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Dragon 399 - Heroes of Tome and Temple

Shroomy

Adventurer
The next theme article is up; you can read it here. Its a pity that my campaign came to an end, the scholar theme would be perfect for one of the PCs, a scholarly avenger/bard of Ioun.
 

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Aegeri

First Post
So of these new ones, bearing in mind the last lot:

Ordained Priest: This one is solid and feels about the power level these should be. I love how they gave both a melee weapon and implement blast power for this, so that different characters can use it easily. The melee power is pretty neat and so is the blast power. This is an overall good choice. Plus the utilities look decent too. No complaints here: This is what these should be.

Scholar: I was very meh on this until I read the encounter utility that can give a party a damage type. That can be really utilized well, considering it grants radiant as one of the damage types. It's a very flavor heavy theme though that is competing against some with excellent mechanics. It does let you know every language though, but unfortunately the level 10 feature steps on the toes of the level 5 quite a bit. That use vulnerability can backfire on you is pretty hilarious too. Don't really know what to think of this, it's okay?

Taking this for Inimical Lore and Defensive Lore though isn't a bad idea. Defensive Lore in particular is a really strong sustainable defensive power. Probably worth the price of admission.

Seer: This is going to create so many rules issues and people trying to abuse the RAW of it that its not going to be funny. Incidentally, I can't help but notice how thematically similar this power is compared to the ENWorld Sky Seer presented for Zeitgeist a while back. Eye of Seeing is neat though and has more than a few uses (lots of monsters like invisibility these days).

It's a bit of a mixed bag, but these feel more even in power level for the most part than the previous lot (which is a good thing). Of all the themes released thus far, I like the Ordained Priest the most. It doesn't create funny rules issues like the seer does and seems to have good balance to its powers/abilities. Sanctifying Word is pretty great as well, especially with the healing surge bonus. At least there is nothing on the level of Order Adept here in terms of overpowered (which yes, is a very good thing) and while Scholar seems awful, the utility powers do a lot to save it. Plus it's probably easy enough to optimize the skills it needs to make the hard DC for the benefit the encounter provides. It is funny it can backfire though. Seer ... I don't know what to think of this. I would have to see it in play and how players try to deal with the 3 D20s it provides to really know what effect it will have.
 
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Yep, the player in my game who will definitely be taking Scholar once they're in the character builder has taken Linguist twice to get the big Insight bonus from Traveler's Insight. They'll be able to retrain those feats back into something that adds more mechanical benefit without giving up the scholar of linguistics flavour she was going for.

I was much happier with this theme article than the last one, nothing that gave a large boost (like Order Adept), and nothing as underpowered as Animal Master. Hopefully Order Adept will get a small nerf when the article is updated (and I'm assuming it will be, based on the feedback we're seeing on the forums).
 

Although those themes are nice, I am a bit disappointed about the lack of ritual casting. I really expected one of the themes giving ritual casting out for free...

however the language learning thing also needed some help... I hope we see more themes along those lines in the future...
 

WalterKovacs

First Post
Although those themes are nice, I am a bit disappointed about the lack of ritual casting. I really expected one of the themes giving ritual casting out for free...

Well, the seer's 2nd level utility is sort of like a free mini-scrying power ... I could see some of the ritual stuff going that way (similar to the ritual-like class features given to the E classes, like the cleric's remove affliction/raise dead, the blackguard's minion that can answer questions, etc)

And the scholar does help a ritual caster cover their bases skill wise ... and works well leading towards the epic destiny that loves knowledge skills. I think an actual ritual casting one might be a bit outside the bounds. Alchemist worked, since you consumable alchemical items are comparable to an encounter attack or utility power, while the rituals are often as good as, if not better, than say a daily utility (and some get to be daily utilities via 1/day free casting through feats or class features). The general way the themes are built (1 encounter power, skill boost at 5, an interesting feature at 10, plus utilities) doesn't really encompass rituals very well.

I do think these are probably what themes "should" be. They get one nice "in combat" effect up front, and some fluffy skill stuff as they level, and some interesting mix of utilities. I can see the 3 d20 rolls probably best being dropped on the wizard or sorceror, etc ... letting them know they can drop an attack with an ally on it and potentially miss. Or, at worst, give someone instructions to "try for a stealth check, then use the attack that expands your crit range, then your biggest damage attack".
 

Nork

First Post
I really like the seer theme based on the free encounter power.

