Fan Collection - The Ways of Adepts

Discussion on playing Earthdawn. Experiences, stories, and questions related to being a player.
Post Reply
Owen
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2021 11:22 am

Fan Collection - The Ways of Adepts

Post by Owen » Tue Jun 22, 2021 12:15 pm

So, based on a discussion on the FASA Discord, this is a place for people to submit discipline essays or interviews, in the style of The Adept's Way, in order to collect different perspectives on discipline philosophy. If there's a significant quantity of submissions, I may eventually look into collecting them into a fan book or database or something of that nature. For now, a forum thread will do. Please don't feel like you need to have some specific length or quality of writing to submit something, this is about collecting perspectives and not every adept is quite as loquacious as those in the Adept's Way. :D Also, I assume that a lot of people will write from the perspective of characters they have played, but feel free to invent someone too.

As an optional add on, if the character's discipline philosophy doesn't fit well with the discipline talent set-up presented in the player's guide, I suggest including the progression of talents they use instead. Using All Talents to Advance makes the disciplines pretty flexible, letting you ignore some discipline talents while using some talent options to advance your circle, so if your Beastmaster considers Animal Bond to be essential to their discipline and Wilderness Survival to be optional, then please include that to give a better idea of how the philosophy you're describing plays out in the game.

For people who like having context for what they write, assume these essays are being collected by Op'Skith Chona, a T'skrang Warden Scout and follower of the Mystic Path of the Scholar who is working on collecting material for a second volume of Merrox's Adept's Way by traveling across Barsaive to interview members of different disciplines, going as far as to track them down during their adventures if he has reason to believe they have an unusual perspective on their Discipline(s). He'll back you into a corner and buy as many drinks as he has to get you talking, or appear out of the wilderness to join you at camp for an evening. But of course, feel free to ignore this if you prefer. Maybe he got the information second hand from someone else your character knows.

Owen
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2021 11:22 am

Re: Fan Collection - The Ways of Adepts

Post by Owen » Tue Jun 22, 2021 12:21 pm

And for the first submission:

Excerpts from an interview with Milovan Borodai. A Dwarven Journeyman Cavalryman of some small renown. Formerly of the Throalic Lancers as well as the, since dissolved, Red Wing explorer’s group.
Spoiler:
On the Bonded's Selection
It is well known that mounts choose their cavalryman, but few understand what that means. Cavalryman's mounts are beasts like any other, they can be broken, they can be trained and compelled into service by whip and spurs. Any beast, no matter how stubborn, will eventually be brought to heel. However, such mounts are not fit for the purposes of adept cavalrymen. The connection of cavalryman and bonded is far greater than any other connection between rider and mount, and so it must start differently.

Consider what it means for a nameless beast to choose a namegiver. It is an act of absolute trust, to gift another with the opportunity to decide your name, your very identity on the most fundamental level. Such a choice is not offered to us namegivers, we take what we are given, and we make the most of it. Even the dragons, who the troubadours say named themselves, cannot understand the nature of the choice made by the cavalryman's bonded. Once the mount has chosen a cavalryman, and been named and bonded, their connection is deeper than friendship, marriage, deeper even than the bond between parent and child. The bonded has given absolute trust to their cavalryman, and what can we do but reciprocate it?

Not every potential mount will make that choice. And some are more trusting of namegivers than others. From what I have seen, most beasts know a cavalryman when they encounter one. It is something in their manner that changes, they can hear the call of an unbonded cavalryman, and have some idea of what it means. Some are enticed or intrigued by this alone. Others are frightened or angered by it and lash out. Others simply acknowledge and ignore it, either too prideful or simply uninterested. Sometimes, this initial resistance can be overcome with time and patience as trust is built, as with any other beast. Although, one must be careful not to overpower the mount, as they may find themselves with a beast that is domesticated without the proper spirit to bond. It is a delicate balance, to impress the beast with strength and will, without breaking it of its own. Mundane trainers may find the methods of the cavalryman laughably roundabout in some cases, but the results we get when we are successful are undeniable.

On Maintaining Faith with the Bonded

The bond places obligation on both mount and cavalryman. The mount will travel far from their natural home, face harsh conditions and harsher foes. They will bear tack, and rider and be placed in the path of conflict they often do not understand. The rider in turn, shall provide for every need of their mount's that they can. Food, shelter, comfort, as well as a share in their magic to strengthen and protect them.

