Disappointment with the Nethermancer

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TheOracle
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Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by TheOracle » Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:39 am

At the moment I am a bit disappointed about the Nethermancer in Earthdawn 4th Edition.

The talent "Summoning" should be a central element of this class. The spirits that can be summoned with this talent also look interesting.

However, the application of the talent takes 30 minutes. Spontaneous summoning is therefore not possible.

A summoned spirit stays for a few hours in the best case. This means that it is also not possible to summon a spirit in the morning, which is then available all day long.

I find that very unfortunate, because I practically never get to use this central ability of my character.


2. I think the spell "Summon Bone Spirit" is basically great.

But first of all, it has a not entirely unproblematic prerequisite with the existence of a bone circle within reach, which at the same time is a kind of magical landmine waiting to kill uninvolved third parties.

Secondly, the presence of the spirit is limited to a few rounds.

Thirdly, the spirit can't be tasked with anything out of the immediate vicinity of the Nethermancer.

And fourth, with each further use of the spell on the same day, calling the spirit becomes so much more difficult that it usually limits the spell to one use a day. This makes it difficult for me to justify the spell matrix.


3. Spells like "Spirit Servant", which was very atmospheric, perfectly suited to the theme of the discipline, have unfortunately been cut. The summoning talent unfortunately does not allow an equivalent replacement.

I think it's a pity that the central feature of the Nethermancer, the summoning of spirits, doesn't really work well.

Am I missing something?

Sharkforce
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Re: Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by Sharkforce » Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:49 pm

i can see why spirit summoning talent would be of limited use in combat situations, but there should be plenty of non-combat situations where half an hour to set up should be perfectly fine (including at least occasionally being able to prepare for a specific combat situation that you know is coming up).

the bone circle is a 2-yard diameter area that you need one of within 30+ miles of the nethermancer (which is quite a substantial distance when you don't have cars or airplanes to get around; it is more than a day's travel in good conditions on foot, for example, and could be several days of travel in unfavourable terrain). and it is by default clearly marked, and not even that hard to escape from in general. it isn't much like a landmine at all, unless you spend a few days around heavily populated areas creating and deliberately obscuring your bone circles to specifically use them like landmines, in which case being like a landmine is a feature, not a bug.

you can use the spell several times - you just need multiple circles within range. again, 30+ miles, months-long duration on those circles, doesn't seem *that* impossible to set up. additionally, you can share the matrix with the aspect of the bone spirit, and that doesn't get harder every time you summon the spirit (provided the spell doesn't end early) and is a pretty substantial buff. furthermore, in the event that you do run out of uses, changing out what spell is in the matrix is only hard in the middle of combat situations. so if you do run out, well, you can just replace it with another spell once you're done using the spirit, and put it back the next day.

as to the spirit servant spell, there's a current thread going on about why certain spells didn't make it into 4th. spirit servant is a pretty cool spell, but it's hard to justify giving it space in the core books because spells now cost legend points to learn and you have fewer matrices to put spells into, so a spell really needs to justify its space in the core books... that said, the spells in the core books were obviously never intended to be an exhaustive list. if you really like the spell, talk to your GM about bringing it forward. it doesn't look terribly hard to make a straight-up conversion of it.

it does require a bit of planning, but with proper management it shouldn't be that hard to pull off. i suppose i'll add one more point: travel times presume you're not pushing yourself beyond reasonable limits. even with only a 30 mile range (and it will be more for a higher-circle nethermancer; the higher you go, the easier it gets since each bone circle will provide a much greater area of coverage), you're spending 8 hours a day on travel, and presumably around 8 hours sleeping. figure a couple hours per day to set up camp and break it down, and an hour spent doing other stuff during that day, and you still have around 5 hours to make a new bone circle if you want. if you're preparing to explore a kaer or something, you could potentially take a day to prepare and have all of your bone circles within range.

Michael
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Re: Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by Michael » Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:36 pm

ask the GM to let you summon one rank 5 for a combat and see if it's too overpowering. If not, maybe house rule?

Lamoron
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Re: Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by Lamoron » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:48 am

My Nethermancer agrees with you, and I'm not likely to spend the Legend Points on learning the summoning spell. Bone Spirit is pretty good, and since you can remove the bones used to make one after use - without destroying the circle - you can just have a set and reuse it. Generally speaking you don't travel 16 hours and sleep 8, so finding the time to set them up every now and again should be possible. I find that quite often we have a few days of downtime while people recover from wounds, so if there are no legend points to be meditated on, I can always set up some circles.

