30 September 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 30 - Horror Stalker

This is the thirtieth 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 draft of the Earthdawn Fourth Edition Horror Stalker. It is (currently) unique among disciplines due to its explicit design as an additional discipline. This is an experiment in approaching the discipline from a slightly different perspective. The mechanics of the discipline have been focused on melee weapons, despite the concept being one which could easily be applied to many different disciplines. Along with this, the idea of initiating adepts into the ranks of Horror Stalkers with no other experience seems like a great way to get them killed before they will have much of a chance to do any good.

While technically it can be taken as an initial discipline, there aren't any of the basic combat talents. The assumption is any adept who follows this path will already be coming to it with their basic competencies in place. What it does have is a good selection of defensive and support talents which are useful for virtually any character who wants to dedicate themselves to fighting Horrors.

Since there is so much here which is new, it needs testing. It should to be useful coming from any discipline, whether it be Archer, Elementalist, or Warrior. Their custom talents need be useful, but to not make them turn every conflict against a Horror into a cakewalk through all of the various stacking bonuses.

Artisan Skills: Scarification, Tattooing

Half-Magic: 
These adepts may use half-magic to know how to find other Horror Stalkers and the history of other Horror Stalkers. They may also make Perception-based half-magic tests to detect the presence of Horrors, Horror constructs, and undead within 30 yards. The difficulty for this is equal to the target’s Mystic Defense. If the test succeeds, the adept senses the target’s presence, though no details. The gamemaster may choose to make this half-magic test on behalf of the adept at any time, as this innate sense is always active.

Novice

First Circle

  • Astral Sight
  • Bear Mark
  • Horror Weaving
  • Steel Thought
  • Suppress Curse
Abilities
  • Durability 5
  • Horror Lore
  • KarmaOn any test to directly defend against a Horror, Horror construct, or undead (e.g. a Steel Thought test against a Horror power, or a Willpower test to resist an ongoing Horror power).
Second Circle
  • Gaze into the Abyss
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Mystic Defense
Third Circle
  • Call of Harrow
Abilities
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on Attack and Spellcasting tests against a Horror, Horror construct, or undead.
Fourth Circle
  • Sense Corruption
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Acrobatic Defense
  2. Anticipate Blow
  3. Avoid Blow
  4. Awareness
  5. Danger Sense
  6. Graceful Exit
  7. Mystic Pursuit
  8. Stealthy Stride
  9. Tracking
  10. Wound Balance
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Lion Heart
Abilities
  • Knowledge is Power: If the adept possesses any specific, vital knowledge regarding a Horror, Horror construct, or undead target (or type of target in the case of “common” varieties) they may reduce the Strain cost of one Horror Stalker talent by 1 once per round when used against the appropriate target.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on a Damage or Effect test against a Horror, Horror construct, or undead. This may be combined with other karma abilities which allow karma to be spent on a similar test.
Sixth Circle
  • Exploit Corruption
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Mystic Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Bane Strike
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Mystic Armor
Eighth Circle
  • Purge Karma
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  1. Battle Shout
  2. Cold Purify
  3. Earth Skin
  4. Fire Heal
  5. Fireblood
  6. Life Check
  7. Research
  8. Steely Stare
  9. Tactics
  10. Tiger Spring
Bane Strike
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 2
The adept infuses their attack with the power of blood and sacrifice to enhance the damage against Horrors and Horror constructs. On a successful attack against a Horror or Horror construct, the adept may add Bane Strike to as a bonus to a Damage or Effect test (only if it inflicts damage).

Bear Mark
Step: Rank + WIL
Action: Free
Strain: 2
This talent allows an adept to prevent a Horror Mark from doing something terrible to her and allow her to make more poor life decisions. Immediately after being Horror Marked, the adept can make a Bear Mark test against the Horror Mark Step. If successful, the Horror Mark is sequestered in the adept's pattern and cannot affect her. If unsuccessful, she is affected as normal. Each time the Horror attempts to use a power on, or through her through the Horror Mark, she may repeat this test. If successful, she resists the Horror's attempt to its power on or through her. If she gets four successes on this test, she will successfully sequester the Horror Mark and it can no longer be used to affect her. The adept can bear a number of Horror Marks up to her Bear Mark rank.

Call of Harrow
Step: Rank + PER
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
The adept uses a type of divination magic to gain information about a Horror, Horror construct, or undead target she is observing. She makes a Call of Harrow test against the target's Mystic Defense. For each success, the adept's player can ask a specific question that would reveal one of the target's game statistics or abilities, such as, "What is its Physical Defense?" or "What is its Unconsciousness Rating?" The question must be about a specific trait - general questions such as "How tough is it?" should warrant an equally vague answer ("Pretty tough").

The gamemaster should disallow questions comparing more than one statistic, such as "is this jehuthra tougher than I am?" or "Which is higher, it's Physical or Mystic Defense?" At the gamemaster's discretion, using this talent can yield insights about a target's vulnerabilities which can prove useful to an adventuring group about to tangle with a Horror.

Exploit Corruption
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 1
The adept begins to learn and understand what makes Horrors and their constructs strong and how to exploit this to their advantage. Once per turn when making a test against a Horror or Horror construct (this does not include Attack, Damage, Initiative, and Spellcasting tests, and Effect tests which cause damage), the adept may add her Exploit Corruption rank to her test. All targets of the action must be Horrors and/or Horror constructs to be applicable.

Gaze into the Abyss
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 1
The adept has learned to tap into the collective knowledge and memories of Horror Stalkers and those who came before to aid in their efforts against the common enemy. When performing a test to learn or recall information about a Horror or Horror construct, the adept may add her Gaze into the Abyss rank to the test result.

