31 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 72 - Whispers of Frailty

This is the seventy-second 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a windling bow with a request of... look, it was a lot less about what the character wanted and mostly insight into the character. The request came down to more damage. Though that insight gave me a direction how exactly to do more damage.


Whispers of Frailty

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

This windling bow is made of black wood that appears featureless and barely appears to even be present. Its presence is best described as an absence in the space it occupies. A roughly bow-shaped black void. Everything slides off of it, from light, blood, even touch. Touching it does reveal intricate carvings across the surface. Though, the details cannot be seen, only felt and even then only the owner has no trouble interacting with it. The carvings are of faces in various sizes and shapes.

When the bow isn’t in the presence of its owner for too long, one Namegiver becomes the focus of its attention. Unintelligible whispers in an eldritch language only they can hear fill the void its presence creates. Slowly at first, but they come from all directions. This has been described as madness caressing their brain.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the bow’s Name.
Effect: The bow is Damage Step 4.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The bow is Damage Step 5.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the Name of the entity bound to the bow.
Effect: The wielder gains the Whispers of Frailty ability. As a Simple action for 1 Strain, the wielder listens to the comforting whispers of the bow and can make an Awareness test against the target’s Mystic Defense. If successful, the whispers tell them of the target’s frailty, what they fear, how they are weak. The wielder can affect the target with abilities that require them to be Blindsided, Harried, or Surprised until the end of the round. The target is not affected by these conditions.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: When the wielder uses Whispers of Frailty, they gain +2 to Damage tests with the bow against Blindsided or Surprised opponents.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn who created the bow.
Effect: When the wielder uses Whispers of Frailty, they can spend an additional Karma Point on a Damage test using the bow against a Blindsided or Surprised opponent. This can be used once per round.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: When the wielder uses Whispers of Frailty, they gain +4 to Damage tests with the bow against Blindsided or Surprised opponents.

28 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 71 - Worm Horn, The

This is the seventy-first 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a horn with the Command Nightflyer power. To be perfectly honest, this leans heavily on the silvered horn from Iopos: Lair of Deceit, but I can only write so many magical horns in a year. And this is two. So it's not a very big number. Still, it manages to be similar, but unique and still focused on the Command Nightflyer talent.


The Worm Horn

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

This signal horn is made in the style of the Iopan plain, using the traditional coiled horn of a hoop horn. Gleaming silver plating wraps the horn, enhancing the acoustics, and runes are carved in the silver along the coil. A simple leather strap allows the horn to be worn when not in use.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the horn’s Name.
Effect: For 1 Strain, the owner can project any sound they make twice as far. This makes it louder, never deafening, but not louder in proportion to the distance. Each thread rank doubles this distance (e.g., Rank Two is four times further).

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wearer gains +1 rank to Command Nightflyer.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the significance of the runes.
Effect: For 1 Strain, the owner gains Enhanced Senses [Hearing] (2) for minutes equal to the thread rank.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Social Defense.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn who created the horn.
Effect: The wearer gains +2 ranks to Command Nightflyer.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The owner can use the horn to issue commands to affected nightflyers with the horn, allowing them to be issued from a distance. For 1 Strain, the owner can change the frequency of the horn so only nightflyers and those with Enhanced Hearing can detect it.

27 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 70 - Equilibrium

This is the seventieth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written in collaboration with a player. The basic design included orichalcum, and True air and fire, with abilities to improve Attack tests, store Karma, and +2 to Dexterity Value. The player supplied a film reference for what they wanted and I may be familiar with the film in question and made a very subtle reference to it


Equilibrium

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Warden

A thumb ring of pure orichalcum with what looks like a channel of diamonds and a channel of rubies set in a double helix. When a thread is woven to the ring, the gems reveal their nature as True air and fire. They glow and create small gusts and flames as the wearer calls on the ring’s powers.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the ring’s Name.
Effect: The wearer gains the Equilibrium ability. For 1 Strain as a Simple action, the band of diamonds reveals its nature as True air and a band of glowing gusts appears over it. The wearer gains +2 ranks to Avoid Blow until the end of the next round.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: When the wearer uses Equilibrium, the band of rubies reveals its nature as True fire and a band of flames appears over it. The wearer gains +2 to ranged combat Attack tests against targets they successfully used Avoid Blow against since the previous round. The use must be against a successful Attack test.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn where the True elements were harvested.
Effect: The wearer increases their highest Circle by 1 for determining their Karma Pool.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: When the wearer uses Equilibrium, the bands of air and fire wind together in a double helix over the ring when this effect is used. The wearer can spend an additional Karma Point on an Avoid Blow test against an opponent they attacked within the last round.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn who created the ring.
Effect:
When the wearer uses Equilibrium, the bands ignite in a flare that races down the wearer’s arm to their weapon when this special maneuver is used.
Equilibrium (Wearer, Avoid Blow): The wearer can spend additional successes on an Avoid Blow test to gain +1 per success to their next ranged combat Attack test against that opponent by the end of the next round. These bonuses are cumulative. This special maneuver can only be used against successful Avoid Blow tests.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The wearer gains +2 to their Dexterity Value.


