25 December 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 40 — Lancer

This is the fourtieth 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.

Clearly what Earthdawn needs is another mounted Discipline. While the statement is in jest, the answer is maybe. This is the fourth Discipline with access to Riding (one is a Sky Raider variant, but still) and part of my continuing efforts to examine mounted Disciplines and how to best address them and fit them into the mechanics, each with a different take on the subject.

Lancers present an explicit lightly-armored adept who is well-suited for a few different roles due to their speed. They're excellent skirmishers, possibly the best out there, with good offensive capabilities and outstanding Initiative. However, they can't take a hit. Between their low Durability and armor restrictions, they need to be careful how they engage. Getting bogged down ends poorly.

While they won't necessarily replace a dedicated Scout, they can certainly supplement them or fill in for a group who otherwise lacks those capabilities. Their speed means they can get out of trouble or lure opponents into an ambush without as much fear of getting caught up by an unexpectedly quick foe.

Lancers are definitely mounted characters, but they retain quite a bit of their effectiveness when dismounted. This is true to a lesser extent for Cavaliers as well, though giving the latter too much effectiveness away from their mount starts to dilute the importance of that bond and turn it all into mechanical convenience, which doesn't sit right. Even though Lancers don't have access to the talents, it's likely common for them to learn Animal Bond and Animal Training as skills. These talents aren't core to what the Discipline is about, in part for flavor but also to make them feel distinctly different from Cavaliers. Not just Cavaliers but fast, rather their own thing.

This Discipline requires using the changes to mounted combat with Cavalier talents and the associated combat options.


Lancer

Battlefield scouts, lighting-fast raiders, skirmishers second to none. These are Lancers. They pride themselves on being the tip of the spear in any conflict and available to strike whenever and wherever necessary. Lancers can strike and evade, harassing their opponents before they have a chance to react, forcing tactical mistakes and allowing less mobile elements to capitalize on the openings they create. Conversely, their speed means they can take advantage of a small opening elsewhere, preventing their opponents from bolstering it effectively. Talented Lancers appear to be everywhere on the battlefield at once, yet never there when the enemy is ready to counterattack.

This level of precision requires a high degree of battlefield awareness from these adepts. Combined with their speed, this makes them ideal at performing reconnaissance. Often ranging far afield and apart from their command for long periods. While there certainly are orderly Lancer units, most of these adepts have a strong independent streak which serves them well in the field, coupled with their innate communication. They see more than most and think so quickly, it's easy for them to believe only they understand a given situation and have difficulty following orders from non-Lancers. And often from other Lancers.

These adepts are driven to movement and get easily restless. They don't like to be in one place for too long, preferring to travel and see new sights. Their versatility in operating mounted or on foot (though they prefer the former) means they don't long for vast plains like other cavalry. Lancers are capable in forests, kaers, on mountains, etc., but they do need some space and claustrophobia is fairly common among these adepts. Many develop it after initiating, while others are drawn to the Discipline because of it in the first place.

Lancers seem superficially similar to Cavaliers — they're both mounted combatants afterall — but adepts of each Discipline are unlikely to view such comparisons charitably. Cavaliers are defined by their connection to their mount, who isn't a simple animal, but a treasured companion, the other half of the adept's soul. In contrast, they're just a mount to a Lancer. They look favorably on their mounts and treat them as loved pets and companions, but nothing more. Sometimes it's best to leave their mount behind for the mission at hand. For this reason, it's rare to unheard of for an adept to follow both Disciplines. While there's no animosity between them, the other would never initiate an established adept of the other Discipline into their Discipline. There's too much of a gulf between their perspectives

Important Attributes: Dexterity, Perception, Charisma

Karma Ritual: The Lancer identifies something interesting in the distance and slowly approaches it, observing from multiple angles if possible to understand it as best they can. Once they ascertain what they’re seeing, they either charge the target, wheeling off after the strike or escape from the situation as if in pursuit. Once the adept returns to their original position 30 minutes later, the ritual is complete.

