Metal Cobras – Iopari the Wry Elven Diplomat

September 17, 2019

As we continue to describe the Metal Cobras, I knew I had to get one of the concepts bouncing around my head out – the Elven Diplomat. In stark opposition to Grythlit, Iopari is a dry and sarcastic, reserved individual, but under the Troubadour discipline, tells tales and entertains for a purpose – Diplomacy.  I like breaking the expectations and subverting tropes at times and the Troubadour while often thought of as a Bard “class”could be used just as well for the advancement of Diplomacy under high Charisma based Talents like Etiquette and the Perception linked Research.  So once again, thanks for taking the time to read the Card Catalog entry today further exploring Earthdawn from FASA!

Design Notes

Now, we will walk through the step by step design choices in building Iopari as we look, piece by piece how a character comes together in Earthdawn. 

  • Race – Elf.  At some point, you end up making an Elf in nearly any fantasy system.  While I am partial to dwarves, I kept them out of this build or I would write 5,000 on their political situation in the Kingdom of Throal alone.  Elves are what you expect in Fantasy games with higher potential Charisma and Dexterity. In addition, they have Low Light Vision and some neat role playing opportunities. 
  • Discipline – Troubadour. I mentioned before that the idea of a Diplomat was stuck in my head.  While the new Mystic Paths book coming out may have something that could fit better, the idea of using a Troubadour Discipline to be less merry and more snarky appealed to me as well.  Troubadours focus on the telling of tales and on the entertaining or interacting with audiences. This means that I am going to need to prioritize Charisma and Perception. This should be easier than otherwise done and if I am comfortable with Iopari not being terribly effective in a fight, which I am, I can make it even easier. 
  • Attributes – There are 6 Attributes in Earthdawn – Strength (STR); Dexterity (DEX); TOughness (TOU); Perception (PER); Willpower (WIL); and Charisma (CHA).  Each starts at a 10, is modified based on the chosen race, and then players spend 25 points to raise the Attributes. Now, it isn’t a 1 for 1 spend either as the further from the baseline you go, the more it costs.  These Attribute ratings are converted to a Step to use in the CoreStep system as we’ve described before.  
  • STR – Elves start with a 10 and as I am making Iopari not very physical, I will actually downgrade it to a 9. That nets me an additional point to spend elsewhere. 
  • DEX – Elves start with 12 and I keep it there.  It is Step 5 right on the cusp of a Step 6, but that will have to wait for Legend points. 
  • TOU – Elves begin with only an 8 and for 2 of my points I take him to a 10 just to give him an even chance to survive a few encounters. 
  • PER – Elves start with an 11 and I want to make sure we do a good job here.  I take this to a 16 to get to Step 7 and while I could try to up it even more, I won’t be able to get it to a 19 so I’ll stop at a Step 7 for the 16 PER.  That still took up 7 of my points. 
  • WIL – Elves start with 11 and I jump that up to 13, where it goes to Step 6, for 2 more Points. 
  • CHA – Elves start with an 11.  If I use all of the remaining 15 points, I can up that to a 19 and Step 8 … which is what I was planning to do the whole time!  
  • Talents – All Troubadours get the Entertainer Talent at their Circle rank, so Iopoari is superhumanly skilled in all manner of jestering and artistry. The first 5 Talents are Emotion Song, First Impression, Heartening Laugh, Item History, and Thread Weaving.  I like to envision the Heartening Laugh and Emotion Song as the snarky asides rather than big bombastic proclamations. For an Optional Talent, I know I am starting with Speak Language. You can see how this Discipline is a social discipline and great support character in combat. First Impression and Item History get the two additional ranks out of even to make sure that there is something that fits well for Iopari.  He knows his histories and knows how to find out the truths and legends out there.  
  • Skills – Earthdawn provides for four different kinds of skills to start to make sure that characters are well diversified.  There are two ranks for Language Skills to speak and one to be literate – Throalic and Sperethial being languages that Iopari knows naturally and not just through magic make the most sense.  As an Artisan skill, I see Poetry as appropriate for this somewhat morose and snarky Elf … not unlike a lot of us in High School. With two knowledge skills, Barsaive History and Theran History are likely the two most important ones to have for his concept. Finally, 8 ranks of general skills may now be chosen.  This diplomat will actually be up for some skulduggery as he is more than just an itinerant smooth talker – 2 Ranks each of Melee Weapons, Stealthy Strike, Lock Picking, and Disarm Trap. Since those are primarily all Dexterity based, he isn’t the best, but every bit helps!  
  • Gear – Aside from the basic Adventurers Kit, with 100 Silver and not much in the way of combat, I look first to add a Short Sword and then a Spear with a little bit of Hide Armor.  This is a great start. Once I add a Writing Kit, it takes up nearly off of the starting silver, so that Thieves’ Tools for the Lock Picking and Trap Disarming will have to wait for another 100 silver. 

