12 August 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 59 - Shield of Aras Nehem

This is the fifty-ninth 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 footman's shield with no Initiative Penalty. Well, we can do better than that. One thing that request told me was the end-user wasn't so interested in Mystic Defense improvements, otherwise I might be looking at a crystal shield. Or maybe I was reading too much into it. Either way, I decided to go with an asymmetrical approach to defense improvement. Half of the shield would be devoted to bonuses to Physical Defense, the other half to using and leveraging Steel Thought. The Name of this particular shield was related to those developments and should really give anyone "in the know" a sphincter clenching moment when they see it which only gets worse as they go down the effects. It's definitely powerful, but there should be some concern as well.


Shield of Aras Nehem

Maximum Threads: 2
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Warden

A cursory inspection of this footman’s shield reveals it to be solidly constructed of wood with a steel boss and rim on the face, and steel grip and brace on the back. The cover and strap are both simple, but sturdy leather. There’s nothing to warrant anything more than that cursory inspection. However, sometimes a glance at the shield causes it to appear corroded and rotten, though it always appears proper on a second look.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the shield’s Name.
Effect: The shield is Physical Defense +3. Attacks that strike the shield are strangely muffled, giving a dull thud rather than an expected clang from striking metal.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The shield’s Initiative Penalty is 0. Subtle runes and glyphs appear along the rim. Rather than being carved into the metal, they appear like they are the result of wear and corrosion.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the meaning of the runes and glyphs along the rim.
Effect: The wearer gains the Shield of Aras Nehem ability. As a Simple action for 1 Strain, failed mystic effects against the wearer sputter out as though drained, rather than not happening. They gain +2 ranks to Steel Thought until the end of the next round. Bizarre, indistinct, and ghostly images are seen briefly along the rim, but never when studied.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The shield is Physical Defense +4. Subtle runes and glyphs appear along the boss. Rather than being carved into the metal, they appear like they are the result of wear and corrosion.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the meaning of the runes and glyphs around the boss.
Effect: Images similar to what are briefly seen on the rim now appear on the boss, though images are more distinct. This does not help identify them, only makes them more disconcerting. If the wearer has Shield of Aras Nehem active, they can use the following special maneuver:

Shield of Aras Nehem (Wearer, Steel Thought): Mystic power is drained and some small amount returned to the wearer. The wearer can spend additional successes on Steel Thought tests to gain +1 to their next Spellcasting or Thread Weaving test by the end of next round. These bonuses are cumulative; e.g., two additional successes from one Steel Thought test and one additional success from a second gives a total of +3 to the wearer’s next Spellcasting or Thread Weaving test. The bonus must be used on the next applicable test, it cannot be saved. This special maneuver can only be used against successful Action tests.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The shield is Physical Defense +5. It often leaves behind a residue of what looks like soot and corroded metal after use.

Thread Rank Seven
Deed: The owner must travel to where the shield was created.
Effect: While the Shield of Aras Nehem ability is active, the wearer can hear unintelligible whispering of at least three distinct voices. The ability now provides +4 ranks to Steel Thought.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: The shield is Physical Defense +6. When Shield of Aras Nehem is active, the wearer can spend an additional Karma Point on Steel Thought tests. The owner never remembers their dreams, though are still affected by them (e.g., magic which causes effects by manipulating dreams still causes the effects, but the owner doesn’t remember anything).

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