25 May 2022

Earthdawn 4E: Rules Variant 08 - Alternate Advancement [Sentinel]

This is the eighth 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 entry continues from the alternate advancement scheme introduced here. The following presents the advancement scheme for Sentinel.

Sentinel
Novice General Talents
  • Anticipate Blow
  • Avoid Blow
  • Awareness
  • Conversation
  • Danger Sense
  • Distract
  • Etiquette
  • Fireblood
  • Maneuver
  • Shield Bash
  • Tiger Spring
  • Unarmed Combat
  • Wound Balance
First Circle
Discipline Talents
  • Melee Weapons
  • Sentry Weaving
  • Open talent
  • Open talent
  • Open talent
Second Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Third Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Fourth Circle
Discipline Talent: Guardian's Service


Journeyman General Talents
  • Blood Share
  • Earth Skin
  • Empathic Sense
  • Fire Heal
  • Iron Constitution
  • Life Check
  • Lion Heart
  • Protector's Reflexes
  • Spot Armor Flaw
  • Steel Thought
  • Steely Stare
  • Tactics
  • Temper Flesh
Fifth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Sixth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Seventh Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Eighth Circle
Discipline Talent: Second Attack or open talent


Warden General Talents
  • Astral Sight
  • Burning Vigor
  • Crushing Blow
  • Defensive Posture
  • Lifesight
  • Lion Spirit
  • Momemtum Attack
  • Rally
  • Relentless Recovery
  • Resist Pain
  • Resist Taunt
  • Storm Shield
  • Unflinching Fortitude
  • Vine Armor
Ninth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Tenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Eleventh Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Twelfth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent


Master General Talents
  • Aura Armor
  • Champion Challenge
  • Eagle Eye
  • Echolocation
  • Safe Thought
  • Second Chance
  • Soul Aegis
  • Stone Skin
  • Thought Link
  • Vital Ward
Thirteenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Fourteenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Fifteenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Blooded Redoubt or open talent

18 May 2022

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 43 — Sentinel

This is the fourty-third 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.

This Discipline first appeared in an incomplete form in my discussion regarding creating Disciplines. I noted at the time I was leaving it deliberately incomplete so it couldn't be used. One reason for that is I wanted to explore some of that design in the form of a Path. However, it the important concepts never came together as I wanted; it didn't feel like a coherent organization in the way it should.

The end result is I'm exploring the same design space as a Discipline and incorporating some of those ideas here. While not a requirement, it benefits quite a bit from using a body shield. This is a somewhat underused piece of equipment (not entirely unused) compared to the more popular crystal raider shield. It's understandable since the latter gives 1 more total Defense compared to the former for the same Initiative Penalty. Disciplines with more than enough Mystic Defense are the only ones most likely to be interested in a body shield, which may be a narrow cross-section.

Sentinel as a concept is one which interested me for a while, but it's not easy to create. It must walk a fine line of doing its job, but not doing it too well — that leads to a lack of danger and potentially long, grindy conflicts. Also, it needs to offer interesting things to do in addition to the defensive supporting nature of it's core theme. I'm not claiming this is a success, but I have to start somewhere to make any progress. For example, compare the initial Shaman design to where it ended when published in The Adept's Journey: Mystic Paths

One reason I wanted to explore this design space as a Path is how I can focus on the core pieces of the idea without worrying as much about ancillary details. No need to include things like Melee Weapons or Avoid Blow, those should already selected. However, I came to realize there's still a diverse number of potential entries and the concept of "using a body shield" was too restrictive. It could be the primary flavor, but not the meal in itself. Many of my thoughts on this don't translate well, so I will just leave it there for now.

Suffice it to say, I came to realize this was the best place to start putting the concept down because it wasn't going anywhere trying to figure out an idealized implementation. I may revisit it as a Path again in the future after working with it in this form. There's a least one Discipline I have which could work well in that structure instead, but I won't actually know until I try.

So here we are. My hope is there's enough interest in the concept to generate characters and see play. Through that, I can start addressing the issues and developing revisions. I'm fairly certain this type of character is likely to appeal to at least one person out there.


Sentinel

Those unfamiliar with the nuances between similar Disciplines frequently mistake Sentinels for Warriors. Both are at home on the battlefield and are patient, reserved combatants. However, where Warriors seek to strike a balance, between offense and defense, between the elements they harness, Sentinels seek to be the rock the river breaks against, to provide a bastion of support to their allies.

It isn't unheard of for adepts to follow both of these Disciplines, though it's less common than many outside may think. Their perspectives and approaches aren't necessarily complementary — where a Warrior adapts to the battlefield, a Sentinel forces the battlefield to adapt to them. They impose their will on their surroundings, establishing order in their wake. This mentality and desire for stability and protection makes them more akin to Weaponsmiths in many ways.

Sentinels may be dedicated to ideals, people, a place, or even coin, but they are dedicated to whatever they put their mind to. They're unwavering and stubborn. Relinquishing a position, both literal and metaphorical, only when there is no other recourse. These adepts are steadfast companions and will never leave an ally to their fate. A Sentinel's role is to stand before that fate and stare it down.

