06 March 2015

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 24 - Spirit Rider

This is the twenty-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.

This is another wholly new discipline for Earthdawn Fourth Edition (ED4). Similar to the Master of the Hunt, this discipline began as an alternate version of the Cavalryman. The essential premise was to create a version of the Cavalryman which is more playable for the average character. During this development, the discipline changed directions from what was really a specialization to it's own thing.

These adepts bond with a particular spirit which they can summon as their spirit mount. The process is similar to a Cavalryman and their mount, though much stranger since they can only sense the presence of their spirit and feel the connection. While Cavalrymen tend towards being social adepts, Spirit Riders are more aloof and disconnected with the world, tending towards a mystic nature.

The intention is for this discipline to be exceptionally rare, essentially existing as a "PC" discipline with the rare NPC. Those which would provide the necessary training. Having them be too common would possibly erode the unique place a Cavalryman has within the setting. The mechanics between the two disciplines are very similar, and within the context of the setting it isn't unfair to think of a Spirit Rider as a specialization of the Cavalryman with a peculiar bond. However, there is enough of a gulf between the two for them to be unable to train together.

With the (hypothetical and intended) rarity of the discipline, training will be an issue. This is something of a deliberate choice to reinforce the "special" nature of the discipline and offset the potential advantages they have over Cavalryman. The latter have a easy time finding a trainer, while Spirit Riders will need to hunt down those like them. Keeping in contact with whomever initiated the adept into the discipline will likely be important.

As mentioned previously, their talent selection has significantly less access to animal and social talents, but there are a considerable number of mystic talents. Their connection with the netherworlds also makes them more inclined use fear to their advantage by drawing on their "otherness". Since the Spirit Mount talent has time constraints, they are unable to be mounted at all times. Due to this, these adepts have a talent selection which can accommodate this constraint. Since their Spirit Mount talent is available earlier than normal (it is typically a Journeyman talent), it carries a limitation: it may only be used to summon spirit with which the adept is bound.

I don't know what the actual popularity of this discipline may be, though the flexibility with regard to the mount means it may be a viable alternative for PCs. There is still likely some development yet to be done here. Particularly with regard to evaluating the talent selection and interactions, as well as the Journeyman ability and how it all interacts with familiars.

Artisan Skills: Body Painting, Rune Carving

Half-Magic: Spirit Riders may use half-magic for knowledge of different kinds of mounts used by Namegiver races and knowledge of significant cavalry units in Barsaive. A Spirit Rider may also use half-magic to sense the presence of spirits within 30 yards of her location. The Detection Difficulty for sensing a spirit is the spirit’s Mystic Defense. If the test succeeds, the Spirit Rider can sense the presence of the spirit and use talents, such as Spirit Talk, to communicate and interact with the spirit. The gamemaster may choose to make this half-magic test on behalf of the Spirit Rider at any time, as this innate sense is always active.


First Circle
  • Charge
  • Melee Weapons
  • Spirit Mount
  • Spirit Weaving
  • Trick Riding
  • Durability 7
Second Circle
  • Danger Sense
  • Defense: +1 Physical Defense
Third Circle
  • Steel Thought
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on Attack tests while charging.
Fourth Circle
  • Fearsome Charge
  • Defense: +1 Mystic Defense
Talent Options
  1. Anticipate Blow
  2. Astral Sight
  3. Avoid Blow
  4. Awareness
  5. Graceful Exit
  6. Great Leap
  7. Maneuver
  8. Shield Bash
  9. Tiger Spring
  10. Wound Balance

Fifth Circle
  • Enhance Animal Companion
  • Twin Spirits: The adept may use Enhance Animal Companion (and other talents which apply to animal companions and mounts) on a familiar spirit which is summoned through Spirit Mount. This is limited by their Spirit Mount talent instead of Animal Bond.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a karma point on a Damage test while mounted.
Sixth Circle
  • Wheeling Attack
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
Seventh Circle
  • Wheeling Defense
  • Bonus: +1 Initiative
Eighth Circle
  • Double Charge
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
Talent Options
  1. Animal Companion Durability
  2. Animal Training
  3. Armor Mount
  4. Lion Heart
  5. Mount Attack
  6. Spirit Talk
  7. Spot Armor Flaw
  8. Steely Stare
  9. Sure Mount
  10. Temper Flesh
This is a first draft with some external review and playtesting. There is almost certainly still some tinkering required, based on additional playtesting of the Journeyman ability. This takes some of the framework into new directions and while nothing has gone wrong so far, this doesn't mean something won't go wrong. All of karma abilities are good, but I'm always on the lookout for something better. Which can include a new name for the discipline.

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