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.

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The Failure that was Earthdawn: First Dawn

In my last blarg I talked about the storyline I had put together for my recent Earthdawn game. If you haven’t read that blarg yet please do, because otherwise some of the issues or events I’ll be discussing below may not make sense.

First Dawn started well enough, with the characters interacting with the various residents of the kaer. Everyone had the opportunity to show off a bit of their character’s background and motivations (except the ork’s player who couldn’t make it) which I think they all enjoyed. After that the party was gathered together for a ceremony that ended with the kaer doors being opened and the party heading out through the traps to the surface with tokens which were supposed to disable the traps for them.

At the far end of the trapped area, the party was introduced to the obsidiman that was supposed to act as their guide. Centuries ago he had volunteered to enter the kaer and enter the Dreaming through the Scourge to be able to guide its people back to the surface when the time came. The party, being told he was how they would open the kaer doors but thinking he was just a statue/key, had drag him up to the surface with the aid of a disk of True Air which levitated him and allowed him to be floated to the front antechamber. Due to the proximity to the surface awoke while the party was resting, leading to some interesting interaction.

After some discussion with the obsidimen about who he was and then ultimately what to expect outside, the adepts finally opened the front doors to the kaer and saw the destruction the Scourge had caused to the countryside. With that visual the first session ended. In hindsight it was a successful session and had hit all of the goals and themes I had set (with the exception of the missing player).

Everything went downhill from there.

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Earthdawn: First Dawn – The Campaign that Wasn’t

As mentioned previously, for the last two months I have been running an Earthdawn campaign I had titled First Dawn. The story was originally intended to cover one kaer’s reopening to the world above and the adepts who were sent to scout the surface. The game was scheduled to run roughly six to eight sessions and start with the exploration of the valley between Southhome, the player’s Kaer, and Northhome, their sister kaer.

Unfortunately during the second session I let the campaign take a sharp left turn away from my intent and things only went downhill from there. I primarily blame myself for this, but afterwards I just couldn’t get the story back on track. I’m going to try and identify the problems I had and what I could have done to correct them below. However in order to convey the magnitude of diversion from the intended story and feel I first need to start with a description of the campaign as it was intended to be.

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Earthdawn: First Dawn, Session 1

We finally had a chance to start First Dawn, the Earthdawn campaign that I’m running, this last Sunday. After talking to the players, we decided to start this campaign a little differently than our normal style. I wanted the characters to be more powerful than starting Adepts to rationalize their choice to be leaving their Kaer, but not all of the players were familiar enough with the game system to make more advanced characters without a lot of help. So to speed character generation and to help build a more cohesive group, we met a couple weeks before our first actual game session for a character generation session where the players would design their characters and personalities and I would take those and create stats later.

After giving the group the rundown of life in the Kaer and the different races and disciplines that they might have to choose from, everyone came up with their general character concepts. From there we began fleshing out backgrounds and motivations, tying the characters together while at the same time developing the Kaer where the game would start. Before the character generation session I had known what sort of overarching plot I wanted for the campaign, but I hadn’t imagined that the players would hand me the perfect vehicle to make it personal for them during character generation.

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Earthdawn: OneStep System

My current group has decided to set aside Star Wars for now while one of our players settles in to his newfound role of fatherhood. Instead of waiting for him to be able to play again, we’ve decided to run another semi-short term game to give the rest of us something to play while he gets used to his new schedule. Since I’ve had some ideas for a short term kaer-emergence Earthdawn game called First Dawn floating around my head (I almost decided to run it as a play-by-post), I volunteered to be the interim GM.

The group as a whole has had very little experience with the Earthdawn system, and given the intent to have a short term game to begin with, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on system explanation. In addition after talking to one of the players I learned that while he didn’t have a problem with the system, looking up what dice to roll for a given test was a little annoying.

Personally Earthdawn is probably my favorite RPG to run and play and I enjoy the varied dice of the Step System. That said I want to be sympathetic to my players’ complaints and I want to make the game run as fast as possible for this mini-campaign. In addition I love tinkering with rule systems; making little tweaks to the mechanics to make certain aspects of a game run more like my preferences. As a result I’ve decided to make a few slight modifications to the Earthdawn ruleset for this campaign.

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