The War Dancer Discipline

Before the long night of the Scourge, the Human Kingdom of Landis in Barsaive was ruled, like the rest of the province, by the Theran Empire. The proud warriors of Landis were forced by their Theran masters to surrender their weapons and all impliments of war were outlawed on pain of enslavement and death.

Though many warriors wanted to fight the oppression of mighty Thera, they could not risk their compatriots and loved ones. They hid from the forces of the Empire and continued their teachings in secret, waiting for they day when they might be free.

One of these warriors was a man known as Kaatal. In seeking a new weapon to turn against the Therans, Kaatal looked to the world of nature, where he studied the combat abilities of many animals and creatures. Kaatal did not have the passion to follow the way of the Beastmaster, for he did not seek to understand the mind of the beast-he looked to nature only as a means of finding a new way in which to be a Warrior. Kaatal trained to make his own body the weapon that he needed, following the ways and techniques that he observed.

In time, Kaatal taught his way to others. His teaching were concealed in the graceful movements of his combat style, which were further exagerated to make them into a whirling sort of dance that the Therans could take to be nothing more than a folk custom and not a deadly weapon. So was the discipline of the War Dancer born.

The War Dancers of Landis never liberated their homeland from Thera. Even as their number grew, news of the coming Scourge reached Barsaive. The construction of kaers began, and the war dancers entered the underground shelters to wait out the Long Night. While hidden in their separate kaers, they continued to teach they ways of their discipline and kept alive a spark of rebellion against Thera and theran ways.

When the people of Barsaive began to emerge again into the light of day, the war dancers began to recognize one another from the many kaers in which they had been concealed. Although they followed the same discipline, centuries of isolation had led to factionalism among them; there were debates on proper traditions, ways of teaching and order of precedence among the proud warrriors. The war dancers were splintered into small groups and some individuals struck out on their own, traveling the lands of Barsaive and teaching their discipline to others they encountered.

Important Attributes: Dexterity, Strength, and Toughness

Racial Restrictions: Obsidiman, T’Skrang, Windling

Karma Ritual: To perform his karma ritual the War Dancer meditates. When an inner state of tranquility is reached he begins the Great Dance, moving through each of the elements as represented in the Dance: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Wood. The ritual ends with a decisive punch into a cupped hand.

Artisan Skills: Dance, Elemental Sculpting

First Circle

Talents
Acrobatic Strike
Avoid Blow
Karma Strike
Karma Ritual
Maneuver
Unarmed Combat

Second Circle

Talents
Durability (7/6)
Fireblood
Steel Thought

Third Circle

Talents
Great Throw
Tiger Spring

Fourth Circle

Karma: The War Dancer may spend Karma on any action using DEX only.

Talents
Swift Kick
Thread Weaving (dance-weaving)

Fifth Circle

Physical Defense: Increase the Physical Defence of the War Dancer by one.

Talents
Anticipate Blow
Temper Self

Sixth Circle

Initiative: Increase the War Dancer’s Initiative step by 1.

Talents
Disarm
Lizard Leap

Seventh Circle

Recovery Test: The War Dancer gains an additional recovery test per day.

Talents
Detect Weapon
Second Attack

Eighth Circle

Physical Defense: Increase the Physical Defense of the War Dancer by one.

Talents
Cobra Strike
Spot Armor Flaw

Ninth Circle

Iron Hand: By expending two permanent points of damage, the War Dancer hardens his hands like iron, increasing base unarmed danage by three steps.

Talents
Battle Shout
Crushing Blow
Wound Balance

Tenth Circle

Karma: The War Dancer may spend Karma on Damage Tests in unarmed combat only.

Social Defense: Increase the Social Defense of the War Dancer by one.

Talents
Champion Challenge
Lion Heart

Eleventh Circle

Initiative: Increase the Initiative step of the War Dancer by one.

Talents
Defense
Weapon Breaker

Twelfth Circle

Physical Defense: Increase the Physical Defense of the War Dancer by one.

Spell Defense: Increase the Spell Defense of the War Dancer by one.

Talents
Crtical Hit
Whirlwind

Thirteenth Circle

Recovery Test: The War Dancer gains an additional Recovery Test.

Talents
Spirit Strike
Safe Thought

Fourteenth Circle

Karma: Increase the War Dancer’s Maximum Karma by 25.

Talents
Multi-Strike
Vital Strike

Fifteenth Circle

Elemental Favor: At the cost of three Strain, the War Dancer can perform a special Dance that calls upon the favor of the elemental planes. The War Dancer must perform a special hour-long ritual and make a Karma Ritual Test. That value becomes the effect value for one elemental effect that the War Dancer may call upon in battle. The favor can be a gust of wind, a sudden burst of flames, a minor ground tremor, etc. The favor must be called upon before the next sunrise or it is lost.

