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Ten Things to know about Earthdawn:

  1. Art is everywhere that people are -
    • Only those people untouched by the horrors can create art.So everybody practices some artistic form. Everybody from potters and blacksmiths to tavern-owners and merchants tries to incorporate some form of art into their work. Parents proudly display their children's artistic endeavours. People who do not display some sign of their art are spoken of in hushed tones and watched carefully. Much of the world remains blasted and barren, that art provides a vibrant contrast.
  2. Names are important
    • People regardless of their species are called Name-Givers. Because the ability to name things is the greatest power that mortal beings possess. Things that are given names are stronger than those that do not and can be changed by the name that it is given (The reason the Wastelands have been so resistant to recovery is thought to be because of its ill-omened name. Parents spend months pondering the perfect name for a child and often choose names that evoke desirable things in the world. They are names for colours, parts of nature, or in honour of great heroes so that they will draw strength from these ideas. To be without a name (through enslavement, memory loss, magical theft or torture and torment of the horrors) is to be without reason or thought, doomed to live a half life. Some people say that Ghosts are the spirits of people who have forgotten their names and roam the world seeking it again.
  3. Legends are important as well -
    • Things and people with names gain power the more people know and respect those names. Somebody who names every bit of equipment they own will see little benefit, because nobody cares about those names. Adepts can use the power of legend to become more than just mortals. The more great deeds they accomplish, the more easily magic flows through them.
  4. Barsaive shares a culture
    • Almost every aspect of Barsaive culture has been touched by 400 years of life below ground. The Throalic Book of Tomorrow taught how to build Magical shelters called Kaers, but it also contained stories, songs, poetry, advice and lore. People from different races were forced to work together to survive race and gender do not matter to the average citizen. Most city-states share at least the basics of a common law and culture. In general name-givers are believed to have rights and everybody is expected to help enforce the laws of a settlement. The people of Barsaive are used to working together.
  5. ...But it is not united.
    • Whilst they share a lot in common, cities and towns often have dozens of miles of unmapped wastes between them. Travel between them is still uncommon except for merchants and adventurers. So everywhere has its own local customs and expectations. Settlements feud and raid and make small wars against each other all the time. There are no roads between most cities beyond dirt tracks as only Throal has the industry needed to perform such large scale construction.
  6. Magic is not commonplace, but always present.
    • On average less than 1 in 100 people is an Adept of some kind. Skyships are rare outside of large cities and so children will scurry out to watch them swim through the sky. Likewise dragons are rarely seen beyond certain mountains and forests, but almost every adult in Barsaive has at least glimpsed one at a distance. Most people know at least somebody who has been lost to a horror or to the wild beasts that haunt the less civilized areas of the world and almost everybody knows at least a handful of Adepts capable of impossible feats.
  7. Magic has rules
    1. There are several hard rules about magic:
    2. Magic does not work more than a few miles from the ground. Mortals can never use magic to touch the celestial heavens.
    3. Magic can not create anything permanently from nothing.
    4. Magic can not overtly violate space or time.
    5. No magic known, can effect the Passions directly (although their Questors and servitors certainly can be effected)
    6. Magic was once, unable to raise the dead, but that has changed since the Scourge.
  8. Barsaive has many enemies inside its lands:
    • The Horrors still exist and they are the stuff of nightmares. Some hold entire cities under their sway and others prey upon the unwary in the wilds. Weak Horrors are still easily a match for a trained warrior and the strongest horrors have defeated armies sent against them. Worse still are those that serve them, willingly or not, they look like everybody else and can only be identified by their lack of art. Certain violent Dragons, magical beasts, awakened storms, followers of the mad passions, political dissidents, warring nations, assassins, thieves and worse are all very real threats within the boarders of Barsaive.
  9. Barsaive has almost as many enemies beyond its lands.
    • The Theran Empire to the South believe that this nation is theirs. They have invaded before and their spies are everywhere looking for an opportunity to invade again. Thankfully every time so far the people of Barsaive have put aside petty grudges and united to repel them. However theirs is an empire many times the size of Barsaive and much more united. Almost as bad are other nations and forces: The Blood Wood to the North, the mysterious city-state of Iopos, pirate clans of the Aras sea, whatever dwells in the Poison Wastes, the Barren Plains and nation states from beyond the seas.
  10. The world outside the safety of cities is dangerous.
    • Not only are there many enemies but the land is only just recovering from 500 years of devastation at the hands of the Horrors. Some areas of land are barren, there are very few roads better than dirt tracks and law often does not extend further than a settlements walls. There are wild beasts of all descriptions. There are dark placed touched by the Horrors where life has been twisted in strange ways. Hydras, Krilworms, Brithan and worse dwell there. Even in normal areas, there are numerous magical creatures that exist possessing unpredictable magical powers.

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