster could gain the equivalent of the Deadlands Rebel Yell edge. As far as races go most were ok but the Obsidiman was all but unplayable as converted.

After a little tweaking and rebalancing (with Luke's help) I got the document to the point where I could uses it as a starting point for the game. Unfortunately my version isn't anywhere near ready for publishing. I didn't bother fixing the disciplines I discouraged for this campaign (Air Sailor, Sky Raider, and Cavalryman) as well as the couple that the players weren't interested in that needed major work (Troubadour, Weaponsmith). I also need to balance and pad out the discipline-specific edge lists so there's more variety and less power differential between disciplines.

To help character generation for the game I re-used a technique that our group first tried for our Manaburst game: Magic cards. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here; I briefly describe the method in the initial Manaburst post and a couple of the players discussed it in even more detail on Fear the Boot Episode 95. Suffice it to say that the players were able to take the base concepts they had in mind and immediately add plot hooks for me to build on as well as connections to each other and a reason for them to have created a Group Pattern together.

Silaa, T'skrang Swordmaster played by Dan. Silaa is a k'stulaami - a t'skrang with a membrane similar to that of a flying squirrel that allows them to glide short distances. This former village wise man is searching for an artifact stolen from his village that had protected it for generations.

Caelas Solque, Elf Archer played by Pat. Unbeknownst to him, Caelas was born in the Blood Wood to one of the ranelles (noble houses) and was smuggled from the wood for some unknown reason before the Ritual of Thorns could be performed on him. Caelas has grown up with a longing to return to the Blood Wood that he doesn't understand and is being searched for by a family he doesn't know he has.

Katto, Human Nethermancer played by Chad. Katto grew up a member of an airship-borne cult who's charismatic leader had him tossed overboard as a sacrifice to "appease the sky spirits." He now studies under T'killa in an attempt to learn control over his "weird spirit powers."

T'killa Soulwringer, T'skrang Nethermancer played by Josh. After spending many years studying under his master, the aged T'killa has adopted his late mentor's quest for the Words of Undoing, magical rituals said to be able to exorcise the Horrors from Barsaive.

Yurg Highheart, Troll Beastmaster played by Luke. Yurg was once a member of a small but proud clan of Crystal Raiders until most of his clan was captured by Theran Slavers. The trolls rebelled but the Theran airship was damaged in the process, sending it crashing into the lowlands. As the only survivor, Yurg was able to make is way back to civilization only due to his spontaneous initiation into the Beastmaster Discipline.

Together these five adepts make up the Hounds of Askari, named after the dwarven weaponsmith who gathered them together to defend a small village in the hinterlands from repeated scortcher attacks. Although Askari lost his life in the conflict, the surviving adepts have banded together in honor of his heroic sacrifice.

After helping repair the damages done to the small village of Rex the Hounds have left for the nearby Parlainth, hoping the ruins will hold their next opportunity to build their legend. And given the vast amounts of magical knowledge said to have been lost in the city during the Scourge they may even be able to find more information on the Words of Undoing.

I intend to post some commentary on my running this campaign so won't be doing an actual play write-up. However Luke has promised to try and do them this time around and I will repost them here as they are complete.

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  1. Two nethermancers and no elementalists, should be interesting.

  2. One thing about Savage Worlds – there’s a limited number of Powers, and spells are built by adding Trappings to them. For example each discipline has access to the Bolt power that does the same damage, they just look different. Not all Powers are available to all disciplines though – only Elementalists can learn Manipulate Element for example.

    This is relative because as per the conversion I started with, all four magician disciplines have access to the Healing power. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this just yet. Granted all the disciplines in ED did have healing abilities within the first few circles (the Elementalists was just the earliest and best) but it seems too boring.

    I’m still contemplating restricting access to healing and/or adjusting it somehow. Actually this is one of the things in the meta I want to discuss in a future post.


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