25 February 2014

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 36 - Mirror

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

Found in the Gamemaster's Companion (pg. 33), Mirror is a Thread Item first introduced in Arcane Mysteries of Barsaive (pg. 84). Part of a item set that is also a terrible pun. Or awesome pun. I'm not here to judge that part.

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.

Mirror
Spell Defense: 15
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

With only four ranks, this is two shy of what would be expected for a Journeyman Thread Item. The Spell Defense is within expectations, though perhaps a bit on the low side (depending which entry you want to follow for Journeyman tier items - so unhelpful).

Thread Rank One
Effect: +1 Physical Defense.

While the standard bonus for armor (fully forged) may be the expectation, for a buckler it is just +1 Physical Armor. Which is a little underwhelming.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: 3 Physical Armor and 1 Mystic Armor.

Well, that is three effects, which is quite a bit. However, if we do a comparison to what a crystal raider shield may look like here, assuming reduced Initiative penalty (5 Physical Armor, 5 Mystic Armor, -1 Initiative), this is actually pretty tame. Remove that Physical Defense bonus from the previous Rank and the entire Initiative Penalty is gone.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: 4 Physical Armor, 2 Mystic Armor and +2 Physical Defense.

Another three effects, but it is still not up to where an equivalent crystal raider shield would be (well, +1 Physical Defense, but down 1 Physical Armor and 3 Mystic Armor).

Thread Rank Four
Effect: 1 Strain, opponent makes a Perception (7) test. If failed, the wielder gains +3 to the next Attack test against that opponent.

I like this ability. It is a little powerful for how early it shows up, though that Perception test is rather easy to beat for more powerful opponents (particularly non-adepts who have attribute steps that scale rather aggressively). To get it, you need to have it's companion item and the effect itself is thematic with the name. In all, this is a fun ability that is going to be of dubious value as Circles progress.

How does it all stack up? It's a decent item, even with the large bonuses. As shown, they aren't nearly as large as they seem and it is more indicative of the issues with the full forged benefit at Rank One. This is pretty solid for low Circle characters, though it would be highly recommended to allow more Legendary ranks so that it remains competitive as they advance. The Blinding Reflection ability is fun, but will lose steam in not too long. The good news is that there is plenty of room for growth on this one.

This is another one of my favorite items for inspiration. It attempts to balance out with the clearly more effective shields, making it a stylistic, rather than purely mechanical, choice - which is often nice. There is also the connection to another Thread Item, which can easily help to fuel adventure. Also, the last ability is flavorful and useful enough without being overpowered or useless. It needs to grow, but this is a great item to introduce and allow to grow with a character.

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

Mirror (1E)
Spell Defense: 15
Legend Point Cost: (Journeyman)

Nothing different so far.

Thread Rank One
Effect: 2 Physical Armor and +1 Physical Defense.

It's not often that right out of the gates they are different, but here we go. This one provides another Physical Armor at Rank One.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: 3 Physical Armor and 1 Mystic Armor.

Now everything is back together. There doesn't seem to be much reason as to why the 1E Rank One effect was broken between Rank One and Rank Two. Maybe two effects was considered too much for Rank One? What makes three effects just right for Rank Two is still a mystery.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: 4 Physical Armor, 2 Mystic Armor and +2 Physical Defense.

Same here.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: 1 Strain, opponent makes a Perception (7) test. If failed, the wielder gains +3 to the next Attack test against that opponent.

It's worded differently, but they are still the same.

In the end, they are identical. However, I prefer the advancement scheme for 1E over 3E. It may give a bigger bonus at Rank One, which might feel a little like front loading, but the 3E fully forged bonus for a buckler is just sad.