31 March 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Rules Variant 20 - Combat Options and Stances (Part 2)

This is the twentieth Rules Variant, 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.

This revisiting of combat options is small part of a much larger side-project I'm working on in my spare time. It builds on and expands the first rules variant on the topic.

Some concepts introduced here are essentially formalizing various mechanics to enhance clarity, while others refine how they function. There's also some new ways of looking at things which will make more sense as this ongoing series goes into that side project more.

Combat options not presented here are unchanged.

For now.

Special thanks to Brett Bowen for all his help with this.


Keywords

Abilities with the active defense keyword added: Avoid Blow, Cast Net, Glyph of Reversal, Influence Missile, Resist Taunt, Riposte, Steel Thought, Witty Repartee

Abilities with the aggressive keyword added: Acrobatic Strike, Aggressive Maneuver, Battle Bellow, Battle Shout, Burning Vigor, Concentrated Assault, Defiant Shout, Destructive Shout, Dirty Fighting, Ethereal Weapon, Fearsome Charge, Fearsome Dive, Fireblood, Great Leap, Howl, Impressive Display, Intimidating Bellow, Multi-Charge, Multi-Shot, Multi-Strike, Shared Anger, Shivoavara Dance, Shivoavara Escalation, Shout of Justice, Steely Stare, Sweeping Current, Swing Attack, Thunderstruck, Tyranny's Ruin, Undermine, Venom, Vicious Wound, Vital Strike,

Abilities with the attack keyword added: Ch’tard Pierce, Claw Frenzy, Cutting Words, Double Charge, Double Cut, Edo Sweep, Improvised Weapon, Improved Improvised Weapon, Melee Weapons, Missile Weapons, Scorching Breath, Second Attack, Second Shot, Second Weapon, Shield Bash, Shield Drive, Skora Slam, Snapshot, Spirit Strike, Swift Kick, Tail Weapon, Throwing Weapons, Unarmed Combat, Wind Slash

Abilities with the beast keyword added: Animal Bond, Alley Cat Approach, Animal Companion Durability, Animal Leadership, Animal Possession, Animal Talk, Animal Training, Armor Mount, Bloodhound Form, Borrow Sense, Dominate Beast, Enhance Animal Companion, Goring Attack, Howl

Abilities with the defensive keyword added: Absorb Spell, Acrobatic Defense, Anticipate Blow, Anticipate Spell, Defensive Posture, Deflect Blow, Disarm, Give Ground, Maneuver, Patient Maneuver, Setup, Skora Dance, Take the Hit, Wind Dodge

Combat Options

Command Animal Companion (1 Strain; Special)
Keywords: Beast. Command.
The character must be in the Commander stance to use this combat option. They issue a command to a single animal within their Animal Training rank ×2 (no less than 4) yards as a Standard action. This is a Simple action if the target is a bound animal companion or the character is mounted on the target. Issuing commands outside of combat or to the character’s mount does not cost Strain.

The character may make a command that combines multiple tricks by making an Animal Training Action test against the animal companion’s Social Defense. This requires one additional success for each trick included.

Mounted Combat (0 Strain)
Keywords: Beast.
The rider pays all associated Strain costs for using combat options and stances. For example, the rider pays the Strain cost if they use the Splitting Movement stance.

Mounting a trained mount takes a Standard action. An untrained mount requires the character to make a Riding Action test against the mount’s Social Defense as a Standard Action. Dismounting is a Simple action. A rider may jump off their mount to attack in close combat or may throw themselves off their mount to grapple a target. If grappling a target this way, the rider suffers Step 5/D8 falling damage from the impact of the fall. If the grappling attempt is successful, the target also suffers Step 5/D8 falling damage.

If the mount fails a Knockdown test, the rider is automatically knocked down and falls off their mount. Knocking the rider off their mount through whatever means causes Step 5/D8 falling damage. Flying mounts and their riders use the appropriate falling damage for their current altitude. If only the rider fails a Knockdown test, they fall off but the mount is unaffected.

