Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Coming Soon...

Hey everyone.

If i have time I'll finish the Warlord Article and post it this week. In the meantime i want to tell you all that i am very very very excited about several things going on in Otep.

What are they?

Well let me tell you.

A) Thom and I have worked out some really good scenario stuff for a 30 year time jump. Much of this was something i couldn't come up with on my own, and thanks to his (And Kat's) input i feel that a 30 year Jump is becoming more and more possible, more and more exciting, and can still be managed within continuity.

B) After hearing from nobody in quite some time, i have now heard that two of you are hard at work doing Cartography for our world. This is happiness, because pretty maps are much better than the ones i toss together in MS Paint.

C) With Andrew's help i'm working on fleshing out a few 'new' Villains that i feel will be a wonderful challenge for everyone to face.


In regards to the time jump...

a) Yes you can still play games set right after the crusade/ before the time jump. In fact i encourage it since i'll make it no secret... the Time Jump is going to introduce a lot of political infighting, moral and philosophical questions, and place the Empire in the Crosshairs for new adventure. But if you want to play a game in these relatively peaceful years it will always be open to you... just as much as the past is available.

b) If, after you see some of the timejump stuff, you want to run a campaign set in 530 and you don't want to run it at level 1, my recommendation (and one of my highest recommendations) is for you to run a prelude set before the time jump using these characters. Besides giving your campaign characters a wonderful back story tied to one another, besides giving them a viable reason for being above level 1, besides letting them get their ticks and tricks and personality quirks set up before really truly starting up a serious campaign... its just good fun in a lighter time.

Ok, thats it for now. The Time Jump stuff will probably be released at the end of August (after Andrew, Myself, Thom and Kat have an executive meeting in Indianapolis... come to Gencon if you want in *grin* ).

Snake Eyes: Epic Level 10 Capstones

Since the Serpent Wars game will be Epic Level Ten, I'll be revamping the things you can capstone for. These are all feats you can take after you've reached level 10 of a given class, sorted alphabetically by class. Feats that are not class-specific are found at the bottm. In addition, any class that receives a bonus feat chosen from at least 2 choices as a level 10 class feature may select the corresponding capstone instead. All feats listed here can be taken only once, unless otherwise noted.

Archivist Heroes of Horror
Dread Secret
Requires: Archivist 10, any Knowledge skill 13 ranks.
You gain the Dread Secret ability of your Dark Knowledge class feature (Heroes of Horror page 83).

Artificer Eberron Campaign Setting
Technical Expertise
Requires: Artificer 10, Craft (any) 13 ranks, Use Magic Device 13 ranks, any metamagic feat
You can apply a metamagic feat you know to a spell completion item (generally, but not limited to, a scroll). The Use Magic Device check to apply a metamagic feat is 20 + (3x the spell level adjustment of the feat) (for example, to Empower a scroll, normal a +2 spell level adjustment, would require a DC of 26). This ability functions three times per day, plus a number of additional times equal to your INT modifier, and can only be used on items for which you possess the Item Creation feat required to make.
Additionally, you gain a +1 bonus on Use Magic Device checks made to use this ability.


Barbarian Player's Handbook
Ferocious Combatant
Requires: Barbarian 10
The bonuses of your Rage ability increases as if you had the Greater Rage class feature; your STR and CON bonus increase to +6 each and your Will Save bonus increases to +3. Your AC penalty remains at -2.

Bard Player's Handbook
Liberating Melody
Requires: Bard 10, Perform (any) 13 ranks
You gain the Song of Freedom class feature, except that it requires only 13 ranks of Perform to use.

Beguiler Player's Handbook II
Studied Scoundrel
Requires: Beguiler 10, Spell Focus (Illusion or Enchantment)
You gain a new spell known of a level you can cast. This spell must be chosen from the Sorceror/Wizard spell list and be of the Illusion or Enchantment schools.

