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 Discipline: Master of the Hunt

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Shaalwyd



Posts : 59
Join date : 2017-09-29

PostSubject: Discipline: Master of the Hunt   Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:32 am

Morgan Weeks, one of the Earthdawn developers, has created a wholly new discipline in Master of the Hunt; one dedicated into animal companions. It is posted over at his site, Panda's Gaming Grove. A link to the relevant page has been provided rather than copying the Discipline, so that we are less likely to overlook any changes he makes.

We'd like to invite discussion on this Discipline, and anything we should consider before approving it for play here on Eastmarches.
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Shaalwyd



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Join date : 2017-09-29

PostSubject: Re: Discipline: Master of the Hunt   Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:03 am

My initial thoughts are that there is an important difference between having a single animal companion added to a combat, and having a half-dozen. The latter slows combat down too much to be viable given our time constraints. I don't know that it would slow down combat more than a build that uses a half-dozen abilities every turn, though. (Compare with T'rask, who uses Maneuver, Melee Weapons, Unarmed Combat, Acrobatic Defense, and Taunt almost every turn, plus Tiger Spring and Avoid Blow or Riposte most rounds. That's 5+ actions, depending on how often he's being attacked. It would be hypocritical to bar Master of the Hunt on the grounds that it would slow down combat without putting time limits on anyone else's turns.)

I would strongly prefer to keep it only one combat companion, but that doesn't mean it should be impossible to have multiple animal companions - just that only one of them should be combat-oriented. A secondary animal companion could be utility-based, such as a falcon that can spy out the lay of the land using Animal Possession.

A houserule that caps the combined Circle rating of the animal companions combined would most certainly be necessary; the Master of the Hunt's own Circle rating seems the most obvious cap. The problem that creates is that it would be difficult for the Master of the Hunt to form a long-term bond with an animal. The crojen companion acquired at Second Circle is all very well and good (and adorable, but when the Master of the Hunt advances to Third Circle they are inevitably going to want a Third Circle companion. So what happens to the crojen? Roleplaying-wise, it seems not ideal.

The other possibilities would be Hunt Weaving rank or Animal Bond rank, but the issue with either of those is that they are not restrictive enough. If I can raise my Hunt Weaving high enough to get a Seventh Circle creature as my companion, why would I not do that? We can moderate that some by ruling that animal companions (after the starting one) must be met and acquired during play. Our encounter design rules mean you should never encounter a creature more than two Circles higher than the difficulty of the mission, so you wouldn't come across a Seventh Circle creature until Fifth Circle.

It would be critical to remember that animal companions are controlled by the gamemaster, not the player. The Master of the Hunt can and should give commands, but those commands are interpreted by the gamemaster, with a view to the animal's training and intelligence.

Overall, I'm inclined toward giving it a playtest. It looks well-built on paper, and any issues that arise can be dealt with as they arise.
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Smyandl



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Join date : 2017-09-28

PostSubject: Re: Discipline: Master of the Hunt   Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:45 am

Animal Bond is the cap. I agree wholeheartedly on the capping amount of combat companions. Being circle 5 with 6 in animal bond gives you a single circle 6 combat pet. That limit seems pretty solid. The animal companion cannot think for itself so must also be trained. Attack, charge, flank, heel, all require a rank in animal training to balance things.

I think if you are using rules as intended this is actually a very balanced discipline. The main reason I am pushing for this over doing it as a beastmaster (Which I can literally do without approval) is I can make a character who does not have the extra combat that a Beastmaster does. I may be able to pick up missile weapons or melee weapons eventually but that is nothing really. In envision having Rank 3 Animal Bond. A Level 3 Combat Pet. A bird type scouting pet (No combat for it) and boar or something that roots around for mushrooms for us to eat lol. It could be amazing fun.

Shrug. I stand STRONGLY by the fact that I do not believe this is broken. Only extra work is clarification on Animal Bond so it is understood correctly.
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GMPurplefixer



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PostSubject: Re: Discipline: Master of the Hunt   Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:07 am

This requires some house-ruling to make sure it doesn't bog down gameplay, and to make up for the fact that animal companions are essentially -free- in our style of gameplay (no downtime costs, no attention costs!).

I'd also want to make a few small changes. The half-magic needs to be rewritten, since the current writeup is literally everything at all if there's an animal. Period. (Anything beyond the scope of the talents is... everything.)

I'd also want to give the discipline Handle Animal as a Free Talent at 1st Circle to give them specific and literal control of their animal companions through the use of standard actions. I also want to swap out Avoid Blow for something else I was just thinking about and have just now forgotten. Dominate Beast? Maneuver? Distract?

Anything that allows you to shunt more ability onto your animal companion at 5 is preferable to something reactive that only affects you.
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Shaalwyd



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PostSubject: Re: Discipline: Master of the Hunt   Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:29 am

Animal companions don't incur downtime costs, but they do need to be fed during adventures, and it's not always easy to get them where the party needs to be - and from experience, those things add their own challenges that provide some balance to the advantages animal companions provide. (For example, a wolf won't eat feed; you need to hunt fresh meat. Horses will eat feed, but feed is actually really heavy, and you can easily use all that impressive carrying capacity just on the horse's own gear and feed. Neither can climb a cliff, and a horse is heavy enough that even the obsidiman - who also can't climb the cliff - can't lift them. And so on.)

As Shawn noted, all of the problems that animals bring into the game already exist in the Beastmaster (for which animals are optional) and the Cavalryman (for which animals are really, really not optional). Many of the considerations here are just because we have not yet had anyone playing with animal companions in Eastmarches, despite the possibilities for doing so, so we haven't needed to address what issues they bring up.

I also agree that most of the problems with animals in combat cease to be issues if the player is well-organised and on the ball, and if the animal follows its training and commands literally, rather than acting as though they have a psychic bond with the PC. There is the possibility for it to be roleplayed badly, but that should be addressed on a case by case basis, and is not good grounds for rejecting the concept as a whole.

Shawn, let me be clear that I am not suggesting that you would roleplay your animals badly, or that you would attempt to create a fighting menagerie and take it into combat, making your turns unwieldy in scope and length. I'm trying to anticipate problems that might arise with the Discipline and give them appropriate consideration, so that the decisions made apply to any player who decides they want to make a Master of Beasts.

I was looking over the FASA forums to see if there had been any particular discussion on animal companions in play and any obscure rules that might need clarification, and came across a thread Chris put up about the Cavalryman. As he notes, Beastmasters are better titled the Savage Warrior. At character creation you decide whether you're going to be a savage warrior (which the discipline talents support), and put your attribute points into physical stats, or whether you're going to be a master of beats (which are all optional talents), and put your attribute points into the required Willpower and Charisma.

Basically, you can build a beast master with Beastmaster, but it's hella expensive to do, very slow to make work, and requires you to be mediocre at the mandatory stuff in the class.

In contrast, the Cavalryman has all the animal-related options as discipline talents, making them immediately more suited to being a beast master than the Beastmaster is. The restriction there is that many of their abilities are phrased as affecting only "their mount", which does not allow them to have a bird to scout, a boar who roots for mushrooms, etc. (I think that's clumsy phrasing, and should instead cover any animal bound to them.)

The reason why I bring it up here, however, is that in looking at balance and the issues raised we might be better off comparing the Master of Beasts with the Cavalryman than with the Beastmaster. Doing so does not immediately clarify everything, but it does reframe the questions that remain.
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Smyandl



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PostSubject: Re: Discipline: Master of the Hunt   Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:25 pm

I do not think there needs to be any house ruling on the class other than the half magic (maybe) and making the limit on combat pets. Beyond that it seems pretty balanced.
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