D&D 4th Edition That Rune Aimer: A Runepriest's Handbook (by RayjeEliwan)
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  1. #1

    That Rune Aimer: A Runepriest's Handbook (by RayjeEliwan)

    Originally posted by RayjeEliwan:

    That Rune Aimer: A Runepriest's Handbook

    This guide may be considered to be a work in progress. Constructive criticism is appreciated. Items on the to-do list include, but are not limited to, polishing the feat section, double-checking all the source listings, mucking around with the formatting, coming up with cleverer names for the sections, writing a hybrid section, and possibly constructing sample builds, though builds would be a low priority. Your patience and support are appreciated.

    Why Be a Runepriest?

    The Runepriest is one of the least well-supported classes in 4e, with only its initial book and a single Dragon article of note giving it anything to work with. Despite that, it's strong enough on its own merits to actually be worth something . . . but what?

    You're the master of numerical bonuses.

    You wanna throw around huge bonuses to your allies? The Runepriest is your man, your woman, or your genderless construct. Rune of Mending means that your party should have a power bonus to damage running for most of every single combat with basically no effort from you. Your rune states have you give out bonuses just for standing around. Even from the very lowest levels, you can easily be tossing an ally a +4 to hit or a +5 to all defenses on an encounter basis, and it only gets better from there. It can be a bit of a challenge to keep track of all the fiddly bonuses you're throwing around, but it's worth it—and if you think the way I do, it can be a lot of fun.

    You're a tough son of a gun.

    All Runepriests give enemies reasons to leave them alone, despite the leader usually being a prime focus-fire target. First, with scale armor and a light shield out of the box, you're reasonably sturdy. Second, your Runic Artistry gives enemies a disincentive to attack you: Defiant Word punishes them for missing you, Wrathful Hammer punishes them for hitting you, and Serene Blade simply makes them not hurt nearly as much. You're on the front lines, but it'll be hard to take you out of the running.

    You're flexible.

    All Runepriest at-will and encounter attacks are actually two powers in one. With each attack, you get to choose whether to apply the rune state of destruction or the rune state of protection. Not only will this change your rune state (and thus the passive bonuses you're giving your allies with your mere presence), but it'll also change what the power itself does, often pretty drastically. While most powers are going to be more useful for one rune state or the other, plenty of powers are still great for both options, giving you some turn-by-turn flexibility that most 4e classes can't match.

    Rating system: The color-coding system here should be familiar to pretty much everyone reading this (kudos to LDB for pioneering such a spiffy guide format), but let's throw it in there for completion.


    Gold: Unbelievably good or important, this is an option that's nearly mandatory. You basically have to have an active reason to not choose an option like this, and even then, you're probably going to get some funny looks.

    Sky blue: Useful, classy, and solid from the get-go, these options are pretty much the top of the line, assuming that your build as a whole at least minimally supports them.

    Blue: These options are nothing to be ashamed of, but there's usually a better option available.

    Black: There's something holding these options back from being truly great. They're not actively bad, and it's not like it's shameful to take one of them, but you'll probably want a pretty specific reason to do so. As a note, I rate a lot of options black if, despite being interesting, they fail to make you a better leader. That's not the only reason for such a rating, but it happens.

    Purple: Niche at best, you should stay away from these options more often than not. They might have some quirky redeeming factor, but that doesn't mean that it's actually a good idea to take them.

    Red: To be blunt, these are bad. If you take one, you're either doing something really weird, or you're making a mistake. Or both.

    Green: These options are hard or impossible to rate in the same manner as the others, usually because they rely on external factors. Options that are primarily non-combat-oriented tend to fall here (4e is a game of combat, like it or not . . . but if you're here on the CharOp boards, you probably like it), as well as options that require specific synergies with your party (beyond obvious things like enabling powers needing allies with basic attacks).

    Class Chassis:

    HP: Pure baseline for a leader. Obviously, CON builds will find themselves pretty rich in surges, but that practically goes without saying. Serene Blades will have an endless fountain of THP all day every day, so they're sturdier than you might think even without much CON.

    Armor proficiencies: Scale and a light shield right out of the box. Very nice.

    Weapon proficiencies: I think WotC forgot that you're a weapon-using class. Simples only, and that's pretty terrible. Serene Blades get military heavy blades, at least. Wrathful Hammers get military hammers and maces, but they're kind of a trap option. Defiant Words get squat. You'll probably spend your background fixing this.

    Defenses: +2 Will doesn't suck at all. WIS builds will have very respectable Will scores all around, but even CON builds will benefit from this, since it means they'll have Will scores that are merely bad, rather than shameful.

    Skills: Auto-training Religion doesn't help much, since you're not supposed to be a brainiac, but the other skills aren't bad.

    Class Features:

    Rune Master: This is a little confusing. Basically, you get rune states from your powers, but it's this feature that makes the rune states do anything. (This is important if you hybrid, but not an important distinction if you're a pure Runepriest.) The Rune State of Destruction is very powerful; a typeless bonus to hit for your allies just for you standing around is a big deal. The Rune State of Protection is acceptable in Heroic, but it's not very powerful at higher levels, especially with MM3 damage expressions; there's plenty of powers with Protection riders that are very powerful, but the rune state itself is kind of lackluster. It's reasonably useful against minions, auras, or ongoing damage, at least.

    Rune of Mending: This is my favorite standard-issue leader heal. It's a d6 behind the Cleric, Warlord, or Ardent, but check out what else it does. The (typeless) bonus to defenses offered by the protection rider isn't bad (especially with Mark of Warding, if that's your thing), but it's the destruction rider that really makes this shine. A meaty and scaling bonus to damage for pretty much your whole party is simply great to have around, though be aware that it is a power bonus. Do note that the target can spend a healing surge; it's risky, but if you don't think you're going to need much healing (in other words, if you think Team Hero can nova the encounter into the ground before it gets tough), it is possible to pop Rune of Mending and ignore the surge just to get the damage bonuses rolling. In other words, you don't have to wait until someone is injured to get your buffs on the field, though you'll want to be very careful about that.

    Runic Artistry: This feature determines what your secondary stat will be, either WIS (for Defiant Words and Serene Blades) or CON (for Wrathful Hammers). It also provides a disincentive for enemies to attack you, which is nice. No power has a rider that is based specifically off of your Artistry feature, though many powers are more useful with one secondary than the other.

    Runic Artistry Options:


    Defiant Word: This WIS-based option is about punishing enemies for missing you. If you're good at boosting your defenses, if you have someone in your party who's good at throwing around attack penalties, or if your GM isn't very big on using above-level monsters, this isn't a bad option at all. It doesn't grant proficiency with anything, so you're either going to be using a dagger or burning a feat or background on a better weapon, since simple weapons aren't really a good idea for you.

    Wrathful Hammer: This option is CON-based, and it punishes enemies for hitting you rather than missing you. It grants you proficiency with military hammers and military maces, but this is a trap; you're a leader who relies on hitting, so you really want to be using a +3 proficiency weapon. Either burn a feat or background on a better weapon or suck it up and use a dagger. If you don't hit, you don't matter, and every +1 counts.

    Serene Blade: This option, like Defiant Word, is WIS-based, and it's more defensively-oriented, helping you survive with an endless fountain of temporary HP rather than harming enemies for attacking you. It grants you proficiency with military one-handed and two-handed heavy blades, so you have access to a decent +3 proficiency weapon without a feat or background, if you so choose. Likewise, this Artistry opens up light armor as an option, allowing you to apply your WIS to AC if you choose to do so. This requires a stricter stat spread than wearing heavy armor, but it also opens up other enchantment options and gives you a higher speed. Note that you do not have to wear light armor if you do not wish to; you still gain the other benefits even in your typical scale armor. Thanks to the abject silliness that is the Elven Chain Shirt, this Artistry has the highest AC potential of all of them, though it's pretty close to just matching the others if you don't go down that road.

    In general, the fact that Serene Blade saves a feat or background relative to the other options gives it a pretty substantial leg up, though Defiant Word has a rather higher damage potential (many GMs will focus fire on the leader, so you can very consistently add your WIS to damage if your defenses are high enough). Wrathful Hammer is perfectly acceptable if you choose to go CON-based, though it's not generally a good idea to intentionally lower your defenses in order to be hit more often. Consider the bonus damage a consolation prize when you actually are hit, not a goal to actively pursue.

    Naturally, WIS-based builds will have a higher Will than CON-based builds. Since STR and CON both affect Fort, CON builds will have two poor defenses rather than one, though at least they will have a high healing surge total.


    Your main stat. As is always the case with your attack stat in 4e, start with a minimum of 18 after racial bonuses, and bump it at every opportunity. Since you use heavy armor, you can get away with a starting score of 20 here, but be careful to be aware of what you're giving up by doing so. I have an easier time putting a post-racial 18 here than a post-racial 20, personally, but it's not a complete trap to go for broke.

    CON: One of your two possible secondary scores, particularly for Wrathful Hammers. I personally prefer WIS, because I like the WIS riders better and I like having a good Will, but a CON secondary is perfectly viable, especially if you want to be using and abusing Protective Scroll. Even if you're WIS-based, having HP and surges is good, so throw a few points here if you can afford to. Certain Defiant Words want plate proficiency, so you may want to arrange your stats with an eye towards that, at least in the higher tiers. I doubt even Wrathful Hammers will want more than a starting 16 post-racial here; you do need WIS for Will and Superior Will, so going 18/18 is probably too expensive.

    DEX: This isn't generally a very important stat for you unless you want it to be. That said, throwing a handful of points here opens up some options for feats, like Heavy Blade Mastery, Scale Specialization, and potentially even Heavy Blade Opportunity (which is rather interesting with Word of Binding), so it's not like no Runepriest should ever care about it. That said, most will just throw a couple leftover points here to make their Reflex less pathetic and be done. Initiative never hurts, either, though WIS builds will probably take Battlewise instead of relying on DEX.

    INT: Of the two Reflex-boosting stats, I prefer tossing my extra points here, just because both Arcana and Religion are class skills, and because it boosts your Truespeak check—er, sorry, forgot myself for a moment there. Anyway, that assumes that you have Battlewise; if you don't, DEX is more deserving of your extra points, since initiative matters. Either way, INT won't be a very high priority for you.

    WIS: Your other potential secondary score, specifically for Defiant Words and Serene Blades. Serene Blades who can afford a starting 18/18 split between STR and WIS will probably want to do so, since that opens up the possibility of hide armor (with the corresponding increase in speed); if you have less than a starting 18 here, though, you'll probably stick to scale armor. Either way, there are some great riders to be had from a good WIS, and your Will defense is very important. Even if you go CON-based, try to put enough points in WIS to take Superior Will by Epic (or, ideally, by Paragon). Your every action matters, so having Superior Will isn't a question of if, but when.

    This is pretty much your designated dump stat. If you want to take an unusual multiclass feat, there are occasions when you can justify putting a few points here, but most Runepriests aren't going to be talkers or charmers.


    Religion is mandatory for you. You're unlikely to have the INT to get much out of it, but you don't have a choice in the matter, so just accept it and move on. You get three more of the following.


    Arcana: As with Religion, you're not INT-heavy, so you're not going to get too much out of this. It's got a decent skill power or two, and there's enough ways to boost it that you might make a monster knowledge check or two, but the average Runepriest won't make it a priority.

    Athletics: You're STR-based. Might as well play to your, well, strengths. You can probably live without the skill powers, but I find that just basic Athletics checks come up a fair bit.

    Endurance: This is GM-dependent. Some GMs never use Endurance, and some love to. Generally, you don't need it often, but when you need it, you really want to have it. The skill powers are pretty excellent, though, so that's a consideration. Naturally, CON builds will be better at this than WIS builds will.

    Heal: By mid levels, it's pretty easy to autosucceed on most non-ritual-based Heal checks, but if you're WIS-heavy anyway, it's not a terrible idea to have the capability of making some nice checks. It might come up in a skill challenge, right?

    History: Like with Arcana, this just isn't your strong suit . . . and it's far less likely than Arcana to come up on a regular basis, barring unusual predilections on the part of your GM.

    Insight: This is a strong skill in a lot of skill challenges, and if you've got the WIS for it, it's not a bad idea to have as many party members as possible be capable of detecting something fishy. The skill powers are particularly nice, especially the much-vaunted Insightful Riposte at 16.

    Thievery: I kinda think this was a mistake. You're not DEX-heavy, you're likely to have a penalty from your shield, your armor, or both, and this really shouldn't be your job. The skill powers aren't especially interesting, either, though I can sorta-kinda see a use for Fast Hands. Almost certainly not worth it.

    Non-class skills (grabbed through background, MC, etc.):


    Acrobatics: You're never going to be great at it, but it has a trained-only application, and that can be valuable. The skill powers are actually pretty good, especially Agile Recovery and Timely Dodge.

    Bluff: Not for you, mate.

    Diplomacy: Why is this purple when Bluff is red? Simple: it's easier for you to become passable at this than it is for you to do the same for Bluff. Compact of Peace counts for a hell of a lot. Still not great, though.

    Dungeoneering: It's a WIS-based knowledge skill, so there can be some uses for it.

    Intimidate: If you invest your waist slot in a Cincture of the Dragon Spirit, this can be an option in skill challenges. Otherwise, though, skip it.

    Nature: A WIS-based knowledge skill with a far more common application than Dungeoneering sounds like a good deal to me. Don't go too far out of your way for it, but if you have the opportunity, it's worth snagging. Among the skill powers, Natural Terrain Understanding is pretty awesome.

    Perception: This is as good for you as it is for every other character with moderate-or-better WIS.

    Stealth: Next.

    Streetwise: Is this even a skill? I can't remember ever seeing this used.

  2. #2
    Originally posted by RayjeEliwan:


    Functional/Grammatical Words: At-wills

    There are only four at-wills for your class, and they're all pretty acceptable. Since two are WIS-based and two are CON-based, some Runepriests will want to just take the two that fit their designated secondary stat and be done with it, and that's not a terrible idea. That said, Word of Diminishment's awesome destruction rider is stat-neutral, and Word of Exchange's protection rider still partially works even without WIS, so taking those two regardless of your secondary might be worth considering. It may be worth mentioning that none of these scale to 2[W] at 21st level the way most at-wills do, but there's nothing you can really do about that aside from asking your GM for a houserule to correct this obvious oversight.


    Word of Binding:
    Wis-based, AC, single target. This is a great power to have in your back pocket, though it's mostly not going to be your bread and butter. Still, plenty of defenders would kill to have a nearly unconditional immobilize on tap. The destruction rider is acceptable in Heroic, giving your WIS as extra damage on the next hit from an ally, but the protection rider has a much longer shelf life. Against a foe without reach, you can basically present them with the unenviable choices of attacking you (triggering your Artistry and whatever counters you have cooked up), attacking your ally (whose defenses you've boosted rather a bit), or provoking by making a ranged attack. Nice for when you want to pretend to be a defender. Without WIS, this power's usefulness goes down a fair bit; I'd call it purple for folks without a good WIS score.

    Word of Diminishment:
    Lightly CON-based, AC, single target. The destruction rider is just great here. Vulnerability isn't a bonus to damage, so you're unlikely to run into colliding bonuses unless you're in a mafia-style party. Best of all, the destruction rider is totally stat-independent. If you have a permastealth ally or other shenanigans for getting opportunity attacks, this is even better. The protection rider is weak, though it's passable in low Heroic (particularly combined with your native rune state of protection).

