18 September 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Rogues' Gallery 20 - Elf Archer (Circle 8) Prototype

This is the twentieth 4E Rogues' Gallery, 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 new entry in this experiment to create adept opponents as creatures, rather than as full-blown characters.

In this particular example, accuracy is everything for an Archer. Using the constraints of creatures, this makes True Shot, an iconic ability, less than useful due to their reduced Karma. One solution is to increase their Karma Step, but that doesn't seem right. Instead, True Shot has been turned into a power that encourages Karma to be spent on the Attack test, which combines well with the adapted Show Armor Flaw power.


The t'skrang Swordmaster had Anticipate Blow function similarly to Show Armor Flaw and both Disciplines have these talents. Since the goal here isn't to have everything be the same, but to customize the encounter for simplicity, not everything is always going to be the same. Maybe one day. Towards that end, Combat Prescience fills the spot of Anticipate Blow, but further enhances their accuracy by encouraging them to pick on slower opponents. This also gives an advantage to opponents who go faster and likely represent a real threat to the Archer.

There are some tricky parts yet to resolve. It cannot be stressed enough these are prototypes. The goal is to bring the flavor and feeling of the various abilities and Disciplines, while reducing the overall workload associated with using them. What is presented here may not be the final form and everything may very well change. If you use anything here, I'd love to hear how it went.

This approach isn't appropriate for every NPC and some deserve a full write-up. However, if they don't have a Name, this might work out for the best.
Archer, Elf

Distant and aloof, the elf Archer is about results. Overly complex and circuitous plans aren't their style as they inevitably go wrong, but that doesn't mean these adepts aren't capable of being subtle. There's just nothing they hate more than missing.

Challenge: Journeyman (Eighth Circle)
DEX: 9        Initiative:                   17      Unconsciousness:      58
STR: 6         Physical Defense:   17       Death Rating:               64
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:       16       Wound Threshold:    9
PER: 7         Social Defense:        14      Knockdown:                  5
WIL: 7        Physical Armor:       7        Recovery Tests:            2
CHA: 6        Mystic Armor:          7        Karma:                             4 (8)
Movement: 12
Actions: 2; Elven Warbow (88, 136): 24 (17)
Powers:
Awareness (15): As the talent, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Bank Shot: The elf Archer ignores partial cover.
Combat Prescience (5): The elf Archer gains +5 to Attack tests against opponents with a lower Initiative result.
Spot Armor Flaw: The elf Archer inflicts an additional point of damage for each additional success on an Attack test (typically +3 instead of +2).
Stealthy Stride (17): As the talent, Player's Guide, p. 170.
True Shot: The elf Archer receives two Karma dice when a Karma point is spend on an Attack test.
Special Maneuvers:
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)
Equipment: Elven warbow and hardened leather.

15 September 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 22 - Blood Bees Expanded

This is the twenty-second 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.

It was noted on the FASA Games Discord server there are no queens for the appropriate insects in Earthdawn.

Not only is this post going to feature a blood bee queen, but expand the various blood bee offerings to create more variety when exterminating a hive of them. These expanded creatures were largely created using Masks and those used are noted. Some of the values have been tweaked to better suit the desired outcome, creating a blood bee nest.


Blood Bees Expanded

Blood Bee Soldier [Large Venomous Phalanx Blood Bee]

Unusual among vespids (despite being called blood bees, their taxonomy places them within the wasp family), blood bees have a distinct soldier caste made of infertile males. Unlike drones, which develop without fertilization, soldiers are fertilized after they have begun developing. The most notable difference is the lack of sack to collect blood. Instead male blood bees possess poison sacs and a foul disposition. The preferred tactic is to poison their targets and allow workers to drain them for the hungry brood. Soldiers remain near the nest unless they detect pheromones summoning them to a particular location, in which case they arrive in large numbers ready for a fight to the death.

Challenge: Novice (Third Circle)
DEX: 7        Initiative:                    7        Unconsciousness:      30
STR: 4         Physical Defense:   11       Death Rating:               35
TOU: 5        Mystic Defense:       11       Wound Threshold:     6
PER: 5         Social Defense:        8        Knockdown:                  4
WIL: 4        Physical Armor:       4        Recovery Tests:            1
CHA: 2        Mystic Armor:          1  
Movement: 2 (Flying 12)
Actions: 1; Bite: 12 (11), Stinger: 10 (13)
Powers:
Hardened Armor
Poison (10): If the blood bee soldier's sting causes damage, the victim must resist paralytic poison (see Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 5 min].
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
Teamwork: Opponents are Harried by one less opponent if at least one other attacker has this power.
Special Maneuvers:
Clip the Wing (Opponent)
Defang (Opponent)


Blood Bee Drone [Noxious Chief Blood Bee]

Drones are fertile males created from an unfertilized egg. They aren't quite as large and dangerous as soldiers, and rarely leave the nest. However, they can be summoned with a particular combination of pheromones when things are dire, or those no longer fit for breeding. If the nest has too many drones, they more frequently accompany soldiers on excursions.