Talents
Gain Surprise
Stone Skin

New Talents

The war dancer uses the following new talents:

Karma Strike

Step Number: Strength + Rank
Action: No
Skill Use: No
Requires Karma: Yes
Strain: None
Discipline Talent Use: War Dancer

This talent allows the user to focus magical energy into any part of the body to increase the damage of an unarmed attack. The character uses their Unarmed Combat talent to hit and uses their Karma Strike talent for damage. The character must spend Karma to use this talent. The karma die is added to the damage roll. The effect of the Karma Strike talent lasts until a hit is scored or a number of rounds equal to the talent rank pass.

Great Throw

Step Number: Strength + Rank
Action: Yes
Skill Use: Yes
Requires Karma: No
Strain: None
Discipline Talent Use: War Dancer

This talent allows the possesor to hurl an opponent to the ground. The attacker makes Unarmed Combat test versus the Physical Defense of the opponent. If the character gains at least a Good success he does damage equal to their Rank in Great Throw plus Strength. The opponent also must make a Knockdown Test with +5 added to the difficulty.

Wyrmseeker

Wyrmseeker is the magical sworld wielded by the dwarf hero Narn Dragon-slayer. What is not known is that Narn’s blade drew its power from the horror Verjigorm, the Hunter of Great Dragons, and that Narn was a willing pawn of the Horror in exchange for power and pretiege. Narn was slain by the elven elementalist and dragon-friend Dianuus and his sword and shield giving into the care of one of the dragons for safekeeping. Unfortunately the wyrm died during the Scourge and Wyrmseeker was found by the unsuspecting adepts of kaer Daralon.

Spell Defense: 21
Number of Threads: 2

Rank 1 Cost: 500
Key Knowledge: The character must know that this is the sword Wyrmseeker, wielded once by Narn Dragon-slayer.
Effect: Wyrmseeker does STR+6 steps damage. It also may detect the presence of dragons nearby as well as the minions and constructs of Verjigorm like the shadows or minor horrors.

Rank 2 Cost: 800
Effect: Wyrmseeker’s damage increases to STR+8 steps and it ignores the Armored Scales power of dragons, allowing it to inflict armor-defeating hits on an Excellent Success as normal.

Rank 3 Cost: 1,300
Key Knowledge: After the sword’s Rank 2 thread is woven, it draws the attention of Verjigorm. The horror is able to Horror Mark the sword-bearer and begins to use its Thought Worm power to slowly infiltrate the character’s dreams. The horror sends information and instructions through these dreams and-if the character resists-it sends pain and injury as well. The sword-wielder has strange adventures in an alien world in his dreams, and may even earn legend points for his actions there. Verjigorm prefers that a puppet resist at first, and any Legend Points gained from the Thought Worm power can then be poured into increasing Wyrmseeker’s thread rank.
Effect: The wielder of the sword gains the ability to use the horror power of Corrupt Karma, at a level of ability equal to the wielder’s Willpower step plus the rank of the sword’s thread. This power can be used to counter the Disrupt Fate power of dragons with a successful Corrupt Karma test against the dragon’s Spell Defense.

Rank 4 Cost: 2,100
Effect: Wyrmseeker’s wielder may use the Horror power of Cursed Luck at a step equal to his Willpower step plus the rank of the sword’s thread. The sword also does STR+10 steps damage (+12 steps against dragons and drakes).

Rank 5 Cost: 3,400
Deed: The wielder has a dream (sent by Verjigorm) that guides him to an enemy of the dragon-hunter. He must slay the enemy with Wyrmseeker. In addition to the value for the enemy, the deed is worth 3,000 legend points, plus any more gained from resisting the Thought Worm. The character’s Willpower begins to errode, and he suffers -2 steps to resist any of Verjigorm’s commands.
Effect: The wielder gains the ability to draw upon Verjigorm’s karma in a manner similar to the Karma Tap horror power. When performing an action that suits the horror’s needs, the character can call upon Verjigorm telepathically. If the horror approves, the character gainst Verjigorm’s Karma Step (20) for the action, although the character must still spend his own Karma points.

