07 December 2018

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 32 - Spirit Rider Part 2

This is the thirty-second 4E Anatomy of a Discipline, 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.

After a very long hiatus, I decided to revisit this Discipline for a revision which changes some things up, has refinements, and also offers a full progression. The previous version can be found here.


These adepts bond with a particular spirit (their "bonded spirit" or their familiar) which they summon as their spirit mount. The process is similar to a Cavalryman and their mount, though much stranger since they can only sense the presence of their spirit and feel the connection. While Cavalrymen tend towards being social adepts, Spirit Riders are more aloof and disconnected with the world, tending towards a mystic nature.

This Discipline is exceptionally rare, essentially existing as a "PC" discipline with the rare NPC, who provide the necessary training. Too common and the unique place a Cavalryman has within the setting erodes. The mechanics are similar and it isn't unfair to think of a Spirit Rider as a specialization of the Cavalryman with a peculiar bond. However, there is enough of a gulf between the two for them to be unable to train together and their abilities have grown more distinct in this more recent version. It's unheard of for Spirit Riders to also be Beastmasters, Cavalrymen, or other adepts connected to animals - they simply don't have the connection to living things in the same way to forge those bonds. But there's a first time for everything.

The rarity makes training an issue. This is a deliberate choice to reinforce their special nature and offset the potential advantages they have over Cavalryman. The latter have a easy time finding a trainer, while Spirit Riders need to hunt down those like them. Keeping in contact with whomever initiated the adept into the Discipline is important (and builds connections for the campaign).

In contrast with Cavalryman, they have no social talents, but interesting access to mystic talents. Since the Spirit Mount talent has time constraints, they are unable to be mounted at all times. Due to this, these adepts have a talent selection which can accommodate this constraint. Since their Spirit Mount talent is available earlier than normal (it is typically a Journeyman talent), it carries a limitation: it may only be used to summon spirit with which the adept is bound.

A big missing piece is unique talents and if I come back to work on this again, talents may get further changed to accommodate new talents.


Spirit Rider

Spirit Riders share commonalities with Cavalrymen, Nethermancers, and Shamans, though are much rarer than any of the three. It's common for young Namegivers with this potential to be identified as potential Nethermancers or Shamans, though those who begin their training there may not find it a good fit. Something is missing. Luckily for most, their spirit finds them, much like a Cavalryman connecting with their mount. That missing piece is no longer. These adepts often feel they are living between worlds and at peace when with their bound spirit. With the nature of spirits, this is a life long connection for most Spirit Riders and an important, but transient phase for the spirit—something of an inversion to the typical relationship. Still, both are bound and dedicated to each other. Their unique abilities make them welcome in any adventuring group or military company, even if their eerie presence can leave them without much cameraderie. Still, this suits many Spirit Riders fine; they already have their companion.


Important Attributes: Dexterity, Perception, Willpower

Karma Ritual: The Spirit Rider sits in quiet meditation for a minute as their spirit mount materializes before them and bows its head in greeting. The adept returns the greeting and mounts their spirit, racing through the area. As the move ever faster, the spirit takes the lead and the Spirit Rider trusts in their companion, closing their eyes and opening their other senses, feeling their connection and the world around them. After 30 minutes, the mount returns to their original location and they bid each other farewell.

Artisan Skills: Body Painting, Rune Carving

Half-Magic: Spirit Riders use half-magic for knowledge of different kinds of mounts used by Namegiver races and knowledge of significant cavalry units in Barsaive. A Spirit Rider also uses half-magic to sense the presence of spirits within 30 yards of her location by using Perception-based half-magic against the spirit's Mystic Defense. If the test succeeds, the Spirit Rider can sense the presence of the spirit and use talents, such as Spirit Talk, to communicate and interact with the spirit. The gamemaster may choose to make this half-magic test on behalf of the Spirit Rider at any time, as this innate sense is always active.