Challenge: Novice (Second Circle)
DEX: 8        Initiative:                   9       Unconsciousness:      19
STR: 3         Physical Defense:   11      Death Rating:              22
TOU: 3        Mystic Defense:       10     Wound Threshold:    4
PER: 5         Social Defense:        8       Knockdown:                 3
WIL: 4        Physical Armor:       4       Recovery Tests:           1
CHA: 2        Mystic Armor:          1  
Movement: 2 (Flying 12)
Actions: 1; Bite: 15 (8), Stinger: 12 (11)
Powers:
Distract (8): As the skill, Player's Guide,p. 139.
Poison (7): If the blood bee drone's stinger causes damage, the victim must resist paralytic poison (see Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 7 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 5 min].
Willful (1)
Special Maneuvers:
Clip the Wing
Defang (Opponent)
Lead the Attack (Blood Bee Drone): The blood bee drone may spend additional successes on an Attack test to give all of its allies +1 to Attack tests per success against the opponent until the end of the round.


Blood Bee Queen [Huge Warlord Blood Bee]

An order of magnitude in size over other blood bees, the queen is a decidedly dangerous opponent even beyond her entire nest working to protect her at all costs.

Challenge: Novice (Fourth Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                   7       Unconsciousness:      41
STR: 5         Physical Defense:   13      Death Rating:              48
TOU: 7        Mystic Defense:       12      Wound Threshold:    9
PER: 4         Social Defense:        10      Knockdown:                 5
WIL: 4        Physical Armor:       6       Recovery Tests:           2
CHA: 3        Mystic Armor:          2  
Movement: 2 (Flying 12)
Actions: 1; Bite: 19 (16), Stinger: 16 (19), Trample: 16 (17)
Powers:
Blood Veins (5): Once latched onto a target, the victim suffers Step 5 damage each round, with no reduction for armor. The bee is removed automatically if knocked down.
Resist Pain (2)
Vulnerability to Salt: The blood bee queen's sac is terribly susceptible to salt. If the queen touches salt, she takes Step 6 damage, with no reduction from armor. A character covered in salt enrages blood bees, but the buzzing swarms rarely gather the courage to attack them.
Willful (2)
Special Maneuvers:
Blood Sucker (Blood Bee Queen): The blood bee queen may spend an additional success on an Attack test to latch onto the target and use Blood Veins.
Clip the Wing (Opponent)
Lead the Attack (Blood Bee Queen): The blood bee queen may spend additional successes on an Attack test to give all of its allies +1 to Attack tests per success against the opponent until the end of the round.
Overrun (Blood Bee Queen, Trample)
Pull the Stinger (Opponent): The attacker may spend an additional success on an Attack test to remove the blood bee queen using Blood Veins on a target.

13 September 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 21 - Greater Termites Expanded

This is the twenty-first 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.

It was noted on the FASA Games Discord server there are no queens for the appropriate insects in Earthdawn.

Not only is this post going to feature a greater termite queen, but expand the various greater termite offerings to create more variety when exterminating a hive of them. These expanded creatures were largely created using Masks and those used are noted. Some of the values have been tweaked to better suit the desired outcome, creating a greater termite nest.


Greater Termites Expanded

Greater Termite Minor Soldier [Large Phalanx Greater Termite]

Greater termite minor soldiers are larger, more developed versions of the typically encountered greater termite, which are the nymph stage of maturity. Minor soldiers don't range as far from the nest as the nymphs, but quickly swarm any potential threats. When waging war against other greater termites, minor soldiers represent the bulk of the army.

Challenge: Novice (Second Circle)
DEX: 5        Initiative:                   6      Unconsciousness:      19
STR: 4         Physical Defense:   8      Death Rating:              22
TOU: 3        Mystic Defense:       8      Wound Threshold:    4
PER: 5         Social Defense:        8      Knockdown:                 10
WIL: 3        Physical Armor:       5      Recovery Tests:           1
CHA: 4        Mystic Armor:          2    
Movement: 12 (Climbing 12)
Actions: 1; Bite: 9 (12)
Powers:
Hardened Armor
Spray Irritant (9, Standard): The termite sprays a noxious secretion, which causes excruciating pain, on a target within 10 yards. The termite makes a Spray Irritant test against the target's Physical Defense. For each success, the victim is Harried for 1 round. The victim may make a Willpower (9) test to shake of the effect. The spray loses potency with time and the Difficulty Number of the Willpower test decreases by 1 each subsequent round.
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
Teamwork: Opponents are Harried by one less opponent if at least one other attacker has this power.
Special Maneuvers:
Agent Orange (Great Termite Minor Soldier, Bite): The termite may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to use Spray Irritant against the opponent as a Free action.
Crack the Shell (Opponent)
Stifle (Opponent): The attacker may use two additional successes on an Attack test to prevent the greater termite minor soldier from using Spray Irritant until the end of the next round. If the attack causes a Wound, the greater termite minor solider may not use Spray Irritant until the Wound is healed.
Loot: Pincers worth D10 x 5 silver pieces each (worth Legend Points).


Greater Termite Major Soldier [Large Myrmidon Greater Termite]

The final stage of maturity for most greater termites, major soldiers are notably larger and their mandibles so developed they are no longer capable of feeding themselves. Instead, they rely on nymphs to feed them. Not many minor soldiers survive to this stage in development and these greater termites fight with flexible groups of minor soldiers to support them.