Thread Rank Seven
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn where the orichalcum came from.
Effect: When the wearer uses Equilibrium, they gain +3 to Avoid Blow tests and ranged combat Attack tests against targets they successfully used Avoid Blow against since the previous round.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: When the wearer uses Equilibrium, they can spend an additional Karma Point on a ranged combat Attack test against an opponent they successfully used Avoid Blow against since the previous round. The wearer also gains +1 Karma Step when spending Karma Points on effects provided by the ring.

26 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 69 - Release

This is the sixty-ninth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a crossbow with a 1 Strain for +3 to Spot Armor Flaw and linked to a previous thread item. There's a lot going on here, though the complicated part may not be what it initially seems.

The previous thread item was a quiver written for a bow. Here is a crossbow. This may be a little thing, but these need to fit in my head. I used similar materials to connect them, while some orthogonal descriptions to make them askew (simple v. ornate, Sperethiel v. Scythan). Also, there's a continuation of the previous poem written as a reflection of the first, using similar themes and imagery.


Release

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

An ornately carved medium crossbow with the stock covered with oxblood leather. The body is carved in the Scythan dialect, “Takes what the heart wants. Shuddering through their body. The final Release.”

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the crossbow’s Name.
Effect: The crossbow is Damage Step 6.


Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wielder gains +1 to Attack tests with the crossbow.


Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn what creature the leather came from and where.
Effect: The wielder gains the Release ability. As a Free action for 1 Strain, the carvings on the crossbow turn red until the end of the round. The wielder gains +3 to their next Spot Armor Flaw test.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: When using Release, the carvings shift and move under the wielder’s fingers in a soothing way. The wielder gains +1 rank to Anticipate Blow.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the Name of who created the crossbow and the significance of the words.
Effect: When using Release, the carvings move more urgently with hunger. The wielder gains +1 to their Initiative test.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: When using Release, the depressions in the carvings look as though they fill with blood. The wielder gains +2 to Damage tests with the crossbow against Wounded targets.

25 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 68 - Anklebiter

This is the sixty-eighth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a windling polearm with a bonus to knockdown. Done. It even has more than one bonus and more than one type of bonus. It's a little staid, but the special maneuver gives a lot of flexibility in terms of initiating a knockdown.


Anklebiter

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

The blade on this glaive is straight with the hint of a curve, suitable for piercing attacks and sweeping slashes. It is a dull gray and heavier than expected from the True earth infused to provide greater concussive force. The blade is inscribed with a single glyph. An intricately carved haft is infused with True wood to give it superior flexibility and to absorb the force generated by the blade.

It is a windling polearm without a thread attached, but resizes to be an appropriately sized polearm for the wielder with a thread attached.
Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the polearm’s Name.
Effect: The glaive is Damage Step 5.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wielder gains +1 to Attack tests made with the glaive.
Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn what glyph was inscribed on the blade.
Effect: The wielder gains +1 rank to Waterfall Slam.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The glaive is Damage Step 6.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the nature of the carvings on the haft.
Effect: The wielder gains +2 ranks to Waterfall Slam.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The wielder can use the following special maneuver:
Anklebiter (Wielder, Close Combat): For 1 Strain, the wielder can spend an additional success on an Attack test to cause knockdown instead of damage. The Knockdown Difficulty is the Damage test result; this is not reduced by armor.

24 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 67 - Night Warden

This is the sixty-seventh 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This item had the reqest of a shield. Well now. Since this same character received some armor previously, I decided to make a matching set. Well, kinda matching. Since one is on the lighter end of armor and this is the heaviest shield never printed.

With that in mind, there are some abilities that dovetail nicely. Supporting other either implicitly or directly. They're thematically similar, but not exactly the same. While the armor was friendlier, this is a little more sinister. In a few weeks there will be a pair of items designed to go together from the beginning.


Night Warden

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Warden

A massive sheet of blue, purple, and black crystal fashioned into a rectangular body shield. The boss is shaped like the moon, waxing and waning to match. When light shines on it, the small silver runes carved in crystal sparkle like stars.

The shield is Physical and Mystic Defense +3, Initiative Penalty 3, Shatter Threshold 20, and weighs 22 lbs. This shield can only be used by someone with at least Strength 16 due to the size.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the shield’s Name.
Effect: The shield is Initiative Penalty 2.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The shield is Physical Defense +4.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn where the crystal used to create the shield was mined.
Effect: The wearer gains the Night Warden ability. As a Simple action for 1 Strain, darkness flows from the shield and settles in the general area (Thread Rank × 10 yards), dimming it noticeably for Thread Rank minutes. This does not create darkness conditions (Player’s Guide, p. 387), unless it is already dark in the area, but does make it more difficult to see things as usual (Gamemaster’s Guide, p. 165).

