09 June 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Rules Variant 23 - Teamwork

This is the twenty-third 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.

Various tasks can be performed by groups. Currently there’s minimal support for this in Earthdawn because 1) it’s never been present in previous editions and 2) it’s complicated to model. Design time being what it is, there isn’t always time to get everything you want accomplished. However, this blog is a chance to revisit those topics in some ways and see what can be done as a post-hoc rectification.

The truth is, I did get to sneak in some teamwork mechanics. Working as a group for enchanting (Companion, p. 130). The difficulty with teamwork mechanics is balancing between allowing people to contribute v. making contributions too powerful to make the challenge meaningless. This strikes a balance by making the most skilled character the star of the show—as they should be, they invested the most to get there, it’s their time—allowing other characters to participate beyond everyone throwing dice and seeing who gets the magically highest result (aka D&D 3.X), and keeping contributions meaningful, but not overwhelming.

This post adapts those mechanics to general purposes rather than just enchanting. Gamemasters should have some discretion on what activities can benefit from teamwork and there are no clear and simple delineations on what should or shouldn’t be allowed. For example, working together to pull something heavy is definitely something where teamwork applies, but sneaking down a hallway, not so much. That’s a situation where the more people involved, the worse it gets.


One character is designated the leader for a task, typically the character with the highest rank in the relevant ability. The maximum number of participants allowed is equal to the leader’s rank in the relevant ability. This number includes the leader. Thus, a leader with rank 1 can’t get assistance. They wouldn’t really know what to do with it because they barely know what they’re doing. This limitation shouldn’t apply in situations where no ability reasonably applies, like hauling a big rock.

Each assistant makes a test with the appropriate ability at Difficulty 10 before the leader. Each success gives the leader a +2 bonus to their test. Any given assistant cannot give more successes than their rank in the appropriate ability. Again, this last limitation shouldn’t apply if there is no appropriate ability.

For example, Dougan and Dvarim are attempting to decipher the nearly incomprehensible scrawlings of a clearly deranged individual. They realize they’re going to have to work together to get this done. Dougan is the leader and Dvarim is the assistant as the former is slightly better with Patterncraft. Dvarim makes a Patterncraft (10) and gets a 24 as the result: three successes. Since Dvarim’s Patterncraft rank is greater than 3, all the successes can benefit Dougan’s Patterncraft test, giving a +6 bonus. A significant bonus, but not one that makes the task trivial.

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