27 March 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 26 - War Rider

This is the twenty-sixth 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.

War Rider is a discipline from Cathay which has not been updated to Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4) yet. Using it as presented, it is unlikely to get an official update. From my perspective, this discipline is in an interesting position and somewhat different from many others.

The setting material for this discipline is pretty terrible. It is the Mongol, I'm sorry Gar light cavalry archer ready to cause trouble in Warring States era China, er Cathay. Gar are a subspecies of elf which aren't worth any more words. Nothing about this plays well with others and they are all jerks. This is pretty much what the text says. However, the mechanics behind this aren't bad. The have a lot of peculiarities specific to the culture from which they have liberally borrowed, but there might be room in Earthdawn for a mounted archer discipline.

This is my effort to discover if this is the case.

The biggest issue is going to be making this discipline something more than just a hybrid of Archer and Cavalryman. To be honest, I don't think I succeeded at this point. However, since those two disciplines don't go well together in the first place, all is not lost by simply creating their lovechild.

One of the big points for the original War Rider was how little they cared for their animal. This doesn't tend to go over well with people who want to have mounts. Also, while you may not care about your animal at all, it certainly pays for it to be loyal to you. Compared to the Cavalryman, this discipline isn't going to see as much direct combat. Which means it isn't as important for them to have as many talents which improve their mount. Access, yes, but not as a requirement.

Archery related talents are obviously important, but I want to play down many of the more mystic aspects of the Archer. This discipline is a little more pragmatic and simply doesn't have the same single-minded dedication to archery. With this in mind, they get the basic archery talents, but miss out on the more esoteric ones.

The third area I have given them for core talents is based on perception. This is pretty common for ranged attackers and it also plays into their role on the battlefield. They are built around out-maneuvering their opponents and it is important they never get pinned down. Denied their mobility, things get quite grim. To help this, they have some talents which should help them maintain situational awareness.

Their final piece is taken directly from the original War Rider: Surprise Strike and Feign Retreat. While these are key pieces to the Mongol Gar playbook, they also work well to showcase how this discipline uses their mobility to out maneuver their opponents and gain advantage. It also serves to provide a damage bonus without relying on Flame Arrow (which is quite esoteric).

Talent options first saw those added which improve their basic capabilities: ranged combat and animals. From there, it was looking at the various roles they may hold: military, outrider were the first two and a social traveler found its way in there somehow.


For talents, despite looking quite a bit like the middle point between Archer and Cavalryman, they don't look bad. However, I'm not sold on the inclusion of social talents right now and could go either way (keeping them or replacing them) depending on the arguments for either side. 

I used the Specialist template to emphasize how fragile they are in comparison to a Cavalryman, also keeping with Archers. This creates some additional work in the form of a free talent and a karma spend. Up until a few moments ago, Call Missile was the free talent, Animal Bond was a discipline talent, and Danger Sense was a talent option.

Here is why I changed to the current state: Call Missile is both too esoteric and too much like the Archer, Animal Bond isn't as useful at high ranks unless paired with Enhance Animal Companion, Danger Sense fits with them keeping aware at all times, and Animal Bond is too crucial (in my opinion) to simply relegate to talent options.

There were a number of different discipline abilities I went through before settling on the one listed. I'm not convinced the one I selected is the best, either. The goal is to have something which emphasizes their status as light and fast. Others were generally a combination of bonuses which required the adept to be wearing armor with no initiative penalty. These were ultimately discarded as too fiddly and too restrictive.

The final-ish result (below) definitely needs more input and collaboration, and deserves it before deciding if this type of discipline has a home in Earthdawn.