Rank 6 Cost: 5,500
Deed: To weave this thread, the wielder must know the terrible truth of Wyrmseeker: that it is a creation of the horrors and meant to slay dragons as part of Verjigorm’s plans. The wielder must accept this truth and acknowledge Verjigorm as his master, effectively surrendering the ability to resist the horror’s commands.
Effect: At this rank the wielder can invoke Wyrmseeker’s terrible dragonslayer power. When this power is used, the blade is infused with the power of the Hunter of Great Dragons, inflicting 4 points of permanent damage on the wielder. The sword then does STR+32 steps damage against dragons and dracoforms and inflicts an automatic 7 wounds on any dragon it strikes for the next turn. It is this power that allowed Narn Dragon-slayer to gain his reputation and, eventually, led to his death. It is believed that the dragons slain by Wyrmseeker have their spirits drawn out by the sword and turned to some purpose by Verjigorm.

The Spirit Warrior Discipline

Spirit Warriors are martial adepts who are strongly in tune with the spirit worlds and astral space. They use their abilities to defend their communities from both physical and astral threats, while maintaining good relations with friendly spirits as helpers and allies. Spirit Warriors are generally found only among the more primative peoples of Barsaive, much like Shamans (see the Earthdawn Magic Sourcbeook).

Many spirit warrior abilities were tested during the Scourge, when their talents became important in protecting the kaers they lived in from invasion by the Horrors.

Important Attributes: Dexterity, Strength, and Willpower

Racial Restrictions: None

Karma Ritual: To perform a Karma ritual, the spirit warrior draws a triangle within a circle on a ground and meditates there, singing songs to the spirits to gain their favor. The ritual ends when a spirit gives some sign of favor to the warrior, which may be anything from a whisper on the wind to a gout of flame from the earth to a mighty clap of thunder.

Artisan Skills: Body Painting, Tattooing, Storytelling/Oral History

First Circle

  • Acrobatic Strike
  • Air Dance
  • Astral Sight
  • Avoid Blow
  • Fireblood
  • Karma Ritual
  • Melee Weapons

Second Circle Talents

  • Durability (7/6)
  • Steel Thought

Third Circle Talents

  • Silent Walk
  • Unarmed Combat

Fourth Circle

  • Plant Talk: At the cost of 1 point of Strain, the Spirit Warrior can speak with plant spirits in the same manner as the first circle Elementalist spell of the same name.
  • Elemental Tongues
  • Thread Weaving (Spirit Weaving)

Fifth Circle

  • Physical Defense: Increase the Spirit Warrior’s Physical Defense by 1.
  • Elemental Hold
  • Gliding Stride

Sixth Circle

  • Call Ancestor: By performing a special Karma Ritual and sacrificing a Recovery Test, the Spirit Warrior can call upon the spirit of one of his ancestors or ancestral heroes. If the Karma Ritual Test overcomes the spirit’s Spell Defense, the spirit will appear and answer one question to the best of its ability or it will grant the adept a single use of one of the talents that it had in life at a rank equal to the Spirit Warrior’s Karma Ritual. This ability must be used within a day and a night of the ritual or it is lost.
  • Spirit Hold
  • Spirit Talk

Seventh Circle

  • Spell Defense: Increase the Spirit Warrior’s Spell Defense by 1.
  • Enduring Art
  • Life Check

Eighth Circle

  • Karma: The Spirit Warrior may spend karma on any action using Willpower only.
  • Safe Path
  • Spirit Strike

Ninth Circle

  • Initiative: Increase the Spirit Warrior’s Initiative dice by 1 Step.
  • Social Defense: Increase the Spirit Warrior’s Social Defense by 1.
  • Lion Heart
  • Metal Ward
  • Water Dance

Tenth Circle

  • Karma: The Spirit Warrior may spend karma on any action using Dexterity only.
  • Physical Defense: Increase the Spirit Warrior’s Physical Defense by 1.
  • Animate Object
  • Orbiting Spy

Eleventh Circle

  • Karma: Increase the Spirit Warrior’s maximum Karma by 25.
  • Cobra Strike
  • Plant Shelter

Twelfth Circle

  • Recovery: The Spirit Warrior gains an additional Recovery Test.
  • Spell Defense: Increase the Spirit Warrior’s Spell Defense by 1.
  • Summon
  • Summoning Circle

Thirteenth Circle

  • Karma: The Spirit Warrior may spend Karma on Damage Tests against spirits of all kinds.
  • Spirit Walk: At the cost of 3 Strain, the Spirit Warrior can physically enter the Astral Plane. It costs an additional 3 Strain to leave the astral. This ability is similar to the Rank 15 Lightbearer talent except that the Spirit Warrior cannot bring anyone with them.
  • Bargain with Summoned Creature
  • Spirit Mount

Fourteenth Circle

  • Physical Defense: Increase the Physical Defense of the Spirit Warrior by 1.
  • Recovery Test: The Spirit Warrior gains an additional Recovery Test.
  • Matrix Strike
  • Aura Armor

Fifteenth Circle

  • Walker Between the Worlds: At the cost of 3 points of permanent damage, the Spirit Warrior becomes highly acclimated to the astral and spirit planes and is able to function there more effectively than others. This ability adds 1 step to the adept’s Astral Sight, Spirit Strike and Matrix Strike talents.
  • Ethereal Weapon
  • Moving Earth

Half-Magic

Spirit Warriors can use half-magic to identify plants and other natural materials, different types of spirits and for gathering natural ingredients for alchemy and enchanting.