    Word of Exchange:
    Lightly WIS-based, AC, single target. This power is interesting because I feel like the protection rider is more aggressive than the destruction rider. A no-questions-asked penalty to all defenses is a pretty hefty buff . . . many similar leader powers only apply to one ally (e.g., Righteous Brand), one attack (e.g., Lance of Faith, Aggravating Force), or one defense (e.g., Guiding Strike). Add in a nice boost to AC to the next ally to hit (though watch the timing, since it lasts until the end of your next turn, not the ally's next turn), and we have a very nice tool to keep around. The destruction rider isn't bad, though the effective bonus to hit from protection is going to outstrip the bonus to damage from destruction pretty quickly. For CON-based Runepriests, this power is still useful, just less so.

    Word of Shielding:
    CON-based, AC, single target. This power suffers from a lack of scaling. The extra damage from the destruction rider isn't especially impressive (though it is a separate damage instance, if you can somehow get it to ping a vulnerability . . . difficult to make that worthwhile), though the blunting effect from the protection rider (particularly combined with the native rune state of protection) is noticeable early on. Generally, it's a lot better in Heroic than in later tiers. Without CON, this isn't worth it at all.

    Lexicon of the Evolving Mind: Encounter Powers

    Level 1: There are no actively BAD powers here, though it's frankly hard to use Flames of Purity very well. Executioner's Call is the stand-out, but the daze from Divine Rune of Thunder is a tool that very few other Runepriest powers will give you.


    Anvil of Battle:
    Lightly CON-based, Fort, single target. Reasonably accurate, and it gives you kind of a pseudo-defender focus for a round. You get resistance to the target for 1 round, so they're likely to want to find someone else. In destruction mode, if they shift, they provoke from you or a friend (with a CON-based bonus to hit); in protection mode, if they shift, you and your friends can shift as well (perhaps following them). Against artillery, this isn't bad, because it makes staying and place and shifting away both likely to incur opportunity attacks. Against melee creatures, you'll probably get another swing, but your friends aren't likely to; if you have a friend in position to punish them, they'll just attack your friend instead of you. It's a decent power, but it has a limited leader focus, since the attack grant is pretty unreliable. CON is a nice bonus, but WIS characters can use it just fine.

    Divine Rune of Thunder:
    WIS-based, AC, single target. The destruction rider is just some mild extra damage and CA, and it really isn't that useful. The protection rider adds a bit of control to your toolbox, granting a nice push and a daze effect. Remember that dazed creatures grant CA, so you're not giving up much compared to the destruction rider. No-questions-asked daze is nice to have on tap, and that can be enough forced movement to make things uncomfortable for them. CON builds can benefit from the daze, but less so from the push, and really not at all from the destruction mode.

    Executioner's Call:
    No stat, AC, single target. This is a leader power through and through. A typeless bonus to damage (stacks with Rune of Mending!) is nice, though of course Word of Diminishment is functionally similar. The real money comes with the destruction rider. A +4 to hit is rather massive, and it'll make sure that your ally's big gun isn't wasted. (It's actually likely to be a +5 total, thanks to your native rune state.) The protection rider has its uses, but it'll come up a lot less often than the destruction one.

    Flames of Purity:
    No stat, AC, friendly blast 3. This power is nice in that it's a blast (and you don't have many multitarget powers), but it doesn't do too much. The power bonus to damage from the destruction rider is only one point better than Rune of Mending and doesn't stack with it, and the healing from the protection rider really isn't very impressive even at level 1. Add in tricky targeting to gain the maximum benefit from affecting both allies and enemies, and you end up with a power that's rarely worth the hassle. That said, if your GM favors combat with multiple waves of enemies, it's not entirely out of the question that you'll need the damage bonus after you're out of Runes of Mending, but the targeting is still tricky.

    Level 3: This level isn't really fair, since you pretty much HAVE to pick Words of Bravery if you don't have Mark of Healing or another reliable way of granting saving throws. Failing to do so means accepting that you're simply not going to be granting saving throws to your allies. If you have Mark of Healing or another method of granting saving throws, Symbol of Wrath Reversed adds a swing to the field, Mark of the Blinding Shield removes a swing from the field, and Beacon of Vengeance is interesting and different. I will mention that since the really nasty save-ends conditions haven't hit the field at level 3 (at least not with the frequency you see later), you might take a different power at this level and retrain into Words of Bravery later.


    Beacon of Vengeance:
    Lightly WIS-based, AC, single target. Invisibility isn't a bad buff at level 3, especially before everything and its brother gets blasts and bursts. Between the CA from invisibility, your native rune state, and the ability to target Reflex, an ally benefiting from the destruction rider of this power is going to wind up with a pretty beefy bonus to hit, though of course allies that don't target AC get less of a benefit. The protection rider is nice in that the ally can stealth from the enemy, though some GMs will have other enemies point out which square the target escaped to. Either way, it's a solid buff package for an ally, and a decent defenderish trick.

    Symbol of Wrath Reversed:
    Lightly CON-based, AC, single target. Here we have your first reliable (if not Reliable) attack-granting power. Anvil of Battle isn't likely to actually trigger an attack from an ally (maybe from you), but this is another story. An enemy with reach might be able to weasel out of granting an extra attack, but a clever party can usually nail them anyway. The protection rider is, like most of your early surgeless heals, really nothing impressive, and I'd only recommend using it over the destruction rider when you've got several floored allies who need a nudge to get above zero, and that's not a situation we want to be in anyway.

    Word of Alliance:
    No stat, AC, single target. This power is your first 2[W] encounter power, but that's about all it has going for it. The destruction rider is not very good; in order for the power bonus to hit to be greater than the effective boost given by reducing their defenses with Word of Exchange, your ally has to have three other party members next to the target. That's frankly not terribly likely in most parties. The protection rider is tolerable when you've got a melee furball beating something to death, but it's still not a great boon, particularly because melee furballs tend to come at the end of combat, not the beginning (especially at level 3, before you have a ton of mobility upgrades). I like my leader powers to be more useful at the beginning than at the end. Note that you don't count as an ally for determining the protection rider, but you do for the destruction rider.

    Word of the Blinding Shield:
    CON-based, Fort, single target in burst 5. This is very likely to turn a hit into a miss, and that's frankly worth something. It's also one of the few off-turn ways you're ever going to have to change (or, later, reapply) a rune state, which is also cool. It deals minimal damage (only CON in destruction mode, and nothing at all otherwise), but negating an attack against an ally is still rock solid. Note that the blindness lasts for the whole turn, not just the triggering attack, so this is great to use on a multiattacking foe (though this only applies to true multiattacks, not blasts or bursts). The CON riders aren't very important compared to the blinding, so WIS builds can still have fun with this. Since burst and blast attacks become more and more common as you get higher in level, this loses some luster eventually, but that's OK.

    Words of Bravery (D404):
    WIS-based, AC, unfriendly burst 1. This is your ONLY native way of granting saving throws, and that's terrible. If you don't have Mark of Healing or another solid way of handing out saves, this is basically mandatory, just because saving throws are such an important leader function, especially at higher levels. If you have other ways of granting saving throws, this power is still decent. It's a burst (though it's strangely unfriendly—it bothers me somewhat that the Barbarian's bursts are friendly, while yours aren't, but I digress), it contains some forced movement (quite a lot, if you happen to use the destruction rider), and it grants a saving throw to both you and a friend regardless of whether you hit. CON builds can still benefit from tossing out saves, but WIS builds get a whole lot more mileage out of it.

    Level 7: The CON-based powers aren't very impressive, but Symbol of Cowardice lets WIS-users throw around some fun numbers, and Word of Befuddlement is a great choice for anyone, especially with the right party.


    Gathering Storm Intonation:
    Lightly CON-based, Ref, mostly single target. This power is weird, and it doesn't really do much for your leading abilities. If the target attacks, you can zap its adjacent allies for STR mod damage. If you're in protection mode, you slide those other enemies. If you're in destruction mode, the initial hit has an extra ping of damage equal to your CON mod. I think it's a separate damage instance and thus will ping vulnerabilities twice, but really, if you're that concerned about that sort of thing, you're probably in the wrong class. I guess this could incite the target to want to move away from allied minions before attacking? I don't really see the benefit here.

    Rune of Roaring Fire:
    CON-based, AC, single target. Under really ideal circumstances, you can rack up a decent amount of damage with the destruction rider if the enemy is dumb enough to keep swinging, but it'll probably take a pretty specific party setup to make that really shine, and I don't want to rely on that. Without some kind of vulnerability in the picture, it's unlikely to make your foe really unwilling to take the opportunity attacks, so I don't think it adds much in the way of party mobility. The protection rider is cute; concealment is a passable buff, though the CON rider won't do too much, since any ally who can hide with non-total concealment probably already has high enough Stealth to autosucceed against most enemies. Without CON, the destruction rider becomes really unimpressive, though the protection rider remains about as good. At least it deals 2[W] damage, if you really think an extra die is the path to power on a leader.

    Symbol of Cowardice:
    WIS-based, Will, single target. This power is nice and accurate, and the protection rider is really nice. Even with no allies adjacent to the target, that's a pretty noticeable penalty on a WIS-based character, and if you've got a melee furball going, the enemy isn't hitting squat. The destruction rider has its uses, though it's a lot more situational than the protection rider. It's especially nice if you've got a hazard you want to repeatedly attempt to shove the enemy into. They might make one saving throw to resist being forced into that pit, but will they make three or four? One way to find out! 2[W] damage, if you care. CON-users can still get some use out of the power, but it'll take more party coordination.

    Word of Befuddlement:
    No stat, Will, single target. Think of the destruction rider as granting an attack, only to your enemy instead of to your friends. The only thing keeping this from being truly fantastic is the fact that you're not really going to get to apply any bonuses to the granted attack, but with MM3 damage, that matters less. Do note that the target can attack themselves, if you choose. If you have a defender in the party whose punishment triggers on making any attack (not just attacking allies), this will force a mark violation and become pretty much unequivocally the best choice of the level in the process—though if you're unlucky, the mark penalty may make the enemy miss! This is especially nice against enemy controllers, who often have nasty effects on their MBAs, but any post-MM3 monster will probably be worthwhile. The protection rider is very situational, but if you have a party that can take advantage of it, it's a very powerful penalty that will all but guarantee that you become the center of the target's attention. 2[W], because this wasn't nice enough already.

    Level 13: Not the strongest array at this level, with a couple powers that don't really offer enough benefit over your at-wills to be worth the slot. That said, there's some surgeless healing in Words of Fiery Fidelity, and wannabe defenders will find something to love in Iron Redoubt. If you just want to throw around numbers, it's not unthinkable that you'd go back to level 7 for either Symbol of Cowardice or Word of Befuddlement, but you might find something you like here.


    Iron Redoubt:
    WIS-based, AC, single target. You're a pretend defender! This power has very little to do with being a leader, but you can make a reasonably convincing defender for a round, if you squint. You'll have to rely on positioning and/or party synergy (or an AP'd Word of Binding, though it'll be a rare case for that to be your best use of your AP) to keep them from just walking away, but if you've got them somehow pinned down, you've got as nice a catch-22 (attack the Runepriest with damage resistance and Artistry, or eat a boosted MBA) as you're likely to get on a non-defender. The protection rider has started to lose its edge by level 13 (even an 18/18 starting array won't give you more than +6 WIS, +7 next level, and that assumes a pure 18/18 array . . . meanwhile, MM3 standard monster damage of level 13 is 21 on a non-Brute), but if you've isolated the monster to the point where it's likely to only attack you, it can be decent. I'd only take this power if I really expected to get to play an off-defender, but it's good at what it does. CON-based builds can probably skip it unless they REALLY want some mark-and-punish mojo.

    Whirling Storm Word:
    CON-based, AC, single target. If you have a party that can reliably get true flanking, the destruction rider is a sizable damage boost for a CON-based build, and of course it does stack with Rune of Mending. What keeps it from being sky blue? Well, you've probably got Word of Diminishment (especially as a CON build), and that'll grant an effective +4 to you and your friends' damage without having to muck around with flanking. Your CON is likely only to be +5 or +6 at the highest by this point, so that's not really a giant improvement. Of course, if you AP, they do stack, and the protection rider is pretty beefy for when you want to make sure something misses. If for some reason you're a CON build who doesn't have Word of Diminishment (I can't imagine why not, but I guess it's possible), this is definitely worth a look. WIS builds, look elsewhere.

    Word of Astral Defiance:
    WIS-based, Reflex, unfriendly burst 1. I see what this power is TRYING to do, but I don't think it does a good job. As I indicated with Whirling Storm Word, the vulnerability you grant with this power is only likely to be a couple of points higher than that which you grant with Word of Diminishment, and Word of Diminishment can't be avoided by just moving one square. It's multitarget, but I think it'll be rare for you to really get a benefit out of attacking more than one critter with it. The protection rider seems at odds with itself, since it rewards allies for being adjacent to you after an unfriendly burst attack! (Admittedly, if you're already in the Rune State of Protection, your allies will have a touch of resistance against you, but still.) If you're WIS-heavy and have enough mobility tricks to make the bizarre timing on the protection rider not a big deal, it's a decent enough bonus (especially if you're a Rune Shield, though you'll almost have to target your allies to really make that click), but it seems like it's more trouble than it's worth. CON builds, stay away. (If you can convince your GM that having this power target creatures, rather than enemies, is pretty much nonsensical, it becomes rather a bit better, but I have to rate the powers based on RAW, not on Rules-As-I-Want-Them-To-Be. Even so, the other concerns apply.)

    Word of Lingering Thunder:
    CON-based, AC, single target. This power is kinda poorly worded. Anyway, the destruction rider has a minor defendery bent and is acceptable at keeping your foe away from your allies. It's actually pretty funny against skirmishers with those annoying “shift 18 squares and make 8 attacks at any point during the shift” powers. The protection rider is where the poor wording comes in. “Moves away,” eh? I imagine that this is intended to be “is adjacent to and moves away from,” but that's not what it says, so any time the target increases its distance away from your friend next round, it triggers the damage and the prone. Incidentally, this is going to be much easier to trigger than the destruction rider, more often than not. The real shame of this power is that it doesn't really enhance your role as a leader (hence the black rating), but it's interesting enough to still be worth looking at. 2[W], for you dice-lovers out there.

    Words of Fiery Fidelity (D404):
    No stat, Fort, single target. THIS is what a surgeless healing power looks like. If you stick to destruction mode (and on most battlefields, you should), this is guaranteed to heal at least 20 damage to probably at least 2 or 3 members of the party. If you're careful and lucky, it can heal much more. It's actually pretty damaging for the level, too, with a 2[W] smack at the start and a nontrivial amount of ongoing fire damage as a hit-or-miss effect. Note that the fire damage and the healing aren't one-for-one; if the target resists some but not all of the fire damage, your allies still heal for the full amount (though if the target is vulnerable to fire, the reverse is true). If you have an encounter stun or two in your party (and by 13, you very well might), it's a lot of fun to surround the last target, slap this one them, stun them, and just “sit around the campfire,” regaining free health and readying actions to demolish them once they successfully save. It won't be an option in harder, more drawn-out fights, but it can turn easier fights into an actual net gain if you're lucky. The amount of healing you get will be a lot less nice by Epic, but hey, surgeless healing is surgeless healing.

    Level 17: Two good enabling powers here: Rune of the Astral Phalanx is awesome, and Word of Healing Assault has its uses if your party demands more healing. The other powers can't compare. If you have absolutely no allies worth enabling (though that's a strange state of affairs at this point in 4e's life cycle), Mark of Battle's End is about as much field-shuffling as your class will offer you as a single action.


