Stacking (ED4)

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
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Loba
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Stacking (ED4)

Post by Loba » Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:23 pm

Many people, when making characters that develop (to say sixth circle) tend to forget or miss certain advantages that the game offers. Let's say for a moment that they do not. What are folks thoughts on stacking.

For example, a simple Warrior (Circle 6) case:

- Talent Rank 7 Melee
- Sword (Novice) with +2 Attack Bonus or Talent Rank
- Dexterity Step 7
- Item (Journey) giving another +3 attack bonus (Ring of Rage or Gauntlets of Skill)
- Joined a Player Group and Threaded Melee to +5 (a stretch but +4 would be normal)
- A spell from a friendly player granting normally +3 attack but with 2 extra threads to grant +7 instead)

You end up with a 6th Circle Warrior boasting a frightening Step 33 easily enhanced by Karma or some of the other talents while boosted by the spell and a paltry 26 without the spell at nearly all times when working for the goals of the group. Keeping in mind they will use karma (only step 4).

Step 26 + Karma = d20 + d12 + 3d6

I have mixed feelings about this. Players with more power - not a real problem. They might be able to confront a Named Horror.

Seems to me if this is the case, then the NPCs should be expected to have more flavor as well (that Boatman or Pirate is likely to be in a group that serves their trusty Riverboat, the captain is likely to have a pattern Item for the Riverboat adding a frightening +5 to +8 bonus to one to three talents/defenses). I make characters like this all the time to confront the players because I think it adds flavor but it is cumbersome to make.

The drawback is - those basic beasts of Challenge Rating 4, 5 or 6 are entirely overpowered by a group of such characters unless they are a swarm (40+ creatures that are bound to get some glorious wrap ups).

Are threads supposed to stack like that? What are people's thoughts?
-- Can two magic items add to the same Talent?
-- Can you add a Group Thread or Pattern Item Thread bonus to that?

The most horrifying thought would be some cult which intends to bring their "Savior" to ultimate power. They worship and bless her for years and she now has 4 pattern items which her 7th circle lieutenants have bound to Rank 8 to help her. Maybe she is a spellcaster and they have increased her defenses and her spellcasting. +32 Spellcasting and +24 to all defenses?!?! Plus another +5 to all of them as she belongs to the group and is Circle 10. Yikes! If you want to take her on you have to take her followers first. I haven't done anything like that, of course. But you could imagine some Therans creating such cults or worse - some Invae.

~ Loba

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Kosmit
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Re: Stacking (ED4)

Post by Kosmit » Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:04 pm

I think that you always count the highest bonus among thread items but I could be wrong.

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Loba
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Re: Stacking (ED4)

Post by Loba » Tue Jan 03, 2017 4:36 am

Kosmit wrote:I think that you always count the highest bonus among thread items but I could be wrong.
Are you suggesting that you classify bonus types (similar to D&D 3rd Edition):
- Thread Items
- Pattern Items
- Action Bonus
- Talent Rank Bonus

I've thought of that too. Not a bad idea. My concern was always that magic items (thread items) in Earthdawn tend to be quite low bonus values and varied. One item might give a +1 bonus to 4 Talents and then have two other special effects for a Journey level Thread Item. That item seems less valuable as you find another item that covers two of the 4 Talents.

That being said - what about Pattern Items? Especially given that most player groups for a Group to gain the Pattern Item bonus from the Blood Peace. Meaning:
- The nice Troubadour gives themselves a +3 Social Defense and +3 Mystic Defense when in the player group with their group Flute Pattern Item.
- Going up against a nasty Theran Master Elementalist - they research and sneak into the targets abode to gain one of the Elementalist's Pattern Items. Giving a bonus of +6 would be great to MD but if the highest only rule is used - it is really only +3. Seems like a lot of effort to get that +3 (and a lot of Legend Points).

Anyway - Thanks Kosmit - this is exactly the question I am pondering over.

