Nethermancers in 4th Edition

Discussion on the Earthdawn game line, errata, and feedback not related to playing or GMing.
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Nethermancers in 4th Edition

Postby Psychman » Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:40 am


I have been working my way through the 4th edition rulebooks since receiving them and I have some questions about the direction taken with the Nethermancer and their spell list. One of the Strengths of Earthdawn was that the Disciplines all had a place in the imagined society and the Nethermance, whilst not comfortable, was also valuable. Much of any Magician's role is encapsulated in their spell list and it appears that many of the more "utility" spells of the Nethermancer no longer feature, particularly at low Circles.

For example, one could see a practical use for Bone Dance in moving unconscious people out of dangerous areas without risking others, among other applications. Dry and Wet, and Insect Repellant are important for the Nethermancer's role in the preservation of bodies. None of these spells made the cut, neither did Detect Undead or Undead Struggle, 2 important spells which represent the Nethermancer's position as someone uniquely qualified to defend his/her community from the forces of Undeath, no matter their origin.

Another concern I have is with Spirit Grip - as it requires touching the opponent, thus putting the Magician at a risk much higher than other combat spells, it is surprising that the damage output is on the same level as 0 thread ranged attack spells. In previous editions this was balanced with a higher damage output making it a risky but potentially more valuable move.

May I ask the reasons behind these design decisions as they appear to me to be leaning the Nethermancer too far into the realm of "Evil Necromancer" instead of the more interesting "important but uncomfortable spiritist" concept. The addition of the Aspect spells that all appear to evoke cruel or unpleasant spirits only looks to confirm that shift further.

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Re: Nethermancers in 4th Edition

Postby Jaracove » Sun Jun 12, 2016 4:08 pm

This is a bit disappointing to be honest, I too would like to know why they were culled

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Re: Nethermancers in 4th Edition

Postby kosmit » Mon Jun 13, 2016 5:38 am

I would like to see revised version of some utility spells that got lost in the transfer...

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Re: Nethermancers in 4th Edition

Postby Spader » Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:19 pm

As a GM, I migrated my campaign from 3rd to 4th edition. That didn't pleased every players. Mostly the the nethermancer because he had lost most of his favourite spells.

So I decided to let the players "recreate" old spells via the Spell Design talent knack (now based on Patterncraft).

But I understand what Psychman is saying. Personally, I miss Death Trance.

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Re: Nethermancers in 4th Edition

Postby Fusilliban » Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:29 am

I get the general vibe that those spells weren't lost, per se, so much as they were left for some future book that isn't the main book a new person needs in order to play.

I like Dry and Wet, and when I was playing a Windling in a party with a Nethermancer in an old edition, it created for some seriously great moments between the two of us. But if I was a totally new player, coming in from D&D, I'd be likely to think "Everyone gets an attack spell, Elementalists get an attack buff and an armor buff and a heal buff, Wizards get an armor buff and x-ray vision, Illusionists get all the social buffs, Nethermancers get... an armor buff, a protective thing you can set up in advance, a thing with bats, and... an entire spell to make things damp? wtf?"

It's good and I like it and it adds character, but the game is maybe more accessible with it shoved off to a splatbook.

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Re: Nethermancers in 4th Edition

Postby Spader » Tue Jun 14, 2016 4:12 pm

Also, the number of spells has been normalized for all disciplines. That is, if we are to include the spells misssing, we should drop others to keep the number of spells correct. Then the question would be, which spell to discard instead? To this, all of you have probably the answer, but probably not same.

The way I see it, for sake of game balance (which is every discipline has the same number of spells), some spells had to be dropped. And there is no way to make the right selection where everyone would agree. I'm on the impression the devellopers just wanted to give the nethermancer the most useful spells without overshadowing the other disciplines (as they did with every disciplines)

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