24 June 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Rules Variant 25 - Updates Part 4: Shaman Spells

This is the twenty-fifth 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 is part of a significant update to better align things with lessons learned and best practices. The primary focus is updating various effects to static Difficulty Numbers, but this is not where it stops and it includes abilities outside that scope which require some attention.

These updates rely on previous updates to Combat Options and Stances and Social Abilities.

This series of rules variants entirely replaces and is incompatible with Chain Casting and Lowering Mystic Defense optional rules. This includes talents which include the text regarding always generating at least one success. Updates for those abilities omit that text.

As I discussed in my Renewable Spells variant, Chain Casting was new as a formalized concept to Earthdawn finding the right balance was tricky. This incorporates the concepts in that rules variant directly into the spells. Lowering Mystic Defense was a kludge to fix an oversight. Static Difficulty Numbers are a more consistent way to achieve the same effect while still allowing for the chance of failure, however small.

As a general rule, if someone is casting a spell to effectively replicate the effects of a Continuous extra thread or chain casting, they should be paying Strain at each casting. This is poor form on their part.

 Spellcasting doesn't have a Strain cost for mechanical reasons (though I considered it for a while) because it's unnecessarily punitive to spellcasters. However, this doesn't give them free reign to cast spells all day long. Harnessing magic in that fashion is tiring even if the mechanics don't reflect that. Treating it as though it's not a big deal is silly and a bad faith argument. Even as closely tied as system and setting are in Earthdawn, it's still a game and cannot accurately reflect every aspect of the latter. Which is where the people playing are expected to fill in the gaps. 

Shaman Spells


Continuous: Allows the spell to be maintained on the targets as long as the spell remains in the spell matrix it was cast from and the targets start the scene with the spellcaster. Only one continuous instance of a given spell can be maintained at a time. Continuous spells never generate additional successes from Spellcasting. The spell must have a minutes or greater duration to be affected by this extra thread. If a spell has “Increase Duration (Minutes),” this must be woven as an extra thread as the spell is being cast.

Continuous spells cannot benefit from improved spell knacks or Karma abilities.


First Circle


Prey Senses

Threads: 1

Weaving: 5/10

Casting: 6

Range: Touch

Duration: Rank minutes

Effect: +2 Awareness and Danger Sense

Keywords: Pack. Spirit. Willing.

This spell heightens the target’s senses. The Shaman draws their fingers down the target’s head, first, the face, the sides, and along their palms, and makes a Spellcasting (6) Action test. If successful, the Shaman summons an appropriate prey animal spirit to imbue the target. The target takes on small animal features, such as mobile, furred ears, a slightly black nose, bird-like eyes, etc., and gains +2 Awareness and Danger Sense.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Additional Target (+Circle), Continuous, Increase Effect (+1)


Weather Cloak

Threads: 0

Weaving: 5/10

Casting: 6

Range: Touch

Duration: Rank minutes

Effect: Provides protection against the weather

Keywords: Pack. Willing.

This spell creates a cloak that provides protection against the elements. The Shaman holds their hands over their head and makes a Spellcasting (6) Action test. If successful, a shimmering blue-silver cloak is woven around the target, protecting them from the elements. They gain +2 to tests against the effects of heat or cold caused by weather. The weather cloak also provides protection against the effects of supernatural weather, such as Death Rain, providing +2 to tests or Armor as appropriate.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Additional Target (+Circle), Continuous, Increase Effect (+2)


Second Circle


Ferocity

Threads: 0

Weaving: 6/11

Casting: 6

Range: 10 yards

Duration: Rank rounds

Effect: +4 to close combat Attack tests

Keywords: Pack. Willing.

This spell increases the target’s aggression, improving their combat capabilities. The Shaman quickly claws the air or a surface and makes a Spellcasting (6) Action test. If successful, the target’s muscles are taut and animalistic instincts come over them, gaining +4 to close combat Attack tests.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Additional Target (+Circle), Increase Effect (+2), Increase Range (+10)


Hero’s Feast

Threads: See text

Weaving: 6/11

Casting: 10

Range: Touch

Duration: 1 hour

Effect: Improves healing during a meal between comrades

Keywords: Downtime. Willing.

