Dumb Questions

Discussion on playing Earthdawn. Experiences, stories, and questions related to being a player.
ChrisDDickey
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Dumb Questions

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:10 pm

This thread is for your Dumb Questions - quick questions that do not deserve their own topics.
Why start a thread for dumb questions? So that I can ask one, and then it will be camouflaged by all the others.

ChrisDDickey
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Re: Dumb Questions - Displace Self

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:54 pm

I do want to finish off a post about the Wiz-6 spell "Displace Self" that I was writing when the forums were locked the other day.

I don't think that you can look at what Avoid Blow does not let you do, and use it as a guide for what Avoid Blow enhanced by Displace Image will not let you do. The Astral Sense spell also starts off with an innocuous statement "Effect: Enhance astral sensing" and then goes on to list all the many huge things that it allows you to do that Astral Sight normally does not allow. We really do need a definitive statement of what really is meant by "directly or indirectly". That has the potential to allow much that the base Avoid Blow talent does not allow.

I still say that as the spell is written, there is little or no reason to ever cast Displace Self unless you are ALSO casting another spell to give you a bonus to your avoid blow talent. I think that we are correct that the major advantage of the displacement is that it can bring us out of range of melee fighters additional attacks such as 2nd weapon or 2nd Attack. It is only journeymen and higher adepts who have these talents. Melee fighters all have Dex as an "Important attribute". Wizards don't. Wizards can't even get Avoid Blow until Journeyman Talent Options, they work to find magic items and pull threads to increase their spellcasting, willforce and thread weaving. Fighters look for magic weapons, and work to magically enhance their melee fighting. Therefor, on average, a melee fighter will almost always have a higher Melee talent step than a wizard of comparable rank will have avoid blow steps (unless he is benefiting from a spell that buffs his Avoid Blow). Casting Displace Self without also casting a spell to boost your Avoid Blow steps will just result in your being hit, and the spell being useless a high percentage of the time.

It is kind of funny that the undying said that he did not want Displace Self to usurp or completely replace use of Dodge Boost, saying that there are very few examples of spells completely overshadowing earlier circle spells, and that as it is Wizards have two spells that enhance Avoid Blow. The funny thing is that wizards actually have three: Dodge Boost, Displace Self, and Energy Shield. Energy Shield is that spell immediately after Displace Self in the book, and it completely usurps Dodge Boosts role, overshadowing it in every way (except that it can not be used by characters wielding two weapons).

So it has become clear to me that the intention is that this combination is meant to work together. Energy Shield is a fine standalone spell. It can be cast on most of the party members and give them a solid buff (+4 or more) to their avoid blows and to Steel Thought. A Wizard who wants to dedicate a 2nd 6th circle spell slot to a buff for him alone can also cast Displace Self upon himself, which, combined with Energy Shield, will give him a greater level of protection.

But if you can only find a place in your matrixes for one Avoid Blow enhancer, it must be Energy Shield.

PiXeL01
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Re: Dumb Questions

Post by PiXeL01 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:00 pm

Gaining Key Knowledge and Creating Threads to items:

Is the Item History a skill/talent necessary to gaining key knowledge in order to weave threads to magical items or can someone else do the work for you and pass on the knowledge, or even just the questions and deeds needed to be asked/done?

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Mataxes
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Re: Dumb Questions

Post by Mataxes » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:19 pm

PiXeL01 wrote:Gaining Key Knowledge and Creating Threads to items:

Is the Item History a skill/talent necessary to gaining key knowledge in order to weave threads to magical items or can someone else do the work for you and pass on the knowledge, or even just the questions and deeds needed to be asked/done?
The Item History talent (there is no skill) is a necessary part of the process, BUT a character does not need to know it themselves.

You can hire somebody to do that bit of legwork and pass along the info. (Or, if one of your group knows the talent, they can do it for you.)
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etherial
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Re: Dumb Questions

Post by etherial » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:19 pm

PiXeL01 wrote:Gaining Key Knowledge and Creating Threads to items:

Is the Item History a skill/talent necessary to gaining key knowledge in order to weave threads to magical items or can someone else do the work for you and pass on the knowledge, or even just the questions and deeds needed to be asked/done?
I'm not 100% sure I know what you're asking, but I'll start with this: If you buy a "Generic" Thread Item from a Merchant, it comes with a document that lists what all the Key Knowledges are and what all the Research Knowledges are. If you find the corpse of an Adventurer who had Tied to a Thread Item, odds are good their journal will contain all of the Key Knowledges and Research Knowledges they'd sussed out, but not necessarily written in an easy to figure out way.