Sensing Spirits

Spirit warriors are sensitive to the nature of astral space. They may make half-magic tests to determine the presence of spirits in nearby astral space. They also have some minor half-magic summoning abilities that allow them to call and bargain with lesser spirits (primarily elemental spirits).

Night’s Shadow

Night’s Shadow appears to be a medium length staff with veins of a hard silvery metal and capped at each end by the same. It has along its length three separate grips, one in the middle and two placed halfway along the shaft toward either end. In this form it is considered a quarterstaff for purposes of damage and use as a melee weapon. Once a thread is tied to Night’s Shadow it begins to show its alternate form, that of a powerful magical bow.

Maximum Threads: 2
Spell Defense: 24

Thread Ranks

Rank 1 Cost: 200
Key Knowledge
: The wielder must know that the bow is named Night’s Shadow.
Effect: The act of weaving a thread to Night’s Shadow actually constructs the mystical bowstring out of moonbeams. From this point on Night’s Shadow will bend at the wielder’s will to form a bow of exceeding quality. The weapon now functions as an Elven Warbow as well as a melee weapon causing STR+3 damage.

Rank 2 Cost: 300
Effect
: Weaving this thread grants the wielder low-light vision as well as increasing the damage done by the weapon to STR+6 as a bow and STR+4 in melee.

Rank 3 Cost: 500
Key Knowledge
: The wielder must know the name of the creator of the weapon, a fair skinned immortal Elf named Glamdring Shadowdancer.
Effect: Each week the wielder may charge the bow with a number of Shadow Arrows equal to their perception step plus their thread rank attached to Night’s Shadow up to a maximum of 40. The ritual must be done at night and Archers may add their half magic step to this number. A Shadow Arrow may be used in place of a normal arrow at any time doing normal damage and reducing the number of Shadow Arrows stored by one. After impact Shadow Arrows dissolve into the darkness from which they are spawned.

Rank 4 Cost: 800
Effect
: Night’s Shadow now does STR+8 damage as a bow and STR+5 as a melee weapon. Its range steps are increased to 60/300/450.

Rank 5 Cost: 1300
Deed
: Glamring Shadowdancer contacted a spirit of a slain Archer to help him infuse his bow with great power. To perform this deed the wielder must find something of import to a deceased Archer’s life and use it to contact the spirit. Contacting this spirit takes a lengthy ritual that must be performed at night. The wielder must convince the deceased Archer to infuse the bow with their cold dark spirit. This may not be an easy task depending upon who the wielder contacts. Night’s Shadow itself is considered an artifact of import for Glamring Shadowdancer himself. This deed is worth 1300 legend points in addition to any gained from accomplishing any of the peculiar tasks that a spirit of a deceased Archer may require.
Effect: At this rank Night’s Shadow becomes infused with the hidden powers of shadow. Any attack made with Night’s Shadow reduces the success level required for an armor defeating hit by one.

Rank 6 Cost: 2100
Effect
: The wielder of Night’s Shadow may borrow from the cloaking powers of the night to merge with their own shadow for a short time. For the cost of 2 points of strain the wielder may merge with their shadow, becoming a two dimensional being for a maximum of thread rank rounds, incapable of initiating or being harmed by purely physical attacks. Attacks which target spell defense and/or mystic armor may still affect the wielder dependent upon their special effect and the ruling of the gamemaster. While in shadow form the wielder may move upon any surface as if they were a shadow at a rate up to their unmodified combat movement. Also due to their shadowy form those in this state are harder to detect, requiring a good success to notice them in well lit circumstances, and an excellent success in poorer lighting conditions.

