23 December 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 04 - Sky Raider

This is the fourth 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.

Continuing with the Discipline previews from the Earthdawn Companion, we have the Sky Raider. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

Diving right into the Discipline abilities, the Warden ability is pretty much the same from the previous edition. There's an associated cost and additional flavor, but it was fitting and good. No reason to really change that. The Master ability, Stormcall, is new, though inspired by the previous Lightning Song. While flavorful, Lightning Song was far too specific in application to be useful. Even when in an airship, it still may never come up. It has a lot of limitations and isn't very good.

It's worth noting Stormcall began it's life as "Big Ass Lightning Attack", which Josh likes to joke about. To be fair, there are a lot of design names never intended for the wild. This one just made it a lot further into the process than most before Josh came up with the pretty awesome current name.

The place-holder name pretty much describes what it does. If you have to cripple everyone in the room, accept no substitute. It does a huge amount of damage to a large area with the ability to remove your allies. Damage which cannot be reduced by armor. This eliminates a press of less powerful opponents, or can put the hurt on a single, heavily protected opponent. Granted, there are some costs, but it's just some damage and a Wound. Nothing a Master Sky Raider doesn't laugh at. What we have is an impressive and powerful attack useful in a variety of situations, but particularly against many weaker foes, with inherent danger and harm to the Sky Raider. Perfect.

Moving to their talent lists, there are a lot of changes to be found here. Gone are Defense, Endure Cold, Ethereal Weapon, Frenzy, Howl, Mind Armor, Missile Twister, Rally, Shield Beater, Swing Attack, and Thunder Axe. Some of these aren't available as talents any more, others didn't fit the tighter direction for the high Circle Sky Raider. Which is to be utterly ferocious in combat, able to take freakish amounts of punishment, and terrifying.

Towards this end, there are a number of new Discipline talents for Sky Raiders (some of these are just older talents with a new name and coat of paint): Blood of Death's Sea, Burning Vigor, Unflinching Fortitude, Thunderstruck, Vicious Wound, and Vital Strike. This is six of the seven Discipline talents, the seventh being Second Attack (essentially a replacement for Frenzy).

Their primary sub-theme is being a leader/center of attention. Taking something of a social role. Here they see support as well with Champion Challenge, Impressive Display, Lasting Impression, Resist Taunt, and Undermine. Of these, only Champion Challenge isn't new to this list. It's worth noting that while Undermine may be listed here, it's an incredible boon to any Sky Raider, making their Battle Bellow and Battle Shout much more effective.

The other talent options primarily reinforce Sky Raiders as tough as nails shock troopers, though also provide more tactical options: Air Dance, Aura Armor, Critical Hit, Life Check, Lion Spirit, Relentless Recovery, Resist Pain, Storm Shield, Temper Flesh, Vital Ward, and Weapon Breaker. Not everything here is new, but it does give these adepts a new level for bringing the pain.

There are some key interactions found here, for example Blood of Death's Sea and Burning Vigor. The former allows Fireblood tests as a Simple action at the cost of a Wound (no damage), while the latter provides additional Recovery tests for use with talents. It also provides a bonus for raw applications of strength. While it may be obvious, Sky Raiders will probably want to invest in Resist Pain. Though it wasn't a Discipline talent because not everyone may want all 15 ranks.

In all, Sky Raiders become even more aggressive and dangerous as they advance in Circle, constantly wreathed in fire and blood. Some their own, mostly their opponents'. Utterly, completely terrifying. Just right.

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