This can easily make them irritating to deal with, particularly for adepts with flexible mindsets — such as Swordmasters and Thieves — or similarly stubborn adepts, but with entire different approaches — like Archers and Sky Raiders. However, there are few adepts anyone would rather have in their corner than a Sentinel. Their word is their bond, honor is more than just a word, and they never give up as long as there is hope.

All this isn't to say they aren't pragmatic when it's called for. However, there are things they will never waver on regardless of what is most convenient. Honor isn't easy, if it was it wouldn't be something to continually aspire to. These lofty ideals may be inconvenient, but are also what makes a Sentinel what they are. Why they're universally trusted and respected, even by their enemies.

These traits can make them easy to manipulate. They're bound by their Discipline and what it means, just as they are their heavy armor. For this, they need allies as their allies need them. They aren't so naive as to believe all Namegivers hold themselves to their standards, it is still much more of a blindspot for them than they will ever admit. In the mind of a Sentinel, they have no weaknesses. For as much as they protect their allies during battle, the need their allies to protect them in less direct conflicts. 

Sentinels who renege on deals, speak lies, abandon what is important, or otherwise tarnish what their Discipline aspires to be may face Discipline crises for their actions — or lack thereof as the case may be. Their fellows see no shame in these missteps as they know all too well how high the standards they hold themselves to are. Other Sentinels rally to their comrade, seeing their struggle and refusing to leave them in a time of need.

Important Attributes: Dexterity, Perception, Willpower

Karma Ritual: The adept stands stoically, feeling their feet planted to the ground. They hear, see, and smell everything around them. Their senses extend through their feet into the ground so they can feel everything around them. Each movement is tracked as a potential threat and the adept assesses them, slowly working through the area. Once they are completely aware of their surroundings and all potential threats after 30 minutes, the ritual is complete and this supernal awareness leaves with it.

Artisan Skills: Rune Carving, Tattooing

Half-Magic: 
Sentinels use half-magic when caring for and repairing their weapons and armor, and knowledge of various military, mercenary, and bandit companies. They also use half-magic to perform basic first aid, such as staunching bleeding. This doesn’t heal damage, but prevents things from getting worse.


Novice

Novice Talent Options: Conversation, Distract, Etiqutte, Fireblood, Heartening Laugh, Maneuver, Shield Bash, Tiger Spring, Unarmed Combat, Wood Skin

First Circle
  • Durability 7
  • Discipline Talents: Avoid Blow, Awareness, Danger Sense, Melee Weapons, Sentry Weaving
Second Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +1 Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Anticipate Blow
Third Circle
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Recovery tests.
  • Discipline Talent: Wound Balance
Fourth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +1 Mystic Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Guardian's Service

Journeyman

Journeyman Talent Options: Blood Share, Earth Skin, Empathic Sense, Fire Heal, Iron Constitution, Lion Heart, Spot Armor Flaw, Steel Thought, Steely Stare, Tactics

Fifth Circle
  • Sentinel Stance: As a Free action for 1 Strain, the adept may adopt the Sentinel Stance — a variation of the Defensive Stance. Sentinel Stance appears different for each adept based on their training and personality, but always appears purely defensive. Perhaps the adept moves loosely as though flowing with water, or takes a rigid position and appears forged from steel. They make a Sentry Weaving (10) Action test. Each success reduces the penalties from Defensive Stance by 1 until the end of the round. This ability must be used when Defensive Stance is announced. Sentinel Stance is also Defensive Stance for meeting any requirements.
  • Karma: Once per round, the adept may spend a Karma Point on any test while in Defensive Stance.
  • Discipline Talent: Protector's Reflexes
Sixth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +2 Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Temper Flesh
Seventh Circle
  • Bonus: The adept gains +1 Recovery Test per day.
  • Discipline Talent: Life Check
Eighth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +3 Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Second Attack

Warden
  • Warden Talent Options: Astral Sight, Burning Vigor, Crushing Blow, Lifesight, Lion Spirit, Momentum Attack, Resist Pain, Resist Taunt, Storm Shield, Vine Armor
Ninth Circle
  • Armor Bond: The adept performs an eight-hour ritual to bind their armor to their pattern, taking 1 Blood Magic Damage. Each adept’s ritual is unique, usually based on their training and personal philosophy. It’s usually performed as the last step in becoming a Warden, but may be completed at any time. After the ritual, the armor gains +2 Physical and Mystic Armor. The adept may end the effect at any time, allowing them to heal the damage and bind new armor.
  • Karma: Once per round, the adept may spend a Karma Point on any test when adjacent to an ally in combat.
  • Discipline Talent: Defensive Posture
Tenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +2 Mystic Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +1 Mystic Armor.
  • Discipline Talent: Rally
Eleventh Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +1 Social Defense.
  • Karma: Once per round, the adept may spend a Karma Point on any test made by an adjacent ally.
  • Discipline Talent: Unflinching Fortitude
Twelfth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +4 Physical Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +2 Recovery Tests per day.
  • Discipline Talent: Relentless Recovery