Rank 7 Cost: 3400
Deed
: Glamring Shadowdancer died in the service of a great dragon, defending its lair. To perform this deed the wielder must aid a dragon in the defense of its lair using Night’s Shadow. The deed must involve a real danger to the wielder and must be something that the dragon would find troublesome or dangerous to deal with on their own. This deed is worth 3400 legend points on top of any earned for actions taken in the defense.
Effect: The wielder of Night’s Shadow may store up to thread rank points of karma within the bow. Spending a point of karma from the bow requires the expenditure of 1 point of strain per point of karma used and does not count as the wielder’s karma expenditure for the round. Strain from this ability is taken after the action is completed.

Masks of Legend

Universal Mythology and the World of Earthdawn

Many modern mythologists, such as Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade, have written theories about the universality of human mythology. There are many overarching themes in the mythologies of many human cultures, cultures often separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles. Despite this distance, certain themes, ideas, and images seem almost universal in myth and legend, known in one form or another throughout the world. Anthropologist Adolf Bastian called these things elementargedanken, “elementary ideas,” common in one form or another to all peoples. Experts speculate about psychological archetypes, the universal unconscious, the universality of certain human experiences, and even genetics as an explanation for these commonalties.

In the world of FASA’s Earthdawn game, we have an additional explanation for these things. Perhaps the great myths and legends of human culture are based on somethingreal, that occurred long, long ago in an age now lost in the mists of time and nothing more than a dim, subconscious racial memory for modern people (such as the 21st century folk of Shadowrun). Earthdawn speculates, what if there actually was a time when giants walked the Earth and those bygone times we know of in legends were once true?

This idea gives Earthdawn gamemasters a unique opportunity for adventure- and campaign-building: the ability to draw upon common myths and use them in new and different ways in the Earthdawn world, to create (or re-create) the Fourth World legends that will form the underlying basis for modern (Fifth and Sixth World) mythology. In this article, I would like to outline some possible interpretations of certain mythological motifs and how they could be used in an Earthdawn campaign. These suggestions are but one possible set of interpretations of what is a rich and virtually bottomless well of mythological themes and images and readers are invited to do their own researches and come to their own conclusions.

The Creation of Nature and Life

The most important myth of all is the First Myth, the origin of all that is. Creation myths are in many ways some of the most universal, and all cultures have wondered at the origin of life and the cosmos. Many of these stories fit well within the cosmology of Earthdawn. One of the more common creation themes is the world being spoken or sung into existence. “In the beginning was the Word” says the Gospel of John and the world of Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea novels is described as being spoken into existence by the True Language.

The other major theme in creation myths is the formation of the world from the body of a divine being: such as the Earth being the body of Gaea the mother goddess in Greek myth, or formed from the flesh and bones of the slain giant Ymir in Norse mythology.

In Earthdawn, how the world came about has little bearing on the actions of a group of adventuring adepts, but it can form the basis for a cosmology that has other legends that do. With the importance of True Names in Earthdawn cosmology, it is likely the name-givers of Barsaive conceive of the Universe as spoken or sung into existence; perhaps a kind of cosmic self-awareness which named itself and created order out of the primal chaos of creation.

Adventure: A wizard is performing experiments to learn the origin of the Universe. Terrible forebodings gather when it appears that the wizard is mad enough to ally himself with a Horror that claims it can provide him with the knowledge he seeks.

Worlds Above, Below and Within

Ancient cultures recognize the existence of many worlds. In addition to the physical world, there is a spirit world or higher plane and often a lower world or underworld. These worlds are accessible to certain people (like adepts in Earthdawn) who can travel there, perform heroic deeds and return to share what they have accomplished. Earthdawn has the spirit world of astral space, as well as the distant netherworlds that exist in the far reaches of the astral. There are spirit realms, elemental planes and the strange and terrible depths from which the horrors come.

In many such tales, the worlds are united by some sort of cosmic axis; a universal center-point like the world-tree Yggdrassil, the home of the gods, the great ladder. Such a place is often considered a gateway from one world to another, and might be the sort of thing that a group of adepts might travel to in order to make their way into the netherworlds.

Adventure: A group of adepts must travel on a quest into the netherworlds to reach the Citadel of the Worlds, which sits at the hub of the elemental planes. There they must find the purest of orichalcum to forge a magical blade.

Bringers of Magic and the Arts

Many myth talk of a time before the development of civilization. In each tale there is a figure who brings knowledge and power to humanity. Prometheus in Greek mythology stole divine fire from Earth to give it as a gift to humanity and was punished for it. Thoth is believed to have given the Egyptians letters and learning. Raven the Trickster stole the sun and placed it in the sky where it could shed light over the whole world. Each of these figures is a friend and ally of humanity who faced difficult odds for their benefit. Perhaps in the world of Earthdawn, the tales of these champions might well be based on the actions of heroic adepts who have liberated life, light, learning and hope from the darkness of the horrors and the long night of the Scourge.

