Of many a beautiful thing in the background and realisation of Earthdawn, the concept of the karma ritual has always struck me as one of the more incredible. And among the host of karma rituals, that of the nethermancer has to be my favourite by far.
A quick reminder: To (re-)generate their karma nethermancers sit down for a nice cuppa with some otherworldly entitities and chit chat about the great beyond.
This leaves open one question though: What kind of tea do nethermancers drink?
A select few among them go for this:
Bone White Tea
The buds for this very special white tea come from shrubs growing hidden on the slopes of a few tributaries of the great Serpent. The secret of these locations and of manufacturing the tea is jealously guarded by a small conspirative association of T’skrang.
Apart from its magnificent taste – itself reason enough for every praise –, nethermancers on the river and some knowledgeable other members of their discipline value the tea even more because of another property.
If a nethermancer uses bone white tea for his karma ritual, the next time he uses karma for a nethermancer discipline talent, his effective karma step is increased by 1 for this single roll only. This benefit is not cumulative, even if the nethermancer performs multiple karma ritual with bone white tea before spending a point of karma on a discipline talent.
Bone white tea is worth its weight in gold (10 gold pieces for a single ounce of tea) – if it is available for sale at all. Even on the Serpent and for trusted customers, the availability rating of bone white tea is considered very rare, and it’s an adventure in and of itself to find someone willing to vouch for a stranger in this close-knit circle.
A single karma ritual requires a quarter of an ounce of tea.
A nethermancer’s choice of drinking container can also be quite unique:
Blackcrow‘s Tea Bowl
Maximum Threads: 1
Spell Defense: 15
This tea bowl is, easily identifiable by the clearly visible surtures inside and out, crafted from the top of a namegiver’s skull. Shape and size could fit either an elf, dwarf, orc or human.
The bone is wrought in silver and set with blood red gems. The metal and stones alike are engraved with leaves and bones motif. A small scruffy black feather sticks to the centre of the bowl.
Key Knowledge: This tea bowl was made by the dwarven nethermancer and elementalist Dannelic Blackcrow. The character has to learn that this item’s name is Blackcrow’s tea bowl.
Effect: Whenever hot water is poured into the bowl, it fills with tea leaves. It is black tea.
Effect: As long as he carries bowl visibile on his body, the social defense of the character is increased by +1.
Deed: The owner of the bowl has to drink a bowl of real (not magically created) tea of high quality in honour of Dannelic Blackcrow. This must be done in an appropriate tea ceremony conducted at Dannelic’s grave. If the choice of tea was good and the ceremony pleased him, the dwarf’s spirit will appear to reveal the next ability of the bowl. This deed is worth 200 legend points.
Effect: The owner now can choose the type of tea summoned by the bowl. To do so, he has to remember the taste of the tea in question. If it is of a type he drank within the last seven days, this succeeds automatically. If it has been more than seven days since he last tasted this sort of tea, this requires a perception test against difficulty 15. Magical or special teas (such as bone white tea) cannot be summoned with this ability. However, as even common tea sorts have many remedial properties (helping to cure ailments ranging from trouble sleeping to dangerous fevers), the tea bowl becomes an impromptu healer’s kit of sort, that lends each character who drinks an appropriate tea from it a +1 bonus on a single recovery test on that day.
Effect: As long as he carries bowl visibile on his body, the social defense of the character is increased by +2.
Deed: Dannelic Blackcrow died by the hand of a spectral dancer. The owner of the tea bowl has to put that spectral dancer to rest. This deed is worth 1300 legend points.
Effect: For two points of strain the owner of the bowl can conjure dark wispy tendrils from the steam rising from the hot tea in the bowl. These tendrils produce an effect otherwise identical to the elementalism spell Great Sticky Vines. Relevant test are made with spellcasting or perception.
Effect: Once per day, the owner of the bowl may take two points of strain to summon a ghost bound to the tea bowl by Dannelic. The ghost will fight for the owner but will perform no other services. It fights for eight combat rounds or until slain or banished.
Stats of the ghost
Number of Attacks: 1
Death Rating: 40
Wound Threshold: 11
Unconsciousness Rating: NA
Recovery Tests: NA
Physical Defense: 16
Spell Defense: 10
Social Defense: 7
Mystic Armor: 6
Combat Movement: 33
Full Movement: 65
Nice, very “Barsavian”.