Master

Master Talent Options: Champion Challenge, 
Eagle Eye, Echolocation, Safe Thought, Second Chance, Stone Skin, Thought Link, Vital Ward

Thirteenth Circle
  • Blooded Protection: The adept performs a 30 min ritual, then Names and places a drop of blood on up to Sentry Weaving rank allies, marking them and taking 1 Blood Magic Damage for each ally. The blood forms the personal mark of the adept, which can be astrally detected, until the next sunrise. The adept may use Guardian’s Service on all affected allies, not just one, as long as they are within Sentry Weaving ×2 yards of the adept; each ally is affected individually as part of the same Simple action. The bonus provided to marked allies is doubled. For example, the adept may reduce their Physical Defense by 5, distributing 2 to one ally and 3 to another. The first ally gains +4 Physical Defense and the second gains +6.
  • Defense: The adept gains +3 Mystic Defense.
  • Karma: The adept increases their Karma +1 Step to a d8.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +1 Initiative Step.
  • Discipline Talent: Aura Armor
Fourteenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +5 Physical Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +2 Mystic Armor.
  • Discipline Talent: Soul Aegis
Fifteenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +2 Social Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept adds +3 Recovery Tests.
  • Discipline Talent: Blooded Redoubt

Talents

Blooded Redoubt
Step: Rank+DEX
Action: Free
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Attack. Karma. Limited.
The adept uses their connection provided through Blooded Protection to defend their allies. When an ally marked with Blooded Protection is targeted by a close combat attack, but before the attack is made, the adept moves adjacent to the attacker and makes a close combat attack using Blooded Redoubt. Once this attack is resolved, the interrupted action continues, though is affected by appropriate penalties (e.g. knockdown and Wounds). Any distance moved as part of this talent is part of the adept’s available movement for the round and they must have enough to cover the distance. This talent provides a pool of additional movement equal to their Blooded Redoubt rank ×2 yards which is used first, then the adept’s normal movement. The adept may only interrupt one attack against a marked ally per round. The adept's Blooded Redoubt Step is limited to their Melee Weapons or Unarmed Combat Step as appropriate.

Protector's Reflexes
Step: Rank+DEX
Action: Free
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Defensive. Exclusive. Karma. Replacement.
The adept is preternaturally aware of the unfolding conflict and uses that knowledge to evade rather than press the attack. This calmness and mental state allows them to overcome hindrances when properly harnessed. The adept substitutes their Protector’s Reflexes Step for their Dexterity Step when making their Initiative test, suffering penalties as normal, as well as applying any other bonuses to Initiative (e.g. Discipline bonuses). This result is compared against Difficulty 10 and the adept gains +1 Physical Defense per success until the end of the round against opponents with a lower Initiative. If the adept is in the Defensive Stance, they don’t suffer Initiative penalties from their armor or shield. Successes on Initiative can only be spent on the talent and its knacks.


Knacks

Anticipate Blow

Blooded Defender
Talent: Anticipate Blow
Requirements: Rank 13, Take the Hit
Restrictions: Sentinel Circle 13
Step: Rank+PER
Action: Simple
Strain: 1+ (Special)
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects.
The adept uses their heightened awareness and prescience to protect an ally against their opponents. When Blooded Defender is successfully used, the adept may select an adjacent ally marked with Blooded Protection. When the ally is targeted by an opponent’s attack that affects Physical Defense, the adept may spend 1 Strain to change the target of the attack to the adept. The adept must successfully use Blooded Defender against the opponent and the ally must be adjacent to the adept to use this effect. This may be used after an attack with Blooded Redout is resolved, before the initiating attack is resolved, if the adept is adjacent to their ally.

Take the Hit
Sentinel Circle 5 is added to the list of restrictions.


Blooded Redoubt

Shielded Redoubt
Talent: Blooded Redoubt
Requirements: Rank 8, Shield Bash rank 12
Restrictions: Sentinel Circle 15
Step: Rank+DEX
Action: Free
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects.
Instead of using a close combat weapon, the adept uses their shield, allowing them to use Shield Bash. The adept must be using a body shield (or equivalent).

Steadfast Vanguard
Talent: Blooded Redoubt
Requirements: Rank 10, Distract rank 10
Restrictions: Sentinel Circle 15
Step: Rank
Action: Free
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: NA
The adept ensures all attention is directed at them. They add their Blooded Redoubt rank to a Distract test.