Mounted Movement
The rider and mount are treated as one character for the purpose of movement as long as the rider controls the mount. While mounted, the mount’s Movement Rate is used instead of the rider’s. Moving their mount requires the rider’s equivalent action in addition to the Command Animal Companion combat option. For example, a character cannot use their movement in a round in which they used the mount’s movement, even if the rider dismounts. The rider must use their Standard action to have their mount move twice its Movement Rate. The Mounted Charge combat option is an exception to this.

Additionally, characters not familiar with their mounts must succeed at a Riding Action test against the mount’s Social Defense to take their mounts into (but not away from) combat if the mount is not combat trained.

Mounted Charge
Mounted charges allow a mounted character to use the mount’s momentum to deliver devastating blows. A mounted charge requires a combat-trained mount or a successful Riding Action test against the mount’s Social Defense, using Command Animal Companion, and using the character’s Standard action to make a close combat attack. The rider and mount must move towards the target in a relatively straight line further than the mount’s Movement Rate. This requires the mount’s Standard actions and prevents the mount from making attacks if they have multiple actions. The rider must use the Splitting Movement stance if they want to move after the attack, which must also be in a relatively straight line.

Every 2 yards moved prior to the attack allow the character to add +1 to their Damage Step, up to the mount’s Strength Step. The character must be using a weapon at least at their one-handed size limit to attack while mounted. Unarmed attacks, even those with attached weapons and talents that effectively provide a weapon, cannot be used while mounted.

The high momentum can cause the rider to be thrown off their mount. After a successful mounted charge, the rider makes a Strength test against the target’s Strength Step. If the test fails, the rider is thrown from their mount, suffering Step 5/D8 of damage and becoming knocked down. The Cavalry Charge talent ignores this and the Cavalry Charge skill replaces the Strength test .

Setting Against a Charge (0 Strain)
Characters fighting mounted opponents are often at a disadvantage, and they sometimes cannot attack a mounted fighter on their Initiative. Against a Mounted Charge, the unmounted character can employ the Setting Against a Charge combat option to turn the rider’s high momentum to their advantage. The unmounted character often must be using the Reserve Action stance to use this combat option.

The unmounted character must use a weapon long enough to reach the mounted target beyond the mount’s fore section (at least Size 3 against most mounts and Size 1 against windling mounts, though longer weapons may be required against some mounts at the gamemaster’s discretion). The unmounted character takes a Reserved action and strikes the moment the mounted character rides into range. The unmounted character makes a close combat Attack test as normal, but replaces their Strength Step with the mount’s Strength Step to determine the Damage. This is not a replacement effect and the character can use a replacement ability as usual. The unmounted character may use the Dismount special maneuver.

Special Maneuvers

Dismount (Unmounted Character, Close Combat Attack): The unmounted character can spend an additional success from an Attack test against a charging opponent to force them to make a Knockdown test against a Difficulty Number equal to the damage inflicted (reduced by Armor as appropriate). This special maneuver can only be used if the unmounted character is using the Setting Against a Charge combat option.

Stances

Stances must be declared before Initiative is determined for the round. Unless otherwise noted, stances can be combined.Stances are declared before other actions are performed, including Free actions taken before Initiative is determined. Once declared, they cannot be changed without the use of an ability that allows this. All costs are paid at the time of declaration. Use common sense when/if applying thse to creatures and similar opponents.

Aggressive (1 Strain per attack)
Keywords: Exclusive. Stance.
The adept gains +3 to their Initiative test, and close combat Attack tests and the associated Damage test. The character suffers a -3 penalty to Physical and Mystic Defense, and a -3 penalty to Action tests without the aggressive and/or attack keywords.

This stance must be declared before any other stances or abilities are used. It may not be combined with Defensive or Splitting Movement stances.

Commander (0 Strain)
Keywords: Stance.
The character can use command abilities. If the character wants to use the Command Animal Companion combat option, they use the lowest Initiative Step between them and the animals they may wish to command after all modifiers are applied.

