Heroes of Barsaive
Character classes in the Earthdawn setting are virtually unchanged from 4E core, but notes here highlight what is different, and help give a world context to the roles.
A small fraction of the Name-Givers of Barsaive have abilities, which while not exactly “magical” in the traditional sense, are beyond that of ordinary folk. These people are referred to as adepts, and their heroism is legendary. Most people don’t perceive a categorical difference between various adepts, just choices of focus and training. In some context, adept excludes magicians and questors, and in other contexts, it includes all groups.
No martial class has any mechanical changes from 4E core.
Above and beyond the adept are those Barsaivians who consciously and deliberately manipulate the Patterns of magic. As a general group, these people are known as “magicians”. Mechanically, these classes are also mainly unchanged, but there are a few changes to the implications of the warlock’s pact and such.
A magician is as likely to be identified by what sort of spells they cast as the specifics of how he learned them. Thus, “Elementalist” is a term referring to wizards and sorcerers who primarily cast energy-themed attacks. Illusionist refers to wizards, bards, and warlocks who confound and befuddle their foes (the Barsaivian sense of the word illusion includes enchantments as well). A wizard is seen as any generalist caster with an adaptable portfolio of spells, and a nethermancer is usually a wizard or warlock who casts darker-themed powers. The actual class distinctions are seen more as indications of style and method of study in learning the arcane arts.
- Wizard: There are no mechanical changes.
- Bard: There are no mechanical changes.
- Sorcerer: There are no mechanical changes, but the Dragon Magic spell source does not in Barsaive imply that the sorcerer is drawing from or using the same techniques or sources as dragons do. The magic of dragons, the Name-Makers, is beyond that of the Name-Givers, and there are no known means for mortals to harness it.
- Swordmage: There are no mechanical changes.
- Warlock: There are no mechanical changes, but the Pact choice and Pact Boon do not in Barsaive imply that the warlock has themselves entered into any kind of pact with any kind of otherworldly being. Such pacts can grant great power, but as they are most often made with Horrors, those who enter into them are hunted and killed by all who hold life dear.
- Artificer: There are no mechanical changes.
In Barsaive, rather than worship gods, the people emulate and revere the Passions, idealized entities who walk the earth in physical form. Certain people who give over their lives in service to the Passions gain power as a result. These people are known as questors. Much like martial adepts, no distinction is made between the classes, other than each questor having a distinct set of powers to suit his purpose and the goals of his Passion. Mechanically, the Passions replace the gods from the Player’s Handbook. However, a questor of any passion may select any one divine feat, so long as it is appropriately themed, rather than each Passion having a single feat option.
A member of any divine class must choose one Passion to follow, but otherwise the classes are mechanically unchanged.
- Avenger: PCs are likely to be questors of Astendar, Floranuus, or Lochost.
- Cleric: PCs are likely to be questors of Jaspree, Mynbruje, or Thystonius.
- Invoker: PCs are likely to be questors of Mynbruje or Upandal.
- Paladin: PCs are likely to be questors of Lochost or Thystonius.
These are just suggestions. Each questor has a distinct manifestation of power from their devotion to a Passion, and any combination that makes sense can occur.
Spirits, both natural and unnatural, are a powerful force in Barsaive, and it is no surprise that some have harnessed that energy. Generally speaking, barbarians and wardens are considered adepts, and druids and shamen are considered magicians, depending on the person and circumstance. This is as much due to a lack of general understanding of the primal power source as it is a convention of thought. The classes are mechanically unchanged.
Psionic powers, as such, are unknown in Barsaive. In general play, only the monk class is available, treated as an adept.
- Psion: This class is not available.
- Ardent: This class is not available.
- Battlemind: This class is not available.
- Monk: This class has no mechanical changes.
Drawing power from the nether realms, such as the shadowfell, is a practice engaged in by certain less savory magicians of Barsaive. The assassin represents someone who has combined the skills of an adept warrior with those of a nethermancer. The class is mechanically unchanged.