Sentry Weaving

Bastion Stance
Talent: Sentry Weaving
Requirements: Rank 9
Restrictions: Sentry Circle 9
Step: Rank+WIL
Action: Free
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Karma.
The adept adopts the Bastion Stance, an improved version of the Sentinel Stance. It appears different for each adept based on their training and personality, but always appears purely defensive and is impressive to behold. Perhaps the adept’s motions are accompanied by mystic water, rebuffing attacks, or they appear crafted from rune-carved crystal, orichalcum, and steel. They make a Bastion Stance (10) Action test. Each success reduces the penalties from Defensive Stance by 1. Any successes which would reduce the penalties below 0 instead give the adept +1 to Physical and Mystic Defense per success. This lasts until the end of the round and must be used when Defensive Stance is announced. Bastion Stance is also Defensive Stance and Sentinel Stance for meeting any requirements.

Common Cause [Karma]
Talent: Sentry Weaving
Requirements: Rank 13
Restrictions: Sentinel Circle 13
Action: Free
Strain: 1
The adept may spend a Karma Point on any test made by an ally within Sentry Weaving rank ×2 yards affected by Blooded Protection. This may be used once per ally per round.


Shield Bash

Crushing Shield Bash
Talent: Shield Bash
Requirements: Rank 10, Crushing Blow 10
Restrictions: Sentinel Circle 10
Step: Rank+STR
Action: Simple
Strain: 3
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects.
The adept enhances their shield with magic, creating an even more powerful strike with a shockwave emanating from it. They add their Crushing Blow rank to their Shield Bash Step. The adept must be using a body shield (or equivalent) to use this knack.

Sentinel's Shield
Talent: Shield Bash
Requirements: Rank 7, Shield Drive
Restrictions: Sentinel Circle 7
Step: Rank+STR
Action: Simple
Strain: 3
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Karma.
The adept quickly bashes the target with their shield and makes a Sentinel’s Shield test against the target’s Physical Defense. If successful, the target makes a Knockdown test against the Sentinel’s Shield result. The adept must be using a body shield (or equivalent) and Sentinel Stance to use this knack.

Thundering Shield Bash
Talent: Shield Bash
Requirements: Rank 14, Storm Shield Rank 14, Crushing Shield Bash
Restrictions: Sentinel Circle 14
Step: Rank+STR
Action: Simple
Strain: 5
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects.
The adept enhances their shield with magic, creating an even more powerful strike with a shockwave emanating from it. They add their Crushing Blow rank to their Shield Bash Step. Everyone adjacent to the target must resist the subsequent Knockdown test, except for the adept and allies affected by Blooded Protection. The adept must be using a body shield (or equivalent) and have Storm Shield active to use this knack. This ability may only be used once per round regardless of any other abilities which could allow it to be used more than once.

11 May 2022

Earthdawn 4E: Rules Variant 08 - Alternate Advancement [Sword Savant]

This is the eighth 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 entry continues from the alternate advancement scheme introduced here. The following presents the advancement scheme for Sword Savant.

Sword Savant

Novice General Talents
  • Acrobatic Defense
  • Anticipate Blow
  • Avoid Blow
  • Awareness
  • Danger Sense
  • Distract
  • Etiquette
  • Great Leap
  • Impressive Display
  • Maneuver
  • Steel Precision
  • Tiger Spring
  • Wound Balance
First Circle
Discipline Talents
  • Harmony Weaving
  • Melee Weapons
  • Steel Harmony
  • Open talent
  • Open talent
Second Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Third Circle
Discipline Talent: True Strike or open talent

Fourth Circle
Discipline Talent: Riposte or open talent


Journeyman General Talents
  • Air Dance
  • Gliding Stride
  • Iron Constitution
  • Life Check
  • Lion Heart
  • Momentum Attack
  • Spot Armor Flaw
  • Sprint
  • Steel Thought
  • Steely Stare
  • Temper Flesh
  • Waterfall Slam
Fifth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Sixth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Seventh Circle
Discipline Talent: Crushing Blow or open talent

Eighth Circle
Discipline Talent: Second Attack or open talent


Warden General Talents
  • Astral Sight
  • Champion Challenge
  • Chilling Strike
  • Critical Hit
  • Defensive Posture
  • Ethereal Weapon
  • Fluid Movement
  • Lion Spirit
  • Relentless Recovery
  • Resist Pain
  • Resist Taunt
  • Spirit Strike
  • True Sight
  • Unflinching Fortitude
Ninth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Tenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Eleventh Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Twelfth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent


Master General Talents
  • Aura Armor
  • Burning Vigor
  • Echolocation
  • Resolve Strike
  • Second Chance
  • Soul Aegis
  • Vicious Wound
  • Vital Strike
  • Vital Ward
Thirteenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Open talent

Fourteenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Steel Flash or open talent

Fifteenth Circle
Discipline Talent: Multi-Strike or open talent

04 May 2022

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Discipline 42 — Sword Savant

This is the fourty-second 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.

This Discipline continues exploring different ways to implement features and how to construct Discipines. In concept this fills the gap of what many people want from Swordmaster based on the name, but isn't actually what it offers. Which is a big part of why it got a name change. An argument can be made they have the mildest themes of mastering a single weapon, but these were never well supported and mostly serve to distract from their much stronger themes. The good news for people who like both parts is this Discipline allows them to do both.

