The Earthdawn Companion, as the name suggests, is an expansion of the rules set out in the main rulebook. The two main features of the book are the new discipline and magic rules.
The new discipline rules include character advancement from ninth to fifteenth circle as well as rules to creature your own disciplines. Why anyone would want to create new disciplines, other than customise available ones, is beyond me though they do give two examples. One is the scout which is actually quite good, though the second, Air Sailor, is just a modified version of the Sky Raider. Most of these rules would only be of concern to high level characters and Games Masters wanting that extra piece of flexibility. There is also a section on talents.
Also included are a swag of new magic rules from extra details on thread magic, creation of new treasure items and more spells. Though not essential to the games, they are once again of more interest to high level characters and add flexibility to the rules.
To round out the companion, there are optional rules, details on ship combat, questers and lightbearers as well as rules for making new creatures.
The artwork is, as always, excellent though the colour plates aren't quite up to the usual lofty standards.
Summary: The companion is just that, a set of extra rules to add depth and flexibility to the core set of rules. If you have high level characters it is a must, but for others it should only be added when you're ready.
© 1997 - 2000 David Schibeci