Interview with Carsten Damm – Former Earthdawn Line Developer

The following interview was created in cooperation with Drucifer and is published simultaneously on the most recent Tableau Infractus # 11 and here on the Blog.

We’re both honored to interview one of the most influential persons to the fantasy roleplaying game Earthdawn since Lou Prosperi back in the days of FASA. Carsten Damm, aka Dammi, has served and shaped the game as Line Developer at RedBrick for the past six years, after being a long-time contributor to the Earthdawn community in the years before that. He also worked on various other games and products RedBrick has under license. He announced stepping back from his Line Developer position back in September 2011, so we think it is our duty to interview him about his journey, his experiences and his opinions on the work accomplished with RedBrick and especially Earthdawn.

Q) Let’s start with a simple question going way back when. Who introduced you to Earthdawn? Because without that person you wouldn’t have become involved with the game in the first place, so who shall we praise?

A) Praise me! (Just kidding…) The truth is that no one introduced me to Earthdawn, I discovered the game on my own.

I recall thumbing the copy at my local game store on several visits, and wasn’t sure about it. I had glanced over the flyers a few weeks earlier, but those weren’t around anymore to make a connection. Combined with my limited understanding of the English language at that time, those cursory looks at the rulebook brought up the (misguided) thought that it was a fantasy game set after a “regular” nuclear apocalypse with lost technology, a setting combo that didn’t really kick me at the time. However, when Mists of Betrayal came out, this changed. That adventure book had an awesome and unique feel to it (to me at the time at least), and was ultimately what roped me in to buying the rulebook and the gamemaster screen on top. I had seen and played a couple of other fantasy settings before, but none of them had that special spark to flare up my interest. Earthdawn was different in that, even though I didn’t see it at first.

Q) Did you ever think you would end up becoming Line Developer for Earthdawn?

A) I first met Lou Prosperi and Jeff Laubenstein at the Spiel’96 in Essen, which was my first attempt to contact the people behind the game. I wanted to contribute to the game in some way, but was completely clueless about the workings of the industry and publishing in general back then.

That meeting changed things, as Lou’s open invitation to get involved via the Earthdawn Mailing List helped realizing that I could actually have an impact on the game at some point. The internet was in its early days at the time I might add, and the Strands website as well as the fabled Earthdawn Mailing List were pretty much the only online things for fans to explore.

But to get back to the question: no, I never thought this would actually happen. When things started with RedBrick, I didn’t even think about that position either—my goal was always to make Earthdawn an even better game, so being able to work on a revised edition was all I needed to be happy. James offered me to use the title right after Earthdawn Classic was released, because I had essentially become the driving influence behind the whole effort and helped planning the next releases to come. I was proud to bear the title, because it was a reward for my work and enabled me to steer the line the way I intended to.

Q) At the beginning you were a fan (and still are we assume), and you did a lot for the community starting with the works on your page Tell us a little bit about the time when you were active as a fan and what changed when you became an "official" Earthdawn developer.

A) Despite my involvement with the german community, I was always more drawn to the international scene because that was closer to the source. I never had a deep connection to translated roleplaying games: my first exposure to roleplaying was, opposed to most other Germans, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay instead of Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye, which is germany’s D&D in a way). Things started in earnest with the Earthdawn Journal, a couple of years before the german community actually became that strong.

Anyways, Earthdawn slowly drifted away from what I imagined it to be after FASA folded. I was frustrated by the other publishers because all my attempts to get involved failed one way or the other, and the books they released didn’t really work for me.

ww_e_thumbSo I started to publish things myself. We were running Earthdawn games at the time, and the first PDF I released was Woodland Whispers, an adventure created for two gamemasters and two groups. It was the result of a private game session over a weekend vacation, getting my old and my new Earthdawn groups together for play once a year. The community liked that one very much, and I received a lot of feedback on the piece, which spurred my motivation to do more. I released a number of adventures over the years, including Ardanyan’s Rache (the original version of Ardanyan’s Revenge) and even a translation of Woodland Whispers. This brought more life into the (already active and very creative) german community, so we ended up doing a fanzine as well.

When I “changed sides,” this went on for a while. The biggest thing that changed was more professionalism among those involved, really. We were blessed to have Kathy Schad aid us all the time, and being able to create printed books instead of fanwork PDFs felt pretty cool—especially since we build everything from the ground up, as we were among the first to use print-on-demand to produce a major game line. The downside was that it all took way more time than I originally intended to spend on my hobby. Not that I regret this (here’s to my wife and son who supported me all the time!), it was very motivating, educating and interesting to be a part of that. I learned a lot during that time.

Q) How was it that you became involved with RedBrick. Earthdawn has a very interesting past, with multiple variations, First Edition, Second Edition, Classic, and now Third Edition. In all that time, have you always had a hand in the development of the game?

A) James contacted me shortly after RedBrick was founded because he knew me from the community. I was asked to help out and provide feedback and any other help I could imagine. However at the time, I was about to put Earthdawn to rest because I had already spent a decade with it and got basically nowhere professionally. James’ request came at the same time I considered writing material for Arcane Codex instead (another german roleplaying game that was just released at the time, and whose creators live right across the river). I turned their offer down a few weeks later, as my rekindled passion for Earthdawn was stronger.

A year later (late 2005, I think), I roped Kathy in because I always admired her passion for the game and her great artwork. I wanted her to do the cover art for Ardanyan’s Revenge, and then she stuck around to do way more than that over the years. In fact, I think that without her layouting expertise, we wouldn’t have been able to print the core rulebooks via Lulu at all—there were a lot of technical problems holding us back with those “bricks”.

From the german community, I contacted Eike-Christian Bertram and Lars Heitmann (among some others who didn’t follow) to help work on the Namegiver’s Compendium because I needed more people firm with the mechanics in the team. The team had seen a lot of change during development, and apart from those people that remained, there was need for more people that were able to stick around long-term and deliver material. Those two fit that bill and I am happy they are still around!

Q) How was it to produce official Earthdawn stuff with RedBrick having acquired the Earthdawn license?

A) I was happy about the chance to finally work on a new rulebook, as I had already toyed with the idea of creating a big tome combining all the bits and bobs from the sourcebooks into a single volume just for the kicks of it. I also had thought a lot about print-on-demand at about the same time, but not in combination with Earthdawn. It was an emerging technology back then, with only a handful of businesses available. When James came along with a combination of these ideas, I was of course very excited!

