Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Fourth World, For The Third Time

Today I learned that one of my original gaming group's old standbys, Earthdawn, is going to be seeing a new edition. Mongoose Publishing, a British game company known primarily for producing D20 games based on properties such as Babylon 5, Slaine, Starship Troopers, Conan, Judge Dredd and Lone Wolf, will be producing Earthdawn Third Edition sometime later this year. There was a time when this would have made me somewhat concerned, as Mongoose's early D20 books were a little sloppily edited and characterized with the sort of large font sizes that were typical of, say, AEG's 7th Sea. But Mongoose seems to be doing well with the newest iteration of Traveller, Paranoia and RuneQuest, which uses their own systems, and despite their good intentions, I think it would be difficult to disappoint to the degree that Living Room Games did with Earthdawn 2nd Edition.

Mongoose has PDF previews available on their website. I haven't yet looked closely at what snippets they've shown (which includes a table of contents) so I'm unaware of what changes they'll be making to the rules. But they've already taken a step in the right direction by having Jeff Laubenstein design the covers of the Player's Guide and Gamemaster's Guide (and dang, they look cool).

Prior to this, RedBrick Limited had been keeping the flame alive, is it were, and doing quite well. The quality of their work has been consistently high, and I've been glad to hear of their adoption of Fading Suns and Blue Planet, dead games with brilliant settings. Unfortunately, they're based in New Zealand, and with the price hike for printing through Lulu, purchasing their books hasn't really been a possibility for me. Furthermore, with the change of hands, RedBrick will be phasing out the availability of their Earthdawn Classic publications. The two core books (which are the most expensive) will only be available until the end of this month. While I would very much like to purchase them both before then, I honestly don't know if I can swing that. It would be hard to justify to my wife when I already own the original books. I've wanted to see how RedBrick re-organized the rules for some time now.

On the plus side, while the Mongoose books will likely be expensive, at least they should be available at game stores in the U.S., so it's conceivable that I'll be able to purchase them with Christmas money or something.


Jenja said...

Redbrick is still producing the line, they have a contract with Mongoose for printing.

Michael Slusser said...

I just spent too much of my work morning going over the examples, and I must say, I'm as happy as a very happy clam at the changes. It looks like the Mongoose folks have done a bang-up job of addressing some of the issues we had with the earlier editions, have streamlined and clarified a lot of rules, and have made the system more balanced overall (including reducing movement rates! No more crossing the football field in four seconds!). They even have "Talent Options" at each Circle to allow the customization of Disciplines we were fiddling with. Skills, Talents, magic items, and seemingly most other aspects of the rules seem to have undergone revision in the right direction. And it looks far better, too.

If this much thought and care went into the whole thing, I will be very pleased, indeed. Now we just have to find out if a Swordmaster can learn to actually parry before Fifth Circle...