Saturday, January 30, 2010

Superior Implements sneak preview!

Edit: Mike Donais has confirmed, at the forums, that "The Dark Sun preview was just one option from many". What surprises await us?

Edit 2: An early spoiler of PHB3 in clarifies that each superior implement will have one or two special abilities (like 'brutal' in weapons). I have added a new section at the end commenting on this.

The D&D Experience convention this weekend is bringing lots and lots of interesting D&D news. Some of them I will comment in detail in the following days. For now, I'd like to talk about the first glimpse at one of the most solicited new mechanics in Player's Handbook 3. This is a day of joy for casters everywhere, for superior implements have been revealed, and they are good!

Well, kind of. I am not questioning their goodness, but even I have to admit that this revelation hasn't been very... revealing. See, in the premade Dark sun character sheets from DDxP (which are featured on Critical Hits!) there are two level 1 PCs with some superior implements listed in their equipment list. Of course, these sheets come with all the numbers precalculated, and we can only guess at where each bonus comes from. To complicate the matters, we know that the sheets are not 100% accurate, as a handful of bugs can easily be spotted. So we have to extrapolate, and some of our assumptions could be based on erroneous data. That said, I think I have worked out what the implements do, so let me share my theories.

1 - Feat cost.

No feats are listed for the characters, but the two characters with superior implements are humans (which should have 2 feats total) and their stats suggest Implement Expertise as the first feat. So I think it's safe to assume that superior implements will be accessed through a feat called 'Superior Implement Proficiency'.

2 - Specific items.

By substracting the known bonuses to the characters' attacks and damage values, we find that they sometimes get a +1 to attack, and sometimes have a +2 to damage. I think it breaks down as follows:

* Crystal orb (superior implement)

+1 to hit on attacks vs. will / +2 damage on psychic attack rolls

* Deathbone rod (superior implement)

+1 to hit on attacks vs. will/ +2 damage on necrotic attack rolls

3 - A general formula?

From this, we can expect at least one general category of superior implements, where each one grants a +1 to attack against a specific defense and a +2 to damage (potentially more at higher levels) with specific energy types. It remains to be seen whether there are other types of implements, and if there will be a huge table of defense-energy type pairs or you will be able to pick combinations at-will. One thing is for sure, though - these are well worth a feat, and the bonus may just be good enough for most players to forget about weapon-as-implement nonsense. I particularly like the way they encourage themed power selections, but some classes might have a rough time using them unless there are more generally useful versions.

4 - (Updated) Implement keywords

Recently revealed spoilers suggest that each superior implement will have a combination of two keyworded special abilities, taken from the following:
  • Deadly: +1/+2/+3 damage
  • Unstoppable/Unerring/Undeniable: +1 to hit vs For/Ref/Wil
  • Energized [Energy type]: +2/+3/+4 damage with powers of chosen type
  • Empowered Critical: Like High Crit, rolling d10s
  • Distant: Extra range
  • Accurate: +1 to hit, counts as two abilities
  • Shielding: +1 AC and reflex on a hit
  • Forceful: Increases forced movement
With this model, the Crystal Orb would have Energyzed (Psychic) and Undeniable, whereas the Deathbone Rod would be Energyzed (Necrotic) and Undeniable. These abilities allow for great flexibility and variety, so I think the choice of implement, post PHB3, will be an even more interesting decision than picking a weapon currently is. Also, the existence of the plain "accurate" ability means every caster will have at least one strong superior implement to take.

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