06 December 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 46 - Horror at the Gates

This is the forty-sixth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.







Adventure Log – 046 Horror at the Gates

Written By: Bongani Kreskas

Date:  06 Strassa - 08 Strassa, 1509 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster

Uriel the Illusionist

We are ready. Meta-Poobah Ein tells us to go to the Kara Cafe to meet with Poobah Best, a member of military requisitions, who might be able to get us some healing supplies. He directs us to a military outpost where we "requisition"(1) some healing potions. Then we go out to attack!

We travel to the crystal. We are met by a horrifying grinding noise, but we are used to such things. A high-pitched voice asks us, "Did she(2) send you? Have you come to free her poor, poor people?" We try to keep him talking, but he instead commands us to die, and then he bursts into thousands of shards(3), and a floating mass of maggots(4). In the center of the mass is a dwarf skull. How interesting!

Ting is quite effective at smashing the skull, make it writhe and scream and spew filth. The flying shards chase us, shredding our clothes and flesh. They move like schools of fish, in four large groups(5).

Maggot-Face (as we call him(6)) touched my body, and my skin tore from my frame, writhing all over me like a living wave. But death awaits at our backs - there is not retreat, so we fight on, relentlessly, desperately. Ting overcomes, smashing Maggot-Face upon the cold stone ground, but the shards continue to come after us.

Ting shattered shattered the first swarm, causing it to explode gloriously. Then she stomps another. Truly she is a living crucible of violence. Honeysuckle dove through the sky, fighting in a swirling mass of glittering dross. Uriel fought like an enraged beast, striking out in all directions. But I, spent and exhausted, collapsed to my knees, fumbling and weak.

Honeysuckle destroyed the last swarm, and we returned to the kaer, victorious but diminished.

A few days later we helped the army clear out the remaining tentacle beasts(7).(8)


*     *     *
(1) Did they steal them? Murder a bunch of people? I really just don't know with this group anymore. It could be a bribe as well. 
(2) Who is "she" in this context? That seems important. It could refer to either of the women in charge, but that seems unlikely. There is something else going on behind this and that makes it far more dangerous.
(3) Wingflayer. Bad news. I'm a little surprised to be reading this at all.
(4) Wormskull. Worse news.
(5) Is this indicating there were four wingflayers hiding under the cloak with a wormskull forming the head? What is going on here? This is more than just unusual. Zamrica needs to see this. In part so he will never sleep again. That explains the awful sound - so many metal shards just grinding against each other in a small space.
(6) The Named it. I know it. They Named the wormskull Maggot-Face. Of course they did. Why would anyone expect anything else?
(7) That sounds about right, but there are so many important an unanswered questions here. I cannot believe I am writing this: Why couldn't they just talk to the Horror more? It seemed pretty chatty...
(8) Received and edited by Ela Pono

Not a lot happened in this session, but it did mark a fairly major accomplishment - dealing with the Horrors at the gates of the kaer. I was pleased with how the conflict played out, in all. To balance things a bit, I removed the karma from the wingflayers. Turns out, this was a good decision on my part. The players would not have survived with that in play. As it was, the fight was challenging and forced tactics to evolve, with more tricks coming out to play. To be fair, they knew it was going to be rough, just not how rough. It probably helped a lot Maggot-Face got exactly one turn. Still, it was an ugly turn. What is really important here, and everyone needs to know, is they were deceived by Muppet Man. Also, the full name of the cafe they went to is Kara Lotte. I'm just going to leave that there.

There were more hints dropped regarding larger events and even things going on in the kaer. Real world time constraints kept this session with a laser-like focus for the most part. Which worked overall and provided nice bookends to the events. I'm not entirely certain what they're going to do next session - just leave this place, or explore the things they aren't yet seeing? I know the former has some support; they've been in the Badlands for a very long time. However, it also ignores why they came to the kaer in the first place. Looking for a key.

28 November 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 01 - Archer

This is the first 4E Companion Discipline Preview, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.


Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

A preview of the Archer Warden and Master tiers from the 4E Earthdawn Companion was released today at the FASA Games site. Since it is just the progression without any commentary on what it means, this is to provide some insight into the changes and some new things.

Something important to note is the scope of changes is fairly large. A great deal of effort was put into the high Circles (Warden and Master tier) to build on the elements introduced in the Player's Guide. This meant a lot of things were thrown out or changed significantly because they didn't fit or work quite right. As well, a lot of new material was written. To be fair, this is vague and these high concept statements are well and good, but what really counts is the substance.

