Arma’s X-mas present or what’s new with Nations of Barsaive III: Cara Fahd?

Arma aka Armatoth aka Eye in the Sky known for “armanation” on the RedBrick forum released an article wherein he talks about the upcoming (March) Nations of Barsaive III: Cara Fahd. What is new? What was added and what has been dropped when comparing the new 3rd edition version of the Cara Fahd book to the old first edition Cara Fahd sourcebook? Arma works off several categories and tells us what changed and what was added or dropped and why.

What’s new with Cara Fahd?
While on Christmas we're naturally focused on the holidays themselves, this close to year's end, our thoughts also look forward to the upcoming new year. It’ll see the Cathay Gamemaster’s Guide in January, and Nations of Barsaive III: Cara Fahd in March. Cara Fahd is a revised version of the first edition book, and with revised books we’re always asked by veteran players who already own the book if there’s anything new in there, and what. So for this one, during editing, I kept track of it:

Adventure Hooks:
First edition’s Cara Fahd didn’t have any, so we added some. 16, to be specific. They’re found all throughout the fiction chapters, and relate to what’s presented there. Well, if that doesn’t get you hooked yet, let’s go on….

Or gamemaster characters, as Earthdawn traditionally calls them. There’s 2 new ones found along the others that were already present in first edition. So 9 in total, and they all got a full stat block now! And it’s good to know Krathis Gron’s Social Defense. But we’ll get to that later…

Read the full X-mas special at the RedBrick forum.

Free Fanwork Tableau Infractus #5 released

Cover5I am late to spread the “news” about the publication of the 5th issue of the fan work Tableau Infractus done by Drucifer. He already released it on December 17th but somehow I missed to tell you about it. But nevertheless his work is still worth a look. In this issue Dru provides information about various customs and places of Iopos in the chapter “National Flavor” and tells us a little bit about the discipline of the Inquisitor (adapted from the Earthdawn Journal) that was shaped in a unique way by the Iopans. Furthermore this issue holds a story about a Windling named Zahnja of Sos-Ree, the every-issue-chapter of Role-Play vs. Roll-Play and finally a collection of Troll miniatures shown in the Troll miniatures gallery.

Download the 5th issue of the Tableau Infractus at 4shared (mirror)

The previous editions of the Tableau Infractus can be found HERE and HERE

Link Advice #11

Cathay map is out!

imageHo ho ho, looks like early Christmas presents are on the run! The recent Cathay moves of RedBrick keep on going. The new Cathay map can be found at the Free Download section at
(via Sethariel)

Cathay–Player’s Guide already available as Ebook

ed3_cathay_players_guideInteresting news! The RedBrick crew announced the Cathay – The Five Kingdoms – Players Guide for December 2010. Now it looks like that the first steps are taken to announce the publication of the first Cathay book. At and RPGnow the Cathay – Player’s Guide is already available as PDF for just $24.50, including a preview.  So the first early Christmas present is about to arrive.

(via RedBrick forum)

Glennwood Deep

imageWell, well, well. Recently a forum post, over at the (German) caught my attention. Eirynhawk posted a description of a territory of Barsaive which is almost unknown. The description of the Glennwood Deep is very well done by Eirynhawk and I thought that it would be great to share the description of the Glennwood Deep with the international community. The well illustrated description is now available as an English PDF. It is yet “only” an unfinished description which provides enough characterization of the territory but let’s gamemasters pick up some of the basic ideas what kind of treasures, tribes and adventures the Glennwood Deep offer for a nice adventure set up.

So there is more to come (Chosen, Shadow wolves), but don’t hesitate to add your ideas and your own enhancements to this description of the Glennwood Deep. Please add your ideas, critics and thoughts about this description to the comments.

