18 March 2014

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 42 - Espagra Saddle

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

Found in the Gamemaster's Guide (pg. 135), Espagra Saddles are a Thread Item first introduced in Gamemastering Earthdawn (pg. 40). Every windling Cavalryman that ended up with one of these.

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 Saddle
Spell Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

There is really nothing notable here. Which is almost certainly a good thing.

Thread Rank One
Effect: The rider may add +1 to their mount's Movement Rate if the choose.

Probably a standard effect. The ability to choose not to apply this is useful when figuring out the optimum charge.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +1 to the mount's Physical Armor.

Nothing ruins a Cavalryman's day like attacking their mount. But it's so effective.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: The rider may add +2 to their mount's Movement Rate if the choose.

More is definitely better in this case.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +2 to the mount's Physical Armor and +1 to the mount's Physical Defense. +1 to the rider's Physical Armor.

That's a lot of different bonuses; three effects in total. All of them are good - that's just quite a bit.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: 2 Strain per round, the mount can fly at its normal movement rate.

This is a very good effect. Unless you are a windling on a zoak. In which case it is utterly irrelevant. If you are an ork on a thundra beast, then you are basically a thing of nightmares.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: Both rider and mount gain +1 Recovery Test per day.

Two effects and both quite good. With Blood Share and Heal Animal Companion, these are even more useful.

How does it all stack up? If you're not a Cavalryman, it's pretty unlikely that this will be notable to you. If you are a Cavalryman, you are almost certainly going to want one of these. The only downside is for windling Cavalrymen (otherwise known as pretty much every PC Cavalryman ever). If they have a zoak for a mount instead of a kue (otherwise known as every PC windling Cavalryman ever that didn't have some cruel GM make their character for them), their mount already flies. For everyone else, the flight ability may be a little on the powerful side, but given that it is just limited to the mount, it is hard to judge.

Other players being jealous probably isn't going to be an issue and the benefits provided aren't likely to cause issues. Except for the whole mount flying thing. If there is an ork on a thundra beast at your table - expect to see it flying all of the time. Why is that? Because if I were that player, I know that is exactly what I would do. Even when there is no reason to do so. It would be like a very angry version of a sky bison. That's a gift I cannot help but feel would be my responsibly to share with the world. I can hardly expect others to not feel the same way.

The limited nature of the item in the first place makes it tricky to use for inspiration. The Espagra Boots offer a much better example of a flight effect for everyone else. It's not a bad choice, but there are better options out there. 

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

Espagra Saddle (1E)
Spell Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: (Journeyman)

The Spell Defense was increased by 2 moving to 3E and the number of thread ranks reduced to six from nine. That is quite a change.

Thread Rank One
Effect: Increase the mount's Combat Movement by 15 yards and its Full Movement by 30 yards.

3E added in the choice to increase it. Also, the scales changed quite a bit between editions. We're going to assume that those are comparable because I don't particularly care if they are not.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +1 to the mount's Physical Armor.

This is the same.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: Increase the mount's Combat Movement by 25 yards and its Full Movement by 50 yards.

Close enough.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +2 to the mount's Physical Armor and +1 to the mount's Physical Defense. +1 to the rider's Physical Armor.

Everything here is the same.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: Flight, but cannot benefit from the movement increases when flying.

This is very powerful - flight for no cost, other than giving up the increased movement. Would there ever be a reason not to buzz everything with your flying thundra beast? I cannot think of one.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: Both rider and mount gain +1 Recovery Test per day.

Also the same.

Thread Rank Seven
Effect: Flight with increased movementIncrease the mount's Combat Movement by 50 yards and its Full Movement by 100 yards. +1 to all Action tests the rider takes while in the saddle. +5 to the mount's Physical Armor.

This was cut in 3E and it's pretty clear why. That is a lot of bonuses. A whole lot. Very powerful bonuses.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: +2 to Physical, Spell and Social Defense to the mount and rider.

Wow. That's another big pile of bonuses. Also not appearing in 3E with good reason.

Thread Rank Nine
Effect: +3 to the rider's Physical Armor and +3 to all Action tests the rider takes while in the saddle.

The final ability is... there aren't many words for this. It's pretty insane. Why would a Cavalryman ever leave the saddle? It's dangerous off of that saddle! Particularly when you have a supersonic flying thundra beast and are going to do a flyby on the control tower..

How do they stack up? The 1E version is a lot more powerful. Really, just freakishly more powerful. The 3E version has a few excesses and I'm not necessarily sold on the idea of a flying mount for such low costs, but if you know where this came from... yeah.