I don't know how good it will be in terms of power level, but I think it really hits the nail on the head in terms of representing a seer theme.

The seer will know what a player is going to roll before they roll it. A player is going to look to the seer to indicate if they should drop an at-will or drop a daily power.

Having the mechanics result in the player serving as an advisor, which what the roleplay behind what them theme is supposed to represent, is just great.
 

mneme

Explorer
Aegeri: Pretty much agree on every call, except that I like the Scholar base power better than you do; it's odd to have an obviously +alpha strike power as "scholar" (and I'd have had it be +leadery instead and give the bonus to an ally), but on a multi-attacker it can be quite nice. I don't like the half damage thing; it gives the player too much incentive to memorize or take notes on the rules, and I don't see a point in playing that particular guessing game; instead, it should just trigger on making a hard DC check.

Seer: yeah, nightmarish. The only thing keeping it in check is the daily limit (so sure, you can take multiple short rests and scry for a bunch of allies, but then you can't repeat the trick next combat unless you have more allies), but even there, it will encourage players to do stupid things to try to "avoid their fate" and encourage GMs to deny player actions even when they make sense. Not to mention enabling very silly primary fight alphas with everyone scried and trying to make stealth checks or whatever to avoid bad rolls. And then there will be the players who do the "multi day dice of Auspicoius Fortune" ugliness, where they try to save a good set of rolls by not taking extended rests for multiple days at a time (although by the wording, you don't even need to do that with this ability). I think a better way to express the ability would be something like:

Cast Fortune
Seer Utility
During a Short Rest, you may scry on a character's fortune. Do nothing at this point (aside from possibly roleplaying out the scrying attempt).

Then, during the next encounter after the short rest, you may, three times per enounter, make a prediction at the beginning of that player's turn. If you do so, secretly roll a die, note the result, and show the result to the GM. You may say whatever you like about this result, but may not reveal it; the first roll the player makes on this turn is replaces by this roll; it is discarded if they don't make any d20 rolls.

Something like that, anyway. Although three times per encounter is frankly still probably too strong.
 

Nemesis Destiny

Adventurer
A fellow player in my wife's game is going to absolutely flip over Seer. I'm not sure what I think of it. I will probably find it annoying. At least I'm not the DM in that game!

Scholar is neat, especially for the boost to languages, and this is particularly true in a homebrew where there are more default languages. The powers are awfully combat-oriented for someone who is supposed to be a bookworm, but I like the flavour of it nonetheless.

Ordained Priest definitely stands out as the best of this bunch. Good powers, good flavour, without being overwhelmingly good. Bonus points for supporting both melee and implement types.

Overall, pretty good, and I'm really looking forward to the next two batches!
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
I really like the Seer's basic "roll 3 d20's and those are the target's next 3 rolls" ability. That is a lot of fun, dang flavorful, and interesting, to boot. I like the "your target doesn't know if their fortune is good or bad unless you tell them" bit. :)

I've got a Paladin who is likely to be interested in the Ordained Priest.

Scholar has another nifty basic ability, though I am unenthused by the "Learn every language that exists!" ability...mostly because it exposes how pointless languages are in D&D, by and large...

Something I'm really digging is the mixing of power sources. If I'm a rogue devoted to Avandra, I can take an Ordained Priest ability. If I'm a Paladin of Ioun, perhaps Scholar will appeal to me. I could be a Deva (anything) and the Seer would be pretty evocative.

I still kind of miss the whole "you can define your adventuring career with your theme" idea that the Dark Sun themes had, but I don't mind these at all. I suppose it's smart to keep people picking class powers anyway, as much as I might like to loosen those bonds as much as possible.

I'm not WOW'd by anything here yet, but they've all been pretty interesting.
 

No Order Adepts in there - and no Animal Masters. The seer is nice but will cause trouble, and the other three are good (I'm slightly sceptical about the scholar - and does that bonus to damage work against all targets if they are the same type?) Ordained Priest is just all round well done.
 

I think, knowing all languages is too benefical. Chose 3 or so at level 10 would be sufficient...

I like the deciver script ability however... it was one of my favourite skills back in ADnD...
 

Aegeri

First Post
Ordained Priest is what they should be. Genuinely adds to any class who wants a meaningful secondary leader role (or give you other options for that if you already are a leader), plus gives two GREAT options for melee and implement users respectively. It's by far my favorite theme out of these. I'm hoping for more themes to be like the Ordained Priest.