I really want the name of a Discipline to clearly convey what it offers. This is especially important when introducing new players to the game. This may sound pedantic and/or change for the sake of change to long-term players, but it's vital to introducing those new players. There's a lot of information to take in and anything to help that and reduce confusion is helpful.

There's a further experiment here to encourage characters to use something other than a weapon and shield or two weapons as the one true way to combat efficiency. That variety is fun (for me at least) when considering art since I want art to reflect the game as it's played. It's also mechanically interesting how to encourage what are considered mechanically sub-optimal choices by tipping the scales just a little. In this case, I removed the choices for thematic reasons in addition to the experiment.

Another experiment is in expanding the use of Thread Weaving outside of just weaving threads. A particular outgrowth of that means Sword Savants must start with Thread Weaving rank 1, otherwise they can't initiate. This isn't an optional, hand-wave thing. It would be like a Cavalier eschewing the whole "having a mount" thing; what's the point other than talent rank optimization?

As an aside, I get it, but I don't like it. I don't even know if people who do it like it, but it's so obviously more efficient, it feels wrong to not start with 3, 3, 2 and put Thread Weaving as a non-advancing talent when using all talents to advance. My preference is clearly my alternate advancement scheme, for all the reasons listed therein.

A reasonable question can be asked why this isn't a Path instead. It certainly shares traits with being a Path, but the method for entry as a Path makes less sense as presented here since this is the impetus for initiating rather than typically something you choose to engage in later on. Much like a Cavalier and their mount, these adepts are called to this Discipline. They're incomplete without it.

Hopefully this is a fun Discipline which fills in some conceptual space and offers something between Warrior and Gallant, without stepping on either of them.


Sword Savant

While many adepts have a favorite weapon, the relationship Sword Savants have with their "soul weapon" is more akin to that of a Cavalier and their mount. Encountering or even hearing about their soul weapon is often the first foot on the path toward initiation for many of these adepts. Others already belong to another Discipline but feel incomplete until such a fateful meeting and realize what was missing. This is particularly true of Weaponsmiths who forge their heartblade. In either case, it seems inevitable they encounter a Sword Savant who recognizes their own and begins to train them.

Their mentality and perspective is a duality of flexibility and rigidity. Sword Savants tend to be traditional with an emphasis on etiquette and formality within their number, along with an almost myopic focus on their soul weapon. In contrast to this — or perhaps because of it — they are flexible in thought and approach to everything else they encounter. They adapt as needed to a situation, seeking to understand from all angles before making a decision. Focused on the perfect outcome, a final strike.

Once their path is clear, they are quick and decisive, unwavering in their dedication to that single goal. Adapting to the situation means recognizing how much time is available for this approach. Immediate threats are dealt with swiftly, while long-term problems are considered deeply before committing to a course of action. Some adepts refer to these as the air and water mind and the steel mind, reflecting adaptation and consideration followed by action. Others scoff and note it's just fancy words for a pragmatic outlook on life driven by their collective push for improvement and sharing developments.

Since their limitations are distinct — particularly Sword Savants whose soul weapon is one-handed — they developed styles to adapt and overcome this disadvantage using their affinity for air and water. This mentality to honing their craft continually drives them, always pushing themselves harder. Sword Savants never retire, their efforts are redirected to advancing the techniques of their Discipline and training the next generation.

Sword Savants are almost universally uninterested in money or temporal power. Their entire focus is on their soul weapon and perfecting their relationship with it, a concept they call "Steel Harmony." When in this state, they reveal the connections between their patterns and much of their prowess is devoted to or derived from achieving this state of higher awareness.

This dedication means even Sword Savants who are sworn enemies are willing to come together to share new techniques and variations in their forms to enlighten all members of their Discipline. Respect between Sword Savants is critical and any who fail to uphold these high standards find themselves as pariahs, unable to train or advance their techniques. Stagnant. One of the worst imaginable punishments for these adepts. The other is reserved for any who share their secrets to those outside their Discipline. Just as they're welcoming to any who can follow their ways, their secrets are just that for those who don't.

These are unusual adepts who rarely advertise their presence, making it difficult to gauge their prevalence. They're often mistaken for Warriors, a misconception they're all too willing to allow. This misidentification is understandable given how common it is to find Sword Savants as part of various Warrior orders, either members of both Disciplines or simply finding a place among their number. Still, Sword Savants have a inherent ability to find their own when necessary, though it may require a sojourn.

Important Attributes: Dexterity, Perception, Willpower

Karma Ritual: The adept sits with their soul weapon across their lap, preferably in a location with a breeze and running water. They trace their fingers across it, revealing the True pattern within while their corresponding True pattern illuminates from within them. Once the weapon is fully illuminated, they arise and begin going through the forms, strikes, and defenses they've learned and developed. Wind and water accompany their motions as they grow faster before they stop 30 minutes later, their weapon emanting a single perfect tone.

