19 October 2022

Earthdawn 4E: Rules Variant 28 — Step Table Plus

This is the twenty-eighth Rules Variant, part of 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.

For all the elegance and utility of the Step table, it's not the easiest to become fluent with because this means memorizing how Steps translate to dice types and the pattern. This is also based on the edition for the exact version of the table:
  • 1E, 2E, and Classic have a 22 Step pattern (it's like an 11 Step pattern alterrnating D20 and D10+D8 — which is still 22 Steps), which isn't very helpful in terms of what a repeating pattern brings to the table
  • 3E has a seven Step pattern based around the D12 — every multiple of 7 adds another D12
  • 4E has an eleven Step pattern based around the D20 which starts at Step 19 when the first D20 is introduced
There are arguable advantages for each — do you have access to nearly limitless D12s in your area? Do prefer only needing two full sets of dice? Are you super into looking at charts? — but this is and attempt to create a Step table that addresses a few concerns, though not without sacrifices.

The first point is to include the D20 because I detest fistfulls of D12s (I depleted all loose D12s in my area for a period of time because of an Everlasting game I was running at the time). Also, that table already exists, nothing to innovate on there. A complaint about the D20 is the variability and our selective memory bias where we only recall it rolling poorly, thus it always behaves that way. It doesn't. If you think that, you're objectively wrong. Human, but wrong. Which is also human. We'll get back to this.

The next part is an easy to remember pattern. Base 10 patterns are the easiest for us to remember. However, a D20 is Step 11. Which presents a problem. The current (4E) Step table delays implementation of the D20 until there are three dice to help alleviate the distribution of results issues from Step 14 in the 1E table (D20+D4) when it's first introduced. These specific issues are the high variance of results compared to previous Steps due to the mismatched dice sizes. Adding a third die to the Step minimizes this variance and provides a more normal distribution of results.

To have these shifts at multiples of 10 to make remembering them easier, this means shifting when the D20 is introduced from Step 19 to Step 20 and treating the D20 as Step 10. This is the sacrifice as the expected result once a D20 is introduced increases by 1 over the Step number. The mathematical elegance dies a little at the altar of accessibility. What some may see as a side benefit is this means there's an inherent benefit to getting access to a D20 and accepting the increased variance it brings (which is both good and bad) as opposed to incorrectly viewing it as only a net negative because of bias.

The actual effect of providing a slight benefit from modifying the D20 to be treated as Step 10 is likely minimal. However, minimal isn't none. Also, this modification benefits players as much as their opposition, so it's essentially a net neutral change in those terms and only affects games which regularly see Step 20+; these are typically reserved for damage Steps or high Circle games.

With that preamble, here is the Step Table Plus:
  1. D4-2
  2. D4-1
  3. D4
  4. D6
  5. D8
  6. D10
  7. D12
  8. 2D6
  9. D8+D6
  10. 2D8
  11. D10+D8
  12. 2D10
  13. D12+D10
  14. 2D12
  15. D12+2D6
  16. D12+D8+D6
  17. D12+2D8
  18. D12+D10+D8
  19. D12+2D10
  20. D20+2D8
  21. D20+D10+D8
  22. D20+2D10
  23. D20+D12+D10
  24. D20+2D12
  25. D20+D12+2D6
  26. D20+D12+D8+D6
  27. D20+D12+2D8
  28. D20+D12+D10+D8
  29. D20+D12+2D10
  30. 2D20+2D8
  31. 2D20+D10+D8
  32. ...
As you can see, Step 10 through 19 represent a repeating pattern where a D20 is added at each multiple of 10 starting at Step 20. It's a relatively simple progression which only needs two full sets of dice until Step 40 when three D20s are required. While many gamers have lots of dice or are using dice roller applications, this is a little detail that's important to me to make playing more accessible to more players.

29 June 2022

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 49 — Mantis, Common Orchid

This is the forty-ninth 4E Anatomy of a Creature, 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.

Apologies for the breaks between posts. There's a lot to get done and not enough time to do it all.

Mantis, Common Orchid

Related to inshalatas and found in similar areas, orchid mantises are thankfully much rarer. They come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, though have some consistent characteristics between all varieties. There’s also some disagreement among scholars whether some of the different types of orchid mantises are actually different, or represent different stages in their lifecycle. Scholars who support this thesis cite the Servos goliath orchid mantis and the lack of eggs which would accompany their size. This focuses on the common orchid mantis — which isn’t common.

