23 February 2013

Earthdawn: Anatomy of a Thread Item 03 - Ebony

This is the third Anatomy of a Thread Item in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

If you happen to be a player in one of those games, please do not read this series. There will be spoilers and some of this information is subject to change.

Pretty much all of the Thread Items that I introduce into a game are designed for specific characters, even if it is a collection of mechanically identical bands - without any suggestion on my part, everyone is drawn to one in particular. This tactic may rub some players the wrong way, preferring to have more general gear for whoever wants it, rather than something bespoke for a particular character. That is their prerogative, but they won't really have fun in the game as a whole in the long run.

This particular Thread Item is no different. Unfortunately, the player of the character it was created for traveled from out-of-town and life happened in a big way. It was part of a set that would tie his obsidiman, who was the last of his brotherhood, to another Liferock on his path to redemption. The Group never got this Thread Item, but did pick up the other half. However, the character that item was designed for wasn't working out like his player had hoped, so he left as well. Meaning that the entire arc these two Thread Items were created around up and wandered away. Freakin' obsidimen and their flighty ways.

So, I am left with two Thread Items without a strong plot to connect them to the game anymore, but I am seeding some elements to hopefully bring things back around (this means Key Knowledges are in flux). This particular piece may never be used by the players. Mechanically and thematically, it is not a strong fit for anyone on the current roster. The character it was designed for was a Horror Stalker that used a sword and shield. While shields are good, they are not sexy or interesting. They are generally considered particularly uninteresting to Weave Threads to, unless they are crazy good (Orichalcum Shield, for example).

Mechanically, my goal here was to create a shield that was interesting and exciting and played off that character's strengths. Like, his massive strength. I always like to give more than just some bonuses with Thread Items, but something interesting to do that goes along with the natural inclinations of the character. I wanted a shield that did more than just pure defense, but the classic "reflection" bit is uninteresting to me. So I went with a big, freaking gauntlet that acts a lot like a shield. Because it is awesome.

A crystal raider shield was used as the initial template (with it spelled out while it can pick something up, that's about the extent of your manual dexterity for that hand). The ability I had planned was going to be on the powerful side and I wanted to bring it into play sooner, rather than later, so I made it Warden tier. In all, this means that the bonuses start to get pretty big. Some of the bonuses may seem strange (Avoid Blow instead of the more appropriate seeming Parry), but that is due to my House Rules; there is no Parry, so Avoid Blow can be a dodge, parry, or batting something out of the way with your massive metal thing.

There are two benefits provided: increased protection (through additional armor and deflection bonuses primarily) and Crushing Grip. The single Rank of Avoid Blow is to ensure that you can actually use the damn thing - I didn't want to hand out Riposte or Disarm because they are somewhat signature abilities to the Swordmaster, and Avoid Blow is common enough that it would provide more benefit across the board. Crushing Grip itself is offensive or defensive, depending on the foe, and most effective in general against a single, larger target. The latter part was important because of how it played into that character's tactics - as a Horror Stalker, he was all about taking on a single enemy and waiting for openings.

The original backstory to this Thread Item, and it's companion, was one of finding companionship and belonging where you may not be expecting it. About finding yourself through adversity and when you thought you had nothing left to live for. This gauntlet is for the eternal protector, grimly refusing to back down no matter the odds - because they have something to defend.

Maximum Threads: 1
Spell Defense: 16
Legend Point Cost: Warden

The gauntlet is a massive affair of black steel and living crystal. Constructed of heavy plates with spikes and crushing surfaces, it is simply too massive and immobile to wear and use until a thread is woven to it. The fingers maintain enough dexterity for basic functionality, but any form of fine manipulation is beyond them.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the gauntlet’s Name.
Effect: The wearer gains +5 to Physical Armor and Mystic Armor, a +3/+3 Deflection bonus and a -2 Initiative penalty. This gauntlet may not carry a shield or weapon and use them functionally. If used as a weapon it’s Damage Step is 3.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wearer gains a +1 rank bonus to the Avoid Blow talent.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the Name of the gauntlet's first wearer.
The wearer gains the Crushing Grip ability. For 2 Strain, after a Good Result on a Avoid Blow, Disarm, or Riposte Test against a close combat attack, this ability allows the wearer to make a Strength Test against the weapon’s Damage Step (this is not considered a Strength-only Test). If successful the Damage Step is reduced by 1. If a weapon’s Damage Step is reduced to 0, it is destroyed. This ability may be used a number of times per round equal to the Thread Rank. Weapons can be repaired as usual, Thread and Pattern Items repairing themselves. Forged weapons will lose the benefits of the forging first and require re-forging.

If used against a natural weapon, the wearer must achieve an Excellent Result on their Avoid Blow or Riposte Test. The wearer the makes the Strength Test against the attacker's Toughness Step and causes a Wound on a success instead of reducing the Damage Step.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The wearer gains a bonus to Crushing Grip equal to the Thread Rank.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the original home of the first wearer and its fate.
Effect: The wearer gains +6 to Physical and Mystic Armor.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The wearer gains a +4/+4 Deflection bonus.

Thread Rank Seven
Key Knowledge: The wearer must learn the fate of the first wearer.
Deed: The wearer must be Blood Sworn to the wearer of Ivory.

Effect: The wearer may now spend a Karma Point on the Strength Test for Crushing Grip. Additionally, when using Crushing Grip the Damage Step is reduced by 1 for each Result Level achieved (starting at Average). This has no additional effect on natural weapons.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: The wearer gains +7 to Physical and Mystic armor. Additionally, the wearer gains a +5/+5 deflection bonus.


  1. I gotta admit, its a great thread item. I can only imagine what my old Purifier would have done with something like that. :) Mind if I snag the concept?

    1. I wouldn't put it on the internet if I wasn't willing to let it get out there. Anything folks find here is free game.