10 February 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 11 - Elementalist

This is the eleventh 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.

Continuing with the established trend brings the final spellcaster: Elementalist. This is intended to offer some insights into the Discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

While their mastery of elemental magic has always been their thing. As they enter higher Circles, Elementalists focus even more on their connection to the elements. Whether Discipline abilities or talents.

Earth and Wind, their Warden tier ability, remains mostly the same. The circle of earth has been clarified, noting the adept doesn't need to be inside the circle, the radius is based on successes, and now only affects allies. Which should make it more useful in general and inline with other Warden abilities. The circle of air also has the same clarification and successes effect, but now acts as Dispelling effect for some specific effects. It's not going to come up as much as the former ability, but is effectively a fun bonus ability that can be incredibly valuable in certain circumstances.

Their Master tier ability, Elemental Form, emphasizes their elemental connection and also serves to highlight some of the fundamental interactions of those elements. It doesn't have quite the raw power of Nethermancer's Astral Face, but offers more versatility through bonuses to Thread Weaving as well and a free extra thread. Well, versatility at a cost to giving up a particular element for the time - nothing's free. The fun really seems to begin when paired with an active Earth Staff and the high Circle spellcasting talents.

Element Matrix, the previous Master tier ability, isn't a bad ability at all - it's quite good. However, it didn't drive home their elemental connection other than carrying around a bag of sticks and stones. Something similar to this particular ability may show up again sooner than later.

Looking at their Discipline talents, there are two in common with the previous edition: Elemental Walk and Stone Skin. The other five are new: Concise Casting, Elemental Mastery, Plant Talk, Spliced Weave, and Vine Armor. These talents either improve their spellcasting abilities (Concise Casting, Elemental Mastery, and Spliced Weave), or their elemental connection (Elemental Mastery, Elemental Walk, Plant Talk, Stone Skin, and Vine Armor). As well, Stone Skin and Vine Armor work to improve their defensive abilities 

Of those, Elemental Mastery is the only talent new to the previews. It's basic effect, improving Thread Weaving tests for spells with an elemental keyword, is fairly staid. However, it designed to have knacks that enhance spells with specific elemental keywords hang off of it.

Their talent options are a similar story, with Armored Matrix, Perfect Focus, Shared Matrix, and Summoning Circle (previously a Discipline talent) being the only returning entries. As always, the reason for removing various talents runs a variety of reasons. Plant Shelter is now a spell, while Disarm Trap is much too late. At this point, the group has probably figured out some way to deal with traps. Possibly whoever has the most health. While many weren't a particularly good fit (Spirit Strike) or simply aren't talents anymore.

The talent options available all work to enhance some aspect of their primary themes, whether improving their summoning capabilities (Contest of Wills and Summoning Circle), their spellcasting abilities (Armored Matrix, Casting Pattern, Effect Pattern, and Range Pattern), their elemental connection (Burning Vigor, Iron Constitution, Shock Treatment, Temper Flesh, and Thunderous Resolve), being tough bastards (Burning Vigor, Iron Constitution, Life Check, Temper Flesh, Thunderous Resolve, Unflinching Fortitude), or their aptitude with objects (Evidence Analysis, Perfect Focus, and Suppress Curse).

There are a lot of different ways to approach these talents, depending on the direction the adept wants go and their role within the group. The result is a Discipline with quite a bit of diversity, which can build towards a variety of roles, focusing on one theme in particular, or picking up a variety of useful abilities. Which reinforces their role as a clutch supporting character, keeping the group going against all odds. Sometimes against their will - take that Recovery test. Take it and like it.