It also was a ton of work, though. Not many of the people we started out with followed through (and who can blame them, this being a hobby and all). I’m happy we managed to get this done, both with actually finishing the rulebooks as well as becoming one of the first print-on-demand publishers in the RPG industry.

Q) You had to make some hard decisions when you released the most recent Earthdawn Third Edition in 2009. How risky was it to release another edition of the game, without knowing if it would be accepted by the fans? Or were you confident that the improved rules and changes would save you the day? Which reaction of the fans did you expect and were some of your prejudices confirmed?

fcedawngmsA) We were basically forced to do this, there was no other choice (other than calling it a day and retire RedBrick completely). The reason was Lulu, which suddenly and without warning changed their shipping costs and demeanor (they also dropped a bit in print quality, which also was a bother for a while). Lulu was the only print-on-demand publisher who provided exactly what we needed, but with those extremely high shipping costs (and they weren’t low before that either), no one really considered buying our books anymore. There were a couple of options we investigated, including working with Mongoose Publishing. In essence, they offered to do pretty much what Lulu did for us before--with the notable difference of catering to the specialized RPG market. It was also a faster way of getting back into things than starting over with nothing, so we went with them.

We had to come up with a new edition and thinner books as a requirement, however, so we created Earthdawn Third Edition implementing the rules models we already had in community testing. The Alternative Discipline Mechanics were overhauled as well as a whole lot of other things—within a timeframe of only four months. That was an extremely busy time, but we did great.

Q) Speaking of your accomplishments, what are you most proud of? Be it a book, the ambitious plans you had for Earthdawn, or whatever?

A) The whole thing. We pioneered with a business model that was (measured against our expectations) wildly successful, and we managed to take the extremely active Earthdawn fan community by the hand and create a slick new edition of the game, one that both honors its roots and doesn’t have to hide behind other games on the market today.

I helped turning a rag-tag band of devoted fans into a wonderful and very professional team that created quite a heap of stunning books--eleven for Earthdawn Classic and no less than twenty-three for Earthdawn Third Edition (so far and not counting PDF-only releases). We did all that in our spare time, driven by heartblood and inspiration of the game itself.

I learned a lot during this time: from group dynamics to project management, from layout to print preparation, product financing, networking and international relationships, how to lead and crack a whip (on volunteers!), and the workings of the roleplaying industry behind the curtains. I also learned a number of valuable lessons on trust, friendship, and loyalty.

I’m very proud of all this, the workflow behind it, and the heavy shelf of books I am looking at when sitting at my desk.

Q) You didn’t meet the rest of the RedBrick team very often, but you were last year at the Gen Con in Indianapolis, how were your real life contacts with the rest of the team over the last years?

A) GenCon was special. I remember five of us locking ourselves in and brainstorm Equinox all afternoon and evening—we did get a lot of stuff done which would have taken days on the development forums. Other than that, the only person I frequently meet in real life is Kathy—usually at the local conventions twice a year. Even the other germans are too far away for a meetup (although we tried). There are a handful of people I never met in person though, albeit I was to the US twice and some of them made it to Germany. Maybe that’ll change one day!

Q) Before you resigned, you mentioned a handful of books being in development for Earthdawn on your blog. Would you mind telling us more about these, and if there's hope these will be released at some point?

A) The first one, Lost Dynasty, is a fully detailed adventure set in Landis. Like our other "big" adventure books, it's pretty detailed and even includes a chapter from the Great Library detailing the history of Landis. Second, there’s Legends of Barsaive contains stories, tales, and legends from the lands of Barsaive. It's been in the works for quite a while and will include the results of the Open Call we ran a while back. Both of these books are almost ready, and I have no doubt you will see them released somewhere soon.

Then there's Nations of Barsaive Vol. V: Blood Wood. The title says it all, I think--the book is supposed to be a rework of the old first edition title, laying the groundwork for the next book, Elven Nations. Elven Nations details the remains of the Western Kingdoms and Shosara and dives right into the rich elven culture beyond the Blood Wood. I was (and still am) very excited about this one, because I have worked with two very talented people to get the content right.

Jerris: City of Ash is a city book taking us back to Barsaive, visiting the city closest to the Poison Forest and the Wastes. I always loved that area and the eerie atmosphere of that place, so go figure why this book was on my list. Probably the final installment in the Nations of Barsaive series was going to be Nations of Barsaive VI: Iopos, detailing the home and history of the Denairastas clan. I can't seriously say more about this one without giving anything away. All of these books were in various stages of writing and development when I stepped back, and I am still in contact with the authors providing assistance where I can.

Taken together, all these books contain the main building blocks needed to publish an epic campaign called Chronicles of War, which aimed to finally push the brewing conflict between Throal and Thera over the edge.

Q) What's Chronicles of War supposed to be, Barsaive at War done right?

A) With both Earthdawn Classic and Earthdawn Third Edition, we chose the current time of the setting right after the events of the epic Prelude to War campaign formerly released for the first edition of the game. The material presented in Prelude to War, as well as the implications of the events that happened in that campaign found their way into our books and have been made part of the setting so that even those people who never played first edition and/or Prelude to War know what has been going on. We chose this spot because Barsaive, already a melting pot of various factions and cultures clashing into each other, was on the verge of change. There's a lot of tension and a wide variety of possibilities, and it is only a question of time until things start burning bright. Nothing lasts forever, but one thing is certain: Barsaive will never be the same again.

Many veteran Earthdawn gamemasters either continued their campaign using Living Room Games' Barsaive at War, Lou Prosperi's original outline (which has been circulating the internet for nearly a decade now), or found their own way to resolve the conflict between Throal and Thera. But what's with those who have started their campaigns with Earthdawn Third Edition and are waiting for an epic campaign that goes beyond what our regular adventures and Shards have to offer? My intention for Chronicles of War was to deliver to them first and foremost.

barsaive_at_warSo, to finally get back to your question, Chronicles of War is not “Barsaive at War done right.” Because, let's face it, that book has been done twice already. The intention was neither to use the original outline nor was it to reuse or even "fix" LRG's Barsaive at War. There is really no need to do this, especially since our overall situation is not what it was for FASA and LRG back a decade ago. We're working in different times, have different goals, and different visions--all of which factor into Chronicles of War becoming a different and fresh new chapter in the history of the Earthdawn game we produced in the past years. Of course, there are a couple of ideas that naturally emerge out of the existing situation, so there's no doubt some people would compare that book to Barsaive at War at some point or even mix the ideas provided. That's totally fine, but adding oil to a "which one is better" fire on our part deliberately is out of the question. My guess is that people would have liked them both, and even veteran gamemasters would be able to find something they can use in their campaigns.

