03 February 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 10 - Warrior

This is the tenth 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.

For this week we have a preview of the Warrior. This is intended to offer some insights into the Discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

While other combat Disciplines may have their particular specialties, Warriors are the all-around best when it comes to violence. Their particular specialty is sheer endurance. Their abilities don't tend to be as big and flashy, but they're dependable and enable Warriors to keep going, to be the bulwark when things go wrong. Along with their elemental and group themes, this continues through their higher Circles.

Their Warden ability, Battlefield Awareness, is similar to the previous edition, though it was rather costly at 3 Strain and often had associated timing questions. Such as, can it be used as a Free action to prevent being Surprised? Otherwise, it's of limited use. Now it lasts for an entire day for 2 Blood Magic Damage, which allows it to be specifically useful in the situations where it is most needed. However, it no longer entirely negates Harried because that is too powerful and entirely eliminates too many different options.

Elemental Warrior is the new Master ability, replacing Resurrect Self. It plays up their elemental connection in a way that gives players interesting ways to describe their actions, and provides a solid benefit to not just the Warrior, but their allies as well. Since it is always active and at no cost, this continues the overall trend of straight forward and effective abilities.

The previous Master ability, Resurrect Self, wasn't bad, but it also didn't come up very often and was too reactive in nature. It simply may never come up, which is good in a way, but also uninteresting. Coupled with the permanent cost for using it, this made it something that needed to be replaced.

As expected, their Discipline talents have a number of differences across the board. Earth Skin is available at Journeyman, while Resist Pain and Burning Vigor (effectively a replacement for Vitality) were moved to talent options, and Unmount is no longer a talent (an oddly specific Discipline talent against a rather uncommon opponent). This gave an opportunity to entirely rebuild their Warden talents with Chilling Strike, Relentless Recovery, Unflinching Fortitude, and Vine Armor.

Relentless Recovery and Unflinching Fortitude both improve the overall toughness of a Warrior, enabling to keep going longer and harder. Vine Armor has a similar effect, by both improving Wood Skin and their Mystic Armor at the cost of a Recovery test. Chilling Strike benefits Warriors for synergy with Air Dance, but also any allies who are ganging up on the same target.

While Stone Skin isn't a new talent and still improves Physical Armor, it has changed. Like Vine Armor is to Wood Skin, it also improves the usage of Earth Skin in addition to the Physical Armor boost for the cost of a Recovery test. The duration of both these talents is in hours, like the talents they improve.

Similar to their Discipline talents, there are quite a few changes to talent options. Battle Bellow, Body Blade, Frenzy, Matrix Strike, Mind Blade, Shield Beater, and Weapon Breaker have all been removed. Some aren't talents anymore, while others weren't the best fit given other options on the table.

The new talent options that were introduced, Champion Challenge, Defensive Posture, Iron Constitution, Lion Spirit, Rally, Soul Aegis, Storm Shield, Vicious Wound, and Vital Ward, support some combination of their themes. Iron Constitution and Storm Shield are both elemental themed, along with the already present Burning Vigor, Rushing Attack, and Steel Thought. Champion Challenge and Rally are both group oriented talents, an argument can even be made for Storm Shield supporting this as well - who doesn't like attacking an opponent on the ground?

Critical Hit, Ethereal Weapon, Spirit Strike, Vicious Wound, and Vital Strike provide new offensive options, while the list of talents that support defense or being tougher is... extensive. Iron Constitution, Lion Spirit, Steel Thought, and Soul Aegis all improve their ability to deal non-physical attacks, while Burning Vigor and Resist Pain simply make them tougher in general. The former can almost feel like a necessity given the number of talents at their disposal that cost Recovery tests. It was almost a Discipline talent, but ultimately cut because there wasn't a strong impetus for everyone to continually improve it. This leaves Defensive Posture and Vital Ward as options against physical attacks.

The resulting adept is tough as nails in virtually any situation with preparation. They can keep going all day and have access to a tool for virtually any situation. When things are grim, the best option may be to regroup behind the Warrior who can bear the brunt of an offensive. Warriors can be both the spear of an assault, and the rock opponents break upon. Which is about right for these masters of close combat.

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