Friday, June 14, 2013

EAD Entry - Thread Items by John B.

This entry has some interesting concepts I'm seeing. I look forward to reading more:

Some Thread Items for Earthdawn

Most of these items are based on “What If?” As such, they may bend or break official published rules. In such a case, either adjust the item or assume this specific item breaks the rules [and maybe nothing else does]. It is magic, after all.

This article is released under Creative Commons.

Mr Fuzzywumpums

[Or, What If a young child gave an object a True Name?]

Mr Fuzzywumpums is a carved wooden bear, with a patchwork cloth vest, and holding a sword in his right hand and a shield in the left. He’s about one foot tall, and looks like a cunningly made toy rather than some fancy piece of art. He was made in a kaer, during the Scourge, by a woodcarver for his daughter.

Maximum Threads 5
Spell Defense 26

Rank 1 Cost 200
You must know that this item’s name is Mr Fuzzywumpums. No one who is over the age of young adulthood can weave a thread to this item, although someone can retain an already woven thread for a period of time. If a child has an attached thread, and experience to spend, he or she can increase the thread rank in a dream, even if he or she has no ranks in Thread Weaving.

A full sized, intelligent, bipedal  bear will appear in the dreams of anyone with a thread attached to this item, reducing the frequency and intensity of common nightmares, and helping defend against any sort of magical or horror related dream attack. Mechanically, it counts as a +3 spell or social defense, but only in that limited circumstance.

Rank 2 Cost 400
Once a season, the child will have an exceedingly vivid dream adventure. Often, it will relate in some way to the child’s life, leading to some useful tidbit of social related knowledge, such as how to make friends with a peer. Using this knowledge in a positive way counts as a repeatable 100 point Quest, which can be used only to increase the thread level.

+6 spell or social defense against a magical or horror related dream attack.

Level 3 Cost 600
 The Dreams continue, but occur less frequently, twice a year. Knowledge gained is aimed more at how to learn skills to function as an adult, or how to succeed at some task. Using the knowledge counts as a 200 point Quest, which can be used only to increase thread level.

+9 spell or social defense against a magical or horror related dream attack.

Rank 4 Cost 800

+12 spell or social defense against a magical or horror related dream attack.

Before an important threshold in becoming an adult [for example, turning a certain age], the child will have one last glorious dream adventure with Mr Fuzzywumpums. It will provide at least some hints to the child’s destiny, and if he or she isn’t already one, he or she might become an adept at this time.

After the dream, the thread rank will drop by 1 per week. While the person still has a thread, he can go to a young child or two young children and say: “This is Mr Fuzzywumpums. I am too old for him, but he can be your friend now.” Doing so snaps the first child’s thread, and weaves a rank 2 thread to 1 child, or a rank 1 thread to 2.

The Omnipotent Orb of Kodor The Magnificent

In appearance, it’s a 2 foot diameter hollow glass sphere, with what looks like grey fog inside. It has a 3 foot tall carved wooden stand, and is not meant to be used by an adventurer who walks across the land and gets into trouble. Instead, it looks like the kind of thing that belongs in the laboratory of a powerful wizard. Or, at least that’s what Kodor The Magnificent thought.

Kodor The Magnificent [aka Hodgell Lightfingers] was a Journeyman Thief Adept who lived either just before or just at the beginning of the Scourge. After a slight disagreement about property rights, he was exiled from his kaer and forced to wander.  He never came into direct conflict with a Horror, and he was able to live pretty well from the leavings of a couple of villages that had already gone into their kaer. But, he was pretty sure he’d have a much longer life if he could get inside a kaer.

Then Hodgell came across the tower of a dead magic worker. Hodgell was pretty sure he was dead because of the various body parts strewn around. So, he loaded up a cart with anything magical or valuable looking he could find, used a bit of disguise and acting skills to play the part of a wizard, and went in search of a kaer.

Hodgell found one, and playing the part of an elderly, powerful wizard, Kodor the Magificent, lived to a ripe old age. Whether he was ever found out, or whether his actions led to the people of the kaer depending on his non-existent magic ...well that’s a tale for another day.

The orb itself was originally a common magical tool used to help train Illusionist apprentices. Anyone can lay a hand on it, pay a point of strain, and after concentrating for a minute, will have whatever image they were concentrating on appear inside the orb. The more detailed the mental image, the more detailed the image in the orb. Anyone with a thread tied to the orb can block someone who doesn’t, and substitute his own image.

Rank 1 Cost 200
+1 social defense. Thread weaver must be within 10 feet of the orb for this to apply.

Rank 2 Cost 400
+1 social defense, +1 all skills or talents used to convince someone the user is a powerful user of magic. For example, disguise skill counts; thread weaving to cast a powerful spell does not. Arcane mutterings specifically counts. Thread weaver must be within 100 feet for this to apply.

Rank 3 Cost 500
+2 social defense, +2 all skills or talents used to convince someone the user is a powerful user of magic. Thread weaver must be within 1000 feet for this to apply.

Rank 4 Cost 800
+2 social defense, +4 all skills or talents used to convince someone the user is a powerful user of magic. Thread weaver must be within 10,000 feet for this to apply.

Unfortunately, if the thread weaver is a spellcaster, he or she will have a penalty equal to the skill bonus, if he or she is trying to pass as mundane or a much less powerful spellcaster.

