16 April 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 36 - Seeker (Formerly Monk), Part 3

This is the thirty-sixth 4E Anatomy of a Discipline, 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.

This is hardly the first version of a Monk Discipline and Part 1 and Part 2 are found in the links. I'm not going through the whole design process again since I don't know if it really interests anyone.

It's been five years since those versions and they aren't right anymore. They reflect a vision for the Discipline that doesn't have a good niche in the setting with the existence of Gauntlet, an unarmed combatant with a very strong elemental connection. Despite some fundamental differences in approach, the elemental theme I was previously working on isn't going to work anymore. Far too similar and unnecessarily so. As well, that direction was a martial artist, rather than a monk, which is often attributed to just a martial artist thanks to D&D.

With that, this charts a new course and does much stronger in the scholar direction. This really helps the Discipline stand apart and on its own. They come with a purpose, which is always good, and do some things at higher Circles other Disciplines don't quite bring to the table. The complicated structure originally introduced for Monks in 3E Cathay Player's Guide is gone as it was interesting, but too complicated for no real payoff. This version has a typical progression.

Update: "Monk" was the original name for this Discipline as a reference to the Third Edition introduction this updates, which in turn is a reference to the classic D&D class. However, it never sat right with me. Both in what it describes and how it turns out. There's a lot of baggage there, however useful it is as a shorthand. To this end, I'm chaging the name of this version since the distance between it and those origins is not insignificant to Seeker, which better defines what these adepts do. There aren't any mechanical changes associated with this, just a slight perspective shift.

Seeker fills a weird place and definitely isn't for everyone. However, it fills a place that doesn't quite have anything else like it at this time (at least to me) and that's interesting. Which is really what this is all about - designing things that are interesting to me, testing them out, and sharing them.


Seekers are dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. They are seekers driven to understand not just the world, but the Namegivers around them. These adepts seek out the forgotten and unknown, then pass that along to those around them. Through this process they seek to connect with the world and its peoples, finding enlightenment and a higher purpose through this eternal quest. Seekers are self-reliant, eschewing many physical trappings as they do not want such things hindering their ability to touch the world. Some say their stories and the true knowledge they earned is literally written on their skin for those who know how to read the images.

Important Attributes: Dexterity, Perception, Willpower

Karma Ritual: The Seeker enters into a meditative state, playing out a ritualized conflict in their mind. Each combatant represents a side to an unresolved argument, such as two conflicting philosophies, and competing fighting styles. Each strike and parry is a metaphor for the intellectual arguments and ghosts of the attacks materialize around the adept as the ritual wears on. After 30 minutes, each side acknowledges the merits of the other, bows, and disappears, leaving the conflict unresolved.

Artisan Skills: Robe Embroidery, Tattooing

Half-Magic: Seekers use Half-Magic for knowledge of philosophy and the works of renown sages and scholars. They have passing familiarity with their works, but know who to seek out as an expert on a topic. Seekers are also experts on unarmed fighting techniques and which prominent unarmed combatants shaped someone’s fighting style. They can also read the tattoos of anyone possessing the Protection of Truth talent, allowing them to glean understanding about that character.


Novice Talent Options: Acrobatic Defense, Anticipate Blow, Book Memory, Great Leap, Item History, Maneuver, Read and Write Language, Speak Language, Sprint, Tiger Spring

First Circle

  • Free Talent: Etiquette
  • Durability 5
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on a test to recall or directly support gaining new knowledge. This does not include simple information, such as “where is the guard?” or “what does it feel like to punch a cadaver man?” This must be true knowledge which is unknown, such as the fate of a lost kaer.
  • Discipline Talents: Avoid Blow, Body Control, Research, Thread Weaving (Meditation Weaving), Unarmed Combat 
Second Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +1 to their Mystic Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Awareness 
Third Circle
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on a test where they are behaving politely, courteously, and sincerely.
  • Discipline Talent: Wound Balance 
Fourth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +1 to their Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Protection of Truth*

Journeyman Talent Options: Disarm, Evidence Analysis, Gliding Stride, Lion Heart, Resist Taunt, Riposte, Second Weapon, Swift Kick, True Sight, Waterfall Slam

Fifth Circle
  • Meditation: The adept may make a Meditation Weaving (5) test. If successful, the adept may meditate for hours equal to the test result. Time spent meditating is equivalent to sleeping, but the adept is aware of their surroundings. The adept may make a Recovery Test after meditating for at least 30 minutes with a bonus up to +2 per additional success on the test. The adept must spend one hour meditating per +2 they want to apply to their Recovery Test upon completing meditation.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on a test for an active defense (e.g., Avoid Blow, Resist Taunt, Riposte, Steel Thought, etc.), or increases their Physical Defense (e.g., Acrobatic Defense, Anticipate Blow, Maneuver, etc.).
  • Discipline Talent: Steel Thought 
Sixth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +2 to their Mystic Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Spot Armor Flaw
Seventh Circle
  • Bonus: The adept adds +1 Step to their Initiative.
  • Discipline Talent: Astral Sight
Eighth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +3 to their Mystic Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Second Attack

Warden Talent Options: Chilling Strike, Cobra Strike, Defensive Posture, Down Strike, Lifesight, Lion Spirit, Matrix Sight, Momentum Attack, Relentless Recovery, Resist Pain