What Item History does is it tells you the Item's stats: Its Mystic Defense, the Legend Costs for each Thread Rank, the abilities granted to the wielder at each Thread Rank (including no Threads). It also tells you what the Key Knowledges and Deeds are for each Thread Rank. You can then give that information to anyone you please. Item History is not strictly necessary in the Thread Tying process, but it does provide one possible and straightforward path to victory in that process.

Both Key Knowledges and Research Knowledges can be guessed, but one is easier than the other. It's pretty safe to assume that the first Key Knowledge to Alderac Windspear's Thread Sword is "What is the name of this item?", but the answer is unlikely to be "Alderac's Sword".

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Re: Dumb Questions

Post by PiXeL01 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:33 pm

Please excuse my vague language, English is not my first language.

Thank you for answering all my questions. You hit them all on the head.
So - you can pass the knowledge necessary to weave threads to items on to someone else.

A character does not need to invest time or Legend Points on skills if the answers are given to him.

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Mataxes
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Re: Dumb Questions

Post by Mataxes » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:44 pm

PiXeL01 wrote:Please excuse my vague language, English is not my first language.

Thank you for answering all my questions. You hit them all on the head.
So - you can pass the knowledge necessary to weave threads to items on to someone else.

A character does not need to invest time or Legend Points on skills if the answers are given to him.
Right. Keep in mind that different groups may handle the finer points of this differently.

Personally, just having the journal on its own would not be sufficient to weave the threads. You would still need somebody to perform the Item History to confirm you've got the right "questions". The journal would make it really easy to get the answers to those questions, though.
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etherial
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Re: Dumb Questions

Post by etherial » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:47 pm

PiXeL01 wrote:Please excuse my vague language, English is not my first language.

Thank you for answering all my questions. You hit them all on the head.
So - you can pass the knowledge necessary to weave threads to items on to someone else.

A character does not need to invest time or Legend Points on skills if the answers are given to him.
Note that the only Legend Points involved are raising Item History, which as mentioned above is not always necessary, and actually Tying the Thread, which is always necessary.

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The Undying
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Re: Dumb Questions - Displace Self

Post by The Undying » Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:01 am

ChrisDDickey wrote:I don't think that you can look at what Avoid Blow does not let you do, and use it as a guide for what Avoid Blow enhanced by Displace Image will not let you do.
I cannot follow this logic. "Thing X does thing Y. Thing Q helps you do thing Y better." Pretty sure that anyone would expect that Y basically does the same thing, with the same limitations, unless Q tells you otherwise. Adding an insole to your shoes does not make you magically able to clip through the floor. :D
ChrisDDickey wrote:I still say that as the spell is written, there is little or no reason to ever cast Displace Self unless you are ALSO casting another spell to give you a bonus to your avoid blow talent.
I think you are way over-analyzing this. Assume that a Wizard keeps their Avoid Blow (AB) Rank at about their Circle; for sake of argument, we'll say Circle 8 -> AB 8. Wizards aren't necessarily the most dexterous Disciplie, but we'll give him a DEX Step of 6, giving him a AB Step of 14. Now, let's set them up against a Warrior of the same Circle. Very likely that warrior will also have their Melee Weapon (MW) Rank at about their Circle, so we'll say MW 8. Warriors don't HAVE to be the most dexterous of Disciplines, but for giggles, we'll give him a DEX Step 7, giving him a MW Step of 15. So, at this point, we have an ENTIRELY REASONABLE AB 14 versus MW 15. I'm setting aside a lot of variables that could come into play here, but the example is still valid. A 1 Step difference is pretty negligible, so I'd say it is PERFECTLY reasonable to cast Displace Self without nesting it with another spell. Is it better to stack as many bonus as possible? Yes, of course? Lack of a bonus make this spell useless? Unequivocally no, but your Wizard is entirely within his right to never learn it, or never cast it if he knows it.

Plus, in the old thread, we entirely went over a great reason to use Displace Self, regardless of other spells improving AB: avoiding multiple attacks thanks to the movement provided by Displace Self.
ChrisDDickey wrote:It is kind of funny that the undying said that he did not want Displace Self to usurp or completely replace use of Dodge Boost, saying that there are very few examples of spells completely overshadowing earlier circle spells, and that as it is Wizards have two spells that enhance Avoid Blow. The funny thing is that wizards actually have three: Dodge Boost, Displace Self, and Energy Shield. Energy Shield is that spell immediately after Displace Self in the book, and it completely usurps Dodge Boosts role, overshadowing it in every way (except that it can not be used by characters wielding two weapons).
I understand that the forum migration might make quoting a bit difficult, but I hate partial quotations when the rest of the text matters. I think that's part of what's wrong with the entire news speel going on in the US right now. But I digress ...