Binder Tome of Magic
Strength From Beyond
Requires: Binder 10
As long as you are bound to a vestige, you are immune to energy drain and negative levels.

Crusader Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords
Legendary Resolve
Requires: Crusader 10, CON 13
The maximum capacity of your delayed damage pool increases to 20.

Divine Mind Complete Psionic
Mental Outreach
Requires: Divine Mind 10
The reach of your Psionic Aura increases to 30 feet. You gain 2 additional power points.

Dragon Shaman Player's Handbook II
Hands of a Healer
Requires: Dragon Shaman 10
You can spend 5 points of your Touch of Vitality to remove 1 point of ability damage, or the dazed, fatigued, or sickened condition from one target.
You can spend 10 points of your Touch of Vitality to remove the exhausted, nauseated, or stunned conditions or to end the effects of a poison from one target.
You can spend 20 points of your Touch of Vitality to remove a single negative level, the blinded or deafened condition, or to cure a disease on one target.
Any of these abilities are a standard action that require a touch. Any of these abilities can be combined in a single touch, and the normal use of Touch of Vitality can be used, as well.
In addition, you gain a number of points of Touch of Vitality equal to twice your Charisma modifier (minimum 2).


Dragonfire Adept
Dragon Magic
Blazing Gullet
Requires: Dragonfire Adept 10
Your breath weapon's damage increases to 6d6.

Servant of the Scale
Requires: Dragonfire Adept 10, Blazing Gullet
You gain a single Greater Invocation. Unlike your other Invocations, this invocation can only be used a number of times per day equal to 3+your CHA modifier.

Dread Necromancer Heroes of Horror
One Foot in the Grave
Requires: Dread Necromancer 10
Your Damage Reduction overcome by Magic and Bludgeoning increases by 2. You may use your Charnel Touch ability one additional time per day.
Special:
This feat may be taken only once.

Druid Player's Handbook
As the Mouse
Requires: Druid 10, Natural Spell
Choose a single Tiny animal. You can wild shape into that animal.

One with the Forest
Requires: Druid 10, Natural Spell, As the Mouse
Choose a single Plant creature. You can wild shape into that plant.

Duskblade Player's Handbook II
Arcane Fury
Requires: Duskblade 10
Whenever you hit any enemy with a melee attack, you gain a +3 bonus on caster level checks to defeat that opponent's spell resistance for the duration of the encounter. This ability overlaps (does not stack with) the Duskblade's 6th level Spell Power class feature.
In addition, you gain one additional 1st or 2nd level spell slot.


Factotum Dungeonscape
Smart Guy
Requires: Factotum 10, any skill 13 ranks
You can spend 2 Inspiration points as a free action against a single target. For one round, your attacks overcome all damage reduction that target possesses and that target fails any spell resistance checks to avoid your spell. This ability does not overcome magic immunity.

Favored Soul Complete Divine, Miniature's Handbook
Deific Champion

Requires: Favored Soul 10, Weapon Focus (deity's favored weapon)
You gain a +2 bonus on damage rolls with your deity's favored weapon.
Special: This feat counts as Weapon Specialization for any feat or ability that requires Weapon Specialization.

Fighter Player's Handbook
Practiced Veteran
Requires: Fighter 10
You may select feats as though you were a 12 level fighter and had a base attack bonus of +12. Your actual base attack bonus and level-dependent effects are not affected.

Healer Miniatures Handbook
Faithful Companion
Requires: Healer 10, CHA 13+
Your Unicorn Companion improves as if you were a Healer of level 14. See Miniatures Handbook page 10 for more details.

Cleanse
Requires: Healer 10, Faithful Companion
You gain Stone to Flesh as a Spell-like ability, usable once per day.

Hexblade Complete Warrior
Evil Eye
Requires: Hexblade 10, Intimidate 13 ranks
You gain the Aura of Unluck class feature, usable once per day.