Novice

First Circle
  • Awareness
  • Danger Sense
  • Missile Weapons
  • Mount Weaving
  • Trick Riding
Abilities
  • Animal Bond
  • Karma: Initiative
  • Durability 5
Second Circle
  • Animal Training
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Surprise Strike
Abilities
  • Karma: Attack tests against Surprised opponents.
Fourth Circle
  • Mystic Aim
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Social Defense
Talent Options
  1. Avoid Blow
  2. Call Missile
  3. Enhance Animal Companion
  4. Etiquette
  5. Graceful Exit
  6. Impressive Display
  7. Sure Mount
  8. Navigation
  9. Tracking
  10. Wilderness Survival
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Call Animal Companion
Abilities
  • Fleet of Hoof: For 1 Strain, the adept can increase her mount's Movement Rate by 4 for 1 round.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on ranged Damage tests.
Sixth Circle
  • Spot Armor Flaw
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Feign Retreat
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Initiative
Eighth Circle
  • Second Shot
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Animal Companion Durability
  2. Armor Mount
  3. Blood Share
  4. Distract
  5. First Impression
  6. Leadership
  7. Long Shot
  8. Spirit Mount
  9. Tactics
  10. Tiger Spring
Feign Retreat
Step: Rank + CHA
Action: Standard
Strain: 1
The mounted adept pretends to withdraw from combat, only to return shortly thereafter, surprising her opponent. She must have been in mounted combat for at least one round before using Feign Retreat, though not necessarily with her target, but her target must have at least seen her. She then moves away from combat and makes a Feign Retreat test against the target's Social Defense. If successful, once the adept returns to the battlefield, the target counts as Surprised towards the adept.

Every successful use of Feign Retreat against a target increases the difficulty to fool the target again. One every successive use during the encounter, Feign Retreat requires an additional success.

20 March 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 25 - Monk, Part 2

This is the second part of the twenty-fifth 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.

In the previous part of this particular project, I started working updating the Monk discipline to Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4). It discussed the background of the project, the initial direction, and some design theory. At the end, I wasn't quite happy with how it had turned out. There are things which can be done to tune the talent selections and will almost certainly help, but I don't know if it will end up escaping the "more of the same" feeling. 

One of the topics which was introduced was possibly exploring the Monk as a specialist discipline, rather than a combat discipline. Specialists have a discipline template with Durability 5, a free talent, and an additional karma ability. This entry will be adapting the Monk to this template instead of combat (Durability 7).

The implications from changing template like this will be, first and foremost, a reduced focus on combat. Specialist disciplines gain later access to the more powerful combat talents (e.g. easy damage increases and additional attacks) and have a greater focus on non-combat talents. This represents a fairly drastic change to the direction of this discipline, as previously they were quite combat focused.

Part of this new direction will involve emphasizing scholarship and increasing access to social talents. Increasing their control abilities will also help make them a bit more unique. I'm going to be pulling from the same list of talents, which is repeated below, though I recommend reading the previous entry to make some sense of this.

Here is the super list for Monk:
  • Acrobatic Defense
  • Air Dance
  • Anticipate Blow
  • Astral Sight
  • Avoid Blow
  • Awareness
  • Battle Bellow
  • Battle Shout
  • Book Memory
  • Claw Frenzy
  • Claw Shape
  • Climbing
  • Cobra Strike
  • Cold Purify
  • Conversation
  • Crushing Blow
  • Danger Sense
  • Diplomacy
  • Disarm
  • Distract
  • Down Strike
  • Earth Skin
  • Empathic Sense
  • Etiquette
  • Fireblood
  • Gliding Stride
  • Graceful Exit
  • Great Leap
  • Heartening Laugh
  • Impressive Display
  • Inspire Others
  • Iron Constitution
  • Life Check
  • Lifesight
  • Lion Heart
  • Maneuver
  • Momentum Attack
  • Power Mask
  • Read and Write Language
  • Research
  • Resist Taunt
  • Riposte
  • Second Attack
  • Speak Language
  • Spot Armor Flaw
  • Sprint
  • Stealthy Stride
  • Steel Thought
  • Steely Stare
  • Swift Kick
  • Temper Flesh
  • Thread Weaving
  • Tiger Spring
  • True Sight
  • Unarmed Combat
  • Waterfall Slam
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Wind Catcher
  • Wood Skin
  • Wound Balance
Again, too many talents - though this is by design - and, again, lots of cuts were made. As mentioned above, the focus this time is less around combat and more around a warrior-scholar who harnesses the elemental forces.

The defense are going to change, with Physical and Mystic Defenses shared evenly and Social again taking up the rear. Monks are earnest, a little naive, and more easily deceived. This is a common trait for disciplines heavily invested in elemental themes. Their bonus priorities will also change: 1) Mystic Armor, 2) Initiative, and 3) Recovery Tests. This pushes forward their mystic themes and pulls back a little on their combat.