Artisan Skills: Body Painting, Dancing

Half-Magic: 
Lancer may use half-magic for knowledge of different types of mounts used by Namegivers, upkeep of riding gear, animal husbandry and first aid, and knowledge of significant cavalry units in Barsaive.

Mount: Lancers being the game with a combat-trained riding horse or similar (Movement Rate no less than 18).

Novice

Novice Talent Options: Anticipate Blow, Etiqutte, First Impression, Impressive Display, Maneuver, Navigation, Stealthy Stride, Tracking, Wilderness Survival, Wound Balance

First Circle
  • Free Talent: Air Speaking
  • Durability 5
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on a test to perform reconnaissance. This doesn't include any form of combat.
  • Discipline Talents: Awareness, Cavalry Charge, Lance Weaving, Melee Weapons, Riding
Second Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +1 to their Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Avoid Blow
Third Circle
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Initiative.
  • Discipline Talent: Tiger Spring
Fourth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +1 to their Social Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Sprint

Journeyman

Journeyman Talent Options: Battle Cry, Danger Sense, Distract, Evidence Analysis, Graceful Exit, Lasting Impression, Lion Heart, Mystic Pursuit, Spot Armor Flaw, Tactics

Fifth Circle
  • Courser: The adept’s mount may use the adept's Initiative after all modifiers. They must be mounted, have no more than -1 Initiative Penalty, wielding a lance-like weapon (e.g., lance, appropriate polearm, spear, etc.), and their mount has a natural Movement Rate of at least 18.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on a Damage test. They must have no more than -1 Initiative Penalty and be wielding a lance-like weapon.
  • Discipline Talent: Spirit Mount
Sixth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +2 to their Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Cobra Strike
Seventh Circle
  • Bonus: The adept adds +1 to their Initiative Step.
  • Discipline Talent: Wheeling Attack
Eighth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +3 to their Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Second Attack

Warden
  • Warden Talent Options: Astral Sight, Chameleon, Critical Hit, Defensive Posture, Empathic Sense, Fearsome Assault, Lion Spirit, Orbiting Spy, Resist Taunt, True Sight

Ninth Circle
  • Tip of the Spear: The adept creates a unique aura around or in front of them, channeling their magic and speed into it. The adept spends 1 Strain and makes a Lance Weaving (5) test as a Simple Action. Each success may be spent to gain one of the following: +2 Movement Rate, +1 to their next close combat Attack test against an opponent with lower Initiative, or +1 to their Physical Defense. The bonus to Attack and Physical Defense individually cannot exceed the distance the adept moves beyond 10 yards. For example, if the adept moves 12 yards, they cannot get more than +2 to their Attack test and Physical Defense each. The adept must be wielding a lance-like weapon and cannot have more than -1 Initiative Penalty.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Recovery tests.
  • Discipline Talent: Tempest Shield
Tenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +2 to their Social Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +1 Recovery Test per day.
  • Discipline Talent: Eagle Eye
Eleventh Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +1 to their Mystic Defense.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Attack tests against targets with lower Initiative.
  • Discipline Talent: Momentum Attack
Twelfth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +4 to their Physical Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept adds +2 to their Initiative Step.
  • Discipline Talent: Rolling Thunder

Master

Master Talent Options: Aura Armor, Rally, Resist Pain, Second Chance, Unflinching Fortitude, Vicious Wound, Vital Strike, Vital Ward