English PDF File: Glennwood Deep – by Eirynhawk (Mirror)

Crystal Cave in the Twilight Peaks

I already wrote about the Cave of Crystals in one of my Link Advices but today I discovered a video of the cave. The video or the pictures can be used to give your players an impression how a crystal cave in the Twilight Peaks might look like. Enjoy the video:

Cathay cover art and sourcebook news

yao_mo_by_enkidi-d32rl9jAlmost only one month to go until the first Cathay sourcebook will be available. To sweeten the waiting Kathy released again some artwork of the Cathay books. The one on the left displays the horror Yao Mo finding his preferred prey (never drink too much Jiu or Sake!!). Further new b/w illustrations can be found on Kathy’s deviantART page (thx to Sethariel). But that’s not all that I want to highlight with this article.
Recently the book covers done by Paul Tobin of both Cathay books, Cathay: The Five Kingdoms Player’s Guide and Gamemaster’s Guide, were released. The Gamemaster’s Guide’s cover on the left displays a battle or even a civil war scenery, the weird guy on the cover of the Player’s Guide (right) is Bei a jade obsidimen (please correct me if I am wrong) who is one of the protagonists of the novels Dark Shadows of Yesterday and Immortal Twilight written by Hank Woon.
The Cathay: The Five Kingdoms Player’s Guide can now be pre-ordered at for $23.09 (with a predicted release for Jan 11th ‘11) and at Mongoose Publishing for £24.99 (with a predicted release in December ‘10)

Interactive map of the RPG community

rpg_map_smallI love maps! One of my favorite TV shows was/is “Mit offenen Karten” (Le dessous des cartes) of the German/French TV broadcaster ARTE that explains the world with maps. Also the map of online communities made by XKCD simply fascinated me. Especially when you compare the Updated version of 2010 with the 2007 version and realize that almost disappeared. But in terms of roleplaying and especially Earthdawn the Atlas of Barsaive made by Telarus is one of the best you can find.

But today my attention was caught immediately when I read at Inkwell Ideas about an Hex map of the RPG community. The interactive map of the RPG community was made by Morro from ENWorld, he used the Hexographer of Inkwell to display the RPG communities based on member figures (One Hex = 1000 members). I say GREAT STUFF!!


Unfortunately the RedBrick forum has not enough members (542 atm) to fill one Hex. Not one Hex!!! Conclusion: Play more Earthdawn!!

Cathay: The Five Kingdoms artwork previews

Dammi posted on his Red Brick LLC blog some artwork previews of the upcoming Cathay: The Five Kingdoms books (Players Guide coming in December Gamemasters Guide in January). The preview artworks feature several artists so far, like Peter Tikos & Richard Vass, David M. Wright and Jeff Laubenstein. The Cathay sourcebooks open up a new chapter for Earthdawn, offering players and gamemasters a completely new world, set up in the far East and introducing new races, disciplines, talents and and and.
I’ve already made an interview with Hank Woon and Dammi back in 2008. The interview offers some insights about the work and the content of the originally planned classic version of Cathay, so it’s not up to date but still informative.

cathayan_dragon_lord_by_enkidi-d310chaUPDATE: The series of Cathay artwork previews ends with the works of Kathy Schad. But additionally Kathy uploaded further artwork previews at the Earthdawn DeviantArt gallery. Go there!

Real World K’stulaami

hunting Kopie 72The following video of Jeb Corliss shows his skills with his Wing-Suit. Although the music is not my favorite, his skills remind me of a K’stulaami T’skrang flying or gliding down the Throal mountains. The most impressive part starts at minute 2:46 but check out the whole video. (via Nerdcore)


Jeb Corliss wing-suit demo from Jeb Corliss on Vimeo.

Earthdawn Quiz Nr. 8

It took me over one year to bring you the new Earthdawn Quiz Nr. 8. Somehow I forgot about this category of my blog, but now the Quiz is back. I hope you enjoy it and are able to answer my questions. :-)

