30 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Namegiver Variants 4 - Troll

This is the fourth 4E Namegiver Variants, 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.

This short series assumes you are familiar with the connections between Earthdawn and Shadowrun before they separated by licensing; being the Fourth and Sixth Ages respectively of the same world. Shadowrun introduced a number of metahuman variants to elves, dwarfs, orks, and trolls - most based on mythology from global locales. For a bit of fun, this four part series converts them to Earthdawn.


The basis used are the versions from the 3E Shadowrun Companion. These are not going to be perfect because each setting has some very different assumptions of what each race looks like. Getting the spirit close enough and making sure there are some differences between the variants presented.

This is the final entry and covers trolls. Trolls didn't have any of the issues encountered when adapting dwarfs, elves, or orks. Though their attributes don't align well to what is seen in Earthdawn and the racial feature most likely to be removed for balance, dermal armor, isn't present. Regardless, the primary goals - maintaining the spirit and ensuring the resulting variants offer something different - were maintained.


Cyclops
DEX: 10
STR: 16
TOU: 12
PER: 9
WIL: 11
CHA: 10
Move: 14
Karma: 3
Racial Abilities: One Eye (-2 to all Action tests that require vision and range)

The cyclops variant is from the Mediterranean area and thus almost certainly known by the Theran Empire. They're distinguishable from standard trolls by their heavy musculature and general lack of dermal bone deposits. In particular, they have only one horn (typical) or no horns at all (more rarely). Oh yeah, and they have one eye. Which really does them no favors when it comes to any task that requires depth perception of any kind.

In Shadowrun, they are distinguished from trolls with more Strength, loss of dermal armor, ranged penalties, and no heat vision. This is mostly maintained, though there isn't the dermal armor to play around with. The hope is the penalty to ranged actions and loss of heat vision are sufficient to account for the net bonus to Strength.


Fomori
DEX: 10
STR: 13
TOU: 11
PER: 10
WIL: 11
CHA: 11
Move: 14
Karma: 3
Racial Abilities: Heat Vision

Precious little of note is really said about these trolls in the source material being used, but they originate from Celtic areas, have no or very little in the way of dermal bone deposits, and a greater tendency for magic. Based on their attribute modifications, it's probably safe to assume they have a slighter build in general and they do benefit spellcasters more.

The conversion here was fairly simple, as the original version has less Body and Strength, while eliminating the penalty to Charisma. The first two are easy, but trolls in Earthdawn don't have a penalty to Charisma. So, they get a small bonus and their penalty to Perception is eliminated, which aligns with their increased magic usage.


Giant
DEX: 9
STR: 15
TOU: 12
PER: 9
WIL: 11
CHA: 10
Move: 14
Karma: 3
Racial Abilities: Heat Vision

Hailing from the Nordic region, giants are possibly the largest Namegivers around (dragons consider themselves to be Nametakers and all that) at around 11'6" (3.5 m). They're fairer and and lack the horns and dermal deposits common to most trolls (well, except for these variants). It's probably fair to say they're somewhat lankier than other trolls.

Adapting giants fell into the problem addressed at the beginning: dermal armor. They get a bonus to Strength at the cost of losing their dermal armor. Reducing their Toughness may make sense, but a base of 11 for something that big just doesn't seem right. However, Shadowrun trolls have a Quickness penalty and that seems like an appropriate place to look for something simply that large.


Minotaur
DEX: 10
STR: 13
TOU: 12
PER: 10
WIL: 11
CHA: 10
Move: 14
Karma: 3
Racial Abilities: Heat Vision


Another Mediterranean variant with bovine facial features (snout instead of nose, wide-set eyes, etc.), rather long horns, and lots of body hair. You know, they look like the Minotaur, except for the legs, which are just furry.

Like many before them, their Shadowrun attributes don't quite align with Earthdawn; their penalties to Charisma and Intelligence are reduced, as are their bonuses to Body and Strength. A bonus to Charisma isn't a good solution, since that puts them in the category of fomori who have a larger bonus to Charisma. Same with reducing their Strength and Toughness. Instead, they got a reduction to Strength and an equivalent bonus to Perception. They're still pretty similar to fomori, but a different option is to make their base Perception and Willpower both 10, instead of reducing their Strength.

27 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 09 - Weaponsmith

This is the ninth 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.

The specialist Discipline rounding out this triad is Weaponsmith. This is intended to offer some insights into the Discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

Considered by many to be the ultimate support Discipline, the high Circles of Weaponsmith continue this trend. Their ability to be a force multiplier for their allies continues to improve, but they also gain the ability to leverage their natural mystic resistance to protect their allies. This allows Weaponsmiths who are more likely to shrug off or have tools to deal with Horror powers to bear the brunt of such attacks, while keeping their more combat capable allies in the fight. For these adepts, it's not about the glory, but the win.

The Warden ability, Blood Bound Forge, is similar to the previous Master ability, Craft Mastery. The concept behind the former was good, but it was expensive and had enough limitations to make it underpowered for the tier. The cost and damage bonus have been reduced to be in line with other Warden tier abilities (1 Blood Magic Damage and +3 Damage Steps). However, the armor bonus remains the same, making it a slightly better deal, which serves to reinforce the overall defensive nature of the Discipline. The high number of items that can be improved (Thread Smithing Rank) is limited by the restriction: all must be crafted by the Weaponsmith. There is a definite benefit to having gear made by your ally.

