06 January 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 06 - Scout

This is the sixth 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 pattern brings us to a new specialist Discipline to preview. After consulting with the Great Hunter and doing exactly as instructed, "we" are bringing you the Scout! This is intended to offer some insights into the Discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

The overall goal when approaching the high Circle Scout was to emphasize both their drive to discover and to blend in with their surroundings. With this in mind, their Discipline abilities saw some changes. First, their previous Warden ability, Blend, is something of an artifact of Silent Stride, which didn't have hiding as a default condition. As well, they're getting enough bonuses to evade detection (including a new Karma ability) and don't really need another. The replacement, Supernal Awareness, admittedly isn't incredibly interesting, but it is very good.

For Master, One with the World is a similar to the previous version, though features some subtle changes. First there are more specific mechanics around how it functions, as was previously somewhat confusing in certain circumstances. As well, it also provides them a broad bonus when looking for something, but not necessarily knowing what exactly they are looking for. Something that turns out to be pretty useful.

There is an easy trap for both designing and playing Scouts, and that is to focus exclusively on their wilderness aspect. However, they are supremely adaptable and should be comfortable in any setting. It was important for their Discipline abilities to support this versatility and not favor any particular scenario. This is going to show up again shortly.

Moving to the meat of the Discipline: talents. Again, their primary themes are discovery and blending in, with sub-themes of animals, combat (emphasis on talents not specific to melee or ranged), and knowledge. There is also a growing spirituality to this Discipline as they advance; their drive for discovery begins to move them away from our world, knowing there is so much more elsewhere.

Their Discipline talents have some notable changes, as only two of the seven (Chameleon and Echolocation) are still Discipline talents. This was to make their Discipline talents really focus on their primary themes, particularly with three entirely new talents, Alley Cat Approach, Bloodhound Form, and World Pulse. The latter of those is exclusive to Scout. All these talents enhance or open up new avenues for their primary themes.

The talent options available to high Circle Scouts have also changed considerably. Two of the previous options (Spot Armor Flaw and Tiger Spring) are available at earlier Circles, others aren't talents anymore (Multi-Tongue, Plant Shelter, Sense Poison, and Trace Missile), and one just wasn't quite the right fit anymore (Vital Strike). Cuts always create space to explore their primary and sub-themes. Which is to say often force new talents to be designed to fit the holes just created.

Combat talents for the Scout are a little tricky due to maintaining the aforementioned versatility when it comes to weapon selection. This is in addition to maintaining their overall approach to combat, which emphasizes precision and patience. Their overall goal is to never quite draw attention, if at all possible. Further displaying their versatility, lower Circles gave them access to avoidance talents, while high Circles move to more resistance based talents. It was tempting to maintain access to Defensive Posture, but it requires the character to have selected at least one specific talent option to make any use, and that didn't feel right when it comes to addressing how the Discipline adapts to situations.

Of their new talents, World Pulse is my favorite. It's weirdly spiritual and personal, in a way unique to the Discipline and each adept, and provides a unique lay of the land, revealing increasing details about the landscape and what it contains for rank miles in any direction. It's subtle, but very powerful in the right hands. Which is a good description of the Discipline as a whole.

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