Michael
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Re: Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by Michael » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:42 pm

for our group, it's 8 hours travel and 8 hours of relaxing before 8 sleep.

I'm curious as to how the summon one spirit in combat goes. We have an elementalist so looking for feedback.

thanks

Lamoron
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Re: Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by Lamoron » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:21 am

Honestly, if you want combat pets just go with Bone Spirit and Fog Ghost. I'm about to hit Circle 5 and that will be in my matrices. I'm just annoyed they're useless in general. I mean sure there might be enough time to summon it and use it for something occasionally, but it'll be mostly useless.

TheOracle
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Re: Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by TheOracle » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:28 pm

My main concern isn't combat either. I think the combination of the long time, the ability needs to be used and its short duration, makes it way too situational for a core ability of a discipline. :\

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Mataxes
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Re: Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by Mataxes » Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:02 pm

I will admit I'm not completely happy with the way summoning turned out in ED4, and I've been turning it over in the back of my mind for the last couple of years. But there are potential issues.

One of them is that summoning has the potential to be massively broken --a summoner (whether Nethermancer or Elementalist) has the ability to bring the powers and abilities of any spirit to bear on a situation. That's a lot of potential power, and incredible flexibility. Since magicians already have an edge on flexibility because of spells (which is part of why spells cost Legend), ramping that up is a troubling thought.

I don't have a solution in mind, but one idea I had was to approach a summoner's spirits kind of like you approach a Beastmaster's animal companions. That is, establish them as a character that can grow along with the PC, and rather than a blanket "summon" talent provide talents that enhance the spirit over time.

One thing I think we've been doing right is providing material that supports making spirits characters, instead of just blocks of powers. The various examples in the GM Guide, along with the "animal spirits" we're introducing in Mystic Paths are a good start, but the rules framework around summoners using them just isn't quite there.
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Altanius
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Re: Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by Altanius » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:21 pm

Mataxes wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:02 pm
One of them is that summoning has the potential to be massively broken --a summoner (whether Nethermancer or Elementalist) has the ability to bring the powers and abilities of any spirit to bear on a situation. That's a lot of potential power, and incredible flexibility. Since magicians already have an edge on flexibility because of spells (which is part of why spells cost Legend), ramping that up is a troubling thought.
I'm in agreement with Mataxes on this one. This is one of the core issues in the warrior v. wizard dilemma. Every book publishing new spells (or spirits or whatever) adds new power and flexibility to the mage, while martial and thiefy types rarely get the game benefit. (As a sidenote: I actually think ED does a fairly good job with this. Requiring LP for each spell and Talent Knacks are actually a decent way to counterbalance this, since they add flexibility to the other disciplines.)

This is one reason I'm a bit more reticent than a lot of other people to see the new magic book.

Slimcreeper
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Re: Disappointment with the Nethermancer

Post by Slimcreeper » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:48 pm

It's important to me for spirits to be actual characters. And to be weird. Difficult to relate to.

But that's what makes summoning tricky, right? Is you summon a character and then they have to do whatever you say? And then the expectation is that they just disappear afterwards? It's supposed to be like Tinder or something for magical services but the spirits don't get anything out of it and they think your motivations are incomprehensible?

Summoning should almost be an exchange of services - and you already owe the spirit one for unceremoniously (so to speak) yoinking them away from whatever thing they were doing.

Maybe you should summon the spirits in advance and find out what they want from you. Then, once they owe you a favor or two you can summon them and call it in. It could even be systemized for ease of use. 1 karma/Strength Level; 5 SP worth of elemental treasure per SL, 5 minutes of service/meditation per SL as a Small Favor. I imagine spirits to be very transactional. Maybe the Favor persists for a number of days equal to your Summoning Rank or something, as it maintains their link to you.. Maybe they require the Karma when they are Summoned. Just spitballing here.

As an aside, just to put away for later, the stat blocks for spirits are very difficult to look at or use. To me it would be easier to have a standard spirit stat block; maybe one for elemental and one for ally spirits. Then with each type's powers there is a note that says +2 to Dex or whatever.

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