Let's start with the discipline abilities. Both are new to the Archer, though aren't necessarily new. Blood Bound Bow should be familiar in concept. As a Discipline dedicated to the mastery of a single weapon, it's a perfect fit. Perfect Shot is very similar to Hail of Arrows in mechanics, though slightly different in theme. As introduced in the earlier tiers, the Archer is about accuracy. It's not necessarily about putting a lot of arrows toward the enemy, but putting the right arrows. Shifting from Dexterity to Perception as the key attribute puts some more emphasis on it as an important part of the Discipline, instead of just pushing Dexterity above all else.

Their talent progression plays up their mastery of the bow, as well as their growing mysticism, and perception abilities. Along with these, the sub-themes from the previous tiers see some new options, building their connection to the wilderness (e.g. Chameleon, Venom, and Woodskin) or the city (Lasting Impression). It's a little disappointing there wasn't more space for these directions, but hopefully this will be forgiven based on the strength of their more core talents.

Quite a few talents were simply removed from the previous edition for various reasons. They may not fit the direction Archer is going (Blade Juggle and Rushing Attack), or they may have been removed as talents entirely (Dominate Arrow, Quick Shot, Screaming Arrow, Warning Shot, Warp Missile, and Wind Bow). However, just because it's no longer a talent doesn't mean there's no place at all. Just not as a talent.

That's a fairly large list and doesn't include talents in common (or with very similar names, such as Matrix Sight) between editions that have notably changed. Which really is most of them.

The notable entry here unique to the Archer is Snapshot. There was an attempt to create more such unique talents and most (not all) Disciplines received them. This particular talent gives the Archer an attack as a Free action. It cannot interrupt an ongoing action, but it can preempt a declared action. For example, if an opponent declares an attack against your Elementalist buddy, you can use Snapshot against them, but you cannot if the opponent is in the middle of resolving an attack roll. The timing just starts to get messy.

As for the rest of their talents, they add to the Archer's growing bag of tricks and ways to deal with opponents. Particularly improving accuracy and detecting opponents, though not only those by any measure.

11 October 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 45 - Kaer Baere Stare

This is the forty-fifth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.






Adventure Log – 045 Kaer Baere Stare

Written By: Uriel

Date:  24 Doddul - 05 Strassa, 1509 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster

Uriel the Illusionist

It seems I must write the log myself, for I am left out if I don't.

We had just entered the Kaer Baere and were asked to defeat the Horror which has trapped them. Meta Poobah Ein(1) welcomed us to rest in their very warm sandstone kaer. he warned us not to wander, the seem to have copious amounts of lava based traps throughout(2).

He told us not to go into a particular section where "evil has been contained". We may need to investigate it, just to be certain(3).

We are put up in the finest accommodations available, with more beds than we could possibly use. Ting and Honeysuckle needed to rest, so I took first watch, just in case. You can never be too certain in a new kaer.

Bongani is excited to have me research his bow, it seems to have developed its own pattern. Elmod went out to go shopping. He does not blend in with the dwarfs. To be fair, he can't blend in with humans either(4).

They don't use standard coins here, only their own coins which are adorned with dragons. Their economy seems to be mushroom-based. Even the ale is made from mushrooms. It's quite earthy(5).

Instead of sleeping, Honeysuckle, Ting, and I went looking for a dwarf party. We found a debate about how they treat their sister kaer. It seems that is where the evil was blocked off. Ting was not ready for an investigation, so we found a place with dancing. The dwarfs have excellent use of percussion and horns, but know nothing of strings or woodwinds.

Honeysuckle found work at a forge. Elmod seems incapable of finding gainful employment. I am spending the time researching the history of some of our items.

We spoke again with Meta Poobah Ein. He will arrange a meeting with the Grand Poobahs after the supplication period(6). They seem to be rather racist against elves. They also occasionally throw criminals into lava(7). We decided to observe the supplication process.

The Grand High Poobah wears the fanciest hat and sits on the best throne(8). [Ed. note: There's a hand drawn picture of a very strange hat in the log. It doesn't actually look like it could be worn, though I cannot tell which end is the top and which goes on the head]. 

Bongani went to find a way through the forbidden tunnel(9). Luckily, Bongani can find his way past any barrier, including dwarf guards with tall hats.

We witnessed the execution of a mad dwarf. He did seem beyond help. He was dipped in lava. There was much rejoicing. It was a little disturbing.

Honeysuckle is making friends with the master smith, having proved herself to be a competent adept. Bongani, Elmod, and I made the rounds of the philosopher cafes. Elmod and Bongani argued about coinage, but a round of mushroom ale was had. We also bought a round for our new dwarf friends. Kaer Kouszins separated many years ago. Before the Scourge, two towns came together to build the kaer. But they were sundered. Some of the people were "vole fighters"(10). Some of the younger dwarfs think it is time to re-establish contact again. Or everyone could be dead. The Poobahs claim they are Horror tainted. Bongani sparked a bar brawl by suggesting a job half done isn't worth doing. We slipped home after that.