Common orchid mantises are slightly larger than their inshalata cousins, just under eight feet tall. They’re significantly more colorful when not actively concealing themselves and position themselves when hiding to look like foliage and enormous flowers which are found in their habitat. Illusion magic helps them with this concealment and their gregarious nature lends to one of their more dangerous traits. Orchid mantises of all types gather together in areas with vast blooms to wait in ambush. However, if such a place can’t be located, they create it on their own by gathering together. What looks like a beautiful place to rest with flowers rustling in the breeze is a deadly trap for even the wariest of creatures and travelers.

Even beyond this, orchid mantises represent an usual threat to many: they perceive and affect astral space. This means even the most thickly armored and/or agile prey may fall to their claws which bypass those standard defenses. Even creatures which perceive astral space to give them an advantage over potential predators and prey find orchid mantises’ illusion magic difficult to penetrate.

Their claws and mandibles can be used as dangerous and beautiful weapons, and are also prized by collectors and smiths alike for decoration. This is also true for their fragile wings which shimmer in the light and have value in enchanting and some decorations popular in Thera and Travar.

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)

DEX: 9 Initiative:         15 Unconsciousness: 65

STR: 9 Physical Defense: 14 Death Rating: 75

TOU: 10 Mystic Defense:          14 Wound Threshold: 15

PER: 9 Social Defense:         13 Knockdown: 15

WIL: 8 Physical Armor:         11 Recovery Tests:          3

CHA: 7 Mystic Armor: 7

Movement: 16 (Climbing 16, Flying 16)

Actions: 2; Bite: 16 (20), Claws ×2: 18 (18)


Ambush (10)

Astral Attack: Attacks can target Mystic Defense instead of Physical Defense.

Astral Sight (16, Simple): As the skill, Player’s Guide, p. 129.

Awareness (16, Simple): As the skill, Player’s Guide, p. 129.

Enhanced Sense [Sight] (4)

Great Leap (10)

Hardened Armor

Omnivision: The common orchid mantis can effectively see in all directions and cannot be Blindsided due to positioning.

Stealthy Stride (18, Simple): As the talent, Player’s Guide, p. 170. This also functions against astral detection

Special Maneuvers:

Clip the Wing (Opponent)
Crack the Shell (Opponent)
Ethereal Attack (Common Orchid Mantis, Claws): The common orchid mantis may spend an additional success to affect Mystic Armor instead of Physical Armor.
Pry Loose (Opponent, Close Combat)
Squeeze the Life (Common Orchid Mantis, Claws)

Loot: Claws and mandibles worth 2D6×10 silver pieces and wings worth 1D6×10 silver pieces.

22 June 2022

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 48 — Grizz (Legendary Brithan)

This is the forty-eighth 4E Anatomy of a Creature, 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.

Apologies for the breaks between posts. There's a lot to get done and not enough time to do it all.


There are legends of a brithan who is hundreds of years old and survived the Scourge. His father was an earth elemental who fell in love with the only creature who could take it in a fight. The brithan calls a Liferock home. When he stomps the ground in challenge, earthquakes ripple across the province. He stands ten- no, twenty feet tall and his claws are made of meteoric iron and he poops diamonds.

Some of those legends are probably true.

The existence of Grizz is true and he’s a very dangerous and old brithan, one adventurers should steer clear of at all costs. The easiest way to deal with him is to simply stay away in the first place. However, that’s not always possible. Luckily, Grizz is honorable and has no interest in killing those who invade his territory, but will absolutely challenge and drive them out.

There are some rumors Grizz developed a taste for ale after running off an encampment of brewers headed to the Grand Bazaar for a competition. The barrels of ale were broken into and drained completely, while the few casks of hurlg were left entirely unmolested. Whether this is true, let alone if Grizz has a preference in style, is fine with large, domestic dwarf producers (it wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t good), or requires small-batch, seasonal elf and troll varieties (there should be a realistic limit on hops), doesn’t have any corroboration.

Challenge: Warden (Legendary Ninth Circle)

DEX: 6 Initiative:         16 Unconsciousness: 480

STR: 15 Physical Defense: 16 Death Rating: 565

TOU: 17 Mystic Defense:          20 Wound Threshold: 25

PER: 7 Social Defense:         16 Knockdown: 34

WIL: 11 Physical Armor:         18 Recovery Tests:          6

CHA: 6 Mystic Armor: 13 Karma:                          4 (16)

Movement: 14

Actions: 3; Bite: 22 (30), Claws ×2: 25 (27)


Awareness (16, Simple): As the skill, Player’s Guide, p. 129.

Battle Shout (16, Simple): As the skill, Player’s Guide, p. 131.

