Welcome to Epic! This is a bare-bones system for converting the Earthdawn game from FASA to the SAGA rules system produced by TSR, used for their Dragonlance and Marvel Super Heroes games. It focuses on maintaining the flavor of Earthdawn while taking advantage of the quick and simple mechanics of the SAGA rules.
Earthdawn is the property of FASA Corporation and the SAGA System is the property of TSR, Inc./Wizards of the Coast. This article is not intended as an infringement on either property.
Eight different races inhabit the land of Barsaive. They are collectively known as “Name-givers,” since they share the ability to name things. A ninth Name-giver race, the dragons, also lives in Barsaive, but there are no dragon heroes.
The majority race of Barsaive is the dwarves, particularly those of the Kingdom of Throal. They are craftsman, merchants, politicians, scholars and warriors found throughout the land. Strong and stout, a hero must have Strength and Endurance of at least 6 to be a dwarf. Conversely, a dwarf’s stout limbs and body make them less limber than other races, limiting their Agility and Dexterity to no more than 8. Dwarves have the ability to see heat sources, allowing them to see in the dark, provided there is a source of heat available. Although they are friendly and helpful, dwarves often have difficulty relating other Name-giver races. No card played by a dwarf on a Presence action counts as trump, except when dealing with fellow dwarves or as a defensive action.
The race most changed by the Scourge, the elves are divided between the blood elves of the Elven Court, loyal to Queen Alachia, and the unchanged elves elsewhere in Barsaive. An elf hero must have scores of at least 6 in Dexterity, Agility, Spirit and Presence. Elves are limited to scores of 8 in Strength and Endurance. Elves have starlight sight, allowing them to see as clearly on a starlit night as a human would during the day.
Humans in Barsaive are adaptable and found nearly everywhere. Humans have no ability requirements, but may shift one point from a physical attribute to a mental attribute, or vice versa, during hero creation.
Obsidimen are beings of flesh and elemental earth, large and bulky. They have a strong connection to the earth and all living things. An obsidiman hero must have at least a score of 8 in Strength and Endurance. An obsidiman hero cannot have a Dexterity or Agility higher than 6. They are limited to no higher than a code of B in Presence. Creatures of living stone, obsidimen are incredibly tough. All cards they spend on resisting damage are considered trump, regardless of their actual suit. In addition, obsidimen have natural armor, providing them with a Defense of -2, in addition to any worn armor. Obsidimen have a fundamental respect for living things. They refuse to wear non-living armor of leather or metal. Obsidimen may only wear living armor, including fernweave and living crystal.
Orks are well known in Barsaive as short-lived warriors who live hard and play hard. They are strongly in the grip of their passions, particularly their own gahad. A character must have a Strength and Endurance of at least 6 to be an ork. Ork heroes cannot have a Spirit or Presence higher than 8. Orks have the ability to see in very low-light, as well as humans see during the day. Each ork has a personal gahad, something that triggers an irrational rage. An ork can ignore his gahad with an average Spirit action, but suffers a -1 penalty to all actions for the remainder of that scene.
Trolls are large, honorable mountain-dwellers, well-known as raiders and warriors in Barsaive. A hero must have a score of at least 7 in Strength and Endurance and a 5 in Spirit to be a troll. Trolls are limited to a maximum of 8 in Reason and Perception. Trolls have the ability to see heat sources, like dwarves do.
The t’skrang are a race of river-dwelling humanoid reptiles with a swashbuckling attitude. A t’skrang hero must have a minimum score of 6 in Agility, Endurance and Presence. T’skrang can hold their breath for up to 30 minutes at a time, making them excellent swimmers. Their tail is dexterous and strong enough to deliver a stinging attack. A t’skrang makes a tail attack as an easy Strength (Endurance) action. A t’skrang hero can split his Strength score between a normal melee attack and a tail attack, as desired.
Windlings are small humanoids, about a foot tall, with gossamer wings. They live in tree-villages, as well as with other Name-givers. A hero must have a minimum score of 6 in Dexterity, Agility, Perception, Spirit and Presence to be a windling. Windlings are limited to a maximum Strength and Endurance of 4 because of their small size. They automatically have a Dexterity and Strength code of X. Windlings have the ability to fly using their wings. They also have natural astral sight, allowing them to see auras and astral patterns with an easy Perception action. Because of their small size, windlings are harder to hit in combat. The difficulty of all physical attacks against them is increased by one level. However, windlings are not nearly as tough as other Name-givers; cards played by a winding hero on damage never count as trump.