Bongani believes "vole fighters" are a race from the North, where the worst monsters ever live. They have a terrible reputation among Therans(11).

We spend a week working on projects, forging, meditating on history, other mundane tasks. We wish to be prepared before truly getting into trouble.

The Grand Poobahs hired us to slay the Horror in exchange for training. They insisted Ting stop training the young dwarfs in the way of the Swordmaster, which appears to be too "elven" for Kaer Baere(12).(13)

*     *     *
(1) Where is the title/Name division here? 
(2) What? Why does an (apparently) unbreached kaer have even more and even more dangerous traps inside of it? Did Horrors just look at it and go, "There is nothing more we can do to these people, they filled their home with lava." There has to be an explanation further along. Regardless, the instructions to not wander seem solid, not that it's going to stop them.
(3) Is this the reason for the lava? There are three possibilities for this instruction. 1) This guy is incredibly naive, 2) this guy isn't terribly bright, or 3) for whatever reason, this guy wants them to go over there. Because of course they are going to do what you told them to do. They're basically psychotic children who try to do a good job, but were raised wrong as a joke.
(4) He doesn't blend in with anything. I have seen that guy - total freak show.
(5) I'm intrigued. This sounds like it could be delicious, especially with some good spice and a little rendered fat. Or, it could be awful no matter what. Zamrica is going to want this, he's on this weird mushroom and pork belly diet. So far his hair is super shiny and he smells awful.
(6) Meta Poobah is the title, Ein is his Name. We also have Grand Poobahs.
(7) If it's just laying around...
(8) Hat-based leadership, I love it. Are the title and authority derived from the hat, or is the hat simply a symbol of the title and authority?
(9) Of course he does! Though, I want to know what's down there also.
(10) What is this?
(11) Checking with some librarians and giving them this scant information, it sounds like this may be referring to "vulfaiders", Namegivers from the Northeast. There is minimal information on them, just some accounts from Therans before the Scourge, though more recent logs with accounts from urshan make reference to them as well and why they are now refugees. That may be a good reason to block off whatever is down there.
(12) The lava is still somewhat inexplicable, though there are a few inklings as to what purpose it may serve. Beyond executions.
(13) Received and edited by Ela Pono

There have been a lot of threads building to this session and slowly coming together. While they went unmentioned, many details in this place connect to various events in their past, including some reveals to seeds planted back in sessions 15 and 17.

Much of what was done here was logistical and trying to figure out this very strange place - currency was a big deal, along with the idea of getting a job. Dwarfs work hard, elves are lazy. It is basically the motto that was repeated over and over, and penetrated to the speech patterns giving rise to some incredibly casual racism. Having a job and working hard is valued much more than being good at the job. Their strange customs arise from how their culture has has been forced to adapt and evolve, though there hasn't been quite enough time to delve into that.

In all, there is still quite a bit going on in this place (even beyond what wasn't recorded) and sooner than later someone is going to make a run at Kaer Kouszins.

30 August 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Namegiver 01 - Talo

This is the first 4E Anatomy of a Namegiver, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games. This post is part of a birthday present for a friend and should be taken in that spirit.

No one really knows where talos came from, and if the talos do know, it doesn't seem to be important to them. Whether they migrated from outside of Barsaive, emerged from the Scourge as a forgotten Namegiver, or something else entirely - it's a mystery that drives the librarians in Throal crazy.

Talos are curious by nature and even more curious to behold. Rarely standing over five and-a-half feet tall, their upper body resembles that of a lizard (herpetologists are always quick to point out it specifically resembles a gecko) and the lower body of a feline. Each talo has a unique matching, spotted pattern extending over both halves of the body. Even as their fur and scales may be different, they don't change their spots.

Despite their curiosity, these nimble predators are quite skittish when confronted. Though they can easily become brash when they believe circumstances are well in their behavior. These are a people, when confronted with something foreign and smaller than their head, who ask the question, "Can I eat this?", rarely considering, "Should I eat this?".

Their various and sundry peculiarities (like licking their eyes, it's really weird) frequently make them difficult for non-talos to understand and get along with. Those who do invest in such a relationship are frequently rewarded with a loyal companion for life. One who is more than willing to find out if the milk is still good. Also, one who is more than willing to see if the pear-sized opal is food if left unsupervised and with no instructions.

Game Information
Starting Attribute Values
DEX 12, STR 10, TOU 11, PER 11, WIL 8, CHA 8
Movement Rate: 14
Karma Modifier: 5

Racial Abilities:
Low-Light Vision: Like elves, talo characters have the racial Low-Light Vision ability (see Player's Guide, p. 46).
Natural Climber: The climbing speed of talo characters is doubled (base speed 4 yards per round, +2 per success), limited by their Movement Rate.
Quick Healer: Talo characters gain +2 to their damage healed when they spend a Recovery Test.

