This book never won awards for its innovation, or had a beautiful vision realized by an auteur, or anything like that. Its goal was pretty much “we need a book of magic stuff: spells, talent knacks, and legendary items. Here’s the spell creation rules from Magic: A Manual of Mystic Secrets. Add sixteen writers and artists who love the game, now GO!”
Every time a writer contributes to anthology projects like this one, there’s always a little ego involved. You come up with your best ideas, submit them, and then a few months later, you look at it and say, “Pfft, that’s sad” to some of them and “Dang, I wish I’d thought of that!” to others. I’ll spare you my individual feelings other than to say I like the spells that seem original and playful, and I don’t really like the ones that are essentially D&D knockoffs. Fortunately, there are more of the former than the latter, because Earthdawn had a style all its own.
What did my partner and I contribute? It’s been decades, but I’ll see if I can remember them correctly. Our writing style tended to be overly elaborate.
Elementalist spells: Billowing Cloak
Illusionist spells: Blazing Fists of Rage and True Blazing Fists of Rage; You Got Me; And Then I Woke Up; Nightmare of Foreboding.
Nethermancer spells: Bone Pudding; we might have done Bone Puppet but I wouldn’t swear to it.
Wizard Spells: Bedazzling Display of Logical Analysis; probably Triangulate.
Talent Knacks: Several for weaponsmiths (Here’s the Deal, Whittle Weapons, probably Smooth Armor); a lot of unarmed combat knacks (Pin Down, possibly Flying Kick, etc.).
Magical Items: Firefly Chalk; Pots of Grumbah; Quiet Pouch; Traveller’s Mugs; Blood Knuckles; Garlen Stones; Orichalcum Shields; Rain Clubs; Vettaskin Bridles; possibly Naga-Scale Brooches and Obsidiman-Skin Armor.
We had a pile of rejected ideas for this project, from a silver tongue to a crystallized tear of a Horror, but they never got any traction. I still enjoy the final product, and give high praise to whoever thought up the more elaborate threaded items. I hope players made good use of them.
Arcane Mysteries of Barsaive can be found on Amazon or DriveThruRPG and there’s a .pdf here.