Earthdawn novel “Liferock” by Jak Koke

liferock_220Well since two or three days I check the RedBrick forum and realize that no one, yes no one talks about the newly announced novel “Liferock” which will come in October 2010. No questions, no answers from fans, author nor developers, no one. So I’ll pick up the topic to talk a little bit about the novel written by Jak Koke. I think it deserves a discussion about what is new and what the novel is about.
My last post about the novel of Jak Koke was about the “old” version of the book. So is the now announced novel really a “new version” or do we just look at a new cover with old content inside? I guess not because the guys from RedBrick might have helped Jak to adjust the book to the new rules or the new setting of the Earthdawn Third Edition.
liferock old The “old” book contained a foreword which said that it was written before Denizen of Barsaive Vol. 2 came out, so there might be some differences inside comparing the rules and the traditions of Obsidimen described in the sourcebook and the novel. As Arma stated in a forum post this was only one example of many when fans asked questions like: “In the novel XY they make the spell this way but the rules say……”. That’s why I think that the novel has been reworked, so that there won’t be any differences anymore between the sourcebooks and the novel when Obsidimen lifestyles are described.
Another sign that the book has been reworked are the number of pages; the “old” version had 313 pages whereby the new one will have 288 pages.
Have a look at the announcing page at to read about the story of the book. The book will be available via and I guess the prices will be similar to the other novels of RedBrick. For softcover $19.95 and hardcover $29.95.
All the speculations I drop here are just speculations, all of the information above about the reworking, story and prices of the book are not confirmed yet.

15 must see websites about Earthdawn

The following selection of Earthdawn web pages represents the “must see” pages for Earthdawn fans and beginners. I chose those which are up to date, most informing or offer the best downloads.

1.  RedBrick LLC


Publisher of the latest Earthdawn Third Edition with an active forum, blogs of the developers and news about their products.

2. Mongoose Publishing


Main source to order the latest Earthdawn Third Edition books. Even pre-ordering of yet unreleased books is possible.

3. Earthdawn deviantART Gallery


The Earthdawn deviantArt Gallery started early 2010 and keeps on growing since then. Some highlights are the unframed Earthdawn book covers of RedBrick LLC Third Edition books.

4. Allen Varney

Allen Varney

Allen Varney’s homepage offers two, in terms of Earthdawn, interesting “articles”. First his Earthdawn Legends and second his free available Earthdawn novel “Piercing a Veil”.

5. Order of the white Rhino (last update 2002)

Order of the white Rhino

Well, this is the first page of this selection which is completely not up-to-date, but the pictures of Iopos or the King Varulus III Monument are only two of the unique treasures that can be found on that page.

6. Circle of Four (last update 2004)

circle of four

Here comes the second “not-up-to-date” website. The Circle of Four page offers some nice maps and a well done description of Kaer Daralon.

7. Earthdawn Journal


This page is all that is left of the former “Earthdawn Journal” print version. Most of the content of the magazine is available at this page.

8. Day Trip to Barsaive


Day Trip to Barsaive is the Third and last “old fashioned” website, but the unique description of Jerris and Travar make this page very special.

9. Q-Workshop


The polish distributor Q-Workshop is well known for excellent dice designs. Also Earthdawn dice can be ordered at their page.

10. Earthdawn @ Obsidian Portal

Obsidian Portal

The Obsidian portal in general is a platform for organizing a roleplaying game. The Earthdawn section about a group playing in Denver, CO offers a great resource of NPC characters.


The following links lead to international pages, I linked to the original pages. For everyone who prefers the translated English version, use Google translate by simply pasting the URL.

11. Kharro Aropagoi

Kharro Aropagoi

Welcome to Hungary! This page is the first address for Hungarian Earthdawn fans.

12. Black Book Editions

black book editions

The French publisher Black Book Editions is the main source for French Earthdawn fans. They publish the translated version of the RedBrick Classic Edition.



The tower of strength of the polish Earthdawn community is always up to date and provides for example some unique descriptions of Urupa.



German page which provides most German fanworks ever made.

15. Earthdawn Dice Roller

DiceLast but not least, the Earthdawn Dice Roller is of course no website, but this Dice Roller is one of the best out there. Available for Earthdawn Classic and Third Edition.

The list or selection doesn’t represent all Earthdawn related websites that you should have a look at, of course. So if you miss a website that should be on the list of “must see websites about Earthdawn” add it in the comments. Please describe briefly what makes the page special.


Link advice #10

Earthdawn World Wide - Germany

en: unofficial State flag with coat-of-arms in...

