25 June 2013

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 07 - Es'Caliban Part 2

This is the seventh Anatomy of a Thread Item in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

Part One of this series.

Previously the skeleton of a Thread Item along with some vague ideas was written. This is going to expand significantly only those ideas and put down some mechanics to go with them. Nothing yet is written in stone and there is always tweaks to balance the Thread Item when all of the major Effects have been developed.

There is a back story which will require elaboration along with the Key Knowledge and Deeds, but that will mostly be saved until the mechanics are complete. In the interest of disclosing all elements of this process, I'm keeping that until the end because I already have a foundation for the back story. That basis will serve to guide the mechanics, but unnecessary detail at this stage may simply distract me and the mechanics may very well end up informing some of that story. Also, I tend to re-write it a lot and no one needs to see every single change I make there.

Below are the current Effects that have been developed along with commentary specifically for Ranks that have changed in some way. Again, italics note Effects that are still being considered (which is nearly everything).

Maximum Threads: 3
Spell Defense: 19
Legend Point Cost: Warden

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the sword’s Name.
Effect: The sword is now Damage Step 8.


Thread Rank Two
Effect: The sword is now Damage Step 9.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the Name of who created the sword.
Effect: The wielder gains a +1 Rank bonus to Inspire Others.This Talent may be used simply by brandishing the weapon.


Inspire Others is going to be the linchpin of this Thread Item. It is going to provide the Talent and expand on it quite a bit. Since not all characters will have this Talent, bonuses need to be provided to it early on to make it possible to use. The damage bonus here was eliminated because Inspire Others is a fairly powerful Talent and this Thread Item will build on it.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The sword is now Damage Step 10? Additionally, the wielder gains a +2 Rank bonus to Inspire Others.

This Rank maintains the Damage bonus and includes another Inspire Others bonus to keep the fact this is also a weapon front and center. Bonuses to miscellaneous Talents like Inspire Others are fun, but aren't terribly sexy in the same way that damage is. This is a balancing act to keep it interesting, but not overpowered.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: ???
Deed: ???
Effect: Brilliant Edge: For 2 Strain, Inspire Others may be used as a Simple Action instead of a Standard Action. Additionally, the wielder gains a +3 Rank bonus to Inspire Others.


Rank Five is powerful, there is no doubt about that. There are some other considerations going into this. Specifically, the economy of actions. If a dedicated fighter (e.g. CavalrymanSwordmaster, Warrior, etc.) has this weapon, their action is likely better spent on actually attacking. The significant Strain should make it somewhat of a decision (though it may need to be increased). Also, I like to give my Effects like this names so that it's easier to call them out at the table and fun.


Thread Rank Six
Effect: The sword is now Damage Step 11. Additionally, the wielder gains a +4 Rank bonus to Inspire Others.

Some useful bonuses after a big Effect. Nothing special, though I will be keeping an eye on this Rank for replacement if something neat occurs to me (or opening up some Legendary Ranks).


Thread Rank Seven
Key Knowledge: ???
Deed: ???
Effect: For 2 Strain, Brilliant Edge may also cause fear in the wielder's enemies. This is resolved using the same Inspire Others Test Result and functions as Battle Bellow. Additionally, the wielder gains a +1 Rank bonus to Lion Heart.


Another big Effect that builds on Inspire Others. The Strain cost to pull this off is considerable (4), but it can be a devastating buff/debuff combo - or fail horrifically with a bad roll. Using a single roll encourages loading up modifiers on that one roll, but will also save table time and maintain a more consistent narrative: if it is great, it's great all around, if it's unimpressive, then no one is impressed.


The bonus to Lion Heart is simply because I wanted to include it in this Thread Item and this was the perfect place. It's a fun, but not terribly powerful Talent.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: The sword is now Damage Step 12. Additionally, the wielder gains a +5 Rank bonus to Inspire Others.

Nothing special to note here, just incremental improvements. It is a little drab for the final Rank before Legendary Ranks. Some sprucing could be useful around here, though I am reluctant to make the Thread Item too powerful.



Thread Rank Nine
Key Knowledge: ???
Deed: ???
Effect: W
hen using Brilliant Edge, Difficulty Number increases by +1 for every two additional targets (round up) and the range extends to Rank x 6 yards. Additionally, the wielder gains a +2 Rank bonus to Lion Heart

I decided to start in on the Legendary Ranks; these are from Deeds performed after the creation of the Thread Item. The details of what that is are gestating still, but it is likely going to be a battle against overwhelming odds in some way.


The Effect at this Rank makes it much more effective against larger crowds. The average Group isn't likely to get much mileage from the additional range (which is only relevant for the fear Effect), but reduced difficulty is always good, even if only a little.

Thread Rank Ten
Effect: The wielder gains +1 to Physical Defense and Social Defense. Additionally, the wielder gains a +3 Rank bonus to Lion Heart.

Going along with the Legendary Rank, I thought that some defensive bonuses would be good and show that it has grown in new ways.