26 May 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 39 - Bladeweaver Part 1, Talents

This is part 1 of the thirty-ninth 4E Anatomy of a Discipline, 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.

I've been thinking about this Discipline for a long time. Because who doesn't love a gish? It's truly the culmination of years of work, though it all came together in just a scant few days. My first experiment was the original iteration of Shaman and their imbue spells. While they didn't make it into the final version—it really wasn't a good fit, however interesting—I was being completely honest when I indicated I gathered a lot of useful data from that experiment.

There were other experiments since then, some public some not so much. Mostly it's been thinking about it. How to fit the pieces together. What to call it. How should the spell progression work. What are the themes.

That last one was the most difficult piece. It would determine so much about how the Discipline felt. What some of the talents would be, what spells it would get, how everything ties into the philosophy and perspective. The stuff that makes a Discipline come alive. It was also important for the theme not to just be something cribbed from the other spellcasters. That doesn't leave a whole lot of fertile ground to play with.

If you look close, you can see the themes tying this Discipline together throughout it. Especially in their spells. Not just in what they get, but also in what they don't get.

While I think this is a good start on a hybrid fighter-spellcaster Discipline that's more than just the sum of those two parts, it's not an easy concept to execute in many fantasy adventure games due to how they're put together. Not while still distinctly feeling like each of those parts separately. Hopefully this manages to do those while still being its own thing.


Bladeweaver


Arguably the rarest Discipline, but certainly the least well known. Bladeweavers are secretive adepts and attempt to draw little attention as they travel the lands. Until the time comes to use their distinctive blend of swordplay and sorcery. They mastered the art of utilizing glyphs to empower both their spellcasting and swordsmanship, finding shortcuts to draw power and blending it with their unique fighting style.


The fashion in which they harness magic calls on primal forces of chaos and entropy, then shaping that into the form they require. This gives rise to their duality in perspective between chaos and order. They’re in their element surrounded by the chaos of the battlefield, drawing on it, seeing and creating patterns until they establish order. Taking that which is ordered and static and pulling it apart so it may be built anew. The endless and inevitable cycle of creation and destruction.


Not all Bladeweavers ascribe to a balance between these poles even as they harness the magic and understand the importance. Chaos is dangerous, but full of potential. Order is potential realized, but unchanging. Most Bladeweavers also don’t see these as moral imperatives, so much as a natural order where they strive to do what is right by Namegivers. To most, the answer is drawing on both as needed. However, some prefer to impose order in their world and only tear down what is broken, while others leave a tide of chaos in their wake.


Journeyman and more experienced Bladeweavers are always looking for adepts with the right potential to learn their secrets. Their glyphs are not easy to master and their training is demanding. The forces they seek to harness are in eternal opposition and this can be dangerous for young adepts. The power and forces can cause some to become disturbed; traits their fellows are always on the lookout for, though it can be difficult for those who are already bent to detect the broken.


It’s more unusual for Bladeweavers to initiate into a second Discipline than most other adepts and rarer still for other adepts to initiate into the Discipline. However, those with the appropriate aptitude may be accepted into their small numbers. Bladeweavers who initiate into other Disciplines typically do so with Disciplines like Scout or Thief, who provide a different, complementary perspective. Their unique blend of magic and swordplay doesn’t lend itself well to many other Disciplines others may consider “similar.” Those who seek to enact broader change on their terms may find Troubadour suits their goals, though most Bladeweavers are too introspective and find the roles of Disciplines like Swordmaster and Troubadour wholly alien.


There are two truths to Bladeweavers: they never share their secrets with those outside their select group and they do not quest. Only those who are initiated into the Discipline are allowed to learn of their glyphs, which includes their thread weaving talent and Glyph of the Blade. The Glyph of the Blade is a personal expression of their connection to their Discipline and each other. Even as they may fight to the death, there is always respect between those who wield glyph blades. A Bladeweaver who teaches an outsider that secret finds themselves ostracized and in crisis. Bladeweaver ghost masters will not answer their call and former allies won’t speak to them at best until it is made right. Which is most likely to be a path of blood and chaos until order is restored.