Novice

Novice Talent Options: Anticipate Blow, Avoid Blow, Awareness, Danger Sense, Maneuver, Shield Bash, Sprint, Sure Mount, Tiger Spring, Wound Balance

First Circle

  • Durability 7
  • Discipline Talents: Charge, Melee Weapons, Spirit Mount, Spirit Weaving, Trick Riding
Second Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +1 to their Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Steel Thought 
Third Circle
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Attack tests while charging.
  • Discipline Talent: Astral Sight 
Fourth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +1 to their Mystic Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Spirit Talk 
Journeyman

Journeyman Talent Options: Armor Mount, Fearsome Charge, Graceful Exit, Lion Heart, Mount Attack, Spirit Development*, Spirit Durability*, Spot Armor Flaw, Steely Stare, Temper Flesh

Fifth Circle

  • Spirit Senses: When the adept's spirit mount is not manifested (typically through Spirit Mount), the spirit is still aiding the adept with their otherworldly senses. For 1 Strain the adept can enhance their connection as a Free action, gaining +2 to a test which directly involves otherworldly detection, such as Anticipate Blow, Astral Sight, Danger Sense, and half-magic tests to detect spirits.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on a Damage test while mounted.
  • Discipline Talent: Enhance Spirit* 
Sixth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +2 to their Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Wheeling Attack 
Seventh Circle
  • Bonus: The adept adds +1 to their Mystic Armor.
  • Discipline Talent: Wheeling Defense 
Eighth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +2 to their Mystic Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Double Charge 
Warden

Warden Talent Options: Banish, Critical Hit, Iron Constitution, Life Check, Lion Spirit, Matrix Sight, Orbiting Spy, Resist Pain, Spirit Hold, Summon (Ally Spirit)

Ninth Circle

  • Guardian Spirit: When the adept's spirit mount is not manifested (typically through Spirit Mount), the spirit is still protecting the adept from threats to their pattern and soul. The adept can spend 1 Strain to enhance their connection as a Free action to gain +3 to their Mystic Defense or a Willpower test to resist effects (e.g., Steel Thought or resisting Frighting).
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Recovery tests.
  • Discipline Talent: Ethereal Weapon
Tenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +3 to their Physical Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +1 Recovery Test per day.
  • Discipline Talent: Relentless Recovery
Eleventh Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +1 to their Social Defense.
  • Karma: Once per turn, the adept can spend a Karma Point on a test while in contact with their spirit mount (this does not include Attack or Damage tests, or Sustained actions).
  • Discipline Talent: Momentum Attack
Twelfth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +3 to their Mystic Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept adds +2 to their Mystic Armor.
  • Discipline Talent: Spirit Strike
Master

Master Talent Options: Aura Armor, Champion Challenge, Defensive Posture, Second Chance, Unflinching Fortitude, Vicious Wound, Vital Strike, Vital Ward

Thirteenth Circle

  • Twin Soul: When in contact with their spirit mount, the adept can shift any ongoing effects that originally targeted the adept's Mystic Defense to their spirit mount, and the adept can use their Mystic Defense and make Willpower-based resistance tests for their mount (e.g., Steel Thought or resisting Frighten). The adept must pay all costs. Additionally, the adept can use abilities which require their spirit mount to be dematerialized when in contact with their spirit mount.
  • Defense: The adept adds +4 to their Physical Defense.
  • Karma: The adept increases their Karma +1 Step to a d8.
  • Bonus: The adept adds +1 Step to their Initiative.
  • Discipline Talent: Netherwalk
Fourteenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +4 to their Mystic Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +2 Recovery Tests per day.
  • Discipline Talent: Soul Aegis
Fifteenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +2 to their Social Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept adds +3 to their Mystic Armor.
  • Discipline Talent: Multi-Charge

Talents

Enhance Bound Spirit
Step: Rank+WIL
Action: Sustained (8 hours)
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
The adept magically enhances their bonded spirit by spending eight hours in communion with the spirit. This increases the bound spirit's effective Circle by +1—still limited by their bonding talent. The bound spirit's effective Circle (including this talent and any other modifiers, such as applied Masks) cannot exceed the adept's Enhance Bound Spirit rank. This talent can only affect bound spirits. If a Mask is later added that increases the spirit's effective Circle above the adept's Enhance Bound Spirit rank, remove the benefits from Enhance Bound Spirit until the effective Circle is equal to the adept's Enhance Bound Spirit rank.