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The shield is Mystic Defense +4.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the Name of the spirit bound to the shield.
Effect: While Night Warden is active, as a Simple action the wearer can spend 1 Strain to turn the darkening effect into Ethereal Darkness in a 4-yard radius around them until the end of the next round. This does not give the wearer the ability to see in the darkness.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: While Night Warden is active, an entity slips from the shield as darkness spills from it and moves within the darkened area, prowling and stalking just out of sight. When the wearer is targeted by an attack that affects Physical or Mystic Defense, they can spend 1 Strain as a Free action to cause the entity to emerge from their shadow and strike at their pattern. This inflicts a -2 penalty to Mystic Defense until the end of the next round. This is resolved after the attack is resolved, though does not require the attack to be successful.

Thread Rank Seven
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn about the bound spirit.
Deed: The owner must communicate with the spirit and perform one task for it.
Effect: While Night Warden is active, the wearer gains +2 to Spellcasting and Effect tests against targets suffering a Mystic Defense penalty from the entity.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: While Night Warden is active, the wearer can cause the magnitude of any penalty inflicted against a target suffering the Mystic Defense penalty from the entity by 2 once per round. For example, the penalty inflicted by the Rank Six effect becomes -4. If an effect has more than one penalty (e.g., Spirit Grip), all are increased by 2.

21 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 66 - Enforcer of Standards

This is the sixty-sixth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This item was a collaboration with a player who designed the enchanting pattern. Essentially, they wanted a spell sword. That's an interesting item that requires a lot of investment in orthogonal strategies before a big payoff. I did something similar here, encouraging casting spells and melee attacks to take full advantage of the benefits. The design here is almost certainly better, but spell sword was written before I inherited the opponents chapters and special maneuvers became a thing.

Which is to say, the right technology didn't exist yet to do what I wanted at the time. Because I hadn't created the technology yet. Which is true in a lot of ways, though in some cases I knew what I wanted to build in the future and carved out the appropriate space for it to exist in the future.


Enforcer of Standards

Maximum Threads: 1
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Warden

The finely crafted Scythan axe is infused with True earth and fire, giving the weapon a hefty, solid feel and the blade reflects light with a ruddy glow. A glyph is emblazoned on the blade.


Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the axe’s Name.
Effect: The axe contains a Standard Matrix with rank equal to the Thread Rank.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wielder gains the Arcane Strike ability. As a Simple action for 1 Strain, the blade of the axe flares with magical flame. If the wielder successfully attacked an opponent with the spell in the axe’s spell matrix in the previous round, they gain +1 to Attack and Damage tests with the axe until the end of the next round.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn about the glyph.
Effect: The wielder gains +1 to Spellcasting and Effect tests when casting the spell in the axe’s spell matrix.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The Arcane Strike ability now gives +2 to the Attack and Damage tests.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn where the True fire was harvested.
Effect: The wielder now gains +2 to Spellcasting and Effect tests when casting the spell in the axe’s spell matrix.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: While the Arcane Strike ability is active, the wielder can spend an additional Karma Point on Attack tests with the axe. This has no other requirements

Thread Rank Seven
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn where the True earth was harvested.
Effect: The Standard Matrix is now an Enhanced Matrix.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: The wielder gains the following special maneuver:
Arcane Strike (Wielder, Close Combat): The wielder can spend 2 Strain and two additional successes on an Attack test with the axe to cause the glyph on the axe to flare to life. This allows the wielder to cast the spell contained in the axe’s spell matrix as a Free action. The spell is resolved after the attack using this special maneuver is fully resolved. The spell cannot require any threads to be woven and cannot benefit from extra threads beyond what is contained (if any) in the axe’s spell matrix. This special maneuver can only be used once per round and only on the wielder’s turn.

20 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 65 - Passion's Pursuit

This is the sixty-fifth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a necklace with twelve beads (one for each Passion) that stores Karma. Clearly that kind of setup is going to do some things related to Passions. While the general ability riffs on an item I previously wrote, this is different enough to stand on its own. Though the real fun (for me at least) comes in trying to identify which bead goes with each Passion. Some are obvious. Some less so.


Passion's Pursuit

Maximum Threads: 1
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

A necklace with twelve large beads of differing materials and unique carvings. The positions of the beads are fixed, with an image facing forward and runes carved behind. It’s notable how deep the carvings are, making them easy to discern by touch. Though any rough edges were long since worn smooth by the fingers of many over the years.

