07 March 2014

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 39 - Soulsafe

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

Found in the Gamemaster's Companion (pg. 37), Soulsafe is a Thread Item first introduced in Arcane Mysteries of Barsaive (pg. 86). This item made it into a game and has a cute background, but was generally forgettable. Well, except when it came time to thrown down with a Horror. Though it was still expensive for some characters.

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.

Soulsafe
Spell Defense: 16
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

The Spell Defense is either at the high end or middle of expectations, depending on which row you are using. Something that has never helped anyone, ever. With only four thread ranks, it never quite felt like this was really living up to its potential.

Thread Rank One
Effect: +1 to Physical Defense.

A standard effect. Nothing really notable, other than when I read "Soulsafe", I don't really think that it's going to keep me from getting beaten to death. More that it will keep terrible mystic effects from ruining my day.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +1 to Social Defense.

Another completely normal bonus. That seems to have very little to do with the Name.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: +2 to Physical Defense.

This is all by the numbers. Except that none of them improve Spell Defense or even Mystic Armor. The background introduces some amount of ambiguity in how much it actually protects you from magic. However, it is also played straight in that same background and the initial Deed requires you to return this item to its original state, implying that it was broken and never useful.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: 4 Strain, +4 to Spell Defense for 4 rounds. During that time, any attack by a Horror, Horror construct, Horror power, or spell that mimics a Horror power requires 1 Result Level higher than normal to affect the wearer.

Clearly, this is the effect from which the item derives its Name. It's definitely a powerful ability, possibly too powerful for the rank. The cost is high, though it has a duration. Given the downside of most Horror powers, it's generally worth paying the costs to avoid them. An ounce of prevention... well, it keeps your skin in the right place.

How does it How does it all stack up? This an item that follows the guidelines pretty closely. It doesn't really live up to its Name for most of the ranks, though as indicated above, this may be due to someone being far too clever with a background and having much of the tone lost. Anyone who has ever been on the internet should know the dangers of the written word being a poor carrier for that information. The last ability is quite powerful, even if very specific. The odds are good it will come up in any given game. It is probably more appropriate for a Rank Five or Six effect, rather than four. This item could easily stand to have another two ranks added to it, just to flesh it out a little bit.

Outside of an encounter with Horrors and their ilk, this is going to have minimal impact on a game. In the aforementioned situation, it will definitely give that character a boost in what they can survive. However, it by no means guarantees they will come out the other side looking good.

There are improvements that can be made, but the last effect isn't a bad place to go for some inspiration. Other than that, this is some very standard stuff. Which is not a bad thing. Just a little confusing when you read the Name. Yes, I am a little hung up on that.

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

Soulsafe
Spell Defense: 13
Legend Point Cost: (Journeyman)

The Spell Defense was increased for 3E. Possibly to reflect the Name? I got nothing.

Thread Rank One
Effect: +1 to Physical Defense.

The same.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +1 to Social Defense.

Again, the same.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: +2 to Physical Defense.

Still, the same.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: 4 Strain, +4 to Spell Defense for 4 rounds. During that time, any attack by a Horror, Horror construct, Horror power, or spell that mimics a Horror power requires 1 Result Level higher than normal to affect the wearer.

And no changes here.

Not much to say here. Nothing at all different between the editions.