Each effective Circle increases gives the bound spirit +1 to Physical, Mystic, and Social Defense, Physical and Mystic Armor, and Attack and Damage tests (this includes Spellcasting), and +5 to Death Rating. Note: the presentation as a Mask is for clarity, but it is not a Mask.

Note: the default spirit mount is First Circle.

Enhance Animal Companion (+1 Circle)
DEX: 0       Initiative:                    0        Unconsciousness:      NA
STR:  0       Physical Defense:   +1       Death Rating:              +5
TOU: 0       Mystic Defense:       +1       Wound Threshold:    0
PER:  0       Social Defense:        +1       Knockdown:                 0
WIL:  0       Physical Armor:      +1       Recovery Tests:           0
CHA: 0       Mystic Armor:          +1        
Movement: 0
Actions: 0; Attack +1 (Damage +1)

Spirit Development
Step: Rank+WIL
Action: Sustained (8 hours)
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
The adept infuses the pattern of their bonded spirit with a simple command such as “scout ahead", "smell that", and “go home", as well as the more usual “stop", “heel", “fetch", and “kill”. A bonded spirit can store a maximum number of commands equal to the adept’s Spirit Development rank. The adept does not need to use Spirit Talk to issue these commands, but must speak them aloud to the spirit.

Each command requires a separate successful use of Spirit Development. The adept spends eight hours communing with their bonded spirit, focusing on the new command, and reviewing any commands already developed, then makes a Spirit Development test against the spirit’s Social Defense. If successful, the spirit understands and obeys the command. The adept can commune with a bonded spirit nearby in astral space. The spirit only responds to commands given by the bonded adept or characters they are Friendly with, including the trainer. Once learned, spirits do not forget their commands. The adept cannot develop spirits with an effective Circle higher than their Spirit Development rank.

In addition to infusing commands, the adept grants the spirit +1 to a skill, talent, or power the spirit knows (this does not include the spirit's Attack Step or Spellcasting talent). At the gamemaster’s discretion, the adept can use this ability to develop talents and skills the spirit doesn’t know, but would conceivably be able to perform. These enhancements count as commands for the talent's limits.

Spirit Durability
Step: Rank
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
A bonded spirit’s ability to take damage is improved in a similar manner to the Durability ability (Player's Guide, p. 85), with each rank increasing the spirit’s Health Ratings by +5. The maximum number of bonded spirits that can benefit from this talent is equal to the adept’s Spirit Durability rank. A bonded spirit may only benefit from a single Durability-type ability at a time.



Knacks

Bind Spirit
Talent: Spirit Mount
Requirements: Rank 1
Restrictions: Spirit Rider 1
Step: NA
Action: Sustained (8 hour)
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
The adept performs an 8 hour ritual with their willing spirit mount, binding them to the adept, turning the spirit into a bound spirit and allowing the to benefit from more of the adept’s magic. The adept Names the spirit and takes a blood oath similar to an Oath of Blood Peace (this does not cost Blood Magic Damage) and weaves a thread to the spirit’s pattern. This oath lasts as long as both the adept and spirit are still alive. If the spirit dies without violating the adept’s blood oath, a new ritual can be performed with a different willing spirit mount, gaining the same associated benefits as the previous bound spirit. Due to the asymmetrical nature of the oath, the adept suffers a Blood Wound if their bound spirit dies, regardless of the situation.

Bound spirits are still commanded with Develop Spirit, however it only requires a Simple action instead of a Standard action and no test is required; this does not allow the talent to be used more than once per round and only one command to one animal may still be issued. No tests are required to train the bound spirits (though it still takes a day)

Special: Spirit Rider adepts receive this knack for free at First Circle.

