I got fanmail!
Real, legitimate, non-spam fanmail!
I know! I can’t believe it either. It even included phrases like:
“Reading your response method was very refreshing… very pleasant.”
“I can’t believe the ease with which you speak of 4e, and haven’t even cracked the core books open! You write like one of the game designers, and you write much more maturely than a college student…”
“I can’t wait until you have played it a while… I think your intellect and your personality will become a valuable resource for those of us who need a bit of re-set perspective.
It’s nice when someone says, “Did you look at it this way?” in a teaching, sharing sort of way. And then, with delight, you say, “Oh! No.. but.. wow! Cooool!” “
“Your site, and your comments on other blogs, are fresh, witty, and enrich the people who read them, encouraging critical, creative thinking.”
“Be careful, because if Mearls reads your posts, they might try to kidnap you and let your vision guide the development of this edition over the next few years. :)”
In the same email exchange, however, I got asked some questions. It seems that, despite the fact that I have yet to do a full readthrough of any of the three core 4e books, I have become somewhat of an authority on the subject, specifically character design. If you disagree that I have become such an authority, shut up, I’m having a moment here!
So he asked me for my advice on converting two of the favourite characters/concepts of his group and players from 3e to 4e. Well, I’m all too happy to oblige!
The first, well, it went as follows:
I have a zinger for you, which I may post to your site. I had a friend play a drow cleric in Forgotten Realms which I ran, who worshipped an elven deity presented in Dragon magazine–Darahl Firecloak. This god was lawful, not chaotic, and he was kinda a loner, he did not dwell in Arvandor. His portfolio included earth and fire. This drow thought of himself as an Illythiiri, a pre-cursed dark elf and was lawful good. He was a great character.
How would you build a drow cleric that exhibited earth and fire divine powers? Would you wait for the FRPG to detail genasai, or rework the powers?
First off, forget what you know from 3e. 3e mentality would go “Okay, so he needs to be a Cleric with Earth and Fire Divine spells.” There is only one way to build such a character. Maybe more if you count Shugenja, Favoured Souls, or Druids as variant Clerics.
Throw that all out in 4e! Check out page 54-55 in the 4e PHB. You’ve always been able to alter flavour text, but just in case they didn’t make it clear enough, it’s now in the freaking book! So if something seems like it would fit mechanically, throw out the flavour that doesn’t fit, and you’re good!
So let’s start from scratch. We need:
- worships screwy elf god
- fire powers
- earth powers
- divine flavour
So, let’s see. We’ll start off assuming that the character is a primary healer, rather than a blaster. Base class: Cleric. Cleric actually gives a good number of fire powers. And the many Cleric powers that do radiant damage can easily be reflavoured as divine fire. Change the damage type to fire, if you want. No problem.
Earth powers are somewhat more tricky, though, as it depends on what you mean. There are a variety of spells that could be called Earth spells. But let’s look at the Earth domain.
- Magic Stone
- Soften Earth and Stone
- Stone Shape
- Spike Stones
- Wall of Stone
- Iron Body
- Elemental Swarm
Now, some of these, of course, aren’t replicable. And some (Magic Stone) don’t even really deserve to be attempted. But we can take the flavour of all of this and build up a convincing fire/earth cleric.
How about we go level by level for a bit. I won’t list every power or feat, but I’ll list the ones that work the best. On top of these, you can reflavour as many other powers as you want.
- Race: Drow
At-Will: Sacred Flame
Daily: Avenging Flame
Feat: Arcane Initiate (Thunder Wave as an Encounter power, reflavoured as follows:
The ground before you ripples with force, tossing nearby enemies back with ease.
Hey, look, we got in an “Earthquake” power, and we’re only level 1.)
- Utility: Shield of Faith (Reflavoured something like this.*)
- Okay, y’know what? Ignoring the radiant powers, if you can’t figure out a way to reflavour either “Split the Sky” or “Command” into earth-based powers, you need some improv classes. Here’s a hint: Change “Command” to attack Fort instead.
- Feel free to grab the Novice Power feat and swap your level 1 encounter power for “Icy Terrain”. Oh, wait, did I say Icy Terrain? I meant “Spike Stones”!! Just change the damage from cold to physical, and tada!
- …really, do I need to continue with this?
Just continue that trend, and you’ll be fine. Grab a new Wizard power when you find a good one that fits. The level 9 Wall of Fire, or level 15 Wall of Ice (reflavoured, of course), for instance. The only one I’d say is even a must-have, though, is the level 16 Utility spell: “Stoneskin”.
And if you’re GM’s feeling generous, it doesn’t hurt the game to allow the Cleric to use their holy symbol for the “Arcane” powers. Just watch for broken unintended combinations, but feel free to do it.
(By the way, to continue a thought from above, if the character is to be a blaster, primarily, choose Wizard for your base class, call the powers “Divine”, and grab the Cleric multiclass feat (or even Warlord, for a more martial bent, if you don’t plan on taking any further Cleric powers) for Healing (or Inspiring) word.)
Warmage… well, this one’s just simple!
Do you want high, focused damage? Base class Warlock (Infernal). Do you want lots of big flashy area of effect spells? Base class Wizard.
Whichever one you pick, focus on big damage spells, with some minor battlefield control to round yourself out, and cherry pick some powers from the other class for variety.
Grab damage bosting feats, and… well, whatever else you want, really! I’d be sure to take History as a trained skill (for military history), but this is really a simple concept.
* Holy hell, there is a lot of Avatar fanart porn on the interwebs! Never do an image search for any of the girls with SafeSearch off! She’s 12 years old, FFS!