Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Class Compendium in this month’s Dragon

When half of the scheduled books for 2011 got cancelled, we were told that the material in them would be released in ‘other ways’. The logical solution seemed to be converting them into DDI articles, though it was not clear how long it would take for them to see the light this way. It turns out, not too long - in this very issue of Dragon magazine, we’ll get to see the first sample of this material, in Class Compendium: Warlord.

Quick recap: Class Compendium, Heroes of Sword and Spell was a book originally scheduled for february, 2011, intended to reprint part of the class material from the original Player’s Handbook. Specifically, it would include the main four D&D classes (Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric), plus the Warlord. These wouldn’t be new builds, but the PHB material reformatted to match the current Essentials style, and including all published errata. Also, I was half expecting that they introduced new errata with this book because, honestly, it was too good an opportunity to pass up on: at the very least, they should update wizard spells to include magic school keywords and miss effects on encounters. But there was also lots of clarification and minor rebalancing (Sure Strike anyone?) they could make without much effort. On the other hand, this would tread into ‘4.5 edition’ issues (by reprinting and invalidating previous material) more than any previous book, including the Essentials line, so perhaps it wouldn’t be such a good idea.

Anyway, whatever was going to be in the book, we are getting the first chapter at some point in march. The article description suggests it will include ‘the most current updates to many powers, features, and feats’, which doesn’t seem to imply there will be any new updates, other than the ones already seen in previous errata. I’d much rather see them adding new fixes, as the article would feel like a waste of space to me, otherwise. I mean, there is some merit in releasing a book that merely changes the format and adds minor corrections to existing stuff, because it’s a physical product that new players can buy instead of the much errataed PHB. But on DDI? Subscribers already have access to errata pdfs, updated class descriptions in the online compendium, and up-to-date character builder - so these compilations won’t add much value to them, unless they bring some actual changes. We will have to wait and see.

To conclude, I’d also like to point out another article in this month’s magazines which, while not horribly innovative, is going to address something many players have been asking for ever since Heroes of the Fallen Lands was released: alternate ability score bonuses for all races that still haven’t got one. This is a simple, yet extremely useful idea, and I’m glad they are finally doing it. And it looks like it will be open to all readers (rather than just DDI subscribers), to boot!


  1. Just to pick you up on one point - I think there is value in giving errata'd PDFs of old content - formated as the content they're replacing rather than just the list of changes. Not "replace an otherwise interesting DDI article" valuable but certainly better than zero value.

  2. Very good point. Unfortunately, we won't be getting these articles as a freebie on top of a crowded article list - they'll likely take up a good chunk of the precious, dwindling page count devoted to content. So, in that scenario, even if they are not completely lacking in value, I'm afraid they would result in a substantial loss of overall value for subscribers. I'll keep my fingers crossed :)