Discipline Talents, Talent Options, and Skills

I’ve seen players get confused by the differences between Discipline Talents, Talent Options, and skills, and other related things.

  • Skills are basic abilities gained through training, experience, & knowledge. You don’t have to be a magical Adept to have skills. Some skills require small amounts of Blood Magic called Strain to use. This is a very common aspect of the world. Earthdawn is basically a Stone-Age culture technologically that has advanced to the Bronze Age, Iron Age, or even Renaissance through the use of various magics in all aspects of life. Ordinary folks can use Blood Magic in the form of Strain to power some of these skills.
  • Talents can be thought of as magically boosted skills. You are using your personal magic to cheat in some way. A Talent, when compared to a corresponding skill, is always faster to learn, less tiring to use, and/or more effective in some way. The more powerful talents can do things that no skill can match. Only Adepts can use Talents. Much like skills, many Talents require Strain to use. In addition, some Talents require the use of Karma (an additional limited magical resource which usually adds to the roll).

Now, more specifically,

  • Discipline Talents are the core abilites of a Discipline. Every single member of a Discipline gets the same set of Discipline Talents as they gain experience. The advantage of a Discipline Talent is the ability to add Karma to boost a test, even if the Talent does not normally require the use of Karma. In addition, a Discipline Talent that normally requires Karma to use can be used without Karma, thereby conserving limited magical resources. An Adept needs to improve his Discipline Talents if he wishes to raise his Circle to gain access to more Talents.
  • Talent Options are where many Adepts develop their own personal style. These are optional Talents that can be picked from an allowable list within a Discipline. An Adept is allowed to learn 1 Talent Option each time he raises his Circle. They are not required to be improved to advance to a new Circle.

A particular Talent may be a Discipline Talent for one Discipline, a Talent Option for another, and not available at all for a third. For example: Melee Weapons is a Discipline Talent for Swordmasters, a Talent Option for Scouts, and not available for Wizards. If a Wizard wants to be good with a sword, usually his only choice is to pick it up as a skill.

Some races can gain additional Talents beyond those mentioned above. Windlings have a racial Talent of Astral Sight. Humans have a racial Talent of Versatility, which allows them to pick up more Talents from anyone who will teach them.

One more source of abilities is Half-Magic. A Discipline includes some ancillary skills and knowledge that support the main thrust of the Disciple. An Adept has an effective skill in these areas equal to half his Circle (round up). So an 3rd Circle Archer, for example, could make his own bows with an effective skill rank of 2.

Discipline Talents, Talent Options, and Skills

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