This left an opening at Master that was filled by Mystic Grounding. It's not a big, flashy ability, but it definitely improves the defensive abilities of a group. The ability to funnel all nasty abilities to one character, who can then in turn be supported by everyone else, gives a great deal more confidence. It also makes any Horror using the perennial favorite, Cursed Luck, just sad. Strategic use of this ability can definitely turn the tide of a conflict.

The previous Warden ability, Elementalism, deserves a bit of discussion. At first blush, it appeared like the perfect compliment to Weaponsmiths. However, it carried a lot of baggage. To get the most out of it, the Weaponsmith needed to devote a lot of high Circle talent options to basic spellcasting (Read and Write Magic at Journeyman, Spell Matrix and Spellcasting at Warden, and Armored, Shared Matrix, and Willforce at Master). That still leaves you with a total of three spell matrices for half your Warden picks and all your Master talent options. If you didn't care, then the Warden ability was pretty useless and the number of relevant talent options was unimpressive. Coupled with this, Elementalist and Weaponsmith is such a natural fit, there's more than a few characters who learned both Disciplines, which means it actually does nothing. It was a neat idea in principle, but turned out to not be a very good one in practice.

Looking at their Discipline talents, there are a lot of differences to be found. To start, Mind Blade, Weapon Ward, and Reshape Object are gone. Perfect Focus is quite similar to First Ring of Perfection, but got upgraded to a Discipline talent and moved to Warden - it may as well been created specifically for Weaponsmiths and then worked out for other Disciplines as well - and Ethereal Weapon was bumped to talent options. It fits Weaponsmith with their connection to weapons and armor, in addition to their growing mysticism, but it's directly offensive nature is just enough out of sync to not be appropriate as a Discipline talent.

Infuse Armor and Infuse Weapon have been reborn as Living Weapon and Forge Flesh respectively. The mechanics on these two are similar, but a little different than their predecessors. An important part is they don't require a medium, such as armor or weapons, but work directly on the target, showing how the adept has moved to directly forging living patterns and their vessels.

This gives some space to bring in new talent. In this case, Confront Horror, Dispel Magic, and Soul Aegis. All of which push their theme of confronting and defending against hostile magic and Horrors. It is pretty late in the game to see Dispel Magic, which is available to some Disciplines at Novice, but it isn't a talent that really gets seen outside of spellcasters. Which makes it an interesting and fitting trick to have for a Discipline dedicated to how things are made, which includes disassembling them.

There are some talent options that also departed: Armored Matrix, Critical Hit, Disarm, Sense Magic Item, Shared Matrix, Show Armor Flaw, Soften Blade, Spell Matrix, Spellcasting, Temperature, and Willforce. Okay, that may be a little more than "some". Particularly since Disarm Trap was moved to Novice talent options and Spot Armor Flaw is a Journeyman talent option (yes, they get Show Armor Flaw, but that's a knack for Spot Armor Flaw now). Except for Ethereal Weapon and Resist Pain, that's everything. The reasons for many of these should be obvious with the removal of Elementalism. From there, some aren't talents anymore, while others just aren't a good fit - such as Critical Hit and Disarm.

The good news is that's a lot of room to provide new options and directions to build. Weaponsmiths aren't combat specialists, but they get a fair number of options that reflect their unique style. Burning Vigor, Relentless Recovery, Unflinching Fortitude, Vital Ward, and Weapon Breaker are all defensive talents for a tough Weaponsmith, while Crushing Blow, Momentum Attack, Spirit Strike, and Vital Strike all support a more aggressive Weaponsmith. Those interested in exploring their growing mystic connection have Astral Sight, Evidence Analysis, Matrix Sight, and True Sight, with Lion Spirit offering additional protection.

In all, any group with a dedicated Weaponsmith is lucky to have their services. These stalwart companions support their through their services initially, then their very presence as they adapt to changes in the battlefield as they advance. These heroes get work done. They know it's about the team and sacrifice. They ensure the whole is stronger than the sum of the parts and that every part must be strong enough to persevere. It's their job to see to that, it's their burden to bear.

26 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Namegiver Variants 3 - Ork

This is the third 4E Namegiver Variants, 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.

This short series assumes you are familiar with the connections between Earthdawn and Shadowrun before they separated by licensing; being the Fourth and Sixth Ages respectively of the same world. Shadowrun introduced a number of metahuman variants to elves, dwarfs, orks, and trolls - most based on mythology from global locales. For a bit of fun, this four part series converts them to Earthdawn.


The basis used are the versions from the 3E Shadowrun Companion. These are not going to be perfect because each setting has some very different assumptions of what each race looks like. Getting the spirit close enough and making sure there are some differences between the variants presented.