26 August 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 44 - Deadly Expedition to Care-a-Lot

This is the forty-fourth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.







Adventure Log – 044 Deadly Expedition to Care-a-Lot

Written By: Ting V'strimon the Merciless of Urupa

Date:  22 Doddul -  Doddul, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster

Uriel the Illusionist

I got bored. Bongani is taking - FOREVER - guiding us through the entrance of this kaer. There are several huge statues along the maze room to the entrance. They're pretty badass lookin', like 40 foot tall musclemen. I wanted to get a better look at one while we're trudging thought this place. I rocked a pretty slick leap flip up on the shoulder of the nearest guy, planning to hang out for a while. Problem being, they were some kind of guardians and came to life.

Fight started rough. Guy flicked me off his shoulder and stepped on me. Honeysuckle and Uriel stepped up and carried the fight till I could get back in there. Bongani, meanwhile, spent his time setting up some stupid trap and kill-stealing. The stupid rope trap did not work. We whittled them down to rubble and then went back outside to rest. Not worth messing with those guys.

Bongani goes back in by himself, while the rest of us heal up above. He encountered some sort of tentacle monster with really long feelers. he got away, but I suspect this will be our next fight. We plan and bonfire, and get ready for this thing.

We pop in and start wandering around. No surprise, it picks me as its target, and its first attack is murderous, but it's its only attack. Claws drained blood and poison me(1), and after Bongani kill steals - AGAIN - I have to sit around for a while to recuperate. We then follow a distant light to find a huge, shimmering crystal. Saw one of these ages ago, a trap to entrance Horrors(2). And there was a cloak standing right up against it. It was creepy as all get out. Bongani was the only one wanting to mess with it, and went up to get a look at it. The noise was also awful. Its face was blank, and the cloak was moving around(3).

We all skedaddled through the archway where there was another battery of traps before we came to a door. Using a kernel of True Water, we were able to chat with the folks on the other side of the door(4).(5)


*     *     *
(1) Sounds like a qural'lotectica. 
(2) This is recorded in Adventure Log 07, from over two years ago. It feels like it has been so much longer.
(3) What is this? It doesn't sound like anything I have heard of before, maybe Zamrica knows more.
(4) Wait, what? This is a living kaer? I feel that maybe this moment could have been met with a little more detail. A little more gravity. Perhaps acknowledging how big of an event this is. Though, I do wonder how the people of this kaer (if they're not all horribly corrupted and Mismatched Steel doesn't put them to the sword for "reasons") are going to get out of the Badlands. 
(5) Received and edited by Ela Pono

The payoff continues and more subtle clues are dropped. It is worth noting the fight with the massive stonemen was pretty brutal - they have a particular combination of attributes that make them pretty nasty to deal with. Which is to say, they functioned exactly as I hoped (their stat blocks are presented below).

This session started to show just how long they have been away, as some of their key consumables are reaching critical levels; notably, healing aids and absorb blow charms. Though, now they are "safe", so nothing should go wrong, right?

Massive Stonemen

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX:  3      Initiative:                 3      Unconsciousness:    NA
STR:  14    Physical Defense:   6      Death Rating:            110
TOU: 15    Mystic Defense:      12     Wound Threshold:  22
PER:  6      Social Defense:       12     Knockdown:               16
WIL: 10    Physical Armor:     15     Recovery Tests:         4
CHA: 6      Mystic Armor:         8
Movement: 12
Actions: 2; Unarmed: 17 (26), Trample: 17 (24)
Powers:
Awareness (13)Heat Sight
Hardened Armor
Immune to Fear
Resist Pain (6)
Special Maneuvers:
Earth-Shattering Headache (Massive Stoneman, Unarmed): The massive stoneman may spend two additional successes on an Attack test to strike their target on the top of their head, causing him to be Harried until the end of the next round.
Overrun (Massive Stoneman, Trample)
Slowpoke (Opponent, Blunt Weapon): If the opponent has sufficient movement, he may spend one additional success on an Attack test to quickly move behind the massive stoneman before he can react. The massive stoneman is blindsided against the opponent until the end of the round.

19 August 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 43 - Little Bear Went Over the Mountain

This is the forty-third Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.







Adventure Log – 043 Little Bear Went Over the Mountains

Written By: Honeysuckle of Glenwood Deep

Date:  03 Doddul - 21 Doddul, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster


Beware the sandstorms! Believe it or not, the Badlands can actually get worse(1). The sandstorm rages on without an end in sight. It's almost like the sandstorm is alive and starts to speak to you(2). About seven days into this part of our journey, we managed to make our way out of the storm to overlook a glistening lake with a large mountain rising above it(3). In this ever worsening wasteland, you wonder if it's a mirage.

