From the publisher's website:
An age of magic once existed in our world. Lost to history, this time is remembered in the echoes of myth and legend. Humans lived alongside the other Namegiver races—dwarf and elf, troll and ork, windling, t’skrang and obsidiman. The wild places of the world were home to griffins, shadowmants, and other fantastic beasts.
The land was once besieged by the Horrors, foul creatures from the depths of astral space that sought to feed upon and destroy all that was living and good. Their time—the time of the Scourge—has passed, and the people have returned to the surface, reclaiming the lands that were once their home.
Brave heroes band together to explore the land of Barsaive, fighting the Horrors that remain, and protecting their homes and families from those that would enslave them.
The Fourth Edition is the newest version of the classic fantasy role-playing game. While this edition revises many of the existing rules systems, the core mechanics and assumptions remain the same. This edition also updates the game setting, advancing the timeline several years. Products using previous editions of the Earthdawn game can be used with Fourth Edition, but may require some conversion to be fully compatible.