Artisan Skills: Rune Carving, Tattooing

Half-Magic: 
Sword Savants can use half-magic when caring for or repairing their soul weapon and armor, knowledge about legendary weapons and weapon types, including their wielders, and finding others of their Discipline. They also use half-magic to recognize militant orders past and present, famous warriors, their fighting styles and training pedigree, Sword Savants throughout history and their soul weapons, and ancient arms and armor.

Weapon: Sword Savants begin with one close-combat weapon of their choice, which must be their soul weapon. The gamemaster may have interesting options to present to the player beyond mundane weapons. However, the player is not obligated to accept these options, but should consider and discuss them with the gamemaster and potentially group as a whole as these interesting options will almost certain affect them one way or another.


Novice

Novice Talent Options: Acrobatic Defense, Anticipate Blow, Awareness, Danger Sense, Distract, Etiqutte, Great Leap, Impressive Display, Maneuver, Steel Precision

First Circle
  • Durability 7
  • Discipline Talents: Avoid Blow, Harmony Weaving, Melee Weapons, Steel Harmony, Tiger Spring
Second Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +1 Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Wound Balance
Third Circle
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Initiative tests.
  • Discipline Talent: True Strike
Fourth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +1 Mystic Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Riposte

Journeyman

Journeyman Talent Options: Gliding Stride, Iron Constitution, Life Check, Lion Heart, Momentum Attack, Spot Armor Flaw, Sprint, 
Steel Thought, Steely State, Waterfall Slam

Fifth Circle
  • Air and Water Forms: The adept learns the two basic forms of the Sword Savant: Air and Water. For 1 Strain as a Free action before Initiative is determined, they may choose one of these forms. Both forms cannot be used at the same time. Air Form provides +2 to Initiative and Attack tests with their soul weapon against opponets with a lower Initiative, and Water Form provides +2 Physical Defense, and +2 to Avoid Blow and Riposte tests. The adept must be wielding only their soul weapon and cannot use a shield. This lasts until the end of the round.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on a Damage test with their soul weapon.
  • Discipline Talent: Air Dance
Sixth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +2 Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Temper Flesh
Seventh Circle
  • Bonus: The adept adds +1 to their Initiative Step.
  • Discipline Talent: Crushing Blow
Eighth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +3 Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Second Attack

Warden
  • Warden Talent Options: Astral Sight, Champion Challenge, Defensive Posture, Lion Spirit, Relentless Recovery, Resist Pain, Resist Taunt, Spirit Strike, True Sight, Unflinching Fortitude

Ninth Circle
  • Soul Bound Blade: The adept performs an eight-hour ritual to further strengthen their soul weapon’s pattern with their blood, taking 1 point of Blood Magic Damage. Each adept’s ritual is unique, but tends to be the product of their instruction and personal philosophy. It’s commonly performed as the final step in becoming a Warden, but need not be done at that time. After the ritual, the effects depend on the form the adept adopts. In Air Form, they gain +2 Initiative and +2 Damage against opponents with lower Initiative. In Water Form, they gain +2 Mystic Defense and to Steel Thought tests. This may only be performed on the adept’s soul weapon.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on Recovery tests.
  • Discipline Talent: Critical Hit
Tenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +2 Mystic Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +1 Recovery Test per day.
  • Discipline Talent: Ethereal Weapon
Eleventh Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +1 Social Defense.
  • Karma: The adept may spend a Karma Point on any active defense test (e.g. Avoid Blow, Resist Taunt, Riposte).
  • Discipline Talent: Chilling Strike
Twelfth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +4 Physical Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +2 to their Initiative Step.
  • Discipline Talent: Fluid Movement

Master

Master Talent Options: Aura Armor, Burning Vigor, Echolocation, Second Chance, Soul Aegis, Vicious Wound, Vital Strike, Vital Ward

Thirteenth Circle
  • Steel Form: The adept learns the truths behind the Sword Savant and their weapon, how they are the same. As a Simple action for 4 Strain, the adept and their soul weapon become as one. They're strong and sharp as steel, but flexible and swift. The adept gains +2 to Initiative tests, Attack and Damage tests with their soul weapon, and Physical and Mystic Armor until the end of the encounter. They must be wielding only their soul weapon.
  • Defense: The adept gains +3 Mystic Defense.
  • Karma: The adept increases their Karma +1 Step to a d8.
  • Bonus: The adept gains +1 Mystic Armor.
  • Discipline Talent: Resolve Strike
Fourteenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +5 Physical Defense.
  • Discipline Talent: Steel Flash
Fifteenth Circle
  • Defense: The adept gains +2 Social Defense.
  • Bonus: The adept adds +3 to their Initiative Step.
  • Discipline Talent: Multi-Strike

Talents

Resolve Strike
Step: Rank+WIL
Action: Free
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Karma.
The adept gathers their will and hones it into a blade, striking at an enemy within Resolve Strike ×2 yards and crippling their will to fight. They make a Resolve Strike test against the target’s Mystic Defense. Each success inflicts -2 Initiative and Physical and Mystic Defense until the end of the round. This affects the target’s current Initiative result, potentially altering their position in the round and delaying their turn. It must be used before their turn begins and may preempt their turn, but cannot delay it once started.

