06 May 2014

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 56 - The Dagger of Dianuus

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

Found in the Gamemaster's Companion (pg. 42), The Dagger of Dianuus is a Thread Item first introduced in Arcane Mysteries of Barsaive (pg. 89). This is the second of three items in a set known as The Talismans of Dianuus. They are accompanied by a lengthy and tragically uninteresting story which adds nothing in particular to the item. This is brought up only because, unless there is something particularly interesting, neat, or fun, less is often more for this part. If nothing else, it makes it makes it that much easier/forces the GM to develop their own story tailored to their game. A lot can be implied by the right leading statements. Nonetheless, the do create a set of items, which can often be neat.

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 Dagger of Dianuus
Spell Defense: 16
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

The Spell Defense is appropriate for the tier, but the thread ranks is just a bit under where it should be at five. 

Thread Rank One
Effect: Damage Step 3.

A standard effect, but a poor one. Who really cares about improving the damage on a dagger designed for a spellcaster?

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +3 bonus to Damage tests against physically manifested spirits, including Horrors.

To determine if this is bad or too good depends on if this bonus only applies to attacks with the dagger (bad), or to any Damage test at all (too good).

Thread Rank Three
Effect: +3 ranks to Matrix Strike.

Well now, this is three effects and a high Circle talent as well.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +5 bonus to Damage tests against physically manifested spirits, including Horrors.

This increase is roughly a standard effect, though a rank early. Which is funny because you are now paying more for less.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: +3 ranks to Spirit Strike. The wielder can attack spirits in astral space that he can see using Astral Sight. When used in this manner, the wielder gains the bonus against physically manifest spirits.

There is a lot going on here and none of it is appropriate for a Rank Five effect. Another three effects with a different high Circle talent. Then an additional effect (or two?) on top of it. The indication seems to be this is all only for use with the dagger. Oh yeah, the Deed here? It's ridiculous, unless you summon a spirit just to job for you.

How does it all stack up? This is powerful in the strangest way possible. There are large bonuses to powerful talents, but the dagger is pretty useless as a weapon. If they can be used independently of the dagger (which the "wielder" text indicates against), then this is way too powerful. If you have to be using the dagger as your weapon, then it's worthless - a real weapon is a must when fighting the kind of critters this is effective against. 

The good news is any potential abuses from this item are incredibly easy to plan for. If the bonuses can be used independently from the dagger, there can be problems. Otherwise, not so much. 

Overall, this is a poor example. It does have an interesting theme (weapon for engaging with spirits), but the execution is poor. If you're going to go to all of this trouble, at least attach it to a weapon worth fighting with. The bonuses are also way too big and give access to powerful talents potentially very early in a character's career. The good news is a enterprising GM can salvage the ideas behind this and turn them into a perfectly functional item for their own game.


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

The Dagger of Dianuus (1E)
Spell Defense: 16
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

So far everything is the same.. 

Thread Rank One
Effect: Damage Step 4.

It's pretty rare to see a 1E weapon do more damage at Rank One than a 3E weapon.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +3 bonus to Damage tests against physically manifested spirits, including Horrors.

Worded differently, but the same effect. It's worth noting this makes it explicit the damage is for the dagger only.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: Matrix Strike using Dexterity Step and doing weapon damage.

This is considerably less powerful than the 3E version.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +5 bonus to Damage tests against physically manifested spirits, including Horrors.

Again, worded differently, but the same.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: Can use Spirit Strike with the dagger. The wielder can attack spirits in astral space that he can see using Astral Sight. When used in this manner, the wielder gains the bonus against physically manifest spirits.

The same except for the less powerful Spirit Strike ability. 

They're similar, however the 3E version is quite a bit more powerful. More useful and potentially open to debate about how it functions as well. All of this being said, it's not very useful as an actual weapon. There are much better items to invest Legend Points and a thread.