Those who know Bladeweavers but are not of them may see an individual as a natural fit as a questor of Lochost, Mynbruje, or Upandal depending on their perspective. However, this sees only the surface and not the deeper perspective of the adept. The demands and necessities of the Discipline are such that serving a Passion as a questor submits their will and desires to the Passion, they become aligned. Bladeweavers must be masters of their will and destiny to control the forces at their disposal. Those who quest find themselves in a similar position as those who share their secrets; their time as a Bladeweaver is effectively at an end. They have a new quest.


Their secretive mentality also goes poorly with many Paths with a similar focus. There are no Bladeweaver Messengers or Windmasters, despite what their unique talents would bring to the Paths. Those groups find it impossible to trust these adepts with their secrets, just as they find it impossible to trust others with theirs. 


Important Attributes: Dexterity, Perception, Willpower


Example Karma Ritual: The Bladeweaver draws their personal glyph on the ground, then surrounds it with a circle at least two yards in diameter. They draw further Blade Weaving glyphs around the circle and summon their glyph blade when done. After meditating for a few minutes, they use each inscribed glyph. The glyph lights up as it is performed, the light crystallizing and floating up, suspended over the glyph as the ritual proceeds. Once all the glyphs are activated after 30 minutes, the Bladeweaver strikes all the crystals in one strike, shattering them into motes of light which dissipate. The ritual is then complete.


Suggested Artisan Skills: Rune Carving, Sculpture


Half-Magic: Bladeweavers may use half-magic to recognize different types of magic use and identify specific uses of Blade Weaving, including another Bladeweaver’s techniques and prominent Bladeweavers who shaped the individual’s style. They may also use half-magic when looking for patterns and analyzing an organization or plan for weak points.


Novice

 

Talent Options: Acrobatic Defense, Anticipate Blow, Awareness, Danger Sense, Great Leap, Maneuver, Research, Standard Matrix, Tiger Spring, Wound Balance


First Circle

  • Discipline Talents: Glyph of the Blade, Melee Weapons, Patterncraft, Spellcasting, Thread Weaving (Blade Weaving)

  • Free Talent: Standard Matrix

  • Karma Ability: The adept can spend a Karma Point on an Action test to specifically and directly disrupt a plan or create order from chaos. This can be used once per round.

  • Durability 5

 

Second Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Avoid Blow

  • Defense Bonus: +1 Physical Defense

 

Third Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Astral Sight

  • Karma Ability: The adept can spend a Karma Point on Initiative tests.

 

Fourth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Steel Thought

  • Defense Bonus: +1 Mystic Defense

 

Journeyman


Talent Options: Dispel Magic, Enhanced Matrix, Iron Constitution, Lion Heart, Spot Armor Flaw, Sprint, Temper Flesh, Tenacious Weave, True Sight, Willforce


Fifth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Glyph of Speed

  • Sudden Clarity: For 1 Strain as a Simple action, the adept can use a knack with the glyphweave keyword. This is in addition to normal usage.

  • Karma Ability: The adept can spend a Karma Point on Damage tests using their glyph blade.

 

Sixth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Power Mask

  • Defense Bonus: +2 Physical Defense

 

Seventh Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Glyph of Violence

  • Trait Bonus: +1 Mystic Armor

 

Eighth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Second Attack

  • Defense Bonus: +2 Mystic Defense

 

Warden


Talent Options: Armored Matrix, Critical Hit, Defensive Posture, Fluid Movement, Lion Spirit, Matrix Sight, Relentless Recovery, Resist Pain, Spirit Strike, Unflinching Fortitude


Ninth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Ethereal Weapon

  • Crystallized Pattern: The adept performs an eight-hour ritual with their glyph blade, infusing with more of their life energy and taking 1 Blood Magic Damage. Each adept’s ritual is unique, usually based on their training and personal philosophy. It’s commonly performed as the last step in becoming a Warden, but may be done at any time. After the ritual, the glyph blade adds +3 to close combat Attack tests with it. When the adept dies, the glyph blade becomes an appropriate physical thread item

  • Karma Ability: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Recovery tests.