This spell enchants a meal shared between allies after a conflict to improve healing. The Shaman prepares a meal for each target (even if this is just passing it out), weaves a thread for each target, and makes a Spellcasting (10) Action test. The spell targets up to Circle Namegivers loyal to each other, but does not have to include the Shaman. If successful, each target shares stories about their past battles and escapades, particularly regarding allies no longer with them. Each target may spend a Recovery Test and make a Recovery test. The Recovery test gains +2 for each target of the spell.

Reducing the time required for a Recovery test does not allow the target to have multiple Recovery tests benefit from this spell. This spell may only be cast once per day. Note: Increasing the Effect affects the total healed, not increasing the contribution per character.

Success Levels: Increase Effect (+2)

Extra Threads: Increase Effect (+2)


Mark of the Boar

Threads: 1

Weaving: 6/11

Casting: 10

Range: 10 yards

Duration: Rank rounds

Effect: Turn Wound penalties into bonuses and improve Aggressive Stance

Keywords: Binding. Pack. Spirit. Willing.

This spell summons a boar spirit to temporarily bind to a target. The Shaman drops to the ground, paws at it with their hands, and makes a Spellcasting (10) Action test. If successful, a violent boar spirit charges into the target, squealing threateningly. The target immediately changes to a threatening posture, adopts an aggressive stance, and gains the following benefits: Fury 2, the Aggressive stance doesn’t cost Strain and provides an additional +2 to close combat Attack and Damage tests (typically total +5 to each).

The target must use the Aggressive stance every round, can only move towards the enemy, and must either be engaged with an opponent or actively moving towards one. Failure to perform any of these causes the spell to immediately end. If this spell prematurely ends for any reason, they suffer a Wound as the spirit rips out of them and -4 penalty to their Wound Threshold until they make a Recovery test after an hour of rest. This spell may only have one active casting at a time.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Increase Effect (+1 Aggressive stance), Increase Effect (Fury +2), Increase Range (+10)


Soothe the Savage Beast

Threads: 1

Weaving: 6/11

Casting: TMD

Range: 10 yards

Duration: Rank minutes

Effect: Makes an animal friendly

Keywords: Condition. Impairment.

This spell hypnotizes an animal into passivity. The Shaman stretches out their hands, causing softly glowing tendrils of blue light to move in an intricate pattern between them, and makes a Spellcasting Action test against the target animal’s Mystic Defense. If successful, the target gains the friendly 4 impairment condition. If the target is attacked, the spell ends.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Additional Target (+1), Increase Effect (+2), Increase Range (+10)


Third Circle


Catwalk

Threads: 1

Weaving: 7/12

Casting: 6

Range: Touch

Duration: Rank minutes

Effect: +2 bonus to Action tests involving climbing, balancing, and sneaking

Keywords: Pack. Spirit. Willing.

This spell improves balance. The Shaman mutters “meow” several times, then lightly strokes the target’s head, and makes a Spellcasting (6) Action test. If successful, they summon a cat spirit that responds to the meow, rubs up against the target’s leg, circles around, settles into them, and imbues the target. The target’s sense of balance and coordination are markedly improved, and they gain +2 to tests involving climbing, balance, and sneaking, including Climbing, Jump Up, Knockdown, and Stealth tests.

If the target gets wet or becomes filthy, this spell ends and they cannot be affected again for the rest of the day.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Additional target (+Circle), Continuous, Increase Effect (+1), Increase Range (+10)


Polecat Resilience

Threads: 0

Weaving: 7/12

Casting: 6

Range: Touch

Duration: Rank minutes

Effect: +2 to tests against disease and poison

Keywords: Pack. Spirit. Willing.