This entry converts some ork variants. Some because one is left out: ogre. There's a few reasons for this. First, Earthdawn already has ogres, though this could be resolved similarly to dwarfs and simply have the orks of Barsaive (this variant comes from Europe) and "standard" orks. However, I don't really want to do that again and the mechanical differences for ogres don't support it so much: no penalty to Charisma and no low-light vision. Even without ogres, there are still three variants presented here:


Hobgoblin
DEX: 10
STR: 12
TOU: 11
PER: 10
WIL: 9
CHA: 9
Move: 12
Karma: 5
Racial Abilities: Gahad (modified), Low-Light Vision

This variant from the Middle East are shorter than typical orks and have a slightly build with sharper features. They share a strong sense of honor with trolls and, combined with their vicious tempers, they avenge even the smallest slight. Orks in Shadowrun have a slightly different attribute distribution, favoring Body over Strength, whereas Earthdawn is the opposite, favoring Strength over Toughness. In Shadowrun, hobgoblins have less Body and no penalty to Intelligence. Taking this as a whole, reducing their Strength feels consistent with the description and mechanics.

Since orks don't have a penalty to Perception in Earthdawn, that's a bit of a problem. Looking ahead at the other races, this is an area where they can easily start coming out too similar. Instead of Perception, reducing the Willpower penalty feels right while still be true to the ork nature.

Gahad for this variant is a little different in that it must be linked to the character's sense of honor


Oni
DEX: 10
STR: 12
TOU: 11
PER: 10
WIL: 10
CHA: 8
Move: 14
Karma: 5
Racial Abilities: Gahad, Low-Light Vision

With bright blue, orange, or red skin, and big, pointed ears, this ork variant from Japan is bound to stick out. Their attribute modifications from base orks are reduced Body and increased Willpower. Which is easy enough to translate to Earthdawn: reduced Strength (for the same reasons as hobgoblins) and increased Willpower. To reflect they should have a bonus in Shadowrun, they don't have a penalty in Earthdawn. Which means another point needs to come from somewhere. Charisma is the winner; they are described as being treacherous and hostile, though this may just be prejudice. Regardless of the reality, a penalty to Charisma makes sense, either it's right, or they aren't good a presentation.


Satyr
DEX: 9
STR: 13
TOU: 11
PER: 10
WIL: 10
CHA: 8
Move: 14
Karma: 5
Racial Abilities: Low-Light Vision

This variant looks like you expect: curled horns, and a furry lower body with cloven hooves. They're from the Mediterranean, so it's fair to assume Therans have contact with them, though may not consider them to be orks at all, given the distinct differences in appearance. These orks are described as being smaller, though their physical attributes certainly don't reflect it, receiving only a penalty to Quickness due to their hooves, which converts easily to Dexterity. Much like oni, they have a bonus to Willpower in Shadowrun, so the same solution was applied: no penalty to Willpower and a small reduction to Charisma. This is likely reflected in their curious form. While less nimble, their legs are faster, so an increased Movement Rate. Nothing is particularly mentioned regarding their disposition, so gahad was removed, but there is absolutely no reason it cannot stick around if desired.

25 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Namegiver Variants 2 - Elf

This is the second 4E Namegiver Variants, 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.

This short series assumes you are familiar with the connections between Earthdawn and Shadowrun before they separated by licensing; being the Fourth and Sixth Ages respectively of the same world. Shadowrun introduced a number of metahuman variants to elves, dwarfs, orks, and trolls - most based on mythology from global locales. For a bit of fun, this four part series converts them to Earthdawn.


The basis used are the versions from the 3E Shadowrun Companion. These are not going to be perfect because each setting has some very different assumptions of what each race looks like. Getting the spirit close enough and making sure there are some differences between the variants presented.

Up next are elf variants. The small hiccup here are the Night Ones, which are primarily found in Europe and should be regional to Barsaive. It could be they are a small, reclusive population who tends to be xenophobic. Something only reinforced by their sunlight allergy.


Wakyambi
DEX: 11
STR: 10
TOU: 8
PER: 11
WIL: 12
CHA: 11
Move: 14
Karma: 4
Racial Abilities: Low-Light Vision

Tall and slender even by elf standards, this rare variant comes from Africa. Their skin is always black or brown and frequently lack the pointed ears commonly associated with elves. The conversion was simple: in Shadowrun this metahuman variant has a bonus to Willpower instead of Quickness, which seems to work well as an adjustment from Dexterity to Willpower in Earthdawn.


The Night Ones
DEX: 13
STR: 10
TOU: 8
PER: 11
WIL: 11
CHA: 11
Move: 14
Karma: 4
Racial Abilities: Low-Light Vision, Sunlight Allergy (-1 to Action tests when exposed to sunlight)

These have fine fur covering their body that looks like skin from a distance and comes in a variety of colors. Typically ranging from black to violet and blue, but also green and brighter colors even more rarely. Their eyes and hair tend to have a tint of their fur color as well. In Shadowrun, they have an additional bonus to Quickness and an allergy to sunlight. The former is pretty simple, if very powerful, but balanced by a penalty when exposed to sunlight. It's a fairly serious penalty, but also one that can be avoided most of the time.