 

Tenth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Momentum Attack

  • Defense Bonus: +3 Physical Defense

  • Trait Bonus: +1 Initiative

 

Eleventh Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Glyph of Shielding

  • Defense Bonus: +1 Social Defense

  • Karma Ability: The adept can spend a Karma Point on an Attack test using their glyph blade against an opponent they astrally sensed.

 

Twelfth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Concise Casting

  • Defense Bonus: +3 Mystic Defense

  • Trait Bonus: +2 Mystic Armor

 

Master


Talent Options: Aura Armor, Chilling Strike, Glyph of Reversal, Netherwalk, Second Chance, Shared Matrix, Soul Aegis, Vicious Wound


Thirteenth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Glyph of Attunement

  • Chaos and Order: The adept wields primal forces through their glyph blade, inflicting them on those it strikes, staggering them with mystic ligatures as they are disoriented by raw chaos. For 3 Strain as a Simple action, opponents struck by the adept’s glyph blade this round suffer a -4 to Action, Damage, and Initiative tests, and Defenses until the end of the next round.

  • Defense Bonus: +4 Physical Defense

  • Trait Bonus: +1 Recovery Test

  • Karma Ability: +1 Karma Step

 

Fourteenth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Casting Pattern

  • Defense Bonus: +4 Mystic Defense

  • Trait Bonus: +2 Initiative

 

Fifteenth Circle

  • Discipline Talent: Spliced Weave

  • Defense Bonus: +2 Social Defense

  • Trait Bonus: +3 Mystic Armor

 

Talents


Glyph of Speed

Step: Rank+DEX

Action: Free

Strain: 2

Keywords: Karma. Replacement.

The adept forms their personal glyph with their off-hand and infuses their body with chaotic energy, giving it the desire to go in every direction, and their mind with the clarity of purpose to go in only one direction. They replace their Initiative Step with their Glyph of Speed Step. The adept may use a knack with the glyphweave keyword as a Simple action this round. The adept must have at least one free hand to use this talent.


Glyph of the Blade

Step: Rank+2+(Special)

Action: Free

Strain: 0

Keywords: Karma. Persistent. Weapon.

The adept forms their personal glyph with a hand and fashions a sword from chaos and magic, crystallized as a personal and unique expression of their pattern and personal glyph. Each glyph blade, as they are known, is unique to the creator and often reflects their mentors and training, in addition to themselves. All are at the creator’s one-handed size limit, which is added to the Step as the “special.”

Glyph blades inherently produce no additional effects and are immediately identifiable as unnatural. The adept can dismiss it at will and is unmade if it leaves their hand or they lose consciousness. Another adept with this talent may handle another adept’s glyph blade if allowed. The adept may only have one glyph blade created at a time and it cannot be dispelled or forged. The glyph blade is not compatible with damage replacement talents (e.g. Crushing Blow). The adept’s off-hand must be free while using this talent.

Their appearance may evolve as the talent and adept increase in power, but is consistent unless the adept goes through significant change. One may appear as a beam of moonlight with captured stars forming glyphs on the surface, while another may be white metal that burns with a cold fire.


Glyph of Violence

Step: Rank+WIL

Action: Simple

Strain: 1

Keywords: Aggressive. Karma.

