The Earthdawn Companion is edging ever closer to release. This past week the pre-art proof went out to Kickstarter backers and they’re scouring the text and finding typos, errors, and such that we’re doing our best to incorporate while we wait for art to be delivered.
Having fresh eyes on a document we’ve been working on for so long is a great help–at some point you stop seeing what’s on the page and see what you expect to see. The more problems we can catch and fix before going to press, the less errata we need to issue.
For gamemasters, the book includes a mix of classic creatures updated to fourth edition, and a bunch of new ones. This week we’ll look at one of these new offerings.
Mandrakes look like elves with polished wood for skin. Their hair ranges from green to the many shades of autumn leaves, and they wear no clothes and carry no tools yet are incredibly resistant to illness. Their fingers sharpen to points at the ends and secrete a sap-like substance that is poisonous to most living things.
Mandrakes are social creatures among their own kind, but hateful of other races. For them, survival of their race is paramount and ensure this by slaughtering interlopers who stray too close to their forest homes. Originally descended from elves, mandrakes still retain some intelligence, speaking the language of wood elementals. Other languages are almost certainly within their grasp, if they ever gave anyone the chance to teach them.
Before the Scourge, there was an elven cult blindly dedicated to Jaspree. They refused all offers to seek shelter and vowed to protect her works throughout the Scourge, whatever the cost. Jaspree, honored at such a sacrifice, approached to grant them permission to hide. However, even at her insistence, they refused to seek shelter. Torn, Jaspree respected their wishes, but left them a parting gift and a warning. She blessed their bodies to become even more as one with nature, so they appear as they do now, delighting them. The warning was not taken with as much grace. She foretold these abilities would allow them to hide from some Horrors, but not all would be so easily evaded, and, as the Scourge wore on, they would die for their folly. With that, she left.
To survive, mandrakes became as beasts over time, sacrificing the majority of their sapience allowing them to escape the notice of more intelligent Horrors. They fled to and sheltered within the forests of Barsaive, fighting with the fury of a cornered animal, for that was what they had become. Despite Jaspree’s warning, they survived, just. Today, they are scattered into small tribes that live in the deepest parts of isolated forests. In general, they are hostile, though not cruel or evil. Their most striking ability allows them to run through and hide within living trees, which they will usually do after infecting interlopers with their poison. There are rumors of mandrakes who can not only move through trees, but teleport between them. Given their nature, this is impossible to verify.
Jaspree still admires these creatures for their strength through the Scourge and their survival instinct, but is saddened at how much they have lost. She often watches over them and intervenes in subtle ways to ensure their continued existence.
Challenge: Journeyman (Sixth Circle)
|Dex: 9||Initiative: 11||Unconsciousness: 54|
|Str: 6||Physical Def: 14||Death Rating: 62|
|Tou: 8||Mystic Def: 11||Wound Thresh: 12|
|Per: 6||Social Def: 14||Knockdown: 8|
|Wil: 7||Physical Arm: 7||Recovery: 3|
|Cha: 7||Mystic Arm: 8|
- Movement: 14
- Actions: 2; Claws x2: 17 (2, Poison)
- Ambush (10)
- Awareness (10)
- Enhanced Sense [Hearing] (2)
- Immune to Poison: The mandrake is immune to poison in all forms.
- Vulnerable to Fire: Attacks with the fire keyword against the mandrake ignore any protection provided by armor.
- Poison (12): If the mandrake causes damage, the target must resist a paralytic poison (GM Guide, p. 171). The poison is Step 12 [Onset: 2 rounds, Interval 6/2 rounds, Duration 4 hours]
- Stealthy Stride (15): As the skill
- Tree Merge: The mandrake can move freely through trees and other plants; their Movement Rate is not reduced due to and cannot be restrained by plants. They can move within a tree, emerging further up or down the trunk, and perceive the area around it. Once inside a tree, the mandrake cannot be removed short of cutting the tree down.
- Tree Spike (Opponent, Close Combat): An opponent can spend two additional successes on an Attack test with a metal weapon at least the size of a dagger (an arrowhead is too small) to pierce a mandrake and leave the weapon in the mandrake. This prevents the mandrake from moving within trees until the weapon is removed, which requires a Standard action. If the attack causes a Wound, it requires two Standard actions to remove the weapon.