The beads and the symbols carved are as follows: brass with a hammer, glass with a dagger, gold with scales, granite with an upraised palm, rusted iron with an open gate, marble with a scroll, oak with a door, red hematite with a flame, silver with hands shaking, spruce with a harp, and willow with a willow tree.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the necklace’s Name.
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Social Defense.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The owner may store Karma Points up to the thread rank in the necklace. The wearer may transfer Karma Points between their Karma pool and the necklace as a Standard action, and may spend Karma from the necklace as if it were in their Karma pool.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn what each symbol, material, and rune represents.
Effect: The wearer gains the Passion’s Pursuit ability. As a Simple action, the wearer touches a bead and channels the ideals of that Passion. This allows the wearer to spend an additional Karma Point any test appropriate to the Passion’s ideals. This cannot affect Sustained actions. This ability may be used once per day.

If the wearer uses a bead associated with a now Mad Passion, channeling their old ideals, something goes wrong (“yes, but…”) at the gamemaster’s discretion.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Mystic Armor.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn who created the necklace.
Effect: The wearer can use Passion’s Pursuit twice per day. Each bead can only be targeted once each day.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The wearer can use Passion’s Pursuit three times per day. Each bead can still only be targeted once each day.

19 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 64 - Arcane Web

This is the sixty-fourth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a crystal buckler that absorbs mystical energy. The downside here is I've written quite a few thread items like that and had just written one. So this was more difficult than normal simply due to not wanting to turn out the exact same thing. The resolution is something a little weird, but I like it because it's a little weird.

I don't think it can be abused without the potential to go equally wrong, but I've been wrong before and will almost certainly be wrong again. It's important to note this process is a chance for me to try new things and see how they play out. Experiment with designs and see how far I can push the envelope. Everything is more interesting than what's presented in official material because if something goes wrong here, it's easier to fix.


Arcane Web

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

This translucent crystal buckler is rimmed with orichalcum and the boss is infused with True earth and has a single, bold glyph emblazoned on it.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the shield’s Name.
Effect: The shield is Mystic Defense +2.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The shield is Mystic Defense +3.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn about the glyph.
Effect: The wearer gains the Arcane Web ability. As a Simple action for 1 Strain, the glyph spreads and replicates across the shield, creating an iridescent web of itself. This gives the wearer +2 Mystic Armor until the end of the round.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The glyphs from Arcane Web are more intricate and glow brighter. It now gives +3 Mystic Armor.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn where the True earth was harvested.
Effect: While Arcane Web is active, the web of glyphs spreads across the wearer’s body. Mystic attacks appear to be absorbed by the web and some small amount channeled back into the wearer. If the wearer is protected by their Mystic Armor (i.e., suffers Mystic damage whether they take any or not), they heal 1 current damage. This cannot be increased.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: If the wearer suffers a Wound from Mystic damage while Arcane Web is active, they regain a Recovery Test. The wearer cannot exceed their maximum Recovery Tests with this effect.

18 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 63 - Beyond the Surface

This is the sixty-third 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of an armlet that gives a bonus to Earth Bond or Purification. Also, it goes with the previous item the character received. The second part is easy. The first part, though... ugh, that's rough.

To get into why: talents unique to Paths are locked to them—there's no other way to get them. Earth Bond is notable because two Paths have access to it (Brother of Stone and Purifier), but they each use it in very different ways through their knacks. This is entirely by design to show how the two Paths are similar in some ways, but different in application.

Paths also have a prohibition against sharing their secrets, which includes talents and knacks. This keeps humans with Versatility from getting their hands on everything under the sun (keeping some things unique) without the awkward "This talent cannot be learned through Versatility" text that became somewhat prevalent. I much prefer an in-setting justification. Though, this all goes to show Versatility has been a problem from the design side for a long time.

From my perspective (which is what counts here for many reasons), allowing a thread item with ranks in a Path-locked talent violates the oath. Attempting to create the item means you no longer have access to the talent, no more including it in the item. Which makes this request a problem at a fundamental level, even if it seems entirely reasonable on the surface. It didn't particularly matter whcih talent since they are both locked like this. Though the character only had Earth Bond of the two, so it was an easy decision.

Good news—Markus Meiser offered the fantastic suggestion I'm embarrassed I didn't think of first: require the owner to belong to the Path. This neatly circumvents the issues and allows Path followers to create thread items for each other to use. If they are stripped of their membership, they no longer fulfill the Deed and lose their threads. A tidy solution.

From there, it was a question of what to make it do since I already spent a lot of time designing Earth Bond knacks. The final result is certainly useful and powerful, but also expensive.