Dryads
DEX: 12
STR: 7
TOU: 8
PER: 11
WIL: 11
CHA: 12
Move: 12
Karma: 5
Racial Abilities: Low-Light Vision, Maximum Two-Handed Weapon Size: 5

At just over a meter in height, this elf variant is pretty tiny. Their hair color changes with the seasons and all possess dark brown eyes without a pupil. Nothing is said about sclera, but those may be missing as well. In Shadowrun, they're all female, but that can probably be safely ignored. They also have a mild allergy to cities, but even the most densely populated area in Barsaive isn't going to have the same urban sprawl as Shadowrun, so this was ignored. There is also a mild for of animal empathy to small woodland creatures, which is probably best handled through roleplaying, rather than any specific mechanical support. There is this sinking feeling of it being used as a form of emergency rations... Their various penalties and small benefits (increased Charisma) all equate to moving them to a new Karma Modifier.

24 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Namegiver Variants 1 - Dwarf

This is the first 4E Namegiver Variants, 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.

This short series assumes you are familiar with the connections between Earthdawn and Shadowrun before they separated by licensing; being the Fourth and Sixth Ages respectively of the same world. Shadowrun introduced a number of metahuman variants to elves, dwarfs, orks, and trolls - most based on mythology from global locales. For a bit of fun, this four part series converts them to Earthdawn.


The basis used are the versions from the 3E Shadowrun Companion. These are not going to be perfect because each setting has some very different assumptions of what each race looks like. Getting the spirit close enough and making sure there are some differences between the variants presented.

Alphabetical order seems like the best way to tackle this, which means dwarfs with an immediate wrinkle. If these variants are being used, it's probably best to assume the dwarfs of Barsaive are already a variant, specifically gnomes. The geographical location roughly correct and gnomes are less physical than other dwarfs, but more mental and don't have a toxin resistance. Which aligns pretty well with 4E dwarfs. With that in mind...


Dwarfs (Standard)
DEX: 9
STR: 12
TOU: 13
PER: 10
WIL: 11
CHA: 8
Move: 10
Karma: 4
Racial Abilities: Heat Sight, Toxin Resistance (+2 to tests to resist poison)

These pretty closely resemble Earthdawn dwarfs of previous editions, with a penalty to Dexterity and bonus to Willpower. Strong Back has been traded out for Toxin Resistance, as the former isn't important given their increased Strength. This makes standard dwarfs much more closely resemble the typical dwarf presented in most fantasy media, rather than the slightly different take found in Barsaive. To account for the physical differences, these dwarfs are larger and significantly more robust, with much more muscle on their frames.


Koborokuru
DEX: 9
STR: 12
TOU: 13
PER: 10
WIL: 11
CHA: 8
Move: 12
Karma: 4
Racial Abilities: Toxin Resistance (+2 to tests to resist poison)

This variant from Japan in Shadowrun is described as being smaller, faster, and quite hirsute. To account for their increased Movement Rate, Heat Vision was removed. Also, the Shadowrun version also has a more involved toxin resistance, but that juice doesn't seem worth the squeeze for these purposes. In all, it's a straight forward conversion.


Menehune
DEX: 9
STR: 11
TOU: 14
PER: 10
WIL: 11
CHA: 8
Move: 10
Karma: 4
Racial Abilities: Heat Sight, Toxin Resistance (+2 to tests to resist poison)

Hailing from Hawaii, these dwarfs are smaller, with luxurious hair all over, but with particularly fantastic mustaches. They are tougher, but not quite as strong as others. A small modification moving a point from Strength to Toughness, and they're good to go. Which also gives them the single highest Toughness bonus of current Namegivers in Earthdawn.

23 January 2017

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 47 - Forest of Feelings

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






Adventure Log – 047 Horror at the Gates

Written By: Elmod of Glenwood Deep

Date:  09 Strassa - 26 Strassa, 1509 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

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

Uriel the Illusionist

I, alas, have been distracted by enchanting duties here at the kaer and have missed direct action in the most recent group adventures. I have also been studying many advanced Elementalist techniques and should gain very useful skills for the future. Bongani has been negotiating with Meta Poobah Ein about final training and costs.

Also, it is still very hot here. It tries me a little, but I manage. And suffer. The Air Armor is kept on much of the time to keep things tolerable.

I miss Regia from time to time(1). Nightmares of the White Queen and her mangled body appear(2). My heart hopes that she is safe and growing strong within her tree. Having not tended the forest, it is hard to know whatever may have helped her and the forest. I trust Kristof will tend it best(3).

I hear the group has been fomenting plans to go to the other connected kaer from the present. It will likely involved another Horror. Oh joy.(4)

While I cannot enjoy the institutional racism present in this kaer leveled against elves, I can't blame them too much. I'm fairly used to the ignorance and belittling from those misunderstanding Nethermancers(5). And the group(6).

The Elementalist I trained with was kind enough to lend me a spell scroll to learn from. The Mantle of the Fire Marauder seems an interesting way to perturb an opponent.

We arrange a meeting with Meta Poobah Ein and get invited to dinner with him to discuss plans. Ein is pleasant and happy to see us, his family is delightful. The mushroom-based meal as fine and earthy as has come to be lamentably expected(7). I could go with a few lighter flavors. Alas.

Upon mention of the plan, Ein cut short our dinner enjoyment of a strange mushroom liquor and we made a fairly quick exit. Ein handed us a note, however, which Uriel reads as a meeting for later in the evening.