Defensive (0 Strain)
Keywords: Exclusive. Stance.
The character gains +3 to their Physical and Mystic Defense, and to Action tests with the active defense and/or defensive keywords. The character suffers a -3 penalty to all other Action tests. 

This stance must be declared before any other stances or abilities are used. It may not be combined with Aggressive or Splitting Movement stances.

Delay Actions (0 Strain)
Keywords: Stance.
The character postpones their turn until later in the round. They may take their turn before another character’s turn begins, but cannot interrupt a turn already in progress. This reduces the character’s Initiative result as appropriate.

For example, Simon has 24 as their Initiative result, but decides to delay their turn. They want to act before their opponent with Initiative 10, but after their ally with Initiative 15. When Simon takes their turn, they change their Initiative result to anywhere between 10 and 14, as required for their turn during the Initiative order.

This stance cannot be combined with the Reserve Actions stance.

Reserve Actions (0 Strain)
Keywords: Stance.
The character postpones their turn contingent on a specific trigger later in the round. In contrast with the Delay Actions stance, this can interrupt an ongoing turn. The character’s Initiative result is reduced as appropriate. The adept suffers a -2 penalty to all Action tests this round. If the trigger does not occur or the character does not react to it, their turn in the round is lost.

This stance cannot be combined with the Delay Actions stance.

Splitting Movement (1 Strain)
Keywords: Exclusive. Stance.
The character can move a portion of their Movement Rate, then perform their Standard action and/or Simple actions, and move up to the remainder of their Movement Rate. All Standard and Simple actions must be performed between the character’s movement. Their movement cannot be further subdivided unless an ability specifically allows this. The character is Harried.

This stance may not be combined with Aggressive or Defensive stances.

Tail Combat (0 Strain)
Keywords: Stance.
The character suffers a -2 penalty to all Action tests and can use the Tail Attack combat option.

24 March 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Rules Variant 19 - Revised Initiative (Part 1)

This is the nineteenth Rules Variant, 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.

Rolling for Initiative each round is something somewhat but not entirely unique to Earthdawn. It’s also a common point to look at ways to simplify this process because it is another set of rolls, followed by organizing Initiative, action declaration (at some tables), etc. While this may not take much time with a practiced group, it can feel like it takes a while to some.

While it may seem like an easy fix, it’s not. That process is deeply embedded in the system. Some abilities boost Initiative, while others require a higher result, and others provide a bonus based on the difference. There’s also the element of chance where you can’t exactly plan out subsequent turns because the order is an unknown. This adds to the chaos and danger of a conflict. The shifting tides of battle are a good thing.

However, this rules variant attempts to simplify the process without fully removing the tactical element and shifting Initiative based on the actual events of the conflict.

Below is a list of the changes:
  • Determine Initiative at the beginning of combat.
  • Initiative is not determined at the beginning of each round.
    • Initiative results carry over through each round.
    • Temporary bonuses to Initiative affect only the next round (or the specified duration).
    • Talents that specify successes do not reduce the Initiative result when these successes are spent. They didn’t before, just making this clear.
  • Rounds are still tracked.
  • If a target is successfully attacked and could suffer damage, they suffer a -2 penalty to their Initiative.
  • Penalties from Harried and Wounds affect characters’ current Initiative result.
    • Bonuses from Fury improve their current Initiative result.
  • Creatures which aren’t animal companions don’t pay Strain to use the “Take the Initiative” combat option.
What Do These Changes Mean?

Initiative is determined once for the encounter. After that, only abilities that specifically modify Initiative and getting hit need to be tracked. Which can be simple tally marks in practice. This offers some small disincentivization for ganging up on one opponent at a time, as the others gain a small Initiative boost, while it also allows backline characters to slowly increase how quickly they act as they can take a greater view of the conflict since they aren’t under attack as frequently.

