Hello everyone! Back in February I started talking about the province of Vasgothia and our desire to release a full-fledged book on the Wastes’ western neighbor. Working with freelancer Nick Lowe, we discussed the interesting themes that could flesh out the proto-Germanic province under Thera’s control. With themes in hand, we set up a project timeline and Nick got to work. Once the drafts were in and reviewed, Nick and I set up a series of long brainstorming talks to dig into everything that was being put on the table.
One of the first things we considered: the 1990s. The only other published work on Vasgothia was a single chapter from the Earthdawn First Edition supplement The Theran Empire. These several dozen pages focused on many new and mysterious Namegivers, it played with the idea that players could become mutated into horror like beings, and it focused almost exclusively on the struggling Theran societies in Vasgothia’s river basins. There was very little in the existing text about complex political agendas or cohesive magical theories. I’m not saying this to complain about the original, I think the book accomplished exactly what it was designed to do. Both Nick and I had been fascinated by the initial pieces but knew we had to expand on what was present with modern sensibilities to make the setting digestible for players and gamemasters alike.
A lot of our work was focused on making the Barrites of the forest a rich and complex culture. We attempted to blend ideas from the original text with information available on proto-Germanic groups while adding in some of the unique Earthdawn spices we have grown to know and love. The Barrites had all but died out during the Scourge and had only resurged in numbers due to a mysterious Dread Yearning that turned seemingly “civilized” people into a proud forest-dwelling folk. What was the Dread Yearning? The Place of ReNaming? Were the tribes that had “returned” the same as they were when they disappeared. We theorized answers for these ideas, and determined what people of the world might think. We designed some of them to be on the right track, and others to be way off base, and we hope to leave it to our community to decipher the truth.
With the Barrites more thoroughly integrated into the setting of Vasgothia, we added linkages to the more clearly defined Lowlands. We determined how the tribes and Therans would interact and attempted to flesh out the gray spaces in between. For most Therans, it must be terrifying to think that a magical plague might steal your mind and force you out into the woods. In a very real way, the tribal Barrites were everything that Thera feared from magic. But, with the Dread Yearning several decades in the past, people are beginning to forget about the first-hand terror and are able to more thoroughly analyze and come to know their new neighbors. With knowledge comes understanding, and with this understanding comes empathy. Perhaps some in the city’s would wish to join the Forest dwellers voluntarily. Perhaps others would desperately be searching for a cure. It isn’t as simple as “killing barbarians on sight”, geo-politics rarely is.
Next time on this series! We’ll look into the New Namegiver Races present in Vasgothia. What they represent, and the options they bring to the player. In the mean-time, stay safe everyone!