24 May 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 17 - Befouled Spider Adepts

This is the seventeenth 4E Anatomy of a Creature, 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.

As promised, here are the Horror constructs featured in sessions 040 and 041 of my ongoing Earthdawn campaign, Mismatched Steel. There is nothing mechanical about them that is specific to Horror constructs - they can be used as normal creatures if so desired.


They were designed to function as a group and targeted as a seventh circle challenge, though this may not be quite right for all groups. The various abilities each of the four befouled spiders possesses complements the others and allows them to slowly cripple their opposition. Between poison, webbing, dispelling, armor reduction, etc., there are a lot of different ways they make life difficult.

The weakest for direct damage is the archer, who is best served by taking a supporting role and focusing on the high accuracy to generate extra successes for special maneuvers. Each of the other three has strategies to use, such as the beastmaster overwhelming an opponent with numbers and taking advantage of Surprise Strike, the warrior's very direct approach, or the spellcaster enhancing their action to an area attack that can possibly affect mystic armor.

From a design perspective, there are a lot of new things I tried out. Including a number of the special maneuvers and the enhanced attack the spellcaster is sporting. I'm looking at ways to offer more and different options without making things too complicated to track. The idea of a bigger attack that is less commonly used is appealing, but balancing something like that without an artificial limit can be tricky. This is one attempt at a work around.


Spider, Befouled Archer

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 12        Initiative:                  14       Unconsciousness:      65
STR: 10         Physical Defense:  15       Death Rating:               75
TOU: 10        Mystic Defense:      14       Wound Threshold:    15
PER: 11         Social Defense:       11        Knockdown:                  18
WIL: 11         Physical Armor:      6        Recovery Tests:            3
CHA: 7          Mystic Armor:         8
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 2; Long Bow: 22 (16)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Poison (10): The victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Stealthy Stride (20): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Dispelling Strike (Befouled Archer Spider): The befouled archer spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to make a Dispel Magic test against one spell affecting the target. The Attack test result is used as the Dispel Magic result. This special maneuver may be used once per round.
Poisoned Soul (Befouled Archer Spider): The befouled archer spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to inflict Poison on the target. This may not be used with Web Slinger and may only be used once per attack.
Web Slinger (Befouled Archer Spider): The befouled archer spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.

Spider, Befouled Beastmaster

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 11        Initiative:                  13        Unconsciousness:      67
STR: 11         Physical Defense:   13       Death Rating:               79
TOU: 11        Mystic Defense:       11        Wound Threshold:    16
PER: 10        Social Defense:        13       Knockdown:                  19
WIL: 8         Physical Armor:       9        Recovery Tests:            4
CHA: 9         Mystic Armor:          6
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 3; Claws: 18 (17)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Fury (2)
Poison (10): The victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Stealthy Stride (19): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Lead the Attack (Befouled Beastmaster Spider): The befouled beastmaster spider may spend additional successes from an Attack test to give all pack hunter spider allies +1 to Attack tests per success against the opponent until the end of the round. If the opponent is Harried by Webbing or affected by Poison, the bonus lasts until the end of the next round.
Poisoned Soul (Befouled Beastmaster Spider): The befouled beastmaster spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to inflict Poison on the target. This may not be used with Web Slinger and may only be used once per attack.

Web Slinger (Befouled Beastmaster Spider): The befouled beastmaster spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.

Spider, Befouled Spellcaster

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 9           Initiative:                  11       Unconsciousness:      62
STR: 8           Physical Defense:   11       Death Rating:               71
TOU: 9           Mystic Defense:      14       Wound Threshold:    13
PER: 12         Social Defense:        12       Knockdown:                 16
WIL: 12         Physical Armor:      5        Recovery Tests:            3
CHA: 8          Mystic Armor:          10
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 2; Ranged 20: 18 (15)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Astral Attack: Attacks can target Mystic Defense instead of Physical Defense.
Astral Interference (20): As the talent, Player's Guide, p. 179. Treat as Rank 8.
Enhance Attack [Area] (Standard): The next Attack test the befouled spellcaster spider makes affects a 4-yard area instead of a single target. Any special maneuvers are applied to all affected targets.
Enhanced Sense [Other] (20): Astral Sight, as the talent, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Poison (10): The victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Stealthy Stride (217): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Dispelling Strike (Befouled Spellcaster Spider): The befouled spellcaster spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to make a Dispel Magic test against one spell affecting the target. The Attack test result is used as the Dispel Magic result. This special maneuver may be used once per round.
Ethereal Attack (Befouled Spellcaster Spider): The befouled spellcaster spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to affect Mystic Armor instead of Physical Armor.
Poisoned Soul (Befouled Spellcaster Spider): The befouled spellcaster spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to inflict Poison on the target. This may not be used with Web Slinger and may only be used once per attack.