It also makes a high Initiative character acting as the tank more risky, particularly if they are relying on that high Initiative to maintain their talents that provide Defense bonuses. It also makes high armor, low avoidance more difficult when paired with high Initiative. This aspect is a question, but nothing is going to come out exactly the same with major changes. However, Gauntlets aren’t going to care at all—the end of the order is where they live.

High Initiative characters can get more out of Take the Initiative with some knacks, however it’s not free. Initiative boosting talents (where that is their focus) also last for the entire encounter. The hope is this streamlines the process while still adding some tactical complexity and depth, even if it is a different sort than was around previously.

Some abilities changed and there are new knacks based on these updates. Most abilities are unaffected, but it’s possible I missed something.

I don't know if this variant is a good idea or not, but it hopefully achieves the goals of being simpler than rolling Initiative every round and still having tactical depth and meaning. Figuring all this out involves actual testing in play.

This variant introduces a lot of keywords. Don't worry about them, they are shorthand and covered in the text of the abilities. Their meaning should be clear from context, but they don't impart any additional meaning to the abilities either.

Talents

Air Dance
Step: Rank+DEX
Action: Free
Strain: 3+
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Air. Exclusive. Karma. Replacement.
The adept floats on a thin cushion of air, allowing them to perform quick, gliding movements, and rapid attacks. Air Dance requires the adept be able to move. Windlings may use this talent while flying, but it cannot be combined with other talents that use forms of magical flight, such as Gliding Stride. This talent does not allow an adept to remain suspended in midair, move over surfaces that would not support their weight (e.g., water or a rickety floor), or do anything to reduce falling damage.

The adept replaces their Air Dance Step for their Dexterity Step when making their Initiative test and applying any other bonuses to Initiative (e.g., Discipline bonuses). Each round, the adept may spend 1 Strain as a Simple action to compare their current Initiative result to a target within close combat range. If the adept has three successes, the adept may make an additional close combat attack (use Melee Weapons or Unarmed Combat) against that target. This attack is made as a Free action after the target completes their turn. This talent lasts for the encounter and cannot be used with Cobra Strike.

Chilling Strike
Step: Rank
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Impairment. Water-Cold.
The adept plunges their weapon into freezing temperatures, causing frost to appear on it. In addition to normal damage after a successful close combat Attack, the adept causes a penalty equal to their Chilling Strike rank to the target’s Initiative result during the next round. This cannot reduce the Initiative result below 1.

Cobra Strike
Step: Rank+DEX
Action: Special
Strain: 3+
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Exclusive. Karma. Replacement.
The adept attacks suddenly and unexpectedly. The adept substitutes their Cobra Strike Step for their Dexterity Step when making their Initiative test and applying any other bonuses to Initiative (e.g., Discipline bonuses). Each round if the adept’s first attack is close combat, the adept may spend 1 Strain as a Simple action and compare their current Initiative result to their target. The adept gains +2 to the Attack for each success. This talent lasts for the encounter and cannot be used with Air Dance.

Tiger Spring
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 3
Skill Use: No
Keywords: None
The adept reacts more quickly than normal in combat, adding their Tiger Spring rank as a bonus to their Initiative test. Tiger Spring can be used with other talents that improve Initiative, such as Air Dance and Cobra Strike. This talent lasts for the encounter.

Wing Blitz
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 3
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Air-Electricity.
Electricity crackles along the adept’s body and they move as a lightning strike. The adept adds their Wing Blitz rank as a bonus to their Initiative test. Wing Blitz can be used with other talents that improve Initiative, such as Air Dance and Cobra Strike. The adept must be flying under their own power. This talent lasts for the encounter.

Knacks

Air Boost
Talent: Air Dance
Requirements: Rank 5
Restrictions: None
Step: NA
Action: Free
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Unrestricted.
The adept gains +2 an additional when they use the Take the Initiative combat option. When this is used, it is not considered using a knack for limitations on knack or ability usage.

Cobra Boost
Talent: Cobra Strike
Requirements: Rank 5
Restrictions: None
Step: NA
Action: Free
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Unrestricted.
The adept gains +2 an additional when they use the Take the Initiative combat option. When this is used, it is not considered using a knack for limitations on knack or ability usage.