This spell enhances the target’s resistance to disease and poison. The Shaman spreads a bit of filth around the target’s eyes and makes a Spellcasting (6) Action test. If successful, they summon a polecat spirit that peeks around a corner, bounces up to the target, and imbues them after it climbs them. The filth darkens to give the appearance of a mask and the target gains +2 bonus to tests against the effects of disease and poison.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Additional Target (+Circle), Continuous, Increase Effect (+2)


Sunlight

Threads: 0

Weaving: 7/12

Casting: 6

Range: Touch

Duration: Rank minutes

Area of Effect: 10-yard radius

Effect: Creates daylight

Keywords: Stationary.

This spell creates sunlight. The Shaman moves their arms in a circle and makes a Spellcasting (6) Action test. If successful, natural sunlight emanates from them, filling the area. Creatures affected by sunlight are affected by this spell. The light is virtually impossible to miss at a distance.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Continuous, Increase Area (+4)


Fourth Circle


Ferret Reflex

Threads: 0

Weaving: 8/13

Casting: 6

Range: 10 yards

Duration: Rank rounds

Effect: +2 Initiative and Physical Defense

Keywords: Pack. Spirit. Willing.

This spell increases the target’s agility and reaction speed. The Shaman moves quickly in almost impossible contortions and makes a Spellcasting (6) Action test. If successful, a ferret spirit races from nowhere, falling over itself, and winds up the target’s leg, imbuing the target. The target becomes twitchy and extremely flexible, gaining +2 Initiative and Physical Defense.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Additional target (+Circle), Increase Effect (+1), Increase Range (+10)


Gills

Threads: 1

Weaving: 8/13

Casting: 6

Range: 10 yards

Duration: Rank minutes

Effect: Allows the target to breathe underwater

Keywords: Pack. Spirit. Willing.

This spell allows the target to breathe underwater. The Shaman makes fishlike mouthing gestures and makes a Spellcasting (6) Action test. If successful, they summon a fish spirit to imbue the target and small gills appear behind their  ears (or neck, if they don’t have external ears, such as  obsidimen). While still able to breathe air normally, they can also breathe underwater.

This spell may be stored in the same spell matrix as Otter Swim.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Additional Target (+Circle), Continuous, Increase Range (+10)


Mark of the Bear

Threads: 1

Weaving: 8/13

Casting: 10

Range: 10 yards

Duration: Rank rounds

Effect: Target becomes a den mother

Keywords: Binding. Pack. Spirit. Willing.

This spell summons a bear spirit to temporarily bind to the target. The Shaman leans back, bellows, and makes a Spellcasting (10) Action test. If successful, a ghostly bear spirit ambles into the target and hugs them as it merges with them. The target bellows and gains the following benefits: +2 to close combat Attack and Damage tests and if any opponent attempts to disengage from the target, they may immediately make a close combat attack against the opponent. If successful, the opponent’s Movement Rate drops to 0 for the round in addition to damage and other effects. The target must choose an ally to protect when this spell is cast.

If the target ends their turn more than 2 yards from the chosen ally, the spell immediately ends. If this spell prematurely ends for any reason, they’re Harried until they rest for at least an hour and eat a hearty meal. This spell may only have one active casting at a time.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Increase Effect (+1), Increase Range (+10)


Fifth Circle


Gathering of Souls

Threads: See text

Weaving: 9/14

Casting: 10

Range: Touch

Duration: One day

Effect: Enchants a meal shared between comrades before a conflict.

Keywords: Fate. Willing.

This spell enchants a meal shared between allies before a conflict, binding their fates together. The Shaman prepares a meal for each target (even if this is just passing it out), weaves a thread for each target, and makes a Spellcasting (10) Action test. The spell targets up to Circle Namegivers loyal to each other, but doesn’t have to include the Shaman. If successful, each target affirms their relationship with the other targets and is invigorated for the upcoming battle. Each target spends a Recovery Test and the Shaman chooses one of the following benefits per target:

+1 to Active defenses (e.g. Avoid Blow)

+1 to Attack tests (doesn’t include spells)

+1 to Damage tests (doesn’t include spells)

+1 Initiative

+1 Wound Threshold

All benefits must be selected before a benefit may be selected again (e.g. all benefits must be selected twice before a benefit may be selected a third time). The cumulative effects are granted to all targets for the duration of one conflict, which the Shaman selects (even if not included in the spell) before Initiative is determined. The effects end when the conflict is over (gamemaster’s discretion). This spell may only be cast once per day. 