Lost Worlds and Legendary Lands

What are the possible Fourth World sources of our legends of many “lost” lands such as Atlantis, Lemuria, Mu, Avalon, Lyonesse or Shangri-La? Could Coranado’s El Dorado, the “Lost City of Gold,” have truly existed in the Americas? What of the Fountain of Youth? Perhaps Earthdawn adventurers can visit the places that inspired these many myths. For example, gamemasters can use materials about legendary Atlantis, a powerful island nation with mighty magic to design adventures in Thera, a powerful island nation with mighty magic.

Giants of the Earth

Many legendary heroes and figures might be based on true people from Earthdawn’s Age. A gamemaster can take that legend as a basis and build a figure who is slightly familiar, but not quite what the players might expect. For example the Russian legend of the witch Baba Yaga who lived in the dark woods in a dancing hut surrounded by a fence of skulls lit from within by her magic. She rode through the air in a mortar and pestle and captured children for her supper. Surely the basis for an Earthdawn NPC! Or Hercules the archetypal strongman, Vainomien the master wizard of Finnish myth or Isun-bushi, the Japanese hero who was only one inch tall (a Windling warrior perhaps?)

Animals, Monsters and Mythic Beasts

Earthdawn gamemasters in need of monsters need only turn to the mythology books and consider how some of the creatures therein might have existed and how their tales might have changed as they were passed down over millennia. Change the players expectations of the myths they have come to know by throwing a little twist into things. The Creatures of Earthdawn sourcebook gives some examples of this with creatures such as chimerae and unicorns.

Lovers and Bearers of Divine Seed

As I mentioned in my “Earthdawn Love” article, Love is a powerful mythological theme and motivating force. Legendary tales of love are many in various cultures. Important themes include love between mortals and immortals (perhaps a tales of a tryst between a name-giver and one of the Passions?), and love that is foredoomed from the start, such as an affair between members of two different name-giver races.

War in Heaven and Earth

Tales of divine battle and conflict are common. From the Twilight Battle of Ragnarok to the Trojan War, legends have been built around great battles and conflicts. What wars in Earthdawn could these stories be based around?

Death and Rebirth

A final great theme is the journey into the underworld and the return of the Hero: Orpheus, Balder, Eskrigal and many others. Earthdawn heroes can travel into Death’s Domain and perhaps even bargain with that Power. The risks will be great and the heroes will be faced with a journey into their own souls. Only the greatest can make such a trip and return, but then that’s the sort of legends Earthdawn characters are supposed to be building, right?

Adventure: A journey into the afterlife to bring a companion or important NPC back to the world of the living. What bargain will the adepts need to make with Death to succeed?

Anyone interested in building on these themes should consider reading some of the following books: anything by Joseph Campbell, especially The Hero’s Journey andMasks of GodThe Dictionary of Imaginary Places is an excellent resource for legendary lands and its companion The Dictionary of Imaginary Creatures, is likewise a great source of monsters. Any good book on mythology from any culture can provide much inspiration. I also recommend GURPS Religion for some excellent material on the themes and images found in myth and legend and how these can be used in adventures.

The Arrow Iceheart

Iceheart is an arrow of uncommon manufacture, its head being entirely chipped from a near perfect ice crystal from the Twilight Peaks. The shaft is carved and shaped from the wood of an oak tree from Cara Fahd, and the fletching is done with woven fern leaves picked from below the same tree. It was constructed by a Troll Archer named Jarren Swiftwind, who had no intention of giving it its unusual properties.

These properties came from the tainted ice spirit that resides within the ice crystal. It is a spirit of cold determination that tempts and influences the user of the arrow in an ever more powerful attempt to control their body outright.

The arrow behaves as a normal arrow designed for a rather large bow until a thread is attached to it, then it begins its insidious quest. Each time the thread rank attached to the arrow is increased the spirit attacks the will of the user trying to increase its hold on them, if the final thread is attached and the spirit still does not have control the spirit gets one attempt per month or one per week while in the Twilight Peaks. The spirit rolls its willpower step plus the rank of the thread versus the spell defense of the user. If the spirit succeeds the users willpower step decreases by one versus this controlling effect only. On an excellent success the user lowers two steps while on a poor result or lower the wielder regains a step. If the users willpower step decreases to zero or below the spirit has taken control of the body and begins to transfer its pattern into it.

This process can only be made permanent in the Twilight Peaks, so the spirit will take the body there in the fastest way possible. When fired the arrow adds the thread rank attached to it to the damage step of the bow it is being fired from in addition to the other powers it confers.

