Five books down, only one left to research: The Other Wind. The light approaches. After having increased the margins to make hunting for entries faster (and thus reducing the total number of pages by about 15%), the notes still grew to over 140 pages. Tales From Earthsea has by far the most notes of any of the books.
Alright, so why am I doing this research, anyway, if there are numerous wikis out there on Earthsea? Well, I'm glad I asked. Three main reasons: first, I didn't want somebody else's filtering getting in the way of the content. Second, I've read entries from a few of them, and none provides much of the information that would be useful in RP'ing, that the books do: physical description, motivations, mannerisms, etc. Mostly the wikis are about history, "X did this, then he/she did that." Or "X was Master of Underwater Basketweaving." Finally, it immerses me in the world to an extent that wikis just can't, so that I have the proper mindset when I start writing.
OK, now for some ground rules. You've all read the books, right? Good.
About true names: in keeping with the practice in the books, the only true names that will be used in the variant itself will be a small selection of names of objects or animals so that GM's can have some kind of baseline to extrapolate other names, and those personalities whose true names are public knowledge (Lebannen, some dragons, the old Kings/queens). If they really want the other names, enterprising wizards (and GM's) can go through the lore-books. Of course, sneaky bastage that I am, I have a master list of names. (I never quite got why kings would want their true names bandied about; it seems like a security risk to me, at the very least. They're not that well-protected, especially in a world chock full of mages.)
Next is physical combat. I think there are a total of three such fights in all the books, excepting the last, which I haven't gotten to yet. While occasional mass battles or dragon-on-wizard violence are mentioned in passing, none of the stories focuses on any kind of melee, or archery, for that matter. Magical duels are much more common; even wizards' staffs aren't used to beat on people, other than the occasional recalcitrant student. So the rules will tend to work accordingly. Besides, a warrior isn't going to be much good when the mage he's fighting binds him.
There is one type of magic (wizardry), not three as in Glorantha. The two examples of organized religion, both Kargish, are about temporal power and politics; there's no evidence in the stories that any magic derives from them other than calling the Old Powers in particular ways, and they're limited to the proximity of the Power. Theism otherwise is dead except for the semi-pagan rites of the Long Dance and Sunreturn, and they don't seem to have much practical or spell-like effect. They're more a way of retaining and passing on the oral history of the world. Spirits don't play the same role as they do in Glorantha, either; they generally don't have much effect in the physical world other than informationally. And witchery is just a weaker offshoot of wizardry.
So that's where I am right now; at this point I only have general impressions rules-wise, since most of my effort has been doing research...and the dull brain which it tends to engender. Once that's finally done I'll be able to apply more brainpower to synthesis.