27 May 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Mask 03 - Legendary

This is the third 4E Anatomy of a Mask, part of 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 Legendary Mask turns a single opponent into a "boss"-style encounter. A feature which has been difficult in Earthdawn due to exploding damage and access to bonuses and penalties, easily rendering the opposition moot in a round. 1E used massive stats as a solution, but this easily created unsurmountable opponents where you had to get an otherwise excellent result to even succeed (the Mist, I'm looking at you). 3E tried and the result was better, but it gave a false sense of confidence in that opponent's ability to create an effective challenge. I didn't try to pretend 4E opponents were suitable for groups with the "(Group)" tag. An over-Circled opponent can give that kind of challenge, it can be "swingy" and frustrating as characters may struggle to be effective against it and are more vulnerable to its attacks. This is particularly true if it's a higher tier. The creature is effectively a glass ninja - difficult to hit with high damage output, but still vulnerable to be easily taken out.

There was early talk about introducing legendary creatures, but that fell apart with the third developer's effective departure (when I - and by extension, David Marshall - inherited the rest of the Gamemaster's Guide to complete). The priority was getting the four opposition chapters redeveloped from the ground up to be appropriate for 4E, including simplified mechanics for gamemasters (no more rolling abilities to give bonuses to the creature, no active defenses, no tracking ranks, no kinda useless Durability entries, etc.), notations for animal companions and mounts, introducing special maneuvers, etc.

This is the result of something I've been putting together slowly in the background since... 2013? Assessing and trying to get the right technology to turn an opponent into a viable and dangerous, but not insurmountable threat. Legendary opponents are not easy and bring a lot to the table to make life difficult. Unlike other Masks, this Mask typically needs some work from the GM to add powers that allow it to threaten the entire group. 

Thank you to Brett Bowen for helping with design and putting together playtesting for this and Packs.

Legendary

Named creatures, spirits, and Horrors renown for the danger and potentially responsible for the deaths of countless fools. Typical creatures, spirits, Horrors, etc., are designed to be part of a larger encounter, but not an encounter unto themselves. Legendary opponents are designed to be the entire encounter, though can be supported by others as well.

Applying this Mask gets the base creature most of the way to this goal, but they should still have a little more to set them apart. This is especially true for base creatures that lack mobility or ranged options, allowing them to threaten flying, ranged, and mounted opponents. Additional and unique powers and special maneuvers, such as reflecting the location, used only once for the encounter, after a specific trigger, etc. These cannot be written into a Mask because of the Mask’s generic nature. However, this Mask is only a starting place to facilitate these encounters

Legendary creatures are not suitable as animal companions.

Note: Unlike most Masks, which are only designed for creatures, this Mask can be applied to spirits, Horrors, Horror constructs, and undead.

Legendary (Novice)
DEX: 0     Initiative:                 +0     Unconsciousness:   ×5
STR:  0     Physical Defense: +1     Death Rating:            ×5
TOU: 0     Mystic Defense:    +1      Wound Threshold: +5
PER:  0     Social Defense:     +1      Knockdown:              +5
WIL:  0     Physical Armor:   +2     Recovery Tests:          0
CHA: 0     Mystic Armor:       +2     Karma:                           4 (16)
Move: 0
Actions: 0 (Special); Attack 0 (Damage 0)
Powers:
Indomitable: The absolute value of Action test and Defense penalties applied to the legendary opponent are halved (e.g, half of -3 is -2 since the absolute value of -3 is 3 and half of 3 is 1.5, which rounds to 2). This includes penalties from Harried and explicitly does not include bonuses applied against the legendary opponent.
Invincible (Simple): The legendary opponent recovers from one Wound.
Karma: Use the Karma Step and pool listed above if the base creature does not have Karma or has a lower Karma Step than listed.
Unconquerable (Simple): The legendary opponent ends an ongoing effect that functionally prevents them from taking actions. These effects include grappling, spells like Crushing Hand of Earth, Spell Cage, talents like Spirit Hold, etc. This power can also be used when the legendary opponent takes a bonus action, but they must make a test as normal. Unflinching applies to this test.
Unflinching (1): The legendary opponent gains a +5 bonus to any test to resist ongoing effects.
Unrelenting (1): After a character opposing the legendary opponent takes their turn, the legendary opponent may take a Standard and Movement action (at half movement rate) against that character. These cannot be continuations of actions taken on the legendary opponent’s turn (e.g., continuing to weave threads for a spell) and must include the character as a target (though the action can affect multiple targets). If the legendary opponent cannot reach or affect the character, they may target a different character.
Unyielding (Simple): The legendary opponent stands up. This can be used once per round at the beginning of their turn or before they take a bonus action.
Special Maneuvers:



Legendary (Journeyman)
DEX: 0     Initiative:                 +5     Unconsciousness:   ×5
STR:  0     Physical Defense: +2     Death Rating:            ×5
TOU: 0     Mystic Defense:     +2     Wound Threshold: +5
PER:  0     Social Defense:     +2     Knockdown:               +10
WIL:  0     Physical Armor:   +3     Recovery Tests:          0
CHA: 0     Mystic Armor:       +3     Karma:                           4 (16)
Move: 0
Actions: 0 (Special); Attack 0 (Damage 0)
Powers:
Indomitable: The absolute value of Action test and Defense penalties applied to the legendary opponent are halved (e.g, half of -3 is -2 since the absolute value of -3 is 3 and half of 3 is 1.5, which rounds to 2). This includes penalties from Harried and explicitly does not include bonuses applied against the legendary opponent.
Invincible (Simple): The legendary opponent recovers from one Wound.
Karma: Use the Karma Step and pool listed above if the base creature does not have Karma or has a lower Karma Step than listed.
Unconquerable (Simple): The legendary opponent ends an ongoing effect that functionally prevents them from taking actions. These effects include grappling, spells like Crushing Hand of Earth, Spell Cage, talents like Spirit Hold, etc. This power can also be used when the legendary opponent takes a bonus action, but they must make a test as normal. Unflinching applies to this test.
Unflinching (2): The legendary opponent gains a +10 bonus to any test to resist ongoing effects.
Unrelenting (1): After a character opposing the legendary opponent takes their turn, the legendary opponent may take a Standard and Movement action (at half movement rate) against that character. These cannot be continuations of actions taken on the legendary opponent’s turn (e.g., continuing to weave threads for a spell) and must include the character as a target (though the action can affect multiple targets). If the legendary opponent cannot reach or affect the character, they may target a different character.
Unyielding (Simple): The legendary opponent stands up. This can be used once per round at the beginning of their turn or before they take a bonus action.
Special Maneuvers:


Legendary (Warden)
DEX: 0     Initiative:                 +10   Unconsciousness:    ×5
STR:  0     Physical Defense: +3     Death Rating:            ×5
TOU: 0     Mystic Defense:     +3     Wound Threshold: +5
PER:  0     Social Defense:     +3     Knockdown:               +15
WIL:  0     Physical Armor:   +5     Recovery Tests:          0
CHA: 0     Mystic Armor:       +5     Karma:                           4 (16)
Move: 0
Actions: 0 (Special); Attack 0 (Damage 0)
Powers:
Indomitable: The absolute value of Action test and Defense penalties applied to the legendary opponent are halved (e.g, half of -3 is -2 since the absolute value of -3 is 3 and half of 3 is 1.5, which rounds to 2). This includes penalties from Harried and explicitly does not include bonuses applied against the legendary opponent.
Invincible (Simple): The legendary opponent recovers from one Wound.
Karma: Use the Karma Step and pool listed above if the base creature does not have Karma or has a lower Karma Step than listed.
Unconquerable (Simple): The legendary opponent ends an ongoing effect that functionally prevents them from taking actions. These effects include grappling, spells like Crushing Hand of Earth, Spell Cage, talents like Spirit Hold, etc. This power can also be used when the legendary opponent takes a bonus action, but they must make a test as normal. Unflinching applies to this test.
Unflinching (3): The legendary opponent gains a +15 bonus to any test to resist ongoing effects.
Unrelenting (2): After a character opposing the legendary opponent takes their turn, the legendary opponent may take two Standard actions and a Movement action (at half movement rate) against that character. These cannot be continuations of actions taken on the legendary opponent’s turn (e.g., continuing to weave threads for a spell) and must include the character as a target (though the action can affect multiple targets). If the legendary opponent cannot reach or affect the character, they may target a different character.
Unyielding (Simple): The legendary opponent stands up. This can be used once per round at the beginning of their turn or before they take a bonus action.
Special Maneuvers:


Legendary (Master)
DEX: 0     Initiative:                 +15   Unconsciousness:    ×5
STR:  0     Physical Defense: +5     Death Rating:            ×5
TOU: 0     Mystic Defense:     +5     Wound Threshold: +5
PER:  0     Social Defense:     +5     Knockdown:               +20
WIL:  0     Physical Armor:   +8     Recovery Tests:          0
CHA: 0     Mystic Armor:       +8     Karma:                           4 (16)
Move: 0
Actions: 0 (Special); Attack 0 (Damage 0)
Powers:
Indomitable: The absolute value of Action test and Defense penalties applied to the legendary opponent are halved (e.g, half of -3 is -2 since the absolute value of -3 is 3 and half of 3 is 1.5, which rounds to 2). This includes penalties from Harried and explicitly does not include bonuses applied against the legendary opponent.
Invincible (Simple): The legendary opponent recovers from one Wound.
Karma: Use the Karma Step and pool listed above if the base creature does not have Karma or has a lower Karma Step than listed.
Unconquerable (Simple): The legendary opponent ends an ongoing effect that functionally prevents them from taking actions. These effects include grappling, spells like Crushing Hand of Earth, Spell Cage, talents like Spirit Hold, etc. This power can also be used when the legendary opponent takes a bonus action, but they must make a test as normal. Unflinching applies to this test.
Unflinching (4): The legendary opponent gains a +20 bonus to any test to resist ongoing effects.
Unrelenting (2): After a character opposing the legendary opponent takes their turn, the legendary opponent may take two Standard actions and a Movement action (at half movement rate) against that character. These cannot be continuations of actions taken on the legendary opponent’s turn (e.g., continuing to weave threads for a spell) and must include the character as a target (though the action can affect multiple targets). If the legendary opponent cannot reach or affect the character, they may target a different character.
Unyielding (Simple): The legendary opponent stands up. This can be used once per round at the beginning of their turn or before they take a bonus action.
Special Maneuvers:


There are a lot of new powers associated with this Mask and I’m going to attempt to address them and the purpose they serve to help use this Mask.

Indomitable addresses the easy access players have to applying penalties to opponents. This isn’t a big deal in a typical conflict because the number of opponents means concentrating them may not be most effective due to stacking, or eliminating a threat also eliminates all the penalties. With one target, it’s very easy to apply penalties until it cannot take effective actions. Penalties are still beneficial, but they cannot create a lop-sided encounter.

Invincible addresses how cumulative Wounds can similarly penalize the creature into ineffectiveness. This allows Wounds to still be meaningful, but less crippling. It also penalizes delaying tactics and puts pressure on the characters.

Unconquerable stops lockdown effects. These have limited use against multiple targets (though are useful without a doubt), but against a single target can shut down the encounter before it starts. This gives the legendary opponent one “Get Out of Jail Free” card each round, with additional attempts. Those abilities can still be useful, particularly to buy some breathing room if coordinated, but they won’t end the encounter early.

Unflinching is the other piece to Unconquerable. Ongoing effects that allow resistance tend to be significantly nastier than those without resistance and this mitigates their value against one big target.

Unrelenting is how the legendary opponent’s action economy is balanced against the players and automatically scales to the size of the group. Instead of lumping them in with its primary block of actions, this makes things tactically more interesting for everyone. Players are less likely to be dropped without recourse and everyone scrambles to deal with the same changing tactical situation.

Unyielding deals with one of the most prevalent lockdown abilities, knockdown. Allowing a free stand once per round still rewards the tactic, but prevents it from being too powerful against a single opponent. It’s more difficult to figure out how to knock it down, then coordinate attacks while it is down if it stands and acts afterwards. Not impossible, but much more difficult.

The health ratings are given assuming a five character group. If there are more or less, adjust the Unconsciousness and Death Rating multipliers to reflect the number of characters.

No comments:

Post a Comment