11 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 58 - Birb

This is the fifty-eighth 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, 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.

A thread item written for an online game I offered to help with thread items. This was written with the request of a bird that helps Speak Language. Actually granting ranks of Speak Language can be a little weird, as with any ability that has an effect beyond changing ranks. This presents a delightfully bizarre alternative. Delightful to me, at least. Maybe not to anyone else. I may have a history of animating wooden thread items, but this is far less creepy than the last one.


Birb

Maximum Threads: 1
Mystic Defense: 12
Legend Point Cost: Journeyman

Under most circumstances, this carved wooden block would be a curiosity inherited and either disposed of or forgotten as simply being weird. Since it’s a thread item, it’s bound to show up throughout legends over the years. However, this does not make it any less weird.

The pine is crudely carved and painted into the form of a chakta bird. It most likely started as part of a Greeting Ritual to prove the crafter free from influence, but didn’t go well. Then the creator doubled down by applying paint, which helped. Though black with red tips and some gold flecks isn’t exactly demanding work. Whether this passed muster or not remains a mystery for the ages.

When a thread is attached, the claws grip onto the owner’s shoulder and it remains seated there, eerily stationary. A carving perched on their shoulder. It explicitly doesn’t grip anywhere other than the owner’s shoulder and whatever means attempted to affix it ultimately fail.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the bird’s Name.
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Social Defense.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Mystic Defense.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn who carved the bird.
Effect: The bird can learn one spoken language the owner does not know after being exposed to the language for an hour. It automatically speaks all languages the owner knows.

It acts as a translator between the owner and whoever they are talking to, but speaks to the owner in a sing-song voice of a Namegiver imitating what a bird probably sounds like if it could talk, complete with whistles and idioms, regardless of how appropriate they are. The bird also uses a bizarre sentence structure that places the verb and subject before the object, even if this isn’t how anyone speaks. It’s beak moves while speaking, but not quite in time with what it’s saying.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The bird learns to read the language it speaks and will read it out loud to the owner, but in that same weird way. It also begins to move more than just its beak, now turning its head.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn how it came to exist and if it was the end goal. Was it a joke or a mistake? Seems like an awful lot of work for a joke.
Effect: The bird learns to speak a second language.

It can now flap its wings and sometimes speaks when not spoken to. It doesn’t have anything useful to say, but it just wants to say it. Maybe to feel included in the decision-making process. It definitely knows how to swear creatively at this point.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The bird learns to read the second language. The bird can also teach the owner the languages it knows, though it demands payment as would any instructor if the owner is learning it as a skill. However, the money vanishes once paid. Weird. Once the owner is taught, the bird can learn a new language. This is the only way the bird changes the languages it knows.

It also reacts to the owner, particularly if the owner is kind and offers to feed it. The bird can’t eat because it’s a carved block of wood, but it appreciates the thought and effort. It wants to actually be fed, not just the offer, and happily fills its beak and lets it fall to the ground. Doing this causes it to be more helpful and provide some nuance for the owner. It also nuzzles them when no one is looking. The bird never admits to this and calls anyone who insinuates such a liar. Though it uses a lot more words and most of them wouldn’t be aired on primetime.

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