    Rune of the Astral Phalanx:
    WIS-based, AC, single target. Oh. Hell. Yes. The Warlord has a certain power. He calls it Hail of Steel. It's kinda class-defining. You get Hail of Steel with a built-in damage bonus (and of course a built-in attack bonus from your native rune state, if you use destruction, which you should). HoS is slightly more flexible in that it gives RBAs as well as MBAs, but still, an “everybody swing!” power is solid gold if your party is even a little bit cooperative. Runepriests love slinging around bonuses, and this is just about the best way to make them trigger over and over and over. The protection rider, as I read it, gives allies the choice of attacking or shifting, so I guess if you happen to have a Wizard or something stuck next to the target, this can let them get free . . . but it'll be a rare battle where this is the best choice. CON builds won't get the damage bonus, but oh well. This is still worth it. Naturally, in a party with very few or no good basic attacks, this power's rating drops like a stone, but that's true of any enabling power.

    Mark of Battle's End:
    No stat, AC, single target. I . . . don't see the point of this power. I guess it's more battlefield rearrangement than you're going to get from pretty much any other single Runepriest power (which is why I rated it as high as black), but still, I have a hard time imagining when this will be your best choice.. It's 3[W], though if you're really using that as a primary factor in choosing leader powers, I don't think I can help you.

    Whisper of the Cunning Step:
    Lightly WIS-based, AC, single target. Very few creatures are even going to notice the slowed condition by 17 (especially by the time the melee-based leader gets into position), but it's not useless. That said, this gives you a bit of ally-shuffling mojo, but not much else. The bonus from the destruction rider isn't bad, but I still wonder if it's really the best use of your action at this level. There's a pretty hefty teleport attached to the protection rider, but I feel like that's too conditional to really be worth one of your power slots. If you know your GM loves placing you on maps where teleportation is necessary, I guess it's worth considering, but I'm not sold. The teleport is WIS-based, but it's not really any worse for CON-based builds. 2[W], not that you care.

    Word of Healing Assault:
    Lightly CON-based, no attack roll, 2 allies in burst 5. This is your only lazy power, not that you probably care much about that. Anyway, two allies get basic attacks (with your CON as a damage boost if you go for the destruction rider), and you get to toss out some boosted healing if they hit. Rune of the Astral Phalanx is likely to do more damage, but this is more flexible in its targeting, and if you've only got two allies with good basic attacks, this is worth considering. Do note that these basic attacks are either melee or ranged, so that might be a consideration in your party. I don't love relying on the healing from this power, since when an ally needs me to heal them, they need me to heal them NOW, regardless of whether or not they hit with a granted attack. Even so, it's a solid power. The protection rider is a little bit small for level 17 (average monster damage at 17 is 25, after all, and that's just bare baseline), but it can come up, and it's stat-independent. Note that this is a healing power that targets allies, so if you're lucky enough to have Mark of Healing, it will grant saving throws to your allies. WIS builds will likely stick to the protection rider, but they'll still get about as much use out of this as CON builds will.

    Level 23: Rune of Rising Fury is my choice if you've got allies worth enabling, though snagging Word of Healing Assault from 17 isn't a bad idea either if you want to go down that road. Otherwise, take Mark of Untamed Wrath if you trust your controller to lock down the enemy's choices, and take Tide of Victory if you just want some numbers.


    Mark of Untamed Wrath:
    No stat, Will, single target. This power is hard to rate. The destruction rider CAN add up to a nice chunk of damage, though it takes a pretty specific battlefield to make that damage more useful than just adding damage to the target. The protection rider can be pretty strong (monster attacks at 23 are really nasty), but it basically relies on the rest of your party to lock the enemies in place and make sure that they can't weasel out of it. If you trust your party to do that reliably, I could see this as being blue or better. In a vacuum, well, it's harder to say, hence the black rating. 3[W], because that totally matters at this level, or something.

    Rune of Rising Fury:
    No stat, AC, single target. This is like Rune of the Astral Phalanx, only spread out a bit. You don't do any damage on your own hit, and the attacks are spread out in the initiative order. The advantage to this over Rune of the Astral Phalanx is that it's far less dependent on your allies' starting positions. You can simply tag the target with this, then let your allies get into position on their own turns (or make ranged basics at their leisure). The destruction rider isn't worth much (who doesn't have CA on tap by level 23?), though the protection rider can be useful on the right map, particularly if the enemy has an aura you might not want to end your turn in. If you only have two allies with worthwhile basic attacks, Word of Healing Assault from 17 is strictly better, since it doesn't rely on your attack roll succeeding.

    Rune of the Wandering Star:
    CON-based, AC, single target. This would be a perfectly acceptable (though not outstanding) power at, oh, level 7. CON mod damage is simply not going to be a noticeable factor in a level 23 fight. If nobody in the party has a better way of clearing minions, the destruction rider can at least reasonably remove a bunch of them from the field, though the time delay factor makes this awkward at best (and really, that should not be the Runepriest's job). Likewise, the penalty to damage rolls (once again time-delayed) simply isn't going to make a big deal at this level. The penalty to attack rolls isn't even to more than one attack, so enemies with multiattacks, multitarget attacks, or multiple actions will barely even notice. Too little, too late. This power is bad for anyone, but it's even worse for WIS users. 2[W], blah blah.

    Tide of Victory:
    Lightly CON-based, Will, single target. I always like to see weapon vs. Will, and the positioning necessary on this power is pretty easy. Unless you tend to fight very spread-out battles, this will pretty much work at full strength more often than not. The destruction rider is pretty situational (will a push of 3-5 squares really matter at Epic? Depends on what tricks your partymates have up their sleeves), but the protection rider is a pretty hefty penalty with pretty easy conditions. Definitely a defensive power, but those have their place. 3[W], if you care. WIS users will lose a bit of damage on the destruction rider, but they won't lose much else.

    Level 27: All of these powers are actually pretty good, and if your party can handle the tactics involved with some of them, there aren't really any bad choices. I'm fond of the sheer numbers you get to sling around with Word of Divine Battle, but you can have fun with any of these.


    Invocation of Carceri:
    Lightly CON-based, Reflex, 3 enemies in friendly burst 2. This is some reasonable control. The tricky part will be getting your Runepriest (a class not especially known for mobility) into position, then ideally getting them out again, since the entire point is to punish targets in the zone for attacking folks outside the zone. If your party is all melee-based, this power becomes very hard to use, but if you've got some ranged capability and/or reach, it's pretty nice indeed. The protection rider will come in handy far more often than the destruction rider, so WIS builds will probably be just fine sticking with this.

    Word of Divine Battle:
    WIS-based, AC, single target. You want numbers? Let's throw around some numbers. A +4 bonus to hit the target, no questions asked, is rock solid, and a WIS-based bonus to defenses, no questions asked, is also rock solid. If you're WIS-based, you'll be able to happily use this power with either rune state. Simple, effective, and powerful. CON builds might take this just because the destruction rider is so good, but the protection rider really needs some WIS to make it pop, so this power is probably just blue for them.

    Word of Vengeful Thunder:
    No stat, AC, single target. This is kind of interesting in that the target has very little to do with the benefit your allies get. The reflective damage (or the damage shield) doesn't care who's doing the hitting. Monsters hit pretty darn hard by 27, so this can be a pretty nice deterrent, though I'd rely on it more for defensive purposes than in the hopes of racking up damage from it. Do note that for the destruction rider, enemies that damage both allies (for instance, with burst attacks) will take damage twice, which can be fun. I especially like this power if your defender has ways of redirecting damage onto himself or herself (for instance, a Battlemind with Lightning Rush, or anyone with the Guardian theme).

    Word of Weal and Woe:
    WIS-based, AC, single target. If you want a healing power, this one's pretty good. The real meat is simply the fact that the surges are spent; you don't want to rely on your allies having surges to spend (and needing to spend them) in order to rack up bonuses and penalties. That said, simply getting to heal most of your party has its uses, and if you DO get a few surges spent, the penalties associated with the protection rider are nice.

  3. #3
    Originally posted by RayjeEliwan:

    Lexicon of the Perfected Map: Daily Powers

    Level 1: Let's be blunt: Runepriest dailies are pretty bland until Epic. In many cases, they're only interesting because of the targeting; they're your main source of bursts and blasts, if you feel like having such things is important. Also, they never have rune state riders, so be mindful of that. Note that this means that if you need to enter or change a rune state, your daily powers will not do the job. Here at level 1, Rune of Endless Fire and Rune of the Undeniable Dawn are both decent, though neither ages especially well.


    Rune of Endless Fire:
    No stat, AC, single target. There's nothing amazing about this power (though blinded is a good condition to hand out), but it's a nice pile of small bonuses that adds up to an acceptable package. The bonuses themselves aren't amazing by late Heroic or early Paragon, but it's still worth having in your back pocket for when you need to deal fire or radiant damage (if you're ever surprised by a pack of trolls, you will be SO happy you have this it's not even funny).

    Rune of Iron's Rebuke:
    No stat, AC, single target. It'll be rare for this to turn the tide of battle, but it's not outright shameful, I suppose. STR mod damage is noticeable at level 1, so this is great to throw on a solo or elite to make misses actually matter. The fact that it disallows shifting can give you a semi-defendery trick for a turn or so, but I wouldn't take the power for that alone.

    Rune of the Undeniable Dawn:
    No stat, AC, enemies in friendly burst 3. This is great at low levels. A bonus to defenses that covers most of the battlefield is pretty snazzy, and it's pretty much the biggest burst you're going to find on a Runepriest. That said, the sustain minor becomes more and more of an issue as you level up, so you probably won't keep this for long after you have the chance to retrain.

    Rune of Twilight's Beacon:
    No stat, Fort, single target. Basically, it's hard to make the extra damage from this attack trigger more than once. Relatively few allies will have ways of making enemies want to run away, particularly if they're OK ending their own turns next to the target. I guess it makes your defender stickier, but that's awfully situational for your daily power . . . and if your defender isn't sticky on their own, I'm not convinced that this will make the difference.

    Level 5: Runepriests just don't get game-changing daily powers, at least not before Epic. Rune of Arrow's Flight is acceptable in the correct party, Rune of the Ember of Wrath is finicky but fun when it works, and Rune of the Final Act is good for now, though it scales poorly.


    Cage of Light:
    No stat, Will, enemies in friendly blast 3. There's kind of a controllery effect at work here, but I'm having a hard time thinking of when it'll really be a great choice. It'd make more sense if enemies were punished for attacking allies OUTSIDE the zone, but oh well. The sustain minor is acceptable for now, but hurts later.

    Rune of Arrow's Flight:
    No stat, Will, single target. Do you have ranged party members? Pop this on something nasty. It's possibly blue or sky blue in the right party. Do you mostly have melee party members? Look elsewhere. Simple as that.

    Rune of the Ember of Wrath:
    No stat, AC, two targets. The fact that burst and blast attacks won't trigger the ember kinda sucks, but if you happen to be fighting, say, a pair of elites, this is an acceptable way of spreading some damage around. It's not amazing, but it's fun when it works.

    Rune of the Final Act:
    No stat, Fort, single target. Delay until right after your target goes, then smack them with this and tell everyone to AP right friggin' now. It's a power bonus, so it doesn't stack with Rune of Mending, making this pretty much worthless once Paragon hits (you have to hit six times to make it beat Rune of Mending at Paragon, or four times if Rune of Mending is already active). For now, though, it's probably the best you've got.

    Level 9: Rune of Boundless Fury is as good as it gets here, though it takes some setup and coordination. Everything else is unremarkable, mostly useful for the targeting. If you have no allies (or not enough allies) who can benefit from the enabling of Rune of Boundless Fury, I'd lean towards Unconquered Redoubt just because it's a good-sized blast, though some other choices are passable.


    Rune of Boundless Fury:
    No stat, AC, single target. It's Hail of Steel, as a daily power, and with more difficult timing. But hey, you get it 8 levels before you get Rune of the Astral Phalanx, so why not? At least it doesn't rely on you hitting, though it does rely really heavily on positioning. If the target can run away, it can spoil the whole thing. Still, if you can set up the positioning and prevent the target from running, it's as damaging an attack as you're going to get in Heroic. Lots of work, but very nice payoff.

    Rune of Death's Verge:
    No stat, Fort, mostly single target. The timing on this power is all wrong. You don't really get to determine when the daze will go off, which pretty much ruins any value it has. Notice also that the daze takes an opportunity action, so you can't do it on your own turn . . . which means that you can't just target a minion with this to lay down a big old daze. Way too unreliable to use. You're not very likely to land the killing blow on things, but if you do, you'll also lose the daze here.

    Rune of Divine Providence (DSG):
    No stat, AC, single target. An aura of +2 to defenses is . . . probably not the worst possible use of your actions at this level, but the tiny size of the aura and the fact that it requires a sustain minor really makes me skeptical that this will ever be your best choice.

    Rune of Shielding:
    No stat, AC, single target. Do you have a Sorcerer or other party-unfriendly AoE specialist? If so, you can make the party not hate them for one encounter per day, or at least until your target dies. If not, skip this. It does work on unfriendly enemy bursts and blasts as well, but it's hard to rely on those. Note that it causes the bursts and blasts to miss you, rather than to not target you, so if there's a miss effect, you're still going to be unhappy. (Compare this with Rune of Allied Effort at 25.) I can actually envision a scenario where it might be an idea to target an ally with this, but that's going to be extremely niche.

    Unconquered Redoubt:
    No stat, Fort, enemies in friendly blast 5. Poor wording strikes again! If the bonus to AC only applies to close and area attacks, it's way too situational to be worthwhile. If it's unconditional, it's acceptable, though that sustain minor makes me wary. At least it's a good-sized blast with some forced movement. That can come in handy.

    Words of Reflected Karma (D404):
    No stat, Will, enemies in friendly blast 3. It's accurate, it's moderately damaging, it hits in a blast, and it applies some weak soft control. Overall, I don't see the point, but the field's not especially full of contenders, so I guess it's OK if your party can't take proper advantage of Rune of Boundless Fury.

    Level 15: Once again, nothing stands out as must-have, though most of them are passable. Rune of Judgment's Levy is great for those Runepriests who really wanted to be defenders, and Words of Ancestral Bravery is decent just because it's one of the only ways you have to give out bonuses to saving throws, but whatever works.


    Brand of Arcing Lightning:
    No stat, AC, single target. This can be fun when it works, either cooking all the minions around someone or just beating up another target while you bash on the boss, but I don't often see it being the best use of your action. Still, it's not embarrassing.

    Rune of Judgment's Levy:
    No stat, Reflex/Will, single target. You wanna pretend to be a defender? Ta-da, you're a pretend defender (“prefender”?). It's decent damage if you can keep the target corralled and away from you, though there's no way it actually makes you a better leader.

    Rune of the First Fortress:
    No stat, AC, enemies in friendly burst 3. Sustain minor is starting to get pretty annoying by this level, and I don't like the fact that enemies in the burst aren't going to be affected by the immobilization effect (unless your allies kick 'em out, of course). Resist 5 is a lot less shiny than it used to be, too, but I can at least imagine some times when this would be useful. In a ranged-heavy party, this will definitely give you a leg up against a melee-heavy encounter, assuming some forced movement on your allies' parts.

    Rune of the Flanking Wind:
    No stat, Reflex, single target. Why is this a daily power? I barely didn't give it a red rating because I can imagine a situation in which you'll want to be able to pop in an ally once per day (and there isn't a whole lot of competition at this level), but other than that, the attack doesn't do much.

