Greetings one and all! We’re back for another preview of the Earthdawn Companion, currently in development. This week we’re going to talk about masks.

There are quite a variety of creatures in the Gamemaster’s Guide, and there will be many more in the Companion. Long time players and gamemasters will doubtless be familiar with them. The goal of masks is to provide a way to add more variety, challenge, and unpredictability to your Earthdawn campaign.

We’ve been talking about this concept since the beginning of fourth edition development, and it will finally see light in the Companion. A mask is a template designed around different themes or concepts. For example, adjusting the size (larger or smaller), adding an elemental aspect (making a “fire griffin”), even reflecting horror taint or undead status.

These are presented in a stat block similar to those for creatures, but instead of Step numbers and other values, it provides modifiers. For example, the Bony mask is used to create a skeletal undead creature, and provides the following modifiers:

  • +1 Dexterity Step
  • +1 Toughness Step
  • -1 Willpower Step
  • -1 Charisma Step
  • +1 Initiative Step
  • +1 Physical Defense
  • -1 Social Defense
  • Immunity to Unconsciousness
  • +4 Death Rating
  • +1 Wound Threshold
  • -1 Damage Step
  • Resist Pain +2 (per the power in the Gamemaster’s Guide)
  • Brittle — Opponents with blunt weapons gain a bonus success on successful hits.

These modifiers are easily applied to the stat block of the base creature, making it easy to take existing creatures and change them up. Each mask also has a recommendation of how the mask affects the challenge, with ranges ranging from  +/-2 Circles, with different ‘strengths’ for each type. For example, in addition to the one presented above (which doesn’t modify the base challenge), the “skeletal” masks currently include Gaunt (-1 Circle), Ossified (+1 Circle), and Petrified (+2 Circles), each with its own modifications and adjustments.

(These names are subject to change as editing and revision tweaks continue.)

Right now, there are over sixty individual masks in the draft. They may not all make it into the final book, depending on what our page count looks like. (There’s only so much space, and there’s a lot to squeeze in.) Much like the list of creatures, thread items, and other stuff, anything that doesn’t make it into the Companion will be saved and will hopefully see life in a later supplement.

In addition to providing easy-to-add templates for creature modification, we hope that masks also provide some inspiration into creating masks of your own, and maybe some guidance on how to modify existing creatures to present unique and entertaining challenges for your group.

That does it for this week. Thanks for reading!