Smarter Than the Average Bear Spirit
Talent: Develop Spirit
Requirements: Rank 3, Spirit Mount rank 3, Bind Spirit
Restrictions: Spirit Rider 3
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
The adept can teach their bound spirit additional commands equal to their Develop Spirit rank, but these additional commands cannot be used to teach the bound spirit skills or talents, or improve existing skills or talents.


Amplify Bound Spirit’s Form
Talent: Enhance Bound Spirit
Requirements: Rank 5, Bind Spirit
Restrictions: Spirit Rider 5
Step: NA
Action: Sustained (8 hours)
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
The adept permanently improves their bound spirit with an 8 hour ritual, giving them +1 to each attribute Step, their Initiative Step, Wound Threshold, and Knockdown Step, and +4 to their Death Rating. This can only be applied to bound spirits with a tier of Novice (before effective Circles are added through Enhance Spirit). If a Mask is later added that increases the bound spirit’s tier above Novice, remove these benefits and refund the Legend Points for this knack. Note: the presentation as a Mask is for clarity, but it is not a Mask.


Amplified Spirit (No change)
DEX: +1      Initiative:                   +1      Unconsciousness:      NA
STR:  +1      Physical Defense:   0       Death Rating:              +4
TOU: +1      Mystic Defense:       0       Wound Threshold:    +1
PER:  +1      Social Defense:        0       Knockdown:                 +1
WIL:  +1      Physical Armor:      0       Recovery Tests:           0
CHA: +1      Mystic Armor:          0        
Movement: 0
Actions: 0; Attack 0 (Damage 0)


Boost Bound Spirit’s Form
Talent: Enhance Bound Spirit
Requirements: Rank 9, Bind Spirit
Restrictions: Spirit Rider 9
Step: NA
Action: Sustained (8 hours)
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
The adept permanently improves their bound spirit with an 8 hour ritual, giving them +1 to each attribute Step, their Initiative Step, Wound Threshold, and Knockdown Step, and +4 to their Death Rating. This can only be applied to bound spirits with a tier of Novice or Journeyman (before effective Circles are added through Enhance Spirit). If a Mask is later added that increases the bound spirit’s tier above Novice, remove these benefits and refund the Legend Points for this knack. Note: the presentation as a Mask is for clarity, but it is not a Mask.

Boosted Spirit (No change)

DEX: +1      Initiative:                   +1      Unconsciousness:      NA
STR:  +1      Physical Defense:   0       Death Rating:              +4
TOU: +1      Mystic Defense:       0       Wound Threshold:    +1
PER:  +1      Social Defense:        0       Knockdown:                 +1
WIL:  +1      Physical Armor:      0       Recovery Tests:           0
CHA: +1      Mystic Armor:          0        
Movement: 0
Actions: 0; Attack 0 (Damage 0)


Heighten Bound Spirit’s Form
Talent: Enhance Bound Spirit
Requirements: Rank 13, Bind Spirit
Restrictions: Spirit Rider 13
Step: NA
Action: Sustained (8 hours)
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
The adept permanently improves their bound spirit with an 8 hour ritual, giving them +1 to each attribute Step, their Initiative Step, Wound Threshold, and Knockdown Step, and +4 to their Death Rating. If the bound spirit benefited from Amplify and Boost Spirit as well, they also gain +1 Recovery Test. This can only be applied to bound spirits with a tier of Novice, Journeyman, or Warden (before effective Circles are added through Enhance Spirit). If a Mask is later added that increases the bound spirit’s tier above Novice, remove these benefits and refund the Legend Points for this knack. Note: the presentation as a Mask is for clarity, but it is not a Mask.

Heightened Spirit (No change)

DEX: +1      Initiative:                   +1      Unconsciousness:      NA
STR:  +1      Physical Defense:   0       Death Rating:              +4
TOU: +1      Mystic Defense:       0       Wound Threshold:    +1
PER:  +1      Social Defense:        0       Knockdown:                 +1
WIL:  +1      Physical Armor:      0       Recovery Tests:           0/+1
CHA: +1      Mystic Armor:          0        
Movement: 0
Actions: 0; Attack 0 (Damage 0)