Question about Names and Patterns

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
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wakkowarner
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Question about Names and Patterns

Post by wakkowarner » Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:11 pm

What does a Namegiver look like astrally? What if the Namegiver never underwent a Naming ritual/ceremony? What if the Namegiver in question was an Adept (or, at least, could be an adept if they had a True Name)? How might this work with spontaneous initiation? If not having a name can keep you from getting a strong enough pattern to follow a discipline, would this be something the Therans might forbid (naming babies born into slavery, to keep them from possibly becoming adepts)?

I'm running a game where the group recently rescued a young girl from bandits. She's been abused and barely speaks (one word phrases so far, and only two different words so far). They've tried asking her her name, but she hasn't given it to them yet. They haven't explored much into her background, all they know so far is that she's a bit paranoid and unhinged, and doesn't seem to trust anyone. She's also an orphan.

I was wanting her to be an Adept, probably spontaneously initiated into a discipline (possibly Thief or Warrior). She was possibly a Theran slave, and I was thinking that, perhaps, she hasn't undergone a Naming ritual yet (if Therans would do that). BUT, I didn't know how this might affect her ability to be spontaneously initiated into the discipline. One thought was that maybe her potential to use magic is there, but it just hasn't had a defined enough pattern to latch onto yet (so perhaps she will become initiated once the characters have her undergo a naming ritual). I also didn't know what this might look like (with her pattern, and possibility of being an Adept) with Astral Sight.

To further compound things, the group has been calling her Lily. If she doesn't yet have True Name, then this could possibly be used if they do a ceremony. At the same time, maybe she has a True Name and just hasn't told it to the group yet (but could go by Lily). If you go by a different name than your True Name, does this prevent you or somehow how hinder your ability to build your legend?

Bonhumm
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Re: Question about Names and Patterns

Post by Bonhumm » Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:38 pm

As far as I know, there is no canon way to tell whether someone is an Adept or not just by a taking a 'peek' in astral space:

When looking in astral space, you will see an astral imprint of EVERYTHING/ONE within range:

- Mundane object imprints will have the same shape as the object itself but the 'inside' will be bland and look empty (although it is NOT transparent; you CANNOT see through a non-magical wall imprint even tho its 'empty', but you could see through the imprint of a window).
- The imprint of Magical OBJECT will also have the same shape of the object AND will have its Pattern filling up a PART of the object (for example, on a sword, the Pattern might be in the hilt; in this example, the hilt would be 'bright' and the rest would still be bland/empty and still NON-transparent). This is why you can tell if an object is magical or not just at a glance BUT you cannot study its Pattern (i.e. get key knowledge) just by looking at it in astral, you NEED Item History to do that.
- Living creatures (including Namegivers) Imprints also have the same shape but the Pattern completely fill up the imprint; it is thus, again, easy just with a glance to figure out if 'something' is alive or not.

This is were 'canonicity' ends: The rest is up to the interpretation of the gamemaster. Many/some GM rule that Namegivers imprints will be 'shinier' than animals/plants and/or that Adepts Imprints will also be 'shinier' than non-Adepts. Whether the Patterns are 'shinier' or not, someone studying someone's Pattern for a while (perhaps with Item History) MIGHT be able to figure out if a person is an Adept and/or of which Disciplines and/or Circle but, again, there is (as far as I know) no canon rules about this so its ultimately up to the GM.

Everyone as a Name, whether they went through a Naming ritual of not; the parents/others would have given the child a Name as some point except if, perhaps, the baby was taken away directly at birth before any interaction by Namegivers and raised by wolves or monkeys. But even without a Name, it would have a Pattern and it would probably 'seek' a Name and latch to the first one coming its way (so if she REALLY never was Named by anyone; she's Lily now).