Making our way off the cliff's edge so we can investigate this mountain is going to be a challenge. Elmod has summoned an earth elemental that takes the shape of a sandstorm, fitting for this place. Elmod successfully negotiates with the elemental for it to take us to the bottom of the cliff. We continue toward the mountain and the Badlands keeps putting obstacles in our way. Tonight there was no twilight. Just a change from the blistering heat to darkness(4).

Three days walking toward the mountain and we encounter large bones lain into the ground. Bongani seems to think they are cave troll bones. Elmod claims the bones are part of a spell pattern. Elmod says this is not just the largest bone circle he's ever heard of, but this is also a Named spell. We have stumbled on something of legend(5).

The bones begin to shift and come together. We send Elmod forward in the hopes of speaking the spirit of this bone circle(6). This plan does not seem to be going our way as five cave trolls made of bone come up from the ground to attack.

Skeletal cave trolls proved to be no match for Ting and I as we disposed of them.

Taking stock of our options and resting a bit leaves us with the question of going around the circle, or through it.

Going around the circle, it takes three days and looking ahead, it appears we will be walking into the sandstorm again.

We have decided to leave the investigation at this place for another time and continue looking for the keys to the disappearing city.

It takes another seven days to clear the other half of the sandstorm.

You wouldn't think that the scrub of the Badlands would be a welcome sight, but it was after the time in the desert.

Looking for the keys to the city takes us to this odd shape on the map. Even stranger is the physical features of the land match the shape on the map. We head to the center and find a giant that isn't a rock. It's the entrance to a kaer(7)!

We descend into the first outer room. The pillars are massive stone warriors and the room is huge - so large that Ting starts great leaping around and lands on the shoulders of a stone warrior who then turns to look at Ting. The other warriors turn to look at Ting...(8)


*     *     *
(1) I believe it. Things can always get worse. They usually do.
(2) That's a bad sign no matter where you are. In the Badlands, it's even worse. Basically, it's a miracle this log ever made it back to me.
(3) What? I think there are some other accounts that make mention of something like this. If this is what I think it might be, this could change the political landscape of Barsaive. The Eye needs to know about it. 
(4) That's not a good sign. I think I'm right.
(5) My knowledge of Nethermancy is only cursory, but this could be a Named spell withing a Named bone circle, using it to power the nether breach... thing. They "keys" the group is chasing are probably the pattern items to at least one of these Named spells and can be used to dispel it, them, whatever. This needs to be run by some people who know more about such things. Just cannot let Fastoon or Mestoph get wind of it.
(6) Of all the stupid-!
(7) This could either be the first unbreached kaer from the Badlands, or very, very bad things.
(8) Received and reluctantly edited by Ela Pono

In many ways, this was a payoff session. Not a payoff in the sense of treasure, but the pieces of their adventure starting to come together. A glimpse at the larger pattern at work and how to progress. While the woods are lovely, dark and deep, they still have promises to keep, and miles to go before they sleep.

Since I'm not inclined to reveal much more about the events of the session, instead I'll give the stats for what they fought (which kinda makes this like a bonus Anatomy of a Creature). The petrified cave trolls were made by combining cave trolls with one of the skeletal templates (clearly, the petrified template). I have to admit, these templates make creating custom and varied encounters so much easier.

Petrified Cave Trolls

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 8       Initiative:                7       Unconsciousness:    NA
STR: 14     Physical Defense: 16     Death Rating:             75
TOU: 10    Mystic Defense:    16      Wound Threshold:  15
PER: 5        Social Defense:     9       Knockdown:                16
WIL: 6       Physical Armor:   8       Recovery Tests:          2
CHA: 2       Mystic Armor:       5
Movement: 14
Actions: 2; Cave Axe: 18 (24)
Powers:
Enhanced Sense [Sight]: Heat Sight
Fury (2)
Resist Pain (4)
Special Maneuvers:
Brittle (Opponent, Blunt Weapon): Opponents attacking the gaunt ape with a blunt weapon gain an additional success on a successful Attack test.
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)

26 July 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 02 - Poison Ivy

This is the second 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

This is a thread item from my home game made specifically for one character; he knows who he is and can continue read to spoil the surprises if he wants.

With no threads attached, Poison Ivy is in the form of a large, arcane and ornate looking seed. Like a big, fancy walnut. Once a thread is attached, it cocoons the owner in vegetation. After a time, the excess plant life withers and dies, leaving only the perfectly fitted fernweave armor behind.

The plants that compose the armor change each morning with the rising sun based on the prevailing flora of the area. In urban areas, it aligns itself with the nearest rural environment, underground it appears as lichens and fungi, while in desolate areas, it takes the form of whatever plant life could possibly survive.