Steel Flash
Step: Rank+DEX
Action: Free
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Attack. Karma. Soul Weapon.
The adept makes a sudden attack with their soul weapon that may preempt another action, but not interrupt one in progress. For example, the adept may use Steel Flash before the target makes a Melee Weapons test, but once the Melee Weapons test is made, Steel Flash may not be used until the Melee Weapons test and its effects are resolved.

The adept makes a Steel Flash test against the Physical Defense of the target. If successful, they make a Damage test with their soul weapon against the target. Any effects that result from the Steel Flash (e.g., Wound Penalties) apply to the target’s tests.

Their soul weapon must be affected by Steel Harmony to use this talent. This talent may only be used once per round.

Steel Harmony
Step: Rank+WIL
Action: Simple
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Karma. Soul Weapon.
The adept extends their essence into their soul weapon, which produces some display of that bond unique to the adept. For example, a stormy corona around the weapon or cold burning runs along the surface. As the adept’s Steel Harmony rank increases, the display becomes more impressive. The adept makes a Steel Harmony (10) test and gains +1 to Attack and Damage tests with their soul weapon until the end of the encounter.

The adept may only be wielding their soul weapon to use this talent and may not be using a shield.

Steel Precision
Step: Rank+PER
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Karma. Soul Weapon.
The adept feels their connection to their soul weapon and extends that perception to their enemies. They designate targets they intend to attack this round and make a Steel Precision test against the highest Mystic Defense among them. Each success gives +2 to Attack tests against the designated targets until the end of the round.

Their soul weapon must be affected by Steel Harmony to use this talent.

True Strike
Step: Rank
Action: Simple
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Karma. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances a melee weapon attack with raw magical energy, greatly increasing the accuracy. They may spend additional Karma on an Attack test using their soul weapon. The adept uses this talent and makes their Attack test. If the Attack test fails, the adept may spend Karma Points one at a time and adds the result of the Karma Die to the test result. This ends once the attack is successful or the adept decides to stop. They can spend Karma Points in this fashion up to their True Strike rank. The target can still use active defenses (e.g. Avoid Blow) against the attack

Their soul weapon must be affected by Steel Harmony to use this talent.

Knacks

Steel Harmony

Soul Weapon I
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 4, Harmony Weaving rank 5, Soul Resonance
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 5
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept performs an eight-hour ritual enchanting their soul weapon 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 soul weapon as part of this process. The soul weapon is a rank 1 thread item and they may select one of the following abilities: 
+1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon.

This knack may not affect thread items or glyph blades.

Soul Weapon II
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 5, Harmony Weaving rank 5, Soul Weapon I
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 5
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 2. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon III
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 6, Harmony Weaving rank 6, Soul Weapon II
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 6
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 3. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon IV
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 6, Harmony Weaving rank 6, Soul Weapon III
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 6
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 4. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon V
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 7, Harmony Weaving rank 7, Soul Weapon IV
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 7
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 5. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon VI
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 7, Harmony Weaving rank 7, Soul Weapon V
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 7
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 6. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion instead of one of the listed abilities. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon VII
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 8, Harmony Weaving rank 8, Soul Weapon VI
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 8
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 7. They may select two of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion instead of one of the listed abilities. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon VIII
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 8, Harmony Weaving rank 8, Soul Weapon VII
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 8
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 8. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion instead of one of the listed abilities. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon IX
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 9, Harmony Weaving rank 9, Soul Weapon VIII
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 9
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 9. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion instead of one of the listed abilities. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon X
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 10, Harmony Weaving rank 10, Soul Weapon IX
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 10
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 10. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion instead of one of the listed abilities. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon XI
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 11, Harmony Weaving rank 11, Soul Weapon X
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 11
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 11. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion instead of one of the listed abilities. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.

Soul Weapon XII
Talent: Steel Harmony
Requirements: Rank 12, Harmony Weaving rank 12, Soul Weapon XI
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 12
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept enhances their soul weapon and it is rank 12. They may select one of the following abilities: +1 to Attack tests using the soul weapon, their soul weapon gains +1 Damage Step, or they gain +1 to Initiative when wielding their soul weapon. Gamemasters may allow other abilities appropriate for a weapon of the description at their discretion instead of one of the listed abilities. The benefits are cumulative with previous Soul Weapon knacks.


Thread Weaving

Air Cutter
Talent: Harmony Weaving
Requirements: Rank 5
Restrictions: Sword Savant 5, Storm Surge Style
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
When using Storm Surge Style, the adept may give their attacks with soul weapon the air keyword.

The adept's soul weapon must be affected be Steel Harmony.

