Earthdawn/Shadowrun Crossover Information

William Logan was good enough to send me an old article posted on on 8/2/1995 by David Henry, author of the Earthdawn/Shadowrun Crossover Information at Chris Ryan’s site. This seems to contain newer information than the other page. I’ve added some annotations of my own where newer information has come in.

There are a number of links that prove that Earthdawn takes place on the same world as Shadowrun; and is, in fact, the Fourth World (as opposed to Shadowrun’s Sixth World). The obvious proof to this is that the FASA folks admitted it when questioned at a convention :-), but to help back that claim, here are most of the printed and observed links between ED and SR:

Shadowrun Sources


In the introduction to the Critters section, reference is made to the possible origins of Dragons. One of them includes the idea that Dragons may have “slept” somehow until the mana level reached a sufficiently high point. Also, Sperethiel is given as the name of the Elvish language, which is the same name the Elven language has in ED.

Seattle Sourcebook

The Atlantean Foundation is reviewed. While a minor link, it should be noted that the AF believes that a lot of the true “mystic” history of the SR world could be revealed if they could find the remains of Atlantis. Thera, the heart of a powerful empire in ED, is the actual name of an island near Greece which is commonly held to be the site that Plato based his Atlantis stories upon— both were destroyed in some horrible accident.

Bottled Demon

Arleesh the Great Feathered Serpent remembers a previous age of magic where she and other Great Dragons banded together to destroy and/or abolish the evil forces behind the Bottle. First establishment of fact that the Dragons did exist in a prior age of the Earth, and first establishment that there are metaplanes quite beyond the eight established SR metaplanes, and that the inhabitants of such places are not only inimical to normal life, but purely evil as well; obviously the Horrors of ED.


The first confirmation of immortals beyond Free Spirits and Dragons in the SR world, Harlequin and Ehran are both shown to have lived in pre-Revolution France, and make reference to have lived for a long, long time before that. The chal’han that Harlequin performs here is a specific form of the Ritual of Challenge mentioned in the Tir Tairngire sourcebook, which is also similar to like rituals performed in Thera, as per the Barsaive sourcebook. Harlequin and Ehran also converse in a language that predates Sperethiel, a mystery language that is mentioned in both Denizens of Earthdawn I and Tir Tairngire.

Wyrm Talk

A source of a lot of tie ins, being as it is a conversation between Dunklezahn the Dragon and Harlequin the Elf, both holdovers from at least the Fourth World. Both make obvious references to having been around a while, and both refer to the Invae, remarking that humanity seems to be holding their own against the Invae without too much trouble. As per the Barsaive sourcebook, the Invae are clearly confirmed to be the Insect Spirits from SR.

Paranormal Animals of Europe

The Sprite is shown, which is obviously a Windling from ED. Likewise, under the Wraith description, the netter -H- (an abbreviation that Harlequin has used in the past) says “Kill these Horrors whenever you encounter them. They are Evil, if anything is.” -H- also says that the Wraiths will be just the forerunners of something much worse if Earth cannot stem the tide now. In the ED rules, in the history of Barsaive section, descriptions given of the Signs of the Scourge describe mist-like wraith beings driving men to violence against one another, which matches exactly the description and powers of the SR Wraith.

Never Trust an Elf

A novel, in which more references to immortals are made— indeed, the fact that some elves may be immortal is a major point of the plot. Lofwyr mentions to Khan the Ork that the Orks were once the slaves of the Elves, a long time ago. In ED, the Orks were the only Name-Giving race regularly enslaved by all the rest.

Tir Tairngire

A feast of plenty for immortal elf evidence, including a large conversation between confused runners and Dunklezahn the dragon, pointing to, among other things, the fact that some elves are immortal, the fact that there was a Fourth World (and a Second -- the Dragon Age, according to ED -- as well), and that there is a “secret language” that the ruling elves of Tir Tairngire speak that isn’t Elvish (c.f.: Harlequin and Ehran’s discussion in Harlequin). Likewise, mention is made by some runner that some Druids in Tir Tairngire are shamans, but they follow “Passion” instead of totems (to which Harlequin replies “You’re a dead man. I’ll send flowers.”). The Passions, of course, are the great guiding spirits of life in ED. A Prince of the Tir is called “our dear sweet Blood Queen” by Harlequin, and an anonymous report from a runner says that they saw a picture, in that Prince’s house (Prince is a title that can refer to male or female Elves in the Tir) of apparently the same woman, but with thorns growing out of her body. The Blood Elves of ED, of course, have the same condition. Another of the Princes is reported to have blasted to atoms some rose bushes that his wife planted behind their house without his permission.