Enhanced Sense [Smell] (2)

Fearless (10): Grizz gains +10 to his Defenses against fear-based effects.
Frenzy: If more than one character attacks Grizz, he fights back savagely, gaining an additional action and +4 to Attack and Damage tests.
Fury (6)
Grizzled (20, Simple): Grizz spends a Recovery Test and makes a Grizzled test. He heals damage equal to the result.
Hardened Armor
Indomitable: The absolute value of Action test and Defense penalties applied to Grizz are halved (e.g, half of -3 is -2 since the absolute value of -3 is 3 and half of 3 is 1.5, which rounds to 2). This includes penalties from Harried and explicitly does not include bonuses applied against Grizz.
Invincible (Simple): Grizz recovers from one Wound.
Shock and Rage (25, Free): This is triggered the first time one of the following happens: Grizz has 5 Wounds or his current damage is over 240. Grizz bellows with rage, smashing the ground repeatedly and sending out multiple shockwaves. Everything within 100 yards must make a Knockdown test against the Shock and Rage Step. Anyone knocked down also has all spells currently affecting them with a Dispel Difficulty equal to or less than the Shock and Rage dispelled. This power can only be used once per encounter.
Shockwave (25, Standard): Grizz smashes the ground, creating a shockwave emanating from the impact. Everyone within 20 yards makes a Knockdown test against the Shockwave result.
Unconquerable (Simple): Grizz ends an ongoing effect that functionally prevents him from taking actions. These effects include grappling, spells like Crushing Hand of Earth, Spell Cage, talents like Spirit Hold, etc. This power can also be used when Grizz takes a bonus action, but he must make a test as normal. Unflinching applies to this test.
Unflinching (3): Grizz gains a +15 bonus to any test to resist ongoing effects.
Unrelenting (2): After a character opposing Grizz takes their turn, he may take two Standard actions and a Movement action (at half movement rate) against that character. These cannot be continuations of actions taken on Grizz’s turn (e.g., continuing to weave threads for a spell) and must include the character as a target (though the action can affect multiple targets). If Grizz cannot reach or affect the character, he may target a different character.
Unyielding (Simple): Grizz stands up. This can be used once per round at the beginning of their turn or before they take a bonus action.

Willful (2)

Special Maneuvers:

Armor Cutter (Grizz, Claws): Grizz may spend additional successes to reduce the target’s Physical Armor by -1 per success. This may not destroy thread armor.
Grab and Bite (Grizz, Claws)
Earth-Shattering Headache (Grizz, Claws): Grizz may spend two additional successes to strike the target on the top of their head, inflicting Harried until the end of the next round.
Enrage (Opponent): Using this maneuver causes Grizz to frenzy.
Overpower (Grizz, Close Combat): Grizz may spend two additional successes to force the target to make a Knockdown test against the Attack result. If the test fails, the target is knocked down and knocked back a number of yards equal to the total successes on the Attack test.
Pry Loose (Opponent, Close Combat)
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)

15 June 2022

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 47 — Leopard, Ghost

This is the forty-seventh 4E Anatomy of a Creature, 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.

Apologies for the breaks between posts. There's a lot to get done and not enough time to do it all.

Leopard, Ghost

At 15 to 20 pounds, these compact, stocky felines are some of the smallest found in the wilds of Barsaive and beyond. However, their comparatively diminutive stature may be deceiving compared to the danger they may present. Ghost leopards have blue eyes and plush, medium-length, white coats with gray points, some also have shadow markings along their bodies. Their tails are exceptionally long and fluffier than the rest of their body. These make them look somewhat like small snow leopards.

They get their name from their ability to turn semi-transparent and become less substantial, though neither invisible nor insubstantial. Their body looks as though it’s made of fog or mist, though their gleaming blue eyes may still be visible. This ability allows them to regain surprise against their prey after an ambush — assuming it didn’t go in the ghost leopard’s favor — escape, or gain access to places they really shouldn’t be able to. It’s this last ability that makes these exceptionally curious cats even more adorable and frustrating in equal measure.

This trait in particular inclines some scholars to believe they’re related to the swamp-dwelling twilight panthers. Their abilities to perceive and affect astral space only provides more evidence of this connection. However, their morphological differences are significant and this could be an example of convergent evolution, rather than a shared ancestor with these traits.

Ghost leopards seem to enjoy the presence of Namegivers, allowing some lucky few to pet their heads and body, enjoying their incredibly soft coats. This privilege is never free and if not given as a reward, one is expected immediately. Over time, this process of rewards for good behavior (and strikes for poor behavior) is used to train promising Namegivers into being appropriate servants for interested ghost leopards.