Again, karma spends and tier abilities still remain. I'm going to keep the same Journeyman ability since it still works, though this is subject to something better coming along. Karma abilities are a little bit trickier this time around, since they will not have the ability to spend karma on damage tests at fifth circle. Though I may as well fill in some of the blanks and see what comes of it.

As of right now, I think I prefer this approach to the previous one using the combat template. Though this still needs a lot of work to get right. The talent selection for each element isn't quite right, which is to be expected at this point. It is also a little combat heavy, which may work, or may need to change. Though putting Claw Shape at second circle definitely reduces the initial emphasis on combat. As well, Wholeness of Body as the free talent seems to work well, though playtesting may reveal otherwise.

There is something for every karma ability, but they definitely need work, particularly the fifth circle ability. The third circle ability has promise and I want to see how the first circle ability works in play before passing judgment. Switching out for Initiative is always an option, but I want to explore things which are different before falling back to an old standby.

Artisan Skills: N/A

Half-Magic: Probably something to do with other monk orders and fighting styles, like Swordmaster, but maybe a little more.

Novice

First Circle

  • Avoid Blow
  • Etiquette
  • Research
  • Thread Weaving
  • Unarmed Combat
Abilities
  • Wholeness of Body
  • Karma: Once per turn when using a defensive talent (e.g. Anticipate Blow, Avoid Blow, or Disarm)
  • Durability 5
Second Circle
  • Claw Shape
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Awareness
Abilities
  • Karma: Tests to convince someone of your sincerity when you are being sincere.
Fourth Circle
  • Maneuver
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  • Earth
    • Anticipate Blow
    • Read and Write Language
    • Wood Skin
  • Fire
    • Tiger Spring
    • Great Leap
    • Sprint
  • Water
    • Acrobatic Defense
    • Graceful Exit
    • Wound Balance
  • Wood
    • Conversation
    • Danger Sense
    • Speak Language
Journeyman


Fifth Circle
  • Danger Sense
Abilities
  • Meditation: The adept may make a Thread Weaving (6) test. If successful, they may meditate for a number of hours equal to their test result. Time spent meditating is considered the equivalent of sleeping, but the adept is still aware of their surroundings. The adept may make a Recovery Test after meditating for 30 minutes. After meditating for 8 hours, any additional successes on their initial Thread Weaving test give +2 to a Recovery Test made immediately after stopping meditation.
  • Karma: Once per turn to directly support gaining access to new knowledge.
Sixth Circle
  • Cold Purify
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Disarm
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Mystic Armor
Eighth Circle
  • Spot Armor Flaw
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  • Earth
    • Steel Thought
    • Lion Heart
    • Resist Taunt
  • Fire
    • Cobra Strike
    • Gliding Stride
    • Swift Kick
  • Water
    • Air Dance
    • Riposte
    • Waterfall Slam
  • Wood
    • Astral Sight
    • Book Memory
    • True Sight
Wholeness of Body
Step: Rank
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
The adept strengthens their body with the power of the elements. While active, the adept adds their Wholeness of Body rank to their Physical Armor and Mystic Armor. This talent is not compatible with worn armor and lasts for Wholeness of Body rank rounds.

13 March 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 25 - Monk, Part 1

This is the twenty-fifth 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 Monk is one of the more requested disciplines for updating to Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4) on which I haven't done much work. I'm going to try and use this opportunity to go through most of the design process to show how it works for me and gather some feedback on how this discipline is going to come together. 

To begin, the Monk is an interesting example of design. The four animal styles merging into the dragon style at Master tier is an idea I want to preserve at its core; there are some distinctly different ways this discipline can go. Creating more structure for this discipline than normal, but elegance within the structure, is the vague direction and a way to make this discipline feel different from others.

However, there are some things I don't care for in this discipline. Specifically, the animal styles. They are far too Southern Shaolin kung fu for my taste. While Earthdawn is the forgotten history of Earth, it doesn't need to be so on the nose or exist before it existed. The structure presented with all of the techniques available at Novice is too free and lacking in, well, discipline. There isn't a sense of gaining greater access to secrets as you ascend in learning, which is a common theme in the genre.

