03 March 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 14 - Air Sailor

This is the fourteenth 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.

We have the final specialist Discipline this week: Air Sailor. This is intended to offer some insights into the Discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

As far as themes go, Air Sailors have a lot of things going on. It's easy to think of them as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. However, their role is a bit more complex than this. Their primary themes are teamwork and travel. The numerous directions they can pursue through their options allow them to grow into various roles necessary for their group. They also have numerous abilities that either benefit their group as a whole, or aid them when acting with their group. The biggest message here is Air Sailors are an asset to any group, even if not on an airship.

Both Discipline abilities are new, but within the same flavor of the previous abilities. Coordinate Attacks is their new Warden ability, replacing Determined Charge. This change was by no means because Determined Charge was bad - it served as an inspiration for a certain Swordmaster ability - but it didn't have quite the right feel for Air Sailor. While bravado isn't necessarily about of place for these adepts, it doesn't apply to all Air Sailors. It also puts them in the default position of being the primary actor, which also doesn't quite fit the Discipline as a whole. Certain members, without a doubt. Coordinate Attacks emphasizes their teamwork theme to a greater degree and brings a bit more of a tactical element, showing their experience as they gain Circles.

At Master Safe Passage was replaced for a few reasons. First, the nullification of Sky Raider's Lightning Song was weird and lame (your Discipline's Master tier ability has a direct reaction to another Discipline...?), and now irrelevant. As well, there's already the Safe Path talent, and it's not particularly interesting. Kinda the opposite of interesting since it makes things the opposite of it by definition.

Which brings us to its replacement, Windborne Speed. It's function is pretty simple: it makes you travel faster. There are a few interesting pieces. For instance, it doesn't require an airship and can affect land-based travel, though there is a size limit. It's not going to make a behemoth or an army travel any faster, but it will definitely benefit a smallish group. Also, it increases Movement Rate in combat by a flat rate, providing some additional mobility. This particular ability plays into both teamwork and travel and can be of remarkable value when dealing with the types of issues that beset Master tier adepts. Getting somewhere in a hurry, particularly with unexpected speed, can often be a thing.

Five Discipline talents were pulled: Life Check, Second Chance, Shield Beater, Wound Transfer, and Vitality. Of these, Life Check and Second Chance were both moved to Master talent options, Shield Beater and Wound Transfer aren't talents anymore, and Vitality (effectively replaced by Burning Vigor) wasn't a good fit. If nothing else, they don't have enough to spend those Recovery Tests on.

Concentrated Assault, Lasting Impression, Lion Spirit, Second Attack, and Song of Battle are the replacement Discipline talents. Along with the returning Rally and Thought Link, these showcase their primary themes of teamwork and travel. Lasting Impression builds on their versatility and is well suited for anyone who travels, while Concentrated Assault, Rally, Song of Battle, and Thought Link are all group oriented. Lion Spirit helps to ensure they don't get sidelined and can continue supporting their allies, while Second Attack gives them some additional combat capabilities. While they're not a combat Discipline, it is an area they always have competence.

Aura Armor, Elemental Tongues, Endure Cold, Ethereal Weapon, Multi-Tongue, Screaming Arrow, and Sense Danger were all removed as talent options for various reasons (Second Weapon is a Journeyman talent option). Endure Cold, Multi-Tongue, and Screaming Arrow are no longer talents, while Elemental Tongues simply wasn't a good fit. Sense Danger was a victim of being offered too late (it's not terribly appealing so late in the game, particularly with so many Awareness-related talents) and having better options. Finally, Aura Armor and Ethereal Weapon weren't the right fit, the former not quite the defensive flavor (and they have enough other ways to spend Standard actions in a fight), while the latter didn't play into any of their notable themes. They don't have a particular spirituality or connection to astral space (despite gaining the talent option to perceive it), nor are they dedicated enough to mastery of a weapon. Finally, this would lean them a little too combat heavy and there was a desire to maintain a greater diversity of talent options. There are plenty of combat talent options for them as it is.

Their new talent options include: Astral Sight, Blood Share, Critical Hit, Disarming Smile, Fluid Movement, Gliding Stride, Impressive Display, Relentless Recovery, Soul Aegis, Spot Armor Flaw, and Undermine. There are a lot of different ways to go with their talent options as a whole. If you are filling a social role, Disarming Smile, Impressive Display, and Undermine should be high on the list. If you're acting as the scout, Astral Sight and Eagle Eye are what you need. Looking to emphasize their teamwork theme, Blood Share, Cold Purify, and Spot Armor Flaw (with Show Armor Flaw) are good choices. The travel theme is supported by the movement-related talents Fluid Movement and Gliding Stride. Air Sailors as primary combatants are going to want at least some of the following: Champion Challenge, Critical Hit, Defensive Posture, Down Strike, Life Check, Relentless Recovery, Soul Aegis, and Spot Armor Flaw.

Even out of their element, Air Sailors are a fantastic addition to any team, bringing versatility and the ability for the group as a whole to be greater than the sum of their parts. These adepts can contribute in potentially any situation, even if they aren't the star of the show. After all, it's not (always) about them, but about the crew. That's who you look out for and that's who looks out for you.

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