We make the meeting at the kaer passageway, Ein meets us and explains some of the history of Kaer Kuzzins. Pains were taken to keep some channel open, Kaer Kuzzins made sacrifices and suffered disease and poor designs in a hastily made kaer just before the Scourge. Cover-ups and guile wove over the historical truth, a dedicated group preserving some hope of linkage. The will of the Grand Poobahs is unknown. The connection between them remains active, aid given to Kaer Kuzzins remains secret. The other Namegivers there that represent the others of Barsaive. An opportunity should arrive in two days.

I should have found some time to make some blood magic charms.

We get the message and depart for the passage. The guards alert us to traps in the passage, mostly directed towards the far end. Bongani disarms of of the traps in the passage, but a major magical seeing glyph remained. Most of us climbed (via rope) or flew (me) over. Uriel made an elaborate illusion and also successfully crossed.

Bongani examined the paths through the caverns, deducing the paths taken and not. He also worked out the lock to the gate to the kaer.

It made a lot of noise. They would know we're here.

They did. Upon exiting the date to the kaer, we are immediately ambushed by shortish (5 ft ish) bootless humanoid figures. Perhaps they are the famed wulfaiders. We are taken to some cells and locked up until we are let to an old and well appointed - wooden furniture, carved - room to meet their leader.

Brie, an overachieving weaponized elf greets us, basically describes the situation of their besieged status of defending the kaer from Horrors. Her companion, Bray've, is the commander of the Stalkers, the elite defense brigade that initially welcomed us.

Eventually we are deemed helpful, having offered such services as ours and given some space in the wooden appointed barracks.

Wandering around town, many humans, elves, and tall bipedal wolf-people(8). The entire place feels like a military base and outpost.

We find a large cavern where trees and vegetation are grown and maintained. We interview a wulfaider, Prood; Ting seems strangely enamored with the gruff Stalker. She pets it, after asking permission. She seems uncharacteristically pleased. At least without having killed something first.

Uriel learns many things from their hall of records. It is mostly a tale of slow decline, Uriel writes some epic ballads.

There is remarkably little else to do here.

Honeysuckle later recounts enjoying sleeping in trees and avoid Elementalists trying to catch her in the forest. She even fended off a wulfaider trying to evict her, but she eventually re-establishes her squatting supremacy.

Brie returns to tell of the Crystal Heart. An as yet unfound emanation of the Horror troubles befallen to the kaer. Crystalline spiders seem to guard it. Still not sure if the Horror is present or just minions. They suspect the Robber of Twenty Candles is the Horror associated. They have one of its pattern items, but don't yet trust us enough yet to have access.

So there's that, sins of the father, etc.

We prepare for, as Ting calls it, the "pants-off, dance-off", She codifies as her fighting preference, the next day.(9)

Gnasher 3's (10) abound, but are deftly dispatched. The Stalker guides only take us so far, but then depart after a point and describe some of what they know on a little map. Then we are alone.

Further on, I discover a portion of cavern with many gruesome Namegivers. I ask a few questions and they get agitated at the mention of the Robber of Twenty Candles. Then some strange creatures come out of the walls and eat the spirits that we were talking with. Then spits out another ball of... itself.(11)

Honeysuckle identifies the creatures as some kind of wraith. Uriel and I attack the found one and get their attention. They engulf me quickly after as they materialize and attack the group. We fight them off long enough to antagonize them into running away. We only actually killed one, but most of the others were wounded. Bongani tended my wound. My soul is further scarred(12).(13)

*     *     *
(1) Wait, what? The creepy little doll thing with the incredibly unhealthy relationship? Oh, wow. His companions are going to be delighted to find that out. 
(2) This feels exactly like something that was deliberately left out previously and someone forgot to scrub it. What does it mean? Is this a reference to the White Lady that meant something back in Sanctuary? I know there are things missing from here. Need some scribes to go through earlier entries and compile references that could relate to this, the cross-reference those against other logs and intelligence. Zamrica's team would be perfect for this.
(3) This is all a reference to events concluded in Mismatched Steel Log 028. Which appear to have even more critical information missing than I originally suspected.
(4) The very first thing upon entering they were told was "don't ever go here". I'm surprised it took this long to get to this point.
(5) There's a lot of misinformation about Nethermancers and people fear what they don't know. Of course, once you get to know a Nethermancer, there's the realization it's much worse than you initially thought. So much worse.
(6) Now I almost feel bad.
(7) Ever since Zamrica archived one of the earlier logs, he has been jonsing for their recipes. And he says I'm weird for drinking hurlg.
(8) Wait, if the tall ones are wulfaiders, what are the short ones? Details, people!
(9) ... what?
(10) What is a gnasher 3? How is it different from a gnasher?
(11) This part is unclear - here is what I think happened: They encounter and talk with the spirits of some Namegivers that were gruesome. Possibly tortured during life and after by a Horror, which is bad news. Not even death is a release. Then wraiths of some variety appear on the scene and begin feeding on the spirits. One of the wraiths then spits out a new wraith? That last statement is very ambiguous, and it feels like it is important.
(12) Understatement of the log.
(13) Received and edited by Ela Pono

This session served as a bridge to the next section of metaplot and revelations. Their actual objective in coming to this place seems to have been forgotten (the key), but everything will swing back to that by the end. For now, there were a lot of callbacks to events and information from previous adventures. Some went under the radar (which is fair, this game has been going on for a long time), but most tickled the memory of something related.

