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.

2 comments:

  1. Hello, I dont found "Guardian's Service" witch talent it is ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Adept's Journey: Mystic Paths, p. 200.

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