Developing and writing an outline for this was an honor for me as Line Developer. My focus was to make sure the player's actions will have a real impact on the events presented in that book, addressing one of the major complaints people had about the old campaign. The adventures are set up in a way that adapts to the player's decisions, so their successes and their failures will directly steer the outcome of that campaign. So yeah, there will be an overarching plot, but how it goes and how it ends will ultimately depend on the player characters. This goes with a couple of implications, of course, so go figure...

Q) All that said ... why did you leave?

A) All I can give you is this in a nutshell: RedBrick is changing, but I am not.There are a lot of reasons for my decision to step back, but most of them are personal and not meant for the public. Given my history with RedBrick and Earthdawn (as well as my agenda outlined above), you know that it isn't something I would do spontaneously. It was a very tough decision, but I am happy I made it. I wish RedBrick all the best in their future endeavors. I know they have big and ambitious plans, so I’m pressing thumbs they come true!

Q) What are your hopes for Earthdawn’s future?

A) I hope and expect to see most (if not all) remaining Earthdawn Third Edition books come out, at least those that saw some development work in the past months and years. I had a real blast working with the various authors and I hope for them that they will be able to hold the printed results in their hands at some point. Same counts for a couple of additional manuscripts I didn't mention above. Controlling that isn’t in my hands anymore, however, but I am going to assist the team wherever I can and help the authors to get the vision of their books implemented the way we planned them.

Q) What is the future for Equinox and Vampire City?

A) equinoxPro-Indie and Equinox have always been somewhat separate from RedBrick, which is why we had them under a RedBrick Germany label. This didn’t survive the recent changes and wasn’t moved to the new website. As a result, Pro-Indie and Equinox are out of the public view at the moment. Development had stalled for a while, but we're gearing up to continue by the end of this year. Vampire City is still in layout and now that our latest book, BARBARIANS! has come through in a beautiful full-color print, we are ready to finish Vampire City (also in color) and release it in the new year.

Equinox will take a while longer to release, but 2012 is going to be an interesting year for that game.

Q) Any idea when there will there be a new Pro-Indie site for the BARBARIANS! and Western City games?

A) Likely by the end of this year. We are working on a new website presence, even if it is just a small one. You can still get all these on DriveThroughRPG, however. Keep an eye out for returning sometime soon!

Q) Will there ever be a chance that Zwielicht, and Das Vergessene Tal will see a fan produced English translation?

A) Zwielicht is actually available, only in slightly different form: Tournament Troubles (from the Earthdawn Shards Collection Vol. One) picks up on the same ideas I used in that fan adventure. The structure and ending are a bit different, but keep in mind that Zwielicht was originally written for two groups and two gamemasters for an Easter vacation (or convention experience). It is very specific in some parts and not suited to a broader audience without some changes--those I made for Tournament Troubles!

I know that there has been some effort made to translate the Das Vergessene Tal campaign in the past. I am not sure it will ever be finished, but I wasn't involved in the translation effort so far. That's something Eike-Christian Bertram is more likely to answer at this stage.

Q) We thank you for the interview, it was a pleasure. We both wish you all the best for the future!

A) Thanks! Keep up the good work!

Mongoose Signs&Portents magazine

mongoose_logoThe Mongoose Signs&Portents magazines are free E-books that were monthly released. 93 issues were released, since the production ended in August 2011.

When RedBrick LLC started to cooperate with Mongoose Publishing, some of the S&P issues contained Earthdawn content too, cause so far all the other Mongoose products were part of these free E-books. I already reported about the issues which had Earthdawn relevant content over here and here. Unfortunately are the links of my previous articles offline, because of the restart of Mongoose’ homepage. So I thought I write about the Earthdawn relevant issues again and share some working links to the S&P archive.

The Earthdawn relevant issues are:

# 92

In this issue you find the Earthdawn content at page 80. The top 3 winners of the Earthdawn adventure resource contest “For the Tear of a Dragon”, “Like Moths to a Flame” and “The Cure for Evil” are presented in this Signs&Portents issue.

# 91

The Paragon, a new discipline designed after the Templar Knights of old, created by David Marshall is included in this issue on page 62.

# 88

One of my favorite Earthdawn articles of Signs&Portents. Hank Woon and Stephen J Black wrote this article about the Daughters of Heaven, a Cathay only discipline. The special thing of this article is that the full character stats of Su Shen, a protagonist of the Cathay novels, is listed in this issue.

# 84

The Earthdawn article in this issue is called “Boons and Banes of Nature”, which details some “bizarre flora and fauna” of Barsaive.

# 74

A well done 20 page Kaer adventure called “Buried Truths” written by Carl Walmsley awaits you in this issue. Included maps, descriptions and a cool plot can be found on page 28.

# 72

Again it is Carl Walmsley who comes up with an Earthdawn article in this issue of Signs&Portents. The article is called “Twisted Nature” and guess what, “weird animals and plants, all tainted in some way” are presented on page 24.