Meanwhile, Crater Lake receives a lot of discussion, and facts are revealed that it would have been created some 7000 years before the current SR date, which fits in neatly with the end of the Fourth World and the beginning of the Fifth (the Mayan Long Count, which Dunklezahn himself says is “more accurate than most”). High amounts of magic are associated with the lake, and the Tir cordoned it off after the general knowledge that it was believed to have been created 7000 years ago leaked out.

Dark Angel

The two albums being worked on by the kidnapped rock star are “Earthdawn” and “Earthdawn: The Scourge”, the relationship of which to the ED game is rather obvious. [According to Fenrir Wolf, the module contains a troubador. –Talks-With-Cats]

Tír na nÓg

More immortal elf evidence, which by now is so commonplace that it’s almost not worth noting -- in this case, the spike baby elves in Ireland “knew” of the Awakening before it was going to happen, and thus were able to arrange things so they could more easily take over Ireland when it came around. Most blatantly, the description of the Ways and Paths is nearly exactly the same as the Paths described in Denizens I. Likewise, the function and purpose of the Seelie Court in Tír na nÓg is that of the Court of the Elven Queen (at least before the Corruption) in ED (presented in Denizens I), that of preserving and setting by example the strictures of Elven society. Likewise, both sources mention the unique spirits of the Great Fiery Path.

Harlequin’s Back

A short story, originally called “Voices from the Past,” was slightly edited and appears as the opening fiction piece in this adventure. We’ll deal with the story first. This one has a strange spirit that resembles, in conduct and appearance, the Passion Vestrial, visiting a drunken Harlequin late one night. Obvious overtones to the Scourge are made, with Harlequin desperately trying to convince himself that it won’t happen again, and Vestrial insisting that it will, especially since the Great Ghost Dance helped things along. Reference is also made to the “Northern Isles” and the Knights of the Crying Spire, of which Harlequin is said to be the last. This name is very close to the name of a bunch of ED knights from the City of Spires to the north of the campaign setting in Earthdawn, called the Knights of the Crimson Spire. Harlequin also refers to the metaplanes as “netherworlds,” and then corrects his error, which is the usual term used for them in ED. The adventure itself is a near ad for ED. The Enemy, a bunch of powerful, world-destroying spirits, are coming back through the mana spike created by the Great Ghost Dance, and unless Harlequin and the runners pull off a dangerous astral quest, the whole world is doomed. The Enemy, and Harlequin’s speech describing them, are obviously the Horrors from ED. Harlequin uses a variety of powers that closely resemble the abilities of the specialized Horror fighters called Lightbearers from ED, including the ability to shift bodily into astral space (Ehran is able to do this as well), and summon armor and weapons of light.

Night’s Pawn

A novel, in which Alamais the Great Dragon (Lofwyr’s “brother”) plays an important part. Nothing upfront about ED, but “Alamaise” is listed as one of the Great Dragons of Barsaive in the ED rules.


This sourcebox contains two crossover references. In the main description part, Harlequin under an obvious alias remarks on how changing the Name of a location can lessen the power that location has. Meanwhile, a leading talismonger in Denver apparently has the Bottled Demon from the adventure of the same name.

Prime Runners

The talismonger in this book has apparently found remains of a lost civilization in the Ukraine. The main campaign setting in ED takes place there. The assassin at the end of the book also goes on rants occasionally about “mad passions.” The Mad Passions are the Passions (in SR terms, totems) that were driven insane by the Horrors.


This novel contains more immortal elf evidence, and shows that an elf who apparently isn’t immortal can still have reincarnation memories of his life back during the Fourth Age of Magic, apparently proving the beliefs of the Tír na nÓg elves that elves do reincarnate. Even more interestingly, the lover of the main elf in the book is supposedly an elf who chose to be reincarnated as a human for some murky karmaic reason. Other crossovers in “Nosferatu” include: A Horror is spotted in the magical storm which looks exactly like a Horror from Earthdawn (a Despairthought, if you must know). An agent for the Blood Queen in Tir Tairngire is horrified by the thought of having to undergo the Ritual of the Thorns, which is what the Blood Elves used in ED. The magical defenses of the Nosferatu’s house against Liam O’Connor, in that they are stronger against him because the Nosferatu “knows” so much about Liam, are a direct application of the thread/pattern magic theory of ED.