Magic in Earthdawn is based on the magic system from Dragonlance: Fifth Age, with a few minor differences.
Earthdawn heroes have spell points like other SAGA heroes. Adept magic is based on Spirit, while spell magic is based on Reason. So a beastmaster with Spirit 7 has (7 x 7) or 49 spell points. A magician with Reason 8 has 64 spell points. Add a hero’s number of Quests to his or her spell point total. So a Champion (7 Quests) with Spirit 7 has (49 + 7) or 56 spell points. Heroes use and regain spell points normally, except as described below.
A spell matrix is an astral construct posessed by a magician. A magician has one spell matrix for each level of Reputation, from one at Novice to eight at Archetype. Magicians can prepare spells in advance by placing the spell’s pattern within a spell matrix. These spells do not cost spell points, but have their normal difficulty. Spells cast without the use of a spell matrix are “raw magic” and cause damage equal to the spell’s difficulty. A magician hero can change the spell in a spell matrix with a Reason action with a difficulty equal to half the difficulty of the new spell.
Using magic requires an action with the appropriate ability, usually Spirit for adept magic and Reason for spell magic. The Narrator may call for a different ability in certain circumstances. The base difficulty of the action is average, plus any resistance (if the magic targets someone other than the user). Successful or not, spell points are still spent. Note that, unlike Dragonlance, heroes are not required to spend spell points to overcome a target’s resistance, nor is the difficulty of the spell equal to its cost.
Example: Aklear wishes to cast a flame bolt at an oncoming ghoul. The cost of the spell is 12 points. Aklear makes an average Reason action, opposed by the ghoul’s Coordination, which is 5, making the final difficulty 13. He succeeds, and the ghoul takes 9 points of damage from the spell, minus its Defense of 2, which does enough damage to slay it. Aklear had better ready another spell, because where there is one ghoul, there is likely more…
Each discipline grants a particular type of magic to those who follow it: beastmasters can use magic to influence animals and take on their qualities, warriors use magic to enhance their battle prowess, and so forth. Each discipline describes the type of magic it can perform. Players create the effects they wish to perform using the normal SAGA spellcasting rules, limited by their capacity, as described above. Some examples of adept magic include:
- Dominate Beast (Beastmaster, 15 points): Allows the adept to completely control the actions of an animal within near missile range for 15 minutes with an average Presence (Essence) action.
- Flame Arrow (Archer, 10 points): Ignites the head of an ordinary arrow, causing it to inflict +5 damage.
- Rapier Wit (Swordmaster, 13 points): Demoralizes an enemy within melee range with clever jibes and taunts, requiring an average Presence (Essence) action. If successful the target suffers a -2 on all actions for the next 15 minutes.
- Shadow-Cloak (Thief, 13 points): Shrouds the adept in shadows for 15 minutes, adding +4 to the adept’s attempt to sneak or remain hidden, requires 1 minute to activate.
- Wind-Catcher (Sky Raider, 12 points): Weaves the wind to allow the adept to fall any distance without harm.
- Woodskin (Warrior, 11 points): Turns the adept’s skin to tough wood, providing +5 defense for 15 minutes. Requires 1 minute to activate.
Magicians in Earthdawn weave the energies of astral space to cast spells. They have a wider range of potential effects to choose from, based on the spheres of magic known. A hero must have an A code in Reason to be a magician. Magicians start out with knowledge of one sphere of magic and may learn one additional sphere for each gain in Reputation above Novice. So an adventurer may know two spheres, up to an archetype, who knows all eight spheres. Other adepts can also learn spellcasting spheres, by expending a skill in order to do so.
A component of spells in Earthdawn is weaving “threads” of magical energy to power the spell. Weaving threads is part of the spell’s invocation time. Spells with an invocation time of Instant require no threads.
Spheres of Magic
Spell magic is divided into eight different spheres of influence. Magician heroes may choose a single sphere to specialize in, gaining a trump bonus with all spells from that sphere.
- Divination: Divination is used to reveal information. Divination spells allow a magician to detect different things, view distant places, enhance the senses and sense things beyond the normal five senses.
- Elementalism: This sphere allows a magician to command the five elements of earth, air, fire, water, and wood. The magician can create and shape the elements at will, and can summon elemental spirits from them.
- Enchantment: This is the sphere of the mind, able to reshape emotions, read thoughts, alter memories and control the wills of others. Some beings are immune to the effects of enchantment (like many undead and horrors).
