In Earthdawn, the magic cycle has been at a peak level for 400 years and has just recently begun to diminish. This lowering level of magic has, for the most part, driven the Horrors back into astral space and has allowed the races to reemerge from their kaers (magical fortresses built to protect people from the Horrors). With the retreat of the Horrors and the end of the Scourge, the people of Barsaive have reemerged into a changed world. The Horrors wrought massive change on the landscape and weather patterns and destroyed many kaers.
The system used retains much of the feel of the older editions and in doing so falls in the more rules heavy category of rpgs. That being said, a great amount of effort has been made to tie all of the system elements directly into the setting thereby reducing the feel of needless complexity. There are several editing errors, mainly in page references, including the dreaded p.XX and references to pages that do not exist. These problems aside, this edition of Earthdawn does an excellent job of improving on the system and condensing nearly 20 years of game information into one book that will appeal to old veterans and new players alike.