09 December 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 02 - Nethermancer

This is the second 4E Companion Discipline Preview, 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.

Nethermancer is the next Companion preview, and this is intended to offer some insights into the discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

As indicated previously, there were a lot of changes made at the Warden and Master tiers as compared to previous editions. This is true for Nethermancer as well, and the same host of reasons apply. Reinforcing and building on the elements from the Player's Guide, identifying talents that don't work in their current form, and introducing new material. There's a fair amount of new material to be found here.

Starting with the discipline abilities, both have the same/similar names as previously. Despite how simple it is and the pattern it follows with other disciplines, there was a lot of design that went into this ability. The previous incarnation, Otherworldly Control, was interesting and thematic, but not terribly useful. It's important for these abilities to have an impact on the game. Ultimately, this was pretty much the perfect solution, addressing a number of different minor things for Nethermancer that never quite fit.

Astral Face has always been thematically awesome and provides effectively the same benefits, though it also applies to "upgraded" versions of talents, with more restrictions. Why is easy: it was way too powerful. The new limitations make it's usage a tactical decision and not appropriate at all times. The ability to improve Effect tests, along with their Otherworldly Willpower, make them powerhouses at these tiers. Befitting for this Discipline.

Their talent progression continues with their mastery of all things astral, and builds on their desire for control and connection to blood. Along with this the minor focus on information.

These course corrections see some talents leaving their list: Animate Object, Bargain with Summoned Creature, Bone Compass, Cold Purify, Ethereal Weapon, Life Check, Soul Shatter, Spell Crystal Lock, Steely Stare (found in Journeyman), and Wound Transfer. This is a pretty long list. Some simply aren't good fits for Nethermancer (Cold Purify, Ethereal Weapon, and Life Check), while others are no longer talents.

The reasons for removing a talent can be various. It may no longer fit due to broader changes (e.g. Bargain with Summoned Creature), not make sense as a talent versus a potential spell (e.g. Animate Object or Soul Shatter), or have a new home elsewhere in the mechanics.

Some talents on this list are functionally renamed versions of old talents, though their systems are a little different. Concise Casting acts as a Spellcasting test as a Simple action after a Spellcasting test, while Spliced Weave lets the adept make multiple Thread Weaving tests.

Others are thoroughly new, such as Astral Domain, Blood Insight, and Nethersoul. The latter two are exclusive to the Nethermancer. Astral Domain and Blood Insight are talents that fall into an unofficial category of talents designed to interact heavily with the knack system. Due to space constraints, this may have to evolve over time, but they should offer interesting ways to flavor how powerful Nethermancers go about their business.

A more in-depth look at these talents can be found here at FASA Games.

It is also worth noting a prepared Master Nethermancer can significantly mitigate the dangers of casting raw magic. Which can be a tremendously powerful thing, but also full of terrible hubris. About perfect for a Nethermancer.