31 January 2014

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 30 - The Sock of Granak

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

Found in the Gamemaster's Companion (pg. 40), The Sock of Granak is a Thread Item first introduced in Arcane Mysteries of Barsaive (pg. 85). While certainly one of the most flavorful legendary items out there, I have never actually seen this one in play. The reasons for that may not be terribly difficult to figure out.

There will be an analysis of how the 3E Thread Item stacks up to the proposed guidelines (pg. 46 of the Gamemaster's Companion) and what it looked like in its original release.

The Sock of Granak
Spell Defense: 18
Legend Point Cost: Warden

This is a Legendary item, which means that (nearly) anything goes as far as structure is concerned. That being said, the Spell Defense is entirely reasonable (in the middle of the range) and it only has six Thread Ranks. The origin of this item isn't long, but it certainly is evocative.

Thread Rank One
Effect: +2 ranks to Unarmed Combat.

Well, that didn't take long. Right out of the gate and two standard effects.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +2 ranks to Swift Kick as long as he fights with no other covering on the limb he is attacking with than the sock.

Another two standard effects, though with a restriction. That restriction is generally why this never sees play - because you have to wander around wearing only a nasty, green stained (Horror ichor) woolen sock on one foot. Not for everyone.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: +2 ranks to Battle Shout.

Two more standard effects. This kind of bonus isn't supposed to show up until Rank Seven.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +3 ranks to Unarmed Combat and Swift Kick.

Yet again, two standard effects.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: +2 ranks to Air Sailing and Great Leap.

Well, it certainly did break up the pattern of two bonuses every rank. Though I am unconvinced that going with four instead was the best path forward.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: +3 ranks to Crushing Blow.

Here's a funny thing: the talents thus far are clearly Sky Raider related, no surprise. Crushing Blow was a Sky Raider talent back in 1E, but 3E changed it out for Down Strike. Now, the conversion between editions didn't translate that terribly well, because that isn't terribly useful to a Sky Raider, while is dynamite to a Warrior (who get Crushing Blow). Also, that's three effects and a very good talent. Sure, it costs Karma, but that's hardly a downside at this point.

How does it all stack up? This is a powerful item - there is not doubt. At least two effects every rank is quite good and the talents are okay to good, depending on your character. The biggest winner from an item like this is a Purifier. They make extensive use of Unarmed Combat, stand to benefit a lot from Swift Kick and already have Crushing Blow. This really isn't a Thread Item for everyone. It is going to take a special kind of character to want this. Without a doubt, they exist.

Despite the large number of relatively high bonuses compared to the number of ranks, this probably won't cause any serious problems. Any character that can fully utilize everything that it has to offer, however, could get a boost that is out-of-proportion to the costs. Well, except for the required Deed at the end. That's pretty serious.

This isn't a bad place to look for some ideas. It has a clear theme and a series of solid bonuses connected to that theme. The exact bonuses that it gives could probably use some evaluation, however.

How does the 3E version compare to the 1E version? Let's find out:

The Sock of Granak (1E)
Spell Defense: 18
Legend Point Cost: (Warden)

At six ranks, everything is the same so far.

Thread Rank One
Effect: +1 rank to Unarmed Combat.

That is actually the expected bonus for this rank; less than the 3E version. Which means that 3E introduced guidelines and then decided to immediately start breaking them when the original item didn't actually call for it.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +2 ranks to Swift Kick as long as he fights with no other covering on the limb he is attacking with than the sock.

This one happens to be exactly the same.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: +2 ranks to Battle Shout.

Again, the same..

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +2 ranks to Unarmed Combat and +3 ranks to Swift Kick.

The same, but Unarmed Combat is still down a rank.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: +1 rank to Air Sailing and Great Leap.

Here is another example of 3E increasing the bonuses from 1E.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: +2 ranks to Crushing Blow.

Yet another increase in 3E for reasons unknown.

How do they stack up? The 3E version gains +4 more ranks total over the 1E version. There is little explanation for this, since in doing so this broke the guidelines that were introduced to make Thread Items less haphazard. It doesn't even maintain fidelity to the original. The negligence in converting Crushing Blow to Down Strike is also puzzling.