Knight Player's Handbook II
Personal Fortress
Requires: Knight 10
When you use your Shield Block class feature, increase the shield bonus by 2 instead of 1.
In addition, you gain 1 additional use of your Knight's Challenge ability.


Holy Terror
Requires: Knight 10, Personal Fortress
As a Swift action, you may spend one use of your Knight's Challenge. All foes with hit dice less than or equal to your hit dice minus 2 and an intelligence score of 3 or more must immediately make a Will save (DC 15+your CHA modifier) or become shaken for the duration of the encounter. Once an individual makes a saving throw agains this ability (succeed or fail), that individual becomes immune to your use of this ability for the duration of the encounter.

Lurk Complete Psionic
Right Between the Eyes
Requires: Lurk 10, Bluff 13 ranks or Hide 13 ranks
You gain one extra d6 of Psionic Sneak Attack and 2 additional power points.

Marshal Miniatures Handbook
Motivational Speech
Requires: Marshal 10, Grant Move Action class feature
You can use your Grant Move Action ability one additional time per day.
In addition, you learn one additional Minor Aura.


Don't You Die On Me, Dammit
Requires: Marshal 10, Adrenaline Rush class feature
(Player's Handbook II)
You can use your Adrenaline Rush ability one additional time per day.
In addition, you learn one additional Minor Aura.


Monk Player's Handbook
Avalanche of Blows
Requires: Monk 10
You may use your Flurry of Blows ability without a penalty to attack rolls. In addition, you may make one additional attack when you flurry.

Ninja Complete Adventurer
Fortuitous Dodge
Requires: Ninja 10
You gain the Evasion special ability (see the Rogue class feature).

Paladin Player's Handbook
Mighty Steed
Requires: Paladin 10, special mount class feature
Your special mount improves as if you were a Paladin of level 14. See PH page 45 for more details.

Psychic Warrior
Expanded Psionics Handbook
Martial Training
Requires: Psychic Warrior 10
You can qualify for feats as though your base attack attack bonus or manifester level were 2 higher than they actually are. Your actual base attack bonus and manifester level are unaffected.

Ranger Player's Handbook
Go Unseen
Requires: Ranger 10, Hide 13 Ranks
You gain the Camouflage class feature.

Rogue Player's Handbook
Hit Where It Hurts
Requires: Rogue 10, 13 ranks Hide or 13 ranks Bluff
Your Sneak attack damage increases by 1d6.

Scout Complete Adventurer
Fleet of Foot
Requires: Scout 10
Your Battle Fortitude bonuses each increase by 1. Your fast movement ability increases your landspeed by an additional 10 feet, with all of the normal restrictions.

Defensive Slide
Requires: Scout 10, Fleet of Foot, Improved Skirmish
You may add an additional +1 to your armor class after moving 10 feet or more.

Soulknife Expanded Psionics Handbook
Bladed Mind
Requires: Soulknife 10
When you use your Psychic Strike ability, you may add 3d8 of damage instead of 2d8.

Adamantine Brain
Requires: Soulknife 10, Bladed Mind
Any mindblade you create has a +3 bonus instead of a +2. This does not affect your mindblade enhancement ability.

Spellthief Complete Adventurer
A Thief Knows Best
Requires: Spellthief 10, Spellcraft 13 ranks
Your save bonuses from your Spellgrace class feature each improve by 1 (to +2 total). You gain the ability to steal up to 20 points of Energy resistance instead of only 10.

Spirit Shaman Complete Divine
Draw the Veil
Requires: Spirit Shaman 10
You gain Revivify (Spell Compendium page 176) as a spell-like ability usable once per week. You do not need to provide the material component.

Swashbuckler Complete Warrior
Mr. Ren's Legacy
Requires: Swashbuckler 10, any Luck feat
You may spend one luck reroll to reroll any failed attack roll, skill check, ability check, or save. You gain one additional luck reroll.
In addition, your bonuses from Grace increase by 1.