Image via Wikipedia

Finally we will take a closer look at the German Earthdawn community, its past and future, the books that were translated and the fanpages that you should have a look at.

The German Earthdawn community has a long tradition and a lot of fans are/were active on several webpages, forums and mailing lists. But when did it all start and who was pushing Earthdawn in Germany?

Well, in the beginnings of Earthdawn in Germany, FanPro or Fantasy Productions GmbH had the rights for the German edition and they published the translation of FASA’s First Edition in 1994. The cover of the first German sourcebook looked like this:

 German coverImage via 

Almost the whole product line of FASA was translated and published in Germany so far. When the German copyright holder FanPro dropped Earthdawn around 1998, the rights to publish Earthdawn books in Germany went to Games-In-Verlag, who owns them until today. Games-In-Vlg located in Munich, kept on translating and publishing FASA’s First Edition and when the copyrights went to Living Room Games, Games-In continued translating their stuff. But some books of LRG haven’t been translated or published until today (watch the table below). Games-In started to publish ED2 edition after the “death” of Living Room Games with a new revised and updated sourcebook that is based on the rules of Living Room Games’ 2nd Edition.

Here’s a list of German publications:

English title

German title

Core books

Earthdawn 1st (1993) Earthdawn 1te (1994)
Earthdawn 2nd (LRG) (2005) Earthdawn 2te (2005)
Companion (1994) Kompendium (1995)


Arcane Mysteries (1997) Arkane Geheimnisse (2003)
- Barsaive (2007)
Barsaive Box (1994) Barsaive Box (1994)
Blood Wood (1997) Blutwald (2003)
Horrors (1995) Dämonen (1996)
Dragons (1998) Drachen von Barsaive (2004)
- Heldengilde von Travar (2008)
Skypoint & Vivane (1995) Himmelsspitze & Vivane (1997)
Creatures of Barsaive (1995) Kreaturen von Barsaive (1996)
Crystal Raiders of Barsaive (1998) Kristallpiraten von Barsaive (2009)
Legends of Earthdawn Vol. 1 (1995) Legenden Earthdawns 1 (1997)
The Book of Exploration (1996) Legenden Earthdawns 2 (2000)
Magic: A Manual of Mystic Secrets (1996) Magie: Handbuch Mystischer Geheimnisse (1996)
Parlainth Box (1994) Parlainth Box (1994)
The Serpent River (1996) Schlangenfluss (2000)
The Theran Empire (1997) Theranisches Imperium (2005)
Throal: The Dwarf Kingdom (1996) Throal (1999)
Denizen of Earthdawn 1 (1994) Völker Earthdawns 1 (1995)
Denizen of Earthdawn 2 (1994) Völker Earthdawns 2 (1995)
Prelude to War (1996) Vorboten des Krieges (2001)
The Adepts Way (1995) Weg des Adepten (1996)


- Abenteuer in Barsaive (2004)
Skypoint Adventures (1995) Abenteuer in Himmelsspitze (1997)
Parlainth Adventures (1994) Abenteuer in Parlainth (2002)
Throal Adventures (1996) Abenteuer in Throal (1999)
Terror in the Skies (1994) Geissel des Himmels (1995)
Blades (1995 Klingen (1998)
Shattered Pattern (1994) Namenlos (1997)
Mists of Betrayal (1993) Nebel über dem Blutwald (1994)
Infected (1994) Verseucht! (1995)


The Longing Ring (1993) Der Magische Ring (1994)
Mother Speaks (1994) Die Stimme der Mutter (1994)
Poisoned Memories (1994) Vergiftete Erinnerungen (1994)
Prophecy (1994) Die Prophezeihung (1994)
Talisman (1994) Der Talisman (1995)
Scars (2005/2010) Narben (1995)
Little Treasures (not published) Kleine Schätze (1995)
Shroud of Madness (1995) Schleier des Wahnsinns (1996)
Lost Kaer (1998) Das vergessene Kaer (1996)
Piercing a Veil (not published) Die Geister, die man ruft (1998)

Books that haven’t been translated yet and I guess won’t ever come out in German, because there is no proof that a translation is planned or being worked on, are listed in the table below. Note that RedBrick books are excluded because Games-In only translates/translated old FASA and LRG books.