I will admit, the almost gleeful fascination with the wulfaiders is amusing to me. It's not terribly surprising, as something similar happened when the urshan were introduced as refugees years ago. That had a certain air of responsibility to it, this is a little more child-like. 

As to the log itself, there are some small details in there that I find terribly interesting and almost prescient in wholly unexpected ways. Definitely interesting times.

20 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 08 - Illusionist

This is the eighth 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.

This week takes a look at another spellcasting Discipline: Illusionist! This is intended to offer some insights into the Discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

Illusionist is a something of a strange Discipline, designed to approach problems subtly and laterally. Their primary tool is magic, but that rarely presents solutions in itself. Instead, they work best to enhance their social abilities, or provide unique support to other plans. The overall goal for high Circle Illusionists was to continue with this, offering them more social tools and ways to utilize and improve their illusions. How reality and illusion are more fluid to powerful Illusionists, much like the perception of truth and lies. These are important themes for Illusionists.

Both Discipline abilities for high Circle Illusionists are new: Hide Matrix has been replaced by Hide Spell, and Truth Interpreted has been replaced by Manipulate Reality. Hide Matrix is far too specific and simply may never come up - which is a bad place to be. However, the ability to cast a spell without being noticed is extremely useful, particularly for this Discipline and fits in perfectly with how they go about their business. This isn't to say Hide Matrix is bad, or there's no place for it, just not there.

Truth Interpreted is a little strange and in some ways feels more like a spell than a Discipline ability. However, the big problem is it's a little banal for this Discipline. It doesn't particularly play into their worldview or reveal anything about them, it's just a bigger illusion. The replacement is probably the single strangest ability and it is written knowing the application in a game is going to get weird. However, it perfectly represents how their understanding of magic, which is relatively unique - almost the other side of the Wizard coin. Reality and illusion is a difference of perception. The restriction is in place because Illusionists have to embrace both illusion and reality, and cannot just one. It requires understanding one to fully understand the other in their perspective.

The Warden and Master Discipline talents are almost entirely different, featuring two unique talents: Enthralling Visions and Truth Through Lies. The first enhances their illusions by making them so vivid as to be disorienting, while Truth Through Lies is a strange method of gathering information from a target by getting them to tell you lies you know are lies. It's definitely weird, but entirely fitting for them and their methods. As well, one of the few ways to gather good intelligence from an unwilling target. Infuse Memory is similar to Memorize Image, though with some key differences.

As to why the changes, two (Second Chance and Range Pattern) were moved to talent options because they aren't quite suited as Discipline talents. While Range Pattern is a good talent, it's not necessarily for everyone. Especially not as a Fifteenth Circle talent. Second Chance is available to every Discipline as a talent option, so that's just being consistent. The others (Detect Falsehood, Mind Wave, Multi-Tongue, and Thoughtful Expression) simply aren't talents anymore. 

Their talent options have numerous differences as well. Conceal Object and Hold Thread are both available at earlier Circles, Incite Mob is no longer a talent, and Chameleon is too banal. This does mean there are plenty of new talent options and they continue to suppor their overall themes, offering a variety of social talents, spellcasting support talents, and trickster talents.

In all, Illusionists continue to have some of the stranger abilities at their disposal, but also the most powerful if you go into a problem understanding the tools at your disposal. Some very weird tools. But it's less about turning a square peg into a round one, and more about realizing there is no peg or hole. Or something like that.

13 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 07 - Swordmaster

This is the seventh 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.

And the pendulum swings back, bringing with it Swordmaster! This is intended to offer some insights into the Discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

Swordmasters are a hybrid Discipline, having one foot in the social arena and the other in a fight. Though a stylish fight to be certain. I think those are called "conflicts" or "duels". Each combat Discipline has a particular style that emphasizes how they go about their particular brand of violence. As they advance in Circle, the Swordmaster begins to evolve. The first half of their Circles were devoted to precision and timing, controlling the tempo of a conflict. Now they leverage that expertise in dangerous new directions.

But first, a look at their Discipline abilities. Warden features Blood Bound Blade, which is very similar to the previous Master ability, Keen Blade. Which was a perfectly fine ability, though a bit expensive and underpowered for when it showed up. With a few changes, it works great as a Warden ability. This provides a continual damage boost, much like Spot Armor Flaw, which helps support their multiple attacks while keeping Strain costs low. Which is important considering Swordmasters tend to have lower Toughness than their other close combat specialist counterparts. One particular change is it can be used on two weapons, which is only appropriate for a Discipline that prominently features Second Weapon as a key talent.

With the Master ability moved up, the Warden ability is clearly gone. Which is okay, because there's a spell with a very similar function and it was a neat ability, but too specialized. Nonetheless, this opened up for a new Master ability: Audacious Bravado. Which is just fun for everyone. It encourages players to get into trouble, following the Swordmaster's lead, and gives everyone a bonus along the way. There's a time and a place for the black op, but sometimes the best plan is when the Swordmaster sees underthings drying on a line and asks someone to hold their drink, "I've got a plan..." Of course it's a stupid plan! But it's going to be a lot of fun as it goes wrong.