Ninth Circle

  • Answers Within: While performing their Karma Ritual, the adept may enter a meditative state seeking answers by extending their ritual by 30 minutes (1 hour total). The adept takes 5 Strain makes a Meditation Weaving (10) test. Each success allows them to ask the GM one yes or no question. The GM must answer truthfully, but is encouraged to provide anything other than a yes or no answer; the universe always responds, but it is often cryptic and elusive, using scenes and sounds, or questions back. Adepts should beware when the answer is direct.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Recovery tests.
  • Discipline Talent: Eidetic Memory
Tenth Circle
  • Defense: +2 Physical Defense
  • Bonus: +1 Mystic Armor
  • Discipline Talent: Spirit Strike 
Eleventh Circle
  • Defense: +1 Social Defense
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on an Initiative test.
  • Discipline Talent: Critical Hit
Twelfth Circle
  • Defense: +4 Mystic Defense
  • Bonus: +2 Initiative
  • Discipline Talent: Ethereal Weapon

Master Talent Options: Aura Armor, Burning Vigor, Fluid Movement, Safe Thought, Second Chance, Unflinching Fortitude, Vital Strike, Vital Ward

Thirteenth Circle

  • One With Creation: While performing their Karma Ritual, the adept may seek the knowledge of the world around them and make a Meditation Weaving (5) test. They gain one knowledge skill of their choice until the next sunrise with ranks equal to the number of successes. Only one knowledge skill can be gained in this fashion at a time and the knowledge skill should not be overly specific. For example, “Iopan History” is good, but “the Untold and Spicy History of Uhl Denairastas” is not. For many reasons.
  • Defense: +3 Physical Defense
  • Karma: +1 Karma Step
  • Bonus: +1 Recovery Test
  • Discipline Talent: Soul Aegis
Fourteenth Circle
  • Defense: +5 Mystic Defense
  • Bonus: +2 Mystic Armor
  • Discipline Talent: Snap Kick*
Fifteenth Circle
  • Defense: +2 Social Defense
  • Bonus: +3 Initiative
  • Discipline Talent: Multi-Strike 


Snap Kick
Step: Rank+DEX
Action: Free
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
The adept makes a sudden unarmed attack that may preempt another action, but not interrupt one in progress. For example, the adept may use Snap Kick before the target makes a Melee Weapons test, but once the Melee Weapons test has been made, Snap Kick may not be used until the Melee Weapons test and its effects are resolved.

The adept makes a Snap Kick test against the Physical Defense of the target. If successful, they make a Damage test with their unarmed attack against the target. Any effects that result from the Snap Kick (e.g., Wound Penalties) apply to the target’s tests. This talent may only be performed once per turn.

Protection of Truth
Step: Rank+3
Action: Special
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
The talent magically tattoos the adept's body in a fashion unique to them, but reflects their tradition and training. Their tattoos increase in number and complexity as their rank in Protection of Truth increases; adepts with low ranks may have one limb tattooed, while high ranks have their entire body covered in incredibly elaborate and personal tattoos, telling a great deal about them to those who know what they are looking at. The adept divides their Protection of Truth Step between Physical and Mystic Armor. This split between the two armor types cannot be rearranged and is reflected by motifs in their tattoos.

For example, an adept with Protection of Truth Step 6 (rank 3) has Physical Armor 4 and Mystic Armor 2, but cannot change these bonuses. At rank 4, the adept adds one to either the Physical or Mystic Armor provided by this talent.

The adept activates this ability during their Karma Ritual and the effect lasts until sunrise the next day. Adepts with this talent instinctively known when sunrise occurs and tend to wake with it, if not before. Protection of Truth cannot be dispeled with the Dispel Magic talent. Though other abilities possessed by dragons and/or Horrors may be able to affect it. The effect lasts until sunrise the next day; adepts with this talent instinctively know when sunrise occurs and tend to wake with it—if not before. This talent is incompatible with worn armor; if the adept wears armor, Protection of Truth does not provide any benefits even if the worn armor is inferior. The limitation on worn armor does not apply to thread items which provide an armor bonus, not are not armor (e.g., a talisman with a thread rank effect that gives +1 Mystic Armor can be used, but a robe which acts as an espagra cloak and gives 2 Mystic Armor cannot).


  1. I do feel that Iron Constitution should be somewhere in there. For a discipline that is all about Wholeness of Body, it seems logical that they should also have access to something that makes them more resilient to poison/disease.

    1. I would not say "all about" Wholeness of Body. Nor is Wholeness of Bady a great name, simply the one that was lying around nearby. It was on the short list of talents, but it was cut. There were other talents that pushed these themes better and being "tough" wasn't high on the list.

    2. I wouldn't call it being "tough" in this case, rather keeping the body pure.
      But I do get your point.

      What's the reasoning of giving them both Ethereal Weapon and Spirit Strike as discipline talents?
      It seems a bit like double dipping to require them to raise both.

    3. They both tie into their mystical nature. Given they perform different functions, I don't see them as double-dipping at all. One allows them to affect Mystic Armor and the other allows them to target Mystic Defense. The commonality is allowing them to attack targets in astral space, but that's not their only function at all.

  2. Is the armour from Wholeness of Body set when the talent is bought or when it is activated?

    1. When it is purchased. Copying the provided example because I cannot think of a better way to explain it.

      For example, an adept with Wholeness of Body Step 6 (rank 3) has Physical Armor 4 and Mystic Armor 2, but cannot change these bonuses. At rank 4, the adept adds one to either the Physical or Mystic Armor provided by this talent.

  3. So looking at the Journeyman Talents for Monk, I see Second Weapon, but Body Control explicitly is not compatible with melee weapons. Is this implying that since Body control is targetable as a weapon, that it also qualifies for a Second weapon attack? Or was this just an oversight?