17 February 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 22 - Purifier

This is the twenty-second 4E Anatomy of a Discipline, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

The Purifier has not received an official Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4) treatment yet and it is a discipline which I have enjoyed thematically over the years quite a bit. While the mechanics have never been specifically bad, there have been little things which bothered me. To begin with, I don't like racial restrictions on disciplines. Particularly when the thesis behind the discipline is applicable to numerous races.


Previously, Purifiers have been limited to obsidiman only based on their connection to the earth, which has also been a major theme for the discipline. However, this view seems like it stems from the starting point of having a discipline limited to obsidimen, rather than creating the idea and themes, then moving forward and seeing where they go. The idea of purifying the world and yourself is universal and should have followers among all Namegivers, though the philosophy is likely to appeal greatly to obsidimen.

Moving forward from the basis of the discipline, it was expanded to include more than just the connection to the earth. The elemental connections for Purifiers now include earth, water, and wood. These form the primary basis for life which lends itself well to purification. As well, they are no longer solely concerned with purifying the world, but also purifying themselves; the concept of purification itself is central to the discipline, instead of just a connection to the earth. This moves their anti-Horror themes to a more central position, though they will be explored much more starting at Warden.

The mechanics for the discipline were similarly redeveloped. Most of the core of the discipline is still present, however many talents were moved around and some were removed entirely. Body Control and Clay Skin were both returned to their normal varieties to save space and prevent confusion - if you already have Wood Skin, do you have to take Clay Skin as well? Lifesight was moved up a tier as per the current standards and moved to talent options to allow for the more critical talents to the discipline's basic function.

Life Check was moved to talent options to make room for Earth Skin. This was done as both a nod to the origins of the discipline and to reaffirm their connection to the element. As well, it also reinforces their role as a mystical warrior who is well suited to dealing with Horrors and other mystic threats. Steel Thought was added to further reinforce this theme.

Earth Bond and Spirit Talk were both removed entirely. The former didn't quite fit as a talent and has a new lease on life as a hybrid discipline ability. Spirit Talk, on the other hand, didn't fit at all. They could speak with spirits, which they couldn't perceive, but not elementals which have their own talent. It simply didn't do much for them. Instead, Blood Share was included as a precursor to build on the idea of moving life between people, of sharing in the burden, and the connection and power of blood.

Purification is a new talent which was created to give something concrete for the theme of self-purification in addition to supporting their role as mystic warriors. Their new Journeyman ability at the same circle, Earth Bond, provides their connection to the external world. The effects of the ability on the environment are deliberately vague, though the effects are now based on a static scale, rather than relative to a talent rank. In part because establishing such guidelines are difficult without extensive playtesting and also because such guidelines may not be appropriate for every game. Keeping them vague gives each table the opportunity to define how large of an impact they want this power to have. Moving to a fixed scale also means higher circle characters can have objectively greater effects, rather than roughly the same, only excepting for particularly good rolls.

The talent options were redeveloped to make them less unarmed fighters with a connection to the wilderness (this discipline already exists and goes great with Purifier), and have a stronger martial artist feel. Some other talent options which didn't quite fit for various reasons were also cleared out. In the end, Creature Analysis and Tracking were removed under the first clause. Heartening Laugh, Resist Taunt, Steely Stare, and Throwing Weapons were removed for just not fitting in well.

This cleaning house created a lot of space with which to play. Anticipate Blow was added as the pair to Acrobatic Strike. As an aside, unless there is a clear reason to include one of these over the other, I like to include both to give each character the chance to decide which fits their style best. Purifiers don't have a clear style here as they can be athletic and agile, dealing with multiple attackers, or they can be patient and implacable - either are valid concepts. Awareness and Danger Sense both play into their connection to the world around them. Cobra Strike and Waterfall Slam both offer new combat options for different character styles - though there is no reason a Purifier cannot have both. Disarm gives them a non-violent option, and it also makes sense for an unarmed combatant to have the ability to level the playing field (note: the playing field will not be level - one of the two is probably much better without a weapon). Cold Purify is another water talent (along with Waterfall Slam) to provide a connection to that element, but it is also a way to extend their theme externally not just to the world, but to other people. In some ways this further builds on their Blood Share talent.

Novice

First Circle
  • Avoid Blow
  • Claw Shape
  • Purity Weaving
  • Unarmed Combat
  • Wound Balance
Abilities
  • Durability 7
Second Circle
  • Wood Skin
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Steel Thought
Abilities
  • Karma: Once per turn, the adept may spend a karma point on an Action test against a Horror, Horror construct, or undead target. This does not include Damage tests.
Fourth Circle
  • Blood Share
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  1. Acrobatic Defense
  2. Anticipate Blow
  3. Awareness
  4. Battle Shout
  5. Danger Sense
  6. Great Leap
  7. Maneuver
  8. Sprint
  9. Tiger Spring
  10. Wilderness Survival
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Purification
Abilities
  • Earth Bond: The adept uses their connection to the land to either draw life force from it, or spend theirs into it. To do this, the adept must have their feet on the ground, make a Purity Weaving (6) test, and then immediately make a Recovery Test, choosing to either heal themselves or the land. Each success on this test grants +2 to the Recovery Test. This Recovery Test may not benefit from bonuses from any other source. Every 5 points of damage the adept heals causes the surroundings to notably wither. In lush areas, this may have little noticeable effect, but barren areas may be rendered sterile. Every 5 points of damage the adept heals the land will cause plants to grow and become healthier in an increasing area. At the GM’s discretion, continued use over time may reduce or heal wounds from the Scourge and corruption.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on unarmed Damage tests.
Sixth Circle
  • Earth Skin
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Crushing Blow
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Mystic Armor
Eighth Circle
  • Momentum Attack
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Astral Sight
  2. Cobra Strike
  3. Cold Purify
  4. Disarm
  5. Life Check
  6. Lifesight
  7. Lion Heart
  8. Swift Kick
  9. Temper Flesh
  10. Waterfall Slam
Purification
Step: Rank + WIL
Action: Standard
Strain: 1
The adept to uses their connection to the elements to remove debilitating effects affecting them. Each adept uses this talent in a different way; for example, a centering kata or purifying phrase. The adept then makes a Purification test against the highest Dispel Difficulty or Step (as appropriate) of the negative effects affecting them they wish to end. If successful, all such effects immediately end. This can include creature powers, disease, Horror powers, poison, spells, and talents, but does not include Horror marks or any powers used through Horror marks. During the turn this talent is used, the adept may only perform other Free actions (such as Avoid Blow) - they may not perform any Simple actions as their attention is drawn entirely into their purification ritual.

This is a first draft with some external review and playtesting. There is almost certainly still some tinkering required, based on additional playtesting of the new talent and particularly the modified Journeyman ability. While the third circle karma ability is appropriate and serviceable, there may be a better ability for that circle, which would push it to eleventh circle.