It was only in print for a few years, but it finished middle of the pack in the one less formal L&L playtest poll that dared include it as an option, ahead of Sorcerer and Ranger, for instance. There was never a single question about it in any of the formal playtest polls, though.I played a Warlord in 4E, but was it really all that popular?
I guess you could call it the Warlord effect: however few or many people played a warlord, the /idea/ of anyone, anywhere, having the option to play a warlord (or an effective non-beatstick fighter, or even a beatstick with DoaM), there were enough folks out there who would be sufficiently offended by the prospect to re-ignite the edition war.Well, it's kind like the gnome effect. Sure, gnomes have never been very popular as a PC race. That's just true. But, even if only 10% of played PC's are gnomes, that means that about 1/2 of the tables out there have a gnome PC. So, if you take gnomes out of the game, then you annoy half of the groups out there. Yes, I know that's very rough back of the envelop math, of course. But, you see the point.
The 5e version of inclusion fell into the paradox of needing to include the exclusionary: there were long-time fans who would 'feel excluded' had the Warlord or been included.I gotta admit that while I've pretty much given up on the idea that I'll get an official warlord in 5e, it does leave a rather sour taste. This is the one clearly 4e concept. Something you can really point to as an iconic element of the game, and it got tossed to the curb, in a rather puerile manner as well. For all the talk of the "big tent" of 5e, that's probably one of my biggest grinding gears.
It was just critically important to avoid further edition warring. When the nerdly cult surrounding a marginal IP flames with nerdrage, the mainstream stays away. It's sunk many a franchise launch.And it makes it all the more irritating because it was only done to pacify edition warriors. There's no real mechanical reason to not have a warlord in the game. But, like "damage on a miss" or "HP as Meat", there's just no way that folks will let this particular bone go.
And, it's why a topic like this is relevant, because 5e /can't afford/ to go in the direction 4e was going, so we'll only ever get to speculate about where that might have gone.
It's 5 years in. That's longer than the run of 3.0, 4e, or 4e/E+. When the gnome appeared in the PHII, 9 months in, the Monk in the PHIII and the dumbed-down Slayer in HotFK barely more than 2 years in, it was "too little too late."I'm sure a Warlord will show up at some point, we are still one early days for the edition yet.
The Warlord will never work as a fighter sub-class, the BM already illustrated that, as did that effort. The Fighter is simply too dedicated to tanky DPR to have 'room' on its chassis for a support class - and, frankly, it's too burdened by tradition in it's design. It'd have to be it's own class. Mearls handful of tactical abilities in a fighter sub-class, and BM maneuvers might be a place to start for mechanics, but they'd have to be built up to something reasonable to handle the Warlord's concept, in the context of 5e. And, in that context, support classes don't just do support, they provide tremendous power & versatility, on top of the basics.
That's a very tall order when giving /anything/ to a martial class is likely to be met with rampant nerdrage and renewed edition warring.
It still took 5 years to get the first new class into 5e. Psionics is up next, so, what, a Warlord in 2029?The Artificer isn't really up in the air, it's coming this year: Crawford said in a D&D Beyond video that the survey results for the latest round were very good, and well over the threshold for publication.
I would exclude the eClasses from consideration of how the 4e direction would have gone, because Essentials was already firmly re-oriented on the 5e direction. From Essentials, we would have eventually gotten to 5e, in some sense or some way, probably by continuing to obviate earlier 4e options with OP alternatives and general pointed lack of support, or even mention going forward.OK ignoring the spiral we have put ourselves into. We have potential refinements on 4es multiclassing which already works, and late paragon and epic support of essentials classes to stick in that players handbook IV what else has been mentioned?
From the 4e direction, I'd speculate that, yes, a hypothetical DMG III would include support/advice for Epic, and continued improvement to Skill Challenges. We would not have seen the MME changes to magic items, OTOH.
PHIV, presumably, would build on the Assassin, just not the way HoS did, giving it more builds but probably all using Shrowds and all AEDU. The round out the Shadow Source with the other 3 roles. the PH II and III both tossed in additional classes from prior sources, but I can't imagine there was much to scrape up after the relative debacles of Seeker & Rune Priest. But, maybe, an additional Psionic class of some sort? Like a Psychokineticist or something, for a more firmly psi striker than the Monk?
It could also depend on the setting book coming out around the same time. If it were Ravenloft, for instance, the revenant and even vampire (though, hopefully not Vampire-as-class) might make an appearance. Maybe - maybe in the PHIV, more likely in a Ravenloft supplement - the Vampire could be a sort of template, based on the hybrid mechanics but inflicted after play begins. A character inflicted with vampirism would get powers, need to drink blood to get back surges, etc - using those powers would cause the loss of existing powers and class features, until the character permanently became 'vampiric,' and the ultimate threat of losing control of the character and just becoming a monster could be there - but, he might resist or even be cured?
Actually, I could see a number of undead-afflicted but-not-quite-turned options along those lines, maybe tied into the Ravenloft theme of dark powers...?
...Or, OK, if the PHIV were riffing off a Ravenloft theme, maybe another class or two from other sources of a similarly sinister vibe? Like an Arcane "Necromancer" or Divine "Death Priest" or, conversely, "Undead Slayer" or something... a Psionic "Medium" perhaps, not sure what that'd be, probably more of a Theme, really...?