Barsaive
A Campaign Set for Earthdawn

  • Writers: Christopher Kubasik
  • Number of Pages: Boxed Set (Two books, 128 and 64 pages, plus extras)
  • Year of Publication: 1993

Rating: *****

As mentioned in my review of Earthdawn, its main weakness was the lack of detail on Barsaive, the main region of Earthdawn. Barsaive more than overcomes this weakness and is essential for any serious Earthdawn campaign. This is also the first in a trilogy of box sets, each of which are designed to be campaign sets. The first thing to notice, before you open the box that is, is the excellent cover art. It is better than that on the main rulebook, which is surprising. Once you open the box you notice there are two books, a set of cards, a map and a funny piece of cardboard.

The funny piece of cardboard is a sextet, but I threw it back in the box after looking at it twice and haven't used it since. The cards also went in the box, but are of more use. Each has a picture of a creature or treasure on the front and vital statistics on the back. This is the same set as in the main rulebook with an extra nine cards. The map is very useful and details the region in question. It is a lot larger than the one included in the rulebook and is regularly pulled out as I arrange adventures. I have often considered laminating it and hanging it on the wall.

The two books are where the bulk of the material lies. The first, The Barsaive Gamesmaster Book contains most of the statistics. It explains what is in the box set, as well as the use of all the cardboard, before launching into a few notes to supplement what is contained in the other volume. It is followed by a few legends which can easily be turned into adventures, character descriptions of major personalities, secret societies, more treasures and creatures.

Of much more interest is An Explorer's Guide to Barsaive. Set out as a fictitious book written by the inhabitants of Barsaive, it gives you everything you need to know about Barsaive and is the book I use most. From the origins of the land to the scourge, from life in the region to the nature of magic, from travel to cities and towns, from denizens to flora and fauna. It is a wonderfully set out book which reads well and looks good. Ample artwork reduces the wash of grey, but this is a book choc full of content.

Summary: This box set is a must have. It makes up for the inadequacies of the rulebook, but should have been combined with the rulebook and the two races' guides into a super-volume.


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