Swordsage Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords
Kung Fu Master
Requires: Swordsage 10, WIS 13
You may apply your Insightful Strike class feature to a second school.

Truenamer Tome of Magic
Speech Lessons
Requires: Truenamer 10, True Speech 13 ranks.
You get a +3 bonus on True Speech checks. This bonus stacks with skill focus.

Warblade Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords
Never Outdone
Requires: Warblade 10, INT 13
You may add your Intelligence modifier to any opposed bull rush, disarm, overrun, sunder, or trip attempt. You may add your Intelligence modifier to Sense Motive checks to avoid a feint in combat.

Warlock Complete Arcane
Otherworldly Endurance
Requires: Warlock 10, Fiendish Resilience Class Feature
Your damage reduction overcome by Cold Iron increases by one. Whenever you use your Fiendish Resilience class feature, you gain Fast Healing 2 for the duration of the effect instead of Fast Healing 1.

Walking Inferno
Requires: Warlock 10, Fiendish Flamewreath Class Feature (Player's Handbook II)
Your damage reduction overcome by Cold Iron increases by one. Whenever you use your Fiendish Flamewreath class feature, it deals 1d6 extra damage.

Dire Pact
Requires: Warlock 10, Otherworldly Endurance OR Walking Inferno
You gain a single Greater Invocation. Unlike your other Invocations, this invocation can only be used a number of times per day equal to 3+your CHA modifier.

Wilder Expanded Psionics Handbook
Beta-Plus Signature
Requires: Wilder 10, Psionic Meditation
Through time and study, you have become able to control the swirling psionic energy within your own mind--up to a point. You can activate your Wild Surge to gain up to a +4 bonus, with all the normal drawbacks.

Wu Jen Complete Arcane
Practiced Magician
Requires: Ability to cast 5th level Wu Jen spells, caster level 10, Watchful Spirit class feature.
You gain one additional Spell Secret. You do not gain a new Taboo for this secret.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Starting Gold Table for 4th!

I noticed that Wizards conveniently left a starting gold table out of the core books, in order, I can only guess, to prevent rapid level jumps, like in the game that defined Otep. But anyway, I made this starting gold table based on what a 5 man party would be receiving between each level and adding it all together and dividing by 5, at each level. If you have any questions or concerns or comments, go ahead.

Level 1 = 100

Level 2 = 772

Level 3 = 1,844

Level 4 = 3,363

Level 5 = 5,459

Level 6 = 8,259

Level 7 = 12,019

Level 8 = 17,379

Level 9 = 24,979

Level 10 = 35,459

Level 11 = 49,459

Level 12 = 68,259

Level 13 = 95,059

Level 14 = 133,059

Level 15 = 185,459

Level 16 = 255,459

Level 17 = 349,459

Level 18 = 483,459

Level 19 = 673,459

Level 20 = 935,459

Level 21 = 1,285,459

Level 22 = 1,755,459

Level 23 = 2,425,459

Level 24 = 3,375,459

Level 25 = 4,684,459

Level 26 = 6,435,459

Level 27 = 8,785,459

Level 28 = 11,635,459

Level 29 = 14,885,459

Level 30 = 18,435,459

Level 30+ = 22,810,459

Snake Eyes: Serpent War Class Overhaul

In preparation for the Serpent War campaign, I'm doing an overhaul on some classes that theoretically have potential but are simply outclassed by other classes, and for no particular reason. That said, I'm upping the power level of a few classes in the hopes that more people will play them. All class features occur at their normal level unless noted otherwise.

Bard (Player's Handbook)
Alignment:
Bards may be of any alignment.

Favored Soul (Complete Divine, Miniatures Handbook)
Spellcasting:
You may choose whether to use your CHA or WIS to determine whether you can learn a spell. CHA and WIS affect your bonus spells and save DCs as normal.
Skills: Add Knowledge (Religion) to your list of class skills.