Challenge: Novice (Third Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                   7      Unconsciousness:      27
STR: 4         Physical Defense:   9     Death Rating:               31
TOU: 4        Mystic Defense:       9     Wound Threshold:    5
PER: 5         Social Defense:        9     Knockdown:                 10
WIL: 3        Physical Armor:      6      Recovery Tests:           1
CHA: 4        Mystic Armor:         3    
Movement: 12 (Climbing 12)
Actions: 1; Bite: 10 (13)
Powers:
Distract (9): As the skill,Player's Guide, p. 139.
Hardened Armor
Spray Irritant (10, Standard): The termite sprays a noxious secretion, which causes excruciating pain, on a target within 10 yards. The termite makes a Spray Irritant test against the target's Physical Defense. For each success, the victim is Harried for 1 round. The victim may make a Willpower (10) test to shake of the effect. The spray loses potency with time and the Difficulty Number of the Willpower test decreases by 1 each subsequent round.
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
Teamwork: Opponents are Harried by one less opponent if at least one other attacker has this power.
Special Maneuvers:
Agent Orange (Great Termite Major Soldier, Bite): The termite may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to use Spray Irritant against the opponent as a Free action.
Crack the Shell (Opponent)
Grab and Bite (Greater Termite Major Soldier, Bite): The greater termite major soldier uses Spray Irritant in addition to bite damage.
Stifle (Opponent): The attacker may use two additional successes on an Attack test to prevent the greater termite major soldier from using Spray Irritant until the end of the next round. If the attack causes a Wound, the greater termite major solider may not use Spray Irritant until the Wound is healed.
Loot: Pincers worth 2D8 x 5 silver pieces each (worth Legend Points).


Greater Termite King [Large Chief Myrmidon Greater Termite]

Each king mates for life with a particular queen and serves as both her companion and protector. In the event he dies, the queen may find a new mate, but there is no future for him without her. Kings without a mate travel, searching for a queen starting a new colony. Those without a colony are skittish, unless a potential queen is nearby, in which case they are exceptionally aggressive.

Challenge: Novice (Fourth Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                   8       Unconsciousness:      32
STR: 5         Physical Defense:   11      Death Rating:              36
TOU: 4        Mystic Defense:       11      Wound Threshold:    5
PER: 5         Social Defense:        11      Knockdown:                 11
WIL: 3        Physical Armor:       6       Recovery Tests:           1
CHA: 5        Mystic Armor:          3    
Movement: 12 (Climbing 12)
Actions: 1; Bite: 12 (15)
Powers:
Distract (9): As the skill,Player's Guide, p. 139.
Hardened Armor
Spray Irritant (11, Standard): The termite sprays a noxious secretion, which causes excruciating pain, on a target within 10 yards. The termite makes a Spray Irritant test against the target's Physical Defense. For each success, the victim is Harried for 1 round. The victim may make a Willpower (11) test to shake of the effect. The spray loses potency with time and the Difficulty Number of the Willpower test decreases by 1 each subsequent round.
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
Teamwork: Opponents are Harried by one less opponent if at least one other attacker has this power.
Willful (1)
Special Maneuvers:
Agent Orange (Great Termite King, Bite): The termite may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to use Spray Irritant against the opponent as a Free action.
Crack the Shell (Opponent)
Lead the Attack (Greater Termite King): The greater termite king may spend additional successes on an Attack test to give all of its allies +1 to Attack tests per success against the opponent until the end of the round.
Stifle (Opponent): The attacker may use two additional successes on an Attack test to prevent the greater termite king from using Spray Irritant until the end of the next round. If the attack causes a Wound, the greater termite king may not use Spray Irritant until the Wound is healed.
Loot: Pincers worth 2D10 x 5 silver pieces each (worth Legend Points).


Greater Termite Queen [Huge Warlord Greater Termite]

Greater termite colonies may have more than one queen, but none have ever been found with more than four. When a colony has reached the perceived size limit, the first queen ejects the queen from the colony along with a retinue of nymphs, and minor and major soldiers to form a new colony. The young queen searches for both a suitable location for the fledgling colony and secretes a pheromone to attract potential kings. Queens on this sojourn are unlikely to engage in aggressive behavior unless threatened or in extremely competitive regions.