Beyond the Surface

Maximum Threads: 1
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

This dark gray armlet is made from a peculiar material. It feels like metal but has darker gray, black, and silver bands within like highly polished stone. Lapis lazuli and flowing runes are set into the gray material. The style of the armlet and cut of the stones were once popular in the Western Kingdoms, when trade between that region was common.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the armlet’s Name.
Deed: The owner must be a Purifier.
Effect: The owner gains +1 to Mystic Defense. The gray material of the armlet melds with the wearer’s skin where they touch, though the wearer can easily remove the armlet without damage if desired.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The owner gains +1 to Mystic Armor.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn what the gray material is and where it came from. [True earth]
Effect: The owner gains +1 rank to Earth Bond. The armlet’s gray material can be seen spreading under the wearer’s skin. This material has a faint blue sheen, as though crushed lapis lazuli is incorporated into it.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The wearer can spend an additional Karma Point on Earth Bond tests.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the nature of the runes.
Effect: The wearer gains the Beyond the Surface ability. As a Standard action for a Recovery Test, the wearer’s bare feet meld with the earth. The wearer makes an Earth Bond (10) test. If successful, the owner learns about the earth and events that transpired within Thread Rank yards of that location. The adept can ask a number of what and when questions about that area for each success, though vague questions produce equally vague answers.

The gray material spreads throughout the wearer’s arm, recreating the flowing runes from the armlet in their skin. The runes have a blue sheen similar to the lines of material throughout the wearer’s arm, though more noticeable.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The wearer gains an additional Recovery Test per day. This can only be used to pay costs for Earth Bond tests.

17 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 62 - Retribution

This is the sixty-second 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a belt buckle that gives bonuses the next round if the wearer doesn't attack this round. That's an interesting request. The ability to soak up additional damage while standing there fits. Along with that a knack typically locked behind some additional requirements goes well. An in the proud tradition of all oversized belt buckles from where I grew up, it looks ridiculous.


Retribution

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

This oversized brass belt buckle is awash with imagery. There’s an upraised mailed fist in the middle, with a goat charging the viewer underneath it, flanked by a rampant bear and rampant wildcat. Then some sheaves of wheat on one side, with a tankard above that. On the other is a barrel, a wall, and someone carrying a barrel. A bird with biceps on its legs appears to be flexing. Other images are more difficult to make out due to the extensive damage it sustained over the years from blocking attacks. Despite all this, the craftsmanship and artistry are excellent and a careful inspection reveals neatly carved runes on the reverse of the buckle, safe from most potential harm.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the belt buckle’s Name.
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Social Defense.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Mystic Defense.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The wearer must learn the meaning of the runes.
Effect: The wearer gains the Retribution Stance ability. As a Free action before Initiative is determined for 1 Strain, the wearer takes on an aura of invincibility the likes of which only the foolhardy, young, or very drunk possess. In this stance, the wearer wonders, “Who wants some?” They cannot make any attacks or take a Standard action that round. This includes attacks arising from other abilities (e.g, Air Dance and Riposte). They also gain +2 to Physical and Mystical Armor until their action during the next round and +2 to their first close combat Attack test and the associated Damage test during the next round.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The Physical and Mystic Armor bonus from Retribution Stance is +3.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The wearer must learn who created the belt buckle.
Effect: The Attack and Damage bonus from Retribution Stance is +3.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The wearer can use the following special maneuver:
Now We Know (Wearer, Close Combat): The wearer can spend two additional successes on a close combat Attack test against a target who attacked them in the previous round while using Retribution Stance to force the target to make a Knockdown test against a Difficulty Number equal to the Attack test result. If the test fails, the target is knocked down and knocked back a number of yards equal to the total number of successes on the Attack test. This attack must be enhanced by Retribution Stance.

14 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 61 - Spirit of Adventure, The

This is the sixty-first 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a cape with an Initiative bonus and is always billowing. Check. With some items, I like to add choices for how players interact with the item. This is especially relevant for some spirits. Even a jokey item can have a serious moment to it, and there are reasons to go with each direction.