Flowing Depths Style
Talent: Harmony Weaving
Requirements: Rank 4
Restrictions: Sword Savant 4
Step: NA
Action: Simple
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept trains with a style that utilizes an open hand for balance and controlling their flow of magic. They gain +1 Physical Defense and to Avoid Blow and Riposte tests. 

The adept must be wielding their soul weapon and their off-hand is free to use this knack.

Frozen Depths
Talent: Harmony Weaving
Requirements: Rank 5
Restrictions: Sword Savant 5, Flowing Depths Style
Step: NA
Action: NA
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
When using Flowing Depths Style, the adept may give their attacks with soul weapon the water-cold keyword.

The adept's soul weapon must be affected be Steel Harmony.

Lightning Strikes
Talent: Harmony Weaving
Requirements: Rank 6
Restrictions: Sword Savant 6, Storm Surge Style
Step: NA
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Air-Electricity. Soul Weapon.
The adept holds their weapon in both hands while in the air form and imbues it with the power of a storm. Their close-combat attacks with their soul weapon gains +2 to Attack and Damage against opponents with lower Initiative, and the air-electricity keyword until the end of the round.

The adept must be using the air form and their soul weapon must be affected by Steel Harmony.

Locate Soul Weapon
Talent: Harmony Weaving
Requirements: Rank 3
Restrictions: Sword Savant 3
Step: Rank+PER
Action: Standard
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Soul Weapon.
The adept concentrates on the piece of their pattern separated from themselves, their soul weapon and makes a Locate Soul Weapon (10) test. If successful, they learn the direction their soul weapon lies in. Additional successes are spent to narrow down the range. The first additional success determines if the soul weapon is within 10 miles. Each additional successes beyond that increases or decreases the range 10-fold. For example, if it's within 10 miles, the second additional success indicates if it's within 1 mile; if it's not within 10 miles, the second additional successes indicates if it's within 100 miles, the third 1000 miles, etc.

Reform Soul Weapon
Talent: Harmony Weaving
Requirements: Rank 5
Restrictions: Sword Savant 5
Step: NA
Action: Standard
Strain: 2+ (see text)
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Soul Weapon.
The adept knows their pattern contains the pattern of their soul weapon, just as it contains their pattern. As long as they live, their soul weapon can be reformed. This reforms the adept’s soul weapon from whatever materials remain. Remaining fragments are supplemented by the adept’s blood and pattern. The Strain cost increases by +1 for every missing 20% of the weapon. If at least 20% of the weapon is missing, the adept also takes a Wound due to their pattern damage.

After this knack is used, the adept’s soul weapon is reformed in their hand and retains any Forge Weapon benefits. However, short term effects (duration less than a year) end.

Rippling Defense
Talent: Harmony Weaving
Requirements: Rank 6
Restrictions: Sword Savant 6, Flowing Depths Style
Step: NA
Action: Simple
Strain: 1
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Soul Weapon. Water.
The adept uses their free hand to manipulate magic, imbuing their soul weapon with the water and causing potential harm to flow around the adept. They gain +2 to Mystic Defense and Steel Thought tests, and close-combat attacks with their soul weapon gain the water keyword. This lasts until the end of the round.

The adept must meet the following criteria: their off-hand is free, they’re using the water form, and their soul weapon is affected by Steel Harmony.

Soul Resonance
Talent: Harmony Weaving
Requirements: Rank 1
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 1
Step: NA
Action: Sustained (8 hours)
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Perpetual. Soul Weapon.
The adept finds a melee weapon and feels a resonance with it in their being. It is the piece — or will be — which makes their pattern whole. They perform the ritual of soul resonance with the weapon and bind the two patterns together as was always intended, turning it into their soul weapon. The adept may only have one soul weapon. While not typically possible, the weapon becomes the adept’s core pattern item; thread items cannot be pattern items. Usually.

If the weapon wasn’t previously, the adept may turn it into a thread item using the Soul Pattern knacks. Weapons which are already thread items may not benefit from the Soul Pattern knacks unless stated otherwise. This ritual may be performed on a glyph blade.

Sword Savants gain this knack for free at First Circle.

Storm Surge Style
Talent: Harmony Weaving
Requirements: Rank 4
Restrictions: Sword Savant Circle 4
Step: NA
Action: Simple
Strain: 0
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Soul Weapon.
The adept holds their soul weapon in both hands for more powerful attacks. Their close-combat attacks with their soul weapon gains +2 Damage.

The adept must be wielding their soul weapon and their off-hand is otherwise free to use this knack. Their soul weapon must be at their one-handed size maximum (minimum Size 3).


True Strike

Deadly Strike
Talent: True Strike
Requirements: Rank 5
Restrictions: Sword Savant 5
Step: Rank
Action: Simple
Strain: 2
Skill Use: No
Keywords: Standard Effects
The adept may spend additional Karma Points prior to the associated Attack test, up to their True Strike rank. If the Attack test fails, the adept may still spend additional Karma Points as usual. The total Karma Points spent through this knack cannot exceed the adept’s True Strike rank.