Fighter (Player's Handbook)
Skill Points:
4+INT
Skills: Add Sense Motive and Tumble to the Fighter's class skill list.

Healer (Miniatures Handbook)
Advanced Learning: At levels 3, 6, and 10, you may add a spell from the Cleric list to your class list. This spell must be of the Conjuration school.

Monk
(Player's Handbook)
Multiclassing:
You may continue to take levels in Monk as long as your alignment is Lawful, regardless of what other classes you have taken.

Paladin (Player's Handbook)
Multiclassing: You may continue to take levels in Paladin as long as your alignment is Lawful Good, regardless of what other classes you have taken. This is also true for variant Paladins (Unearthed Arcana) but with the corresponding alignment requirement.

Samurai (Complete Warrior)
Two Swords as One:
You gain Two-Weapon Fighting as a bonus feat.
Iajutsu Master: You gain Quick Draw as a bonus feat. In addition, you deal +1d6 damage with any weapon you have drawn during the same turn.
Staredown: At 6th level, a Samurai gains a +4 bonus to Intimidate checks. Furthermore, he can attempt to demoralize an enemy as a free action once per encounter when he draws his weapon.
Bonus Feat: At 8th level, a Samurai may choose a bonus feat. He must qualify for the bonus feat, and the feat must be listed as a fighter bonus feat.
Mass Staredown: As written, but can be used with his modified Staredown class feature. In addition, he becomes immune to fear.
Kiai Smite: Functions per encounter rather than per day.
Multiclassing: You may continue to take levels in Samurai as long as your alignment is Lawful, regardless of what other classes you have taken.

Shugenja (Complete Divine)
Proficiencies:
Add light armor, medium armor, and shields (but not tower shields) to the Shugenja's Armor and Weapon proficiencies.
Advanced Learning: At levels 3,6, and 10, you may add a spell from the Druid list to your class list. This spell can be of any school, but must have the elemental subtype of his Element focus (Cold for Water and Lightning for Air).
Spellcasting: After choosing your elemental focus, you must forbid one other element of your choice. You do not need to forbid the diametrically opposed element.

Warlock (Complete Arcane)
Alignment:
Warlocks may be of any alignment.

Warmage (Complete Arcane, Miniatures Handbook)
Proficiencies:
In addition to listed proficiencies, a Warmage gains proficiency with one martial weapon of his choice.
Base Attack Bonus: Change the Warmage's Base Attack bonus to 3/4 (as Rogue).
Advanced Learning: A Warmage gains his third use of Advanced Learning at level 10 instead of level 11.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Snapshots of the Serpent War

Images gathered by Imperial Historian Michael Zahn via divinations during his research on the conflict will appear here.

The Vile Burning One, as he appeared upon arrival at Elora.
Connacht Coen (Pronounced "Kon-nut Cone), better known as Coen the Cursed, The Vile Burning One's chief lieutenant during the Serpent War


Bonus Exp! The Last Five Years

Bonus Exp! The Last Five Years

Hello Everyone. So this column is going to go into the background details of what happened during the 5 year time jump after the Battle for the Obsidian Pitt.

Before I get into that I want to explain why I jumped 5 years into the future rather than doing no time or for jumping an additional 500 years. The first reason is that 5 years seemed the longest “short” amount o time that was reasonable for Otep. To modern times 5 years is an eternity. If I asked you where you would be in 5 years I don’t expect any of you would be able to answer me with any amount of accuracy (Unless your going to Medschool or Lawschool). But for a resident of the Middle Ages, even fantasy middle ages, the average person knew exactly where they would be in 5 years… home or dead.

Not doing anytime jump at all was problematic because it left the messy problem of cleaning up after the crusades, which honestly would have been very boring. Arguing about occupation vs withdrawl, sending troops home, burying the dead… all of these things are fantastic theoretical concepts but lack in the dynamic environment necessary for advancing the plot. Running off to enter another epic fight immediately also provoked some nasty issues and made the defeat of Demogorgon less important in the overall scheme of things.