Once a thread is attached, it draws all sustenance from the magical connection and long longer requires any additional enchantment renewal. As the thread rank increases, the armor becomes more reactive to the surroundings and the moods of its wearer, even growing and adapting to help intercept attacks.

Maximum Threads: 1
Spell Defense: 18
Legend Point Cost: Warden

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the Name of the armor.
Effect: The armor is Physical and Mystic Armor 3.


Improving the Physical Armor rating. It's appropriate and useful, but nothing interesting.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The armor is now Mystic Armor 4.

More of the same. With light armor like this, I always like to bump it up a little first. Other effects are where the fun is at, but if it cannot function as good armor first and foremost, everything else is lost.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the Name of the armor's creator.
Effect: The armor is now Physical Armor 4.


It's now as effective as crystal ringlet, probably the burliest of what would be considered light armor. At this point, I feel good about the basic defensive properties. The character it was designed for doesn't need extensive protection since he is a ranged character and utterly paranoid of anything getting near him.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The wearer gains +1 rank to Stealthy Stride.

Here is where the armor begins to actively react and adapt to the surroundings.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn where the materials used to create the armor were gathered.
Effect: The wearer gains +1 rank to Danger Sense.

This continues with the trend of the armor gaining a life of its own, and perceiving and reacting to the environment. At this point it's symbiotic nature should start to become more clear, in addition to the growing sense it's not just magic armor.


Thread Rank Six
Effect: For 1 Strain, the armor takes on a slick, oily sheen. The wearer may wipe a weapon on the armor as a Simple action to poison it for the next attack that round. This poison is debilitating [Onset: 1 round, Interval 5/1 round] with a Step equal to the Thread Rank.

This is the first interesting effect. It's not a particularly powerful poison, unlikely to heavily impact the game, but it isn't intended for that purpose. This is a new tool for a character that isn't really a combat character. The poison may change to be paralytic and it may need to be more powerful to have some real effect at this level of play.


Thread Rank Seven
Deed: The wearer must visit the location where the materials were gathered and enchantment performed in Poison Wood.
Effect: The armor is now Physical and Mystic Armor 5.

Normally I don't like to specify a key knowledge so others are more easily adapt it for their own use, but the fact this came from Poison Wood was clearly telegraphed long ago. This effect isn't terribly interesting, but this is still armor at the end of the day and I always like to leverage at least one of the 7+ ranks to give two bonuses. It tends to just feel good.


Thread Rank Eight
Effect: For 1 Strain, the armor grows thorns in reaction to an attack. The wearer may inflict poison from the Rank Six effect on any successful unarmed attack (this includes bite, claw, etc. attacks from creatures). For 1 Strain, the wearer may increase the Step of the poison by +3, whether applied to a weapon or in reaction to an attack.

I like this capstone a lot and I really hope it is useful. The key is for it to build off the Rank Six effect by improving it and creating a new use, without really making an entirely new effect. When (if) it comes into play and it doesn't work, that will just mean sitting down and figuring out a different effect that does work while still building off of the Rank Six effect.

07 June 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 42 - The Key to Happiness

This is the forty-second Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.







Adventure Log – 042 The Key to Happiness

Written By: Elmod from the Other Side of the Well of Glenwood Deep

Date:  03 Borrum - 02 Doddul, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster


I revived Ting at the last moment of opportunity, saving her from certain death.

We on to a glowing room of three white stone depictions of a Passion: arms extended, crossed, and offering(1). This is also the home of the spiders, a small bounty within their bolus of spider stash. A few fine gems, oddly minted coinage(2), and a fine gem that is a pattern item for a Named spell(3). Also, a fair bit of fernweave and thorny weapons(4). And a wand. We leave for Sanctuary after establishing the rest of the kaer is vacant.

We return to Sanctuary and revive ourselves and meditate on our talents. Also spending some time with many of the items in our previous stash. I wandered outside of town to find materials for blood charms. I found a fine vein one day and promptly got to work on an absorb blow charm, but on the fourth day, the makeshift cauldron I had made collapsed and the charm was lost(5). We dare not stay any longer(6).

We follow the river downstream until it goes off the map we have, Bongani reckoning the river continues and completes and connects to other rivers south on our current map(7).

Desiring to be on the other side of the river, I decided to summon a water elemental to aid in spreading the water of the river for us. We selected a narrow section of river, though the task of summoning such a powerful enough elemental seemed quite difficult(8).

As such, first I summoned an ally spirit to aid my elemental summoning(9).

The muse spirit I summoned was quite beautiful, prismatic and scintillating. I bought its services with, after deft negotiation, only a small portion of blood(10) and a song and dance routine done with a wooden carving I lavishly costumed. The spirit liked our Badlands theater - it was quaint and lovely(11).

