10 March 2017

Earthdawn 4E: Companion Discipline Preview 15 - Cavalryman

This is the fifteenth 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.

The final Discipline preview from the forthcoming Earthdawn Companion is here with Cavalryman. This is intended to offer some insights into the Discipline design. Obviously the actual progression is missing, which is found at FASA Games.

There is one central thing Cavalrymen have going on, which everything else orbits: their mount. Other themes follow, such as a more general approach to combat, social and camaraderie, and travel. The importance of their mount primarily comes through their Discipline abilities, though there are a few talents as well.

The previous Discipline abilities, Gait Mastery and Resurrect Mount, were both in the same general theme, but didn't make the cut. The former is an interesting ability and good in the right circumstances, when you need to modify that Movement Rate to get your charge or Wheeling Attack just right. However, it's a little too fiddly and wasn't as generally useful as desired for Discipline abilities. This being said, it may yet appear in a different form.

Resurrect Mount is a different story. It's biggest problem is what it does to the setting and the events of a campaign. Bringing things back from the dead is extremely limited - last chance salves only work on mostly dead targets and have a restrictive time limit. As well, this ability negates the drama potential around a Cavalryman losing their precious companion and the journey to find a new one. The follow up is it may not even be relevant to a game, which is not a good place to be for the Master tier ability.

Their replacements are Shared Strength and Shared Spirit. Shared Strength is along the lines of many other Warden tier abilities, offering a +3 to their mount's Strength Step for a Blood Magic cost. It is a solid benefit that reinforces the connection between adept and companion. Shared Spirit also reinforces this connection, but provides a significant piece of utility: the ability to summon their mount.

Five of their seven Discipline talents were replaced. Shield Beater, Tame Mount, and Unmount are no longer talents, while Vitality (now Burning Vigor) wasn't a great fit because they only have another talent option to spend the Recovery tests on and Life Check is a talent option.

Replacing them are Animal Talk, Goring Attack (effectively Trample, moved from their talent options), Momentum Attack, Relentless Recovery, and Thunderstruck. Most of these enhance their combat capabilities (along with the returning Critical Hit and Multi-Charge), also enhancing the connection with their mount and building on the sense of dynamism the Discipline possess.

Their talent options saw similar changes: Call Mount, Develop Animal Sense, and Incite Stampede are no longer talents, Lion Heart is a Journeyman talent option, Bestial Toughness became Unflinching Fortitude, while Safe Path, Spirit Strike, and Tiger Spring were pulled as they weren't good fits or there were better options. For example, Spirit Strike requires either a degree of mysticism or dedication to the weapon. Despite being a combat Discipline, neither of these are true for Cavalrymen, who are dedicated and connected to their mount.

The talent options available to these adepts allow them to pursue a number of different directions. A Cavalryman dedicated to their companions may find value in Battle Bellow, Champion Challenge, Rally, and Thought Link, while one who is more of a dashing hussar type may prefer Impressive Display and Lasting Impression. Adepts who want to be tough, never letting their opponents see them falter, may find Fireblood, Iron Constitution, Life Check, Resist Pain, Resist Taunt, Steel Thought, and Unflinching Fortitude their style, and those who simply want to be in the thick of combat will probably want Defensive Posture, Down Strike, and Vicious Wound.

There aren't many offensive talent options for these adepts at high Circles. The reason is pretty simple: they don't need much help. Charge is already frightening and many of their tools exist around augmenting it. Combining the high damage of Charge with Critical Hit and Vicious Wound is... wrong is probably the best word. It's just wrong. Since Cavalrymen can be something of glass canons (paper tigers, paper ninjas, etc.) at low Circles, the overall goal was to provide them more defensive options. Not necessarily options that encourage them to wade into combat - such as high armor - but instead allow them to shrug it off for a time while delivering punishing blows. These adepts are prone to riding in at a critical moment to deliver an impressive and mortal blow, claiming the glory - of course, humbly shared with their companion.

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