09 May 2014

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 57 - The Robe of Dianuus

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

Found in the Gamemaster's Companion (pg. 42), The Robe of Dianuus is a Thread Item first introduced in Arcane Mysteries of Barsaive (pg. 89). This is the third 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 Robe of Dianuus
Spell Defense: 19
Legend Point Cost: Warden

The Spell Defense is appropriate for the tier, but the thread ranks are under where it should be at five. They are quite the ranks, however.

Thread Rank One
Effect: +2 bonus to Spellcasting tests and a Spell Matrix Object.

Three effects, any one of which would be a solid entry at this rank. This is an ominous beginning.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +3 to Mystic Armor.

Another three effects and again these are solid.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: +2 to Elementalism tests.

A mere two effects and disappointingly specific. Still, there is plenty here to like for any spellcaster. Just not as much for non-Elementalists.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +3 to Physical Armor.

Once more with three effects.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: +2 bonus to Summon (Elemental) tests.

Another rank with just two effects. This is specific to Elementalists as well and I am happy it isn't +2 Ranks to Summon (Elemental). It would have gotten ugly.

How does it all stack up? Very good. For an Elementalist, everything here is fantastic. For another spellcaster, you still get nine effects over four ranks and I hear picking up Elementalist is a popular thing to do with the kids these days. 

Even with the number of bonuses, there is nothing here which is likely to unbalance a game. However, unless others at the table are getting equivalent benefits, there is likely to be some jealousy. Nothing here is couched in strange abilities; they are unequivocal big numbers. It's pretty easy to look over and see the dwarf Elementalist is getting much more for their Legend Points. 

Mechanically, there is nothing interesting to see here. No abilities, no neat arrangement of effects. It is a bunch of different bonuses which occur once and are never seen again. The theme seems to loosely be "bonuses which are generically good for Elementalists and big". Which is uninteresting at best and doesn't help when looking at the guidelines.


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

The Robe of Dianuus (1E)
Spell Defense: 19
Legend Point Cost: Warden

Everything is the same here.

Thread Rank One
Effect: +2 bonus to Spellcasting tests (grants Spellcasting to characters who do not possess it) and a Spell Matrix Object.

This is very nearly the same, but the 1E version grants rank to characters which don't have Spellcasting, though not to characters who do have Spellcasting. Ultimately it's probably unimportant - spellcasting is rarely (in my experience) something which is dipped into without picking up a discipline.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: +3 to Mystic Armor.

The same.

Thread Rank Three
Effect: +2 to Elementalism tests; grants Elementalism if it isn't possessed.

Now the same slight difference at Rank One is in effect here, but it is a wholly different outcome. This gives non-Elementalists (and non-humans) access to Elementalist spells. This is a big deal and make this very appealing to all spellcasters. Removing this was a solid decision, though making it a generic bonus would have been the next logical step.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: +3 to Physical Armor.

The same.

Thread Rank Five
Effect: +2 bonus to summon elemental spirits Half-Magic tests.

This is effectively the same, accounting for differences in the base mechanics between editions.

While they are virtually identical, the slight twist in Rank Three makes the 1E version significantly better. For an item which needs little to make it more tempting.