With this in mind, the plan is to switch from an animal theme (as there is already an animal-based unarmed combatant) to the very Earthdawn elemental theme. This presents its own opportunities and challenges. One challenge is the Purifier - an unarmed discipline with a strong connection to the elements. This is fairly significant, since considerable overlap between two disciplines brings up the important question: should this discipline exist? We will get back to this shortly.

Looking at the elemental theme, it should be different from the standard Barsaivian outlook. A different culture should approach things differently. The trick is the elemental paradigm in Earthdawn is empirical - the discrete elements can be found and trucked around; their interactions are not a matter of philosophy, but of "you know, we would still have house if you had kept the True Fire and True Wood separate... just sayin'."

The Chinese five element theory is useful here, though something of a bastardization, as it has earth, fire, metal, water, and wood. Some setting gymnastics can adapt this easily to the setting. The first part: what happened to air? A simple solution: the dragons of Cathay do not allow Namegivers of the land access to True Air, but jealously guard it. In return, the dragons grant them protection and metal (orichalcum). Perhaps the truth is the dragons wish to control the Namegivers' ability to produce orichalcum on their own, thus controlling their entire access to the substance; tales of the orichalcum wars?

Nonetheless, this sets up a few things. Metal is now orichalcum (the metal) in the scheme, which provides a replacement for dragon in the vague talent scheme. This also creates a proto-version of the wu xing, which is based less on philosophy and more on reality (as mentioned above). As magic leaves the world the structure and notions remain, but become adapted to a life where these things are not as they once were.

Going back to the Purifier, there should be enough mechanical and thematic differences here to separate the two disciplines. However, there can also be a connection between the two. I have often toyed with how liferocks work within the setting as the entire notion of obsidimen and their life is completely foreign. The Monk tradition could have passed from the liferocks of Cathay to Barsaive, but been adapted to the culture and needs of the local region. Thus the strong similarities between the two, but also the different applications.

Leaving setting behind and moving to mechanics: while I like the idea of a final element which unlocks secrets, I don't like the idea of this being the only answer. Characters should have the option of either specializing in an element, or being balanced between them. This means having five distinct endgame paths, but this particular problem is for later down the road.

The discipline structure which I am currently using has the standard discipline talent progression with modified talent options. Instead of the standard talent option spread (10 talent options), there will be three talent options for each element, for a total of 12. Specialists will need to take all of the options for their element at each tier, while those seeking harmony will need to take one from each element at each tier. This means specialists can have a little flexibility if they so desire, by taking their fourth option as a freebie.

This provides a nice outline of how to put things together for now - it is a place to start. From here the details need to be filled in, which means creating a list of talents. My preference is to take the current list of talents and note every talent which may be appropriate, creating a "super list". Once this is in place, talents which don't fit quite as well get removed. This can be a long process and benefits from differing perspectives and collaboration in general.

Here is the super list for Monk:

  • Acrobatic Defense
  • Air Dance
  • Anticipate Blow
  • Astral Sight
  • Avoid Blow
  • Awareness
  • Battle Bellow
  • Battle Shout
  • Book Memory
  • Claw Frenzy
  • Claw Shape
  • Climbing
  • Cobra Strike
  • Cold Purify
  • Conversation
  • Crushing Blow
  • Danger Sense
  • Diplomacy
  • Disarm
  • Distract
  • Down Strike
  • Earth Skin
  • Empathic Sense
  • Etiquette
  • Fireblood
  • Gliding Stride
  • Graceful Exit
  • Great Leap
  • Heartening Laugh
  • Impressive Display
  • Inspire Others
  • Iron Constitution
  • Life Check
  • Lifesight
  • Lion Heart
  • Maneuver
  • Momentum Attack
  • Power Mask
  • Read and Write Language
  • Research
  • Resist Taunt
  • Riposte
  • Second Attack
  • Speak Language
  • Spot Armor Flaw
  • Sprint
  • Stealthy Stride
  • Steel Thought
  • Steely Stare
  • Swift Kick
  • Temper Flesh
  • Thread Weaving
  • Tiger Spring
  • True Sight
  • Unarmed Combat
  • Waterfall Slam
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Wind Catcher
  • Wood Skin
  • Wound Balance
Clearly, this is way too many talents. Also, as the esteemed +David Marshall likes to note: it is always good to have a unique talent. I definitely think it is something which should be considered, but this desire needs to be tempered with an important question: is this a talent which any other discipline should have? The inherent problem being disciplines (or classes) released early in a development cycle won't have the benefit of access to the various abilities which are introduced later, thus ended up as somewhat sad in comparison. To this end, all new talents need to be something which an existing discipline should not already have. If they fail this test, the ability isn't discarded, but it is adapted to another form which everyone (as appropriate) can retroactively gain access.