Burning for You
Talent: Fires of Gahad
Requirements: Rank 8
Restrictions: Fire Eater rank 4
Step: NA
Action: Free
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Unrestricted.
The adept adds their bonus from gahad to their Initiative result this round. This must be used at the beginning of the round. When this is used, it is not considered using a knack for limitations on knack or ability usage.

Set the Tempo [Special Maneuver]
Talent: Tail Dance
Requirements: Rank 5, Unarmed Combat rank 5
Restrictions: Tail Dancer rank 5
Keywords: Special Maneuver.
Set the Tempo (Adept, Tail Dance): The adept can spend additional successes from a Tail Dance test to give +2 to their Initiative result for the round per success.

Tiger Boost
Talent: Tiger Spring
Requirements: Rank 5
Restrictions: None
Step: NA
Action: Free
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Unrestricted.
The adept gains +2 an additional when they use the Take the Initiative combat option. When this is used, it is not considered using a knack for limitations on knack or ability usage.

Combat Options

Take the Initiative
The character takes 1 Strain and gains +2 to their Initiative. This can only be used as a Free action at the beginning of a round.

Opponents

This applies broadly to any opponents which are not built as full NPCs. If an opponent has some ability that relies on high Initiative, it should also have a corresponding ability that improves their Take the Initiative bonus to +4 (at least). Higher tier opponents may also have abilities that increase the Initiative penalty inflicted by a successful attack. This can also go for opponents with cold-based or entangling abilities. Below are some example creatures with modifications:

Deathless Reaver
 [Companion, p. 371]
Hampering Strike (4): The deathless reaver inflicts a -4 penalty to Initiative when it successfully attacks an opponent.
Initiative Boost (4): The deathless reaver gains +4 to Initiative when using Take the Initiative.

Jehuthra
 [Gamemaster's Guide, p. 475]
Icy Limbs (2): Targets affected by Frost Web suffer -2 to their Initiative. This is in addition to a penalty from damage.

Kriktikik
Sticky Mess (4): Targets affected by Web Trap suffer -4 to their Initiative.

Scar’kek
Initiative Boost (4): The scar’kek gains +4 to Initiative when using Take the Initiative.

Snow Badger
 [Gamemaster's Guide, p. 339]
Icy Limbs (2): Targets affected by Freezing Aura suffer -2 to their Initiative. This is in addition to a penalty from damage.

Spider, Giant Trapdoor
 [Gamemaster's Guide, p. 340]
Sticky Mess (2): Targets affected by Web suffer -2 to their Initiative.

Spider, Giant Weaver
 [Gamemaster's Guide, p. 341]
Sticky Mess (2): Targets affected by Web Trap suffer -2 to their Initiative.

Spider, Kaer [Companion, p. 311]
Sticky Mess (4): Targets affected by Web Trap suffer -4 to their Initiative.

17 March 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Rogues' Gallery 34 - Slaver [Alt]

This is the thirty-fourth 4E Rogues' Gallery, 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.

Like other entries in the Rogues' Gallery [Alt] series, this presents NPCs in a different fashion easier to use in combat. Essentially, these are disposable opponents who don't need to have skills referenced. They are also written to be more appropriate as combat challenges for the given Circle.


This particular entry presents slavers at various degrees of competency to be easily dropped into any game. The intent is to build this up with more such simplified entries over time.


Slaver [Recruit]

Once a serious menace in Barsaive, slavers are less prevalent since the conclusion of the Second Theran War and the Theran retreat from the province. They are still a menace with slavery still practiced in major centers like Travar (even if they keep it out of the city proper). Slavers are equipped with a variety of weapons to pacify their opponents and take them alive, but are also given more lethal means if they prove to be too vigorous.

These slavers are brand new to the trade and likely to flee from serious opposition rather than risk serious injury.

