09 December 2014

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 17 - Messenger

This is the seventeenth 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.

I have previously put together a list of disciplines from Earthdawn Third Edition (ED3) which have not been updated to Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4) and the current discipline which is the best fit. The best approximation is Scout given the shared theme of travel in many different settings. This isn't a perfect fit and a better adaptation can be made.

There are other reasons why I initially suggested an alternate discipline instead of simply noting nothing quite works. This is because of how Messenger fits into the overall scheme of disciplines. There are parts which are neat and it can create an evocative character: the intrepid courier who travels Barsaive and will deliver the message at any cost. The inherent problem is with how specific this is and should this truly be a discipline?

Would this concept be better served as an organization of many different disciplines who follow a vocation? It is similar to my thoughts on the Liberator and their place within the setting; what does a Messenger do when they aren't delivering messages and how does this fit in with a "typical" adventuring group? Nonetheless, there is enough specific interest in an updated version of the Messenger and I am certainly not going to tell anyone they cannot use a discipline because of my mixed feelings. Which brings us to this first draft.

Developing the Messenger for ED4 started with their focus: delivering the message. This primarily involves travel, followed by interaction with their clients, and then overcoming any obstacles in their way and the associated elemental theme is air. This gives a discipline which needs to be adaptable to different surroundings and situations. A difficult task, given the number of different talents which can be required.

When putting together the initial talent list and revising it, making easy cuts, then difficult cuts, one thing came out: while the ED3 version had them be rather resolute, this doesn't quite fit anything other than an obsidiman. Specifically, Temper Self (now Temper Flesh) and Wound Balance just didn't fit. This isn't a discipline which can afford to stand and fight - they need to be gone before the conflict can get to the point where those talents are valuable. Defensive abilities figure prominently, but only enough to avoid the threat and escape.

To enhance their adaptability, they get more social talents and more talents for various modes of travel, in addition to amazing access to movement talents. One of my goals was to give them more and better access to proactive abilities, though they are still very reactive. Which is simply to be expected given the nature of the discipline.


First Circle
  • Avoid Blow
  • Awareness
  • Danger Sense
  • Message Weaving
  • Wilderness Survival

  • Durability 5
  • Navigation
  • Karma: Once per turn on an Action test to overcome a direct obstacle to delivering a message.
Second Circle
  • Direction Arrow
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Sprint
  • Karma: Initiative
Fourth Circle
  • Conceal Object
  • Defense: +1 Social Defense
Talent Options
  1. Acrobatic Defense
  2. Anticipate Blow
  3. Climbing
  4. First Impression
  5. Great Leap
  6. Haggle
  7. Melee Weapons
  8. Speak Language
  9. Stealthy Stride
  10. Throwing Weapons

Fifth Circle
  • Etiquette
  • Encrypt: 1 Strain, the adept can make a piece of text incomprehensible to anyone reading it. Only the adept may reverse this effect by reusing this ability.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point to resist any external influences which would prevent the delivery of or compromise the integrity of the message. This may take the form of either a karma die to a test, or +4 to Mystic or Social Defense as appropriate.
Sixth Circle
  • Steel Thought
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Safe Path
  • Bonus: +1 Initiative
Eighth Circle
  • Resist Taunt
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Air Sailing
  2. Air Speaking
  3. Book Memory
  4. Dead Fall
  5. Disguise Self
  6. Gliding Stride
  7. Read and Write Language
  8. Spirit Mount
  9. Surprise Strike
  10. Tiger Spring
This is a first draft without any external review and no playtesting at all. There is almost certainly still some tinkering required, particularly with the first and fifth circle karma abilities. While the Journeyman ability is thematic, I don't know how useful it will be in regular play.

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