16 October 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 104 - Golden Rule

This is the one-hundred and fourth 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 neck chain with a bonus to Willforce. That turned into a whole Willpower thing and I included a spirit bound to the item for unusual reasons. Along with a choice with an interesting outcome depending on how the owner wants to go. What started with a rather staid request (which is fine, that gives me a lot of room to play), I'm pretty happy where it ended and the story it tells.

Golden Rule

Maximum Threads: 1
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Warden

The thick links of this chain are made of gold with bold runes carved into the exterior. A clasp indicates it’s to be worn around the neck, though without a thread attached it is extremely heavy. However, once a thread is attached, the runes have an iridescent gleam and the True air infused in it counters the True earth.

This chain automatically resizes to the wearer when a thread is attached, but is always thick for them.

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn the necklace’s Name.
Effect: The wearer gains +1 to Mystic Armor.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The wearer gains +1 rank to Willforce.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn where the chain was created.
Effect: The wearer gains +2 to Mystic Armor.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The wearer gains +2 ranks to Willforce.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn about the bound spirit. [A spirit of tyranny bound to the chain as a prison. It’s Name translates roughly as “I Rule.”]
Effect: The wearer gains the Golden Rule ability. For 1 Strain as a Simple action, the wearer has greater insight into those around them. The wearer gains +2 ranks to Empathic Sense for Thread Rank rounds.

Thread Rank Six
Effect: The wearer gains +2 to their Willpower Value.

Thread Rank Seven
Deed: The owner must travel to where the chain was created and either defeat the spirit in a contest of wills or forge a pact with it.
Effect: If the wearer defeats the spirit in a contest of wills, the chain shines with golden light when Golden Rule is used. The wearer gains +2 to one Action test per round when attempting to aid a target with their fears.

If the wearer forms a pact with the spirit, the chain shines with dark light when Golden Rule is used. The wearer gains +2 to one Action test per round when attempting to capitalize on a target’s fears.

Thread Rank Eight
Effect: The bonuses from Golden Rule are now +3 and the wearer can spend 1 Strain to spend an additional Karma Point on an affected Action test.


  1. For ranks involving an either/or choice, such as Rank Seven above, how much information would you provide a player about the consequences of that choice before it's made? Would you only offer a general statement that abilities at this tier are tied to targets' fears, or would you draw a clear distinction between the options so the player can make an informed decision? I realize this is ultimately a GM's prerogative--just curious what you had in mind.

    Thanks for the work you've put into the blog. It's a wonderful rsource!

    1. My preference is always to provide information regarding the abilities in terms of the legends associated with it, rather than specifics. Some of these choices are permanent in one direction, in which case it's a legend about what could happen and studying the pattern may give some indication. Which is a semi-informed decision, I guess. I want players to know what they're getting into, but also to maintain some of the mystery of legends.

      Hopefully this answered the question?

  2. Ish. I do prefer the idea of communicating the possibilities of an item primarily through the legends surrounding it to simply doling out factoids on a decent Item History roll.