The adept forms their personal glyph with their off-hand and empowers their glyph blade with the chaos and violence, controlled and directed into a visible aura around their weapon. Each aura is personal to the adept. For example, swirling runes fashioned from motes of the heavens, or a sheath of crackling entropy. They make a Glyph of Violence (10) and gain +2 per success to close combat Damage tests made with the glyph blade for Glyph of Violence rank rounds. If the glyph blade is unmade (e.g. by being disarmed), the effect ends and the talent must be used again. The adept’s off-hand must be free to use this talent.


Knacks


Glyph of Speed


Glyph of Alacrity

Talent: Glyph of Speed

Requirements: Rank 7

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 7

Step: Rank+DEX

Action: Free

Strain: 2

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Standard Effects.

The adept may use a knack with the glyphweave keyword a second time as a Simple action if they used Blade Weaving to attempt to weave threads this round or used a knack with the glyphweave keyword as a Standard action.


Glyph of the Blade


Glyph Blade I

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 4, Blade Weaving rank 5

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 5

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept performs an eight-hour ritual enchanting their glyph blade and giving it a True pattern separate from the adept’s, but still intrinsically connected, and a Name. The adept weaves a permanent thread to their glyph blade as part of this process. The glyph blade is a rank 1 thread item containing a Standard Matrix of rank equal to the thread item rank.


Glyph Blade II

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 5, Blade Weaving rank 5, Glyph Blade I

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 5

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 2. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade or +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade.


Glyph Blade III

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 6, Blade Weaving rank 6, Glyph Blade II

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 6

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 3. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade or +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade. The benefits are cumulative with previous Glyph Blade knacks.


Glyph Blade IV

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 6, Blade Weaving rank 6, Glyph Blade III

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 6

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 4. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade or +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade. The benefits are cumulative with previous Glyph Blade knacks.


Glyph Blade V

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 7, Blade Weaving rank 7, Glyph Blade IV

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 7

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 5. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade, +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade, or +1 to Initiative tests. The adept may choose a damage keyword for the glyph blade to inflict: Air, Air–Electricity, Earth, Earth–Metal, Fire, Water, Water–Acid, or Water–Cold. The benefits are cumulative with previous Glyph Blade knacks.


Glyph Blade VI

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 7, Blade Weaving rank 7, Glyph Blade V

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 7

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 6. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade, +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade, or +1 to Initiative tests. If the adept didn’t choose a damage keyword previously, they may do so now. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion. The benefits are cumulative with previous Glyph Blade knacks.


Glyph Blade VII

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 8, Blade Weaving rank 8, Glyph Blade VI

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 8

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 7. The Standard Matrix is now an Enhanced Matrix.


Glyph Blade VIII

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 8, Blade Weaving rank 8, Glyph Blade VII

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 8

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 8. They may select two of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade, +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade, or +1 to Initiative tests. If the adept didn’t choose a damage keyword previously, they may do so now. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion. This cannot provide increases to Armor, Attribute Values, Defenses, or Recovery Tests. The benefits are cumulative with previous Glyph Blade knacks.


Glyph Blade IX

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 9, Blade Weaving rank 9, Glyph Blade VIII

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 9

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 9. They may select one of the following abilities: They may select two of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade, +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade, or +1 to Initiative tests. If the adept didn’t choose a damage keyword previously, they may do so now. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion. This cannot provide increases to Armor, Attribute Values, Defenses, or Recovery Tests. The benefits are cumulative with previous Glyph Blade knacks.


Glyph Blade X

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 10, Blade Weaving rank 10, Glyph Blade IX

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 10

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 10. They may select one of the following abilities: They may select two of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade, +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade, or +1 to Initiative tests. If the adept didn’t choose a damage keyword previously, they may do so now. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion. This cannot provide increases to Armor, Attribute Values, Defenses, or Recovery Tests. The benefits are cumulative with previous Glyph Blade knacks.


