A new layout pass of Empty Thrones just came across my desk and I’m excited to review it. Looking through these hundreds of pages, seeing the final art get placed, even the mundane aspects of watching the sidebars take shape around the main text, all of it seems like a dream come true. I am the main writer on this book and it is the first product in which I have played such a major role. It is amazing to me to see the (nearly) final form of this product and reflect on how far it has come from the early spreadsheet of scattered ideas.
When the project was first conceived, the Earthdawn Team knew we wanted a product that clearly delivered a status quo shakeup by removing Uhl from the board. (In fact, the working title for the project was the not-so-subtle “Death of Uhl.”) When I was lucky enough to take over as project lead, I knew Uhl’s death could only serve as a single moment in a larger narrative. The loss of the First Minister would change Barsaive, and exploring those changes seemed a very interesting direction to take the project. I decided to make a big list of all the people and places that might react to the loss of strength in Iopos, and started figuring out which pieces would fit into the product we wished to create. It might surprise you, then, to see the final locations that were chosen: Jerris, Daiche, and Freewater.
Jerris is an obvious choice. Occupied by Iopan forces, everyone in the City of Ashes would have a visceral reaction to the loss of the seemingly invincible First Minister. As the city had not been extensively explored in a published supplement before, I knew locale would have a major part to play.
While Iopos’ control weakened over one city, I thought it would be interesting to see how they might expand elsewhere. To me, it made logical sense that Kratas would be a high value target within reach of the Iopans. We’ve already seen that, given enough time, the blood of the dragon could destabilize Jerris and move in as a peace-keeping force. But with Uhl gone, the impatient among them could well move in half-cocked. They might even try to strike an alliance with Garlthik One-Eye to speed up the expansion process.
Exploring how the chaotic city with its mercurial and selfish ruler would react to Denairastas interference was a must. However, we had the practical concern of releasing a new Kratas book when the excellent third edition product Kratas: The City of Thieves (2009) already existed. So we began to explore what the action would look like from one of Garlthik’s more remote holdings, Daiche.
There was some discussion over what the third primary hub should be for the product. We discussed directly revisiting Throal or Vivane and how they might react to a large shift in the province’s power structure. But we were concerned with doing those locations justice when they only had fifty or so pages to breathe. How do you discuss the Kingdom of Throal in just fifty pages!? It seemed unfair to require everyone who wanted to use that section of my book to ALSO have on hand the amazing write-ups of earlier editions (in Throal: The Dwarf Kingdom and Sky Point and Vivane). Instead we opted to think a little smaller, turning to a small town on the border of Cara Fahd. We thought about how useful war in southwestern Barsaive would be for an expansionist power.
The details of all three of these locations took form over many months and with the aid of many contributors. If there is interest, perhaps I could discuss each locale in more detail, the information that was cut, and what shifted the most from its original form. Let me know on FASA’s Official Discord!
Until then: everyone stay safe and stay awesome!
About the Blogger:
Kyle Pritchard is a second-generation tabletop gamer who has been slinging dice since before he was crawling. He’s been working with FASA Games since 2014 and has been a member of Earthdawn Team since 2018.