House of the Sun

A novel in which Harlequin appears and more hidden Horror references are made. There’s a picture in a Tir Tairngire corporation which shows the lost city of Atlantis, which of course was on the island of Thera, from ED.


A variety of immortal comments are sprinkled throughout Aztlan, most of which only confirm things that are already known. Of new information, the President of Aztechnology is referred to, in a very obscure way, as a Horror construct, a particular type of toxic lifeform in SR terms created by a Horror. This leads the opening to having a Horror being in charge of Aztechnology. There are also references to auras being “corrupted,” which is a common term used by Fourth Worlders to show Horror taint. For you Harlequin watchers, he shows up here again as well. [See David Henry’s Aztlan Annotated. –Talks-With-Cats]

[Here are some other sources:

Black Madonna

The lead characters of Nosferatu wind up in a complicated mix of shadowrunning and art history, culminating in a meeting with an immortal elf claiming to be Leonardo da Vinci and working on technology considerably in advance of the Shadowrun state of the art.

Humans and the Cycle of Magic

An address from Ehran the Scribe (of Harlequin and Tir Tairngire fame) to the Young Elven Technologists (who also play an important part in Harlequin). Ehran makes it very clear that he knows what’s going on with the cycles of magic, the elven lifespan, and the sinking of Atlantis (though he doesn’t get the Mayan calendar quite right). An alternate, later version clearly indicates that Ehran has been alive for a very long time, but suggests that either Ehran is lying about da Vinci or the revelation of the immortal elf Brightlight as Leonardo da Vinci in Black Madonna is false. (More likely, Sargent and Gascoigne never read that particular FASA update.)

Worlds Without End

More immortal elves than you can shake a stick at. Aina, the immortal elf tortured by the Horror Ysrthgrathe (of Horrors) gets together with her ex-boyfriend Caimbeul (aka Harlequin) and goes to Tir na nÓg and Tir Tairngire to meet with all manner of immortal beings. It shows that Jenna ni’Fairra is actually Alachia’s daughter, rather than Alachia herself, and the two merely look alike save for hair color.

Post Mortem

A covert conversation between Harlequin and Ehran the Scribe, discussing the who might have killed Dunkelzahn, how Frosty (from Harlequin) is doing... and suggesting that Harlequin was indeed Richard the Lion Hearted , though the statement that suggests it could be taken to be metaphorical rather than literal. (If so, it may be that Harlequin and Ehran were once lovers...)


Earthdawn Sources

Oddly enough, very little obvious “tie-in” information is given in Earthdawn sources. There isn’t even an obvious appearance of Harlequin yet, fer Raggok’s sake! [He’s actually just shown up in The Blood Wood as Caimbueul, a name close enough to the Caimbeul of Worlds Without End to identify him as Harlequin. –Talks-With-Cats] Still, this is what is available:


A Great Form earth elemental is referred to in the opening history of Thera and Barsaive; SR has Great Form spirits. In the same story, Wraiths from the PAoE are mentioned, as well as insect beings that take over Name-Giver bodies and souls -- the Insect Spirits (Invae) of SR.

The races (or at least the humanoid ones) are the same as SR. Sperethiel is, once again, the name for the Elven tongue. References are made to immortal elves. Dragons are divided into two types, normal and Great, just like SR. The measurements of dragons, if converted from English to metric, also match those of the SR dragons. Cathay dragons are obviously Eastern Dragons [and are rumored to have come from the stars! –Talks-With-Cats]. Of the Great Dragons, Alamaise (from Night’s Pawn) is listed under that name, while the Great Dragon Mountainshadow is said to have a “human” pawn/servant known as Darktooth. In German, Darktooth is Dunklezahn. Given Mountainshadow’s similar personality to Dunklezahn, it’s pretty clear that they’re the same Dragon. Magicians are divided into adepts and full spellcasters, like SR (although the ED adepts have, admittedly, far greater powers than their SR counterparts).

