I was one of those semi-crazed FASA fans, and certainly a devoted player of Shadowrun, so when the company announced it would be taking the plunge into the fantasy market with Earthdawn, I was right there with money in hand.
Now, I’ll not address the Earthdawn gaming mechanics here, as that is never what these posts are about, but instead focus on the subject at hand which is the Earthdawn Adventure: Mists of Betrayal.
Art Directed by my very close friend Jeff Laubenstein back in 1993, it was also project managed by Joel Biske. Together, these two guys really, truly, put together a ‘Top 10’ gaming supplement for a game that never achieved up to its potential.
A cadre of incredibly talented artists take part in this heavily illustrated book, but before I get there let me first talk about the cover.
At no other time in gaming history has Spanish artist Luis Royo done a cover, and why, of all places you’d find his work on the cover of a mere fantasy adventure for a third tier line is beyond me. When I once asked Laubenstein about how they got Royo to do the cover, he simply replied, ‘We asked’.
Well, there is that I guess, although I’ve spent three years just trying to reach the guy about perhaps acquiring an original sketch and even his agent won’t return my emails, so go figure.
Nonetheless, Royo bangs out a stupendous cover replete with Obsidiman, T’Skrang, Dwarves, and is really only lacking a Windling for full race portrayals that are unique to the Earthdawn setting. He also has his standard ‘Royo lady’ which intrinsically makes the cover a masterpiece.
Inside, we find the talents of both Biske and Laubenstein, as well as Liz Danforth who bangs out some inspired pieces here. Beside them come the likes of Tom Baxa, who manages to do some work I don’t hate, and Earl Geier, who keeps his work tight enough to stop me from complaining about it.
Other talents include some inspired work by Robert Nelson who is channeling his best Russ Nicholson, and Mike Nelson how complements Laubenstein’s style so nicely it always makes me smile. Artist Tony Szczudlo does pieces that remind me classic 1970s inkwash, and even Tom Dow adds in content that appeals to my eye.
In all, it really makes for a perfect mix of talent, with the art direction for the project making me wonder if this module was more a labor of love than the standard production stuff you saw rolling out of most companies in the 1990s where adventures were concerned.
A truly compelling piece, and if you ever want to run any edition of Earthdawn, this module would be a perfect place to take your characters.
Artistic Rating: 4 [out of 5]