Challenge: Novice (First Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                  5        Unconsciousness:      23
STR: 6         Physical Defense:  9        Death Rating:               29
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:      7        Wound Threshold:     9
PER: 5         Social Defense:       7        Knockdown:                  8
WIL: 5        Physical Armor:      5        Recovery Tests:            2
CHA: 5        Mystic Armor:         2
Movement: 12
Actions: 1; Casting Net: 12 (Entangling), Short Sword: 10 (10), Whip (Close Combat: 3): 12 (9, Entangling)
Powers:
Awareness (7): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Distract (7): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 139.
Special Maneuvers:
Enrage (Opponent)
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)
Takedown (Slaver, Entangling): The slaver can spend an additional success on an Attack test with an entangling attack to force the opponent to make a Knockdown test against the Attack test result.
Equipment: Casting net, hardened leather armor, short sword, whip


Slaver [Seasoned]

These slavers have been practicing their appalling trade for some time and grown comfortable with throwing weapons, allowing them greater ability to take down their targets at range. They're likely to stand and fight, if only because they may fear failure more than injury. However, certain death now is worse than possible death later, so will flee if it seems like the best option.

Challenge: Novice (Second Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                  4        Unconsciousness:      28
STR: 6         Physical Defense:  10      Death Rating:               34
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:      8        Wound Threshold:     9
PER: 6         Social Defense:       7        Knockdown:                  8
WIL: 5        Physical Armor:      6        Recovery Tests:            2
CHA: 5        Mystic Armor:         2
Movement: 12
Actions: 1; Bolas (Thrown: 12, 24): 11: 10 (Entangling), Casting Net: 13 (Entangling), Short Sword: 11 (11), Whip (Close Combat: 3): 11 (10, Entangling)
Powers:
Awareness (8): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Distract (8): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 139.
Special Maneuvers:
Enrage (Opponent)
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)
Takedown (Slaver, Entangling): The slaver can spend an additional success on an Attack test with an entangling attack to force the opponent to make a Knockdown test against the Attack test result.
Equipment: Bolas, casting net, ring mail armor, short sword, whip


Slaver [Veteran]

Typically the leaders of their abhorrent little bands, these slavers may work closely with questors of Dis, or anyone looking to make money from the peculiar institution. They likely have the resources elsewhere to negotiate if the tide turns against them and escape looks improbable. They don't keep this on their persons and it isn't always a trap to go retrieve it.

Challenge: Novice (Third Circle)
DEX: 6        Initiative:                  4        Unconsciousness:      33
STR: 6         Physical Defense:  11       Death Rating:               39
TOU: 6        Mystic Defense:      9        Wound Threshold:     9
PER: 6         Social Defense:       8        Knockdown:                  8
WIL: 6        Physical Armor:      6        Recovery Tests:            2
CHA: 5        Mystic Armor:         3
Movement: 12
Actions: 1; Bolas (Thrown: 12, 24): 14: 12 (Entangling), Broadsword: 14 (14), Throwing Net (Thrown: 10, 20): 16 (Entangling), Whip (Close Combat: 3): 14 (12, Entangling)
Powers:
Awareness (10): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Distract (10): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 139.
Special Maneuvers:
Enrage (Opponent)
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)
Takedown (Slaver, Entangling): The slaver can spend an additional success on an Attack test with an entangling attack to force the opponent to make a Knockdown test against the Attack test result.
Equipment: Bolas, broadsword, ring mail armor, throwing netwhip


Slaver [Elite]

Why these individuals aren't questors of Dis may be an open question—most likely lack of dedication to anything beyond themselves. These elite slavers take pleasure in their work and enjoy breaking their prisoners. They have a particular knack for crushing hope and take pride in their abilities. There is almost certain a Liberator somewhere who knows their Name and is looking for them.