As for jumping 500 years into the future… well that was my original plan. But after I realized how much time and effort I had put into the current setting I selflishy decided that I would rather keep the world as it was, or at least similar to how it had been, rather than create something entirely new. When I reexamined this option I found myself stumped, how to advance the world another 500 years (for a grand total of a thousand really) without triviliazing the previous ages. Additionally I didn’t want to single handedly write the defeat of every major villain, conspiracy and elder evil… but I couldn’t really rectify leaving them around in the same condition. Finally I had a hard time saying goodbye to the remaining NPC’s and PC’s that have survived this entire journey, killing them off in various sundry nasty ways didn’t bring me the usual joy but rather made me nostalgic for the games they had been a part of.

The final reason I decided on a short time jump was the implementing of 4th edition. I was aware that certain races and classes might not be making it into the Players Handbook and needed a way to explain why they might not be around. Additionally I knew that the cosmology and magic systems would be changing, something that I would have to explain rather than retcon. The lowering of the wards, and the change in the age, was the perfect way to explain the mechanical transition of 3.5 to 4th edition.

Finally you may ask “Sam, if the Empire finally won… why is everything still going to hell?” And that’s a solid question. The best parallel I can draw for you is that of the United States directly after the fall of the Soviet Union. Without the Russians to keep American united we entered into some of the worst political infighting this country has ever seen. In Otep the Empire is entering its first years since the Devastation that the threat of Demonic Invasion has not been a constant overhanging issue… and suddenly people are realizing that there’s more to life than beating back the Mobb. The problem is everyone has a different opinion of what that “more to life” is.

So now … the revelation of exactly what happened in the last 5 years.

The Veterans, The citizens, and the common man

-To the veterans of the Crusade it has been only a short time since their return home. After the defeat of Demogorgon it took nearly a year to march the entire army back to the heart of the empire, confirm each soldier’s identification, and verify that they had served in the war- all so that they could be paid their salary and benefits. Desertions were at a record low for this period of time, anxious as the soldiers were to return to their homes nobody wanted to leave without getting paid.

After payment a majority of the enlisted men returned to their homes and their lives. Many of them married, have had children, and become involved in family business. Others were not so lucky. The images of demons, death and corruption haunt many veterans and leave them spending their military wages on ale and drugs in a desperate attempt to forget the creatures that hunted them for 8 long months. The number of shattered veterans is not high… but there are enough of them that the crown has taken notice. Those that are better adjusted are split, many of them refuse to talk about their times in the Mobb Lands. Others recount each glorious detail of their battles (and others too) as if they personally served by Gwideon's side.

Those that didn’t go to War kept the empire running for almost 2 and a half years and many of them had to adjust to the return of the old hierarchy. When knights and nobleman left to fight their wives, husbands, brothers, cousins, and friends took over their duties, their powers and responsibilities. Individuals that were used to running things a certain way very suddenly had to adapt to being second in command again. Others who had just barely held everything together were faced with the sudden realization that the master of the estate was not coming back and that the problems they had been putting off were there’s alone to deal with.

War orphans are not uncommon, especially in the cities. Otep is not an easy world to live in. While the cities are safer from monster attack they have more diseases and are at risk for violence.

Avingrad and the Paid Men

Due to the mass gathering of soldiers in the middle of the empire a small tent city was formed… and it remains to this day. Many of the younger veterans of the war decided that they would rather enter the adventuring or mercenary lifestyle than return home to work in the farms, vineyards and industries that had previously been their familial inheritance. The tent city, Avingrad or as the soldiers refer to it “Payday”, now rivals the Free Kingdoms capital of Boss Rest for a sprawling mercenary complex. (Payday is located in the middle of the continent, a halfway point for Elora and Whiteport, at the very tip of the Greater Forrest).

