It took us a good six weeks including character generation to get through all of the four games in the trial. This Wednesday just gone I crossed the line with a game of Earthdawn for my group. A crazy journey of four games that have been tiring and revealing. But on to the story of Earthdawn.
Part of the trial but technically speaking…
We have been playing Earthdawn on and off over the past few months. It is the fallback game to Conan and so we managed a couple of sessions. In fact, for the players, I think it was a red-hot favourite to win out. Last night’s trial though left me wondering. I once called Earthdawn the game that I would take to a desert island with me. I think that has changed. I love the setting and the story of Earthdawn, but I no longer love the system.
Most of the players were very distracted last night. They were not sold on the game and there were many times that I wondered what it was that was causing this. Admittedly I have had a rough (ROUGH) few days at work and so I was exhausted also. But the system just seemed to get in the way everywhere. It was not like the AD&D game, it was just that the system was no longer conducive to the story. I have played so many story-driven games now that the crunchy games are becoming so much of an effort. Earthdawn is a beautiful setting, it is just the system is now too crunchy. I hate to say that because I used to love the system as well.
The system is better
Look, I have to give credit where it is due. The fourth edition does not look much different from its predecessors but it is. It is the best the system has ever been. It is just that the system has not evolved to where it should be now. Simplification is the order of the day in modern games. Make things easier for the GM but functional. Give the GM the opportunity to learn with the players as opposed to being a heavy hitter and providing everything. Earthdawn wins and loses in each of these categories at times.
How does it rate?
Well, it is not going to be my first choice when I decide where to go with our gaming group. But I can guarantee that it will be my backup still when I am low on players. I feel now that Earthdawn excels when there are one or two players. It is intimate and good tales can be told. In larger groups, the system causes lengthy delays while playing and players tend to get bored and distracted. A shame, but the truth. In fact, I feel it would be that way in many games that characters each have multiple mini powers that make up the whole… “Can my character do something? What does the air dance talent do again? No, then how about the Winning Smile talent? No, well then how about…”
So, long story short, I am saddened by my game last night. I am aware that I was tired and not the best prepared but the story was on point. I showcased some good material and the game came off as I wanted it to. It is just not competitive against things like Cypher and Dungeon Crawl Classics. So what do I choose going forward. You will have to find out in the next installment! Keep rolling!