The Ship of Sea and Sky

Built with inspiration from Upendal, Florannus, and with the aid of various elementals. It is a trading vessel and yacht, not a fighting ship. Oddly constructed compared to current designs, the normal masts used when on water fold down to wings when flying. Capable of much higher maximum speeds and rates of ascent than a normal airship, the cargo holds are both extradimensionally enlarged and capable of preservation. Opulent living quarters for the officers and owners, less for the crew. The captain must have a thread to the ship, and must have the talent of air sailing. In addition to crew, it requires True Air to fly, at approximately half the firel requirements of a riverboat.
Mechanically, using the rules for Large Scale Combat Earthdawn Companion 2nd ed:

In air, speed 9, maneuverability 10. In water, 6, 6. Firepower 0.
Hull armor rating 20, ramming 20, cargo 600. Assume a third of the cargo can be used to transport perishable items, roughly as well as a modern refrigerator can.
Crew: requires 100 on water, 80 as an airship, minus 5 per captain’s thread rank. Skill or talent level required to act as crew: 2 minimum. As this is a unique boat, crew rating and morale will vary, but likely higher than normal. Damage critical 36, derelict 126, destroyed 140. In theory there is space for 400 people on the ship. More usually, 100-125 crew are packed in that tightly, and 10-80 additional people have more luxurious accommodations [although not much larger].

As a thread item, maximum 1 thread, spell defense 25.
Reduced crew, as above. As thread rank is increased, more capabilities are given to the ship, instead of giving more power to the captain. Plus, the captain gets a +1 step bonus to  Air Sailing Talent rolls, affecting the speed or maneuverability of the ship.

Rank 1 cost 500
To weave a thread to the ship, you must know its name, and you must have the Air Sailing talent.

The Ship acts as a normal sailing ship.

Rank 2 cost 800
Ship gains limited mobility, able to move the parts of itself that normally move. For example, it can open and close doors, and make some minor adjustments to the sails. In some circumstances, it would give a slight penalty to a boarding force. It cannot raise or lower the anchor because it is too heavy.

Rank 3 cost 1,300
You must know the Name of the main questor of Florannus who was involved in building the ship.

The ship is able to fly, but more at the mercy of the winds than most airships. It rises and falls at about the speed of a hot air balloon. Falling quickly is possible, but not smoothly.

Rank 4 cost 2,100
The ship flies as a airship, as detailed.

Rank 5 cost 3,400
You must know the Name of the main questor of Upendal who was involved in building the ship.

The ship is able to create a dome of Air around it, and act as a submarine. This requires double the normal amount of elemental air. It is unable to dive particularly deep, so there are areas of the ocean that are inaccessible.

The Sword Called The Ceremonial Sword of the Ninth Wizard-Legate

While this is a thread item, it should function more as a plot device than a useful tool. Also, it will require some modification for each Earthdawn game.

More than 10,000 years ago, there was a Court, with the equivalent of Knights and Wizards, although they weren’t called that. The knights had traditionally been able to wear swords in the presence of their emperor, so the wizards, wanting to increase their standing, petitioned for the same right. This was granted.

However, they didn’t want to wear common swords- they were heavy, and having one might lead to a duel with the sword as the permitted weapon, which they would surely lose. So, they had a tradition of wearing something that was roughly sword shaped, but was clearly a piece of decoration, and intensely magical.

The important questions to answer:
1) What does this look like?
I have in mind a rapier, of a solid piece of colored unbreakable glass, approximately sized for a large troll. But it could be nearly anything, as long as it was gaudy and awe inspiring. Solid orichalcum? Living wood, with a huge ruby on the pommel? A short sword of living darkness, that moans when drawn? Whatever is chosen, it should be impossible to accidentally break, nearly impossible otherwise. And it should look like nothing else the characters have ever seen.

2) How does it enter the campaign?
Odds are, the characters stumble across it in some extremely remote location. A kaer from a previous Scourge [not the most recent one] is perfect. Or, some powerful NPC, to whom the characters owe a big favor, wants to find out more about it. A Great Dragon works well.

3) How does it influence the campaign?
Well, you can’t tie a thread to it without knowing its True Name. The Ceremonial Sword of the Ninth Wizard-Legate is what it was called, when it was spoken of in common society. That is not its Name, which is lost, unknown to any Name Giver in Barsaive, and is magically protected to boot. Simply as it is, one could use it in combat about as well as an unbalanced unbreakable stick.

However, it has several magical effects, one of which the characters will discover almost immediately. Once a day, defined as Sunset to Sunset, the first Name Giver to come within one foot of the sword triggers a magical mental message sent to everyone within thirty feet: “I am Called The Ceremonial Sword of the Ninth Wizard-Legate. Please return me to the Court of the Emperor Undying. A reward is offered.”

The sword is not intelligent. However, if you can somehow signal to it you’d like to return it, but don’t know where, it will indicate a rough direction to go [ie, generally north, not 13 degrees east]. This is not precise enough to triangulate, unless one is much closer.

4) Where the heck is the Court of the Emperor Undying?
Well, it died at least 9,000 years ago, if not much much longer. It should be located in a difficult to get to, poorly populated at best area. The Waste? Outside Barsaive? Only accessible through the Astral Plane? And it likely involved races that are not the common 8 Name Giver races.

5) After many adventures, the characters have found The Lost City of the Emperor Undying. Now what?

Well, it’s been long enough that the city is in ruins, and the civilization is gone. But there are some remnants. A really really bored elemental, conjured and stuck? A devolved race, whose oral history might provide some clues? A living ensouled computer of crystal, that wants one tiny favor?

After that, if a character manages to claim ownership of the sword, it should be impressive, but not particularly useful in combat. As a symbol of lordship, it may magically grant ownership of some land. A ten square mile area within The Waste, now greening? Otherwise, social bonuses should be primary, defensive magical secondary.