The whole Signs&Portents archive can be found here

RedBrick LLC moved

The horror scenario for every blogger becomes true when suddenly most of your links don’t work anymore. That’s what happened when RedBrick LLC decided to move its online presence to US-servers. Guess how happy I am atm. But I’ll try to fix the links leading to the old RedBrick LLC homepage.
But that’s not all “good news”. RedBrick is not planning to provide an archive or sth similar of the old forum. Which means that all the questions, discussions and rule clarifications won’t be available anymore. Especially the answers and clarifications of Arma were a great resource for beginners and experienced players or gamemasters. I think that it is more than stupid to lose all these information. But I don’t know about the reasons of RedBrick to move the page, which is also not normal, cause normally the fans are mostly informed about the why. Not this time. But as I don’t know about the reasons I shouldn’t judge that hard.
The official announcement reads like this:

We’re moving
That's right folks, RedBrick is getting a facelift and moving to a new US-based server. Our new website address is so time to update your bookmarks.Like an old castle, we been moving pieces to the new server in the background. Brick by brick, we've been building a new place to talk, to discuss, and even to shop without leaving the website. This is your invitation to visit the new digs and reserve your favorite username. There will be more cosmetic changes as we grow into the new site and more details and items of interest added as they are developed.As we approach the year 2012 -- a year of change for those who follow the Mayan long count -- we have taken a long hard look at where we have come from and where we want to be. Over the next few months, we will be revealing our plans for the New Year in a series of News articles. So keep your eyes peeled on this site (for the short term) and the news link on the new website (for the future). You are bound to have a lot of questions and we will try to answer these as they come up. The current site at will be set to read-only in the next week or so; the site will remain available until approximately year end. The new website and online shop at is available now. Old forum posts will not be transferred over, so if there is something important you wish to save, now is the time to archive it. Downloads, errata, and product pages are on their way and will be available soon. Lastly, current play-by-post campaigns will not be available on the new forums. If you are running or playing in one of the games on the current site, you will need to archive that material in the next week or so.
This announcement was made on November 21st and unfortunately I didn’t make a backup of the forum cause I didn’t expect RedBrick to move their page that fast (I read “the site will remain available until approximately year end”). If any fan did a backup of the complete forum, you should contact the rights holder before publishing it.
On the other hand I have to confess that the old forum was a mess after all those years. There was no section for Talent-, Spell- or Rule-clarifications, everything was hidden in the “For Gamemasters” or “For Players” section. So we can be happy that we get to see a new fresh forum. The structure of the old forum wasn’t the best, but unfortunately is the new forum structure equal to the old one. I leave this without further comments.
Enough bashing, crying and whining about the good old times, we have to deal with the new place of RedBrick and we have to make the best out of it. So have a look at the new home for Earthdawn, Fading Suns, Demonworld, Blue Planet, Equinox (which isn’t on their mainpage), Barbarians (dito) and DramaScape (??).  Engage, discuss and argue there about the game we all love.

The new page is still in development and there is more stuff to come, like the downloads section, developer blogs and products sections. I am sure that the RedBrick crew is working on the design and the information we get there. Let’s hope for the best.

Winter is coming and chocolate too!

Mid November and suddenly chocolate projects everywhere and even as a RPG and fantasy fan you can’t avoid the chocolate. At least I came across some cool projects made of chocolate.

Håkan Mårtensson, a Swedish chocolatier made a chocolate Gollum and various other great sculptures out of chocolate, have a look at his works at his gallery.


via Nerdcore

Second is a chocolate DIY instruction, to create your own chocolate dice. D4,D6, D20 any dice you want. The effort when following the instruction, seems worth it, yummy.

via Rollenspiel-Almanach

Finally there is the white chocolate Game of Thrones - Weirwood cake! The authors of the blog “The Inn at the Crossroads”, which I already mentioned in one of my Link Advices, create and cook recipes that are based on the books of George R.R Martin.  Or as they write on their blog:

We are two big fans of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.  We are also fans of food.  What, then, would be more natural than to combine them into one fabulous blog?


Happy chocolating!

Free Papercraft Miniatures Blog

The blog “Fantasy Paper Miniature Models” from Eddnic offers, as you may guess, great free 3D papercraft models for use in RPG’s. His portfolio ranges from Zombies, to Dragons, Mummies, Orcs and many more. The works that especially caught my attention were the “Air, Fire, Water, Earth Elementals” which seem to be very useful for Earthdawn campaigns. Have a look at his great collection of 3D and 2.5D (??) paper miniatures @


Fanmade Earthdawn Gamemaster Screen – Update


This GM screen was made by EvilGeniusPrime and he finally provides it to the fans. There was a discussion on the RedBrick forum about the GM screen and it appears that some like it and some fans see need for improvement. So far Evil did a good job and he has implemented all the tables a GM needs.


- @ 4 shared

- mirror


The discussion on the RedBrick forum went on and it turns out that two fans were very productive and made, with some advice of arma, two improved/modified versions of the above mentioned Earthdawn 3rd Edition Gamemaster screen.

It is sirserafin’s  version that offers a better resolution than the first version of EvilGeniusPrimes’ GM screen. It is plain, without graphics and the tables are well placed for a good overview. With no-frills. He offers his GM screen, that is based on Evil’s first version, in MS Word format. I made a PDF file out of it, with some minor loss of resolution, but I link to both files. So you have the choice.

But the “GM-Screen-Battle” went on and it was Evil’s turn again, to use sirserafin’s plain version (which has just 5MB) and garnish it with some graphics. This good looking modification of the screen file has now 14MB 12MB and needs some more resources. But as I already said you have the choice which fanmade Earthdawn 3rd Edition GM screen fits your needs best.

So here are the links:

- sirserafin’s plain GM screen MS Word file

- sirserafin’s plain GM screen PDF file

- EvilGeniusPrime’s graphic GM screen PDF file

Quick Blog news #2

Share ButtonI hope the floating social bar on the left will make it easier for you to share articles you like via Twitter, FB or G+. I will test the social bar for a while and then I’ll decide if I keep it or remove it again, depends on usage. So the blog finally provides a better way to spread news, share interesting info or simply +1 some articles on G+. Thoughts and critics on the floating share buttons are welcome.

Lazy Friday video post #2

“There’s always a bigger fish”

via Nerdcore

Allen Varneys review of the Spiel 2010

spielemesse-logoThe Spiel 2011 in Essen, Germany starts next week, the so called “biggest game fair event of the world”. But is it really that big and attractive for international visitors? Allen Varney wrote a great article about his trip to the Spiel 2010. “An Innocent at Essen” is the title of his article wherein he compares the Spiel with the Gen Con, provides tips and information for international visitors and summarizes the differences of German/European game fairs and US conventions.

Have a read at the escapist magazine!

Tableau Infractus #10 available for download

This Earthdawn fan work from Drucifer is now in issue #10. Check the interview with the legend Lou Prosperi!