    Words of Ancestral Bravery (D404):
    No stat, Will, single target. Prone on a daily power at 15 just seems kinda weaksauce, but the effect is why you're really here. Being a battery of THP isn't useless, and it's not like you're overflowing with ways to help out with saving throws, so every bonus helps. That said, be careful not to clump up so much that enemies will have an easy time catching you in bursts.

    Level 19: This level is all about your party. Do you have an ally with amazing save-ends effects? Rune of the Threshold. Do you have a lot of folks who attack AC? Rune of Rust. None of the above? Rune of Warding Light.


    Mark of Ill Luck:
    No stat, AC, single target. Don't optimize for missing. That's really all there is to it. It does affect enemy attacks as well, which is what saves this from a red rating, but I remain unimpressed. Each ping of damage is, at least, a separate ping, so at least it combines nicely with Word of Diminishment.

    Rune of Rust:
    No stat, Ref, single target. Dealing with a friggin' annoying soldier who's just a couple levels too high? Lock and load, boys. If you don't have too many people who target AC by now, obviously, this becomes proportionately less useful.

    Rune of the Threshold:
    No stat, Will, single target. This is 100% ally-dependent, especially since Runepriest save-ends effects aren't very exciting more often than not. If you have a friend with a great save-ends effect (most likely your party controller, though you never know), coordinate with them and ruin something's day. If not, eh, look elsewhere.

    Rune of Warding Light:
    No stat, Will, enemies in friendly burst 2 (mostly). Sustain minor hurts by now. That's the only thing keeping this power from being a lot better, since its effects are actually pretty cool. It's just really hard on your actions.

    Level 25: Hey, when did we start getting good daily powers? Rune of the Penultimate Step is awesome, Rune of the Conquering Sign is perfectly acceptable as a backup after your encounter enabling powers have run out, and Rune of Allied Effort is pretty nice when you're fighting enemies with unfriendly bursts with miss effects. (Situational, yes, but hey.) Sylarian Sign is even pretty cool, though I feel like it's less likely to be useful than the others. Still, all of these have a lot of potential.


    Rune of Allied Effort:
    No stat, AC, single target. Did you like Rune of Shielding back at level 9? If so, you'll like this. If not, well, it's got 6[W], though you and I both know that lots of [W] dice aren't going to measure up in the long run.

    Rune of the Conquering Sign:
    No stat, AC, single target. It's like Rune of Boundless Fury, only somewhat better. Of course, I don't trust ANYTHING save-ends to stick around at level 25, but it'll probably trigger at least once. Use your enabling encounter powers first, then bust this out if you need more.

    Rune of the Penultimate Step:
    No stat, Fort, single target. Save-ends stun, hit or miss? Sign me up! Most things you care about stunning at this level will have ways of getting rid of it before failing a saving throw, but if you get lucky enough to have them fail just one, they're outta there.

    Sylarian Sign:
    No stat, Ref, enemies in friendly burst 5. This power's cute, and it can turn a tricky encounter into an easy one. It's kinda situational, but it's nothing to be ashamed of. Remember that immunities include things like fear and charm, not just fire and thunder. A –10 to damage rolls won't totally neuter something at level 25, but doing it to the whole encounter will definitely take the edge off.

    Level 29: Two gems, one pile of fail. Either Rune of Awakening or Rune of Pacifism will serve you well. Brand of Death's Gate is an embarrassment.


    Brand of Death's Gate:
    No stat, AC, single target. This only does damage, doesn't do a lot of damage (no, 7[W] is NOT a lot), and it encourages you to wait and probably waste some of the damage by attacking something that's nearly dead. Just say no.

    Rune of Awakening:
    No stat, Reflex, single target. Now THAT'S a surgeless healing power! Even the miss effect is nice. Sure, healing isn't really your biggest concern (especially at level 29), but dang, that's a heck of a comeback. It's also cinematic as all hell, if you have a taste for that sort of thing.

    Rune of Pacifism:
    No stat, Will, single target. It's a weird condition, so most things won't be able to just shrug it off. You might even be better off missing, just because save-ends is kind of a liability at level 29. Still, this will definitely change the face of an encounter, and that's what you really want from a daily.

    Lexicon of the Crafted Tool: Utility Powers

    Runepriest utilities are pretty good, and they're relatively varied. Lots of them sling around truly massive defense bonuses, a few involve healing, and there's a surprisingly large number of good skill boosters, if you're in the kind of campaign where that sort of thing matters.

    Level 2: Rune of the Final Effort and Shield of Sacrifice are the clear standouts at this level, though Mark of Skilled Effort is very valuable in certain campaigns. Go with Rune of the Final Effort if you like solid and reliable encounter powers, and go with Shield of Sacrifice if you like huge dramatic daily powers.


    Icon of Victory:
    Daily. A +2 to attack rolls doesn't completely suck, though it's heavy on your actions, and the zone is kinda small. Still, it's good once you've got a melee furball around a solo, for instance. Note that the zone does not move with you, which kinda hurts.

    Mark of Skilled Effort:
    Encounter. Runepriests can be surprisingly good at helping with skill checks. If that's a concern in your game, this is actually a pretty hefty bonus, effectively faking training for the untrained or just giving a solid +2 for the trained. Amusingly, if you have a Bard with Bard of All Trades in the party, this power will make their untrained checks better than their trained checks.

    Rune of the Final Effort:
    Encounter. Hi, I'm a Runepriest. I like throwing around giant numbers. That ally's going to be just fine. The close range and limit on targeting only bloodied allies is a slight drag, but totally worth it for such a massive bonus as an encounter power, especially at such a low level. Edging on sky blue, honestly.

    Shield of Sacrifice:
    Daily. This is the kind of thing dramatic comebacks are made of. Semi-surgeless healing for two people and a massive boost to AC for up to three? Rally your forces, strike up the dramatic music, and turn that fight around!

    Level 6: Plenty to choose from here. Compact of Peace will let your party crush certain skill challenges on an encounter basis, Rune of Meritorious Alacrity is a daily “nope, we win initiative” button, and there's surely something good at level 2 that you didn't get. All in all, this is probably the weakest level for in-class utility powers, and it's still pretty sweet. That said, if there's a theme power or skill power you're really interested in, this is probably the best level to skip.


    Compact of Peace:
    Encounter. Do you have lots of skill challenges? If so, this is pretty awesome. If not, go with something more combat-oriented.

    Banner of Alliance:
    Daily. If you like pretending to be a defender, this will help. It won't do much for your Artistry, but it's not like you have too many in-class uses for your immediates. You don't have that much that makes you inherently sturdier than average, but you know your party, and you know who the best target of this will be.

    Rune of Meritorious Alacrity:
    Daily. Winning initiative matters. Sure, a Warlord can hand out bonuses encounter after encounter, but this is a great back-pocket trick to just say “no, we go first” when you need it most. Depending on your party makeup, this could edge into sky blue.

    Rune of Unyielding Steel:
    Encounter. A standard action? Are you joking? You'd be better off just using the aid defense action.

    Words of Compassion (D404):
    Daily. If this weren't a standard action, it'd be passable, but I expect more from a daily utility that takes a standard action. Honestly, I'd be more likely to just use this out of combat to effectively give someone a free surge every day . . . but you'll be better off with a better power.

    Level 10: This level is all about Rune of the Astral Winds and Protective Scroll. Either is likely to totally change the way you play. Rune of Shared Lore is quite strong and is perhaps worth getting later, but Rune of the Astral Winds and Protective Scroll are head and shoulders above everything else.


    Banner of Resolution:
    Daily. Since THP don't stack, this relies on your ally getting reliably hit in order to actually have much effect. I expect better from a daily, really.

    Rune of Daunting Light:
    Encounter. CA isn't usually a huge concern. I guess it could be nice against certain lurkers or skirmishers, but you have far better choices at this level.

    Rune of Shared Lore:
    Daily. See what I mean about Runepriests being surprisingly good at helping with skills, if you'll let them? Now we're all able to sneak into the castle without Sir Clanksalot blowing our cover, or all able to lie to the king without the boorish Ranger ruining everything, or all able to activate the different aspects of the arcane engine instead of making Merlan McWizzo do all the work, or all able to see that hidden guy instead of just hoping that the Shaman can give us good enough directions, or whatever. If you use skills at all in your campaign, this is actually really powerful, and you might consider getting it at 16 (though Rune of the Astral Winds and Protective Scroll edge it out at level 10, because they're just that good).

    Rune of the Astral Winds:
    At-will. Hellllooooo, ally mobility. This options this open up for ally positioning are hard to overstate. Naturally, if your allies take Agile Opportunist in Paragon, this becomes unbelievably good (what other leader can effectively grant an attack as a move action, at-will?). You might want to invest in some ways to move yourself as a minor action, if you can find any. Even without Agile Opportunist (though really, why any melee character in a party with Rune of the Astral Winds WOULDN'T take Agile Opportunist is beyond me), this is a great power that you'll find yourself using with great regularity. It's especially nice for those who take the Enlightened Word PP, since they have an at-will minor action movement option, but it's great on anyone.

    Protective Scroll (D404):
    Encounter. This is pretty huge. Some GMs might let you take a bunch of short rests at the start of the day and just make a ton of these things (usually with the help of Comrades' Succor); I say that's edging on abusive unless it's a really tough campaign, but even without it, this power is awesome, especially for a CON build. Spreading around semi-surgeless healing is very good times, and the huge bonus to defenses this gives out is not to be ignored. If you have Comrades' Succor available, use this at every opportunity. If you don't, it's still very powerful. Do note that this is based on your healing surge value, so if you plan on using this power, it very well may be worth investing in ways to increase that, such as Toughness, Dwarven Durability, Amulet of Vigor, Armor of Durability, maybe the Belt of Blood, Belt of Vigor, and so on.

    Level 16: The temptation to take the other one of Rune of the Astral Winds and Protective Scroll is powerful, but if you resist their lure, you'll find a couple nice things here, including an improved version of Shield of Sacrifice or yet more encounter healing.


    Rune of Preservation:
    Encounter. If your party wants healing, give them healing! Notice that the resist all is not contingent on spending a surge, so there's some flexibility there. Of course, you'll have three uses of Rune of Mending by 16, so you might not need this. Either way, it's probably overkill to have both this and Protective Scroll in all but the most banged-up parties.

    Rune of Reinvigoration:
    Daily. Did you like Shield of Sacrifice? Meet its big brother. Lots of surgeless healing in a good-sized burst that targets you and all your friends is nice to begin with, and a hefty bonus to defenses makes it go from good to great.

    Rune of the Unblinking Eye:
    Daily. More skill boosts, this one somewhat remarkably specific. I'm less fond of this than of the other skill-boosting powers, but it can be useful in the right campaign. It's got a heck of a lot of competition for the slot, though. I'd probably rather take Rune of Shared Lore.

    Rune of the Warded Path:
    Encounter. It's passable mobility, I suppose, but it'll be relatively rare for it to be really amazing. It's not embarrassingly bad, but there's way too much competition at this level and at level 10 to really think that this will ever be the best choice.

    Level 22: Remember the choice you made back at level 2, where you had to choose between the reliable defensive spike of Rune of the Final Effort and the flashy daily surge forward offered by Shield of Sacrifice? That's not entirely dissimilar to what you'll be seeing here, at least for WIS builds—Rune of the Hero's Resolve is a great addition to any nova, and Symbol of Defiance offers a powerful shot of mobility and defense boosts for bloodied friends. CON builds don't get as many choices, but what they do get is still pretty sweet. I find it worth mentioning that this is the first level without a skill boost.


    Banner of the Undefeated:
    Daily. I feel like this is more likely to get your allies killed (since enemies will keep attacking them, possibly hitting negative bloodied) than to really help you out, but it can turn a close loss into a close win. Me, I like powers that are more generally applicable.

    Banner of Victory:
    Daily. Regen for bloodied friends, vuln all for enemies. This will definitely help, but the sustain minor is holding it back from being excellent, and it's got some competition.

    Rune of the Hero's Resolve:
    Daily. That's a pretty big pile of temps, and granting a standard as a minor is nothing to be ashamed of. It's sometimes hard to figure out exactly when best to use this, but it's all good.

    Symbol of Defiance:
    Encounter. If you've had fun with Rune of the Final Effort, you'll have fun with this, at least as long as you've got good WIS. It takes some finesse to learn when it's best to wait until maybe one more ally is bloodied and when it's best to just pop it, but it's a strong power that definitely helps the Runepriest's reputation for slinging around huge bonuses. If you're CON-based, it's acceptable just for the mobility (and you probably have at least a +1 or +2 WIS by now), but it's not stellar.

  4. #4
    Originally posted by RayjeEliwan:

    Paragon Paths:

    Native Paragon Paths:

    Most of these will give you a new rune state. The way this works is that you first pick the destruction or protection rider as usual, and then you choose between that rune state and your PP-granted rune state. For example, an Enlightened Word could use Rune of Mending in destruction mode, getting the destruction rider, then enter the Rune State of the Cloud Step instead of the Rune State of Destruction.


    Hammer of Vengeance (PHB3): This path is about pretending to be a striker. As long as you keep using Runepriest powers and your allies keep focusing fire, you're pretty much guaranteed to get an extra MBA (with a bonus to hit and damage after 16) every single round. You may recall that an extra MBA a round was enough to turn pre-nerf Kulkor Arms Master into, well, pre-nerf Kulkor Arms Master, so if you're looking to add a strikery flair to your Runepriest, look no farther. The AP feature is mostly forgettable, dealing minor retaliatory damage when enemies successfully damage your allies. The level 11 power is passable, but it conflicts with your use of Bloody Vengeance, so it's not especially great. The level 12 power also conflicts with your use of Bloody Vengeance, but it's a pretty nice bonus, particularly if your ally is a multiattacker. The level 20 power is utterly forgettable, but oh well. The path has some CON-based features, but they're not critical if you want your WIS-based Runepriest to be strikery too. That said, the reason I didn't rate this path higher is because it really does nothing to make you a better leader.

    Light Bringer (PHB3): I want so badly to like this path. It's very cool. It's just not very good. Your new rune state starts out denying enemies the benefit of concealment and eventually prevents allies from being blinded. Unfortunately, concealment and blindness aren't common enough in most campaigns to really be worth spending your whole PP on them. If your GM absolutely adores both concealment and blindness, this is for you, but I think you can do better. The AP feature is nice and leadery, granting an action to your ally instead of yourself. The level 11 attack blinds in a limited area, which is nice to have on tap. The level 12 power is a pretty nice daily heal in a burst. The level 20 power is, well, an awful lot like a lot of Runepriest daily powers . . . not bad, but nothing special.

    Master of the Forge (PHB3): This is the only native Runepriest path that doesn't grant you a new rune state. I consider this a bit of a flaw, though what it gives you in exchange isn't awful. It's remarkably focused on boosting weapons and weapon attacks, so it might not be good in every party. The level 11 feature gives you or an ally (hint: most weapon-using allies will get more swings than you do) a small but constant bonus to weapon damage rolls, and the level 16 feature gives you or an ally a small but constant bonus to AC with heavy armor. The AP feature spreads out more damage bonuses, though it's frustrating in that it only applies to weapon damage. The level 11 power throws out some decent bonuses, again showing a bias for weapon attacks and heavy armor. The level 12 power is perhaps the path's defining feature, passing out a rather noticeable bonus to AC at-will. It's only touch range, and it's a minor action, but in the right party, it's pretty nice. It works very well with Mark of Warding, I will add. The level 20 power isn't bad and can make a melee nova better, but it's not likely to be encounter-ending.