Advancement Notes

We are using a total of 30,000 Legend to advance the Metal Cobras with a goal of 5th Circle.  This is more than enough to have a lot of fun! To advance in a Circle of a Discipline, you must possess all the Discipline Talents at the Rank of the desired Circle – You must buy your Talents up first! When you advance to a new CIrcle, you gain another measure of Durability, access to a new Discipline Talent, and the option to add another Talent Option as well as some neat extra powers or bonuses. 

  • Attributes – You have a limited ability to increase Attributes in Earthdawn – you can only raise each Attribute a total of three times with an increasing cost each time.  I am going to go ahead and bump up the Dexterity from 12 to 13 – That is a breakpoint in the math so it adds a whole Step from 5 to 6 to all Dexterity tests so it goes a long way. 
  • Talents – Obviously, the five Discipline Talents listed above will be raised to 5, but as Iopari gains Circles, new Discipline Talents are added! Iopari now has added the Talents of – Etiquette, Empathic Sense, Research, and at Fifth Circle Inspire Others! All of those, except Inspire Others, I will raise to Rank 5 with Inspire Others staying at Rank 3 thus far as other Skills and Threads are needed. The Optional Talents are where we see a lot of individuality – Read Languages is a natural companion as is Taunt.  For something that gives at least a wild chance in Combat, Avoid Blow for the few times that a hit may actually land and the obvious one for our concept – Diplomacy! The last three to learn, Taunt, Avoid Blow, and Diplomacy will only be at Rank 4, but the first two will get to Rank 5. 
  • Skills – Several of these skills will be increased over the intervening Circles.  I like to try to keep the Artisan Skill close to the Circle rank for flavor purposes in the world, so Poetry advances to a 4.  I add several Ranks of Barsaive and Theran Histories, but also start branching out by adding Throalic Politics to a 2 while a single rank each of Knowledge of Travar, Iopos, and Dragons will serve him well, dangerously, or both.
  • Gear – Looking to gear, I know there will be a good amount of items added.  Those Thieves’ Tools were the first thing he picked up and Iopari has a habit of spending his silver more quickly.  He has to keep up appearances more than others. A Crystal Buckler will continue the theme of added protection with an elegant touch and possibly looted from the same Firescale Trolls we mentioned in Grythlit’s story. I will have his sword and armor forged a bit to make them more useful, but the weapons are not where his interest lay.  Instead, a handful of magical items like the Everclean Cloak and Everdry Boots make his travels easier. The Pure Water Pot ensure that he can have clean and pure water, which Prushka appreciates for her tea and an Elfweave Robe is for formal occasions when acting in a proper Diplomatic fashion. I do have two Thread Items for Iopari, one of which is the Naga Scale Brooch which provides bonuses to social tests and social defense, and which Iopari has the Name of but not yet the Name of the Naga whose scale was used, perhaps a future adventure to Indrisa is in order.  The Esparga Boots came after the Everdry boots were purchased, but as threads are woven, they give bonuses to using Stealthy Stride and Avoid Blow, so when combat is likely, Iopari has a bit of a better chance of getting away without being too harmed 
  • Group Pattern – We mentioned the Group Pattern when we put together Grythlit, and Iopos has sworn the Blood Oath to create the pattern as well.   An Adept can weave up to 5 threads to a Group Pattern, though the total number of threads between the Group Pattern and Threaded Items and other possibilities, can never exceed the Ranks in the Thread Weaving Talent. The Legend Point cost for this is high, though, as a Rank 1 is 300 Legend and the Rank 2 Thread another 500 Legend and so forth as if it were a Talent of the Warden level.  Regardless, Iopari has the voice of reason and the one who sees through the half truths of others as he is so familiar with them himself, and so his Pattern Item is a semiprecious Cluster of Stars, reminding those who see it of the Passion Mynbruje and the two Ranks of a Thread woven to it provide an increased Social Defense by 2 when acting with the Group’s interests at heart. Likely, the next thread will provide a bonus to Charisma based tests which will further prop up his abilities since the Brooch already adds to that. 

Character Notes

When you have managed to break the Cipher, know then it is imperative that the Senior Gatherer be given the information contained herein.  Should you be newly brought into the clarity of the Eye, I will provide you with my Legend so that you will know this as more than just another interminable report from yet another agent here in the field.  It has taken several years to properly avoid the Holders of Trust to where this could be safely sent so take that as you will. 