Spirit of Adventure, The

Maximum Threads: 1
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

This high-necked cape is made from a fine sapphire blue cloth of elf make that feels like satin and shines brilliantly in the light. The edges are trimmed in ornate gold embroidery, revealing elven runes along the length. It’s held together by a delicate golden chain with an oak leaf clasp, though once a thread is attached this is purely decorative as the cape always rests comfortably on the wearer’s shoulders regardless of the conditions. Attempting to restrain or any other resistance is futile.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the cape’s Name.
Effect: The wearer gains a +1 bonus to Initiative tests. At times the cape billows behind them dramatically. Sometimes it’s at an appropriate moment, others it’s when they’re sitting in the common room of an inn. A very careful observer notes it looks a little like something is holding onto the cape and flapping it to make it look like it’s billowing in a non-existent wind. There’s a non-zero chance those are grip marks at the end of the cape.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to their Social Defense. The cape spends noticeably more time billowing now, especially in social situations. From giving a grand speech to a clandestine meeting in the shadows: billowing.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the bound spirit’s Name.
Effect: The wearer gains a +2 bonus to Initiative tests. The wearer may think now they know an air elemental is bound to the cloak, they have some ability to mitigate the billowing. They would be wrong. So very wrong. If anything, attempts to get it to stop only make it worse. Or better. Depends where you are on the billowing issue. Watching a play? Definitely not popular. Watching an adult get into an argument with a rebellious piece of fabric? Perhaps the height of comedy.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to their Mystic Defense. At least the billowing is quite impressive and the cape seems to get almost impossibly long when it billows.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the meaning of the runes.
Effect: The owner can use the runes to keep the bound elemental in line or make peace with them. This decision must be made when this thread is woven and cannot be changed. If the owner uses the runes, they have complete control over the billowing and it looks natural, gaining a +3 bonus to Initiative tests. If they make peace with the bound elemental, they suffer at its whims, but it may listen to requests. It also actively attempts to help; as a Free action the wearer can spend 1 Strain to gain a +3 bonus to an Avoid Blow test.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: If the owner used the runes to control the elemental, they gain +1 to the Physical Defense. If they made peace with the elemental, the spirit allows the owner to store Karma in the cloak, up to the thread rank. The wearer may transfer Karma Points between their Karma pool and the armor as a Standard action, and may spend Karma from the armor as if it were in their Karma pool.

13 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 60 - Bells' Reply, The

This is the sixtieth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a long spear that increases Physical Defense. It does that, but I decided to support both defense and offense since it's a weapon.


The Bells' Reply

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

This long, delicate-looking spear is a style once very popular with the Elf Court and outlying lands, though fell out of fashion in Barsaive following the Schism. The clever positioning of the leaf blade and wings with rare woods for the haft allows the wielder to deliver more power in thrusting. Slashing in wide arcs is also possible with the wide blade. However, this construction also makes it no better than other weapons when used in mounted combat.

Without a thread attached, the long spear is Damage Step 6 and otherwise a long spear (except for the mounted combat thing up there and the cost, which is effectively priceless because it’s not for sale).

The dark wood of the haft is carved in delicate runes inlaid with silver matching the blade and wings. Similar runes adorn the blade, parted by a runnel along the spine. Red tassels with small silver bells within are tied below the wings on the socket.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the spear's Name.
Effect: The spear is Damage Step 7.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wielder gains +1 to Physical Defense.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn which elf land the spear originated.
Effect: The wielder gains The Bells’ Reply ability. As a Free action for 1 Strain, the bells tinkle in the song of the battle, allowing the wielder to hear her opponents’ actions in the melody. The wielder gains +2 ranks to Riposte until the end of the next round.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: While The Bells’ Reply is active, their song incorporates a thrum of rhythm through the spear’s haft, keeping time for the wielder and alerting them when best to act. The wielder may spend an additional Karma Point on Riposte tests.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the origin of the tassels and bells.
Effect: While The Bells’ Reply is active, their song grows more complex with a second harmony allowing a wielder who follows the notes to find weaknesses in their defense. The wielder gains +2 to Attack tests against an opponent they successfully used Riposte against until the end of the next round. This applies to the Attack test following a successful Riposte test (improving the Riposte test result for only this purpose). This effect can only be applied when Riposte is used against successful Attack tests.

Sam used The Bells’ Reply earlier this round and uses Riposte against an attack that succeeds against her Physical Defense (9) with a 13. She makes a Riposte test (including the +2 from the Rank Three effect) and gets 20. This succeeds with an extra success, meaning she can turn the tables and use the result as an Attack test against her attacker. Since this is a successful Riposte against the attacker and it is now an Attack test, she gains the +2 bonus to the Attack test from The Bells’ Reply, becoming a 22. It doesn’t apply to the initial Riposte test even if she successfully used Riposte the previous round because it isn’t an Attack test yet.


Thread Rank Six
Effect: While The Bells’ Reply is active, their song grows more complex with a third harmony allowing a wielder who follows the notes to find weaknesses in their protection. The wielder gains +2 to Damage tests against an opponent they successfully used Riposte against until the end of the next round. This applies to the Attack test following a successful Riposte test. This effect can only be applied when Riposte is used against successful Attack tests.

12 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 59 - Shield of Aras Nehem

This is the fifty-ninth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a footman's shield with no Initiative Penalty. Well, we can do better than that. One thing that request told me was the end-user wasn't so interested in Mystic Defense improvements, otherwise I might be looking at a crystal shield. Or maybe I was reading too much into it. Either way, I decided to go with an asymmetrical approach to defense improvement. Half of the shield would be devoted to bonuses to Physical Defense, the other half to using and leveraging Steel Thought. The Name of this particular shield was related to those developments and should really give anyone "in the know" a sphincter clenching moment when they see it which only gets worse as they go down the effects. It's definitely powerful, but there should be some concern as well.


