It’s safe to say that it’s been a strange few weeks in the world. Here at Earthdawn HQ (scattered around the globe though we may be), we hope you and yours are doing what you can to stay safe, following the guidelines of experts and medical professionals.
I’ve been personally coping with a feeling of instability, a sense of the earth shifting beneath our feet. It’s not clear yet whether the end result will be a ripple, or a major tectonic upheaval. I’m front-line adjacent—my day gig is working for the registration department of a major regional hospital—and both our clinical and support staff have been gearing up as the situation changes, seemingly by the hour.
As we all hunker down, you might find it helpful to distract yourself with a little escapism. Something to distract you from the existential uncertainty lurking around—like a real world example of astral corruption.
Since face-to-face gathering is restricted, you might think your gaming time will suffer. Au contraire! One advantage of the digital age is the number of options available for remote conferencing and virtual gaming.
You’ve got virtual tabletops (VTTs) like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds. These allow a number of different options, including dice rolling, character sheet tracking (with various degrees of automation), and digital “battle mats” to show the layout of a battle or other graphic displays. Roll20 even has an official character sheet for Earthdawn!
One drawback of VTTs is they usually require subscription fees or add-on content to get the full experience, and they can be a bit fiddly to get the hang of. Still, they were developed for gaming, and support both voice and video chat, so with a little bit of work you might be able to somewhat replicate the face-to-face experience.
Another less fully-integrated option is to use conferencing software like Skype, Teamspeak, or Zoom. Platforms like these allow voice and video calls (though Teamspeak is voice-only), but you need to handle character sheets and die rolls by other means.
Another option along those lines is Discord. On a server instance you can have text and voice chat, and it’s easy enough to drop in images or handouts through the common channel. Direct messaging allows private whispers to individual players, and there are numerous automated bots you can bring into the channel to handle dice rolling and other mechanical management.
(And if you’re going to be on Discord, why not join the official FASA Discord to hang out not only with other fans, but the people who work on the games as well? We’ve even got a Step-system bot you can use.)
In the end, your self-isolation doesn’t have to be isolating. Get your social interactions in digital space!
In the meantime, we here at FASA will continue to do what we do. I’m working on getting the preliminary pre-art layout on the upcoming Iopos sourcebook finished up, which means very soon we’ll start spilling details about our next release!
Until then, be smart and stay safe.