Thread Magic

Published on 20.06.2016

The magical energy flowing through the world of Earthdawn can be separated into strands called threads, and one of the unique applications of the workings of magic is the use of thread magic. Adepts can use thread magic to activate a Legendary Item’s abilities, magicians use thread magic to supply the power needed for their spells, and groups use it to unite their fates for a common goal. 

Patterns and Pattern Items

Everything in the world of Earthdawn has a magical pattern. Patterns identify entities, places, or objects as unique individuals. While some patterns may share similarities (two dwarfs, for example), they are both unique. Each pattern represents only one specific person, place, or thing—everything that defines its existence from the moment of its creation up to the present moment is woven into its pattern.

Patterns grow in power and complexity when interacting with magic. If the magical interaction is significant enough, the pattern transforms and becomes magically important in the world. Such magic can be introduced deliberately using ritual magic, or accidentally by the use of powerful magic nearby. Such patterns are called True Patterns, and they are usually Named.

People and places with True Patterns may become associated with items that reflect the knowledge stored in their patterns. Usually, these are personal possessions or items directly associated with the person or place. Such items are called Pattern Items.

True Patterns and Pattern Items are powerful and can be studied and utilized for magical purposes—for good and for ill.

There is, however, an application of thread magic the rules don't cover: weaving threads to people, places, and objects. To be able to use thread magic for this purpose, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

    •   The target has a True Pattern.

    •   The Character has direct access to the True Pattern or uses an associated Pattern Item as a conduit.

  •   The character has studied the person, place, or object to learn its Name, history, interactions with magic, or other related information. Studying a True Pattern directly is also possible if the character can astrally sense it.

Artwork by Kathy SchadTo weave a thread, the player thinks up a suitable Tag to represent the thread he is about to weave. He must then spend a Karma Point and make a beat-the-odds roll. The question asked can be as simple as "Can I weave a thread to [enter person, place, or object here]?"

Modifiers apply as usual and depend on how powerful the Tag is, how well the character has studied, and other circumstances that may apply.

If successful, the player has woven a thread and can use the associated Tag whenever he is interacting with the target. The Tag lasts until the end of the Scene but can be made permanent if the player spends a Character Point.

Breben is preparing to mount a defense for the villagers of Harina's Bay, a mystic site that was once the stage for a battle between the legendary t'skrang pirate Harina and Morash, a corrupted water elemental defeated in the process. Breben has not recovered any Pattern Items of the bay, but spends time studying its True Pattern using his Astral Sight talent. He learns details of the battle fought between Harina and Morash, which he uses to weave a thread. He chooses the Tag Homeground, which is very broad and is intended to give him an advantage whenever he is in Harina's Bay. Because of this, he receives a penalty die to his roll. However, since he has time to study the place and can examine the True Pattern directly, he also gains a bonus die. Breben also spends a CP to make the thread permanent, because he doesn't know when the attackers will arrive.

Threads can also be unraveled using similar circumstances (access to the True Pattern and/or a Pattern Item) or the Dispel Magic Spell (see Earthdawn: The Age of Legend, p.161). Permanent Threads are harder to unravel, and the disruption caused by the Dispel Magic spell is only temporary in nature.