This issue offers:

  • A cover painting by André Bdois
  • The conclusion of Brew Eyes.
  • An Interview with Lou Prosperi
  • A miniatures gallery for Humans
  • And an in depth reference for Familiars, including a PDF Character sheet with fillable locations


- Tableau Infractus #10

- Tableau Infractus Web Archive

The Robert Jordan documentary - The Wit of the Staircase

You know when you land here, that you’re on the Earthdawn Blog and that I am a big fan since many years now.

But my main focus in fantasy reading is on the “Wheel of Time” series written by Robert Jordan. The series (in German) has now reached its 34th book, I thought that I am up to date about what is going on. But lately I stumbled upon an article that told me that a documentary called “The Wit of the Staircase” will be released soon. To be exact the imdb says it will be in theatres on October 18th. I even had no idea that a documentary about the life and works of Robert Jordan is planned or just a few weeks away.

So who’s behind the documentary and is it really coming on October 18th? And what is it about?

The Wit of the Staircase" will focus on Robert Jordan's life - beginning with the writer's early years, growing up in Charleston, his tours of duty in Vietnam, his relationship with his wife and step-son, the creation of The Wheel of Time series and its enormous success; as well as his contributions to the fantasy genre

In 2007 Spiral Entertainment has captured one of the last interviews with Robert Jordan. They work on the documentary since then and the actual state of the film is unknown. The homepage of the producer Hunter Wentworth says:

The editing phase of post production  is beginning to wind down with Hunter finishing the first of several "fine cuts". From here we go to colour grading, sound, music, and visual design. The finish line is visible in the distance!

Unfortunately, this is the current status from summer 2010 and no actual status is known. So I am not sure if the documentary will really be released on October 18th. Let’s hope they get it done.

To get a glimpse on what the documentary looks like have a look at this teaser video from 2008 or have a look at the other videos Spiral Entertainment released on their page.

I'll watch for news of Spiral Entertainment on the release of the documentary and post them here. Of course is your info welcome if you know more about the "Wit of Staircase".

Ship of Tears – First Earthdawn Web Shard now available

The Tableau Infractus archive presents the first Earthdawn web shard called “Ship of Tears” written by Piotr Konieczny. The author Piotr as well as Drucifer of the Tableau Infractus Archive welcome your feedback at the RedBrick forum. Hopefully this will be the start of a great series of web shards.

Ship of Tears

While traveling through Barsaive, the group encounters an adept seeking their help to  dismantle  a  slave  ring.  The  adept  provides  them  with  information  about  an  inn where travelers are abducted, and information on the Theran slave ship that transports the abductees.

Interactive Science Fiction and Fantasy Flowchart

In August I voted at the NPR books Top-100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Titles, where about 60,000 people participated. Since then I waited to see the results.

And now…..finally I stumbled upon the results. The format of the results is normally presented in Top 100 style, but SFSignal now presents the results of the TOP 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy titles in two versions. One is a flowchart you can navigate thru, the other one is based on the flowchart but it is interactive and navigates you to the fantasy/scifi title that fits your taste.




- SFSignal flowchart

- Interactive flowchart

(via Nerdcore)

Magic in Earthdawn and the Mayan calendar

Some of you might immediately get the connection between magic in Earthdawn and the Mayan calendar. Nevertheless I want to give you a small insight on how the magical circle in the Earthdawn universe works and what this all got to do with the Mayan calendar.

So did you ever wonder why there is a Mayan calendar as a background on the 3rd edition sourcebooks covers?

ed3_players_guide_previewMaya Calendar

That is because this calendar is strongly connected to the world and the age of Earthdawn, also known as the “Age of Legends”.

But to provide a complete overview we got to remember that Earthdawn is/was not alone since it was “invented” in 1992. It was Shadowrun that existed first and Earthdawn was intentionally developed as a preceding world of Shadowrun. Earthdawn plays in the same universe as Shadowrun but a long time earlier whereas Equinox is taking place a long time after Shadowrun. Depending on the level of magic, the world is formed and influenced differently. At a high magic cycle for example, horrors can enter the world.

The magic, in all those settings is in a permanent flow as the tides are. But the cycles of these “ups” and “downs” of magic are not measured in days, weeks or months……..guess it…….yes they are measured in “Ages” and that’s the point where the Mayan calendar comes into play.

The Mayan calendar works this way*:

Short Count calendar: The Short Count was used for measuring short periods of time. It consisted of 260 days, divided into 13 periods (20 days each).

Long Count calendar: The Long Count calendar was used mainly for measuring longer periods of time and events that happened a very long time ago, or will happen very far into the future.

Maybe a this video explains the functional principle of the Mayan calendar better.

* the Mayan calendar works in a more complex way as I described here. For more have a look at wikipedia or at howstuffworks.

Flow of magic and the magic level

Strongly connected to the Ages is the magic flow and for Earthdawn this had tremendous consequences. Earthdawn, the 4th age, the Age of Legends or the 4th world (as some Shadowrunners call this age) has to deal with the rise and fall of the magic level. The rise of magic allowed horrors to enter the world at the peak of the magic level (and even before). The scourge started and the horrors “ruled” the earth and the Namegivers hid from the world. After 300 to 400 years (to be exact in 1415 Throalic time = TH) the level of magic stopped to decrease. Look at “In-game measuring of the magic level” to read about how the Namegivers knew that magic stopped decreasing.

Real time of Earthdawn and Shadowrun

Some of you might already see what you can do when you got a “real-time” calendar and fictional magic levels that depend on the system of that calendar. Exactly, you could calculate the real time dates of Earthdawns, Shadowruns and Equinox’ ages:

The Mayan calendar starts at the 11th August 3114 BC and one cycle of the Mayan calendar takes about 5200 years. That’s why a lot of doomsters and conspiracy theorists predict the end of our world as we know it for the 21st or 23rd December 2012, when the long term cycle of the Mayan calendar ends. Which is also called the 2012 phenomenon.

This means for Earthdawn that we can almost exactly date back to the start of the plague or get the real time dates of the Throalic timetable.

Let’s see if I get it right here:

The Sixth World (Shadowrun) starts on December 23rd 2012, with a rise of magic. Dating back to the end of the 5th World we land at 3114 BC, the start of the Mayan calendar. The plague in Earthdawn started when the level of magic was at its peak: ∼5200 : 2 = 2600 –> 3114+2600 = ∼5714 BC. The Namegivers hid for about ∼450 years (for example Throal was closed from 1050 TH until 1420 TH) in their Kaers, so we subtract 450 years from 5714 BC = 5264 BC. The opening of the Throal gates in 1420 TH would be equal to the real time date of ∼5264 BC.