Success Levels: Increase Effect (treat as an additional character is taking part, subject to Circle limitations)

Extra Threads: Increase Effect (treat as an additional character taking part, subject to Circle limitation), Increase Effect (+1 conflict)


Mark of the Badger

Threads: 1

Weaving: 9/14

Casting: 10

Range: 10 yards

Duration: Rank rounds

Effect: Binds a badger spirit to improve defense

Keywords: Binding. Pack. Spirit. Willing.

This spell summons a badger spirit to temporarily bind to the target. The Shaman bares their teeth, snarls menacingly, and makes a Spellcasting (10) Action test. If successful, a gloomy badger spirit trundles from the ground and into the target. The target snarls as well, adopts a defensive posture, and gains the following benefits: +2 Physical and Mystic Armor, Resist Pain +2, +2 to resist Knockdown, and penalties from Defensive Stance are reduced by 1 (typically -2).

If the affected character acts in a manner other than “cautious” (subject to gamemaster's approval and warning), this spell immediately ends. If this spell prematurely ends for any reason, they are Harried until they rest for at least an hour and spend the time alone, or grumpy if they can’t be alone. This spell may only have one active casting at a time.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Increase Effect (+1 to Physical and Mystic Armor), Increase Effect (+1 to Resist Pain and Wound Balance), Increase Range (+10)


Sixth Circle


Mark of the Snake

Threads: 1

Weaving: 10/15

Casting: 10

Range: 10 yards

Duration: Rank rounds

Effect: Improves close combat attacks, initiative, and defense.

Keywords: Binding. Pack. Spirit. Willing.

This spell summons a snake spirit and temporarily binds it to the target. The Shaman writhes sinuously and makes a Spellcasting (10) Action test. If successful, a snake spirit hypnotically slithers into the target, hissing menacingly. The target becomes loose and flexible, gaining the following benefits: +2 to close combat Attack and Damage tests, +2 to Initiative, and +2 to Physical Defense. Before initiative is rolled each round, the target may choose a number up to the Shaman’s Circle. The target gains this number as an additional bonus to Initiative and their first close combat Attack test that round. They subtract this from their Physical and Mystic Defense for the round.

The target may not use the Aggressive or Defensive stance. They may also not move away from their target after making an attack if they are still a combatant. Failure to perform these causes the spell to end. If this spell prematurely ends for any reason, they are Harried until they rest for at least an hour and make every reasonable effort to warm themselves. This spell may only have one active casting at a time.

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Increase Effect (+2 Initiative), Increase Effect (+2 Physical Defense), Increase Range (+10)


Eighth Circle


Lifesense

Threads: 4

Weaving: 12/17

Casting: 10

Range: Self

Duration: Rank minutes

Area of Effect: 20-yard radius

Effect: Enhances Lifesight talent

Keywords: Willing.

This spell allows the target to use the Lifesight talent in an area and enhances its effects. The Shaman closes their eyes, casts their arms down, then out and up, opens their eyes, and makes a Spellcasting (10) Action test. If successful, a spray of soft light emanates from them and they immediately make a Lifesight Action test without paying Strain. The Lifesight test result is compared against all applicable targets within the area, as if Lifesight was used on them. After this, Lifesight must be used as normal against targets.

Spirit spells gain the following benefits: the Shaman is considered to meet the range requirements if the target was detected by Lifesight and is within the area, and the Shaman gains an additional success on successful Spellcasting Action tests (this does not increase the result).

Success Levels: Increase Duration (+2)

Extra Threads: Continuous, Increase Area (+10), Increase Effect (+2 Lifesight)


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