Hello again! In February and March of this year I started talking through the process of turning Vasgothia from a single chapter entry into a feature-length book worthy of sitting alongside Fourth Edition’s other releases. In those earlier looks, we discussed the themes of the book and the ways we wanted to make the “old Namegivers” new again. We looked at culture, setting, and how to integrate older facets of the design with new ideas. In this post, as work on the book gets nearer to completion, I wanted to talk about the “new Namegivers” that would be included in the book.
To get us all on the same page, let me take a step back. The Earthdawn Team has been hard at work to get a “Vasgothia” province book ready for release. Vasgothia is the name of the province to the west of Barsaive beyond the Wastes. It has long been the breadbasket of the slave-taking Theran Empire and the province’s most valuable regions are tightly controlled. However, vast swaths of the region are covered in the “Deep Forest”. This Deep Forest has always been a strange and terrifying place but, since the Scourge, its dark and foreboding nature has only been amplified.
In the forest is a Place of ReNaming. It draws Namegivers and, when they pass through the Place, they come out Barrites with a hazy memory of a culture lost during the Scourge. These Barrites are made up primarily of races familiar to the people of Barsaive. Orks and humans, dwarfs and elves, even trolls and t’skrang are sprinkled throughout the Forest. However, there are two forms of Namegiver life unique to Vasgothia, and both emerged during the Untold days of the Scourge.
The first are the plant-like leafers. They can vary wildly in physical appearance, but they always take on a humanoid form and always go by the Name “Sosl,” though they willingly take nicknames from outsiders. They seem to have trouble with gender and pronouns and a large portion of leafers are uninterested in the idea entirely. They reproduce asexually, dropping pods in the Deep Forest and abandoning them to mature at their own rate. Leafers can be very difficult for an outsider to understand (and leafers likewise have difficulty understanding outsiders). Many leafers grow obsessed with observing and mimicking Namegivers, though others are just as doggedly isolationist. The scholarly community still has many questions about leafers. Why do they all choose the same Name? If they reproduce so easily, why have they not spread beyond the boundaries of the Deep Forest? Do their mocking glances reveal they know something we all don’t? House Krand of the Theran Empire is particularly interested in answering these questions and “growing their own” army of Namegivers, and are testing various ideas in their Leafer Farm.
In a similar vein to the mysterious leafers, there are also the mutated talveni. Talveni, sometimes referred to as “horror people,” “half ulks,” or “ulk men,” can come from any walk of life. Some are born with their mutations, but most gain them as they move through life. These bizarre physical mutations may simply be a side effect of spending too much time in the dark places of the Deep Forest. Perhaps it is something more sinister. A number of Theran scholars believe the talveni must be touched by a mysterious unknown Horror and should be exterminated to protect everyone benefit. Concerned the world would hate and fear them, many talveni hide their true nature. A third eye concealed beneath a head wrapping, a perpetually festering wound hidden behind normal clothing, or even more extreme mutations are all possible among the talveni people. While some villages get worn down with paranoia attempting to ensure the talveni can never get close, most have chosen to go about their business assuming that no talveni could pass amongst them.
Both of these Namegiver races are meant to feel alien and ostracized from society at large. But they are also meant to be interesting and fully-realizable options for any Earthdawn table. A leafer or a talven could travel to Barsaive for a more traditional campaign. Or–perhaps–delving into the true nature of these races will see gamemasters looking to host an adventure or two in the mysterious Deep Forest.
Stay tuned for more developments on Vasogthia!
About the Author: 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.