Purge Karma
Step: Rank + WIL
Action: Simple
Strain: 2
The adept uses her force of will to force a connection between her and a Horror, tapping into the target’s unnatural magics. To use this ability, the adept makes a Purge Karma test as a Simple action against the Mystic Defense of a Horror, Horror construct, or undead target. If successful, whenever the target spends a Karma point, the adept may spend a Karma point to cancel the expenditure. The Karma is treated as though it was spent, though there is no effect. The adept may do this a number of times per turn equal to the number of successes scored on the Purge Karma test. This effect lasts for Purge Karma rank rounds.

Sense Corruption
Step: Rank + PER
Action: Standard
Strain: 1
The adept has learned to enhance her natural abilities to detect Horrors, Horror constructs, and undead and gain additional information. To use this talent, the adept makes a Sense Corruption test against the Mystic Defense of every viable target within Sense Corruption rank x 10 yards. If successful, she detects the entity. For each additional success against the target, she learns the following information in order: 1) it’s type (Horror, Horror construct, or undead), 2) it’s direction from her, 3) it’s distance from her. If the test does not succeed against a target, it is not detected. Targets detected in this fashion are considered to be astrally sensed and will be tracked while this talent is active. This talent lasts for Sense Corruption rank rounds and may be maintained by spending 1 Strain when it is about to expire. To make a new test, the talent must be allowed to expire, then used again.

08 September 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 29 - Bodyguard

This is the twenty-ninth 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 Bodyguard is a discipline which was first introduced in Earthdawn First Edition in Living Room Games' adventure "Path of Deception", though not updated for Third Edition. A reader recently requested a Fourth Edition version of this discipline for a friend's birthday present, a request I was more than happy to oblige.

There is some setting background on the origins of this discipline which is overly complicated at best. Why it would only come into being from the efforts of Journeyman (the discipline) adepts as a reaction to the Scourge, then taught in Throal where a dwarf Warrior would eventually learn this as a secondary discipline... I just don't know. The addition of stigma attached because it came into being during the Scourge - this also makes little sense to me. It is entirely possible I am missing something.

Nonetheless, the premise is fairly straight forward and it is easy to see the appeal of including such a discipline in a campaign from a setting standpoint. It is likely to be an uncommon discipline, particularly with adventurers, given its function and at least somewhat selfless nature. As a secondary discipline, it finds many more uses, particularly for Swordmasters and Warriors, and even Weaponsmiths to a lesser extent.

From a mechanical perspective, this is a poor choice for a primary discipline due to the highly defensive nature of the abilities. As well, there are some key pieces which are missing right now due to their inclusion in other works which have not yet been released. As indicated, the primary focus here is defense, with a lesser emphasis on perceptive abilities to detect trouble. With talent options, a Bodyguard can develop in a few different directions, though they all emphasize different aspects of their primary focus.

Few disciplines offer as many defensive options, particularly coupled with Perception-based talents, as the Bodyguard. However, they pay for this with few offensive options. They have no access to damage boosting and additional attack abilities through Journeyman. This is a key part of why they are unlikely to be a common choice as a primary discipline. Their defensive abilities really are astounding and can make a melee discipline the rock which opposition crashes upon.

Nothing here has been playtested yet and the Fifth Circle discipline and karma abilities are the most likely sources of trouble. The concept behind the discipline ability is to give what may very well be a low Initiative discipline access to what will be a key talent regardless of their poor Initiative, along with a small boost. Their karma ability plays this up even more, though at the cost of a damage ability which most other combat disciplines see at this Circle. It was hard to justify the damage increase for a discipline which isn't really about offensive abilities. An alternative was to offer them the ability to increase an Armor rating by a karma for one attack once per round. This still has potential, but it seems out of place at this Circle.

Artisan Skills: Rune Carving, Tattooing

Half-Magic: Bodyguards use half-magic for knowledge of escape routes in their immediate area which they have traversed or seen. In addition, they use half-magic for proper maintenance of armor and weapons.


Novice

First Circle

  • Anticipate Blow
  • Awareness
  • Danger Sense
  • Guard Weaving
  • Melee Weapons
Abilities
  • Durability 7
Second Circle
  • Avoid Blow
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Wound Balance
Abilities
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on Action tests to detect potential threats. This can include Sensing tests when appropriate.
Fourth Circle
  • Empathic Sense
Abilities
  • Defense: +1 Social Defense
Talent Options
  1. Disarm Trap
  2. Distract
  3. Etiquette
  4. Fireblood
  5. Graceful Exit
  6. Maneuver
  7. Shield Bash
  8. Tiger Spring
  9. Throwing Weapons
  10. Unarmed Combat
Journeyman

Fifth Circle
  • Blood Share
Abilities
  • Always Ready: Before Initiative has been determined, the adept may choose any number of talents which can increase Physical Defense as a Simple action. The adept pays 1 Strain for each selected talent. These talents may be used as a Free Action before Initiative is determined this round and the adept is considered to have a higher Initiative result to meet any requirements (e.g. Anticipate Blow). The adept gains a +2 bonus on all affected talents. If a talent can be used more than once per round (e.g. Anticipate Blow), the 1 Strain cost to use this ability must only be paid once.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on talent tests which increase Physical Defense (e.g. Anticipate Blow), avoid physical attacks (e.g. Avoid Blow), or escape from conflict. This may not be used on Spellcasting tests.
Sixth Circle
  • Life Check
Abilities
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Lion Heart
Abilities
  • Bonus: +1 Recovery Test
Eighth Circle
  • Temper Flesh
Abilities
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Astral Sight
  2. Cold Purify
  3. Disarm
  4. Iron Constitution
  5. Lifesight
  6. Resist Taunt
  7. Riposte
  8. Steel Thought
  9. Steely Stare
  10. True Sight