Rank 1 Cost: 200
Key Knowledge
: The wielder must know the name of Iceheart.
Effect: The wielder is considered to be under the influence of a Resist Cold spell. This makes him nearly immune to natural cold weather allowing him to stand drastic decreases in temperature

Rank 2 Cost: 300
Effect
: By firing the arrow into a target the wielder can cause the effects of the Icy Surface spell to be invoked at that point. The effect step of the spell is equal to the wielderís willpower plus the rank of the thread attached to Iceheart.

Rank 3 Cost: 500
Key Knowledge
: The wielder must know the name of the Crystalsmith within the Blackfang clan that helped Jarren Swiftwind fashion the arrowhead.
Effect: Any living target hit by Iceheart is effected by its body numbing cold and is considered to be harried for a number of rounds based on the level of success achieved in the attack: average being one round, good two rounds, excellent three rounds, and extraordinary four rounds.

Rank 4 Cost: 800
Effect
: The wielder can extend the bone numbing effect of the arrow by spending two points of strain to encase the target in a thin coat of ice. The target will then be unable to move for 1 minute or until they break the ice. The difficulty to do this is equal to wielderís willpower step plus the rank of the attached thread.

Rank 5 Cost: 1300
Key
 Knowledge: The wielder must learn the name of the spirit that gives Iceheart its power. The wielder will need to make a willpower test versus the spirit to be able to tell anyone else, however.
Effect: The wielder can cause the effect of a Drastic Temperature spell (cold only) to be enacted at the point of impact of the arrow. The effect step of the spell is equal to the willpower step of the wielder plus the rank of the thread (5).

The Spirit of Iceheart

The spirit within the crystal arrowhead is a Strength 1 air spirit giving it a willpower step of 8. It retains all of its powers but can not use them until it is free of the arrowhead. As the spirit’s hold on the wielder increases the wielder changes becoming more cold and distant from their friends and family. A list of possible changes are below. The more hold the spirit has upon the wielder the more drastic the changes.

  • Decreasing tolerance for heat.
  • Quick to become annoyed, but inability to get truly angry.
  • Eye color changes to become a lighter and lighter blue.
  • Body temperature decreases causing others slight discomfort when touching them (body feels cold).
  • Inability to adapt to normal social occasions.
  • A tendency to say everything that comes to mind, inability to hold back.
  • Decrease in the amount of caring and compassion the wielder shows.
  • Inability to accept changes, tendency to be stubborn.
  • Feeling and understanding decrease.
  • Disregard for the feelings of others.

The Windling Flowers of Love

An Earthdawn Legend

Oh yes, my large friend, we Windlings have our sad tales. They are not the same as those that your people have, but something that shows how foolish we Windlings can sometimes be, especially in the name of love. So, listen and hear about the origin of the winged flowers of the jungle…

Long ago in the Land of Barsaive, before the time of the Scourge, there lived a windling tribe in the depths of the Liaj Jungle. They were a prosperous and happy people that dwelled peacefully in their jungle home, with little contact from outsiders. They lived on the plentiful bounty of nature and never went unstatisfied for it.

The rulers of the tribe were a wise and happy couple, revered for their wisdom and kindness. They had a son named Kaile, who was their pride and joy and that of everyone else in the tribe. Kaile was a fine child, smart and happy and fair of face and form. Kaile was especially well known for his wings, which were perfectly and delicately formed and always tinted with the shades of the most beautiful blossoms of the jungle. As he grew older he became a very handsome young man.

His parents looked forward to the day when he would find a mate and settle down, but Kaile showed no interest in the heartfelt sighs of the windlings maidens and youths who found him so attractive. He was satisfied with his own company and did not feel a need for companionship. He was never cruel to his suitors, but broke many a heart nonetheless with his polite refusals of their company.

One day, the young prince happened to be hunting in the jungle alone, as was his habit from time to time. He wandered a distance from his home following the trail of the brightly colored jungle birds that provided fresh meat for the windling village. Landing on a branch to rest for a short while, Kaile heard a terrible sound and rushed to investigate. As he peered through the thick foliage from the treetops, he beheld an amazing sight. A stranger, the first that the young price had ever seen, was locked in combat with a fierce sabre-cat. She was a human, clad in strange armor and wielding a flashing sword that she used to fend off the great cat. But her armor and clothing were torn and stained with blood from the great hunter’s attacks and Kaile wasn’t sure if she would hold out against it.