Slimcreeper
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Re: Question about Names and Patterns

Post by Slimcreeper » Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:30 am

My head canon is that a more magically active pattern is more dense with interconnected lattice-like three-dimensional lacework. Beating the defense of astral space lets you see the imprints, which only lets you know what things are active. To a certain degree you might get the level of magical activity. Looking at even the astral imprint of a cow is different than looking at the imprint of a Name-giver is different than that of a mid-high level adept or questor is different from looking at at dragon. A Novice or Initiate adept might not look much different than a normal Name-giver though. That's not necessarily supported by the rules, but that's how I imagine it.

Studying the pattern gives more information, maybe something like one bit of info per success. I do think if she is reNamed then she'd lose her discipline if she already has it.

I like the idea of her spontaneously initiating during her Naming Ceremony, if you can figure out what it looks like. There isn't a rule RAW other than the rule of cool. Because it's such a one off moment, you can kind of just make it what you want.

wakkowarner
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Re: Question about Names and Patterns

Post by wakkowarner » Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:00 am

I was not aware that Naming was so easy to do, I thought (it's been awhile since I've read the specific rules on it) naming was more involved with a specific ritual and such. Sort of why other speaking, intelligent races aren't actually Namegivers.

Been thinking about this and talking about if the players were interested in exploring her and her history. They expressed interest, so by law of gaming she's important (so my thoughts of whether or not to make her an Adept have been settled).

Going with the idea that she's actually from Cathay. She only speaks Cathayan(?), and Theran (due to being a Theran slave) and knows very little Dwarven. Because of her nature so far (she's been attacking others and defending herself) I thought the name 虎 Hǔ (tiger) would be good. Furthermore, because of them calling her Lily, she is now Tiger Lily (also though maybe she's just named Tiger Lily outright, but I think combining their name with a possible birth name could be cool, especially with how well they fit together). Also being from Cathay I thought she might become a Blademaster rather than Warrior or Thief. She doesn't know anything about traps but surprise striking and such would be right up her alley. Also fighting off and killing several Bandits (i.e. one fighting against many) is more of the Blademaster style (as compared to a Swordmaster, which I also considered, but she doesn't seem to have the flamboyant style of most Swordmasters).

Was also not sure if she should be human or elf (she's been rather unkempt since they found her and hasn't let anyone near her, so she could have the long ears with no one noticing).

I like the idea of them doing a Naming ritual for her, but at the same time, her fighting off the bandits would have been her initiation. So reNaming her would have broke that connection. I guess she doesn't need to undergo a naming ritual, but that might be a neat experience for the players to participate in. So I guess what I was sort of going for was something that would allow for both. Like, she doesn't have a True Name yet, but she has all of this potential, just hovering around her waiting for something to latch onto. So when she undergoes the naming ritual... BOOM!! Blademaster.

I know as the GM I can do whatever. But I've also got a player who used to be my GM. He was my first ever GM, and my first role-playing game EVER was Earthdawn back in 1995. He always wanted to play in a campaign and he studied and read all of the books. After having been a GM in a number of systems and settings since, I agreed to run an Earthdawn campaign. It's been going well, and the former GM even promised to not be a total pedant when it came to ED (I think to relieve some pressure and just finally get the chance be a player in the setting), but I'd like things to be as canon and accurate as can be. That said, I appreciate the feedback so far, and if any other rules or rulings on this come to mind, I would appreciate any further advice.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Question about Names and Patterns

Post by Slimcreeper » Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:40 pm

Some Names definitely come into being organically. I mean, there wasn't a Naming Ceremony for the Throal Mountains.

I think it totally makes sense for the fight with the bandits to important enough to her that when her pattern coalesced around the True Name that she Initiates. It also makes sense that the magic moved in waves, inspiring her to fight off the bandits, receding, then cresting at the Naming Ceremony. But what is the scene that communicates that to the players? Maybe as part of the ceremony she begins acting out the previous fight? Maybe its more subtle. All of the Adepts feel their hairs rise up, but the non-Adepts don't feel anything, and then she displays unusual abilities over the next few days.