Shield of Aras Nehem

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Warden

A cursory inspection of this footman’s shield reveals it to be solidly constructed of wood with a steel boss and rim on the face, and steel grip and brace on the back. The cover and strap are both simple, but sturdy leather. There’s nothing to warrant anything more than that cursory inspection. However, sometimes a glance at the shield causes it to appear corroded and rotten, though it always appears proper on a second look.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the shield’s Name.
Effect: The shield is Physical Defense +3. Attacks that strike the shield are strangely muffled, giving a dull thud rather than an expected clang from striking metal.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The shield’s Initiative Penalty is 0. Subtle runes and glyphs appear along the rim. Rather than being carved into the metal, they appear like they are the result of wear and corrosion.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the meaning of the runes and glyphs along the rim.
Effect: The wearer gains the Shield of Aras Nehem ability. As a Simple action for 1 Strain, failed mystic effects against the wearer sputter out as though drained, rather than not happening. They gain +2 ranks to Steel Thought until the end of the next round. Bizarre, indistinct, and ghostly images are seen briefly along the rim, but never when studied.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The shield is Physical Defense +4. Subtle runes and glyphs appear along the boss. Rather than being carved into the metal, they appear like they are the result of wear and corrosion.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the meaning of the runes and glyphs around the boss.
Effect: Images similar to what are briefly seen on the rim now appear on the boss, though images are more distinct. This does not help identify them, only makes them more disconcerting. If the wearer has Shield of Aras Nehem active, they can use the following special maneuver:

Shield of Aras Nehem (Wearer, Steel Thought): Mystic power is drained and some small amount returned to the wearer. The wearer can spend additional successes on Steel Thought tests to gain +1 to their next Spellcasting or Thread Weaving test by the end of next round. These bonuses are cumulative; e.g., two additional successes from one Steel Thought test and one additional success from a second gives a total of +3 to the wearer’s next Spellcasting or Thread Weaving test. The bonus must be used on the next applicable test, it cannot be saved. This special maneuver can only be used against successful Action tests.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The shield is Physical Defense +5. It often leaves behind a residue of what looks like soot and corroded metal after use.

Thread Rank Seven
Deed: The owner must travel to where the shield was created.
Effect: While the Shield of Aras Nehem ability is active, the wearer can hear unintelligible whispering of at least three distinct voices. The ability now provides +4 ranks to Steel Thought.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: The shield is Physical Defense +6. When Shield of Aras Nehem is active, the wearer can spend an additional Karma Point on Steel Thought tests. The owner never remembers their dreams, though are still affected by them (e.g., magic which causes effects by manipulating dreams still causes the effects, but the owner doesn’t remember anything).

11 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 58 - Birb

This is the fifty-eighth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a bird that helps Speak Language. Actually granting ranks of Speak Language can be a little weird, as with any ability that has an effect beyond changing ranks. This presents a delightfully bizarre alternative. Delightful to me, at least. Maybe not to anyone else. I may have a history of animating wooden thread items, but this is far less creepy than the last one.


Birb

Maximum Threads: 1
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

Under most circumstances, this carved wooden block would be a curiosity inherited and either disposed of or forgotten as simply being weird. Since it’s a thread item, it’s bound to show up throughout legends over the years. However, this does not make it any less weird.

The pine is crudely carved and painted into the form of a chakta bird. It most likely started as part of a Greeting Ritual to prove the crafter free from influence, but didn’t go well. Then the creator doubled down by applying paint, which helped. Though black with red tips and some gold flecks isn’t exactly demanding work. Whether this passed muster or not remains a mystery for the ages.

When a thread is attached, the claws grip onto the owner’s shoulder and it remains seated there, eerily stationary. A carving perched on their shoulder. It explicitly doesn’t grip anywhere other than the owner’s shoulder and whatever means attempted to affix it ultimately fail.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the bird’s Name.
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Social Defense.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Mystic Defense.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn who carved the bird.
Effect: The bird can learn one spoken language the owner does not know after being exposed to the language for an hour. It automatically speaks all languages the owner knows.

It acts as a translator between the owner and whoever they are talking to, but speaks to the owner in a sing-song voice of a Namegiver imitating what a bird probably sounds like if it could talk, complete with whistles and idioms, regardless of how appropriate they are. The bird also uses a bizarre sentence structure that places the verb and subject before the object, even if this isn’t how anyone speaks. It’s beak moves while speaking, but not quite in time with what it’s saying.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The bird learns to read the language it speaks and will read it out loud to the owner, but in that same weird way. It also begins to move more than just its beak, now turning its head.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn how it came to exist and if it was the end goal. Was it a joke or a mistake? Seems like an awful lot of work for a joke.
Effect: The bird learns to speak a second language.