English title Published in
Ork Nation of Cara Fahd 1998
Barsaive in Chaos 2002
Scourge Unending 2002
Secret Societies of Barsaive 1997
Barsaive at War 2000
Dangerous Goods 2002
Survival Guide 1996
Way of War 2002
The Wanderer’s Way 2005

Today the only company that still translates and publishes German Earthdawn books is Games-In-Vlg (I don’t link to their page anymore because it is a mess, full of errors and won’t inform you that much). They started to publish their “own” works and until today there are two unique German Earthdawn books on the market.

The first one is “Heckel & Kooch’s – Heroes Guild of Travar” or in German “Die Heldengilde von Travar”. Some of you might have heard of “Heckel&Kooch”, that’s because the book is based on a publication of the White Wolf magazine #47 where Heckel & Kooch’s Emporium is introduced. I don’t know if the German book is a simple translation of the White Wolf article or if it has been extended, based on the previous publication. It also contains a chapter with a rule summary to introduce new players to Earthdawn and additionally two new disciplines are introduced, the dwarf librarian and the temple servant. So the 109 pages are not completely about the Emporium of Heckel & Kooch and Travar.  But it looks like that the book is in general a good resource for gamemasters to start campaigns in Travar.

The second one is “Adventures of Barsaive”, a sourcebook which I don’t possess, so I can only tell you what the description of tells me. The 80 pages of the book contain 5 Adventures that take place in Barsaive, the adventures are set for character of the first to fifth circle.

The responses of German Earthdawn fans to those two books was divided because a lot of fans criticized that “Heckel & Kooch’s – Heroes Guild of Travar” is a simple translated copy of the original White Wolf material stuffed with the already existing main rules and some descriptions of Travar.


The publisher Games-in created its own new artwork for his latest last publications/translations. Like always some like it, some don’t. The books that contain completely revised artwork are: “Drachen von Barsaive”, “Kristallpiraten von Barsaive“, “Das Theranische Imperium“, “Abenteuer in Barsaive”, “Barsaive”, “Die Heldengilde von Travar” and “Arkane Geheimnisse” (have a look at the table above for the English original titles). Some of the artwork was published as wallpapers at the Games-In homepage (damn it I finally linked to their page Angry).


SDC10076 Well the German novels were published by Heyne Verlag since 1994. Ten translated novels were released and until today Earthdawn fans can acquire the out of print novels via eBay. Funny story: the German title “Die Geister die man ruft” is the translation of the original novel “Piercing a veil” of Allen Varney. The English original was never published as print version, but the translation was. After a closer look at the picture on the left you’ll notice that the authors name is misspelled as Alan Varney. The English original is free available at Allen Varney’s homepage. I can only recommend the novel because of the great description of illusory spells and their use and the whole story that takes place in Travar. This is the last Earthdawn novel that was released in Germany, it was published in 1998.

SDC10081 You might have recognized that the novels “Scars” and “Little Treasures” are/were already published in German. The novel Scars was re-released this year by RedBrick, but the English fan community is still waiting for “Little Treasures”, the second book of the trilogy written by Caroline Spector. The third book of the trilogy is “Worlds without Ends” a Shadowrun novel.

Another title that was first released as a translation and then as the original version was “Lost Kaer” by Nigel D. Findley. The new novels of RedBrick haven’t been translated nor published yet. It is a pity that those great books won’t be published in German.


Now to the fanpages. The fan page culture was better in the past (“everything was better in the past, even the future used to be better” ^^) and many pages are outdated today, but a few are up to date and worth a look.

earthdawn-wiki-logo First page to mention is of course I don’t know how many guys and girls work on it everyday but be sure that it is up to date and definitely one of the best pages out there. The page offers a wide variety of information about talents, knacks, artifacts, creatures, horrors, goods and services, NPC’s and and and and. Unfortunately there is no English version of the page available, so the Google translation might be the best solution to view the page for the non German speaking rest of the world :-) is the page of Dammi where he presents some Earthdawn fan works and info's. The page is also available in English, but most German works are missing in the English version. Therefore you can download the English adventure “Woodland Whispers” for free.