Michael
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Re: Question about Names and Patterns

Post by Michael » Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:29 pm

Well as I understand it, one might be able to divine if someone is an adept using astral sight but it would take some time and at 1 strain per 6 seconds, not to mention getting someone to hold still that long, could be costly. I suppose if you had a wizard and the astral sense spell (I think that's what it is called), and there's no pressing danger, I don't see why you can't.

In my game, adepts cannot recognized each other. However, adepts can sense a potential adept that has yet to be initiated into a discipline.

On naming: Everything in the world has a name. Even the girl in question has something that the bandits called her. If the group gives her another name and keeps using it, it should change the pattern of the girl overtime until it becomes her name. More so if someone makes her into an adept, she could take a new name and leave that old life behind. Or at least that's the way I look at it.

hope that helps

Bonhumm
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Re: Question about Names and Patterns

Post by Bonhumm » Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:56 pm

May I suggest you take a look at the 'Nameless lad' story in the old 1st edition 'Legends of Barsaive, Volume 1' for something perhaps a bit like what you were thinking.

Sharkforce
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Re: Question about Names and Patterns

Post by Sharkforce » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:38 pm

in general, there are a variety of specialized talents or spells for getting increased information from astral perception. while an extremely exceptional roll might get some of the information that normally requires extra tools, I would say don't give out 5 talents and spells for the price of one talent.

could someone maybe identify an adept from their pattern? maybe. but without specialized tools, I would expect that you're going to need to roll *extremely* well.

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etherial
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Re: Question about Names and Patterns

Post by etherial » Tue Jun 16, 2020 2:08 am

I've always thought of Talents as ropey threads of astral energy connecting the Adept's core to their limbs. So the higher the Ranks, the thicker the ropes and the higher the Circle, the more of them you see. I was very surprised when the Matrix Strike and related Talents appeared since we've always played it that the presence of Spell Matrices in particular was frickin' obvious to anyone with Astral Sight.

wakkowarner
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Re: Question about Names and Patterns

Post by wakkowarner » Tue Jun 16, 2020 6:11 am

Read the story "The Nameless Lad", thanks for the suggestion. Addresses some of my questions (such as things not taking on a name, and being part of a canon story helps). Though it seems that the boy in that story never received a name (and it doesn't allude to him being an adept). Of course, it's also told more as a myth/legend.

As far as mechanics go, we've been playing Earthdawn in a Dungeon World hack called Fourth World, so the moves and astral sight and such like that is a bit different (doesn't cause strain, but makes you susceptible to entities on the astral plane). Since it is Dungeon World based though, it's all about "fiction first" and thus my questions about what the fiction of Earthdawn calls for.
Slimcreeper wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:40 pm
Some Names definitely come into being organically. I mean, there wasn't a Naming Ceremony for the Throal Mountains.

I think it totally makes sense for the fight with the bandits to important enough to her that when her pattern coalesced around the True Name that she Initiates. It also makes sense that the magic moved in waves, inspiring her to fight off the bandits, receding, then cresting at the Naming Ceremony. But what is the scene that communicates that to the players? Maybe as part of the ceremony she begins acting out the previous fight? Maybe its more subtle. All of the Adepts feel their hairs rise up, but the non-Adepts don't feel anything, and then she displays unusual abilities over the next few days.
Very good point about the Throal/Thunder/etc. Mountains. It also reminds me about how in the Travar book they mention that airship crew may have different names for places because they have a totally different perspective. In my own game the local village has called the local forest Serborus' Demise (due to a family of Windlings with that last name that died in the forest). Some members of an airship crew refer to the forest as Cat's Eye Forest because it is shaped like an eye that has a narrow slit in the middle.

I also like your explanation and reasoning A LOT. I'll have to see if the players want to explore the idea of a Naming Ceremony or not, but it seems like regardless, it doesn't really matter. It's nice to have something I can wrap my brain around as an explanation. We'll just have to see whether or not a formal ceremony occurs. As it is, guess I'll just "play to find out what happens".

Thanks to everyone for the feedback!

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