With the spirit's help, I summoned a delightful and belligerent(12) water elemental that did as we requested for the negotiated price of a kernel of true water from our party treasury.

The Badlands continue to stretch before us as we make our way to the moated pyramid(13) and the symbol of the Polaris beyond(14). I am trepidatious about the latter(15).(16)


*     *     *
(1) This sounds like it is probably Garlen portraying helper and protector. I wish there was more detail to determine some ideas of this kaer's customs. Any details beyond white, female, has arms and knows how to use them.
(2) How is it odd? There is so much you can tell from a minting, it's almost never "odd". Clueless or deliberately obtuse?
(3) Very interesting. Also: MORE DETAILS. 
(4) This just sounds like blood elves with their own coinage who got messed up with a Horror. Which means there is a Horror around. Is there something along these lines that isn't being shared in these logs?
(5) Make. Shift. Cauldron? Is there anyway this could have gone right?
(6) Did something happen? Is this a scenario that ends with them leaving or someone getting married? Was it because of the makeshift cauldron's predictable end? Details!
(7) How many maps are we talking about in this scenario and how many rivers? It sounds like there is some kind of river valley hiding in the Badlands we have never heard about. This is entirely possible, given we haven't heard of this Sanctuary before either.
(8) This is so boring. And I listened to Zamrica tell a story today.
(9) And here we have all the unwanted details about something about which no one cares.
(10) Yeah, real deft. It only took your blood.
(11) I feel like half of this log is about crossing a river. Incredible details on how a river was crossed. The only logical conclusion is they are screwing with me. Me personally. No one can be this blindly self-involved.
(12) This may be the first time I have ever seen those two adjectives together without a trace of irony. Delightful and belligerent.
(13) WHAT IS THIS!?! This is the first anything of this kind has ever been mentioned? Is this the thrice-damned city for which they are searching?
(14) AND AGAIN! What is this? What is he talking about?
(15) WHY? Explain yourself, Nethermancer!
(16) Received and reluctantly edited by Ela Pono

After big sessions, such as the previous one, I generally like to dial things back and have something a bit more low key. Normally there would be lots of social interactions, but Uriel's player was absent. Things were starting to go sideways and were aborted before they actually started going completely out of control and the only answer was to burn everything to the ground. Which has happened before.

The major pieces going on in the background of this session continue to move various plot elements forward. Some have been going for a very long time, others introduced more recently to begin connecting them together. In all: everything is falling into place.

As an editorial aside: there is a lot missing from the log. At times I feel like I should write a companion log to go with the in-character log, but that would ruin a lot of the fun. In part, it would almost certainly give away some details and connections given the perspective. I know some omissions are deliberate, while others are highly dependent on who is writing the log. Each player and character takes different notes based on what they feel is most important.

In all, it was a good session to have when down one player and started to provide a greater context for some disparate pieces. Others are still building.

24 May 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 17 - Befouled Spider Adepts

This is the seventeenth 4E Anatomy of a Creature, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

As promised, here are the Horror constructs featured in sessions 040 and 041 of my ongoing Earthdawn campaign, Mismatched Steel. There is nothing mechanical about them that is specific to Horror constructs - they can be used as normal creatures if so desired.


They were designed to function as a group and targeted as a seventh circle challenge, though this may not be quite right for all groups. The various abilities each of the four befouled spiders possesses complements the others and allows them to slowly cripple their opposition. Between poison, webbing, dispelling, armor reduction, etc., there are a lot of different ways they make life difficult.

The weakest for direct damage is the archer, who is best served by taking a supporting role and focusing on the high accuracy to generate extra successes for special maneuvers. Each of the other three has strategies to use, such as the beastmaster overwhelming an opponent with numbers and taking advantage of Surprise Strike, the warrior's very direct approach, or the spellcaster enhancing their action to an area attack that can possibly affect mystic armor.

From a design perspective, there are a lot of new things I tried out. Including a number of the special maneuvers and the enhanced attack the spellcaster is sporting. I'm looking at ways to offer more and different options without making things too complicated to track. The idea of a bigger attack that is less commonly used is appealing, but balancing something like that without an artificial limit can be tricky. This is one attempt at a work around.


Spider, Befouled Archer

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 12        Initiative:                  14       Unconsciousness:      65
STR: 10         Physical Defense:  15       Death Rating:               75
TOU: 10        Mystic Defense:      14       Wound Threshold:    15
PER: 11         Social Defense:       11        Knockdown:                  18
WIL: 11         Physical Armor:      6        Recovery Tests:            3
CHA: 7          Mystic Armor:         8
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 2; Long Bow: 22 (16)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Poison (10): The victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Stealthy Stride (20): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Dispelling Strike (Befouled Archer Spider): The befouled archer spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to make a Dispel Magic test against one spell affecting the target. The Attack test result is used as the Dispel Magic result. This special maneuver may be used once per round.
Poisoned Soul (Befouled Archer Spider): The befouled archer spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to inflict Poison on the target. This may not be used with Web Slinger and may only be used once per attack.
Web Slinger (Befouled Archer Spider): The befouled archer spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.

