I don’t know if you realize that Earthdawn celebrates 25 years this year?
The first edition saw the world in 1993 thanks to the FASA publishing house. Starting in 1993, FASA released over 20 gaming supplements describing this universe; however, it closed down production of Earthdawn in January 1999. During that time several novels and short-story anthologies set in the Earthdawn universe were also released. In late 1999, FASA granted Living Room Games a licensing agreement to produce new material for the game.
This edition did not alter the setting but pushed the timeline of the events in Barsaive. It also entered several changes to mechanics. The rights to publish for Living Room Games expired in 2005.
In 2003 a second license was granted to RedBrick, who developed their own edition based on the FASA products, while releasing the original FASA books in PDF form. The Earthdawn Classic Player’s Compendium and Earthdawn Classic Gamemaster’s Compendium are essentially an alternative Second Edition, but without a version designation (since the material is compatible anyway). Each book has over 500 pages and summarizes much of what FASA published—not only the game mechanics, but also the setting, narrations, and stories.
While RedBrick tried to remain faithful to FASA’s vision and visual style, they revised almost everything and introduced new material to fill the gaps. RedBrick began publishing Earthdawn novels in 2007. In 2009, RedBrick announced the Third Edition of the game. In order to get a larger audience for this edition, RedBrick published the book through Mongoose Publishing’s Flaming Cobra imprint. The first two books were released in July 2009.
In 2012, RedBrick announced the transfer of the Earthdawn license back to FASA Corporation (and subsequently to FASA Games, Inc.). FASA Games released RedBrick’s Revised Third Edition Player’s Guide, based on the Earthdawn Third Edition rules, but in a smaller format book. FASA noted, however, that there is no need for owners of the Third Edition to buy into the Revised Third Edition.
In 2014, FASA Games announced the forthcoming publication of Earthdawn Fourth Edition and launched a successful Kickstarter to support the project. Fourth Edition is described as a reworking of the game mechanics, with redundancies eliminated, and a simpler success level system. The game world is advanced five years, past the end of the Barsaive-Thera War, in order to clear dangling threads in the metaplot and open the game world to new stories.
The first Fourth Edition title—the Player’s Guide—was released in early 2015. In 2014 FASA Corporation also gave permission for Impact Miniatures to return the original Heartbreaker Hobbies & Games Official Earthdawn Miniatures range to production. In order to fund this, Impact Miniatures launched a successful Kickstarter project.