Challenge: Novice (Fourth Circle)
DEX: 5        Initiative:                    6       Unconsciousness:      38
STR: 6         Physical Defense:   10      Death Rating:              44
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:       10     Wound Threshold:    8
PER: 4         Social Defense:        9       Knockdown:                 12
WIL: 3        Physical Armor:       8       Recovery Tests:           2
CHA: 3        Mystic Armor:          3    
Movement: 8 (Climbing 12)
Actions: 1; Bite: 15 (19), Trample: 15 (17)
Powers:
Hardened Armor
Resist Pain (2)
Spray Irritant (11, Standard): The termite sprays a noxious secretion, which causes excruciating pain, on a target within 10 yards. The termite makes a Spray Irritant test against the target's Physical Defense. For each success, the victim is Harried for 1 round. The victim may make a Willpower (11) test to shake of the effect. The spray loses potency with time and the Difficulty Number of the Willpower test decreases by 1 each subsequent round.
Willful (1)
Special Maneuvers:
Agent Orange (Great Termite King, Bite): The termite may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to use Spray Irritant against the opponent as a Free action.
Crack the Shell (Opponent)
Lead the Attack (Greater Termite Queen): The greater termite queen may spend additional successes on an Attack test to give all of its allies +1 to Attack tests per success against the opponent until the end of the round.
Overrun (Greater Termite Queen, Trample)
Stifle (Opponent): The attacker may use two additional successes on an Attack test to prevent the greater termite queen from using Spray Irritant until the end of the next round. If the attack causes a Wound, the greater termite queen may not use Spray Irritant until the Wound is healed.
Loot: Pincers worth 2D12 x 5 silver pieces each (worth Legend Points).

11 September 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 20 - Red Ants Expanded

This is the twentieth 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.

It was noted on the FASA Games Discord server there are no queens for the appropriate insects in Earthdawn.

Not only is this post going to feature a red ant queen, but expand the various red ant offerings to create more variety when exterminating a hive of them. These expanded creatures were largely created using Masks and those used are noted. Some of the values have been tweaked to better suit the desired outcome, creating a red ant nest.


Red Ants Expanded

Red Ant Soldier [Phalanx Red Ant]

Slightly larger than the typical red ant and with more pronounced mandibles, soldiers instinctively work together to take down much larger and more dangerous foes. They aren't commonly encountered unless the nest has been threatened, or the workers encountered a credible threat.

Challenge: Novice (Second Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                   6      Unconsciousness:      19
STR: 3         Physical Defense:   11      Death Rating:              22
TOU: 3        Mystic Defense:       9       Wound Threshold:    4
PER: 4         Social Defense:        11      Knockdown:                 9
WIL: 6        Physical Armor:       5       Recovery Tests:           1
CHA: 5        Mystic Armor:          2    
Movement: 8
Actions: 1; Bite: 9 (7)
Powers:
Hardened Armor
Poison (7): If the red ant soldier's bite causes damage, the victim must resist debilitating poison (see Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 7 [Onset: 1 min, Interval: 5/1, Duration: 15 min].
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
Teamwork: Opponents are Harried by one less opponent if at least one other attacker has this power.
Special Maneuvers:
Defang (Opponent)


Red Ant Drone [Chief Red Ant]

Slightly larger than the typical red ant and possessing wings, drones are commonly found within the nest, near the queen, but also patrol with soldiers and workers to identify and neutralize threats. When outside, they rarely stray far from the nest and are captured, rather than killed, by rival nests.

Challenge: Novice (Second Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                   7      Unconsciousness:      16
STR: 3         Physical Defense:   11      Death Rating:              18
TOU: 2        Mystic Defense:       10     Wound Threshold:    3
PER: 5         Social Defense:        11      Knockdown:                 9
WIL: 6        Physical Armor:       5       Recovery Tests:           1
CHA: 5        Mystic Armor:          3    
Movement: 8 (Flying 10)
Actions: 1; Bite: 10 (7)
Powers:
Distract (7): As the skill, Player's Guide,p. 139.
Poison (7): If the red ant drone's bite causes damage, the victim must resist debilitating poison (see Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 7 [Onset: 1 min, Interval: 5/1, Duration: 15 min].
Special Maneuvers:
Defang (Opponent)
Lead the Attack (Red Ant Drone): The red ant drone may spend additional successes on an Attack test to give all of its allies +1 to Attack tests per success against the opponent until the end of the round.


Red Ant Praetorian Guard [Large Myrmidon Red Ant]

Larger than the typical red ant soldier and quite aggressive, praetorian guards instinctively work together to protect their queen at all costs. They are only encountered with the queen is in danger or there is an existential threat to the nest.

Challenge: Novice (Third Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                   6      Unconsciousness:      30
STR: 4         Physical Defense:   11     Death Rating:               34
TOU: 5        Mystic Defense:       10     Wound Threshold:    7
PER: 4         Social Defense:        12     Knockdown:                 11
WIL: 6        Physical Armor:       6       Recovery Tests:           1
CHA: 5        Mystic Armor:          3    
Movement: 8
Actions: 1; Bite: 10 (9)
Powers:
Distract (7): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 139.
Hardened Armor
Poison (8): If the red ant praetorian guard's bite causes damage, the victim must resist debilitating poison (see Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 8 [Onset: 1 min, Interval: 5/1, Duration: 15 min].
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
Teamwork: Opponents are Harried by one less opponent if at least one other attacker has this power.
Special Maneuvers:
Defang (Opponent)


Red Ant Queen [Huge Warlord Red Ant]

An order of magnitude in size over other red ants, the queen is a decidedly dangerous opponent even beyond her entire nest working to protect her at all costs.

