26 July 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Thread Item 02 - Poison Ivy

This is the second 4E Anatomy of a Thread Item, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

This is a thread item from my home game made specifically for one character; he knows who he is and can continue read to spoil the surprises if he wants. It takes a thread item I wrote for the Gamemaster's Guide and modifies it/rebuilds it for him.

With no threads attached, Poison Ivy is in the form of a large, arcane and ornate looking seed. Like a big, fancy walnut. Once a thread is attached, it cocoons the owner in vegetation. After a time, the excess plant life withers and dies, leaving only the perfectly fitted fernweave armor behind.

The plants that compose the armor change each morning with the rising sun based on the prevailing flora of the area. In urban areas, it aligns itself with the nearest rural environment, underground it appears as lichens and fungi, while in desolate areas, it takes the form of whatever plant life could possibly survive.

Once a thread is attached, it draws all sustenance from the magical connection and long longer requires any additional enchantment renewal. As the thread rank increases, the armor becomes more reactive to the surroundings and the moods of its wearer, even growing and adapting to help intercept attacks.

Maximum Threads: 1
Mystic Defense: 14
Legend Point Cost: Warden

Thread Rank One
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the Name of the armor.
Effect: The armor is Physical and Mystic Armor 3.


Improving the Physical Armor rating. It's appropriate and useful, but nothing interesting.

Thread Rank Two
Effect: The armor is now Mystic Armor 4.

More of the same. With light armor like this, I always like to bump it up a little first. Other effects are where the fun is at, but if it cannot function as good armor first and foremost, everything else is lost.

Thread Rank Three
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the Name of the armor's creator.
Effect: The armor is now Physical Armor 4.


It's now as effective as crystal ringlet, probably the burliest of what would be considered light armor. At this point, I feel good about the basic defensive properties. The character it was designed for doesn't need extensive protection since he is a ranged character and utterly paranoid of anything getting near him.

Thread Rank Four
Effect: The wearer gains +1 rank to Stealthy Stride.

Here is where the armor begins to actively react and adapt to the surroundings.

Thread Rank Five
Key Knowledge: The owner must learn where the materials used to create the armor were gathered.
Effect: The wearer gains +1 rank to Danger Sense.

This continues with the trend of the armor gaining a life of its own, and perceiving and reacting to the environment. At this point it's symbiotic nature should start to become more clear, in addition to the growing sense it's not just magic armor.


Thread Rank Six
Effect: For 1 Strain, the armor takes on a slick, oily sheen. The wearer may wipe a weapon on the armor as a Simple action to poison it for the next attack that round. This poison is debilitating [Onset: 1 round, Interval 5/1 round] with a Step equal to the Thread Rank.

This is the first interesting effect. It's not a particularly powerful poison, unlikely to heavily impact the game, but it isn't intended for that purpose. This is a new tool for a character that isn't really a combat character. The poison may change to be paralytic and it may need to be more powerful to have some real effect at this level of play.


Thread Rank Seven
Deed: The wearer must visit the location where the materials were gathered and enchantment performed in Poison Wood.
Effect: The armor is now Physical and Mystic Armor 5.

Normally I don't like to specify a key knowledge so others are more easily adapt it for their own use, but the fact this came from Poison Wood was clearly telegraphed long ago. This effect isn't terribly interesting, but this is still armor at the end of the day and I always like to leverage at least one of the 7+ ranks to give two bonuses. It tends to just feel good.


Thread Rank Eight
Effect: For 1 Strain, the armor grows thorns in reaction to an attack. The wearer may inflict poison from the Rank Six effect on any successful unarmed attack (this includes bite, claw, etc. attacks from creatures). For 1 Strain, the wearer may increase the Step of the poison by +3, whether applied to a weapon or in reaction to an attack.

I like this capstone a lot and I really hope it is useful. The key is for it to build off the Rank Six effect by improving it and creating a new use, without really making an entirely new effect. When (if) it comes into play and it doesn't work, that will just mean sitting down and figuring out a different effect that does work while still building off of the Rank Six effect.