14 March 2014

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 41 - Espagra Boots

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

Found in the Gamemaster's Guide (pg. 134), Espagra Boots are a Thread Item first introduced in Gamemastering Earthdawn (pg. 39). There was once an elf Thief that swore by these things. I think it was that they made him fly.

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.

Espagra Boots
Spell Defense: 17
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

The Spell Defense could be average-ish, it could be above the limit. Two different entries for Journeyman tier... it does not help anything.

Thread Rank One
Effect: +1 rank to Avoid Blow.

It's hard to turn down that effect. Also, within the guidelines.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +2 ranks to Avoid Blow.

If it was good once, it's better twice, right? Another rank within expectations.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: +1 rank to Silent Walk.

Also good and also within guidelines.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +2 ranks to Silent Walk.

It's not really exciting, but the benefits are solid to any character that doesn't want to get hit and likes to not be noticed. Which is nearly everyone.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: +3 ranks to Avoid Blow and Silent Walk.

The first rank to break the guidelines by offering two standard effects.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: 2 Strain per round, fly at Movement Rate 5. Each additional Strain increases the Movement Rate by +2. This cannot be combined with any other abilities that affect movement.

This effect is a lot of fun (unless you are a windling, in which case it is pretty worthless). It may not come up a lot, as it's rather expensive, but it does make for an excellent escape measure. Which is why it is so popular with Thieves.

How does it all stack up? Espagra Boots are a good item that are mostly within expectations. There is nothing egregious here and the benefits are going to be useful for a variety of characters. Except for the final effect and windlings who will be (understandably) pretty disappointed.

Nothing here is going to affect the balance of a game or is likely to cause the green-eyed monster to rear its head. The most disrupting effect is the flight, but it is expensive enough that it isn't likely to be a constant factor. Besides, windlings have a better ability from day one. If coping with flying characters is a problem, Earthdawn is a poor game choice. 

Given the background, this is a thematic item and entirely reasonable to use for ideas. The final effect is fun and balanced. It gives a new capability without changing how things play out for the most part. 

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

Espagra Boots (1E)
Spell Defense: 19
Legend Point Cost: (Warden)

There were actually some significant changes to these two entries between editions. 3E reduced the tier to Journeyman and the Spell Defense accordingly.

Thread Rank One
Effect: +1 rank to Avoid Blow.

This is still the same.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +2 ranks to Avoid Blow.

Again, the same.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: +1 rank to Silent Walk.

More of the same.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +2 ranks to Silent Walk.

Still no changes.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: +3 ranks to Avoid Blow and Silent Walk.

Nothing of note here either.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: For every 3 Strain, the wearer can fly 100 ft. This can only be used once per day.

This is a notable change. 3E reduces the total distance quite a bit, also provides a speed; how fast is that 100 ft? The 3E version also allows for usage more than once a day, which makes it significantly more versatile.

How do they stack up? The differences are in the costs and the flight offered. 3E's version is cheaper and the flight is more versatile, but more expensive. In all, the 3E version is the superior one, both in usage and balance.