Barsaive is the setting for the FASA role-playing game, Earthdawn. The region of Barsaive corresponds roughly to the area around modern-day Ukraine, although it encompassed fringes of the Balkans, Poland, Russia and the Caucas states.
Geography Though geographically there are variations in the mountain ranges, locations and rivers so that it does not match up exactly, there are enough similarities. The similarities in the Earthdawn books include: the locations of coastlines approximately equivalent to those of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, clearly visible on the southern end of the maps; rivers which are roughly analogous to the Volga and Dnieper; the Dragon Mountains in the southeast which are analogous to the Caucasus; and, lastly, a sea which can just be made out in the southeast whose coastline and location is approximate to the Caspian Sea.
In the Earthdawn setting the two seas to the south are not water, but seas of molten lava named Death's Sea (akin to the Black sea) and the Scarlet Sea (the Sea of Azov.) A combination of magic and myth is used to both explain this impossible situation and why the lava has not cooled off. At least one normal river empties into the scarlet sea.
Additionally due to the large number of Jungles across central Barsaive that are said to be populated with a number of typically tropical creatures such as jaguars and tigers it is inferred that Barsaive enjoys a much warmer climate than the real region of the Ukraine does.
Cities and nations
As typical with a fantasy/medieval setting the land of Barsaive lacks a unified government or control, thus being divided into numerous city states with limited if any control over land more than a short distance from the towns themselves, as well as an endless supply of villages and minor towns in the wilderness that depend wholly on the whim of any gamesmaster running a game in the Earthdawn setting,
Unusually for a setting with multiple fantasy races, in Barsaive the books state that Dwarves are in fact the most common race, whose language is used as a 'common trade tongue', which is an exception as most fantasy settings maintain the dominance of Humans as the main race and setter of the main cultural and linguistic norms.
The major powers include:
- Throal - a Dwarven kingdom supposedly built underground into a hollowed out mountain in the northwestern portion of Barsaive, also referred to in the material as Bartertown (which is explained as being the more common name for the large town outside the mountain Throal is in)
- Kratas - Known as the city of Thieves and located centrally in Barsaive and is relatively lawless as its name implies and is some what counter intuitively hard to reach due to the large wild jungles and dangerous lands that dominate central Barsaive
- Travar - a city state located in the south east of Barsaive famed for its leadership which consists of democratically elected magistrates.
- Vivane - the bastion of the Theran empire remaining in the province that acts as the ever present threat of a vast yet distant empire with hostile intentions.
- Iopos - city state, an evil magocracy
- Blood Wood - a monarchy of elves, one of the few factions which might have survived - via immortal elves - till the times of the Sixth World. Harlequin in his youth served as an ambassador from another power (City of Spires in Sereatha) to Blood Wood.
- Urupa (city-state, important port)
- Jerris (city-state)
- Travar (city-state)
- Trollish clans of mountains (known as the sky raiders for their Viking-like culture centered around flying, wooden ships)
- T'skrang clans (aropagoi) of the Serpent River (river traders)
- Haven - a new town build to explore the ruins of Parlainth, former Theran capital of Barsaive, destroyed by Horrors during Scourge
- Great Dragons - another faction which can likely trace its memories from the Sixth to the Fourth and maybe even the Third Worlds
History Before the Scourge, in the Third World, Barsavie became one of the provinces of the Theran Empire, but in the Fourth World it rebelled, became an independent entity, divided into many factions. Theran attempts to reclaim Barsaive form the background plot of Earthdawn.