However, it is not permitted to shield the mount from harm that the cavalryman would face themselves. To shield the mount from danger both dishonors the mount, who has given themselves to the cavalryman as fully as any creature ever can, and is, truly, impossible. It is very rare for a bonded mount to survive the loss of their cavalryman. The initial shock is brutal, and can often end their life on its own within a few hours. Which is the better of the two fates, for the grief of the loss drives the bonded to wasting and starvation over weeks. Only very rarely have I seen a mount survive the loss of their cavalryman, and only then when a close brother of the fallen took up the bond and helped cushion the loss.

I have heard too many times of cavalrymen who try to send their mounts away, or escape from them to face some mission they fear may be suicidal, only for the mount to join them (late), or to share their fate if they die. It makes for terribly dramatic songs, but awful tactics. Unless you're going to throw down your blades and take up farming the rest of your days your mount will face death as many times as you do on the battlefield, whether they're present or not, so give them the chance to fight. Remember, your mount chose this life as surely as you did, and rare is the adept who dies peacefully of old age.

On Replacing Bonded Mounts
Now, I can feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck as I bring up this topic. There is no easier way to bring out the fury of a young cavalryman than to merely suggest that they might ever replace their mount. But veterans know it is simply an inevitability. We namegivers outlive our mounts, even those gifted with the strength of the adepts' bond. And mounts can often die, or become crippled in the course of their adventures.

In the cases of the mount's death, it is depressingly simple. To lose a mount is almost an unimaginable hardship. You cannot be prepared for it. It will cost you a piece of your soul and can knock you out for days, or months in its wake. You have lost something that can never be regained. You may continue to ride some dumb beast, but the idea of ever forming a new bond seems unimaginable folly. To expose yourself to that loss again, willingly, seems utterly impossible. But then, one day you feel the offer again from a new mount. Once again, you are the object of that spirited and pure hope, and even hardened hearts are no match for that. The new bond will not be the same as the old, and the loss will never really fade, but something new will be kindled apart from it, and your heart can come to inhabit that bond instead, in time.

To retire an injured or aging mount is both easier and more difficult. There is no pain of sudden loss, no instant absence, but there is the slow, grinding awareness that the bond must be severed. It takes time to come to terms with it, and it depends on both mount and rider to understand that neither is served by going into battle with such constraints upon them. It is a dark thing to see a trusted companion look into your eyes, and to know that they would gladly give their last breath for you, but then to see them stumble, barely able to walk, and to know that it is time for them to go.

Once they have bonded a new battle mount, some keep the previous ones around as pack animals or simply as companionship, unwilling to fully part with them. Others prefer a clean break, and find some easy life for the bonded to live out their days. I even know a few enterprising businessmen who maintain special pastures where cavalrymen can pay to have their mounts live out their days in comfort and I salute the endeavor. But beware the cavalryman’s revenge if they find their beasts mistreated, and know that no petty horse dealer’s tricks will deceive them.

On the Unity of the Two Wills
It is a common belief that cavalrymen dominate their mounts, that the mount has no will outside of the cavalryman’s, and that is the source of its incredible loyalty and obedience. And this is true, but is only one half of the story. The bonding also brings the cavalryman into the mount’s mind deeply, inescapably. There is a kind of synthesis as the two become a whole, and in the end it would be just as true to say that the cavalryman has no will outside of the mount’s.

It is a strange experience and one I’m not entirely sure how to describe to someone who has never experienced it. When I’m training initiates, I often leave this part out. It’s always good fun to watch their faces. It’s like… remembering a lifetime of memories for the first time. Experiences, pain, joy, lessons and wisdom, all the conclusions of a life lived appear without warning, and as if they had always been there. Reflexes, instincts and knowledge you’ve never heard of become as natural as if they had been with you your entire life.

But the memories are still external to you, it isn’t like we get a hankering for a scratch behind the ears and the desire to get down and clip the grass with our teeth. We can feel that the instincts aren’t ours exactly, even though we know them as if they were. It’s something like dancing with the woman you’ve practiced with for years. You dance different parts, you can’t dance her part of it, but you know exactly how she will do it. You know her reflexes as well as your own and can use them precisely. You know how to signal the movement you know she will make. You never need to say what you are doing to make it known, and it is much the same between mount and rider.

It goes beyond movement, though the ideas and beliefs gained are often difficult to describe in terms namegivers understand. For example, when is someone threatening you to prove that they are not a target, and when are they threatening you because they want, and would take from you? How can a sharing of food bind you to a new ally? Which infringements upon you and yours do not matter, and which must be fought tooth and nail before they spread and destroy you? We namegivers face these issues just as often as the beasts, but we are often so tied up in words, laws and our other creations that we do not see the conflict for what it is. There is great wisdom to be found in the bond.