The magical theory of both games is similar. Astral beings can’t pass through unmolested earth (thus the sanctity of most kaers), emotional trauma (including the Scourge) pollutes astral space, and so on. The Passions are also described, matching the reference to them in Tir Tairngire, among others. References are made to ages of magic cycled with ages of nonmagic, just like in Tir Tairngire. Both games make use of orichalcum, a rare magical alloy.

The map of Barsaive fits the description of the lower Russian landmass between the Caspian and Black Seas. [There’s also an interesting picture captioned “Aina reaches for immortality.” See Worlds Without End and Horrors. –Talks-With-Cats]

Earthdawn Companion

The abilities of the Lightbearers are very close to the abilities used by Harlequin and Ehran in their various appearances in storylines in SR.


The Invae are clearly described and are obviously the Insect Spirits from SR. They even have partially invaded/taken over a cult (of Chorollis), just as in SR.

Mountainshadow’s personality is more clearly defined; he’s obviously Dunklezahn. Thera is said to lay far to the southwest of Barsaive in the Selestrean Sea, which is an obvious match to the Barsaive map being in Russia if Thera is Atlantis, located at the real-world Thera in the Aegean Sea.

There’s a short rundown of Theran society, which shares many similarities between that and Tir Tairngire.

The Longing Ring and Poisoned Memories

Novels, good only to reestablish the belief that Mountainshadow is Dunkelzahn. Well, they’re good for other reasons, but for our purposes those are all that apply. :-)

Denizens of Earthdawn Volume I

Mentions that Elvish language older than Sperethiel, again. Mentions that Alamaise killed the Elf Queen. Gives the theory of the Great Wheel of Life and the Five Paths that the Elves walk on it, which is functionably the same as the Ways and Paths of Tír na nÓg.

The human section brings up the ED “theory” that humankind is the only Name-Giver to exist in low mana periods, and that when the magic arises it causes some humans to change into other forms of Name-Givers. This is SR’s “goblinization”.


In a summary of the weird happenings in the Western Catacombs, a few elves are said to have bonded with some strange form of “Passion”, took new Names, and traveled to the northwest of Barsaive to found a new land. The names they took were Vili and Vi, who are, of course, the names of the brothers of Odin from German mythology, and Germany is to the northwest of Barsaive.

Creatures of Earthdawn

The cockatrice is the same as the SR one, although the basilisk is different. This could just be a change of species in a particular area. There are stats provided for a trilobite (!!!), which doesn’t link Earthdawn to Shadowrun, but does show that Earthdawn takes place on Earth. [The hellhound also matches. –Talks-With-Cats]

[Other sources:

The Blood Wood

Details of the Blood Wood and the Ritual of Thorns, including references to Great Elves (almost certainly the immortals behind Tir Tairngire and Tír na nÓg) and an appearance by Harlequin as Caimbueul, a powerful Swordmaster and Wizard adept, Knight of the Crimson Spire, as an ambassador from Sereatha.

The Theran Empire

If you weren’t convinced that Earthdawn takes place in Europe, you will be by this sourcebook. The map is more obviously like Europe— the map of Barsaive in the back of Earthdawn has a number of features that don’t match modern geography— and most of the places in the Theran Empire are only thinly disguised from their modern versions.


Aina doesn’t show up by name, but we hear about the Horror Ysrthgrathe and how he has a favorite victim that he torments continually.



While I’m convinced that Earthdawn and Shadowrun share the same world, here’s some meandering guesses on what the events in Shadowrun have to do with the events in Earthdawn.

Tir Tairngire is almost certainly the rebirth of Thera, or at least Shosara, the original renegade Elven nation. They share the same rituals, and general attitude of adopting new technology to help them keep their powerbase in the world. To counterpart them, then, Tír Na nÓg is the Wyrm Wood once more, if it’s not obvious enough from their insistance on being the true repository of Elven culture.

This does make it a bit difficult to explain why the Blood Queen is currently in Tir Tairngire, however. My take is that Alachia is listed, in the Barsaive sourcebooks, as having some second thoughts about how great an idea the Ritual of the Thorns was, really. Pride and her position would keep her from admitting it in ED right now, of course, but if she ever did come around and try to say she was wrong, her subjects in the Wyrm Wood, angered at their Queen actually trying to say that all this pain they went through on her account was a mistake, and that they really should be ashamed of themselves, turn on her. She flees to Thera/Shoshara for protection, and that sets up matters for the Sixth World. Tir Tairngire is heavy into genetic research so they can find a way to remove the “grow painful thorns” portion of their DNA before the mana level gets high enough for the Ritual of Thorns to have power again. [FASA have denied the bit about the purpose of genetic research, and The Blood Wood suggests that this is unlikely to happen, since the Ritual of Thorns needs to be performed on children in order to get them to grow thorns. –Talks-With-Cats]