Going back to their new talent spread, it's different. Plenty of talents aren't around anymore: Infuse Blade, Mind Armor, Mind Blade, Missile Twister, Pin, Shield Beater, Shield Charge, Vital Strike, and Whirlwind. Most of those simply aren't talents anymore for differing reasons. Gone, but not forgotten. Some are available earlier: Impressive Strike (now Impressive Display) and Spot Armor Flaw. Others were moved from Discipline talents to talent options: Champion Challenge and Ethereal Weapon. The last two deserve a little discussion. Champion Challenge is fitting for the Discipline, but it's not a talent that will necessarily come up in every game and there are other talents just as fitting for Swordmaster. Ethereal Blade works with their theme to master the blade, but it doesn't support their particular style as some other talents.

Talents like Critical Hit and Momentum Attack that benefit strongly from being able to deliver an attack with plenty of extra successes. Or Defensive Posture which serves to boost Riposte. Vicious Wound emphasizes their precise attacks and how they can control a conflict, along with Cutting Words - a social attack with a knockdown rider. And Fluid Movement, enhancing their already excellent access to mobility and letting them really explore the area. With stylish violence.

Swordmasters still looking to improve their social abilities have talent options working for them, such as Bardic Voice, Empathic Sense, Undermine, and Witty Repartee. Of those, Undermine is incredibly effective in their hands. There are, of course, options for the more conflict oriented, providing different offensive and defensive options. Chilling Strike gives an edge to adepts built around high initiative, while Aura Armor, Life Check, Lion Spirit,+ Relentless Recovery, Resist Pain, Soul Aegis, Unflinching Fortitude, and Vital Ward provide different defensive options. Finally, Ethereal Weapon, Matrix Sight, and Spirit Strike are for those who want more offensive options, particularly against opposing spellcasters.

These adepts have a variety of tricks up their sleeves and are at their best when creating openings and pressing the advantage. They can be comparatively complex, but with the ability to contribute significantly to both conflicts and social activities, stylishly, they are all about getting the maximum time in the spotlight.

06 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 06 - Scout

This is the sixth 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 pattern brings us to a new specialist Discipline to preview. After consulting with the Great Hunter and doing exactly as instructed, "we" are bringing you the Scout! This is intended to offer some insights into the Discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

The overall goal when approaching the high Circle Scout was to emphasize both their drive to discover and to blend in with their surroundings. With this in mind, their Discipline abilities saw some changes. First, their previous Warden ability, Blend, is something of an artifact of Silent Stride, which didn't have hiding as a default condition. As well, they're getting enough bonuses to evade detection (including a new Karma ability) and don't really need another. The replacement, Supernal Awareness, admittedly isn't incredibly interesting, but it is very good.

For Master, One with the World is a similar to the previous version, though features some subtle changes. First there are more specific mechanics around how it functions, as was previously somewhat confusing in certain circumstances. As well, it also provides them a broad bonus when looking for something, but not necessarily knowing what exactly they are looking for. Something that turns out to be pretty useful.

There is an easy trap for both designing and playing Scouts, and that is to focus exclusively on their wilderness aspect. However, they are supremely adaptable and should be comfortable in any setting. It was important for their Discipline abilities to support this versatility and not favor any particular scenario. This is going to show up again shortly.

Moving to the meat of the Discipline: talents. Again, their primary themes are discovery and blending in, with sub-themes of animals, combat (emphasis on talents not specific to melee or ranged), and knowledge. There is also a growing spirituality to this Discipline as they advance; their drive for discovery begins to move them away from our world, knowing there is so much more elsewhere.

Their Discipline talents have some notable changes, as only two of the seven (Chameleon and Echolocation) are still Discipline talents. This was to make their Discipline talents really focus on their primary themes, particularly with three entirely new talents, Alley Cat Approach, Bloodhound Form, and World Pulse. The latter of those is exclusive to Scout. All these talents enhance or open up new avenues for their primary themes.

The talent options available to high Circle Scouts have also changed considerably. Two of the previous options (Spot Armor Flaw and Tiger Spring) are available at earlier Circles, others aren't talents anymore (Multi-Tongue, Plant Shelter, Sense Poison, and Trace Missile), and one just wasn't quite the right fit anymore (Vital Strike). Cuts always create space to explore their primary and sub-themes. Which is to say often force new talents to be designed to fit the holes just created.

Combat talents for the Scout are a little tricky due to maintaining the aforementioned versatility when it comes to weapon selection. This is in addition to maintaining their overall approach to combat, which emphasizes precision and patience. Their overall goal is to never quite draw attention, if at all possible. Further displaying their versatility, lower Circles gave them access to avoidance talents, while high Circles move to more resistance based talents. It was tempting to maintain access to Defensive Posture, but it requires the character to have selected at least one specific talent option to make any use, and that didn't feel right when it comes to addressing how the Discipline adapts to situations.

Of their new talents, World Pulse is my favorite. It's weirdly spiritual and personal, in a way unique to the Discipline and each adept, and provides a unique lay of the land, revealing increasing details about the landscape and what it contains for rank miles in any direction. It's subtle, but very powerful in the right hands. Which is a good description of the Discipline as a whole.

05 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Rogues' Gallery 14 - Farmer

This is the fifth 4E Rogues' Gallery, 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.

