Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Broken Bits: Morninglord

Broken Paragon Paths, Part Seven
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The Morninglord paragon path is one of the most ridiculously potent options available to players looking for an offensive boost. The reason is its 16th level feature, Burning Radiance, which reads as follows:

Burning Radiance (16th level): Whenever you hit with a power that has the radiant keyword, the target gains vulnerability 10 to radiant damage until the end of your next turn.

That is a LOT of extra damage, even when used fairly. The obvious (and probably intended) application is a radiant attack from a divine class, with Invokers and ranged Clerics getting the most out of it, due to the abundance of area attacks. However, any weapon-based character can benefit from it with the help of a Sunblade or Radiant Weapon, opening the door for Twin Strikes, Brutal Barrages and other multiattacks, with really impressive (and dangerous) results. Even worse is the use of group optimization to exploit the fact that the radiant vulnerability affects all attacks, not just those from the Morninglord - just stack characters with radiant attacks in your party, and see your foes disintegrate in an explosion of light.

The fix
There are quite a few things wrong with Burning Radiance. The vulnerability provided is excessive, it is too easy to apply it outside of the relatively safe divine classes, and boosting the whole party is downright crazy. Also, the rest of the path has a decent power level (with strong encounter and utility powers), so there is not a huge risk of rendering it unplayable by toning down its key feature. With that in mind, this is the version I’d use in my campaign.

Burning Radiance v.2 (16th level): Whenever you hit with a divine radiant power, the target gains vulnerable 5 radiant against your divine powers until the end of your next turn.

This cuts the vulnerability in half, limits it to divine attacks, and prevents it from boosting your allies. It is a huge drop in effectiveness, but I find that the revised feature (and the path as a whole, which still has an impressive area encounter attack) is still a very nice choice for most divine characters. It should no longer be a valid option for random characters looking for extra damage, but that was part of the point.

You can find an errata thread in the official forums for this paragon path here.

EDIT (06/04/11): Changed feature benefit from "divine attack powers" to "divine powers"


  1. Morninglord was one of about 4 elements that actually triggered the new blog I started up. Long story short, I was substitute DMing for the game I'm in (my own PC was put on the shelf). Through a combination of overpowered daily powers, dumb luck, critical hits, hybrid avenger/swordmages, and-you guessed it-vulnerable to radiant 10, the party managed to deal over 700 damage to a Level +3 Lurker over the course of two rounds. Oh, did I mention a Shaman who was given a special artifact that made her Lazy powers grant +6 to attack, and a Monk who had a machinegun that basically duplicates the effects of Triple Shot?

  2. If playing with boons, Morninglord is particularly powerful in conjunction with Pelor's Sun Blessing of any level, since that adds another +Wisdom on top of the resulting damage. Yikes!

  3. The paladin in my upcoming game wanted to be a Morninglord-but it occurs to me that if Morninglord only applies to attacks, his mark won't trigger it! Sucks.

  4. Hmm, that is very true! Lately I've been having more experience with Cavaliers, who do punish marked enemies with an attack power, but the synergy between radiant vulnerability and Divine Challenge is too cool to take away. I'll change the text to refer to "divine powers", since I can't think of anything broken coming up by removing the "attack power" restriction.

  5. The paladin in my game was actually originally going to take Morninglord despite the nerf, so it's not like you negated it.

  6. One more thing-an interesting trick is for a half-elven monk with the Radiant Soul paragon path to group with a Morninglord, at least prior to your nerf. It's still not "Battlemind with a radiant weapon" effective (since in order to use Blurred Strike with Twin Strike, you have to give up *a lot*) but it's a pretty "nifty" combo.