NOTE: All that subtracting/dividing of numbers and so on is based on rounded, not exact dates. I just want to provide a calculation that is easier to understand.

Overview of the Ages and their magical level (↑,↓):

↓ The Age of Night

↑ The Age of Dragons

↑ The Age of Legends (Earthdawn)

↓ 5th World (current age)

↑ The Sixths World (Shadowrun)

↑ The Eights World (Equinox)

And again a picture or a graphic says more than a thousand words


(thx to taysal)

In-game measuring of the magic level

Between the Age of Dragons, Age of Legends and the Sixth World was a long time of a down cycle when magic decreased. The magic in Earthdawn for example reached its peak at the time of the scourge. Often questioned in some forums: “How were the Namegivers in Earthdawn able to find out when the scourge ended?”. They had something that was called the “Elemental Clock” or “Dish of Water”. This device allowed to see if the magic level had dropped.

Description of the Elemental Clock in Classic Edition:

During the Scourge, kaers with copies of the Book of Tomorrow knew to place a ball of True earth over a bowl of True water, so that when the two touched and turned to mud they’d know the level of magic in the world had fallen low enough to end the Scourge. Well, we all know the level of magic has held steady at just above that mark, and even we Elementalists don’t completely understand why. (EPC p. 93, Classic Edition)


The Third Edition Gamemaster’s Guide states the following about the device that the Namegivers used to see if the magical level had decreased enough:

Those kaers that hold copies of the Throalic Book of Tomorrow know the magic ritual that will tell them when they may safely re-enter the world. Those lacking this ritual must guess and hope. The magic itself is basic: a simple ball of True earth is enchanted and placed over a dish of True water. The magics of the ritual keep the ball suspended over the water. As the strength of the world’s magical aura wanes, and the Horrors are forced to retreat, the ball of True earth descends until it finally touches the True water and the two mix.
All across Barsaive, the people in the kaers watch the ball descend. Slowly, ever so slowly, it drops toward the water. Finally, in the fourteen hundred and fifteenth year of the Throalic Calendar the ball stops falling, hanging an inch above water. Shocked scholars and magicians watch in wonder and dread. It is too soon by hundreds of years for the Scourge to have abated. And why had the ball stopped? No one knew the answer then, and no one knows to this day.

A lot of tales and myths are told amongst fans, developers and I guess even most magicians of Barsaive, speculating about that weird issue. Forum discussions can be found here.



This article provides just a small insight into the discussions about the Ages, the Mayan calendar and the magic flow of those RPGs. For all those who are interested in more of that topic and want to read which theories others came up with, have a look at these pages or forum discussions:


Unfortunately is the offline, the page with the best Earthdawn – Shadowrun crossover information. So if anybody saved some information of, please contact me. But as Drucifer told me there is a way back in time:

Link advice #18

Earthdawn goes Savage!

RedBrick LLC hasn’t announced it on their page yet, but Annunaki has spread the news on the pinnacle forum.

Pinnacle Entertainment Group and RedBrick LLC are both pleased to announce that RedBrick has joined the ranks of Savage Worlds licensees!
RedBrick publishes game products for FASA's Earthdawn™ and Demonworld™ fantasy games, Holistic Design's Fading Suns™ space fantasy game, and Biohazard Games' Blue Planet™ science fiction game, as well as RedBrick's forthcoming Equinox™ space fantasy game.
Well it is not only Earthdawn that will come in Savage Worlds’ shape, but what can I tell ya have a look at the things Zorhau found out as he digged deeper and asked some questions. He posted the received answers on the German Blutschwerter forum.
But these are still not all the news. Spoilers everywhere!!!
For example, when we do a Pathfinder edition of Earthdawn, we want to integrate into the Pathfinder rules with minimal fuss
Nice try Dammi to get the monthly spoiler award after telling us about the planned books of RedBrick in your blogpost “A Glimpse of the Future”. The award goes to Annunaki, it’s as simple as that. Smile

Interview with Hank Woon about the Cathay novel “A Forgotten Tomorrow”

It’s interview time again!!!! Some weeks ago I stumbled upon a Wikipedia entry where the RedBrick novels are listed. And what did my tired eyes see? “A Forgotten Tomorrow – TBA”. This led me to the idea to make another interview with Hank Woon, the author of the so-far two Cathay novels, to find out what the actual state of the third novel is. So here we go:

cathay_obsidimanAgain I am very happy that the story of Daylen Jagaro will fill another book. In our interview about the second novel „Immortal Twilight", you told us that the idea of the sequel came when Jacques Marcotte made an offhand comment about how the story could develop. Did you need such a push again for writing the third novel “A Forgotten Tomorrow”? Or was it clear after "Immortal Twilight", that you had to write a third book?

The basis for the third book came about during the writing of the second. The complete story couldn't really be told in just the second book, and I was already writing down notes for the third while writing the second.

Will the third novel of your Cathay saga be the last? Or were you planning to make it a quadrology?

Yes, it's set to just be a trilogy.

What is the actual state of the novel?

The outline has been finished for a couple years now. Smile Only the prologue has actually been written at this stage, however.

Assuming that the main characters of the previous two novels, like Bik-Bik, Su Shen and Bei, will still play a big part in „A Forgotten Tomorrow", who else will step on the scene?

There will be some cool new villains (as well as some old ones) that are part of a new secret society. There will be a Samurai character involved, whose own quest is  tired up with the quest of our main cast, and Bik-Bik will get to meet someone special… In addition, the Ka-Li dragon and what that represents will be explored more fully (which can, in a way, be interpreted as a character, I suppose), and another famous character from the first novel will return (there is a clear tie in with some elements that were set up in the first novel, bringing the trilogy full circle).

This third novel will be the first released since the Cathay sourcebooks are on the market too. Do you now go deeper into the land and the culture of Cathay (if even possible) or do you pick up some stories that are told in the sourcebooks?  Did the sourcebooks influence or change your writing?

The sourcebooks were written first, and in that way, I guess they influenced my novels. The novels really are just magnified moments of Daylen's life as he was writing the sourcebooks, before returning with his journals to the Great Library back in Throal.