Challenge: Novice (Fourth Circle)
DEX: 7        Initiative:                  3        Unconsciousness:      41
STR: 7         Physical Defense:  12       Death Rating:               48
TOU: 7        Mystic Defense:      10      Wound Threshold:     10
PER: 6         Social Defense:       8        Knockdown:                  9
WIL: 6        Physical Armor:      7        Recovery Tests:            2
CHA: 6        Mystic Armor:         3
Movement: 12
Actions: 1; Bolas (Thrown: 12, 24): 15: 13 (Entangling), Broadsword: 15 (15), Throwing Net (Thrown: 10, 20): 17 (Entangling), Whip (Close Combat: 3): 15 (13, Entangling)
Powers:
Awareness (10): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 129.
Distract (10): As the skill, Player's Guide, p. 139.
Special Maneuvers:
Enrage (Opponent)
Opening (Slaver, Close Combat): The slaver may spend additional successes from an Attack test to give their allies a +1 bonus per success spent to Attack tests against the opponent until the end of the next round.
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)
Takedown (Slaver, Entangling): The slaver can spend an additional success on an Attack test with an entangling attack to force the opponent to make a Knockdown test against the Attack test result.
Equipment: Bolas, broadsword, ring mail armor, throwing netwhip

10 March 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Horror 14 - Scar'kek

This is the fourteenth 4E Anatomy of a Horror, 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 nasty piece of work was something I worked on a while back but never finished it for whatever reason. It doesn't have a whole lot going on compared to a lot of other Warden-tier opponents, but it can be dangerous. Best to take it out very quickly. 

Scar'kek

Scholars of such topics theorize scar’keks came from the dangerous and generally best avoided scar beetles, but were twisted and made even more lethal by Horrors during the Scourge. These now four-legged chitinous monstrosities travel in small, organized groups bringing pain and suffering with them. They are seemingly fearless and ruthless, letting nothing stop them, though they are mercifully rare and active groups tend to draw attention. Not before indulging in their characteristic wanton violence.

There are some curiosities to their activity suggesting there may be greater intelligence at play. Otherwise it would be relatively easy to track them, but groups seem to appear from nowhere and can vanish if not disposed of first. Hunting parties after these groups often never return.

Their carapace is a beautiful glossy black and gold, with hues of purple and blue as light plays on it. It might even be popular if it wasn’t associated so unmistakably with Horror constructs, as faces seem to press against it from inside of their body. Their legs are long and slender, perfect for finding their way through whatever protection their prey may place misguided faith in. Very small serrations all along their carapace tear at flesh, ensuring the most exquisite pain. They are horrifyingly fast and use this to their advantage against slower opponents.

Instead of a mouth on their head, it was relocated under their body, complete with mandibles. However, instead of the complex mouth of a scar beetle, it appears more as a Namegiver mouth with rows of serrated teeth. Scar’kek have an unsettling laugh when they chase their prey.

Challenge: Warden (Ninth Circle)
DEX: 14        Initiative:                  20     Unconsciousness:      90
STR: 8          Physical Defense:   19      Death Rating:               108
TOU: 9         Mystic Defense:       17      Wound Threshold:     13
PER: 8          Social Defense:        14      Knockdown:                 12
WIL: 7         Physical Armor:       6        Recovery Tests:           2
CHA: 4         Mystic Armor:          6       Karma:                            6 (12)
Movement: 16 (Climbing)
Actions: 4; Bite: 22 (22), Legs ×4: 26 (15)
Powers:
Awareness (17): As the skill, Player’s Guide, p. 129.
Fury (4)
Great Leap (10)
Harvest Energy (13, Free): The scar'kek may only use this power when it inflicts a Wound.
Horror Construct
Swift Skewer (5): The scar'kek gains +5 to Attack tests against opponents with lower Initiative.
Reach (6): The scar'kek can attack opponents within 6 yards with its legs.
Resist Fear (5): The scar'kek gains +5 to Mystic and Social Defense against fear effects.
Ruthless: The absolute value of Action test penalties applied to the scar’kek 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.
Special Maneuvers:
Enrage (Opponent)
Flesh Rend (Scar’kek):
The scar’kek may spend additional successes on their Attack test to reduce their opponent’s Wound Threshold by -3 for this attack.
Impale (Scar’kek, Legs): The scar’kek spends three additional successes on their Attack test to impale their opponent through a weak point in their armor. The scar’kek’s attack is not reduced by armor.
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)

03 March 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Creature 37 - Water Sprite

This is the thirty-seventh 4E Anatomy of a Creature, 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.