Challenge: Novice (Fourth Circle)
DEX: 4        Initiative:                   5      Unconsciousness:      38
STR: 6         Physical Defense:   12      Death Rating:              44
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:       11      Wound Threshold:    7
PER: 4         Social Defense:        12      Knockdown:                 12
WIL: 6        Physical Armor:       8       Recovery Tests:           2
CHA: 6        Mystic Armor:          3    
Movement: 8
Actions: 1; Bite: 15 (15), Trample: 15 (13)
Powers:
Poison (8): If the red ant queen's bite causes damage, the victim must resist debilitating poison (see Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 8 [Onset: 1 min, Interval: 5/1, Duration: 15 min].
Resist Pain (2)
Willful (2)
Special Maneuvers:
Defang (Opponent)
Lead the Attack (Red Ant Queen): The red ant queen may spend additional successes on an Attack test to give all of its allies +1 to Attack tests per success against the opponent until the end of the round.
Overrun (Red Ant Queen, Trample)

08 September 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Rogues' Gallery 19 - Troll Sky Raider (Circle 6) Prototype

This is the ninteenth 4E Rogues' Gallery, 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 new entry in this experiment to create adept opponents as creatures, rather than as full-blown characters. 


This is an iconic troll Sky Raider that ventures a little further from a "traditional" PC character. There's a few reasons for this. One is many of those abilities don't translate well to this model - the desire here is to minimize rolling and fiddly bits. Whereas with PC adepts, those are very much their thing, lots of different interlocking abilities and ways to put together a strategy. I was tempted to make Fireblood below into a power that simply healed the Step in damage, but that removed the ability to spend Karma on it.

Another reason is to make the conflict more interesting. If every NPC adept behaved exactly as a PC adept, that's rather predictable. This creates some level of mystery as what exactly they can do. As time and supplements move forward, the disparity between these is likely to be reduced.

At something like the logical outcome of the two previous reasons, I want to keep the number of powers relatively low. GMC adepts are notoriously difficult to run just because all the rolling and fiddly bits, but also because of how much stuff they have going on. As I have discussed regarding this, PCs have all the time and attention to dedicate to this one character, while GMs interactions are fleeting.

Even all the system mastery in the world can be insufficient when running multiple adepts, tracking their powers and effects, thread items, spells, etc., while trying to maintain the scene. It often becomes expedient to simply not use many of the GMC adepts' powers, saving time rolling and shuffling through abilities, to keep things going.

Towards that end, the goal is to give these adepts a small number of abilities with lots of flavor and punch. They (hopefully) have a noticeable effect that reinforces the flavor of the Discipline. It needs to be interesting and fun (danger is fun), and feel like something the Discipline would do. Hopefully everything here works in that way.

There are some tricky parts yet to resolve. It cannot be stressed enough these are prototypes. The goal is to bring the flavor and feeling of the various abilities and Disciplines, while reducing the overall workload associated with using them. What is presented here may not be the final form and everything may very well change. If you use anything here, I'd love to hear how it went.

This approach isn't appropriate for every NPC and some deserve a full write-up. However, if they don't have a Name, this might work out for the best.


Sky Raider, Troll

Troll Sky Raiders are veritable forces of nature in combat. Powerful and huge with wounds that always seem to be on fire. These combatants are virtually unstoppable as they lay waste to all that lies before them.

Challenge: Journeyman (Sixth Circle)
DEX: 7        Initiative:                   11      Unconsciousness:      51
STR: 8         Physical Defense:   13       Death Rating:              58
TOU: 7        Mystic Defense:       10       Wound Threshold:    10
PER: 5         Social Defense:        12      Knockdown:                 14
WIL: 5        Physical Armor:       7        Recovery Tests:           4
CHA: 6        Mystic Armor:          6        Karma:                            4 (8)
Movement: 14
Actions: 1; Throwing Axe (24 yds): 16 (16), Two-Handed Sword: 18 (22)
Powers:
Battle Shout (12, Simple): As the talent, Player's Guide, p. 131.
Fireblood (15, Standard): The troll Sky Raider spends a Recovery test and makes a Fireblood test, healing current damage equal to the result. Fury (2)
Great Leap (10)
Overwhelming Force: The troll Sky Raider does not spend Strain to use the Aggressive Attack combat option.
Special Maneuvers:
Enrage (Opponent)
Fires of Battle (Troll Sky Raider, Close Combat): The troll Sky Raider may spend three additional successes on an Attack test to use Fireblood as a Free action.
Follow-Up Throw (Troll Sky Raider, Close Combat): The troll Sky Raider may spend two additional successes on an Attack test to make a throwing axe attack.
Overpower (Troll Sky Raider, Close Combat): The troll Sky Raider may spend two additional successes on an Attack test to force the target to make a Knockdown test against a Difficulty Number equal to the Attack test result. If the test fails, the target is knocked down and knocked back a number of yards equal to the total number of successes on the Attack test.
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)
Equipment: Crystal ringlet, throwing axes x 5, troll two-handed sword.

06 September 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Rogues' Gallery 18 - T'skrang Swordmaster (Circle 5) Prototype

This is the eighteenth 4E Rogues' Gallery, 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 new entry in this experiment to create adept opponents as creatures, rather than as full-blown characters.

The most difficult part is emulating the feel of the Discipline while operating within the constraints of creature design. This includes reduced health ratings and minimal rolling. It leads to situations where the abilities aren't the same as a character may have access. This is okay as long as it feels like the opponent is the appropriate Discipline. In this case, a Swordmaster. More specifically, a t'skrang Swordmaster, which is tailored to the Namegiver.

