17 July 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Namegiver 02 - Jackalmen

This is the second 4E Anatomy of a Namegiver, 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.

Jackalmen were introduced in The Theran Empire sourcebook as one of four new Namegiver races. These particular Namegivers are found in Creana, which is most definitely not Egypt. This is a draft updating them to Fourth Edition mechanics for... well, funsies. Someone may get some use from this, but they aren't really found in Barsaive. Except in your game, naturally.

Unsurprisingly, they look like humans with jackal heads and have a proud warrior tradition. This makes other Creanans who know their deal somewhat nervous, but many can keep their aggression in check. Jackalmen are also cannibals, but the description is confused about it. They "eat the corpse of a slain foe who proved worth in combat to properly honor the fallen enemy." However, "jackalmen do not eat Namegiver flesh under any circumstances, so so cannibalism is actually rare among them." The assumption is they only eat the flesh of other jackalmen, but it's not very clear.

From an analytical perspective, they don't fill a particularly unique niche within Earthdawn. Their rough background and attributes are both similar to orks. Which is a little disappointing because there is some interesting potential in jackalmen.

For example, their concept of honor could be a great way to make them unique. Extend it outward so their honor is based on their role within a larger group, be it family, organization, military unit, etc. This fits well with their warrior tradition, the importance of being part of a larger whole, and plays with the social nature of canines. Also, this idea of honor exists in juxtaposition to the very personal honor expressed by trolls.

Mechanically, there are some tweaks that would help set them apart from orks and most other traditional "warrior" Namegivers, and introduce a new, interesting option into the setting. Of course, this really is just my opinion for all it matters. Which isn't that much.

Game Information
Starting Attribute Values
DEX 10, STR 12, TOU 11, PER 9, WIL 11, CHA 8
Movement Rate: 12
Karma Modifier: 5

Racial Abilities:
Bite Attack: Jackalman characters can make a bite attack in unarmed combat, which deals STR+3 damage.
Low-Light Vision: Like elves, jackalman characters have the racial Low-Light Vision ability (see Player's Guide, p. 46).


These are my proposed tweaks to make jackalmen more interesting and establish them as something we haven't seen before. There are already three strong and tough races with some assortment of penalties to mental and social attributes. It's part of having the setting and system work together to make choices interesting and relevant. In no small part why dwarfs got a change-up on their mechanics (no longer a strong and tough race with some assortment of penalties to mental and social attributes) and seem to be a more popular Namegiver option as a result.

Alternate Game Information
Starting Attribute Values
DEX 11, STR 11, TOU 11, PER 9, WIL 11, CHA 8
Movement Rate: 12
Karma Modifier: 5

Racial Abilities:
Bite Attack: Jackalman characters can make a bite attack in unarmed combat, which deals STR+3 damage.

Enhanced Sense [Hearing] (2): Jackalman characters gain +2 to Perception tests using hearing.
Enhanced Sense [Smell] (2): Jackalman characters gain +2 to Perception tests using smell.