Suddenly, the two were locked in fierce combat, rolling upon the ground. Kaile quickly nocked an arrow to his hunting bow, took careful aim and let fly into the flank of the great beast. The tiny arrow was of no concern to a creature such as a sabre-cat, but the poison coating the arrow worked its way quickly into the cat’s veins, slowing it with its paralyzing effects. The warriors used the last of her strength to drive her blade into the cat and slay it before herself falling to the ground.

Kaile rushed back to his village to get help for the fallen warrior and it took the work of several windling magicians to bring her back to the village. The windlings treated her injuries, which were not fatal. Kaile stood nearby and watched the whole time as the windling healers and magicians worked to aid the fallen warrior and for the first time he felt the stirrings of love in his heart, for the warrior woman was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.

When the healers had done their work, Kaile still remained and kept watch over the fallen warrior, so that he was the first person she saw upon awakening. As the warrior recovered, she and the prince spoke often. He learned that her name was Shara and that she was a warrior an adventurer who traveled the land. As the weeks passed and Shara continued to heal from her injuries, the two became inseparable and Kaile’s love for the human woman deepened. He dreaded the day when she would be well enough to leave his village and never return.

Kaile wished to take Shara as his, but he knew that he could not be a proper mate to her, so different were they, Windling and Human. A dark cloud seemed to hang over him and the people of Kaile’s village grew concerned for him. Days passed and Shara healed quickly until Kaile knew that it would soon be time for her to leave. He thought that he would surely die if Shara were to leave him and so came upon a plan.

Kaile sought out Nazor the Mad, an powerful Ork wizard who dwelled deep in darkest part of the jungle. He left the village late one night and set out without a word to any for the place where the solitary wizard lived. He travelled through the darkened woods with only the light of the pale moon to guide him, carefully avoiding dangerous beasts and twisting undergrowth until he reached the deepest and darkest area of the jungle, where the moss-hung trees blocked out all view of the sky and the world beneath the jungle canopy was always night. Nazor’s hut was decorated with skulls of many name-givers and painted with strange rune and symbols and pictures that seemed to writhe underneath one’s gaze.

Kaile was afraid, but his love of Shara was his passion and he called upon Astendar to strengthen him. He made his way to the hut and was confronted by the wizard Nazor himself, a twisted old Ork, bent and gnarled like an ancient tree. He asked the Windling why he had come so far from his home and Kaile told the sorcerer his tale, of how he loved Shara, but could not take her for his mate. The Ork wizard told Kaile that he could use his magic to make the Windling a proper mate for the beautiful Shara, but that there would be a price: in return the wizard wanted the gifts that were unique to the Windlings, Kaile’s astral-sensitive sight and his beautiful wings. Kaile agreed to Nazor’s terms and the wizard cast a powder made from dried roses and lover’s tears over him, while chanting a powerful spell.

The young Windling grew and grew to the size of a human, like becoming a great giant, but gone were his gossamer wings and dimmed was his windling sight of the magical world. Kaile was saddened by this loss, but Astendar still filled his heart and soul and he did not think twice about what he had lost before he rushed to be at Shara’s side.

What Kaile did not know was that Shara had many enemies that she had made in her adventuring career. When the human-sized Windling prince burst into her tent, eager to declare his love, the warrior reacted with all of her training and struck him a blow with a dagger she kept hidden with her. It is said that the young prince died of heartbreak before his wound could prove fatal. Realizing her mistake, the warrior woman wept bitter tears over Kaile’s fallen form and where her tears and the prince’s blood mingled there sprung up a flower with petals like Kaile’s lost gossamer wings. The Windlings call these flowers kailes after the lost prince and belive that they are symbols of love.

The village was lost during the Scourge, the Liaj Jungle forever changed by the ravages of the Horrors, but it is said that in some isolated patches of the jungle kailes still grow. Legend says that they contain the essence of what the windling price sacrificed for his love and that the flowers are special blooms blessed by Astendar as gifts of true love.

Adventure Ideas

If the tale of Kaile and Shara is true, then the flowers known as kailes may indeed possess magical powers. If the flowers are blessed by Astendar, one might serve as an Enchanted Gift that inspires love as if it were created by the Questor ability of the same name (see The Earthdawn Compaion for more on Questor abilities). The adepts, in the role of matchmakers for some destined couple, might seek out the blooms in the depths of the jungle or be send to find a hapless, lovestruck youth who has traveled into the jungle seeking them. A questor of Astendar might also seek out the legendary blossoms as an act of devotion to the Passion.

The tales of the love-inspiring blooms might also attract the attention of less scrupulous merchants, profiteers and wizards, any of whom would be interested in acquiring some of the flowers for experimentation and possible resale as a valuable love potion or spell component.