There are some tricky parts yet to resolve. It cannot be stressed enough these are prototypes. The goal is to bring the flavor and feeling of the various abilities and Disciplines, while reducing the overall workload associated with using them. What is presented here may not be the final form and everything may very well change. If you use anything here, I'd love to hear how it went.

This approach isn't appropriate for every NPC and some deserve a full write-up. However, if they don't have a Name, this might work out for the best.


Swordmaster, T'skrang

A t'skrang Swordmaster is a typically a flamboyant opponent more interested in winning and making an impression than anything so vicious as killing their opponent. Even in defeat, it must be stylish. Unless they are from House K'tenshin.

Challenge: Journeyman (Fifth Circle)
DEX: 7        Initiative:                   15      Unconsciousness:      43
STR: 6         Physical Defense:   13       Death Rating:              49
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:       10       Wound Threshold:    9
PER: 6         Social Defense:        13      Knockdown:                 11
WIL: 5        Physical Armor:       5        Recovery Tests:           2
CHA: 7        Mystic Armor:          5        Karma:                            4 (8)
Movement: 12
Actions: 2; Broad Sword ×2: 15 (13), Short Sword: 13 (12)
Powers:
Anticipate Blow: The t'skrang Swordmaster inflicts an additional point of damage for each additional success on an Attack test (typically +3 instead of +2) against opponents with a lower Initiative result.
Cobra Strike (5): The t'skrang Swordmaster gains +5 to Attack tests against opponents with a lower Initiative result.
Riposte (9, Free): The t'skrang Swordmaster takes advantage of poor swordsmanship to launch a counterattack against their opponent. If the t'skrang Swordmaster is attacked in close combat and the Attack test does not succeed against the Riposte Step, the t'skrang Swordmaster immediately makes an Attack test with their broad sword against the attacker. This power can be used once per round.
Taunt (12, Simple): As the talent, Player's Guide, p. 173.
Special Maneuvers:
Provoke(Opponent, Close Combat)
Tail Attack (T'skrang Swordmaster, Close Combat): The t'skrang Swordmaster may spend one additional success on an Attack test to make an additional attack against their opponent with their short sword. This special maneuver may be used once per round.
Equipment: Broad sword ×2, crystal ringlet, and a short sword.

04 September 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 04 - Butterspider Box

This is the fourth 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.

Found in Parlainth (p. 55), I don't believe Butterspider Box was updated to 3E. Just watch, someone is going to prove me wrong in the comments - in which case, I will gladly update with the location where it can be found.

It's difficult to explain why, but I have always found the Butterspider Box to be absolutely endearing. Not necessarily the mechanics, but something about it; it's weird and quirky, while still being useful. This particular thread item has shown up frequently over the years, even in campaigns that have nothing to do with Parlainth. That beat-up box gets around.

Probably with good reason. Beyond it's strange charm, it's a pretty nice thread item. It provides healing, but with limitations and a cost. They're hardly insurmountable, but it isn't free. The dispel magic effect is somewhat curious and there is a sharp increase in power where it's regrowing limbs and restoring life. Access to those ranks was significantly less common.

It's being presented as both a Journeyman and Warden thread item, allowing whoever is using it to decide how "mundane" it is an the extent of its powers. At Journeyman, it's a useful healing item - which is rare in 4E. While at Warden, it's the creation of a Passion and a potent healing item.


Butterspider Box

Maximum Threads: 1
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman (Warden)


Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the box's Name.
Effect: Once per day per person, the butterspider can be touched to an injury as a Standard action, granting the target a free Recovery test which is made immediately. Doing so melts the spider. It cannot be used again until the owner sacrifices places a fistful of lard or butter in the box and sacrifices a Recovery test, reforming the butterspider after the box has been closed for a minute.


The wording was changed a bit, though this should maintain the function as I understand it. Given some of the vagaries surrounding terminology, this may not be the case. Regardless, this effect is both interesting and balanced for the rank. Functionally, it provides some immediate healing and shuffles around Recovery tests.

A group's Weaponsmith or Elementalist (to a lesser extent) get the most mileage out of this as they tend to have the most unused Recovery tests on average. Elementalists simply already have ways to apply said unused Recovery tests to other characters. Anyone who falls into that category gets the most value from this item.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: It is Recovery Step +2.

This is slightly less powerful than the original (+3), but inline with 4E guidelines. Technically this kind of bonus is more appropriate at Rank 5, but given the limited access and costs, it works out for a lower rank.

Thread Rank Three
Deed: The owner must never knowingly harm a spider, except in self-defense from a genuine threat to their life, or the life of a blood oath companion. Should the owner break this vow, the Butterspider Box (including the butterspider) vanishes and reappears in a random location in Barsaive. Horror constructs do not count as spiders.
Effect: It is Recovery Step +4.

The first change is to the Deed. This was(-ish) the Rank Five Deed, however I moved it here to account for the modifications and that it is less something you perform and actually a ban. This means it's easy to achieve, more appropriate for the bonuses gained at these ranks. The original ban was overly restrictive and easily forced the owner to sacrifice the item due to blood oaths. It was cute, but not fun.