    Rune Shield (PHB3): This is a very defensive-based path, almost comically so. In 4e, being an aggressive leader is generally better than being a defensive leader, but the fun part of a Runepriest with this path is that you can do both, since this won't diminish the effectiveness of your nice aggressive powers (even if you choose the destruction riders). The new rune state it gives you lets you grant adjacent allies a +2 typeless bonus to all defenses at 11, and a +4 at 16. That's a big enough buff that it almost outweighs the risks of clumping up (that is, the fact that bursts become much deadlier). Unfortunately, the rune state ends when you move, so you have to keep using powers to keep reapplying it if you're not locked into a single spot. The AP feature gives even more defenses to your allies, though this one is a power bonus. The level 11 power makes a zone that gives bonuses to attack rolls or (you guessed it) AC, the level 12 power lets you draw a sustainable line in the sand that enemies will have a hard time breaching, and the level 20 lets you finally mark and punish for an encounter, since you're obviously angling to be a defender.

    Enlightened Word (D404): This path works to greatly increase both your mobility and that of your party. The new rune state lets nearby allies shift when they hit enemies, and you can end the rune state as a minor action to fly your speed. Being able to fly your speed as a minor action nearly at-will is a huge boon to the otherwise rather sluggish Runepriest (who is, after all, stuck in melee with heavy armor and no other native mobility-boosters). At 16, this flight sees you as insubstantial and phasing, which is downright ripe for abuse out of combat. The AP feature isn't especially impressive, just giving some temporary HP to an ally, but it does let you use an ally as the source of an attack if you need to. The level 11 power gives you a nice burst attack with some interesting targeting, though unfortunately the bonus to damage it grants doesn't stack with Rune of Mending. The level 12 power is rather weak, taking a standard action to offer some surgeless healing and some saving throws, but it's there in an emergency. The level 20 power is quite strong, offering a cocktail of effects that include save-ends stun, forced basic attacks (including, possibly, a ranged basic attack, which will provoke!), and a typed-damage buff to your Runepriest at-wills. In sum, the path offers a great pile of mobility-based benefits, and the attack powers fill niches you might not otherwise have. It's hard to go wrong with this one.

    Other Paragon Paths:

    Losing a new rune state is kind of hard, but it's not like destruction and protection are useless. If you're willing to look outside the Runepriest class itself, there are plenty of other options out there.


    Gatekeeper of the Golden Palace (D387) (req. following Erathis):
    You're here pretty much for one reason: the level 16 feature. You become a no-action fountain of saving throws. It does encourage a little bit of clumping, so you're going to want to invest in ways of increasing allied defenses (or just make sure your team plays smart), but still, the ability to grant so many saving throws is huge. The AP feature is unremarkable in a vacuum, but it can be delightful in the right party. (If you happen to be a Sidhe Lord, you can do some weird stuff funneling action points to anyone who needs them, but that's not necessary for it to be fun.) You'll want to Reserve Maneuver out the level 11 attack after level 16, since the power bonus doesn't stack with the power bonus from Rune of Mending, so your only solid benefit is adding damage keywords. The level 12 power is pretty solid, and the level 20 power is acceptable, if not great. If you have Mark of Healing or another way of granting saving throws, this path becomes slightly less shiny, but honestly, the no-action nature of your save granting is pretty darn sweet.

    Morninglord (FRPG) (req. following Amaunator): As a divine character, you qualify for this with minimal effort. This PP should be familiar to you by now, since it's the premier way to sling around radiant vulnerability. That said, it's not actually that good for you. You have a few powers that are naturally radiant, but not actually that many, and you have exceedingly few multitarget attacks that will let you really spread the love. If you have an easy way to tack radiant damage onto your attacks and your party is into typed damage shenanigans, it's still a solid pick, but it's not a slam dunk for you the way it is for, say, a Cleric or an Invoker. That said, if you do choose this path, you'll probably want to be a Defiant Word, just so that you have access to the feat Defiant Light. You're very likely to want to use Reserve Maneuver on the level 11 power, but that's hardly unique to this path.

    Luckbringer of Tymora (D365) (req. Cleric): This path is tricky for you to utilize properly (you have to MC Cleric and maintain both an attack-grade WIS and an attack-grade implement . . . all of these are possible, but they are nontrivial investments in some cases), but oh man, it's worth it. An encounter reroll (no questions asked) and the ability to make allied attacks not miss are nice in themselves, but the two (yes, two) encounter attacks are the awesome parts. Divine Tilt throws around gigantic numerical buffs and debuffs for a round, as is your wont, and Inauspicious Vulnerability throws around typed damage vulnerability (save ends) in a large, friendly burst on an encounter basis. You won't have the CHA to supercharge the vulnerability, but you shouldn't have to. Even the effects of these attacks are decent, if you don't have an attack-grade WIS and implement. Do note that thanks to bizarre wording, you only have to hit one enemy with Divine Tilt for all enemies in the burst to be affected, which is neat. If it weren't so tricky to get your to-hit up to par for this path, it'd be sky blue, so if you DO have an attack-grade WIS and would be willing to invest in an implement, I'd strongly consider this.

    Tactical Warpriest (PHB1) (req. Cleric): No aspect of this path is overwhelmingly awesome, but many aspects of it are good fun. Insulation from nat 1s, a bonus to AC, and some passable extra damage when you AP (even if it doesn't stack with Rune of Mending) make level 11 a lot of fun, and the level 11 power is a decent way to target a burst (friendly, for a change!) and spread some healing. Some Runepriests like to pretend to be defenders, and the level 16 feature is one of the best ways to get a reliable mark-and-punish mechanism. The level 12 power is too unreliable to be amazing, but it'll be fun when it works. The level 20 power isn't especially leadery, but it's not shameful. This path is worth looking at for quite a few builds.

    Freedom Fighter (D390) (req. Escaped Slave or Warlord): In the Utility section, I mentioned that Runepriests are good at boosting allied skill checks, especially in skill challenges. This path reinforces that, since dropping Aid Another down to a move action means that, in many skill challenges, you'll be able to both make a normal check and use Aid Another every round, which is nice. The level 16 feature helps with some important skill checks, and a party boost to initiative is far from unwelcome. The AP feature is amazing if your GM likes soldiers and/or grabby things, but even without that, granting an extra basic attack when you AP is solid for any leader. The two attack powers are relatively defendery, which can be useful, and I just love the level 12 power. This is a pretty solid path overall, and it's downright great if you have a lot of skill challenges.

    Caravan Master (DSCS) (req. Dune Trader theme):
    This is another path that offers a nice package of benefits without coalescing around a single defining feature. A no-questions-asked bonus to speed is useful on the mobility-strapped Runepriest, and the fact that you get to share it with your friends is certainly not going to be wasted. The AP feature isn't bad, granting a nice bonus to defenses and actually letting you grant a saving throw. The encounter power is very nice, granting two party members shifts and basic attacks (and turning them into roadblocks). The utility power and the level 16 feature aren't standouts, but they'll come in handy now and again. The daily power is actually pretty nice, either providing a party-wide GTFO card or providing an effective triple-tap against an enemy. Since Dune Trader is actually a pretty good theme anyway, this is a reasonably solid path if you don't have anything specific in mind.

    Adroit Explorer (PHB2) (req. human): Humans make pretty OK Runepriests, and this path is good for pretty much any non-power-point-using human. You are no exception. An extra shot of your favorite encounter power, an extra AP every day, a massive attack buff after you get bloodied, a no-action “no, I did NOT fail that saving throw” power on an encounter basis . . . what's not to love?

    Sivis Truenamer (EPG) (req. Mark of Scribing, fluency in Supernal): Why bring up a red path that doesn't really seem to fit? Well, I mention this only because I remain convinced that the Runepriest is the Truenamer. Unfortunately, this path has nothing to do with Runepriests, and you will only get the most minor benefits from it. You shouldn't have the INT or CHA to use the powers, which is a shame, because they're pretty nice. The AP feature actually isn't bad; if you took the feat Divine Channeler, it's one of the only ways to recharge Channel Divinity, which has some neat possibilities. I'm sure someone could come up with a fun build that uses Channel Divinity here, but it'd be niche as hell. Still, it's interesting. True Word Healing, the level 16 feature, is actually pretty neat as well, since it makes your healing much broader in scope. In a low-op group (or in a mid-op group if you pull out all the stops elsewhere), I think you could actually play this path to some decent advantage, but that doesn't mean I can actually in good faith recommend it. It's just, well, interesting, not to mention thematic as hell.

    Captain of Fortune (MP2) (req. Warlord): That encounter power is pretty much defining, no two ways about it. It's a hell of a leader power, though you must be careful to remember that it doesn't affect close or area attacks. Still, know thy party, and it's a winner. The rest of the path is acceptable; the level 11 feature adds a tiny bit of damage to your attacks on average (it makes the average on a d8 4.875 instead of 4.5, for instance), but not enough to matter much. The AP feature is unremarkable, though the ability to spend two per encounter is tempting. The daily power is also pretty darn nice, especially since it's not save-ends, so most monsters won't be able to just shed it. Warlord is a pretty natural and painless multiclass for you, so this is a strong contender for your path just for that encounter power alone.

    Divine Oracle (PHB1) (req. Cleric): This is a much-beloved PP for Wizards, but it's got its uses on you as well. Initiative is important, so a free double roll is nice. The AP feature can help with mobility, or you can just use it to squeeze an extra minor action into a turn. In the right party, Prophecy of Doom is downright terrifying, though you'll have to carefully consider your party to determine if it's going to consistently be the best use of your standard action. Good Omens is costly (a standard action is rough), but when you need it to work, it's there for you. The level 16 feature is kind of disappointing on you, since relatively few Runepriest powers attack Will; that said, there are a few that do, so if you like them, it's worth considering. The fact that this path is so situational for you prevents it from rising above a purple rating, but there you have it.

    Ghallanda Sanctuary Guardian (EPG) (req. Mark of Hospitality): If you feel like you're just not restoring enough missing HP, this might be a help. The level 11 feature gives you a way to grant saving throws to your allies, though since this requires a dragonmark, you're probably better off just taking Mark of Healing. If you love Mark of Hospitality for some reason, this is kinda OK (the F11, as mentioned, is nice, as is the U12), but it's hardly game-changing. Do note that making a Protective Scroll will trigger the F11, if you go that route.

  5. #5
    Originally posted by RayjeEliwan:


    The Runepriest has two major weak points: it is not very mobile, and it has no way of granting allies saving throws. No theme directly solves the saving throw problem (though Order Adept comes close), though a few themes can help with the mobility problem. That said, there's plenty more to themes than just shoring up weak points.


    Knight Hospitaler (D399): For a WIS build, this can add a good bit of healing, asking for only your relatively unused immediate actions in return. Runepriests have a reputation for being worse at healing than many other leaders, and it's entirely possible to build them that way; if so, this theme helps a bit with the gap. The level 2 optional power lets you grant a saving throw on a daily basis, but it's not amazing. The other powers are mostly forgettable.

    Guardian (D399): In addition to the obvious benefits of an extra MBA every encounter with a relatively easy trigger, this theme strengthens the Runepriest's pseudo-defender focus. Furthermore, Guardian's Counter can be useful to intentionally trigger Runic Artistry. The power swaps aren't especially noteworthy, though.

    Ironwrought (HotEC): This theme may be overused, but it's overused for a reason. While Rune of Mending and your rune states might be effective no matter what, when it comes to your really flashy powers, if you don't hit, you don't matter. Inevitable Strike makes it far less likely for you to waste, oh, Rune of the Astral Phalanx. The power swaps aren't really better than your native powers, but that's not what we're here for. The resistance when bloodied is just gravy, really. Honestly, if you're looking to make yourself better at what you're already good at (as opposed to trying to branch out a bit), this is probably tied with Noble Adept for the best theme you can pick. Accuracy is just that important.

    Cultist (BoVD): This is a little bit unusual, but it's worth looking at if you're tired of Ironwrought and the like. Master's Eye isn't terrible (though the minor action cost can be pretty hefty; your every action matters), but what we're really here for are the level 5 and level 10 features. Leaders tend to draw a lot of fire, and both of these features help with that. Sure, it's that much more to keep track of, but you're not playing a Runepriest because you hate keeping track of fiddly bonuses, right?

    Cipher (D414):
    You're a melee-based character in heavy armor with very little extra mobility from your class. Getting an extra move action at the start of combat really, really helps, especially if your GM likes using big maps. Getting to spend an extra AP once per day isn't bad, either.

    Fey Beast Tamer (HotF): There are a number of Runepriest powers that are more effective based on how many of your allies are in the vicinity, usually specifically adjacent to the target. This lets you stack that particular deck in your favor. Do note that the bonus damage from the owlbear is a power bonus, so it's nearly useless to you. Choose one of the other ones. I will note that your pet does have a basic attack, so if you don't have enough allies to enable, this might help. I always feel weird enabling my own pet, but you might not have any such reservations. Either way, CON builds will generally find this more useful than WIS builds will, since it can be heavy on your surges, depending on your GM.

    Order Adept (D399):
    The granted power (Argent Rain) is totally useless to you unless you pick up implement proficiency somehow (and even then, it's not an especially good power), but what you're here for is the ability to get level 2 Wizard utilities. Specifically, Herbal Healing. A minor action saving throw grant on an encounter basis plugs a huge gap in your repertoire, and the fact that it can be used to grant a second wind isn't to be ignored entirely. Plus, a power bonus to Will is nothing to be ashamed of. You won't get any benefit out of this until level 5, so if you're starting at level 1, take a more immediately useful theme and retrain later.

    Earthforger (HotEC): The level 10 feature is the best part of this theme; enemies that mess with positioning can mess with your rune states, so making it harder for them to do that isn't a waste of time. Stone Panoply isn't a very leadery power, but it's decent enough to have in your back pocket.

    Windlord (HotEC): This adds a little bit of mobility to you (especially if you go for Enlightened Word as your PP), though not as much as I'd like. Wind Fury Assault is, like most theme powers, not especially leadery, but it does offer a lot of mobility and, eventually, a heftier slide than you're likely to get from your class powers. If you find forced movement to be a tool you often want in your toolbox, you could do worse than to take this theme.

    Dune Trader (DSCS): This is a Dark Sun-style theme, which means that you can actually swap your lackluster Runepriest dailies for rather nicer ones. In particular, Blunt Force Strike is probably better than most Runepriest dailies at level 5. Quick Formation, the granted power, is also decent for party mobility. The other powers aren't likely to be better than your class powers, though Sly Gambit can be tempting if your party is set up right. Finally, the Caravan Master PP is actually pretty decent, providing a solid AP benefit, increasing your mobility and that of your party, and offering a very tempting encounter power.

    Primal Guardian (DSCS): As I said with Dune Trader, the main benefit here is swapping unfulfilling Runepriest dailies for nicer ones. This theme makes you more of an off-defender, which is certainly a niche that a Runepriest can fill if they so desire.

    Elemental Initiate (HotEC): It's kind of an edge case, but if you want to use implements for some reason (either from power-swaps or from a PP), using a ki focus can keep costs down. Skill training is nice, and a bonus to Will is not unwelcome, but I would mostly consider this to be important only if you really want ki focus proficiency for some reason.

