Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Building characters with(out) Player's Handbook 2

I've just had my first contact with Player's Handbook 2. Not actual, physical contact with the book, as it will still take a few more days for amazon to deliver my copy. But I have been able to browse through the races and classes, carefully choose some powers and feats, and give form to some characters for my next campaign. Such is the magic of Character Builder, the killer application from D&D Insider, and the greatest (some would say first) digital success in Wizards of the Coast's history.

Some classes just scream 'win'.

I'm not going to write a review of Character Builder today (other than this: try it! It's worth it), and I don't want to talk in depth about PHB2 until I've had it in my hands. So I'll settle for showing the couple of character concepts that have fascinated me so far. In a book full of amazing new options, these stood out to me as the best: the Bard, and the chaotic Sorcerer.

Why do I like these so much? Bards may now have a well defined (and much needed) role as party leaders, but they are also insanely versatile. Aside from being able to switch without effort from melee warriors to ranged spellcasters, their ability to multiclass as much as they want offers many unique combinations. In addition, their power selection is full of fun, not-so-harmless tricks such as marking on behalf of your allies ("the fighter did it!"), dominating, or transferring conditions between party members. Bards have always been rather cool, but now they are also competent!

On the other hand, we have Chaos Sorcerers. The sorcerer class is an interesting hybrid, a mixture of striker and controller that allows to multiply high damage and large numbers of enemies within areas of effect. Yet it still feels balanced compared to wizards, because of the very short-range effects and relative lack of ongoing zones. On top of this, we have the awesome Chaos Magic build, which manages to introduce random side effects in _just the right amount_. Keeping track of odd and even rolls, 1s and 20s, all the while ensuring that you get a basic effect, and keeping you excited about the possible bonuses... And with no drawback other than the unpredictability. Just brilliant.

These statblocks will have little meaning if you don't have access to a PHB2 or a Character Builder, but you really should have both, so I'll copy them anyway. (For those unfamiliar with the Builder, I have just pasted them using the very useful 'summary' feature).

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&DI Character Builder ======
Jack Ovall, level 1
Half-Elf, Bard
Bardic Virtue: Virtue of Valor

Str 13, Con 18, Dex 10, Int 11, Wis 8, Cha 18.

AC: 17 Fort: 14 Reflex: 12 Will: 15
HP: 30 Surges: 11 Surge Value: 7

Arcana, Heal, Acrobatics, Perception, Diplomacy, Endurance.

1: Ritual Caster
1: Soldier of the Faith

1, At-Will: Vicious Mockery
1, At-Will: War Song Strike
1, Encounter: Burning Spray
1, Encounter: Shout of Triumph
1, Daily: Stirring Shout

Ritual Book, Longsword, Chainmail, Light Shield

Fastidiousness, Glib Limerick

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&DI Character Builder ======
Prok, level 1
Halfling, Sorcerer
Build: Chaos Sorcerer
Spell Source: Wild Magic

Str 11, Con 13, Dex 18, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 18.

AC: 14 Fort: 11 Reflex: 14 Will: 16
HP: 25 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 6

Arcana, Dungeoneering, Nature, Bluff.

1: Melee Training (Charisma)

1, At-Will: Burning Spray
1, At-Will: Chaos Bolt
1, Encounter: Bedeviling Burst
1, Daily: Dazzling Ray

Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing), Implement, Wand

1 comment:

  1. To be honest, the most broken class I've analyzed myself is Sorcerer. The sheer amount of extra damage their class feature gives them is crazy since it isn't a bonus to just one target... it's a bonus to their damage rolls, period. They far outstrip the warlock on damage dealing, which is a shame.