I do expect though they will have a go over and edit many of these before the end of the month based on feedback.
 

They're all pretty good. I can see some players trying to pull a few shenanigans with the "roll 3 d20" seer thing, but the DM should be able to easily step on that (and it is nice that they went out of their way to reinforce that). All of these should work fine, provide some solid but modest benefits, and should definitely provide some nice mechanical support for the character's concept. Overall themes are looking pretty good.
 

I'm amused at the seer power. I had nearly the same power planned for a ZEITGEIST character theme.

From the 4e house rules forum:

Three Visions
You share with your allies a glimpse of the motions of the heavens, revealing fortuitous and unfortuitous paths.
Encounter * Primal
Minor Action Close burst 5
Target: One ally in burst

Effect: The target rolls three d20s and notes their results in order.

On the target’s next turn, the first time it would make an attack roll, it instead uses the first d20 as if it had rolled that result on the die. On its next turn thereafter, it uses the second d20 for its first attack roll. On its next turn after that, it uses the third d20 for its first attack roll.



We went a slightly different way with the final version.
 

Mengu

First Post
I really like the Ordained Priest. The encounter powers are good, whichever one you pick, and the +2 religion and insight makes me happy.

Scholar I'm not too terribly impressed with. But it does serve a niche that likes to know a lot of languages. The encounter power is a bit weird. You never have to use the power unless you hit a hard DC. So the fail condition seems to be a moot point. Also the bonus being Intelligence based makes it rather narrow in who can use the theme. We apparently can't have a scholarly cleric.

The Seer theme is conceptually pretty awesome. If there is an AoE attacker like a wizard or sorcerer in the party, I think I would target them this power more frequently than anyone else. Knowing that you can miss the fighter in the middle of a bunch of enemies is about as priceless as knowing when you're about to get a crit. Just hope you don't have to roll a saving throw when your 20 is up. Of course, when my 20 is up, I wouldn't mind making an intimidate check against a bloodied enemy either. though that's not likely to come up much since the 3 rolls will get used up quickly.
 

I really like the Ordained Priest. The encounter powers are good, whichever one you pick, and the +2 religion and insight makes me happy.

Scholar I'm not too terribly impressed with. But it does serve a niche that likes to know a lot of languages. The encounter power is a bit weird. You never have to use the power unless you hit a hard DC. So the fail condition seems to be a moot point. Also the bonus being Intelligence based makes it rather narrow in who can use the theme. We apparently can't have a scholarly cleric.

The Seer theme is conceptually pretty awesome. If there is an AoE attacker like a wizard or sorcerer in the party, I think I would target them this power more frequently than anyone else. Knowing that you can miss the fighter in the middle of a bunch of enemies is about as priceless as knowing when you're about to get a crit. Just hope you don't have to roll a saving throw when your 20 is up. Of course, when my 20 is up, I wouldn't mind making an intimidate check against a bloodied enemy either. though that's not likely to come up much since the 3 rolls will get used up quickly.

I would say ANYONE who is a scholar would have high INT. Who ever heard of a dumb scholar? OTOH even having a modest INT you'll still be pretty effective with the various bonuses. In a sense it IS narrow, but OTOH being a low WIS ordained priest isn't that great either, is it?
 

Mengu

First Post
I would say ANYONE who is a scholar would have high INT. Who ever heard of a dumb scholar? OTOH even having a modest INT you'll still be pretty effective with the various bonuses. In a sense it IS narrow, but OTOH being a low WIS ordained priest isn't that great either, is it?

Other themes didn't seem to have such restrictions, it just felt odd. I can be a fighter, hunter, battlemind, or bard, and be animal master, eventhough traditionally animal handling is tied to wisdom. Even for ordained priest, my enchanter gnome wizard can be the ordained priest of Oghma, my halfling rogue can be the ordained priest of Tymora, my half-elf "brought up among elves" bard can be the ordained priest of Corellon. Odd restriction that you can't be a good scholarly monk, or priest.

I don't like stats anyway, but that's another topic.
 

Kinneus

First Post
Now this is more like it!

Although I forsee players making stupid, pointless skill checks in order to "cut through the chaff" of the Seer's ability. But then, I guess that's sort of the point. If you know you're going to roll a 1, then you're probably going to go with a basic attack over a Daily.
 

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