[And here are some of my

Conversion Notes

In Earthdawn, Strain will take you closer to your unconsciousness threshold without inflicting Wounds and therefore wound penalties. This suggests that it should correspond to a drain-like phenomenon, much like spells. I would suggest something on the order of 6M drain, resisted by Willpower, for continuous use of a power involving Strain for the duration of a person’s Magic rating.

Permanent damage (as inflicted by blood magic), likewise, shouldn’t mark boxes off the physical condition monitor since it doesn’t inflict Wounds; that’s too harsh. Instead, mark boxes off the body overflow condition monitor after you reach Deadly damage. One box should be worth a few points of permanent damage; check on the Wound and Death thresholds to get a valid comparison.

200 legend points = 1 SR karma (enough to start a skill). One SR karma = 20 ED karma for a Dwarf, Elf, or Troll (25 being the maximum at one time), 30 ED karma for an Ork (maximum 40), 35 for a Human (max 40), and 40 for a Sprite (max 60). Circles for Adepts should roughly correspond to grades of initiation (grade 0 = circle 1). Legend points are easier to come by in Earthdawn, but I think it’s just fine to make Shadowrun players sweat for anything they want from Earthdawn. :-)

Note that Earthdawn human pedestrians seem to have straight 5’s for stats where an ordinary Shadowrun human pedestrian has straight 3’s. When converting humanoids from ED to SR (if you’re giving them stats at all), just subtract one from the step number for their attribute to get the SR stat— anything that’s survived since then should be tough.

Pattern Items arise from an object having a strong association with a True Pattern. Minor items can arise from continued associations; Major and Core items must be used in a significant way. Obtaining Key Knowledges from an enchanted item is an advanced form of psychometry. (It wouldn’t be possible if the item weren’t a thaumaturgical link to someone else’s Pattern.)

Runners already perform a certain amount of Thread Weaving with their Karma. They weave threads to themselves and their Groups by creating Karma Pools and enhancing their own stats. Bonding foci is another practice that works much like Thread Weaving. Since it is only used at Circle 4, any formal Thread Weaving should require being a Grade 3 Initiate.

As magic theory goes, resurrection is theoretically possible (with a Circle 10 ritual!) but cannot be performed unless the mana cycle is at its peak. Anyone knowing a lot about ED magic, though, will remark on how easy healing is by SR magical theory.

Earthdawn Geography Conversions

Sereatha, the City of Spires, is off the Gulf of Riga in Latvia, quite possibly at the historical site of Mericsala. A lot of mountains from the Earthdawn era have vanished or are at best uplands. The Dragon Mountains are the Caucasus, but the Thunder Mountains north of them seem to be entirely absent. The Throal Mountains seem to have become the Prvolzskaja Vozvyšennost’, and the Tylon Mountains the Srednerusskaja Vozvyšennost’ south of Moscow. Death’s Sea is obviously the Black Sea, the Scarlet Sea the Sea of Azov, and the Aras Sea seems to be a bit different from the modern-day Caspian. The Twilight Peaks are missing from their apparent location on the outskirts of Odessa.


The Lightbearers

If the PC’s are sufficiently inspired by Bottled Demon and Harlequin’s Back to fight against evil, they could become Lightbearers. The initiation scene alone— Harlequin dragging Ehran in, Ehran’s horror at the idea of the runners used to screw up his life becoming Lightbearers— should be worth the price of admission. Working as Lightbearers would be a sometime thing, with the PC’s setting up an information network to track wraiths, making regular runs into Aztlan, and discovering tainted astral space. Even non-magical PC’s could be the oath-witnesses that can get benefits.

Netherworlds and the Metaplanes

The stuff in Magic: a Manual of Mystic Secrets could be quite interesting as a kickoff point.

Magic Theory

Bringing in thread weaving, blood magic, True Elements, Ghost Masters, and physical and astral spell matrices could be a continuing sequence. Introduce spell matrix objects (M:aMoMS) as enchanted items via the Young Elven Technologists. The pure-astral ones can come later, or from inner-circle types.