Earthdawn to get a 4th Edition Amidst Controversies
Classic fantasy heartbreaker Earthdawn is coming back with a fourth edition, amidst a string of controversies. And it’s coming to Kickstarter.
For those who don’t know, Earthdawn was an imaginative high fantasy roleplaying game first published by FASA Corporation in the early 90’s. Intended to shed light on the ancient past of FASA’s cyberpunk/urban fantasy mash-up mega-hit Shadowrun, Earthdawn was a game about a magical rendition of our world beset by nightmarish demons. In order to survive the demonic onslaught, the peoples of the world hid themselves in underground redoubts to wait for the Earth’s magical field to dwindle enough to drive the demons back to their home dimensions. The game begins when the doors to these hidden fortresses open and a new day dawns for the Earth… hence the name (incidentally, Earthdawn is also the name of a magical flying ship, crewed by trolls of course, that is the setting’s Flying Dutchman. Anyway, it’s a really cool game…).
Like FASA Corporations other properties (notably Shadowrun and mecha strategy/RPG BattleTech), the Earthdawn license has changed hands numerous times. Living Room Games made a masterful second edition on the heels of FASA Corporations termination of the line in 1999, but in 2003 the license transferred to RedBrick, LLC. RedBrick released a 3rd edition that, while benefiting from some rules tweaks, suffered from a haphazard release schedule and a heaping helping of copypasta. All the while, the company’s core was wracked by personal tragedies, contributing to the ultimate failure of their Earthdawn line, as well as more recently their attempts at reviving the space opera masterpiece Fading Suns with a 3rd edition (that turned out to be an even worse case of copypasta than Earthdawn 3rd).
Now, RedBrick has changed their name to… FASA Games (not to be confused with FASA Corporation, I guess?), to launch a fourth edition of the Earthdawn game. And if you read to the bottom, you’ll note they’re taking it to Kickstarter.
Now, it was made clear in the rpg.net thread I linked above that the toxic management that resulted in RedBrick’s string of failures is out. Likewise, new line management may result in a stronger release schedule, tighter releases, and hopefully, more original content (because paying for someone to ctrl-c ten year old text can basically get fucked, in my opinion). However, it seems to me that leveraging the FASA name for RedBrick’s rebrand is tacky in the extreme. Hell, more than that, it’s deceptive and a little insulting. FASA still has credibility, RedBrick does not. FASA closed up shop in the black, and with a lot of extant fan love. RedBrick has continually harmed its fans with late, poor quality releases, and poor communication. Assuming the name of one of the most beloved companies in gaming, even with consent of FASA Corporation (which still exists as a holding company), is just… awful. Terribad. Gross. Really, really gross.
I’m clearly torn. I love Earthdawn. I would love a new edition of the core rules (especially if they move the timeline forward, as promised), but all of the RedBrick baggage might just drown my interest. Certainly, I’m going to be reluctant to back big when this project finally launches on Kickstarter, given the historical tendency for late (even by KS standards) releases. Regardless, you can be assured that we’re going to follow Earthdawn’s Kickstarter like a hawk. Stay tuned.
I don’t blame them for changing their name from RedBrick given the history you mentioned, but using “FASA Games” is clearly taking advantage of the fans’ goodwill toward a completely-unrelated company, and comes across as kind of sketchy. I thought you had to earn the right to be considered a “spiritual successor”…
Much agreed with you Magnus, on the point of earning spiritual succession…
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For those that didn’t know, RedBrick Limited did NOT change their names to FASA Games. Head of RedBrick was, originally, hired by FASA Games, an actual division of the original FASA Corp (FASA Corp was turned into a Licensing company, while FASA Games is their publishing arm). This individual whose names escapes me at the moment is no longer at FASA Games. A few people who worked at the original FASA Corp in the 90s are now part of FASA Games.
People who write articles should consider getting the facts straight.
I call it a rebranding because, frankly, that’s what it is. Consider this press release, where in James D. Sutton steps down as MP of Redbrick and assumes the role of president at Fasa Games. Or this article that explains the genesis of Fasa Games, which basically involved picking up Jeff Laubstein and getting L. Ross Babcock’s buy-in. The fact remains, at the inception of the new Fasa Games, the people who mishandled Redbrick’s affairs so badly were in position to do it all over again. How this doesn’t come off to you as a shallow move to escape all of the baggage attached to Redbrick and capitalize on FASA’s good will, frankly I have no idea. What I do know is, that as recently as Monday, they’ve been mucking with their Kickstarter, leading to at least one person to remark in the comments, “I no longer know what I’m pledging for.” It’s a circus, and I am sad that Earthdawn is in the mix.