23 September 2014

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 04 - Woodsman

This is the fourth 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.

In the previous post, there was a list of expanded disciplines from Earthdawn Third Edition (ED3) and what Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4) core discipline will be the most similar. The Woodsman was on the list with either Archer or Scout being appropriate selections, depending on what angle you want, and I stand by those recommendations.

However, this doesn't mean there cannot be a slight twist in the discipline to give it a new niche. Below is my work to carve out a new space for the Woodsman as something other than just halfway between an Archer and a Scout.

The major themes of the Woodsman are remaining untouched, though how they play out shifted a little. It may be easier to discuss them in how they differ from the Archer and the Scout. The Archer is obsessed with perfecting the bow and with direction. In contrast, the Woodsman views the bow as a means to an end. It is an extremely useful tool, the very best for their work, but it is just a bow. As well, the direct path is likely to encounter obstacles, which can be easily avoided. 

Scouts have a juxtaposition between blending in with their surroundings while never truly being a part of them. This is what gives them the objectivity to truly perceive their environment. However, the Woodsman is immersed in their surroundings and becomes a part of it. They are not interested in an objective perspective, but in defending and protecting it. To do this, they must know and feel it.

Which gives a discipline who is adaptable, but implacable. They do not put distance between themselves and what they care about, but surround themselves with it. They are devoted to and defend what they care about. This is unlikely to take the form of a last stand which will accomplish nothing, but by waiting for opportunity, adapting to the situation, and exploiting it as needed.

This naturally leads to the mechanical updates, both to fit their new niche and adjusted for ED4. Previously, they borrowed a lot from the Warrior. Particularly talents which they were unlikely to use due to being a Missile Weapons-based discipline. Along with this is a reduced Durability; 7/6 is quite high for a discipline which is unlikely to see much direct conflict.

While there has always been a touch of Beastmaster, I wanted to increase this as their new major niche. It gives them a distinct area in which they are different from Archers and Scouts and plays into their theme of immersing themselves in the world. Scouts get mild access to animal companion talents at Journeyman, but it is only in the form of making their scouting options more diverse.

Along with this comes the removal of the elf racial restriction. This discipline is likely to be most popular with elves for cultural and mechanical reasons, but the themes should not be restricted to only elves.


First Circle
  • Avoid Blow
  • Awareness
  • Missile Weapons
  • Tracking
  • Wood Weaving
  • Durability 5
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Karma: Perception-based tests for talents available to the Woodsman.
Second Circle
  • Stealthy Stride
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Navigation
  • Karma: Initiative tests.
Fourth Circle
  • Mystic Aim
  • Defense: +1 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  1. Animal Bond
  2. Animal Training
  3. Anticipate Blow
  4. Call Missile
  5. Climbing
  6. Creature Analysis
  7. Enhance Animal Companion
  8. Great Leap
  9. Mystic Pursuit
  10. Surprise Strike

Fifth Circle
  • Spot Armor Flaw
  • Hunter's Strike: 1 Strain, the adept gains +2 to all Action tests in the first round of combat against a target they have Tracked for at least 10 minutes.
  • Karma: Missile Weapon damage tests.
Sixth Circle
  • Wood Skin
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Safe Path
  • Bonus: +1 Initiative Step
Eighth Circle
  • Second Shot
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Animal Companion Durability
  2. Bank Shot
  3. Borrow Sense
  4. Call Animal Companion
  5. Danger Sense
  6. Dominate Beast
  7. Evidence Analysis
  8. Stopping Aim
  9. Tactics
  10. Tiger Spring
This is a first draft without any review and no playtesting at all. In all, the mechanics are fairly close to the original. The biggest weakness from a design perspective is an Archer or Woodsman with the right talent options will be very similar. It is more different from the Scout due to the increased emphasis on combat and ability to focus only on one style of combat. There is likely still some tinkering required.

1 comment:

  1. Playtester here. I find that woodskin talent at circle 6 very odd/unsatisfactory. The only apparent reason for including this is the thematic match of "wood". Otherwise its a nearly useless talent for a stealthy archer.