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The Undying
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Re: Stacking (ED4)

Post by The Undying » Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:36 am

Loba wrote:For example, a simple Warrior (Circle 6) case:

- Talent Rank 7 Melee
- Sword (Novice) with +2 Attack Bonus or Talent Rank
- Dexterity Step 7
- Item (Journey) giving another +3 attack bonus (Ring of Rage or Gauntlets of Skill)
- Joined a Player Group and Threaded Melee to +5 (a stretch but +4 would be normal)
- A spell from a friendly player granting normally +3 attack but with 2 extra threads to grant +7 instead)

You end up with a 6th Circle Warrior boasting a frightening Step 33 easily enhanced by Karma or some of the other talents while boosted by the spell and a paltry 26 without the spell at nearly all times when working for the goals of the group. Keeping in mind they will use karma (only step 4).
This is actually one of my chief complaints of ED4: close/ranged combat was made TOO good. By the time you hit Circle 8, you could have a well-made close combatant swinging a solid three times per round (I *think* four times if you really cheese it), with all attack steps in the 20s (each with karma available), and damage steps in the 30s (potentially with karma, if we're talking Warrior).

Sadly, the only thing I can say is: good luck. Encounters become a mess of "I've made a massive brute that will single-mindedly attack the party tank because then the tank will have a worthwhile foe but said brute will have complete blinders on when it comes to the party magician because said magician would be instantly pulped." Because, you know, "gank the caster" doesn't exist in enemy mindsets?
Kosmit wrote:I think that you always count the highest bonus among thread items but I could be wrong.
Not that I'm aware of, but I may be missing something. Before ED4, there was a Rule of 3, where something could only gain benefits from up to three sources. I believe that's gone now.
Loba wrote:That being said - what about Pattern Items? Especially given that most player groups for a Group to gain the Pattern Item bonus from the Blood Peace. Meaning:
- The nice Troubadour gives themselves a +3 Social Defense and +3 Mystic Defense when in the player group with their group Flute Pattern Item.
- Going up against a nasty Theran Master Elementalist - they research and sneak into the targets abode to gain one of the Elementalist's Pattern Items. Giving a bonus of +6 would be great to MD but if the highest only rule is used - it is really only +3. Seems like a lot of effort to get that +3 (and a lot of Legend Points).
I must be missing something here. A big something.

First, what is this group "Flute Pattern Item" of which you speak? It sounds like you've twisted things in a way to give your party WAY too many buffs. The only way for a person to give a bump TO SOMETHING ELSE is with Pattern Items. You're saying that, not only have you allowed your group to create a Pattern Item for their group pattern, you've allowed them to make TWO? (Pattern Items can only hold a single thread per person IIRC, not multiples, so you'd need two for them to get double bonuses). Plus, you've allowed them to somehow man-handle the idea of a Blood Peace to keep the non-Group member docile and not turn on them? I'd recommend said Troudbadour misplace those Pattern Items and emphasize to the players how much of a world of hurt they may be in for until they recover them. Even then, they may end up with some idea that they'll just keep them, they'll weave the beneficial threads themselves, and you're in even deeper shazbot.

Second, for the enemy Elementalist, remember that the bonus for the Pattern Item when used AGAINST the True Pattern only benefits the weaver of the thread. Your PARTY doesn't get a +6 MD, only the one person who weaves to the Pattern Item. If the Pattern Item can hold two threads, only the person currently in possession of the Pattern Item gets the benefit, not both. Plus, if this isn't a recurring baddy, that's a lot of LP to dump into what amounts to a single-combat effect (or, these characters are high enough that throwing away 5,600 LP isn't a big deal - and you did say +6, which means it has to be at least a Minor Pattern Item to hold a thread level that high, which means it should be at least Journeyman cost tier).

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Mataxes
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Re: Stacking (ED4)

Post by Mataxes » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:15 am

The Undying wrote: First, what is this group "Flute Pattern Item" of which you speak? It sounds like you've twisted things in a way to give your party WAY too many buffs. The only way for a person to give a bump TO SOMETHING ELSE is with Pattern Items. You're saying that, not only have you allowed your group to create a Pattern Item for their group pattern, you've allowed them to make TWO? (Pattern Items can only hold a single thread per person IIRC, not multiples, so you'd need two for them to get double bonuses).
I assume (but could be mistaken) that the "flute pattern item" is the Troubadour's own flute, selected as his group pattern item when they formed the Group True Pattern.