    Scholar (D399): This is a total edge case, but it's fun when it works. Without some investment, you aren't likely to be INT-heavy enough to benefit much from making Arcana or Religion checks (though each is a class skill for you), but you can be pretty good at Nature or Dungeoneering if you're WIS-based, and in Heroic if nothing else, that's a pretty big chunk of enemies you're likely to face. Anyway, if you can reliably get Use Vulnerability to trigger (either through investing in other knowledge skills, knowing that your GM favors monsters that are based on Nature or Dungeoneering, or whatever), a +4 bonus to defenses right when the big guns are coming out is nothing to be ashamed of, and it can definitely shape the course of the first round. (If you happen to be Defiant Word, this is even better.) The level 5 and level 10 features are pretty nice for roleplaying and skill challenges, if you're into that sort of thing. Inimical Lore is party-dependent, but it can actually be really good for pulling out exactly what you need at exactly the right moment. (Great if your GM favors trolls or other similar monsters!) The fact that you kind of have to invest in things you wouldn't otherwise invest in to get your Arcana and Religion checks up keeps this from being rated higher than purple, but when it works, it's very satisfying.

    Sidhe Lord (HotF): As is always the case with this theme, you want exactly one thing: the level 2 power. It's an absurd way to generate and shuffle action points, and it's not unleaderly, either. If your PP has an amazing AP feature, this can be pretty worthwhile. Also, it's an edge case, but Temporary Fey Pact can make using Protective Scroll easier, though that obviously won't work until level 16, since it requires two level 10 powers.

    Sensate (D414): Making the leader sturdier is rarely a bad idea, though since THP don't stack, most Serene Blades will find one set of THP or another going to waste. The level 2 power kinda-sorta helps with the saving throw issue, but it comes at a nontrivial price.

    Pack Outcast (NWCS): Getting a bonus to speed and easy-mode CA is nice. Losing the ability to use shields when you take advantage of this bonus to speed is less nice. If you weren't planning on using a shield anyway, or if you have an ally with Devoted Protector Expertise, this theme isn't terrible.

    Halaster's Clone (D409): Obviously, you'll want to train in a theme that does something for you immediately, then retrain into this theme around level 5 or so. Mobility is nice; Alter Time is acceptable ally movement (though it's not as great on you as on a ranged class), and A Skip In Time can help if your GM just loves big maps (or even just as a way of moving on a turn when you use Rune of the Astral Winds). Even the level 2 power is pretty nice, though of course giving up too many in-class utility powers is hard, since Runepriest utilities are awesome. Add in as big a bonus to initiative as you're going to get from a theme, and you've got a reasonably solid package, even if it doesn't directly increase your offensive capabilities. I should note that while everyone benefits from an initiative bonus, CON builds arguably benefit more, since they have fewer ways to boost their initiative at all than WIS builds do.

    Werewolf (D410): If your GM is relatively lax about letting you walk around in hybrid form most or all of the time (instead of forcing you to take a minor action in combat to activate it), a +2 bonus to speed is pretty nice on the otherwise slow-moving Runepriest. Plus, the ability to wear Claw Gloves hardly sucks. That said, if you have to spend a minor action in combat to turn it on, well . . . it's probably not worth it. Either way, it's definitely not worth it until level 10 (when you get hybrid form), so if you're starting at a lower level, take something else and retrain later.

    Noble Adept (DSCS): I've said it over and over, and I'll keep doing so: if you don't hit, you don't matter. You're probably going to ignore everything this theme has to offer other than the granted power, but the granted power is a doozy, either on yourself or on your friend. That said, Enforced Competence isn't bad, so it might be worth swapping for that. Having a power point does open up a few options for feats and items, but those are mostly outside the purview of this guide. Regardless, even if you get nothing out of this other than the granted power, it's still an awesome leader theme. I'd go so far as to call it a top contender for best theme for you; accuracy really does matter just that much, and the flexibility of using it on yourself or on an ally is huge.


    Two bumps:


    Dwarf: The same things that make dwarves good for other classes make them good here. STR/CON works well with CON builds, though it's totally possible to have a WIS build on a dwarf and be just ducky. Resistance to forced movement, in particular, is very nice, since forced movement can make your rune states less effective. Second wind as a minor is as good for you as for any other melee class. CON builds who use Protective Scroll will especially love taking Dwarven Durability.

    No matter whether you go WIS or CON, goliaths have the right stats for you. A bonus to Will is never amiss, and their racial power is very nice on a role that tends to absorb a lot of heat. No amazing feat support (though Kord's Resilience is decent, as is Markings of the Victor), but they're solid. The fact that Stone's Endurance takes a minor action is kind of a downer, since your minors tend to be in high demand, but they're by no means a bad race.

    Minotaur: The same stats as goliaths, an extra healing surge, and some bonuses when things go south. Goring Charge is a waste (darn poor scaling), but the feat Bloodied Ferocity is fun on anyone. You don't get too much besides good stats, but sometimes that's all you need.

    Orc: Well, they've got STR/CON, but that's about it. You probably won't charge all that much, and a standard action racial power that only heals you doesn't really excite me.

    Longtooth Shifter: STR/WIS is a good mix, but Longtooth Shifting doesn't wow me. They have some unusual feat support, so you can make it work, but they're not my first choice.

    Warforged: STR/CON. They have a solid set of racial features and a solid set of racial feats, so they aren't a bad choice. Warforged Faith can kind of alleviate the saving throw problem, though of course ongoing damage isn't really the worst thing you can have to save against.

    Mul: Incredible Toughness is a great racial power, and honestly, they're worth looking into for that alone. STR/CON is useful, and they can access your favorite human feats or dwarf feats (hint: dwarf feats tend to be better on most builds). I'm sold, even if you want a WIS build. All else being equal, I'd call this the best choice for a STR/CON race.

    Bladeling: STR/WIS is good, acid resistance is passable, but everything else sucks.

    Svirfneblin: With a speed of 5, you pretty much NEED to be Serene Blade with an 18/18 spread so you can wear hide armor. That said, the stats do make such a thing possible. Small size is a bit of a disadvantage on a weapon-using class, and the racial power is good but not great. Still, they're the only fey race with a STR bump, so if you need the fey keyword for some reason (Sidhe Lord, perhaps), the little guys are worth a look.

    STR only:


    The CHA is mostly wasted, but there's enough goodies here to make them be worthwhile. You can't do much with breath shenanigans (though you can stack some beautiful bonuses if you MC Warlord and get Inspiring Breath), but the extra healing surge value is really great if you're planning on using Protective Scroll. Using the new variants from Dragon 421, Murderous Eye is not a bad idea, and I personally feel like you'll get more use out of Toxic Saliva than Dragon Breath, but that's probably a toss-up. I wouldn't trade away your increased surge value, though, since that's pretty much the entire point of being one of these things.

    Human: An extra feat is great, bonuses to defenses are nice, and Heroic Effort is a lifesaver (say it with me: if you don't hit, you don't matter). The extra at-will can also be useful if you like having backup tools, but Heroic Effort is where it's at in the long run.

    Bugbear: You don't really gain much from this. You aren't a striker, and you'd do well to remember that.

    Genasi: Such an oversupported race is sure to have some tricks for you. They have the easiest time using elemental shenanigans of any race (Shocking Flame is ridiculous), and if you can't find a racial power you like, you're not looking hard enough.

    Half-Orc: Most half-orc support is uninspiring for Runepriests, but they're not a bad race.

    They're fast, they've got built-in quick-draw fun, and they're giant desert bug-men. Why not? Thri-Kreen Claws does benefit from a few of your own damage boosts, too, so that's not wasted.

    Vryloka: You're not likely to be the one landing big-ticket hits on an enemy, so Lifeblood will mostly be wasted. The bonus to speed is nice, and the necrotic resistance will probably come up now and again, but I wouldn't call them a primary pick.

    Secondaries only:

    The Runepriest doesn't rely on its secondaries as heavily as some other classes do. If you really want something specific, it's not a death sentence to play a race without a racial STR boost and buy the 18 STR. It's easier with a WIS boost, though, because you do want to be able to afford Superior Will.


    Elf: WIS only, but their racial powers are pretty darn sweet. I wouldn't do this unless you have a specific trick in mind, but it can be made to work.

    Halfling: CON only, small, and not a ton to show for it. Next.

    Half-Elf: Bonus to both CON and WIS, and more importantly, Knack for Success. You heard me. No Dilettante. Knack for Success. Why? It grants a saving throw. Bam. It's a hard choice to make, since you really do have to buy up to an 18 STR, but it's not an automatically terrible idea.

    Tiefling: CON only. Most tricks that make tieflings cool aren't really applicable to Runepriests, but you can always have fun with Secrets of Belial or whatever. Not great, though.

    Drow: WIS only, and not much in return.

    Githyanki: CON only. A bonus to initiative doesn't suck, and Telekinetic Leap is cool, but probably not worth the loss of STR.

    Githzerai: WIS only. I like the bonus to initiative, I like the bonus to saving throws, and Iron Mind can make Defiant Word more likely to trigger if you care about that sort of thing. There's enough support for them to be worth a second look, though again, you probably need to have something specific in mind to make up for the loss of STR. Githzerai Healer just might be that thing, if it comes to it.

    Gnoll: CON only. Bonus to speed, and you do benefit from having allies around, but not enough.

    Hobgoblin: CON only. Initiative is nice, Hobgoblin Discipline is nice, but you'll be better off just being a Mul, I think, especially since the fact that it's a free action rather than a non-action means that it can't shed stunned or dominated. (That seems like an obvious oversight to me, though, so check with your GM.) That said, if you want to spend a feat on Warrior's Sacrifice, you DO get a free-action saving throw grant. Worth it? Tough call, but it's not the worst possible option.

    Kobold: CON only. Nothing spectacular here, at least not enough to make up for the Small size and lack of good stats. Their power is slightly leadery, but don't do this to yourself.

    WIS only. I guess a bonus to Fort is worth mentioning, but not really worth pursuing. The racial power is decent enough on a relatively mobility-challenged class who draws a lot of fire, but not enough to make them seriously good.

    Razorclaw Shifter: WIS only. Nothing to see here.

    Deva: WIS only. Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes is a pretty nice power, and they have some decent feat support. Probably playable, if not optimal. If you're starting with Epic in sight, Soul of the World is a superb ED, but most games don't see Epic.

    Bullywug: CON only. Really?

    Duergar: CON and WIS. Nothing else.

    Wilden: CON and WIS. A bonus to defenses is nice, and their racial power isn't bad. Nothing special, but not bad for not having STR.

    Kalashtar: WIS only. Telepathy is a heck of a lot of fun in the right campaign, and Bastion of Mental Clarity is often amazing at the start of a tough encounter. You can still probably do better, though.

    CON only. Be whatever you want to be! Or just be the real thing, since it's unlikely to be less applicable.

    Shardmind: WIS only. As I said with kalashtar, telepathy is fun, but there are probably easier ways to get it. That said, the feat We Were Once One is a pretty good way of getting saves on the field. Buying an 18 preracial STR hurts a bit, but believe it or not, I can sorta see this working.

    Hamadryad: WIS only. Decent racial power, nice bonus to saves, nothing else really excites.

    CON only. Built-in forced movement is nice, but this is really nothing special.

    Hengeyokai: WIS only. Not worth your time.

  6. #6
    Originally posted by RayjeEliwan:


    Note: This is the section of the guide that needs the most work. Please pardon the disarray. Your constructive criticism is appreciated.


    You'll want most or all of these at some point. They just add numbers, for the most part, but they're important numbers. As such, I'm not rating them like other feats, because they're not really all that optional in the long run. Some more so than others, but they're all important.



    You'll need some kind of expertise feat. That's just a given. Take whichever one suits your weapon of choice. Defiant Words who use their background for HP (Auspicious Birth or Born Under a Bad Sign) might want to take Superior Weapon Proficiency for a nice +3 weapon like a bastard sword or a triple-headed flail (Serene Blades do just fine with a longsword, and Wrathful Hammers will probably use their background to pick up a longsword or an alhulak, though those that want to save their background for something else will probably also want SWP). Since most of your attacks are single target and you don't have a lot of ways of making more than one swing per round (especially if you're the only leader in the party), you can probably live without a feat bonus to damage, but it's there if you want it—either Weapon Focus (if you don't have a way of getting an element on your attacks) or the appropriate damage-type-specific feat.


    Buying heavy shield proficiency is a good idea, especially since REF will be one of your bad defenses. Improved Defenses (HotFK/L) is very important to have by Paragon or so, as is Superior Will (HotFK/L). If you have the CON to buy plate armor proficiency, it's not a terrible option, but I'd rank heavy shields to be more important. A feat bonus to saving throws is good to have, either through Resilient Focus (HotFK/L) or Focused Mind (PHB3).


    WIS-users will want Battlewise (HotFK/L). Nearly everyone will want Improved Initiative (PHB) and Superior Initiative (PHB3) in Epic. CON builds are kind of screwed, since Improved Init is likely to be one of the only sources of initiative they get, but still, initiative matters.

    Speed Boosts:

    Armor Specialization (Scale) (PHB1): Few builds will have the 15 DEX this requires, but those who qualify should take this immediately. Most of us will have to make do with Heavy Armor Agility (HotFK/L), which is still not a bad option on such a mobility-starved class. Fleet-Footed serves much the same purpose, and they do stack, but it's Paragon. Dwarves should just take Quick Steps (D391) and be done. Eager Advance (HotFK/L) is group-dependent; in some groups, it'll be just what you need to get into position, and devil may care what happens once you're there. In other groups, mobility remains critical throughout the whole encounter.


    Not every game allows these. If you can take them, you almost certainly want Mark of Healing.


    Mark of Healing: If this is allowed, take it. Period. Saving throws are a big deal.

    Mark of Warding: You do throw around a lot of defense bonuses, so this can make your numbers even bigger. That said, passing up Mark of Healing is hard.

    Rune Feats:

    Rune feats get better as you take more of them, but that's a pretty big opportunity cost. I personally don't recommend taking too many of them, because for the most part, even if you've got enough to get the bonuses up there, what they do simply isn't very good. That said, let's look at them. All of them are from PHB3.


    Rune of Eloquence: You're not very likely to be trained in Bluff or Diplomacy, and you don't have the CHA to be the party face. It'd be a rare situation where this is worthwhile. If you really want to be good at talking, it's there for you, but you're starting at a disadvantage.

    Rune of Hope: Even with six or seven rune feats, that's not very many THP. If you're going for rune feats, this is better than nothing, but there aren't enough rune feats out there to make this worthwhile on its own merits.

    Rune of Vengeance: You're not likely to get more than two or three swings with this bonus up (and that's pushing it), and you can't control when it happens. Plus, if you just got bloodied, you just might have bigger problems than trying to apply a few points of bonus damage. Simply put, it's not likely to matter.

    Rune of Zeal: If you have a big enough bonus to notice, this is one of the better rune feats. I find that Athletics and Endurance come up reasonably often, and you very well might already be pretty good at them.

    Rune of Escape: This is a Paragon feat. Do your allies often use their second winds by Paragon? If so, this can conceivably be worthwhile, but it's a niche case. In your average party, I don't think it's likely to come up.

    Rune of Torment: I guess you could build around this, but again, even with six or seven rune feats, that's just not a very noticeable amount of damage by Paragon, especially for something so unreliable.

    Rune of Battle: OK, this one's cool. You might not have much in the way of crits, but if you do, this is worth taking even without other rune feats. If you do take this feat, try to invest in an increased crit range if you can.