They’re remarkably intelligent and some scholars believe ghost leopards can understand spoken languages and some show evidence of being able to read. These conjectures are widely met with ridicule and impossible to prove as the ghost leopards resist any attempt to demonstrate their intelligence for an audience. The variety of vocalizations they’re capable of emitting is impressive and they can be combined and extended into something resembling speech in its own way. This allows them to engage in more complex communication with properly trained Namegivers.

Ghost leopards are suitable as animal companions.

Challenge: Journeyman (Sixth Circle)

DEX: 11 Initiative:         16 Unconsciousness: 48

STR: 4 Physical Defense: 14 Death Rating: 54

TOU: 6 Mystic Defense:          12 Wound Threshold: 9

PER: 8 Social Defense:         12 Knockdown: 8

WIL: 7 Physical Armor:         4 Recovery Tests:          2

CHA: 8 Mystic Armor: 4

Movement: 16 (Climbing 6)

Actions: 2; Bite: 14 (16), Claws ×2: 18 (12)


Ambush (10)

Astral Attack: Attacks can target Mystic Defense instead of Physical Defense.

Awareness (16, Simple): As the skill, Player’s Guide, p. 129.

Cat's Grace (Simple): The ghost leopard stands up, no test is required.

Enhanced Sense [Hearing] (2)

Enhanced Sense [Other] (4): Astral Sight, as the talent, Player's Guide, p. 129.

Enhanced Sense [Sight]: Low-light vision

Ghostform (Standard): The ghost leopard becomes less substantial and semi-transparent, like their form is now fog. It makes a Stealthy Stride test and disappears from view even if being observed, allowing it to blindside opponents who cannot detect its presence. Attempts to detect it (including Astral Sight and similar) or affect its Physical or Mystic Defense require an additional success. If the ghost leopard attacks while this is active, it ends as they attack and it cannot be used until the next round. While using this power, the ghost leopard may fit through openings that seem far too small for it, though it isn’t intangible or two-dimensional. Just able to get into surprising, seemingly impossible places when you aren’t looking.

Great Leap (10)

Stealthy Stride (18, Simple): As the talent, Player’s Guide, p. 170. This also functions against astral detection

Surprise Strike (10)

Willful (2): The ghost leopard cannot be given the Awestruck attitude by any ability and may choose to disregard being given the Loyal attitude at their discretion.

Special Maneuvers:

Ethereal Attack (Ghost Leopard): The ghost leopard may spend an additional success to affect Mystic Armor instead of Physical Armor.

Pounce (Ghost Leopard)

Loot: Pelt worth 2d6×10 silver pieces.

25 May 2022

Earthdawn 4E: Rules Variant 08 - Alternate Advancement [Sentinel]

This is the eighth Rules Variant, part of 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 continues from the alternate advancement scheme introduced here. The following presents the advancement scheme for Sentinel.

Novice General Talents
  • Anticipate Blow
  • Avoid Blow
  • Awareness
  • Conversation
  • Danger Sense
  • Distract
  • Etiquette
  • Fireblood
  • Heartening Laugh
  • Maneuver
  • Shield Bash
  • Tiger Spring
  • Unarmed Combat
  • Wood Skin
  • Wound Balance
First Circle
Discipline Talents
  • Melee Weapons
  • Sentry Weaving
  • Open talent
  • Open talent
  • Open talent
Second Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Third Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Fourth Circle
Discipline Talent: Guardian's Service

Journeyman General Talents
  • Blood Share
  • Earth Skin
  • Empathic Sense
  • Fire Heal
  • Iron Constitution
  • Life Check
  • Lion Heart
  • Protector's Reflexes
  • Spot Armor Flaw
  • Steel Thought
  • Steely Stare
  • Tactics
  • Temper Flesh
Fifth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Sixth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Seventh Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Eighth Circle
Discipline Talent: Second Attack or open talent

Warden General Talents
  • Astral Sight
  • Burning Vigor
  • Crushing Blow
  • Defensive Posture
  • Lifesight
  • Lion Spirit
  • Momemtum Attack
  • Rally
  • Relentless Recovery
  • Resist Pain
  • Resist Taunt
  • Storm Shield
  • Unflinching Fortitude
  • Vine Armor
Ninth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Tenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Eleventh Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Twelfth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Master General Talents
  • Aura Armor
  • Champion Challenge
  • Eagle Eye
  • Echolocation
  • Safe Thought
  • Second Chance
  • Soul Aegis
  • Stone Skin
  • Thought Link
  • Vital Ward
Thirteenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Fourteenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Fifteenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Blooded Redoubt or open talent