I’ve been quiet the last couple of weeks in the wake of Travar coming out. We’re full steam into preparations leading up to GenCon (just over a month away!), and there are a couple of things I’m trying to get finished up and out the door before then.

First, the long-in-coming Quick Start Guide. This is shaping up to be a 64-page booklet that contains a basic rules overview, five pre-generated characters, and an introductory adventure (that serves as a prologue to the Legends of Barsaive campaign arc). The basic layout is done, but I’m working on tweaking and tightening that up. Once that’s done we’ll get some art to pretty it up, and make it available for free. We’re hoping to have a limited print run available at GenCon (much like we had print copies of the Legends of Barsaive Character Creation and Haven booklets. Any that are left over after the con should be available through the web store (while supplies last).

Second, the first Legends of Barsaive adventure, Toys in the Attic, is in layout, and we hope to have that done before GenCon as well and available in PDF from our shop. Time permitting, there will be physical copies as well for GenCon (with the same limited-run availability).

Travar is at the printer and we’re expecting those back around mid-July. We’ll make an announcement when the date is more firm.

The other thing I’ve been working on is trying to get through the new material for the Earthdawn Companion. Right now my focus has been on the Enchanting chapter, and I’m liking the general shape of things. It allows characters to make any existing items (from consumables like potions and such, miscellaneous items like light quartz, as well as blood charms), and provides options and templates for developing your own custom items (again, from basic stuff all the way up to thread items).

The process is based on what we’re calling “enchanting patterns.” These are recipes, basically, that define what is needed to make a magical item. The pattern for each item has a rank which defines the item’s complexity, and requires the relevant skill or talent involved in making the item be at that rank.

For example, the enchanting pattern for your bog-standard Booster Potion is rank 1. In fact, as part of their initial training, all alchemists learn this pattern. To create a Booster Potion requires 25 silver worth of “alchemical materials.” These are generic supplies, easily obtained from any appropriate merchant, but can also be gathered (and there are rules for gathering your own materials). The potion doesn’t require any specific materials, so assuming access to materials and an alchemy lab, the alchemist can brew up a booster potion by making a test against a DN of 7.

In contrast, a Last Chance Salve is Rank 8, requires 300 silver of materials: 200 generic ingredients, as well as 100 silver in expensive or rare components. The specifics are left undefined in the text, but are intended to be a special ingredient that has a higher cost, might require a special source, or — for more exotic items — provide adventure hooks. Indeed, there can be different enchanting patterns for items, as different alchemists and enchanters develop their own versions using local sources for materials.

(This kind of thing, incidentally, can be used to flesh out your game setting. While they have identical effects, healing potions produced by the Alchemists’ Guild in Throal might be made with mushrooms grown in the deeper caves and have a distinctive ‘earthy’ quality, while those made in the Floating City have a fishier sense about them, or perhaps take on some of the spicier aspects of t’skrang cuisine.)

There will be rules and guidelines for creating custom patterns — including ways to incorporate more exotic ingredients or design elements in order to make the final enchantment easier. The various methods of enchantment that existed before — using True elements, or binding a spirit into an item — are incorporated into this structure as different exotic or rare “ingredients” in the enchanting pattern that have suggestions about why they might be used, or what purpose they serve in terms of the final design.

That about does it for now. As the weeks continue, I’ll offer more insight into what we have coming in the Companion, so keep an eye out!

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