Web Slinger (Befouled Spellcaster Spider): The befouled spellcaster spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.

Spider, Befouled Warrior

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 10        Initiative:                  14        Unconsciousness:      71
STR: 12         Physical Defense:   14        Death Rating:               83
TOU: 12        Mystic Defense:       12        Wound Threshold:    18
PER: 8          Social Defense:        10        Knockdown:                 20
WIL: 9          Physical Armor:      10        Recovery Tests:           4
CHA: 6         Mystic Armor:          8
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 2; Sword: 19 (20)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Hardened Armor
Poison (10): The victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Resist Pain (2)
Stealthy Stride (19): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Armor Cutter (Befouled Warrior Spider): The befouled warrior spider may spend additional successes from an Attack test to reduce the target's Physical Armor by 1 per success after damage is dealt. This may not destroy thread armor. This may not be used with Web Slinger.
Poisoned Soul (Befouled Warrior Spider): The befouled warrior spider may spend an additional success from an Attack test to inflict Poison on the target. This may not be used with Web Slinger and may only be used once per attack.


Web Slinger (Befouled Warrior Spider): The befouled warrior spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.

Spider, Pack Hunter

Challenge: Novice (Third Circle)
DEX: 7        Initiative:                   11       Unconsciousness:      33
STR: 4         Physical Defense:   11       Death Rating:               39
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:       8        Wound Threshold:    9
PER: 6         Social Defense:       10       Knockdown:                 14
WIL: 8        Physical Armor:       5        Recovery Tests:           2
CHA: 4        Mystic Armor:          3
Movement: 16 (Climb 16)
Actions: 1; Bite: 11 (12)
Powers:
Ambush (5)
Poison (10): If the spider's bite causes damage, the victim must resist the effects of a paralytic poison (Gamemaster's Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 10 [Onset: 1 round, Interval: 4/1, Duration: 15 minutes].
Stealthy Stride (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 170.
Surprise Strike (5): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 172.
WebbingThe victim is wrapped in webs and Harried until freed. To escape, the victim must succeed at a Strength (12) test. If they are holding a small weapon (e.g. Size 1 or 2 for most characters), they may add the weapon's Damage Step to the Strength test. If the victim takes damage from fire, the damage is increased by +6 and the webbing is incinerated in a flash.
Special Maneuvers:
Web Slinger (Befouled Warrior Spider): The befouled warrior spider may spend two additional successes from an Attack test to inflict the Webbing power on the target instead of making a Damage test.

19 May 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 37 - Something Old, Something New

This is the thirty-seventh Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.






Adventure Log – 037 Something Old, Something New

Written By: Bogani Kreskas

Date:  11 Riag - 18 Riag, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster

Uriel the Illusionist

(1)The letters we found in the antlion's stomach are intriguing - they speak of a doomed expedition seeking the disappearing city. What a find! Our first task is to track down these mysterious adepts - Forest Fire, Tamlin, Jesser, Krassa, Jenneth, and the unnamed author of the letter.

Ting discovered, by careful questioning, that Krassa, the ork Swordmaster, was found dead in an alley. We discovered the name of the last member was Lyra, the sad contents of the antlion's stomach. Forest Fire died in the Badlands from the poison of a terrible beast. That leaves Tamlin, Jesser, and Jenneth possibly still alive, but if they are they are likely still in the Badlands. That is not an encouraging state of affairs! Perhaps we should ask some equipment merchants to find out if the Ancient Blades stocked up for their fated journey.

While working in the forge, Honeysuckle was approached by a violet-haired elf with something to sell. How mysterious(2)! She asked him to visit us that evening at our inn, the Gilded Toad.

He is a pleasant, purple-haired elf, a well-appointed man. Honeysuckle was able to read the coin's history, but the specifics of its bloody history(3). We made arrangements to research the object the next day. Perhaps it will illuminate this mystery!

During the night, a mysterious visitor carved a cryptic symbol(4) into the wall above his bed. I was able to determine that the carver used a blade not suited to the purpose, but I could find no evidence of how the artist managed to make his mark without disturbing the elf(5).