    Rune of Health: This is . . . passable. That's not a lot of healing by Epic (it's what, 11 HP at the absolute max?), but it's surgeless, and it's party-wide. It could be interesting as a way of bringing subzero allies (either ones who are downed or ones who like fighting below zero because of shenanigans) up to positives, but I don't want to rely on having so many dying allies at once that I need this (instead of just, you know, targeting the ally who's down).

    Other Class Feats:

    There aren't many of these, and they're mostly pretty easy to ignore.


    Heavenly Halberdier (D404): Hmm. I can see a case in which you could build around this feat, but it'd be tricky, and probably pretty gimmicky. Reach weapons can make the rune state of destruction pretty hard to use, though they can make your other rune states conceivably easier to use. The glaive and the halberd aren't +3 weapons, though, so I gotta say, I don't love it.

    Scribe Sutra (D404): I have never seen a game where this would be better than just taking Ritual Caster and being done with it.

    Wrath of Defeat (PHB3): Don't optimize for losing. (Plus, there's a good chance that if you're getting knocked out, you won't have an immediate to use.) That said, if you get focus-fired all the time, it might come up now and again. I could totally see this on a revenant sub-zero shenanigans build, though.

    Defiant Light (PHB3): Radiant and necrotic resistance are fine so far as it goes, but it's kind of a shame that they don't scale. The bonus to hit against radiant-vulnerable targets could be interesting if you have a Morninglord in the party (including yourself, if applicable), but unless you do, you can probably skip it unless your GM adores undead.

    Miscellaneous Feats:


    Ravenous Blessing (D385, req. spellscar): You're pretty sturdy already, and this adds a huge amount to your healing capabilities. Healing isn't a leader's primary job, but if you want to be even better at it, this is the quickest shortcut. It's especially good for Serene Blades (or Sensates), since they'll often have the THP to soak most of the self-damage.

    Swift Recovery (HotFK/L, req. Endurance): If you're milking Protective Scroll for all it's worth, this could be worse. It's also probably better than Toughness for actually increasing your own durability (and you won't make 3.5 players cringe by writing “Toughness” on your character sheet. Old habits die hard). Not a tip-top priority, but it's there.

    Last Legion Officer (D396): Why not add some mobility or some typeless defense boosters to Rune of Mending?

    Restful Healing (PHB2): Personally, I find that if I have healing powers left by the time the short rest rolls around, the encounter was easy enough that we're not going to need them that much. That said, if you really don't feel like you're stretching your party's surges the way you want to, and your GM and group are OK with you taking multiple short rests in a row, this is an option. A low-priority option, to be sure, but it's there.

    Wild Talent Master (DSCS): The out-of-combat benefits of this feat are fairly obvious, and they're fun as hell to roleplay. In-combat, they're less useful in general, except for one thing . . . if you like using Protective Scroll, using Object Projection is a way to make sure that your scrolls get to the right party members. A minor action cost in combat and a feat cost on your build makes this nontrivial, but if your group roleplays at all between combat, this has enough of a benefit in combat to make it possibly worth taking.

    Skill Power: Runepriest utilities are cool enough that it's hard to give them up, but spending a feat for one of these is darn tempting, and a lot better than spending a power for the privilege. In-class, Grit and Spittle, Deliverance of Faith, or Warp in the Weave are good for CON builds who can spare the surges; Mighty Sprint, Insightful Warning, Incredible Stride, and Enter the Crucible are good for nearly everyone; and Insightful Riposte is pretty much king of the heap (all together now: if you don't hit, you don't matter). For non-class skills, Agile Recovery keeps you standing, Natural Terrain Understanding is very leadery, and Stall Tactics is effectively like another dose of Rune of Meritorious Alacrity.

    Superior Armor Proficiency: Ringmail (MME): Most Runepriests won't want this, but it's integral to a very specific combo. If a Serene Blade take this feat, they can combine the Shield of Fellowship with Shared Valor Armor (not Armor of Shared Valor, thank you WotC naming team) to set up an interesting chain reaction whenever your Artistry (or anything else) gives you temporary hit points. Shared Valor Arnor is usually only for leather or chain, but since you can put chain enhancements on ringmail, this can work. If you're not using this specific combo, look elsewhere.


    Multiclassing in 4e is pretty much a matter of when, not if, since there are so many benefits to pull out of it. That said, there's plenty of options to choose from.


    Fighter: Fighters get all the best toys. Seriously. The feat support is phenomenal if you build for it. Their powers aren't likely to make you a better leader, but if you want to pretend to be a defender for a while, you could do worse than taking Battle Awareness, the Guardian theme, and maybe power-swapping for another interrupt power. If you like using hammers despite their inaccuracy, Anvil of Doom is a stun, and while that's not a leader power, it's pretty hard to ignore. Fighter PPs mostly make you tougher or more damaging rather than a more capable leader, but Dreadnought can be pretty interesting if you get focus-fired a lot. Glorious Myrmidon will get you a pretty nice speed boost overall, but you can probably do better.

    Warlord: They're often considered the best leaders in the game, and for good reason. Since they, like you, like STR-based melee weapon attacks, you can poach a lot from them with relatively little hassle. My favorite entry feats are Bravura Leader and Resourceful Leader, but honestly, you might even get away with taking both. I generally wince at spending feats to power-swap dailies (I like my feats to matter more than once a day, don't you?), but if you want some great dailies, Warlord ones will definitely make you not miss Runepriest ones, at least not before 19 or so. In the PP department, Captain of Fortune is good times, Pack Master has a downright silly encounter power, Knight Commander is nice just because Honor and Glory stacks with your rune state of destruction, and Freedom Fighter actually offers a pretty solid pack of benefits.

    Cleric: You don't need BCL (whether you consider that shenanigans or not), so the entry feats aren't likely to give you much other than holy symbol proficiency, but it can still be a worthwhile investment. Most Cleric feats are very specific about only affecting Cleric powers, but the real fun comes from their PP options. Tactical Warpriest is a fun pile of little bonuses that culminates in some fun semi-defender shenanigans, Divine Oracle is very powerful even if you don't have more than 2 or 3 powers that can use the level 16 feature, Battle Chaplain has a nice AP feature and some other minor perks, and Luckbringer of Tymora is simply fantastic for WIS-users who are willing to invest in implements. You technically can power-swap, but I have yet to find a Runepriest-friendly Cleric power that's so much better than a Runepriest power that I'd pay two feats for the privilege of using it instead. (MAYBE Valorous Charge, but that's level 27. Hardly a general case.)

    Bard: Bard is an unusual choice, since investing in CHA is not a high priority for most Runepriests. That said, Bards have some great power swaps, both in terms of stat-free encounter powers like Prescient Warning and Echoing Weapon, and in terms of utility powers, like Climactic Chord or Haste. You won't likely get much use out of their PPs, but their power-swaps might be tempting. Proficiency with wands can also open up some doors, mostly in non-combat scenarios.

    Avenger: The benefit for you is the same as the benefit for everyone else: Oath of Enmity for one round per encounter is really, really nice. Holy symbol proficiency is gravy (and it does open up Devout Protector Expertise), but not why you're here. I wouldn't recommend taking any power-swaps or PPs, but if you're WIS-based and want some accuracy, it's a heck of an option.

    Paladin: As with the Bard, the necessary investment in CHA makes this a bit unusual and definitely not for everyone, but there are still some tricks to be had here. Squire of Righteousness gives you a defender aura, which can be fun on, say, a Rune Shield or other wannabe-defender, even if you can't properly punish. Warding Shield is good if you like throwing around defensive bonuses.

    Monk: This is a surprisingly good MC for you, if you can afford shoving 13 DEX in your build somewhere. Flurry of Blows 1/enc can actually add quite a bit of utility . . . Eternal Tide is probably the best for general purposes, but Centered Breath definitely has its uses, and Iron Soul can be good for reinforcing off-defender status (it's delightful with Iron Redoubt). Don't worry too much about the stats matching; it's good if they do, but the utility effects are more useful. Fluid Motion is a good feat for increasing your speed, and Quicksilver Motion is a grade-A power swap for you. Ki focus proficiency doesn't do much for you, but it's not like it'll hurt to have a cheap Rain of Hammers or Elusive Action ki focus handy. If you're really struggling with mobility, Monk is a pretty good choice. Also, it does open up Master of Moments in Epic, if you really need that sort of thing.

    Epic Destinies:

    Note: I don't feel especially comfortable placing these in a specific ranking, so I'm going to hold off on color-coding these for now.


    Rune Maker (PHB3): This is your only native ED, and it's passable. Changing your rune state as a minor action isn't amazing, simply because you tend to be pretty strapped for actions at all, but once level 24 hits, it's totally worthwhile. Note that you have to be IN a rune state to change it as a minor, so if your rune state ends (as many of the rune states granted by PPs do under certain conditions), you'll have to use a power normally to put it back up. Overall, it's not bad. I wouldn't call it an automatic pick, but it's not shameful. Thankfully, most of the good stuff kicks in at 21 and 24, so you don't have to wait forever to really feel like your ED matters.

    Demigod/Chosen (PHB/DP): These are effectively the same thing. They're not bad (in fact, they're quite good), but they're not likely to change the way you play. If you can't think of anything better, go ahead, but I personally prefer things to be a little more game-changing.

    Destined Scion/Indomitable Champion (HotFK/HotFL): I'll be honest: I hate how boring these are. That said, they give you some darn nice numbers, and I certainly can't argue anything to the contrary. Much like Demigod and Chosen, I'd be lying if I said they weren't strong, but they're so boring that I'd personally never take them.

    Dispossessed Champion (EPG): Shift optimization does not come at all naturally to a Runepriest, it's true. That said, if you DO somehow find yourself often shifting a lot (perhaps through some choice utility power-swaps, through a racial ability, through an unusual PP, or just through an item like the Sandals of Avandra), it's some fun party mobility. The other features aren't bad for a leader, especially the utility power. No stat boosts, and you do want to make yourself shiftier to make it shine, but it's not bad.

    Harper of Legend (D367): You'll have to get the skill training from your MC or your background, since only Insight is on your list, but that's not especially hard. An extra encounter power is never bad (especially since it scales), extra action points are a winning proposition, and the utility power is nice when you need it. No stat bumps, though.

    Planeshaper (D372): The INT boost is likely to be totally wasted, but an extra use of, say, Rune of the Astral Phalanx (or even a utility power, if you've got one you can't live without) is definitely not going to go amiss. The capstone is also pretty sweet.

    Saint (DP): If you feel light on healing or save granting, this will help. No ability score bumps hurts a bit, but pretty much everything else is solid.

    Eternal Seeker (PHB): This is as good for you as it is for everyone else. You don't lack for good in-class powers by Epic, but there's always something you could snag that would just be perfect. It's hard to go wrong with this one.

    Reincarnate Champion (PrP, req. any primal MC): Counting as another race opens up so many doors that it's hard to think of them all. You can be happy just snagging fun racial powers, or you can open up some bizarre feat combos that are sure to be neat. This requires a primal MC, which isn't likely to be a huge boon for you, but it's a good destiny nonetheless.

  7. #7
    Originally posted by RayjeEliwan:




    Withering Weapon (AV, level 13+): Sadly not available until Paragon, but I just love how leadery this weapon is. Even if you're the only one in the party who attacks AC, this still isn't a total waste of time. This does combine nicely with the Crown of Equilibrium, but it's solid leading in its own right as well.

    Captain's Weapon (MME, level 13+, RARE): Rare, sadly. This weapon has a daily power that's actually worth sitting up and taking notice. The encounter power is unlikely to be good on you (Rune of Mending is far better, really), but that daily. Just . . . that daily.

    Chieftain's Weapon (D391, level 3+): You're not generally a spear-using kind of fellow, but if you are, this is a very nice and leadery one.

    Hidden Weapon (DSCS, level 3+): You've gotta get an item bonus to initiative somewhere, so if you don't have a specific weapon enchantment in mind, this is as good a place as any. If you have any way to quick-draw a weapon (say, perhaps a nice cheap Ruby Scabbard), you can start combat with this weapon out, use its own power to quick-stow it after you roll initiative, then quick-draw your real weapon. Light blade or mace only, so unless you're using daggers or rapiers, that might be your best bet.

    Communal Weapon (AV, level 4+): “Arrrgh, I just barely missed! Do I have all the bonuses accounted for? Can anyone give me a +1?” “Sure, here ya go.”

    Weapon of Healing (AV, level 8+):
    If you want healing, here's some healing. I don't like the fact that you can only get this on a mace, but even if you only put it on your belt and use it out of combat, it's not a total waste. It can at least be on a +3 proficiency weapon with a singing stick, but you probably have better things to spend your feats on unless your party REALLY needs healing.

    Farbond Spellblade (AV2, level 2+): You probably won't need a ranged weapon very often, but when you do need one, it is nice to have the option. If you have another leader in your party who just happens to like granting RBAs, this is proportionately much nicer.

    Melegaunt's Darkblade (Du177, level 12+): You're not too likely to have a lot of on-crit effects, but it still doesn't hurt to crit a bit more often. In Epic, if you have Rune of Battle (which I will remind you is nice even without a single other rune feat), this becomes much nicer.

    Tenacious Weapon (AV, level 19+): This is very much a late-game item, but double rolls are double rolls, and making sure Rune of the Astral Phalanx or Rune of Rising Fury find their mark is definitely a solid use of your weapon enchantment.

    Sunblade (AV, level 4+): If you happen to go Morninglord, or if you have a Morninglord in your party, this is for you. Otherwise, I'd take something else.

    Miscellaneous elemental enchantments: Frost, Flaming, Radiant, Githyanki Silver, Weapon of Summer, whatever. (Source varies)
    You're not a striker, but if you feel like you're not doing enough damage, slapping on some elemental tricks is pretty much one of the fastest ways of boosting your damage in this game. Frost or radiant are likely the easiest to use. Personally, I feel like you're better off spending your resources to make yourself more of a force multiplier, but if your heart is set on doing big damage yourself, these are options. Naturally, whatever elemental enchantment you go with will have its own package of tricks to accompany it, so pick up as much of the appropriate package as you can afford.


    Note: Most Runepriests will wear scale armor, so most of this list will have scale enchantments in mind. That said, Serene Blades with a starting 18/18 stat spread can wear hide without any loss of effectiveness, so there will be a few hide enchantments in here.


    Bloodiron Armor (AV, level 8+): A bonus to AC with an easy trigger is nothing to be ashamed of. This is especially nice on a Defiant Word. Lots to keep track of, but you knew that when you signed up.

    Armor of Durability (AV, level 4+): As with so many other items, this is pretty okay for a Runepriest without Protective Scroll, but excellent for a Runepriest with it.

    Veteran's Armor (AV, level 2+):
    It's cheap, and you could do worse.

    Meliorating Armor (AV, level 3+): Very GM-dependent, but potentially awesome. Clever use of that infamous Protective Scroll can lead to extended adventuring days, so that might be a consideration for you.

    Battle Harness (D368, level 4+, HIDE): Only useful for Serene Blades wearing hide armor, this is still great just for the power bonus (not item bonus!) to initiative. Getting some quick-draw help isn't shabby, either.

    Eldritch Serpent Armor (D366, level 4+):
    It'll make you a bit faster. That's worth something, since mobility can be an issue for you. Karach Armor (D414, level 12+) has a similar effect; it's on a cheaper track (the 2-track instead of the 4-track), but it's not available until Paragon.

    Reinforcing Armor (AV, level 4+): Do you like keeping track of bonuses? It's small and conditional, but it's there.

    Agile Armor (AV, level 5+): If you have highish DEX for some reason (mostly feat qualifications), this doesn't suck, even though it's a little pricey. Most Runepriests won't have the stats, of course, hence the purple rating.

