Essential Readings: HotFL pt 2


Okay, dinner has been consumed. Back into the book.

Something that occurred to me while driving to get barbecue -you could very easily do a Slayer as a ranged character, due to the stances. One of them is only useful while charging but the other 5 could easily apply to ranged basic. I think that would be a pretty awesome character.

p168 – Rogue/Thief  This build focuses more on being sneaky and dealing with B&E and traps and the like – very much the classic 1e Thief. Dex and either Str or Cha. I’d have guessed Int as the secondary attribute but there you go.

p174 – As noted elsewhere, Sneak Attack is listed here as usable every turn instead of every round. That’s pretty huge. Backstab also makes a return as an encounter power, usable multiple times per encounter as your level goes up.  They also get the old Melee Training: Dex skill for free, allowing Dex instead of Str as the governing stat for basic melee attacks. From what I’ve read about the change to the Melee Training feat, that’s a good thing.

p176 – I didn’t mention this with the other classes but the list of powers/exploits/tricks have a little paragraph of narrative description leading them off and explaining what the power is meant to do. It’s a nice touch for new folks to gaming but I wonder if many veterans (myself included) will actually read them.

Okay, so the Thief gets the Sneak Attack, Backstab and Weapon Finesse as described above, plus the standard Rogue’s First Strike, and then can choose 2 At Will Tricks. These, again, aren’t attacks – they’re Move action based utilities that allow some kind of movement and then a bonus of some kind to a melee basic attack, kind of like the Monk’s full technique. Including one that allows you to gain combat advantage against foes, which is so delicious with the sneak attack and backstab combo. As I look forward most powers are related to movement, escape and hiding. I don’t see much in the way of trap disabling or picking pockets This is your old-school Assassin right here. It’s pretty close to the Cunning Sneak build actually.

There don’t seem to be multiple tracks within this build like in the previous ones.  They do get Weapon Talent, a +1 bonus to attack, at lvl 2. This is feeling a lot like BAB/THAC0 scaling up at different rates depending on the class (although they don’t then seem to get any more attack bonuses so maybe not, but they get a damage bonus every half dozen or so levels).

p192 – Wizard/Mage. Here we delve back into the old Schools of Magic: Enchantment, Evocation and Illusion. I missed these and am glad they’re back. Each of the schools has a different secondary attribute.

Hey, welcome back spellbooks and spells-prepared-per-day.  Encounters, Dailies and Utilities are now selected from the book. At each of the levels where you’d usually grab an Encounter, Daily or Utility power you get to choose 2 (of 3) to add to your spellbook, then you get to prep a number that I think is  equal to the spells you get in the PHB system.

There are still regular At Will attack spells though. Unlike the other classes where there were only one or two choices per level there are 6 here and you get 2. There are 2 from each school (the school is listed as a keyword).

First level mages also get Magic Missile (autohit for less damage) for free and a handful of cantrips. Plus a benefit based on your school.

All the classic spells are here. Dimension Door, Fireball, Dispel Magic (!!!), Sleep, Charm Person/Instant Friends, Meteor Swarm. No Wish spell though.

I like the mage overall. Very much the classic Magic User but within the 4e framework.

p249 – Races. As stated elsewhere, they’ve changed the way attribute bonuses are given out based on the PHB3 model, with one given and then a choice of two other, which I like because it ads to the flexibility of the races and reduces the “there’s really only one race that’s a perfect match for class X” factor.

Recycled art from the PHB here. Boo!

A lot more depth on the culture and communities of each of the races presented than in the PHB. Don’t know if some of this is swiped from Dragon artcles but it would make sense.

Humans don’t get an extra At Will anymore, which makes sense because the list of them is smaller. INstead they get an Encounter power where they can retroactively add 4 to an attack or save roll. I’ll take that tradeoff any day

p279 – Skills.  Interesting. The Difficulty Check table here is different from the March2010 errata version from the DMG. It sits between that version (which I always thought was too low) and the original DMG table (which was kind of brutal).

Aid Another rules. Huh. I’ve been doing it wrong. Look what good can come of actually reading the rules.

Lots of good examples of how to improvise with different skills in here.

Hey, a TABLE for jumping distance/height. The formulae for this always stuck out like a sore thumb for me.

p305 Feats. They’re organized by category here! Massive improvement.

There’s no distinction between Heroic, Paragon and Epic feats in here. In fact a lot of feats that used to be Paragon level (the defensive ones) now scale with tier.  There are others with pretty solid attribute prereqs that some pretty awesome benefits as well (Superior Will allows you to make a save at the start of your turn vs daze or stun effects, even effects that don’t normally end with a save!).

Weapon group expertise feats now also give you an added bonus – heavy blades gives you a +2 to defenses vs opportunity attacks for example. Implement expertise gives some nice benefits as well – Staff Expertise means you don’t provoke with ranged or area attacks, which is just plain awesome. And the old problem of this being a mandatory feat is solved by the classes getting expertise bonuses along the way.

There are a slew of Disciple feats based on devotion to each god that give some funky benefits as well (the Melora one allows you to shift 3 when using your Second Wind, for example).

Boy howdy, once these get incorporated into the builder and available in general there are going to be some very difficult choices for my existing characters.

Going to have to leave Gear and Weapons, including the new ranking of magic items as green, blue, purple common, uncommon, rare for tomorrow.


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9 Responses to “Essential Readings: HotFL pt 2”

  1. Jack Kessler Says:

    Hmm, so humans no longer have the option of an extra at-will? I thought this change was a new option, not mandatory.
    I liked the ability to take at-wills that targeted the 3 non-AC defenses, so you could always tune the attack to the weakest defense once you knew it.

    • Christopher Tatro Says:

      I’m likely phrasing it wrong – I don’t know how much of this stuff replaces PHB rules and how much is optional. I guess we’ll know better when the next Builder patch drops in a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the choice between this new Encounter power and the extra At-Will.

      • Jack Kessler Says:

        I’d like to see the option in the CB to do use the pre-essentials versions of all this. Doubt it will happen. I haven’t looked, but I hear that Magic Missile already conforms to the Essentials version (auto hit, less damage). Of course, they’ve been updating entries right along. It’s some of the more extensive changes that I think should be able to be turned off.

        • Christopher Tatro Says:

          They changed out Magic Missile in one of the recent erratas, July I think. I recall a lot of groaning when the PHB version of Magic Missile came out and people were all “you have to ROLL to HIT? That’s not MY Magic Missile!!” so I suspect this was a thing that was being argued back and forth in the WotC halls for he past few years and the voice of nostalgia finally won.

          • Jack Kessler Says:

            Yeah, since more than half of my players have finally gotten PHBs, and I am the only one with electronic access to this stuff, I’m thinking of dropping the online DDI stuff and going strictly paper again.

            I currently print out their characters via the CB, but it’s getting further and further from what they see in the books – and not many of them can afford to buy the new ones as well at the moment.

            My sub comes up in November. We’ll see.

            • Christopher Tatro Says:

              I will say this about Essentials – it looks MUCH easier to do a character without the use of the builder if you’re doing Essentials only.

              • Jack Kessler Says:

                That’s nice for new players. Will the Rules Compendium obviate the need for a PHB? Are they going to let those go out of print?

                Figures. I can’t tell my out of work players to ignore the purchase they just made and buy THIS instead. 🙂

    • Bryant Says:

      It’s explicitly optional as per the PDF linked here. Not so much for Essentials builds, as they often don’t have three at-wills to choose from so that feature doesn’t make sense.

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