Thursday, April 23, 2009

Arcane Power (D&D)

The surprise this week was the strength of the Arcane Power book for Dungeons & Dragons. Martial Power was an essential book, but it was a kind of dull, power oriented book that didn't add much flavor. Arcane Power has the crunch, but it also has new concepts for 4E, such as familiars, summoning, tomes and a slew of feats, including some that resolved arcane multi-classing issues.

Another thing I've noticed, now that we've got a bunch of new classes under our belt, is that every class, including expansion classes, are getting full coverage in subsequent books. If you played an expansion class in previous editions, you would have to wait a long time, or maybe forever, to see new material expanding your options. Arcane Power gives just as much coverage to the Swordmage and Sorcerer as the original PHB classes. In fact, I think the coolest thing in the book is the Storm Sorcerer build, where you regularly knock people on their butts with your stormy powers. Someone else told me their favorite build was the Cosmic Sorcerer, a kind of angry druid class of sorts, so there's a lot of appeal for different things in this book.

Our initial sales have been twice that of Martial Power, on par with the recent Player's Handbook 2. Distributors ran out quickly, as I think they planned for Martial Power level sales as well. I grabbed the last stack out of two West Coast warehouses yesterday, and was told warehouses across the country would be dry by the end of the day. If you want one of these, get it soon from wherever you get your books.

Side Note: The D&D dungeon tiles are also disappearing fast. Many are out of print from Wizards of the Coast, and distributors are quickly running out of their back stock. This is because of the excellent Dungeon Delve book that uses these. I learned yesterday that the higher level delves need two of each tile set, rather than the one I bought. Stock up accordingly (I just did).


  1. I'm surprised Arcane Power is doing that much better than Martial Power. I think they're pretty much the same in terms of what you get. The new concepts are interesting, but not that interesting. Martial introduced at least one new concept itself with the pets for the Beastmaster Ranger, and had more new feats than Arcane does.

    One interesting thing I've noticed since the release of the PHBII, and that was for some reason brought home to me while looking over Arcane Power, is that there's a hole in the list of the Martial Power classes. We have four power sources: Martial, Arcane, Divine, and Primal. Arcane, Divine and Primal all have at least one class from each of the four roles of Striker, Defender, Leader and Controller; however, Martial lacks a Controller.

    I'm not sure what kind of class would make for a Martial Controller, but it's a rather noticeable lack when you start thinking about groups "themed" around a Power Source.

  2. "I'm not sure what kind of class would make for a Martial Controller..."

    There is a hole. My solution is the character I'm currently playing, a multi-classed Warlord-Wizard.

  3. Not a bad solution from a mechanical perspective, but what if I want to run a campaign where Divine, Arcane and Primal power sources don't exist? A lot of classic fantasy settings are the equivalent of having only Martial Power and the Ritual Caster feat. It would be nice to be able to do something like that while still having a Controller class available.

    Mind you, it's pretty theoretical as most people I know who play 4th would rather chew off their arm than be limited to only one Power source, but from a DMs perspective I think it would be an interesting possibility

  4. Sure, Iron Heroes 4th Edition. Makes sense to me.

    Also, if as a DM you lay off the minions, a controller is far less useful. I've had a hard time *adding* minions in the adventures I just wrote. There really aren't enough higher level minions, I've noticed.

  5. Let me be clear:
    Martial LEader - Warlord
    Martial Defender - Paladin
    Martial Primal - Ranger

    (good so far?)

    What about the (sadly lacking in 4E) Monk, wouldn't that be a Martial Controller? Or do I not have the concepts understood yet...


    Others have tried to come up with some Martial Controller classes...

  7. Martial Leader: Warlord
    Martial Defender: Fighter
    Martial Strikers: Rogue and Ranger.

    I'm not sure what WotC has in mind for the monk, but as he's been portrayed in the past I'd say he's more of a Divine Striker or Defender.

    Of course, a lot just depends on what WotC wants to do. The Warlock and the Sorcerer could have been designed as Controllers instead of Strikers if given a different set of powers, and would have still been recognizable as Warlocks and Sorcerers. Likewise, the Druid could have been portrayed as just about any of the four roles with the right power sets. Traditionally they're more of a Leader. Also, the Warlord could have been designed as a Martial Controller, although that would have left a hole in the Leader slot.

  8. I'm just going to climb back into my DHG hole now, thanks. Very little of what I'm reading here is comprehensible to me, although it does read a lot like the text I see when people start seriously discussing WoW. Besides, right now the household budget is being distinctly squeezed, thanks to an impending move and possibly buying a second car, so I really can't afford to get into 4e.

  9. It's clearly a harder concept to envision a controlling warrior. I like the idea of a bunch of counter minion NPCs that run into combat and do your bidding, but it's problematic in other ways.

    My answer is still "just don't use minions."

  10. The problem I have with that solution is that I love minions, both from a GM's and a player's perspective.

    Wading through hordes of 1hp minions gives an impression of power that can sometimes be more impressive than taking down the big baddie. After all, it took the whole team to take down the big baddie, but every minion that falls to your attacks is one you took out on your own.

  11. "I'm not sure what kind of class would make for a Martial Controller..."

    I'm making a gladiator class for my Dark Sun campaigns. It focuses on melee controlling (since the description for controller itself says NOTHING about part of a controller's role being ranged).

    Take the Druid Predator path, eliminate all of the ranged options (including the one at-will you HAVE to take that isn't bestial), and the slight healing subtheme, and change it to battlefield control with a lot of status effects, melee bursts with limited numbers of targets, and tactical warlord-like maneuvering of allies and enemies alike.


    So far, it is coming along nicely.