    Healer's Armor (AV2, level 5+, HIDE):
    Another hide-specific armor, this makes your heals healier.

    Piecemeal Armor (D368, level 5+): You don't have any in-class “nuh-uh, you missed me!” powers, so even though this isn't a huge bonus and it only works on AC, it'll still come in handy. The price keeps it from a higher rating; if it were on the 2-track or the 3-track, I'd rate it sky blue.

    Demonscale (AV2, level 9+): Encounter-long elemental resistance that takes an immediate interrupt to trigger, scales with tier, and is an encounter power? Sweet!



    Timeless Locket (AV2, level 14+): Initiative matters, and that's all there is to it. If you happen to have a standard action utility power, the power can be useful, but Runepriests don't have too many of those that are worth taking. Still, initiative is initiative.

    Amulet of Vigor (AV2, level 9+):
    For your average Runepriest, this is good. For your Runepriest who likes using and abusing Protective Scroll, it's great.

    Amulet of the Silver Tongue (Tome of Magic):
    A +5 bonus to Truespeak, upgrading to +10 later? Seems basically mandatory for a class that relies on . . . wait, what's that? Wrong edition? Sorry, nothing to see here, carry on.

    Periapt of Cascading Health (D369, level 10+): This is as close to Iron Heart Surge as 4e has to offer. Anyway, the only thing not to love about this is the price. Note that there is some poor wording on here . . . it doesn't specify that the condition has to be affecting you. Expect table variation, but if your GM allows this item's power to be used to affect you or an ally, it is worth any price.

    Amulet of Physical Resolve (AV, level 2+):
    A cheap bonus to saving throws is not going to be unwelcome. I prefer this one over its sister item, the Amulet of Mental Resolve, because relatively few monster attacks actually have the keywords necessary for the AoMR to be useful, even if they SHOULD. Darn inconsistent writing . . .



    Iron Armbands of Power (AV, level 6/16/26): Yawn. Extra damage is extra damage, though you've hardly got any multiattacks or off-turn attacks to really take advantage of this. It's never a bad choice, but I wouldn't consider it a top priority. Repeat after me: you are not a striker. (Well, unless you're a Hammer of Vengeance, in which case, yes please.) To be clear, this isn't a bad choice . . . I just wouldn't list it as high-priority.

    Hammer Shield (AV2, level 8): I'm torn about this. On the one hand, using hammers is a trap, since you want a +3 weapon. On the other hand, if you insist on using hammers, this shield is pretty sweet. I know better than to preach abstinence-only, so . . . Don't use hammers, but if you must use hammers, use this shield.

    Rapidstrike Bracers (AV, level 15): This is fun. A small bonus to initiative shouldn't matter, since you should ideally have a bigger one, but it's better than nothing if you don't have anything. The encounter power is nice if you ever get granted a basic attack, if your GM ever provokes AoOs, or if you just like to charge now and again.

    Shield of Fellowship (AV2, level 15):
    Serene Blades love this. Sure, if you're getting hit enough to consistently gain THP, you're going to want them at least some of the time, but having the option to share with the crew is not a bad idea. Combine this with the Shared Valor Armor (chain only, so you'll want Ringmail proficiency) for a nice feedback effect.

    Tiamat's Bloody Bulwark (Du178, level 15):
    Monster crits hurt. This makes them hurt less. (This is only available on heavy shields, but honestly, you should probably have a heavy shield by mid-Paragon anyway.)

    Bracers of Zeal (AV2, level 9/19/29): This is cute on a Serene Blade or a Sensate. The boring old Iron Armbands are better overall, of course.

    Absorbing Shield (AV2, level 17): This is a nice way to help your allies. Note that it's only on area effects, not close effects.

    Counterstrike Guards (AV, level 14+): You don't have too many ways to use your immediate, so getting an extra swing when you're missed can't be all bad. This is especially amusing on a Defiant Word. Note that there is a level 4 version as well, but honestly, I don't think it's worth bothering with even in Heroic unless absolutely all your other slots are filled.



    Gloves of Grace (AV2, level 6):
    Minor action, grant a saving throw. Done. It's a daily power, but you'll notice that these are common. By the rules, it's totally OK to buy these or craft a ton of them. By Paragon (or even late Heroic), it's absolutely worthwhile to make/buy four, five, six sets of these (or even more) and effectively treat them as an encounter power, which is a reasonably effective way of making sure you've got saving throws on tap when your party needs them.

    Gloves of the Healer (AV, level 12/22):
    Now your Rune of Mending has as many dice as most standard leader heals. Not the most exciting item, but there's not a ton of competition for the slot.

    Strikebacks (AV, level 10): You don't have many uses for your immediate actions, and you've got a decent MBA, so why not? These lose some shine by high Paragon and especially Epic, since by then it's very difficult to be able to connect with an MBA after being hit, but you'll get some good use out of them before then.



    Cincture of Vivacity (AV/MME, level 14): You may or may not be the one who uses this, but I highly recommend that someone in your party have one of these. Why? Simple: this lets you use Rune of Mending on turn 1 to lay down your favorite party-wide damage boost without much risk of the healing going to waste, even if you win initiative. Just make sure that your GM's typical focus-fire target (maybe it's you, maybe it's someone else) has one of these, and you're set. You may want to have a Shield of Fellowship if you're the one using this, too.

    Belt of Vigor (PHB, level 2/12/22): If you're using Protective Scroll, you want your surge value to be as huge as possible. If you're not using Protective Scroll, well, there isn't a ton of competition for the slot. (In most cases, you'll make your Scrolls out of battle anyway, so you can always swap between this and another belt if you like.)

    Belt of Vim (AV, 8/18/28): You have a good Fort defense already, but more is always better. The Diamond Cincture (AV2/MME, level 10/20/30) is similar, but you can short yourself out of the bonuses to it, and it's more expensive.

    Belt of Raging Endurance (D380, 9/19/29): An extra surge is welcome for WIS builds. The encounter power isn't awful, and on a Serene Blade, there's actually a good chance that your THP will take most of the hit. CON builds don't really need it too badly, but an extra surge is an extra surge.



    Greaves of Maldeen (D364, level 12): +2 to speed? Sign me up! Only works when moving towards an enemy, but honestly, when is that not the case?

    Boots of Eagerness (AV, level 9): These are great if you're fond of Rune of the Astral Winds. Even if you don't use that power, they can help with a big map.

    Boots of Quickness (AV, level 8/18/28): Reflex is going to be your lowest defense, but although anything that helps with that is going to be helpful, I'm wary of anything that doesn't increase your mobility.

    Sandals of Avandra (AV, level 25): Hella expensive, but oh so worth it if you get the option.



    Ring of Free Time (AV2, 29, RARE): It's rare, it's expensive as hell, it's desired by pretty much every class in the game (so you just know you're gonna have to arm-wrestle your partymates if you find just one), and there's basically a ton of reasons why you should assume you'll never see one of these. If you do, POUNCE ON IT.

    Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (PHB, level 14): A surge is a surge. CON builds won't need this, but WIS builds can benefit if they don't have anything better to do with the slot. It's also relatively cheap, at least by ring standards.

    Ring of Fury (D366, level 14): It doesn't make you better at leading, but man is it ever funny on a Wrathful Hammer. This does make Rune of Vengeance marginally better, but you shouldn't have Rune of Vengeance anyway.

    Ring of Sorrows (AV2, level 18): You don't have as many fear powers as, say, a Wizard, but you've got a couple (Words of Bravery, Symbol of Cowardice, and Tide of Victory). If you have at least one or two fear powers, this isn't a bad idea. If you have an ally or two who also could benefit, this becomes an excellent idea.

    Ring of Action Reversal (AV2, level 20): You should ideally have an even bigger item bonus to init, but if you don't, this is perfectly acceptable. Also, the daily power is great insurance for when things just don't go like you want them to.

    Ring of Heroic Insight (AV, level 21): When you really, really need to hit something, this is a good choice. It's nice to use to, for example, open the floodgates against a solo soldier, with your hits making it possible for your allies to hit. Shame it's only a daily power.

    Luminary Ring (AV, level 22): You will probably not have much CHA. If you do have any CHA worth mentioning, perhaps for the purposes of an unusual MC, because you're a dragonborn and get a boost whether you like it or not, because you actually planned to have this ring, because your GM actually engages in the barbaric practice of rolling stats (no offense to any primal strikers in the audience), or whatever reason, this is pretty awesome, since most of your attacks will benefit from the increased range. Most Runepriests won't be able to use it, but those who can use it will adore it. Also, the daily power affects Rune of Mending, so that's awesome. Obviously, with no CHA, this is useless outside of the daily power, and I expect more for the price.

    Golden Ring of Teros (AV2, level 24): This is an expensive toy, but having a noticeable bonus to AC and Fort right at the start of the encounter (when the big guns are likely to come out) is never going to be a bad idea.

    Ring of Khirad (AV2, level 27): At level 27, this item is way too rich for most adventurers' blood, but ignoring invisibility is nontrivial on a class that primarily makes melee weapon attacks.



    Crown of Equilibrium (AV2, level 12): This is pretty good if and only if you have a Withering Weapon. It's not wholly reliable; if your party is good at listening to you, enemies you attack might have a tendency to disappear before they can save against your effects, but this is still a fun option. Without the Withering Weapon, you do have a FEW save-ends powers you might use (including an encounter one at 13, Words of Fiery Fidelity), but probably not enough to make this a primary consideration.

    Circlet of Arkhosia (PHBR, level 14/24): Superior Will, the item. You should have Superior Will anyway, but the way this is worded, I believe they stack.

    Crownring of Tchazzar (Du178, level 15): Ignore the daily power, but a +3 to saves against three of the nastiest conditions out there is nothing to be ashamed of, especially with Superior Will on the table (which it should be by the time you can afford this). If you're running around with more cash than you know what to do with, the Coif of Focus (AV, level 21) is basically the same thing only better.

    Casque of Tactics (AV, level 4/14/24): The daily power is where it's at. I'd personally rather get my item bonus to init from somewhere that scales faster, but it's there if you can't fit it in anywhere else. Since the only scaling part of this item is the item bonus to init, if you're getting your item bonus to init from somewhere else, you can just use the level 4 version of this thing, making it really cheap.

    Goggles of the Bone Collector (AV, level 9):
    Being the party encyclopedia isn't really your thing, but if nobody else in the party is going to, this is a good start. That said, this is probably better left to someone else. I just wanted to mention them somewhere, since they're cool.

    Coif of Mindiron (AV, level 8/18/28):
    If you haven't noticed the pattern yet, being dazed, dominated, or stunned really puts a cramp in your style, so it's worth it to invest in ways to avoid such things happening.

    Circlet of Indomitability (AV, level 8/18/28): Having a high Will never hurts. For CON builds, this will push you closer to par; for WIS builds, you just might end up with a Will higher than your AC.

    Lost Rune:

    These are all rare items that are effectively slotless (or rather, they take up their own slot). They're not likely to redefine the way you play, but they've got their uses, especially if you didn't get an extra rune state from your PP. Unfortunately, none of them actually affect your allies or make you better at leading, which is regrettable. All of them are from D394.


    Rune of Storm Unabated (16): It's a shame that this only works on your at-wills. The extra damage isn't terrible, and I could maybe see doing something fun with this, Mark of Storm, and perhaps Heavenly Halberdier, but it's not a total waste of time. The attack power is pretty much useless, since it's unfriendly, has short range, and doesn't scale.

    Rune of Tide Inexorable (17): Forced movement can be most inconvenient, and it's not going to hurt to have some defense against things that sap your mobility. You won't use it constantly, but it's nice when you need it. The daily power is actually pretty nice, giving you some neat board-shuffling skills.

    Rune of Fiery Might (19): If you are building yourself as a striker, this is actually pretty fantastic, since it's like a Firewind Blade only better. Unfortunately, the best way to turn a pure Runepriest into a striker is to take Hammer of Vengeance, and its striking ability relies on a rune state that, well, isn't this. That said, it's totally possible to build around this and make yourself pretty damaging, especially if you can get some bursts or other multitarget attacks (since the way it's written, the fire damage should ping on every hit). Why is this only blue? Because if you're actually trying to be a leader, it's not that amazing, and you'll get more leadership from the Rune State of Destruction or from most of the PP-granted rune states. The power is pretty nice, at least. Basically, if you know you're going to have access to this item, you can set nearly your entire build around it and make it downright ferocious. However, most people don't have the luxury of basing their entire build around a level 19 rare alternative reward, and without devoting a fair bit to it, this ends up in the “useful toy” category rather than the “totally game-changing” category.

    Rune of Stone Eternal (20): This is probably the best of the lost runes, or at least the most universally applicable. Leaders, especially frontline leaders, often take a pounding. Between this and Serene Blade, you can be almost comically resilient, though even Defiant Words and Wrathful Hammers can get some benefits out of this. The daily power is downright hilarious; I can't see it ever really being that amazing, but it's funny. Do note that “turned to stone” is NOT the same thing as the Petrified condition, since this is 4e, and the rules do what they say they do, nothing more, nothing less.


    Note: Many wondrous items have really fun roleplaying or out-of-combat functions, but I'm pretty much just focusing on the ones that specifically help in combat.


    Battle Standard of Healing (AV, 3): This is strictly for use outside battle, but there's really no reason not to have one by mid-late Heroic or so. It's a small bonus, but it's cheap and slotless.

    Demonskin Tattoo (AV2, 3/13/23):
    Encounter-long resistance to just the right type of damage every other encounter? Sounds good to me.

    Ruby Scabbard (AV, 5): The bonus to damage rolls is totally forgettable, but the quick-draw aspect may come in handy if you've got a backup weapon you care about.

    Vistani Buzuq (D380, 7): If you don't have a party member with Ritual Casting, it's nice to have Comrade's Succor available. That said, it's probably cheaper to load up on scrolls of it. Betcha forgot those exist, huh?

    Whistle of Warning (AV2, 8):
    It's not a ton of movement, but it's cheap, it's a minor action, it's an encounter power, and it's got good range. A little bit of extra ally-rearranging mojo never hurt.

    Backlash Tattoo (AV2, 9):
    You're not a damage monster, but it's not like you have a ton of things demanding your immediates. This gets less useful at higher levels, since it gets increasingly hard to be able to hit anything as a reaction to being hit. Still, not a whole ton of competition for your tattoo slot.

    Elven Chain Shirt (MME, 9/19/29): I hate this item. I think it's poor game design, and I wish it didn't exist. (Hell, my personal group pretends it doesn't!) Nevertheless, it DOES exist, so if you're a hide-wearing Serene Blade, you'll probably want one of these. Obviously, those of you in scale can forget it.

    Dice of Auspicious Fortune (D381, 11, RARE): These should be familiar to everyone. They're a rare item that deserves the title. Do not expect to have these, but if you have the chance, they are nice.

    Foe Stone (AV, 12): You probably won't have the minor actions to make good use of this, but SOMEONE on your team should probably have one, even if it isn't you.

    Stone of Earth (AV2, 12, RARE): Like the Dice of Auspicious Fortune, this is a rare item that makes you more accurate. Personally, I like my rare items to be useful more than once a day, but if you've got access to it, it'll still come in handy.

    Gambler's Eight (D417, 14): It's too expensive to really use until late Paragon or (more likely) early Epic, but still, this is a good way to turn a miss into a hit once per day. It's not even rare, unlike the Stone of Earth, though it's a little more expensive if your group plays fast and loose with rarity.

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