Thirteenth Circle
  • Lance Through the Battle: The adept’s aura from Tip of the Spear becomes more impressive. When used, may instead choose two of the following for each success: +2 Movement Rate, +1 to their next close combat Attack test against an opponent with lower Initiative, +1 to their next Damage test against an opponent with lower Initiative, or +1 to their Physical Defense. The same bonus cannot be selected twice with one success. The bonus to Attack and Physical Defense individually cannot exceed the distance the adept moves beyond 10 yards. For example, if the adept gets two successes, they cannot gain +3 to Attack, Damage, or Physical Defense.The adept must be wielding a lance-like weapon and cannot have more than -1 Initiative Penalty.
  • Defense: The adept adds +3 to their Social Defense.
  • Karma: The adept increases their Karma +1 Step to a d8.
  • Bonus: The adept adds +1 Step to their Mystic Armor.
  • Discipline Talent: Chilling Strike
Fourteenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +5 to their Physical Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +2 Recovery Tests per day.
  • Discipline Talent: Relentless Recovery
Fifteenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept adds +2 to their Mystic Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept adds +3 to their Initiative Step.
  • Discipline Talent: Thunderstruck

Knacks

Cavalry Charge

Lancer Charge
Talent: Cavalry Charge
Requirements: Rank 7
Restrictions: Lancer Circle 7
Step: Rank+STR
Action: Free
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects.
The adept charges at an opponent and focuses magic around the tip of their weapon. They make a Lancer Charge (10) test. Each success gives the adept +2 to the associated damage test. The adept must have no more than -1 Initiative Penalty and be wielding a lance-like weapon. This knack is incompatible with any damage-replacement abilities (e.g. Crushing Blow).

Momentum Attack

Ride-By Momentum
This knack has Lancer Circle 9 as an additional restriction.

Second Attack

Ride-By Skirmish
Talent: Second Attack
Requirements: Rank 8
Restrictions: Lancer Circle 8
Step: Rank+DEX
Action: Simple
Strain: 3
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects.
The adept can use this talent on another target while splitting movement on a Mounted Charge during the movement following the split. The attack does not benefit from the Cavalry Charge talent. They must have no more than -1 Initiative Penalty and be wielding a lance-like weapon.

Sprint

Mounted Sprint
Talent: Sprint
Requirements: Rank 4
Restrictions: Lancer Circle 4
Step: Rank
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects.
The adept grants their mount the increased Movement Rate from Sprint. They must have no more than -1 Initiative Penalty.

Stealthy Stride

Mounted Stealth
Talent: Stealthy Stride
Requirements: Rank 4
Restrictions: Lancer Circle 4
Step: Rank+CHA
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects.
The adept gains the benefits of Stealthy Stride while mounted. This is compatible with other Stealthy Strike knacks.

Wheeling Attack

Lancer Skirmish
Talent: Wheeling Attack
Requirements: Rank 8
Restrictions: Lancer Circle 8
Step: Rank+CHA
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects.
The adept may perform a Wheeling Attack while on foot. They aren’t required to move twice their Movement Rate, but must move at least 8 yards more than their base Movement Rate in the round. This likely requires the use of Sprint or some other means of increasing Movement Rate.

New Weapon

Winged Lance

A practical weapon, typically six to eight-feet long (some are up to ten), with a long steel blade and a horizontal bar (or wings) and a spike at the end. The wings prevent the lance from burying itself too deeply in an opponent, or from a particularly spicy foe from riding up the lance to the wielder; a design also found in boar spears. Counter-weight is provided by the spike, making it more versatile on foot and offering improved balance. However, this also means while it’s well suited for use for cavalry charges and mounted combat in general, it requires two hands and cannot be used with a shield.


Lances of the same basic design are seen throughout various cultures in the history of Barsaive, long before the region was known as such. Among the lancers of Wyrmwood, the have delicate-appearing leaf-shaped blades with ornate wings and called semeraerth, in Cara Fahd they’re simply charge spears and of simple, but efficient and practical construction, while those who reside in what was once Landis refer to them as winged lances. Dwarfs don’t have a specific term for them and questions like that may lead to rude gestures.

Weapon

Damage Step

STR Min

Size

Cost

Weight

Availability

Winged Lance

8

14

6

140

8

Unusual

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