Also note, unlike other pattern items, a group pattern item can have up to five threads woven to it, each up to rank 5 (Player's Guide, p. 238).

What he's describing is typical for a Journeyman character that is part of a Group True Pattern.
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The Undying
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Re: Stacking (ED4)

Post by The Undying » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:22 am

I see what you're saying. I guess I misread "The nice Troubadour gives themselves" - sounded like he was giving THE PARTY the bonus, not himself/herself.

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Loba
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Re: Stacking (ED4)

Post by Loba » Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:14 am

The Undying wrote:I see what you're saying. I guess I misread "The nice Troubadour gives themselves" - sounded like he was giving THE PARTY the bonus, not himself/herself.
I was trying to avoid gender pronouns. ;) But yes, I was referring to the Group Pattern Item the Troubadour must own.

I am aware how normal Pattern Items work. Even so - it behooves people to look for their own Pattern Items and guard them or let an ally thread to them (given that they can enhance the person who the item is for or the person who threads the item [but only when interacting with/against the owner of the item]). So - the Elementalist enemy in a cult from above is totally doable (4 personal pattern items - some Minor some Major - probably no Core item) which is why only the 4 high circle adepts who are his lieutenants would thread to them). It is terrifying.

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Kosmit
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Re: Stacking (ED4)

Post by Kosmit » Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:14 am

Ok, so character gets powerful. What is problem with that? XD

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The Undying
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Re: Stacking (ED4)

Post by The Undying » Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:44 am

I think the concern (or, at least, the concern that is raised to me by the topic) is just balance. Yeah, growing numbers with epic attacks and defense are pretty cool - when there's a sufficient give and take to it. It's like a song, with lots of different instruments providing different parts of same song. The problem is that when you have one element (the horns) blasting everything else out - you've lost the song, and all you're left with is the deafening blare of the tuba, the fanfare of the trumpets, and this weird harmony whenever the horns go silent.

What you currently have - SPECIFICALLY FOR COMBAT - is the following:

- close combatant dealing huge damage (3-4 attacks per turn, weapon forging, with ease to accumulate Strain to power damage increase Talents), able to mitigate huge damage (more strength = more armor, if they're willing to incur the penalty, and a shield), and otherwise able soak huge damage (highest durability of 7)
- range combatants dealing middle damage (2 attacks per turn, weapon forging, with decent ease to accumulate Strain to power damage increase Talents), able to mitigate middle damage (decent strength = potentially decent armor, if they're willing to incur the penalty, but no shield), and able to soak middle damage (durability of 5)
- spell combatants dealing mediocre damage (can't improve damage with forging, can't burn much Strain to power damage increase Talents) either narrow or wide (some spells can effect multiple targets or areas, but you only get one spell per turn - IF YOU GET ONE, thanks to threadweaving), can't mitigate damage (sad strength = sad armor, and no shield because can't interfere with manual dexterity tasks of most casting), and can't soak damage (durability of 3)

To be somewhat fair, spell casting has definitely been bumped to primarily (I'd dare say exclusively) supporting either by buffing or de-buffing, which is INTERESTING but can be unfulfilling.

Combine these things together and you end up with a recipe for high-level Journeyman close combatants able to paste Master spell combatants in a single turn, unless the magician invests in Durability on their group pattern and happen to be in a group activity (which in no way should be a requirement to play). Meanwhile, the spell combatants spend their time dodging close combatant enemies and buffing their allies, range combatants dodging close combatants and chipping away at enemies, and close combatants engaged in epic battles against epic foes in an epic tit-for-tat.

That's the problem (for me). :)

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Re: Stacking (ED4)

Post by The Undying » Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:50 am

For what it's worth (and I forgot to conclude this thought in the last post), I'm specifically talking about combat. Once you're in non-combat, then the situation can easily get reversed. The uber-combat-stacked close combatant can easily become useless outside of combat, the ranged combatant probable has some decent ways to contribute, and the spell combatant probably gets lots to do. I think part of the problem is that combat feels much more intense and memorable, so "not being good at combat" feels much more significant than "not being good outside of combat," especially if the GM allows a lot of roleplaying to mitigate Skill/Talent/Attribute shortfalls, meaning that uber-combat-stacked character doesn't actually suffer outside of combat.

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