When you look back at the two previous novels, „Dark Shadows of Yesterday" and „Immortal Twilight", is it hard to end the wonderful journey of Daylen Jagaro? Did you expect to get him that far when you started to write the first novel?

cathay_scribeWell, there are still many tales left for Daylen Jagaro. Whether any of them will be told is a mystery, but the Cathay trilogy really only covers his adventures with Su Shen and Bei. There is a year gap between the first and second novels, and a 6-month gap between the second and third. That's a year and a half total of adventures just waiting to be told. Smile If the Earthdawn novels ever pick up steam and go into a more widespread production, it would be fun to add some of these little tales to some anthologies, or better still, get other authors to tell some of these mini stories of Daylen and Bik-Bik (which would be a lot of fun for me to read). But unfortunately, it doesn't look like the publishing industry is heading in that direction, so it's likely “A Forgotten Tomorrow” will be Daylen's last, but you never know.

On a side note, if a Jih'Poh sourcebook is ever written, I'd like it also to be from Daylen's POV (whether or not I'm the writer on that or not). In the meantime, keep an eye out for my upcoming Earthdawn adventure Lost Dynasty, which I wrote back in 2004 and delves into the ancient human kingdom of Landis.

What can you already tell us about the story of the third novel „A Forgotten Tomorrow"? What about Yen-Li and his "comrade"?

Well, without getting too spoilerific, the third novel will be set 6 months after the events in Immortal Twilight. Yen-Li and his comrade are the main antagonists, but there are even larger powers at work behind the scenes. As I already mentioned, a new secret society with new colorful (and powerful) secondary villains will be introduced, as well as some new characters to travel alongside our heroes.

By the beginning of the novel, Daylen has become a bit of a philanthropist, traveling Cathay in hopes of learning as much as he can about Cathayan culture for the Great Library back home and trying to help those affected by the war whenever he can. Of course, the villains still have their own goals, and poor Daylen gets swept right back up in it. The story will also hearken back to events in the first novel, shedding light on events that transpired there and adding new twists to the tale.

The first two novels were released in 2008 and 2009. Considering that you had to work on the Cathay sourcebooks too, I ask myself when you could possibly finish "A Forgotten Tomorrow". And then there is RedBrick, always cautious spreading release dates, but when do you hope to get the novel published?

Well, I'm not exactly sure when I can get around to it. The Cathay sourcebooks were actually finished before the first two novels (the drafts were handed in back in August of 2005). I haven't had as much time in the past couple of years to do much writing because of my day jobs. I had worked a temporary stint with Paizo Publishing back in 2009, helping with the big launch of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, then did some contract work with Microsoft and Expedia before finally landing a permanent gig with The Pokémon Company International. During all of that I was running a Pathfinder campaign for some friends (still ongoing); freelance writing, editing, and designing for both Earthdawn and Pathfinder; and somewhere in there somehow managed to get married and write and sell a screenplay for a straight-to-DVD network movie (to start filming in June 2012—won't say for who or what network though, since that's secret!).

Nowadays, though, I'm mainly busy with family obligations and my day job. Working for Pokémon is the best career I could have hoped to have landed (I actually just made the transition from contract to full time earlier this year), and while it's a lot of fun, it's also very demanding. In what little spare time I have (and trust me, that's not a lot), I try to enjoy my hobbies (including the Pathfinder campaign I'm running and an unpublished, "just for fun" play-by-email strategy wargame I designed based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series), study Japanese (my wife is from Tokyo), and maintain some semblance of a social life.

It will get finished someday, though. The dust from the chaos of the last two years is still settling. Once I get some time, I'll be plugging away at it chapter by chapter, posting them up on RedBrick's developer forums for the team to dissect bit by bit. It will be much slower going than the previous two, especially since it might be a big longer as well, but in the end, it will be worth the wait. I'm already finished with the Prologue, and the team has had access to it for some time, so the process has already begun. Smile

I thank you for for the interview and I’m looking forward to hold the third book in my hands, someday. Smile

The Cathay pictures of this post were used with kind permission by RedBrick and can be found at their Download Section.

Tableau Infractus #9 released

The well known Earthdawn fanzine Tableau Infractus by Drucifer is now in issue #9. I can only recommend to have a look at all the other issues too. They are a great resource for GM and players.

The latest edition contains:

  • A cool cover by Erik Hilliker
  • Part 1 of a fiction story called Brew Eyes.
  • An Interview with Aaron Brown, scupltor of Redbrick's Miniatures.
  • A miniatures gallery for Dwarfs
  • Reoccurring NPC Spirit Creation with Fill-in NPC Sheet
  • The first floor of the Denairastas Family chambers under Iopos


- Tableau Infractus #9
- File Sharing Site
- Mirror

Earthdawn Legends as audio files?

Dammi opened a discussion thread on the RedBrick forum regarding the question if Earthdawn fans would be interested in audio files in which Earthdawn Legends are told. The files would be released in addition to the forthcoming Earthdawn Legends book (no release date yet).
At the forum you’ll find a poll, discussions and of course a detailed description by Dammi about this idea.
A sample mp3 file is available at the RedBrick download section to get an idea what this project could look like. The sample tale is called “The Legend of Rune and Sangblade” made by Markus Watt and Dan Boice. Would you want this? Would it be useful? What do you think? Discuss it at the forum.

Barbaren! (English)

»A man must defend his territory, slay his enemies, and lay as many women as possible.«
• • •
Utterance attributed to Kuthroc, the legendary warlord
Barbaren! or Barbarians! was yet only available in German but RedBrick announced that the English version of “The Ultimate Macho Roleplaying Game” is coming soon.

Pencil dice

pencil dice

Great idea by Sebastian Bergne. Almost as great as the D20 mace.

“The simple addition of dice markings to a six sided pencil makes all the difference. Pencil dice is an essential addition to any brief case, pen cup or pencil case. A little something to help you pass the time, entertain the children or even make decisions.”

(via Nerdcore)

New download section


Well I put together a download section to lead you to most of files and documents I reported about on the Earthdawn Blog. Unfortunately I had to remove the “Interviews” section in the header. But the interview category still leads you there. I hope this makes it easier to discover old entries with downloadable content which might be hard to find on the blog.