As far as I can tell, it goes the other way as well. I could not say how well exactly my bonded can comprehend such ideas as money, law or even how a letter can represent a message as clearly as a face, but what I can say is that my bonded has served as my conscience in ways I never imagined possible. Either in the hesitation when there should be action, or in the action when there should be consideration, I find that it is twice as hard to make a mistake as I am reminded by a tug or a doubting glance of what I already knew to be right, but was inclined to forget in the moment. Sometimes he seems oblivious or uninterested in our affairs as namegivers, but other times I feel he understands too much. Enough to know that he should hide it.

On the Mount with Friends and Family
There is a certain reputation cavalrymen have for preferring the company of their mounts to any namegiver. It’s rather silly really, like preferring the company of your hand to that of your friends. Certainly you wouldn’t want to be without your hand, but you aren’t exactly with your hand either. But the belief isn’t entirely without merit either, so allow me to shed some light on it.

Being away from our bonded often makes us a bit nervous, and takes some getting used to on both sides. I find we need to adjust anew in every new location. We need to sort of, become comfortable knowing where the other is and what their routine is in that new place. This is especially awkward on the road, spending only a day or so at each inn doesn’t give time to adjust and I often find myself spending as many nights sleeping in the stables as the beds. That’s really where the reputation comes from. But you’ll find that once a cavalryman has had time to settle, they’re as personable as anyone else. Once we know where our hand is, we don’t feel the need to go find it every time we look down and it isn’t there.

It is a sad failing of our society that it is rarely acceptable to socialize while accompanied by a beast twice your size and smelling of the stables, but I’ll tell you a terribly kept secret. If you ever want to make friends with a cavalryman, just ask to meet their mount. Ask for an introduction like you would for any namegiver and take what they say seriously. They’ll often be overjoyed at the opportunity, and you will truly learn a great deal about them by what they say about their bonded, and if you’re really clever you may actually understand a thing or two about reading the mount’s emotions. Mounts are often much worse at hiding their real emotions than their cavalryman, and trust me, they’re feeling the same things. That’s what we do in the cavalry companies. Seriously, when I got the chance I often went to the captain’s mare and made my arguments to her, as best I could, before going to the captain. It was always useful to know how he would react to my points.

That’s really all it comes down to with Cavalrymen. We need friends and comrades like any other namegiver, but there’s a part of ourselves that isn’t often included in the conversation and it can make things a bit awkward sometimes. When it comes to more intimate relationships, it’s much the same way. You’re going to get to know the bonded as well as you know us, one way or the other. Some will be jealous of the time spent with the bonded, but that is simply thoughtless from our perspective. The mount isn’t competition, it’s a part of us. It’s a bit like wondering why we take time away from our partners to eat three times a day. We aren’t taking attention away from our partners by making sure we don’t starve, we simply have to eat.

And I feel I should mention that all of this goes both ways as well. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen huttawa absolutely baffled by my bonded’s attempt to get them to understand why it is insisting that they meet his rider, at least until I produce the requisite treats. Perhaps they still don’t understand, but they stop giving those questioning looks at least.
Note that this is written based on Panda's alternate Animal Companion Rules: http://pandagaminggrove.blogspot.com/20 ... imal.html . Most importantly, the part where Cavalrymen bond to mounts by performing a naming ritual and blood oath with the mount that is not easily or lightly severed, and causes a blood wound to the adept if their mount dies.

DunKalar
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2021 3:32 pm

Re: Fan Collection - The Ways of Adepts

Post by DunKalar » Thu Jul 08, 2021 9:04 pm

Hi,

I think the idea itself is splendid. Though there are a lot of Source Books about this topic
- Way of the Adept / Edition 1 Player's Handbook
. Makers of Legend 1 - The Way of War
- Makers of Legend 2 - The Wanderer's Way

So a lot of stuff has already been published.

Since a lot of these descriptions show several sides of the same die, maybe it would be inspiring on how to interpret a Discipline differently than in the above mentioned tomes. Or doing a focused outlook on the tougher situations - like how does a Warrior Adept deal with social challenges, when everything in his life (even getting up in the morning) is a fight - and he does not get the talents for addressing that situation like a Swordmaster or Troubadour could?

Post Reply