Here's another creature idea I've had around for a while. This isn't quite the same as what I've been imagining, but I decided some parts fit best elsewhere once I actually started working on it. The end result should be obnoxious to deal with, particularly when put alongside other opponents who can capitalize on their disrupting abilities.

Water Sprite

These tiny androgynous humanoids are nearly transparent, changing colors between clear, green-blues, and blues. They are sometimes called “water wraiths,” but that is something entirely different and a mistake only made by people who have never encountered a water wraith. Written accounts from before the Scourge tell of them as mischievous entities who would play harmless pranks and bring levity with them, while also helping those in need.

Like so many things the Horrors took when they came, the innocence of water sprites is among them. While not all are affected, those who aren’t live in fear of their malevolent brethren who delight in the fear and suffering they cause. They will even pretend to be chased by their allies to lure their would-be saviors into a particularly nasty trap. Pre-Scourge water sprites may ally with groups of trusted Namegivers who offer them protection for their aid.


Water sprites are entirely craven and flee when the tides turn against them. As much as the love to see someone struggle and drown in a water bubble, they would much rather live to scheme and torment a different day. They can be found in the company of many different creatures and even Horror constructs, who leave them be. Water sprites often wait in the wings near more dangerous creatures to sow chaos in any unfolding conflicts.

Challenge: Journeyman (Fifth Circle)
DEX: 8        Initiative:                  10      Unconsciousness:      40
STR: 2         Physical Defense:   15      Death Rating:               45
TOU: 5        Mystic Defense:       14     Wound Threshold:     7
PER: 7         Social Defense:        14      Knockdown:                 2
WIL: 5        Physical Armor:       2       Recovery Tests:           2
CHA: 7       Mystic Armor:           6        
Movement: 16 (Flying, Swimming)
Actions: 2; Unarmed ×2: 16 (13)
Powers:
Astral Attack: The water sprite can target Mystic Defense instead of Physical Defense with its Unarmed attacks.
Awareness (12): As the skill, Player’s Guide, p. 129.
Creature Power (16, Torrent Stream, Standard): Additional successes can only be spent on the listed special maneuvers.
Stealthy Stride (13): As the skill, Player’s Guide, p. 170.
Torrent Stream (11): The water sprite makes a Creature Power test against the Mystic Defense of a target within 20 yards. If successful, the target is bombarded with a torrent of water, thoroughly soaking and injuring them, and the target takes damage equal to the Torrent Stream result, reduced by Physical Armor.

Willful (2)

Special Maneuvers:
Dispelling Strike (Water Sprite): The water sprite may spend an additional success on an Attack or Creature Power test to make a Dispel Magic test against one spell affecting the target. Use the appropriate result as the Dispel Magic result.
Ethereal Attack (Water Sprite, Close Combat): The water sprite may spend an additional success on an Attack test to affect Mystic Armor instead of Physical Armor.
Knockback (Water Sprite, Creature Power): The water sprite may spend additional successes on its Creature Power test to throw opponents. Each success spent this way throws the target 2 yards and this distance is treated as falling (Gamemaster’s Guide, p. 167).
Water Bubble (Water Sprite, Creature Power): The water sprite may spend three additional successes on its Creature Power test to envelop the target in a bubble filled with water (Gamemaster’s Guide, p. 168). The target is affected by the Dispelling Strike special maneuver, except it targets all spells currently affecting the target. The target may attempt to escape each round with a successful Strength (10) test, gaining a +2 bonus if they have a piercing or sharp weapon in hand. Allies outside the bubble can attempt to free them in the same fashion with an attack. This special maneuver may be used once per round.