[WIR] Earthdawn Core Rules (1993)

Mataxes

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Nethermancer
Our third magician Discipline, the Nethermancer specializes in the magic of the netherworlds, as well as the spirits and creatures that inhabit those planes of existence. Their areas of influence also include the Horrors and their constructs. This makes most people uncomfortable around them, if not outright suspicious. Like all spell casting Disciplines, Perception and Willpower are their important Attributes. Windlings are prohibited from following the Discipline.

Advancemment bonuses include Karma on Perception tests (C4), bonuses to Spell Defense (+1 each at C5 and C8), +1 to Social Defense (C6), and +1 Initiative (C7).

In addition to the standard spell caster talents, the additional choices for the Nethermancer tie into their themes of spirits, darkness, and the astral realms. Astral Sight expands your perceptions, allowing the Nethermancer to see magical presences, including spirits and other things hiding in astral space. Lifesight is another ability tied to perception, allowing the Nethermancer to examine the aura of living things. Frighten and Taunt are both emotional manipulation abilities. Spirit Hold and Spirit Talk are equivalent to the similarly named Elementalist talents, but relate to “spirits and entities” instead of elementals. Spirit Dodge is a nice defensive ability -- the Nethermancer conjures a spirit that spends time protecting the adept, helping them dodge blows (like the avoid blow talent). Orbiting Spy is another information-gathering talent, conjuring a spirit that watches an area and provides increased perception. Animal Possession is a little weird in the midst of all this, but feels thematically appropriate.

The Nethermancer suffers from a similar problem to the Elementalist, though not to the same degree. Their spirit-based powers also work on “entities” which (arguably) includes Horrors, and I think their spells bring spirits into play more often. Still, like elementals, general information about ally spirits doesn’t show up in published material until the Magic sourcebook.

We haven’t talked about Willforce yet, and part of the reason is because I was waiting until this Discipline. Willforce is a talent available to all the magician Disciplines that mainly serves to boost the power of spells. It adds its rank to the magician’s Willpower Step for spell effect tests. This usually boosts damage, but any effect based on Willpower is enhanced by the talent.

Most magicians get access to this talent at Fifth Circle -- the first of the “Journeyman” Circles, and it costs a little bit more Legend to advance. Nethermancers get this talent a Fourth Circle, giving them access to that extra “punch” a little earlier, and a little bit less expensively than their spell casting colleagues. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it’s too unbalancing for Nethermancers to get it a little earlier, but I know some people had issues with it, especially with characters who would pursue it as a second Discipline to get access to it a little earlier.

We’ll likely come back to Willforce when we get into spell magic in a bit more depth, and we’ll look at the Nethermancer spell selections later on as well.

I really like Nethermancers. I think they are probably one of the most Earthdawn-y twists on a particular archetype. Most people have a first impression of them as your stereotypical necromancer, and while that might be true in some respects, I think there’s a lot more to them than that first impression.
 

vitus979

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Based on my table experience the racial makeup of Nethermancers is....

95% - T'skrang
5% - Windlings
:D
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I agree with Mataxes that this seems like one of the Disciplines that just "fits" within the setting. Also, I don't think I've ever seen Necromantic style powers and Healing style powers tied so closely in one class, and the setting repercussions of that are often fun to play out. My shorthand for them is "Life and Death mages" when describing them to non-Earthdawn people.

It probably helps that their Talents seem more generally useful in standard adventuring scenarios than the Elementalist's do.
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When non-casters pick up Willforce IME it's usually to buff one or two abilities. Often either Spike Bombs*, Bear Mark, or Flame Arrow. The Talent itself is also good for anybody to buff up Fear resistance IIRC. Overall, this almost feels like it should be something EVERY class gets, in the same way they get Durability.

* the ability for people in the party to have a powerful grenade that they can re-form at will is VERY useful.
 

TrvShane

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Nethermancers are the most-played casters in the games I have run. There is just something cool about them. They aren't necromancers, but they are deliciously uncomfortable. My current game has a Dwarven Nethermancer, and the player is loving playing up the bizarre.
 

Shadowjack

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Based on my table experience the racial makeup of Nethermancers is....

95% - T'skrang
…'struth! I had Vogt the White, an albino t'skrang nethermancer who was one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. The PCs would often find him having tea and crumpets with the local ghosts, talking amiably about local history, and giving the ghosts advice on how to settle down.
 

Blackfang108

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…'struth! I had Vogt the White, an albino t'skrang nethermancer who was one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. The PCs would often find him having tea and crumpets with the local ghosts, talking amiably about local history, and giving the ghosts advice on how to settle down.
I love the image this give me.
 

Mataxes

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The character I'm playing in the Legends of Earthdawn actual play podcast is a troll Nethermancer. I'm having a blast playing her.
 

Mataxes

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When non-casters pick up Willforce IME it's usually to buff one or two abilities. Often either Spike Bombs*, Bear Mark, or Flame Arrow. The Talent itself is also good for anybody to buff up Fear resistance IIRC. Overall, this almost feels like it should be something EVERY class gets, in the same way they get Durability.

* the ability for people in the party to have a powerful grenade that they can re-form at will is VERY useful.
I was curious about this (because it's come up a couple of times), and went to the book to check. By a strict reading of the text, I'm not sure that Willforce could apply to Flame Arrow, and it definitely can't apply to Bear Mark (which, for following along, doesn't show up until the Horrors sourcebook and introduction of the Horror Stalker) because Bear Mark is Perception-based, not Willpower-based.

The rules text for Willforce says, "Each rank of Willforce talent increases the effect of spells cast by the character." Flame Arrow is not a spell, ergo, should not get the benefit of Willforce. (That said, I'm not really against the idea if it works for you.)

Spike Bombs specifically refer to Willforce in their power description, so it's fair game there.

As for fear resistance, it's useful, though the Beastmaster talent Lion Heart does the same thing. Admittedly, that talent doesn't arrive until Circle 8, so it isn't as accessible as Willforce. Heartening Laugh (Circle 3 Swordmaster) can also help, though it requires a successful test against the fear-causing adversary and has a limited duration.
 

vitus979

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I was curious about this (because it's come up a couple of times), and went to the book to check. By a strict reading of the text, I'm not sure that Willforce could apply to Flame Arrow, and it definitely can't apply to Bear Mark (which, for following along, doesn't show up until the Horrors sourcebook and introduction of the Horror Stalker) because Bear Mark is Perception-based, not Willpower-based.

The rules text for Willforce says, "Each rank of Willforce talent increases the effect of spells cast by the character." Flame Arrow is not a spell, ergo, should not get the benefit of Willforce. (That said, I'm not really against the idea if it works for you.)
Sorry, misremembered Bear Mark.

The only reason I remembered Flame Arrow was because I seem to remember there was a less formal Earthdawn equivalent of "Sage Advice" that mentioned Flame Arrow counted wayyy back in the day. IIRC I would have been looking for that advice around 1997.
 

Mataxes

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Sorry, misremembered Bear Mark.

The only reason I remembered Flame Arrow was because I seem to remember there was a less formal Earthdawn equivalent of "Sage Advice" that mentioned Flame Arrow counted wayyy back in the day. IIRC I would have been looking for that advice around 1997.
The most likely sources of that would have been either a question in the Earthdawn Journal or the website Strands.

And, I mean, Lou mentioned the Willforce on Flame Arrow thing himself earlier in the thread. Like I said, I'm totally fine with doing it -- but by the same token I can understand why somebody might not allow it.
 

vitus979

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It was probably Strands, I used to go there from time to time. (wow, talk about dredging up old memories)
 
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