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.

Note: The adept's spirit mount is a bonded spirit using Spirit Mount as the bonding talent.

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.


First Circle
  • Charge
  • Melee Weapons
  • Spirit Mount
  • Spirit Weaving
  • Trick Riding
  • Durability 7
Second Circle
  • Steel Thought
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Astral Sight
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Attack tests while charging.
Fourth Circle
  • Spirit Talk
  • Defense: +1 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  1. Anticipate Blow
  2. Avoid Blow
  3. Awareness
  4. Danger Sense
  5. Maneuver
  6. Shield Bash
  7. Sprint
  8. Sure Mount
  9. Tiger Spring
  10. Wound Balance

Fifth Circle
  • Enhance Spirit*
  • 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.
Sixth Circle
  • Wheeling Attack
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Wheeling Defense
  • Bonus: +1 Mystic Armor
Eighth Circle
  • Double Charge
  • Defense: +2 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  1. Armor Mount
  2. Fearsome Charge
  3. Graceful Exit
  4. Lion Heart
  5. Mount Attack
  6. Spirit Development*
  7. Spirit Durability*
  8. Spot Armor Flaw
  9. Steely Stare
  10. Temper Flesh

Ninth Circle
  • Ethereal Weapon
  • 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.
Tenth Circle
  • Relentless Recovery
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
  • Bonus: +1 Recovery Test
Eleventh Circle
  • Momentum Attack
  • Defense: +1 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).
Twelfth Circle
  • Defensive Posture
  • Defense: +3 Mystic Defense
  • Bonus: +2 Mystic Armor
Talent Options
  1. Banish
  2. Critical Hit
  3. Iron Constitution
  4. Life Check
  5. Lion Spirit
  6. Matrix Sight
  7. Orbiting Spy
  8. Resist Pain
  9. Spirit Hold
  10. Summon (Ally Spirit)

Thirteenth Circle
  • Spirit Strike
  • 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: +4 Physical Defense
  • Karma: +1 Karma Step
  • Bonus: +1 Initiative Step
Fourteenth Circle
  • Soul Aegis
  • Defense: +4 Mystic Defense
  • Bonus: +2 Recovery Tests
Fifteenth Circle
  • Multi-Charge
  • Defense: +2 Social Defense
  • Bonus: +3 Mystic Armor
Talent Options
  1. Aura Armor
  2. Champion Challenge
  3. Netherwalk
  4. Second Chance
  5. Unflinching Fortitude
  6. Vicious Wound
  7. Vital Strike
  8. Vital Ward
Enhance 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, then makes a Enhance Spirit test against the spirit’s natural Mystic Defense. The adept grants +1 bonus to any of the following characteristics for each success: a Defense rating, Physical or Mystic Armor, or Damage Step. The maximum total bonus a bonded spirit can have is equal to the lower of the adept’s bonding talent rank and Enhance Spirit rank—the more bonded an adept is to the spirit, the more it can be enhanced.

When using this talent, the adept can also choose to move a point granted by a prior use of the talent to another characteristic. Moving a point in this way uses one of the adept’s successes from the test.

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 manifested spirit.

Each command requires a separate successful use of Spirit Development. The adept spends eight hours communing with their bonded spirit mount, 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.

The spirit commands remain in the bonded spirit’s pattern for a number of months equal to the adept’s Spirit Development rank. If an adept tries to maintain too large a collection of bonded spirits, they find their commands fading unless they constantly commune with them. If the adept neglects a spirit’s development, all its training disappears when the talent’s duration ends. The adept may renew the duration while the talent is in effect by communing for 8 hours with the spirit and making a new Spirit Development test.

In addition to infusing commands, the adept grants the spirit +1 to a skill, talent, or power the spirit, including their natural Attack Step. 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 towards the talent limit and must be maintained like commands.

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.