At this point, the typical item adds a new effect. However, I'm going to save that effect for Rank Five. Given the broad nature of the effect, it isn't appropriate for such a low rank.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: It is Recovery Step +6.

Thread Rank Five
Deed: The owner must compose and memorize a short verse explaining why the spider is a symbol of life and healing. The poem must be recited without error when sacrificing a Recovery test to reform the butterspider; an error in the recitation produces only the Rank Four effect. The owner must recipe the poem each time they re-form the butterspider.
Effect: Instead of healing the target, the Recovery test can instead grant the ability to cancel one ongoing magical effect on the target, including spells, creature powers, and Horror powers. Some Horror powers may be unable to be healed through this effect, such as Corruption Points and Horror marks (Gamemaster's Discretion). Dragon powers are unaffected. The Recovery test is made with all bonuses as normal against the Dispel Difficulty of the magical effect (treat powers as talents for this purpose).

This is the Rank Three Deed (they changed places) which makes more sense here since the new power from the original Rank Three has also been moved to Rank Five.

The power is mostly similar to the version from the original, though modified to handle various current and forthcoming changes. It's a powerful way to remove terrible effects (and at a notable low rank for the versatility of what it can do), but needs some limitations, or it can start to deform the grim reality of what Horrors still represent. The importance for GM interpretation of what it won't work on is because an exhaustive list is both impractical and impossible - there are always going to be new Horror powers, and GMs certainly are going to be coming up with their own. This item cannot be an universal panacea for everything, otherwise it likely go unused because of the disruption it can be to a game. As it is, it can be introduced as a quest for a potential remedy to some affliction. Whether it works or not.... The best use is against long-term effects, but there are some Horror powers with a short duration this is worthwhile against.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: It is Recovery Step +8.

Thread Rank Seven
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn Garlen created the Butterspider Box, and must hear it's Name from the Passion's own lips. Garlen either sends the owner on quests and/or exacts some vow.
Effect: Instead of healing the target's current damage or canceling a magical effect, the owner can regenerate a destroyed or severed appendage or organ, such as a limb withered by Wither Limb, regardless of how long it has been damaged. This effect may be used once per day.

This is when things get very powerful and why the item is presented in two different ways, as this rank means Garlen personally made the Butterspider Box and gave it potent, near unique powers.


Thread Rank Eight
Effect: When used to heal damage, the target also heals a Wound.

Technically there is another power here, to restore life to undead creatures. Honestly, I don't like this being the kind of power available casually through a thread item in canon material. It sets a bad precedent and makes it mundane. Even if getting here is a helluva thing and an epic quest, the who restoring lost appendages once per day is already epic. Restoring an undead creature even once should be an epic quest. Also, this leaves room for individual games to include such items and have them be special to that game.


Instead of simply increasing the bonus, the Butterspider Box does get a new effect which, while less impressive than restoring lost limbs, is more useful everyday. This is much like a healing potion. The alternative is bumping the bonus to +12, but that's rather mundane.

11 August 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 03 - Astral Sextant

This is the third 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.

Found in Parlainth (p. 54), I don't believe astral sextant was updated to 3E. Just watch, someone is going to prove me wrong in the comments - in which case, I will gladly update with the location where it can be found. I can only recall this particular thread item appearing in one game over the years, which happened to be set primarily in Parlainth. Go figure.

However, it wasn't the only game in that setting. Just the only with this item. Which caused problems. It came down to strong differences of opinion on how exactly it should do its thing. The players felt it should actually be useful, rather than require a lot of pixel bitching to get it pointed exactly in the right direction. The GM felt the information it provided was too powerful to make it easy to use. I think there was a chart that required two rolls to get the exact horizontal and vertical direction based on our base of operation in Haven. Then things got funny if we used it anywhere else. Funny in that space seemed to become decidedly non-Euclidean.

From an objective perspective, both groups were right. Not only that, but as alluded previously, it's not really easy on a GM to use. There is no range on this - point in a direction and you know stuff. Lots of stuff. Which also leads to a lot of, "Some random Horror thousands of miles away, focus."

In lieu of listing out each original thread rank and effect, I'm going to give a brief summary and take a shot at rebuilding it because it is a cool thread item

At first, you get to know the location of the nearest Horror, including the distance in the direction the device is pointing. "A difference of even a few degrees will result in a different reading; the sextant cannot detect a Horror even slightly to one side of the straight line from the pointer." Pixel bitching. If used in combat, this isn't such a big deal. However, this power is absolutely useless in combat - thanks astral sextant, I know where it is.

Second rank, it gives the type of Horror. This is a little strange as it indicates a universal taxonomy of Horrors as taxonomy isn't intrinsic. Even if programmed, did the creators include every kind of Horror, is there anything they didn't encounter? What about Named Horrors? This quickly gets weird and starts to remove some of the interesting guesswork that may go along with identifying Horrors.

Third rank, the user now gets the Name of the Horror and if the Horror senses the user's presence. That first one was potentially the thing a campaign was made of. 