In that same post, I make note that there are spells that smell and act very similar to prior spells but have sufficient change to make them not usurp the former. Energy Shield and Dodge Boost falls into this category. Dodge Boost provides a flat AB bonus with zero conditions. Energy Shield provides a greater AB boost, as well as a Steel Thought boost, with the requirement that one hand be free in order to manifest the shield. This is a HUGE different. The Wizard's companion Warrior will LOVE receiving Dodge Boost, but they're not gonna be happy about having to ditch their two-handed weapon in favor of Energy Shield. Additionally, while this is definitely a situational thing, that hand still has to be sufficiently free with Energy shield; lose mobility in that hand for any variety of reasons, and you lose the benefit.

Finally, when comparing this to the "Air Armor versus Ironskin" entry I made, we're in a different situation here because of the thread bonus structs on these Wizard spells. Dodge Boost gives +2 AB for 0 threads, with an extra thread providing +2; meanwhile, Energy Shield provides +4 AB and an occasional +4 ST, all for 1 thread, with extra threads still providing +2. With one extra thread, Dodge Boost provides the lion share of the benefits of Energy Shield (+4 AB), without the restriction of handedness, and Dodge Boost can still be cast faster at that 0 thread to boot. If it sounds like I'm providing conflicting information in the "Air Armor versus Ironskin" comparison, I don't feel I am: Ironskin provides the same base bonus (+3) to an additional two facets (Wound Threshold and Knockback) with no additional constraints or conditions at the cost of going from 0 base threads to 1, and extra threads on both spells only providing +1 bonus.

So, is Energy Shield better than Dodge Boost when that hand loss isn't an issue? Yes, most definitely. Will this be an issue in most case? No, probably not. But does Energy Shield usurp Dodge Boost? No, most definitely not, that condition change is huge.
ChrisDDickey wrote:But if you can only find a place in your matrixes for one Avoid Blow enhancer, it must be Energy Shield.
For YOU, it "must" be Energy Shield, but I wouldn't recommend trying to lay that statement like fact. People should play their way, settings and house rules make things significantly different, different situations call for different capabilities, and different party compositions require different approaches.

For example, let us take an entirely reasonable party composition where the Wizard is the only person who has AB. Might be a little unorthodoxed, but it could happen. After all, only the following Disciplines have AB as a Discipline Talent: Air Sailor, Archer, Beastmaster, Swordmaster, and Warrior. So, you are saying that a Wizard MUST run around with a spell that provides no meaningful bonus to his companions? (Let's face it, +4 AB is pretty mediocre if you aren't invested in the Talent otherwise) Let's follow this a bit further and assume that the Wizard likes to get into the thick of things and so has invested in his AB above his Circle (which you see sometimes for various Disciplines with various Talents). Now, his base AB Step is over the base Step for most close/ranged combat attacks he's likely going to encounter. You're saying that the Wizard MUST still run with a spell that further enhances that bonus versus one that might save him from taking multiple roungs of Strain?
Last edited by The Undying on Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:31 am, edited 3 times in total.

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The Undying
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Re: Dumb Questions

Post by The Undying » Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:19 am

etherial wrote:Both Key Knowledges and Research Knowledges can be guessed, but one is easier than the other. It's pretty safe to assume that the first Key Knowledge to Alderac Windspear's Thread Sword is "What is the name of this item?", but the answer is unlikely to be "Alderac's Sword".
I agree with the spirit of what you're saying, etherial, I'd just like to make sure we're on the same page. In general, I would say that Research Knowledge cannot be "guessed." (Have I mentioend how much I hate this whole Key Knowledge, Test Knowledge, Research Knowledge naming convention?). I think it's reasonable for a GM to allow a player to follow the logical chain of custody / events / etc obtained through their observations to determine that Knowledge, yes (which is why I hate the title "Research Knowledge"). If the players go in search of the Elven hermit Bel Biv DaVo, go to his cave high in the Thunder Mountains, find the corpse of an Elf there, there's a Thread Item sword ten inches away from his hand, and Item History reveals that one Test Knowledge is "Who was the last person to wield the sword," the players can logically say "Bel Biv DaVo" without doing genetic testing on the corpse (or checking his underwear for sown-in name tags) or dusting the sword for fingerprints. However, if they find the same sword in some scraggly underbrush halfway to the cave, and it actually IS the hermit's, he just somehow lost it on a drunken pilgrimage five weeks ago, the players have no earthly justification for making an INFORMED guess about the previous wielder [yet - maybe Bel keeps a journal where he mentions losing his precious sword].

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