Spider, Befouled Beastmaster

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 11        Initiative:                  13        Unconsciousness:      67
STR: 11         Physical Defense:   13       Death Rating:               79
TOU: 11        Mystic Defense:       11        Wound Threshold:    16
PER: 10        Social Defense:        13       Knockdown:                  19
WIL: 8         Physical Armor:       9        Recovery Tests:            4
CHA: 9         Mystic Armor:          6
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 3; Claws: 18 (17)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Fury (2)
Poison (10): The victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Stealthy Stride (19): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Lead the Attack (Befouled Beastmaster Spider): The befouled beastmaster spider may spend additional successes from an Attack test to give all pack hunter spider allies +1 to Attack tests per success against the opponent until the end of the round. If the opponent is Harried by Webbing or affected by Poison, the bonus lasts until the end of the next round.
Poisoned Soul (Befouled Beastmaster Spider): The befouled beastmaster spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to inflict Poison on the target. This may not be used with Web Slinger and may only be used once per attack.

Web Slinger (Befouled Beastmaster Spider): The befouled beastmaster spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.

Spider, Befouled Spellcaster

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 9           Initiative:                  11       Unconsciousness:      62
STR: 8           Physical Defense:   11       Death Rating:               71
TOU: 9           Mystic Defense:      14       Wound Threshold:    13
PER: 12         Social Defense:        12       Knockdown:                 16
WIL: 12         Physical Armor:      5        Recovery Tests:            3
CHA: 8          Mystic Armor:          10
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 2; Ranged 20: 18 (15)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Astral Attack: Attacks can target Mystic Defense instead of Physical Defense.
Astral Interference (20): As the talent, Player's Guide, p. 179. Treat as Rank 8.
Enhance Attack [Area] (Standard): The next Attack test the befouled spellcaster spider makes affects a 4-yard area instead of a single target. Any special maneuvers are applied to all affected targets.
Enhanced Sense [Other] (20): Astral Sight, as the talent, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Poison (10): The victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Stealthy Stride (217): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Dispelling Strike (Befouled Spellcaster Spider): The befouled spellcaster spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to make a Dispel Magic test against one spell affecting the target. The Attack test result is used as the Dispel Magic result. This special maneuver may be used once per round.
Ethereal Attack (Befouled Spellcaster Spider): The befouled spellcaster spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to affect Mystic Armor instead of Physical Armor.
Poisoned Soul (Befouled Spellcaster Spider): The befouled spellcaster spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to inflict Poison on the target. This may not be used with Web Slinger and may only be used once per attack.

Web Slinger (Befouled Spellcaster Spider): The befouled spellcaster spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.

Spider, Befouled Warrior

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 10        Initiative:                  14        Unconsciousness:      71
STR: 12         Physical Defense:   14        Death Rating:               83
TOU: 12        Mystic Defense:       12        Wound Threshold:    18
PER: 8          Social Defense:        10        Knockdown:                 20
WIL: 9          Physical Armor:      10        Recovery Tests:           4
CHA: 6         Mystic Armor:          8
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 2; Sword: 19 (20)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Hardened Armor
Poison (10): The victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Resist Pain (2)
Stealthy Stride (19): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Armor Cutter (Befouled Warrior Spider): The befouled warrior spider may spend additional successes from an Attack test to reduce the target's Physical Armor by 1 per success after damage is dealt. This may not destroy thread armor. This may not be used with Web Slinger.
Poisoned Soul (Befouled Warrior Spider): The befouled warrior spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to inflict Poison on the target. This may not be used with Web Slinger and may only be used once per attack.


Web Slinger (Befouled Warrior Spider): The befouled warrior spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.

Spider, Pack Hunter

Challenge: Novice (Third Circle)
DEX: 7        Initiative:                   11       Unconsciousness:      33
STR: 4         Physical Defense:   11       Death Rating:               39
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:       8        Wound Threshold:    9
PER: 6         Social Defense:       10       Knockdown:                 14
WIL: 8        Physical Armor:       5        Recovery Tests:           2
CHA: 4        Mystic Armor:          3
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 1; Bite: 11 (12)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Poison (10): If the spider's bite causes damage, the victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Stealthy Stride (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Web Slinger (Befouled Warrior Spider): The befouled warrior spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.