Archive for March, 2011

Reconsidering the Essentials Classes

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30, 2011 by Atlemar

I’ve been an avowed opponent of the Essentials classes. But something has been happening to me — I have softened.

Part of it is that I had a misconception: that since feats are not listed on the level tables, players don’t get to choose them. You’d think the erroneousness of that conception would have sunk in when I leveled up Sola during the last season of Encounters, but no.

A big part was that I was focusing on the fighter builds. Essentials takes all the options available to fighters and distills them down to two, and I hate that. I also don’t see how “pick two stances” is easier than “pick two attack powers,” but whatever.

The real break came today. Driving home for lunch, I let someone in at a stoplight. A few seconds of thought later and I had a character concept — a good rogue who sees herself as out to avenge injustice, with a crossbow she named “Karma.” I’m borrowing the HotF* books, so I grabbed it to see if the rogue in that could pull it off.

That was the first time I really looked at the way the thief is built. And I like it. It builds on the progress from the monk and makes the thief more different from the ranger.

And then I looked at the mage some more. I’d been resistant, mainly because I got hung up on a character concept for a multi-implement caster, a dwarf (or dwarf-like human) with a staff in one hand, an orb in the other, and festooned with wands, rods, gems and staves — an arcane Swiss Army knife. But let’s face it, schools of magic are cool, and the way it’s being built in Essentials is a good thing. (I say being built because three schools aren’t enough, but they keep adding outside the HotF* books.)

And then I looked at the druid. I *love* the wild shape druid of PHB2, but the sentinel — with its healing and either defending or attacking animal companion — is pretty awesome too.

Then, today, the revised Warlord came out. It doesn’t close out the builds in Martial Power 1 or 2, which is good. But more importantly was the description in the intro text about the fighter — there’s a knight, there’s a slayer, and there’s a weapon master, who is trained in exploits. This gives me hope that the PHB fighter, with all its build options and its martial dailies, is not being cast aside, but brought into the fold and embraced.

I’m not entirely happy with it still, especially with the fact that pregens and Encounters will still be Essentials-only (and Encounters is the only organized play where I live). I’m especially unhappy with the warpriest. But I now see a lot more gold than I did before, alongside the crap.