Progress of the Earthdawn Character Editor

Last time I wrote about the Earthdawn Character Editor it was in version 0.1 Alpha. Lortas (interview) and his crew recently released version 0.27 Alpha and so we will take a look at the development. Of course I can’t talk about all proceedings comparing v0.1 and v0.27, detailed information awaits you below at the change log listing. So let’s have a look.

Various new disciplines were added


The new designed inventory tab looks great and your custom items can be added with ease. Simply right click and choose “Add new item”


6 sample characters were added, to show you the full potential of the Character Editor.


At the “Experience” tab all the Legend Point you spend will be recorded. Screenshot taken from the sample character Jada Denairastas.


The best feature in my opinion is of course the export function to various PDF sheets. Note: the blank editable Ajfel+Mordom sheet is available here.


The Character Editor is still in development and you can be sure that further updates will be released. Lortas has set up a “What’s happening” page where recent progress information is provided. The so far released versions can be found here, together with a readme file including the current change log.

If you want to support or contribute, programmers with some knowledge in HTML and CSS are welcome. Simply contact Lortas.


The upcoming version 0.28 will contain some incompatibilities to older versions. The release of version 0.28 is scheduled for the next weekend. Lortas will release a tutorial to fix those incompatibilities on his HELP FORUM.

And finally here’s the change log of the last two versions:

Change log of version 0.27

  • Bugs
  • XML encoding for storing character should now be set correct
  • Typing error within different discipline config files corrected
  • The maximal circle for disciplines is now reduced to 15.
  • XML Schema enhanced:
    - select element type for the list of available talent knacks from xs:choise to xs:sequence
    - If the language list of the character is empty default language will be inserted
    - The languages of the character are listed at the Ajfel+Mordom PDF
    - This readme in markdown-syntax added
    - All spells of Cathay Players Guide added
    - New optional rule KARMALEGENDPOINTCOST added
    - The column for LP based raising of attributes is renamed from "circle" to "LP increase"
    - The knack list of the character will now be evaluated and the knack LPs will now be calculated
    - The list for versatility talents will now only show talents until current circle and also list talents multiple time with different limitations
    - Negative values of (calculated) legend points and negative values of starti ranks will now changed to red within the characteristic overview

Change log of version 0.26

  • XML Schema enhanced:
       - The element "portrait" has now the attribute "contenttype"
       - New element "language", to tag which language a character can speak or read/write
       - There are talents which must not be learned by versatility. A new talent attribute have to be defined
       - The attributes threads and strain are now strings, forced by the different values defined in the books
  • Templates for Portraits enhanced
  • Portraits will now also displayed in the html view
  • Now, two example characters have their own portraits
  • Talents learned by versatility will now get there circle based on the character current circle
  • The attribute "bookref" for talents, skills and spells will now be displayed in the Ajfel+Mordom PDF
  • Three talents marked as initiative talents
  • Talents that are marked as initiative talents will now receive the armour penalty on there final step
  • The ranks of talents that are marked as initiative talents, are also displayed in the initiative form field off all PDFs
  • GUI: The column for startrank is now in on skills and talents the same
  • Forcing, that only talents from circle <2 can have startranks
  • New example character Kartesch
  • Bookref
       - The bookref for all spells of PG added
       - The bookref for all shaman spells above circle 7 (PC) added
  • The warnings of the Java Class ECEWorker can now be send to another PrintStream than System.err
  • All talents of Cathay Players Guide added
  • Skills of Cathay Players Guide added
  • Bugs
       - Calculating SpellLP corrected
       - The form field "brief description" in the Ajfel+Mordom PDF will no be filled
       - The form fields of the Ajfel+Mordom PDF revised

Link Advice #17

Lazy Friday video post

Guest Entry: Alternative Miniatures for Earthdawn

The following article comes from Raalou and is part of my open call for Guest Bloggers

We first started playing Earthdawn without figurines. It never occurred to us to use 'actual' minis. We did use counters and white board squiggles and maps. After years of playing, our GM was given a box of Warhammer Orcs for his birthday and he found a love for painting miniatures. He then bought the Descent series of Dungeon Crawl board games and set to painting the minis from them. With all the work that went in, we started using the minis as our tokens for our Earthdawn Campaign.

We upgraded our table to include a hex map and accepted the challenge of finding Earthdawn miniatures so that we had better representations of our characters, particularly because of the size differences between trolls down to humans down to Windlings.

Our GMs wife, with a black belt in Google-Fu, was asked to search the WWW and find representations of our characters.

After days of searching, we came across figures that would be great representations for the races of Barsaive:

The only race we have had trouble finding miniatures for entirely is Obsidimen, although Trolls are not the easiest to find either. If anyone has any suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated.

Then a new challenge was presented as RedBrick produced the Cathay Series in Earthdawn. After having played with our Barsaivian minis for about a year, we knew we HAD to get some Cathay Minis BEFORE we started their Campaign. Still not decided on races and disciplines we were all going to play, we did a general search for all Cathay related characters.

Here is a list of sites and some specific miniatures that we have found so far:

Here is a great figure for a Po Na (monkey man) Monk/Sword Dancer: 

We are going to remove the bladed weapons and he will become our Pugilist. Will post a pic once we are done.

AND for a female Samurai:

For the armies, chariots and soldiers we have looked at:

So from doing our research, manipulating some minis and purchasing separate weapons and accessories, here are the minis that we are using now:

This Human Swordmaster (Axe-Master) is from here and axes from here.

This Human Cavalryman (Amazonian Woman type) is from here.

This Troll Skyraider is made up of this mini (perfect size for ED Troll). I shaved off the skull in the front of the armor. Added some Warhammer Black Orc horns that came in this set.

This Human Nethermancer is from here. The wings are Manticores wings sewn onto a cloak. Wings from here and the tails are made with Green Stuff found here.

This Windling Elementalist is found here.

This Human Beastmaster is a combination of 2 mini's found here and for the arms here. CLAW SHAPE BABY!!

This Elven Archer (with crossbow) is found here.

  This Dwarf Troubadour is a compilation (pun not intended) of this mini and his instrument comes from here.


We are a dedicated group of Earthdawnians who call ourselves Lords of the Dice.

To see more of us and what we do, check out our site:

This was the last entry of my Open Call for Guest Bloggers, I hope you enjoyed the articles as I did. I thank all participants, who did a great job writing those articles.

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes | Converted by BloggerTheme