For the fourth edition of Demonworld we’ve made the decision to retire the existing background and create a fresh one.
The background used for third edition was an extension of the one used for the original game produced by Hobby Products. This was created in the 1990s and was added to over time as the product line grew.
When Fasa Games purchased the product and 3rd edition created, in order to avoid a clash with the Earthdawn RPG product, the background was altered slightly to give it a darker, more horror based tone. The Demons were recast as a rampaging plague invading the continent of Tineré through inter-dimensional rifts which was forcing the races to work together to stem the flow of evil beings.
This presented a number of challenges as far as the table top game was concerned. The first of which is the existing miniatures range, while rich and full of character, did not have enough models within the category of “Demon” to build an army out of. It also meant that any scenario true to the background should really be written with Demons on one side, most of the time. That meant the player base would need to be approaching fifty percent demon players and without the army to support it, growing that player base would be problematic. Sure the other races were also in conflict but the lack of an army meant a failure to support the central tenet of the background.
Ok, what to do? There was a great deal of time, effort, love and energy poured into the production of the background for third edition. It isn’t an easy thing to do to set aside a body of work like that. Especially when you consider the emotional attachment of those involved in the product over all those years and sad loss of Mary Harrison who was the original line developer of Demonworld for Fasa Games. This all needed to be acknowledged and processed and not summarily dismissed.
So, some time was spent going over various possibilities for a future state and how the background could be moulded to arrive there. However, In every case, the result was the same. Either, the world was overrun by the demonic hordes and all other life on Garin was extinguished, or the allied races pushed back the demons into the rifts, closed them and then the world ceased to be “Demonworld”.
From the longevity perspective of the product, neither of these outcomes was ideal. However, the latter was the key to moving forward. Rather than having the demons being the overpowering presence, how about making them operate in the background and the shadows, influencing the primary races without necessarily being an overpowering force. So the “Demons” were recast as the gods of the setting. They were no longer a pure force of evil, but a balanced set of individuals both working together and struggling against each other to form the world below to their desires. And while conflict between the gods was inevitable, balance would always be restored and thus the world could continue indefinitely. Then the primary races would remain but be split into many factions interspersed across the primary continent forming a more homogenous set of nations with complex interactions internally as well as externally. The demon models themselves would still appear, as minor manifestations of the gods, but included within the main faction armies, rather than forces on their own.
Setting the “Demons” as the gods of the setting also helped solve another issue. The magic spells included in the third edition army books were very complex from the perspective of the table top game. They were rich and nuanced and written by people with plenty of RPG experience that perhaps didn’t see the difficulties those sorts of things presented from the perspective of trying to balance a scenario or set of points values within a miniature based wargame. By choosing to create a set of gods, a nice number of them could be chosen to represent the different schools of magic that would appear in the setting and therefore the table-top game. In the end, ten were chosen along classical fantasy lines of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Life, Death, Order, Chaos, Blood and Spirit. Each of the gods would be assigned a school and written into the background to support being the deity of that school. Each school will have a limited number of spells to draw from making the writing and balancing of those spells easier.
And finally, the decision was taken to remove any link the product might have to the Earthdawn metaverse. While at one point it was deemed desirable to have all of the Fasa Games products linked in some way, so that the players of one game would have a path to the other produced by the company, it proves to be an issue when you have more than one of those products potentially occupying the same market space. By removing Demonworld from the Earthdawn metaverse, we can recast it back to being a high fantasy setting without fear of diluting the Earthdawn product itself. That also means that the focus of Demonworld will be as a table top wargame for the foreseeable future. While the possibility of an RPG in the Demonworld setting does remain, it will not be a priority in the short or medium term.
I hope this has given some insight into the process of setting up the fourth edition of Demonworld. I’m very excited about the future possibilities for the game and I hope I can bring you all along with me.