Glyph Blade XI

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 11, Blade Weaving rank 11, Glyph Blade X

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 11

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept must perform a legendary deed using their glyph blade, at which point how to learn this knack crystallizes from the chaos. It requires a week of intensive meditation to learn. The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 11. They may select two of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade, +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade, or +1 to Initiative tests. If the adept didn’t choose a damage keyword previously, they may do so now. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion. This cannot provide increases to Armor, Attribute Values, Defenses, or Recovery Tests. The benefits are cumulative with previous Glyph Blade knacks.


Glyph Blade XII

Talent: Glyph of the Blade

Requirements: Rank 12, Blade Weaving rank 12, Glyph Blade XI

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 12

Step: NA

Action: NA

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Perpetual.

The adept must perform a legendary deed using their glyph blade, at which point how to learn this knack crystallizes from the chaos. It requires a week of intensive meditation to learn. There may be further Glyph Blade knacks yet to be discovered. The adept enhances their glyph blade and it is rank 11. They may select two of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the glyph blade, +1 to Damage tests using the glyph blade, or +1 to Initiative tests. If the adept didn’t choose a damage keyword previously, they may do so now. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion. This cannot provide increases to Armor, Attribute Values, Defenses, or Recovery Tests. The benefits are cumulative with previous Glyph Blade knacks.


Spellcasting


Chaos

Talent: Spellcasting

Requirements: Rank 2

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 2

Step: Rank+PER

Action: Standard (Special)

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Glyphweave. Karma.

The Bladeweaver enhances a glyph blade’s damage by empowering the crystallized chaos. The Bladeweaver touches the glyph blade and makes a Spellcasting (6) test. If successful, the glyph blade gains +2 to Damage tests until the end of the round. Using this knack is a Simple action if the adept used Blade Weaving to attempt weaving threads this round. The Bladeweaver must have a free hand to use this knack.


Discord

Talent: Spellcasting

Requirements: Rank 4

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 4

Step: Rank+PER

Action: Standard (Special)

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Glyphweave. Karma.

The Bladeweaver affects a target’s perception of reality. The Bladeweaver makes a sharp pulling motion with their hand at a target within 10 yards and makes a Spellcasting test against their Mystic Defense. If successful, the target suffers -2 to Physical Defense until the end of the next round. Using this knack is a Simple action if the adept used Blade Weaving to attempt weaving threads this round. The Bladeweaver must have a free hand to use this knack.


Entropy

Talent: Spellcasting

Requirements: Rank 5

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 5

Step: Rank+PER

Action: Standard (Special)

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Glyphweave. Karma.

The Bladeweaver weakens a target’s armor. The Bladeweaver makes a tearing motion with their hand at a target within 10 yards and makes a Spellcasting test against their Mystic Defense. If successful, the target suffers -2 to Physical Armor until the end of the next round. Using this knack is a Simple action if the adept used Blade Weaving to attempt weaving threads this round. The Bladeweaver must have a free hand to use this knack.


Order 

Talent: Spellcasting

Requirements: Rank 3

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 3

Step: Rank+PER

Action: Standard (Special)

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Glyphweave. Karma.

The Bladeweaver forms their personal glyph with a hand and they see their surroundings objectively. They make a Spellcasting (6) test. If successful, they gain +2 to Physical Defense until the end of the next round. Using this knack is a Simple action if the adept used Blade Weaving to attempt weaving threads this round. The Bladeweaver must have a free hand to use this knack.


Prescience

Talent: Spellcasting

Requirements: Rank 2

Restrictions: Bladeweaver Circle 2

Step: Rank+PER

Action: Standard (Special)

Strain: 0

Skill Use: No

Keywords: Glyphweave. Karma.

The Bladeweaver enhances a glyph blade, cutting through the chaos to glimpse possibilities. The Bladeweaver touches the glyph blade and makes a Spellcasting (6) test. If successful, the glyph blade gains +2 to Attack tests until the end of the round. Using this knack is a Simple action if the adept used Blade Weaving to attempt weaving threads this round. The Bladeweaver must have a free hand to use this knack.