- Healing: This sphere uses magic to heal injuries, cure disease and poisons, and ensure general health and well-being.
- Illusion: The illusion sphere deceives the senses, creating images of things that are not real. Even thought illusions may be detected and overcome by disbelief, they can be quite powerful against those they fool.
- Nethermancy: Nethermancy deals with pure life-force: spirits and the stuff of the astral plane. It can summon and control spirits, shape astral energy, summon pure light or darkness, animate the dead or even return them to life.
- Transformation: This sphere deals with transforming objects or beings into something else. Spells of transmutation, shapeshifting, petrifaction and similar effects are transformations, as are spells which temporarily imbue magic into objects or beings to enhance their abilities or grant them various powers.
- Wizardry: The sphere of wizardry is concerned with shaping pure magical energy to create different effects. Spells that dispel or block magic, as well as constructs of magical force, fall under the category of wizardry.
- Ethereal Darkness (Nethermancy, 16 points): Blankets the area of a large room in darkness for 15 minutes, imposing a -4 penalty on all actions requiring sight. Requires 1 minute to cast. Does not affect nethermancers.
- Fireball (Elementalism, 14 points): An explosive ball of fire that shoots out to near missile range and does 9 damage points to a small group of targets. Resisted by Agility. Requires 1 minute to cast.
- Mind Dagger (Wizardry, 12 points): A shard of magical force hurled at a target within near missile range, doing 5 damage points and ignoring physical Defense. Resisted by Perception.
Heroes in Earthdawn follow disciplines, ways of thinking and acting that channel the hero’s natural magical abilities. Disciplines are similar to Roles in Dragonlance: Fifth Age. Each discipline has its own particular requirements, advantages and disadvantages. Each discipline also has its own form of magic, allowing adepts of that discipline to cast spells. Heroes normally follow only one discipline. However it is possible for a hero to choose a second discipline. In this case, the hero gains access to that discipline’s magic, and is subject to its requirements, but does not gain its trump bonus.
Air sailors pilot and crew airships that cross the skies of Barsaive. They are skilled sailors and skilled fighters to deal with the dangers that threaten their ships. Air sailors love the freedom of the open sky.
- Requirements: A hero must have the following minimum abilities to be an air sailor: Strength 5, Dexterity and Agility 7. The hero must have a minimum code of B in Strength and Dexterity. Air sailors can belong to any race except obsidimen (who prefer to remain on the ground). Air sailors do not wear heavy armor, limiting their maximum Endurance code to C.
- Trump Bonus: Air sailors have a trump bonus for any action performed while on an airship.
- Adept Magic: Air sailor magic is related to airships and aerial things like the wind.
Archers specialize in missile weapons, particularly the bow and crossbow. They have unerring aim and walk through a world of targets.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Dexterity and Perception of 6 and a Dexterity code of A to be an archer.
- Trump Bonus: Archers have a trump bonus for any action using a bow.
- Adept Magic: Archer magic is related to their chosen weapon, the bow.
Beastmasters seek to emulate the animal kingdom and understand its denizens. Some beastmasters a true friends of all animals, while others are their cruel masters.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Endurance and Presence of 6 to be a beastmaster. Beastmasters have limited weapon-skills, limiting their Strength and Dexterity codes to a maximum of C.
- Trump Bonus: Beastmasters have a trump bonus for any non-attack action related to animals
- Adept Magic: Beastmaster magic is related to animals and their abilities. It has no affect on intelligent life, nor on non-living things like undead, spirits or horrors.
Cavalrymen are fierce, mounted warriors. They train with their mounts to develop an empathic bond with them.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Strength, Endurance and Presence of 6 to be a cavalryman. The hero must also have a minimum Strength code of B. Obsidimen cannot be cavalrymen, since no mount can carry them.
- Trump Bonus: Cavalrymen have a trump bonus for all actions while mounted.
- Adept Magic: Cavalryman magic relates to the bond between the cavalryman and his mount and fighting while mounted.
Magicians study the art of spellcasting and the spheres of spell magic. They are scholarly individuals who study the mysteries of the universe.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Reason and Spirit of 6 to be a magician. Additionally, the hero must have a minimum Reason code of A, Perception of C and Spirit of C. Magicians spend most of their training on intellectual pursuits, so magician heroes cannot have Strength, Dexterity or Endurance codes of greater than C.
- Trump Bonus: Magicians may choose one sphere of magic in which to specialize (usually their first). The magician gains a trump bonus in all actions involving that sphere. Magicians are generally named after their specialty sphere: Elementalists master elementalism, Healers master healing, Nethermancers master nethermancy, and so forth.