Earthdawn-Rollenspiel-de is a page set up by Javen and is in my eyes the most complete source for German fanworks so far. Every German Earthdawn beginner will look there for free additional PDF material like adventures, creatures, maps and gamemaster supply. Great resource!! HERE’s the English translation. offers a lot of useful stuff on a very nice page. Lochost made some nice excel sheets and offers a 3rd edition excel character generator at “Schatztruhe” –> “Spielhilfen”. English.

myrias The most well known forum of the German Earthdawn community is, the place where some editions of the German fanwork “Foliant des Abenteurers” were developed. English.

Well these are only some of the main pages for German Earthdawn fans. To find further, smaller German Earthdawn pages have a look at the link list of

Present and Future

The current Earthdawn situation in Germany is “indescribable” because a lot of players still play the Games-in version which is either the translation of the FASA First Edition or Living Room’s second edition. This is mostly because those are still the only “German” version available so far and most non English speaking groups grab this edition. Others switched to the Classic version of RedBrick and the rest entered the Third Edition train of RedBrick because a constant development of the product line seems to be guaranteed at RedBrick.

As you might have noticed, while reading this article, I am not satisfied with the current situation of Earthdawn in Germany. The publisher who owns the rights in Germany has done a lot to make Earthdawn popular, but the great years are over and Earthdawns popularity has descended year after year. Why? Have a look at the publishing dates of the books in the last years (Barsaive in 2007, Heldengilde von Travar in 2008, Kristallpiraten in 2009) and remember the fact that we have now the translation of the Second Edition which is dead because Living Room Games has no longer a license to publish new material for it. Understand? One translation per year and since 1.5 years nothing happened? What should happen when the companies you translate from are dead and no longer publishing books? Damn it.

The only thing we can do in Germany, in my opinion, is to hope that another publisher comes along and starts to publish a translated German version of RedBricks Third Edition. Another solution would be the collaboration between Games-In and RedBrick, but in my opinion Games-In is no longer interested in Earthdawn, they prefer to develop other product lines instead.

So as long as one of those solutions doesn’t become reality, German Earthdawn fans should nevertheless be happy and satisfied with their situation, because compared to other countries and communities where no publisher exists, we are very lucky that Games-In held up the flag for so long, even if they didn’t publish a book since 1.5 years now. But change has to come to the German Earthdawn and I hope it’ll come soon. Like Dammi replied in an interview questioned about a far-in-future-upcoming-Earthdawn-Third-Edition-translation for Germany: “There is hope….”

Note for German players: Recently prices of some German Earthdawn books dropped dramatically because the price fixing of the books was suspended. For all those who are interested in the sell out should have a look at the following two German RPG shops: Sphärenmeister and Tellurian Games.

For questions, critics and opinions on this article use the comments, thx.

Earthdawn Blog hoody

Some time ago I received a present.


and on the back


The Earthdawn Blog hoody, isn’t that great? Beside some other unique Earthdawn stuff I possess, this one is amongst the great.

If you want some Earthdawn clothing too, have a look at the RedBrick shops (US, EU), but this Earthdawn Blog hoody is nowhere else available. Smile

Free Nature Sounds - UPDATE

When a gamemaster uses background music and nature sounds in his game he always has to select carefully to make sure that the background sounds fit the situation he describes. At you can create your own background sound composition by selecting and adding elements like fire, thunder, rain, bird sounds, animal sounds and many more.

For example if you need the sound of a boatman who crosses the characters over a river, heavy rain and thunder complete the sound scenery, then simply choose the three patterns, adjust the volume of each element and create your own background or scenery sound. You can save your creation as a WAV file or you can also create a link to your composition.



A new feature was added to the Free Nature Sounds. It is now possible to fade in/out selected sounds in various time sequences. This feature will add more diversity to your compositions. Example

Go and check this great resource.