Fourth rank, the astral sextant also detects Horror constructs (okay) and Horror-marked individuals (not-so-good). It gives names (so much for hiding your identity), if they know the user is there, and type if a construct. So... this removes a lot of the paranoia that can be associated with having Horror-marked people out there. Now, just point your doohicky them and all questions answered. Also, in an interesting twist, the sheer volume of Horror constructs in a place like Parlainth now makes this really hard to use to find a Horror, since there just needs to be a construct in the way, "Another freaking strawman? Ugh!"

Finally, at Fifth rank, the astral sextant gives up Horror powers, talents, spells by any "Horror-touched" creatures it detects. And the rough Death Rating in relation to the user. This kills the mystery in many ways. An argument can be made that's the entire purpose of the device, but this is really just too much. It's very easy to see both sides of using it in a game and why it simply never showed up - it is both too powerful and too limiting.

So, let's try to fix that. I don't think this is going to be an easy task and there may be multiple drafts before it's right. But you have to start somewhere. A major concern with designing effects for this is ensuring it doesn't make (currently unavailable) Horror Stalkers obsolete. One way is to assume if a game will eventually have a character who pursues Horror Stalker, this isn't an appropriate thread item to include. This is honestly the easy way out. So, let's shoot for them both being able to co-exist at the same table and maybe, eventually, take that easy way out.

Starting out, the tier of the thread item. It has the base cost of a Warden tier item, but the thread ranks of a Journeyman item. Detour: While these are not incompatible, my preference is to provide examples that color within the lines so they are most useful as examples and benchmarks. The hope is this makes it easier for others to follow and make informed decisions when going outside those guidelines.

For right now, I'm going to put this at Journeyman - though this decision may change. The biggest reason is the effects at Rank Seven and beyond are pretty big and I'm wary of this providing that much information. However, if the effects end up too powerful, it may get expanded to Warden with eight ranks and some effects pushed back. The Mystic Defense is set at 14 because that's the top end of the Journeyman range (10-14) and it feels appropriate for this particular thread item.

The general effects for this thread item involve determining the location and some information about Horrors and Horror constructs. Anything related to Horror-marked victims is being removed because that's no fun. Right up there with magic powers that detect lies. The plan is to stick to that direction, but create something more useful and palatable to both players and GMs; there's no point in writing a thread item the former never use and the latter never introduces.


Astral Sextant
Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman


Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn this device is called an astral sextant and its Name.
Effect: 
For 1 Strain as a Standard action, the owner makes a PER + Thread Rank test against the Mystic Defense of each Horror and Horror construct within Thread Rank × 20 yards. If successful, the astral sextant indicates the number of detected targets within the range.

This should be a useful detection ability that doesn't provide too much information, which is always important. Effects like this can be trick in the form of something like a spell because access to them may not be appropriate for every game, but a thread item is something specifically introduced by the GM, meaning it absolutely is appropriate for that game. The effect was initially tied to Astral Sight, which allows it to scale much better for higher Circles. But that limits the characters who can benefit from this thread item significantly. Moving it to PER + Thread Rank means it's about understanding the astral sextant itself, which is good because it's doing all the astral heavy lifting. The 1 Strain cost discourages this effect from being used over and over until there is a good result.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The owner gains a +2 bonus to all PER + Thread Rank tests with the astral sextant and it now indicates the direction of each detected target.

Providing bonuses to the test is how I decided to solve scaling issues for now. Given the limited applicability of the test and how much it impacts the game, I don't think this is too much of an issue. By the end, the total bonus to PER (including Thread Rank) is 14, which should be good for the most part. The effect also improves the initial ability, which is an ongoing thing with this item.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the precise location of the chamber in which the astral sextant was built.
Effect: The 
owner gains a +4 bonus to all PER + Thread Rank tests with the astral sextant and the range increases to Thread Rank × 50 yards.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The owner gains a +6 bonus to all PER + Thread Rank tests with the astral sextant and it now indicates the distance to each detected target.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn how many gears the astral sextant contains.
Effect: The owner gains the Scrutinize Horror special maneuver.
Scrutinize Horror (Owner): The owner can spend additional successes on a Perception-based test at a cost of 1 Strain per success. The test must target a Horror or Horror construct's Mystic Defense and the owner must see or astrally sense the target. Each success allows the player to ask a specific question that reveals one of the target's game statistics or abilities. This special maneuver may be used once per round and only affects one target per use.

This is the big effect it's building towards and I like it because it's interesting. It effectively gives Creature Analysis only for Horrors, which is territory stepping on the toes of Horror Stalkers. However, there are some limitations, such as the Strain cost per success, the equivalent Horror Stalker ability won't have. It can be used with the basic effect of the thread item, using the provided bonus, or any applicable talent the character may be using, such as Anticipate Blow, Astral Sight, or Mystic Aim. Sorry Awareness. For talents that provide bonuses, this is an opportunity cost, reducing the bonus for information. Using just the basic effect still allows any Discipline access to this effect, which is important.


Still, this may be too potent for a Rank Five effect and more appropriate for Rank Seven.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The owner gains +8 to all PER + Thread Rank tests with the astral sextant and can use Scrutinize Horror twice per round.