At this point I like to look over the source material for the adaptation and see if there is any inspiration to be had. In this case, no so much, but I may return to it at a later date. The discipline also needs a template (combat, specialist, spellcaster). Right now, combat (Durability 7) is the most appropriate, but using the specialist (Durability 5, free talent, extra karma ability) is tempting for the possibilities it offers and to help differentiate the discipline. Going with that direction would change some of the decisions, but it is an intriguing option.

To make the next step (talent selection) short: I made a lot of cuts. The end result is below, but I am not happy with how it has turned out. At this point generally comes to arduous process of fine tuning the talents through collaboration and playtesting. Instead of proceeding, I'm putting this out there for everyone to see.

Part of this process involved establishing while the mechanics and core of a talent may be common between the settings, this doesn't mean the manifestation must also be the same. For example: Air Dance may end up as a talent option for one of the elements, but the elemental association could be fire or water, instead of air. A different culture manipulates magic in a different way to get the same result.

There are also some other pieces when filling out the template: defenses, bonuses, karma spends, and tier abilities. For defenses, they are ordered 1 through 3 and the bonuses are already in place. Physical is 1, Mystic is 2, and Social is 3. Depending on how things end up, Physical and Mystic may split the difference, both ending up as 1.5 much like the Swordmaster with Physical and Social. Bonuses are similarly ordered between Initiative, Mystic Armor, and Recovery Tests. This one is much more difficult as they all apply. I selected Recovery Tests as the primary due to the number of talents which require them to function.

Leaving me with karma spends and tier abilities. These can be remarkably difficult to get right. As a combat discipline, one of the karma spends is simple: damage bonus at fifth circle. This still leaves third circle and circles after eight. Luckily, this discipline is still too undefined to know what is appropriate for an early karma spend, particularly one which is often used as part of the defining flavor of the discipline. For the Journeyman ability, I know I want it to be related to meditation. What exactly it should do, somewhat up in the air. So I put a bunch of stuff down and will see what sticks over time. These abilities tend to look pretty ugly initially and are refined a great deal through revisions and playtesting. It isn't uncommon for them to be scrapped entirely if they refuse to cooperate.

Below is the bleeding alpha version of this discipline; it's not even a draft. It is going to need a lot of work. There is no expectation for anything to remain the same, but you have to start from somewhere.


Artisan Skills: N/A

Half-Magic: Probably something to do with other monk orders and fighting styles, like Swordmaster, but maybe a little more.

Novice

First Circle
  • Avoid Blow
  • Claw Shape
  • Etiquette
  • Thread Weaving
  • Unarmed Combat
Abilities
  • Durability 7
Second Circle
  • Maneuver
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Danger Sense
Abilities
  • Karma: ???
Fourth Circle
  • Great Leap
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  • Earth
    • Iron Constitution
    • Wood Skin
    • Wound Balance
  • Fire
    • Acrobatic Defense
    • Sprint
    • Tiger Spring
  • Water
    • Anticipate Blow
    • Distract
    • Riposte
  • Wood
    • Astral Sight
    • Awareness
    • Fireblood
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Wholeness of Body
Abilities
  • Meditation: The adept may make a Thread Weaving (6) test. If successful, they may meditate for a number of hours equal to their test result. Time spent meditating is considered the equivalent of sleeping, but the adept is still aware of their surroundings. The adept may make a Recovery Test after meditating for 30 minutes. After meditating for 8 hours, any additional successes on their initial Thread Weaving test give +2 to a Recovery Test made immediately after stopping meditation.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on an unarmed Damage test.
Sixth Circle
  • Steel Thought
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Down Strike
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Recovery Test
Eighth Circle
  • Claw Frenzy
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  • Earth
    • Earth Skin
    • Life Check
    • Temper Self
  • Fire
    • Cobra Strike
    • Gliding Stride
    • Swift Kick
  • Water
    • Air Dance
    • Disarm
    • Waterfall Slam
  • Wood
    • Lifesight
    • Lion Heart
    • True Sight
Wholeness of Body
Step: Rank
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
The adept strengthens their body with the power of the elements. While active, the adept adds their Wholeness of Body rank to their Physical Armor and Mystic Armor. This talent is not compatible with worn armor and lasts for Wholeness of Body rank rounds.


