Michael here with another Earthdawn developer’s blog.
Before I get into today’s topic, I wanted to quickly insert a shameless plug for FASA events being hosted at Origins Game Fair (Sep 30th – Oct 3rd). Pre-registration for badges is open, but event registration doesn’t go live until Sept 12th. There will be at least six Earthdawn games offered (some are repeats) and I believe the wonderful Don has a couple of panels scheduled too. I’ve also heard that both Josh and Morgan will be at GenCon in a couple of weeks. I didn’t catch what their plans for hosting events/panels are, but if you’re attending I’ll assume that you already searched for any Earthdawn events available. It never hurts to drop by the end of a game just to say “Hi”.
On to today’s topic: building a character.
I’m doing some testing of Foundry Tabletop as a player this weekend and am in need of a sixth circle spellcaster to play. I thought it would be interesting for me to document the choices I’m making during the character creation process for anyone not intimately familiar with building a character. Note that I am building a high circle character for a one-shot session, so some of my decisions will be based on fun/interesting combinations that I don’t need to deal with over the course of a multi-adventure campaign. Let’s get started with optional talents.
Building a sixth circle character allows me to benefit from up to six optional talents, so I decided to figure those out first since they are the main point of discipline customization. I know that WIL and PER are key attributes for any spellcaster, but I want to be sure I take advantage of the options available to a sixth circle character before setting my attributes/race.
I have two Journeyman talent slots, the first of which is an enhanced matrix. High circle spells usually require threads, so having this in addition to the free enhanced matrix granted by my discipline will help me cast more effectively. I see that Spirit Mount is also available to me. I rarely play characters that have this talent and it has a low failure chance for a character with high PER, so I decide to pencil that in for now.
One thing I feel is important for characters is to always have some way of defending themselves through physical means. Most of the time this is less critical for spellcasters, but there’s always that unexpected fisticuffs encounter that a GM may pull on unprepared characters (not that I’ve ever done that). Nethermancers don’t have any physical combat talents available to them, so I look at skills and notice Wheeling Attack is available as a Journeyman skill. That pairs well with the Spirit Mount talent and makes for a rather interesting character build in my opinion. A mounted Nethermancer would need a high DEX value to be viable, so I feel like I’ve got enough of a concept now to figure out my attribute array.
My main attributes will be PER/WIL/DEX and I wanted to try to get all three up to 16. Ork and obsidiman both have shortcomings in these areas, the human’s flat starting point makes it difficult to excel in all three areas, and, while low strength would be supplemented during charging attacks, the windling’s physical damage output would simply be lower than a different race. Both dwarf and an elf were viable options, but they were both outclassed by the troll’s superior strength. It came down to t’skrang vs troll, or more accurately a high STR value vs. tail attack. My desire to connect hits was higher than excelling at damage, so in the end I went with the t’skrang which had better DEX than the PER/WIL focused troll I came up with. Using the tail attack option will lower my chance to hit, but it’s optional and I like the image of a charging t’skrang on a sprit mount using its tail attack.
The next major thing I look at was spells. Again, me being sixth circle right from the start gives me more options than a typical fresh character. I hone in on a few spells that significantly improve the Frighten talent: Death’s Hand (converts to simple action), Fog of Fear (multiple targets), and Evil Eye (automatic extra success). These are mainstay spells of the Nethermancer discipline and make Frighten a lot more effective. I also pickup some combat buffs since I’m determined to turn this spellcaster into a fighter: Aspect of the Fog Ghost (boost to hit and damage for close combat attacks) and Shield Mist (boost to Avoid Blow). I fill out the rest of my grimoire with various options for mystic damage and the Viewpoint spell for some investigative ability.
The rest of my character is completed with discipline talents, miscellaneous skills, and some basic equipment. I won’t ramble on further about these steps as they’re fairly standard/player preference based. The only other addition of note is the Unarmed Combat skill my character needs to better use their tail attack. I ended up with a sixth circle Nethermancer who is optimized for Frighten and capable of making wheeling attacks via a spirit mount. Not sure if it will play as well in game as it does in my head, but if it ends up as an interesting story I’ll probably post about it here. Until next time, thanks for reading!