- Adept Magic: Magicians start out knowing one sphere of magic and may learn another at each increase in reputation.
Scouts are explorers and trail-blazers who seek out new places, people and adventures. They are renowned for their sharp senses and wits.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Endurance and Perception of 6 to be a scout. Additionally, the hero must have a minimum Perception code of B. Scouts prefer to travel light, they have a maximum Endurance code of C.
- Trump Bonus: Scouts gain a trump bonus on all actions involving the use of their senses.
- Adept Magic: Scout magic involves the use of the senses and survival in the wilderness.
Sky raiders are fierce fighters who fly aboard airships to raid targets all over Barsaive.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Agility, Strength and Endurance of 6 to be a sky raider. Sky raiders require a minimum code of B in all three abilities. Elves, obsidimen and windlings cannot be sky raiders.
- Trump Bonus: Sky raiders gain a trump bonus for all actions on an airship.
- Adept Magic: Sky raider magic involves airships and using the power of their fierce reputation.
Swordmasters are elegant fighters who seek to master the art of the blade. They tend to be swashbucklers, with little regard for personal danger.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum of 6 in Strength, Agility and Presence to be a swordmaster. The hero must also have a Strength code of at least B.
- Trump Bonus: Swordmasters gain a trump bonus for any action using a sword.
- Adept Magic: Swordmaster magic is entirely based around sword-fighting, overcoming and intimidating their opponents.
Thieves are silent and stealthy, self-reliant and skilled in the art of stealing.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Agility, Dexterity and Perception of 6 to be a thief. The hero must also have a minimum code of B in Perception. Thieves prefer to avoid armor that limits their movements, giving them a maximum Endurance and Agility code of D. They also tend to be anti-social, limiting their Presence code to C.
- Trump Bonus: Thieves gain a trump bonus for any action intended to be sneaky, including surprise attacks.
- Thief Magic: Thief magic is based around deception, stealth, and avoiding danger.
Troubadours are storytellers, loremasters and entertainers.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Dexterity, Perception and Presence of 6 to be a troubadour. Additionally, the hero must have a Dexterity and Perception code of at least C, and a Presence code of at least B.
- Trump Bonus: Troubadours gain a trump bonus with all social actions.
- Troubadour Magic: Troubadour magic is intended to enlighten, entertain and affect the mind and emotions.
Warriors are masters of all forms of combat, using magic to enhance their prowess.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum of 6 in Strength, Endurance and Spirit to be a warrior. Warriors are highly trained in the use of weapons and armor, having a minimum code of C in Dexterity and Agility, and B in Strength and Endurance.
- Trump Bonus: Warriors gain a trump bonus for surprise and unarmed combat actions, as well as any action related to tactical knowledge.
- Warrior Magic: Warrior magic is the magic of battle, increasing their ability to fight and remain alive.
Weaponsmiths craft and study weapons and armor. They know how to use them, as well.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum of 6 in Strength, Endurance and Perception to be a weaponsmith. The hero must also have a minimum Perception code of B.
- Trump Bonus: Weaponsmiths gain a trump bonus when making or studying any type of weapon or armor.
- Weaponsmith Magic: Weaponsmith magic relates to the making of weapons and armor, controlling and protecting against them and the elements used in the forging process.
These Roles are special and may be taken in combination with other Roles without affecting their abilities. These Roles have no trump bonuses.
Questors follow one of the twelve Passions of Barsaive. They seek to emulate their Passion in word and deed, if they fail to do so, they lose the special blessings their Passion brings them. Questors who continually ignore their Passion may lose this Role entirely.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Spirit of 5 and a Spirit code of B to become a questor.
- Questor Magic: Questor magic is based on the nature of the questor’s Passion. For example, questors of Lochost, the Passion of Freedom, have powers relating to freeing the oppressed and imprisoned. Questors of Dis, the Passion of Domination and Slavery, use magic to enslave others, and so forth.
Lightbearers are members of a secret society devoted to riding the world of the Horrors and their corruption. Becoming a lightbearer requires a special ceremony and is by invitation only. A hero who takes on this Role gains special powers and responsibilities.
- Requirements: A hero must have a minimum Spirit of 6 to be a lightbearer. In addition, the hero must have performed great feats against the Horrors and their minions to draw the attention of the Lightbearers.
- Lightbearer Magic: Lightbearers have the power to create and project light in many forms, using it to protect, heal, illuminate and fight against the Horrors.