06 March 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 24 - Spirit Rider

This is the twenty-fourth 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.

This is another wholly new discipline for Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4). Similar to the Master of the Hunt, this discipline began as an alternate version of the Cavalryman. The essential premise was to create a version of the Cavalryman which is more playable for the average character. During this development, the discipline changed directions from what was really a specialization to it's own thing.


These adepts bond with a particular spirit which they can summon as their spirit mount. The process is similar to a Cavalryman and their mount, though much stranger since they can only sense the presence of their spirit and feel the connection. While Cavalrymen tend towards being social adepts, Spirit Riders are more aloof and disconnected with the world, tending towards a mystic nature.

The intention is for this discipline to be exceptionally rare, essentially existing as a "PC" discipline with the rare NPC. Those which would provide the necessary training. Having them be too common would possibly erode the unique place a Cavalryman has within the setting. The mechanics between the two disciplines are very similar, and within the context of the setting it isn't unfair to think of a Spirit Rider as a specialization of the Cavalryman with a peculiar bond. However, there is enough of a gulf between the two for them to be unable to train together.

With the (hypothetical and intended) rarity of the discipline, training will be an issue. This is something of a deliberate choice to reinforce the "special" nature of the discipline and offset the potential advantages they have over Cavalryman. The latter have a easy time finding a trainer, while Spirit Riders will need to hunt down those like them. Keeping in contact with whomever initiated the adept into the discipline will likely be important.

As mentioned previously, their talent selection has significantly less access to animal and social talents, but there are a considerable number of mystic talents. Their connection with the netherworlds also makes them more inclined use fear to their advantage by drawing on their "otherness". Since the Spirit Mount talent has time constraints, they are unable to be mounted at all times. Due to this, these adepts have a talent selection which can accommodate this constraint. Since their Spirit Mount talent is available earlier than normal (it is typically a Journeyman talent), it carries a limitation: it may only be used to summon spirit with which the adept is bound.

I don't know what the actual popularity of this discipline may be, though the flexibility with regard to the mount means it may be a viable alternative for PCs. There is still likely some development yet to be done here. Particularly with regard to evaluating the talent selection and interactions, as well as the Journeyman ability and how it all interacts with familiars.

Artisan Skills: Body Painting, Rune Carving

Half-Magic: Spirit Riders may use half-magic for knowledge of different kinds of mounts used by Namegiver races and knowledge of significant cavalry units in Barsaive. A Spirit Rider may also use half-magic to sense the presence of spirits within 30 yards of her location. The Detection Difficulty for sensing a spirit is the spirit’s Mystic Defense. If the test succeeds, the Spirit Rider can sense the presence of the spirit and use talents, such as Spirit Talk, to communicate and interact with the spirit. The gamemaster may choose to make this half-magic test on behalf of the Spirit Rider at any time, as this innate sense is always active.

Novice

First Circle
  • Charge
  • Melee Weapons
  • Spirit Mount
  • Spirit Weaving
  • Trick Riding
Abilities
  • Durability 7
Second Circle
  • Danger Sense
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Steel Thought
Abilities
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on Attack tests while charging.
Fourth Circle
  • Fearsome Charge
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  1. Anticipate Blow
  2. Astral Sight
  3. Avoid Blow
  4. Awareness
  5. Graceful Exit
  6. Great Leap
  7. Maneuver
  8. Shield Bash
  9. Tiger Spring
  10. Wound Balance
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Enhance Animal Companion
Abilities
  • Twin Spirits: The adept may use Enhance Animal Companion (and other talents which apply to animal companions and mounts) on a familiar spirit which is summoned through Spirit Mount. This is limited by their Spirit Mount talent instead of Animal Bond.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on a Damage test while mounted.
Sixth Circle
  • Wheeling Attack
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Wheeling Defense
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Initiative
Eighth Circle
  • Double Charge
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Animal Companion Durability
  2. Animal Training
  3. Armor Mount
  4. Lion Heart
  5. Mount Attack
  6. Spirit Talk
  7. Spot Armor Flaw
  8. Steely Stare
  9. Sure Mount
  10. Temper Flesh
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 Journeyman ability. This takes some of the framework into new directions and while nothing has gone wrong so far, this doesn't mean something won't go wrong. All of karma abilities are good, but I'm always on the lookout for something better. Which can include a new name for the discipline.