Elmod attempted to find a lead on our mysterious coin, progress was slow. Uriel, however, was able to find Shilpi the Dwarf(6), a collector of rare antiquities. His shop was pile high with doodads and knickknacks of all varieties. Uriel took the lead, proving his worth by making friends with the collector(7). he told a tale of a forgotten empire from before the Scourge, hidden from the world(8). The dwarfs knew of the way to return the empire to this world, but they are understandably secretive. Shilpi mentioned Kaelgrose, the clan of Baere, as well as Kussin. Baere is in the northwest of the Badlands - mines containing true earth and rich farmlands. The Ancient Blades often returned to Kratas, as one member was a blood elf(9).

Shilpi was very helpful, and eventually we returned to the Gilded Toad to discuss our next move. Elmod requests that we watch over him in the night. Uriel offered to guard him with his magic, while I listened from the next room.

In the midst of the night, a creature crawled into Elmod's window. Uriel watched it with his astral sight, finding the pattern unlike anything he had seen before(10). How strange! The creature became spooked and dashed from the room, but we will surely meet him again.

Honeysuckle spoke to her people and found that Forest Fire was a windling trickster Thief that had a weakness for arson(11). Honeysuckle had an enjoyable time while Elmod returned to the library, but alas made no additional progress. Where are the remaining Ancient Blades? Where are the keys?(12) The disappearing city eludes me, but I feel compelled to find it. In that way it has a sort of power over me.

We set a trap for Elmod's nightly visitor. Uriel cloaked the others in shadow as I waited outside in the street. Alas, the creature did not appear. We prepared for our journey to the Badlands, but in the process discovered that the clever Lyra had hidden a gem, some sort of spell pattern(13), in the bottle with her notes! A wonderful find!

Alas, we discovered that Shilpi had been murdered! Uriel was able to avoid the guards and enter the shop, but the authorities were in the process of investigating the crime. He took a jungle t'skrang mask to remember him by, then investigated the body. How unfortunate that I was not there to uncover the mystery.

We quickly went to see our friend on the Travar Council, who we brought up to speed.

And then we ventured into the Badlands. We do not have a lot to go on, but it might be enough for me to find the glorious dragon city. On the third day of our trip, we find a crisis in the desert - 12 desert espagra devour what is left of a poor woman. We leap into action!

We reached the poor woman, too late, but not too late. The wretch turned out to be Jenneth, who has been surviving (barely) for days. She spoke of a terrible black mantis with a poisonous bite. She spoke of a Horror-domain, a land of darkness and madness. She is hurt and disoriented, so we return to deliver her to safety.

Then she gave us a magic sword(14)!(15)

*     *     *
(1) This log got lost, then misfiled during the submission process. It was recovered when a junior librarian attempted to file it, became confused and disoriented, then Zamrica was kind enough to direct the junior librarian to me.
(2) This seems like an understatement. Only this group would react so nonchalantly to this information.
(3) I take whatever was done to the back half of this sentence as a personal affront. What about the specifics of its bloody history? What is bloody about its history? This is important information that needs to be preserved because adepts always die with this rattling around in their head and not written down! We are also treated to a rendering of the coin. It features a dragon on one side, and a marketplace (?) on the other.
(4) In a bizarre twist, this symbol was actually drawn on the log. At least, what is claimed to be the symbol. It is to parallel, vertical lines with space between them. Seven lines are array from the top at increasing angles and five similarly from the bottom. It looks a little like a stylized tree.
(5) I have read enough of these to know it's probably not a notable accomplishment to escape the notice of that elf. Especially if he's sleeping. Also, my guess is magic. It was probably magic. Because it's always magic.
(6) Shilpi was actually somewhat famous. Also, no one ever called him "the Dwarf" as a title. No one.
(7) I was hoping this log would provide some clue as to where this guy came from. No, he just suddenly shows up one sentence. Did he use an illusion to make them think he had always been traveling with them?
(8) I have read a lot of logs about this topic. They always end up with the adepts either dead or insane. There is definitely something out there, but I don't know if it is actually a disappearing city. It seems more like an elaborate lure for a Horror.
(9) Based on the Ancient Blades logs, that would be Tamlin. This is by process of elimination because virtually nothing is written about her.
(10) Details!
(11) I guess that technically counts as a trick.
(12) Now you know my pain.
(13) What sort of spell pattern? By my count, every major spellcasting discipline is represented. Someone should be able to give me more information!
(14) Of course she did.
(15) Received and edited by Ela Pono

Confession time: I lost this adventure log for a while, to the point where I thought it didn't exist. There was also an extremely long gap between sessions in real time.

Most of this session was continuing the thread of the lost city the group has decided to find. Building up the mystery, providing some hints and leads, also evidence something exists out there. The other parts were to introduce some new plots in the background and have call outs to previous events. One of the latter is the black mantis. There were quite a few more details that did not get recorded, but immediately after it was discussed, everyone at the table immediately knew where from where it came. The culprit is still taunted about there part in introducing that particular black mantis into the world.