It can now flap its wings and sometimes speaks when not spoken to. It doesn’t have anything useful to say, but it just wants to say it. Maybe to feel included in the decision-making process. It definitely knows how to swear creatively at this point.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The bird learns to read the second language. The bird can also teach the owner the languages it knows, though it demands payment as would any instructor if the owner is learning it as a skill. However, the money vanishes once paid. Weird. Once the owner is taught, the bird can learn a new language. This is the only way the bird changes the languages it knows.

It also reacts to the owner, particularly if the owner is kind and offers to feed it. The bird can’t eat because it’s a carved block of wood, but it appreciates the thought and effort. It wants to actually be fed, not just the offer, and happily fills its beak and lets it fall to the ground. Doing this causes it to be more helpful and provide some nuance for the owner. It also nuzzles them when no one is looking. The bird never admits to this and calls anyone who insinuates such a liar. Though it uses a lot more words and most of them wouldn’t be aired on primetime.

10 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 57 - Afancy Belt

This is the fifty-seventh 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of an afanc hide belt that improves Durability. Once the pun was down (really, two puns depending if you pronouce it as it reads, or how afanc is pronounced), the belt was down to get down.


Afancy Belt

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

This afanc skin belt is dyed with splotches and rings of bright colors. Pieces of afanc shell are incorporated into the belt, giving it a unique design.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the belt’s Name
Effect: The wearer gains +1 Circle to a Discipline of their choice for the purpose of determining Durability.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Mystic Defense.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the exact composition of materials used to craft this belt.
Effect: The wearer gains the Afancy Shell ability. As a Simple action for 1 Strain, the outline of an ethereal shell appears around the wearer with bright rings of color running through it. The wearer gains +2 to their Mystic Armor until the end of the next round.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: When the wearer uses Afancy Shell, they may spend an additional 1 Strain. This causes shell pieces like those incorporated into the belt to appear over the wearer, giving them +2 Physical Armor until the end of the next round.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn who created the belt.
Effect: While Afancy Shell is active, the flames lick from the wearer’s Wounds. The wearer can spend an additional Karma point on Attack tests against targets who Wounded them.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: While Afancy Shell is active, the flames burn behind the wearer’s eyes. The wearer can spend an additional Karma point on Damage tests against targets they Wounded.

07 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 56 - Astrally Filtered Spectral Lenses

This is the fifty-sixth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with in conjunction with a player creating the enchanting pattern. The goal was something with a spell matrix and reduced the effects of astral corruption on Astral Sight. The latter provided the inspiration for how these work and what things they do.


Astrally Filtered Spectral Lenses

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Warden

This bizarre contraption is only something a dwarf or a Wizard could possibly think was a good idea. A collection of various lenses is set in front of each eye and part of a brass mechanism is attached to a leather strap to firmly attach the whole affair to the victim’s head. Without a thread attached, the best that can be said is it is much sturdier than it appears.

With a thread attached, it is another story. When worn while using Astral Sight, the lenses automatically move in and out of place, adjusting distance, rotating, flipping, moving forward and back, all assisting the wearer’s astral perception. Astrally sensed entities and objects have a ghostly green outline.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the lenses’ Name.
Effect: The lenses contain a Standard Matrix with rank equal to the Thread Rank.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wearer gains +1 rank to Astral Sight.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn who created the lenses.
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Mystic Armor.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The owner gains +2 ranks to Astral Sight.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the nature of the glyph on the lenses.
Effect: The wearer gains the Astrally Filtered Spectral Lenses ability. As a Simple action for 2 Strain, the lenses glow ghostly green and side shields fold out to prevent unfiltered astral energy reaching the wearer’s eyes. As they slide in and out and focus, they begin filtering out the background noise from astral corruption, improving the wearer’s detection limit. The wearer reduces the Difficulty Modifier to astral sensing from corruption by one region type (e.g., Corrupt to Tainted) until the end of the next round.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: When the wearer uses Astrally Filtered Spectral Lenses, the lenses provide the wearer additional information regarding the patterns of those astrally sensed. Red lines highlight weaknesses and possible vectors to assist in constructing patterns to better affect them. As a Free action for 1 Strain, the wearer gains a +2 to a test against a target’s Mystic Defense; the wearer must have astrally sensed the target. If the test uses the spell stored in the goggles’ spell matrix, it does not cost Strain.

Thread Rank Seven
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn how many iterations it took to get the mechanism to change the lenses to work correctly.
Effect: The Standard Matrix is now an Enhanced Matrix.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: When the wearer uses Astrally Filtered Spectral Lenses, the Difficulty Modifier to astral sensing from corruption is reduced by two region types (e.g., Corrupt to Safe) and the benefit to a test against a target’s Mystic Defense is +4.