03 March 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 23 - Master of the Hunt

This is the twenty-third 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.

This is the first wholly new discipline for Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4). It started its life as an alternate version of the Beastmaster, which actually focused on animal companions instead of doing two things poorly. To be clear, the version of the Beastmaster which is in the Player's Guide is the better of the two directions. It is going to have significantly more appeal and brings a number of things to the game which no other discipline does.


However, there is still room for this kind of discipline since there isn't one which is dedicated to animal companions and some work was put into making them more relevant in ED4. No longer tethered to the Beastmaster's legacy, it went back for additional development. The focus was making it a discipline centered around having animal companions above all else. 

Unarmed Combat was one of the first changes. It didn't fit with the theme anymore and required too much infrastructure to be useful. Since melee weapons and ranged are both thematic and useful, it became a choice for the character. This structure also supports adept animal trainers who don't use weapons, disciplines which already have a fighting style predetermined, and spellcasters who would find a combat talent superfluous.

Discipline talents were simple, they are all around improving and handling animals. Inspire Others to give a buff to them and Blood Share to improve their healing. Normally the discipline shapes the Journeyman ability, but in this case the Journeyman ability shaped much of the talent option development. It emphasizes the theme of working with their animal companions and having them be the primary actors in combat.

I don't particularly expect it to be popular, but it works as a second discipline for Beastmasters who want the full savage warrior and want pets. In which case, they get to have it all. 

Artisan Skills: Body Painting, Braiding

Half-Magic: Masters of the Hunt may use half-magic when dealing with or caring for animals in ways beyond those described in their talents, including animal husbandry and first aid. Masters of the Hunt may use half-magic when recognizing different animals, animal tracks, and abnormal behavior among animals and creatures.

Novice

First Circle
  • Animal Bond
  • Animal Training
  • Enhance Animal Companion
  • Hunt Weaving
  • Wilderness Survival
Abilities
  • Creature Analysis
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on any test which involves non-violent interaction with an animal.
  • Durability 5
Second Circle
  • Animal Companion Durability
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Social Defense
Third Circle
  • Dominate Beast
Abilities
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point once per turn on an Action test one of her animal companion is making.
Fourth Circle
  • Call Animal Companion
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Anticipate Blow
  2. Avoid Blow
  3. Awareness
  4. Battle Shout
  5. Climbing
  6. Melee Weapons
  7. Missile Weapons
  8. Navigation
  9. Stealthy Stride
  10. Tracking
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Animal Talk
Abilities
  • Animal Leader: When a talent provides the adept a bonus (such as a bonus to Physical Defense and their next Attack test from Anticipate Blow), the adept may forgo this bonus to instead provide it to one of their animal companions. The animal companion is not required to meet the original criteria; they may still gain the benefits from Anticipate Blow if they are going after the target and may receive the benefits from Mystic Aim if they are in close combat. The adept must still meet all of the requirements.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on the Damage tests of her animal companions.
Sixth Circle
  • Blood Share
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Social Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Inspire Others
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Recovery Test
Eighth Circle
  • Armor Mount
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Social Defense
Talent Options
  1. Animal Possession
  2. Battle Bellow
  3. Borrow Sense
  4. Distract
  5. Lion Heart
  6. Maneuver
  7. Mystic Aim
  8. Spot Armor Flaw
  9. Surprise Strike
  10. Tiger Spring
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 Journeyman ability. All of karma abilities are good, but I'm always on the lookout for something better. Which can include a new name for the discipline.