I am Iopari or at least have been known as such for as long as you have likely been alive.  My ways are the ways of the Story but few Troubadours comport themselves with the elegance and Diplomacy that carries the Truth of Nations and Kings between them.  I am a servant of the Truth, though not always directly, but recognized as a consummate and skilled Entertainer as a Troubadour of the Fifth Circle. 

It was not an accident that I found my way into the Metal Cobras, as I have now sworn myself to.  Indeed, I had been studying the up and coming Human Archer, Balama, and a Troll of Impressive Cheer that hailed from Theran inflected lands.  My positioning in The Great Library was intentional and their interest was sufficient for me to work my way further into their good graces. Though I am certain it was not intended, I will admit that their nobility has proven itself time and again after we took part in the repelling of the Theran Invasion.  Yes, that Theran Invasion. It was only 6 or 7 years ago by now and we were present to assist Neden’s folly of a journey against the Therans and the fall of Skypoint. I will note that Grythlit could be quite a useful asset as he has a way with women and tends to charm himself into their company like the Blood Elf who favored him with a suit of Faerie Mail, though this shows how equally dangerous he would be if he were aware of my position with the Eye. 

Here, though we found the meat of the document here and the attached sheafs that will assist in why I send this with the important I do.  Iopos was not alone when it took to Jerris while Throal stood idly by mourning Neden. Iopos had recruited and forged an alliance with the Firescale Moot providing a strong presence that we had to thwart.  While Iopos took Jerris, I can report that we prevented them from spreading further south to block all the trade routes. It was in this clash that we procured scrolls and tomes which had to be secreted and translated.  From this I have learned that Uhl Denairastas is not what he seems – The whole of the Denairastas family is backed by a Great Dragon. Their references to him are clear in what we took though it appears this Great is not one in favor with the rest of the ones we have cataloged – they are his milessaratish.  This is the information that the Senior Gatherer needs – Iopos has plans that extend beyond what we see as they are guided by hands and forces beyond our pale. THis explains the long life of many of Uhl’s spawn and their seemingly strong connection to the Patterns and Mana of the world. Please ensure this is indexed to both Iopos and Dragons should Merrox ever see the Eye’s library else you will never hear the ends of his knowledge of profanities in a dozen different languages. 

I have additional information as well on the state of Thera and several provinces of the Theran Empire in the wake of the defeat they suffered – chief among them that many in Thera are not even aware that we of Vivane Province as the First Governor has taken to calling us rose up.  The First Governor and his sabre rattling stipatori have hidden from the populace, and even some of the rulers, the truth that they were defeated and have lost a Behemoth to provincial upstarts. This is a weakness that we can exploit if we wish to put Thera on its heels before Iopos rears its head further.  

In the province of Creana, we discovered more to the world than we had known.  Even for a Theran Province, Creana showed a uniqueness unmatched in my travels thus far and I shall engage Vha-Nerd to learn even more.  We have a travelling companion who has returned with us – She is a jackal-headed creature who follows the Discipline of the Scout. I am not sure whether she is a Name-Giver as she does not fit what we in Barsaive think, but the Therans treat her people as Name-Givers, though rumors about Horror tainted people from further to the West being welcomed in Thera should give us pause. Regardless, she is part of the Metal Cobras as we have been known and I am bound to her through the Group Pattern. The fortune of travelling to Creana is that Dragons do not truck with that land for reasons I have yet to fully understand. As I learn more, I shall be certain to send it the information on.  Our time in Creana came to an end as my own goranagee who came to trust me let slip that the tech akarenti had become aware that the Metal Cobras may be more than vainglorious seekers of treasure. 

I take some solace in knowing that this information is put to good use and the The Eye remains true to Throal and more importantly against the Theran expansion.  My family may have come from the north, when the Blood Wood was not yet the Blood Wood, but I am the last of my family because of the Therans and I would not see the Iopans take their place.  May the First Gatherer continue to give good counsel to the whosoever now sits upon the Throne in Throal – I have heard the stories but must return to witness this for myself.  

Iopari Wry Elven Diplomat Character Sheet Here

Metal Cobras and Earthdawn Overview here

Earthdawn is a registered trademark of FASA Corp and used without license. Any use of FASA trademarks or copyrighted material is not intended as a challenge to those trademarks or copyrights. Seize the GM is not associated with and does not represent FASA Corp in any capacity, official or otherwise.No claim of ownership is intended or implied to the copywritten or trademarked works and marks.
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