Blog Carnival #13 Illustrations in RPGs

RPG_BlogKarnivalMy buddy Sethariel, admin of, has setup the 13th edition of the polish Blog Carnival (Karnawał Blogowy Smile) on his personal page (english google translation). As you see in the title of this post, the topic is to write about illustrations in RPGs. First I want to talk about illustrations in general and their importance in RPGs and finally I gonna talk about the illustrations of Earthdawn and the progress that todays illustrations of the new RedBrick books have gone thru.
A picture is worth a thousand words
In RPGs it is mostly the gamemaster who uses illustrations. Why? Because sometimes his descriptions of situations or places the characters encounter can be as elaborated and detailed as they want, some players simply don’t get it or don’t remember that the small casket in the middle of the room was even mentioned. But the illustrations are essential for the gamemaster too, for example if he is simply not able to transport the mood and the danger the dark cellar room with the casket represents. As I already said “mostly” it is the gamemaster who uses illustrations of monsters or places to give the players a quick overview about what they see and how the characters might feel in that situation. As you all know “A picture is worth a thousand words”. But the same applies to players that should use their painting skills (if exisiting) to show the other players how their character looks like.
“Au contraire, mon ami!” or Imagination vs. Illustrations
RPGs, Pen and Paper games and all the “mostly” unplugged games that can be played, are build on the ability of humans to use their fantasy and imagination. So what happens if you use illustrations and drawings in those games? Yes, the imagination and the individual style everyone has in its own head is forced into a given picture that someone else had in mind and brought it to paper. Ergo, the excessive use of illustrations can prevent players from using their imagination and even gamemasters will lose (or even not learn) to describe situations and transport moods and feelings the characters need to be aware of.
Those two theories above show that gamemasters have to decide carefully when illustrations are useful and when they are simply used because of laziness.
Now and then
Well, Earthdawn. When I started to play Earthdawn (I talk here about the German edition), the main artist that shaped Earthdawn (art wise) for me, was Jeff Laubenstein. His individual style is/was unique and his b/w drawings of the discipline example characters gave everybody a feeling for Earthdawn. (Sorry can’t explain it better). BUT!! (you know that there is always a BUT) in the German edition were 32! colored, high gloss paper pages included. 8 that detailed every race, 8 that showed special places of Barsaive, 8 contained important persons and finally 8 colored monster illustrations were published in those core books.
For every beginner those pages were the icing on the cake. They gave you almost more than the whole descriptions and rules of the core book could give you.
And that is the point, today there is nothing colored inside the books anymore. The covers are the only colored illustrations. No one can be blamed for that, because the price of the books would be more than exaggerated if there were high gloss paper illustrations included. But imagine the following situation:

“A fan comes to his trusted RPG store and grabs the Earthdawn core book (no matter which one), flips through a few pages and ………”
Now guess where he will stop to flip through the pages? Exactly, at the pages with the illustrations. To give players or gamemasters a quick introduction to the gaming world and an insight into the book he holds in his hands, good colored illustrations are a must.
Progress of Earthdawn illustrations
In the beginnings of Earthdawn Jeff Laubenstein was, in my opinion one of the main artists that shaped Earthdawn with his illustrations, mainly the interior art. There were also others that are still appreciated for their work but when Living Room Games published their Second Edition, the drawings and interior art of the books “changed”. Today it is Kathy Schad who is responsible for the artwork and art direction of RedBricks Third Edition sourcebooks.
The progress Earthdawn has gone thru was influenced by the changing of companies that published Earthdawn and the various people who were responsible for the artwork. Finally the copyrights ended up in RedBrick LLC’s hands and the times when different copyright holders made different artwork for Earthdawn are over now. Today official Earthdawn art has a common theme and you can be sure that it comes from one company. I guess the progress of the cover and interior art has not ended yet and maybe we will get to see some colored interior pages in future Open-mouthed.
And now watch for yourself how Earthdawn cover art changed over the years. As I already said: “A picture is worth a thousand words”
Earthdawn First Edition cover (FASA)
Earthdawn Second Edition cover (LRG)
  Third Edition Gamemaster’s Guide cover (RedBrick LLC)

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