Avingrad is on its way to being the next official “City” in the Empire. Allready merchants are using it as a major stop over, permanent buildings are being erected and settlers are arriving. Many of these settlers are the wives, brothers and children of injured or dead soldiers who have come to claim the payment owed them by the empire. Many of which are then introduced to the friends and squadmates of their dead relative and small communities form. Other settlers are those that inevitably follow soldiers… prostitutes, innkeepers and weaponsmiths.

Unlike the Free Kingdoms mercenary bands, which are given amnesty due to the rights of the free, these new Imperial groups are held to the strictest standard of Imperial Law. In the last 5 years many of them have gained impressive criminal records for failing to follow them. These groups have quickly assembled a strong customer base, ranging from merchant lords to whole towns, hired to do jobs that were formerly held by adventurers or men from the Crusade who never returned. Not every job the Veterns are payed to do involves violence, illegal activity, or the like… but enough do that the “Paid Men” have a rather dim reputation among the populace.

Due to their imperial training and equipment Imperial Mercanary bands are often very well supplied and efficient… but lack the variety of skills and experiences that their Free Kingdom Rivals favor. The average group of Paid Men is consisted of 5-10 spear men, a commander, 2-3 swords men and possibly a cavalry lancer or two. Magical ability, divine or arcane, is almost unheard of and the “healers” that accompany these bands are usually field medics, trained in basic first aid and stitching but nothing more.

Jobs Paid Men will do that are legal: Guarding Merchant Caravans, Guarding a Town, clearing out animals (or monsters) from areas in or near town, serving as body guards, and odd jobs in town such as repairing, carpentry and blacksmithing (depending on the level of skill).

Jobs Paid Men will do that are illegal: Safety and protection rackets, banditry, enforcers for local criminals, smuggling, arson and on occasion assassination (Note that this is not the sort of killing an “assassin” does, with finesse and skill, but rather the brutal and simplistic tactics of a killer for hire.)

The Nobles

The Nobility of Otep was relatively split when it came time to fight in the Crusades. On one hand they were duty bound to supply either funds for the war, men, or themselves… but the Emperor made it clear that it was a preference that all 3 be dispatched. Eager to curry imperial favor, and swept up in a tide of patriotism and hope, nobles from all over the empire signed up for the Imperial Armies. Some arrived with only a personal servant, others arrived with entire staff’s and a few arrived with the entire male population of their domains; having enlisted each man for his squad.

As a result of this massive enlistment many nobles that had no business on a battlefield ended up dead, trampled beneath Demonic hooves or pierced by barbarian weapons. After a particularly blood battle known as “Ruslin’s Folly” Gwideon personally relieved many of the noblemen, putting them in command of things that they were better suited too… counting money and distributing goods. The few noblemen that were equipped for war, having served in the army previously or having spent time as adventurers, quickly won the respect and adoration of the men who followed them. Many of the unsung heroes of the Crusade are the Noblemen who led men from their own estates, keeps and towns into battle against the demonic horde and held their own against insurmountable odds. Yet for each of these glorious victories there are five stories that do not have a happy ending as entire male populations of hamlets and keeps were lost beneath a demons spell or barbarians axe.

The loss of noble blood is felt sharply today in the southern lands near Murkeye and Ladd, the primary residences of many noble families. These are not the Svarlocks and Dustins, powerful courtiers or warlords, but rather the lords, dukes and counts who oversee grain fields, mills and vineyards. In these rural areas, where the loss of the men folk is felt keenly, there is also a great lack of male leadership as only the very young or very old remained behind to care for the estate. As a result many sisters, wives and mothers have stepped up to leadership roles. In more progressive families they have received full titles, in others they are reagents waiting for their sons, grandsons or brothers to grow up and inherit the lands they have learned to rule. In another 5 years time, when the young men reach maturity it will be the telling moment… will the women who have ruled for 10 years be willing to give up their power or will the next generation of noblemen be puppets for their more powerful and experienced relatives?

