28 November 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 01 - Archer

This is the first 4E Companion Discipline Preview, 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.

A preview of the Archer Warden and Master tiers from the 4E Earthdawn Companion was released today at the FASA Games site. Since it is just the progression without any commentary on what it means, this is to provide some insight into the changes and some new things.

Something important to note is the scope of changes is fairly large. A great deal of effort was put into the high Circles (Warden and Master tier) to build on the elements introduced in the Player's Guide. This meant a lot of things were thrown out or changed significantly because they didn't fit or work quite right. As well, a lot of new material was written. To be fair, this is vague and these high concept statements are well and good, but what really counts is the substance.

Let's start with the discipline abilities. Both are new to the Archer, though aren't necessarily new. Blood Bound Bow should be familiar in concept. As a Discipline dedicated to the mastery of a single weapon, it's a perfect fit. Perfect Shot is very similar to Hail of Arrows in mechanics, though slightly different in theme. As introduced in the earlier tiers, the Archer is about accuracy. It's not necessarily about putting a lot of arrows toward the enemy, but putting the right arrows. Shifting from Dexterity to Perception as the key attribute puts some more emphasis on it as an important part of the Discipline, instead of just pushing Dexterity above all else.

Their talent progression plays up their mastery of the bow, as well as their growing mysticism, and perception abilities. Along with these, the sub-themes from the previous tiers see some new options, building their connection to the wilderness (e.g. Chameleon, Venom, and Woodskin) or the city (Lasting Impression). It's a little disappointing there wasn't more space for these directions, but hopefully this will be forgiven based on the strength of their more core talents.

Quite a few talents were simply removed from the previous edition for various reasons. They may not fit the direction Archer is going (Blade Juggle and Rushing Attack), or they may have been removed as talents entirely (Dominate Arrow, Quick Shot, Screaming Arrow, Warning Shot, Warp Missile, and Wind Bow). However, just because it's no longer a talent doesn't mean there's no place at all. Just not as a talent.

That's a fairly large list and doesn't include talents in common (or with very similar names, such as Matrix Sight) between editions that have notably changed. Which really is most of them.

The notable entry here unique to the Archer is Snapshot. There was an attempt to create more such unique talents and most (not all) Disciplines received them. This particular talent gives the Archer an attack as a Free action. It cannot interrupt an ongoing action, but it can preempt a declared action. For example, if an opponent declares an attack against your Elementalist buddy, you can use Snapshot against them, but you cannot if the opponent is in the middle of resolving an attack roll. The timing just starts to get messy.

As for the rest of their talents, they add to the Archer's growing bag of tricks and ways to deal with opponents. Particularly improving accuracy and detecting opponents, though not only those by any measure.