This entry presents example farmers, who are friendly enough, but unlikely to present any real form of combat challenge
. Which is why they need adventurers to help!

All example characters are assumed to be human as a default. However, at the end racial templates are provided. The goal for applying the templates is not complete verisimilitude, but to maintain a rough equivalence between them. Emphasis on rough.

As well, their equipment can be exchanged for whatever is most appropriate for the setting. No blood charms or healing aids have been included - keeping it simple is the goal.

If there are any non-magical archetypes that would be valuable, leave a comment and let me know. As well with comments on the content and format. This is less an exercise in playing with the system and more about making something useful for the community.


Farmer (Novice)

Challenge: Novice (First Circle)
DEX: 5        Initiative:                  5       Unconsciousness:      26
STR: 5         Physical Defense:  7       Death Rating:               32
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:      8       Wound Threshold:    9
PER: 6         Social Defense:       8       Knockdown:                 5
WIL: 5        Physical Armor:      0       Recovery Tests:           3
CHA: 6        Mystic Armor:         2
Movement: 12
Actions: 1; Farming Implement: 6 (8)
Powers:
Animal Bond (7): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 125.
Animal Handling (6): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 192.
Animal Training (7): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 127.
Awareness (7): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Climbing (6): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 134.
Conversation (7): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 136.
Craftsman, Farming (7): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195.
Haggle (7): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Equipment: Farming implement, eager demeanor


Farmer (Seasoned)

Challenge: Novice (Second Circle)
DEX: 5        Initiative:                  5       Unconsciousness:      28
STR: 6         Physical Defense:  7       Death Rating:               34
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:      8       Wound Threshold:    9
PER: 6         Social Defense:       8       Knockdown:                 6
WIL: 5        Physical Armor:      0       Recovery Tests:           3
CHA: 6        Mystic Armor:         2
Movement: 12
Actions: 1; Farming Implement: 8 (9)
Powers:
Animal Bond (9): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 125.
Animal Handling (8): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195.
Animal Training (9): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 127.
Awareness (9): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Climbing (8): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 134.
Conversation (9): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 136.
Craftsman, Farming (9): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195.
Craftsman (8): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195, choose one.
Craftsman (8): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195, choose one.
Haggle (9): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Equipment: Farming implement, weary demeanor


Farmer (Veteran)

Challenge: Novice (Third Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                  6       Unconsciousness:      30
STR: 6         Physical Defense:  8       Death Rating:               36
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:      9       Wound Threshold:    10
PER: 6         Social Defense:       9       Knockdown:                 6
WIL: 5        Physical Armor:      0       Recovery Tests:           3
CHA: 6        Mystic Armor:         2
Movement: 12
Actions: 1; Farming Implement: 10 (9)
Powers:
Animal Bond (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 125.
Animal Handling (10): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195.
Animal Training (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 127.
Awareness (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Climbing (9): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 134.
Conversation (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 136.
Craftsman, Farming (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195.
Craftsman (10): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195, choose one.
Craftsman (10): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195, choose one.
Haggle (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Physician (9): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 198.
Equipment: Farming implement, laconic demeanor, physician's kit


Farmer (Master)

Challenge: Novice (Fourth Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                  6       Unconsciousness:      32
STR: 6         Physical Defense:  8       Death Rating:               39
TOU: 7        Mystic Defense:      9       Wound Threshold:    10
PER: 7         Social Defense:       9       Knockdown:                 6
WIL: 6        Physical Armor:      0       Recovery Tests:           3
CHA: 7        Mystic Armor:         2
Movement: 12
Actions: 1; Farming Implement: 11 (9)
Powers:
Animal Bond (14): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 125.
Animal Handling (13): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195.
Animal Training (14): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 127.
Awareness (13): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Climbing (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 134.
Conversation (14): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 136.
Craftsman, Farming (14): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195.
Craftsman (13): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195, choose one.
Craftsman (13): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 195, choose one.
Diplomacy (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 138.
Haggle (14): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Physician (11): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 198.
Equipment: Farming implement, physician's kit, reserved demeanor


Racial Modifiers:
Dwarf: +1 TOU, -1 Physical Defense, +4 Unconsciousness, +5 Death Rating, -2 Movement
Elf: -1 TOU, +1 Physical Defense, -4 Unconsciousness, -5 Death Rating, +2 Movement
Obsidiman: +3 STR, +1 TOU, -1 Physical Defense, -1 Mystic Defense, +3 Mystic Armor, +6 Unconsciousness, +7 Death Rating, +4 Wound Threshold, +3 Knockdown, +4 Damage, -1 Attack, -1 all Dex-based skills,
Ork: +1 STR, -1 Mystic Armor, +2 Unconsciousness, +2 Death Rating, +1 Knockdown, +1 Damage 
Troll: +1 STR, +1 TOU, -1 Mystic Defense, +4 Unconsciousness, +5 Death Rating, +1 Knockdown, +2 Damage, +2 Movement
T'skrang: +2 Unconsciousness, +2 Death Rating, Swimming
Windling: -2 STR, -1 TOU, +2 Physical Defense, +1 Mystic Defense, +1 Social Defense, -4 Unconsciousness, -5 Death Rating, -2 Knockdown, -4 Damage, -8 Movement, Flight (16), Astral Sight