This session would have benefited a great deal from having the subsequent session follow much sooner. Much, much sooner. There was over half a year between them. Just way too long. I think I'm honestly pretty lucky my players are still interested with such a large gap. Many games have perished over less.

12 May 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 41 - Will You Walk into My Parlor?

This is the forty-first Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.







Adventure Log – 041 Will You Walk into My Parlor?

Written By: Uriel

Date:  23 Teayu - 02 Borrum, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster

Uriel the Illusionist

After our battle with the spider hordes, we retreated to Sanctuary. The citizens did not appreciate my new fashion designs, and so required me to stay in their purification hut. While it wasn't the treatment I'm used to, it did allow me solitude to study and refine my Illusionism. After a day of consideration, they realized their mistake and recognized my brilliance(1).

After a few days of resting, we headed back to the kaer to counter-ambush the spiders(2). The entrance has been covered by spider webs, so we found a secluded area and the others built a bonfire for some pre-battle ritual. Once everyone was ready, I made everyone unnoticeable before we headed in.(3)

The spiderwebs concealed metal threads which sand and most likely alerted the spiders we were entering. The marks which previously showed the correct path were defaced, but Bongani still knew the way. There are tiny spiders everywhere. Maybe we shouldn't have stayed away so long.

We decided to go back out and let Elmod throw balls of fire into the webs(4). It smells, but at least there aren't a ton of little spiders anymore. The inner doors were shut. Bongani set to work disabling traps, and Elmod dispelled the runes around the door. And by dispel, I mean set off an explosion in his face(5). The rest of us were safely around the corner. Bongani has better luck with the spears, pits, and rock traps.

Past that, more damn spiderwebs. Bongani crept inside to scout ahead. He came back and launched these fire arrows into the webs. Doors closed. Wait fifteen minutes. Enjoyed pie.

Okay, way fewer webs. Still more webs after a break. I'm beginning to hate spiders(6).

We found the spidertaurs. They seem to be focusing on Ting first. Elmod managed to ice chain their spellcaster and Honeysuckle laid into him. Thing left away from her attackers to slaughter the sorcerer.

Unfortunately, their warrior chased after her and gutted her. She fell with a fatal looking wound. Honeysuckle and I stepped up to avenge her.

This made me the new target of their wrath. Luckily, an arrow from Bongani felled the spidertaur warrior. I knocked the beastmaster down and Honeysuckle beheaded her.

Elmod knocked down the archer with his magic spear. However, the vile assassin struck me with a poisoned arrow, and I was rendered senseless for the remainder of the battle(7).(8)


*     *     *
(1) It's what I like most about this group. The humility. 
(2) I've been reading the exploits of this adventuring group long enough to know this sentence has all the makings of, "Well, that didn't go as planned."
(3) Where is the creepy little Horror thing? Did it wander off? Do they no longer notice it? Is this the new normal for them? I feel like this warrants some mention.
(4) And there it is.
(5) I laughed.
(6) I hate them right now.
(7) Someone needs to work on their craft.
(8) Received and edited by Ela Pono

Unfortunately, this session ended somewhat abruptly due to timing. What normally would be the payoff for the fight will instead be the beginning of the next session.

In all, it was a difficult fight, but one they could win. It marked a definite shift in tactics and provided opponents who adapted to the previous encounter instead of just being surprised when the adepts returned. Many talents and abilities that had never seen use previously were utilized - in short, it forced the group to bring their A game and there were more than a few moments when they didn't think they were going to make it out alive.

Especially the moment when Ting went down. She has typically been the biggest damage dealer and knocked the warrior unconscious during the previous encounter. The opposition forces weren't taking any chances with her. There was this moment of silence at the table when she died. Her damage is often the linchpin to many encounters, with the other adepts being more defensive.

Nonetheless, there where moments of excitement and elation. A sense of uncertainty and the unadulterated joy of beating the odds. There were some very lucky moments, such as when an Earth Spear, against all odds, actually knocked one of them down. Once I publish the knockdown values, this will make sense - all ones on a Step 18 test. Wow.

In all, it was a good session in how involved people got. Well, except for Ting. I do feel bad when a player effectively gets to sit out for much of the session, waiting to find out if they live or die. That was, in and of itself, tense. There was a lot of damage to heal and not many rounds to cast Last Chance - including a debate as to whether or not to raw cast it, or risk the time of potentially failing reattuning on the fly.