For the city nobles, the more powerful families with ties to imperial blood, the year and a half without the Emperor was supposed to be a time in which they grew mighty in power. Instead they found themselves stymied by the Empress Sophitia Xelesta. who ,despite the opinions of her courtiers, was not the weak naïve woman she appeared. Aware that both the Dustins and Svarlocks were preparing to participate in political power plays, power plays that would end with them in a position to usurp the Gwideo line of emperors should her husband die, Sophitia went on the offensive. She publicly shamed and demoralized both houses, revealing secrets to the public, manipulating them into spending vital resources gaining back public approval rather than moving against the throne. Simultaneously she invited several other noble families to join the ranks of the political elite, gaining the support of beloved “local” nobles and cementing the power of the imperial line… with or without Gwideon.

When the Emperor returned he found the Dustins and Svarlocks properly cowed and obedient. He also found the two newly elevated houses of Nain and Voxi staunchly in his corner. His throne was secure… but Sophitia had miscalculated. Although the Dustins have returned to the fold under the leadership of Gwen Dustin, the Svarlocks had been pushed to the brink and now plot along with a rogue element in the Vulture Knights (see the Vulture Knights) to place themselves in power.


The Player Characters

Obviously I cant tell you what has happened to each and every PC in Otep…but I can mention in broad stroakes what *Might* have happened to your former avatars.

The heroes from the battle of the Obsidian Pitt, those who specifically went to the depths, have slowly disappeared from Otep. Some of them who might have a higher profile (Thanos, Gavyn, Meryle, Martello and Briar) may still be around… but the get the sense of something hunting them.* Many of them dream of a hound with eyes like a goat which stalks them and grows closer each night …

The remaining survivors of the Champions Tournament have reached pinnacles of power throughout Otep which has generally stopped them from doing the “wandering adventurer” thing. Married, Children, Land or a Title, Responsibilities to the Crown… etc. etc.

Characters that have not played in any of my games have not attracted the attention of the destructive powers that have been put into play. The lone exception to this is Hester Haven who is visited in his sleep each night by Jorus Rentin, who threatens and taunts him with all the powers of the Abyss. The details of these dreams vanish come morning, but they leave Hester unsettled and paranoid.

*I am not killing any of these characters. However if you have no future plans for them, or any plans to play them again, sacrificing them on the alter of Plot Development is a pretty good way to go.


NPC’s


Gwideon- Gwideon spent the entire year following the Crusades in the city of Avingrad, making sure that each soldier was taken care of before he returned home to his wife and palace. The loss of his daughter, whose whereabouts are still unknown, weighs heavily on him as he believes her dead. Additionally he takes responsibility for sending her to her fate, all in the name of stopping an ancient prophecy that he barely believed in.

He is very much aware of the dangers that still face his kingdom, so much so that he has possibly become too cautious in dealing with them. His actions against the Sol have been mostly those of an economic nature. He enacted laws that increased the tariffs on their goods, made local delicacies of similar stock cheaper, and supported patriotic “Support your local merchant” campaigns in an attempt to stop trade with the Shadowy Invaders… enemies that he fears may invade an empire that is unprepared to stop them. The alteration to the wards and specifically the rules of magic have left him capable of more sorcery than ever before… but between his explorations of new magic, his advancing age and time spent in court his physical abilities have been weakened greatly. His search for a court archmagus is only a half truth, Gwideon may be the single most powerful wizard on the plane. Between his brilliant intellect and unswerving will, along with the mystical phoenix brand upon his chest, Gwideon remains the heart of the empire… even if that heart is heavy with guilt.

Ninev- Ninev returned to Whiteport around the same time as Gwideon, but her whereabouts for the first year remain unknown to the public at large. Shortly after the battle of the Obsidian Pitt the renegade Sol known as Vlad took Ninev to perform the same ritual that Thanos performed to cleanse himself of the Fading. With Ninev Vlad had much more time to prepare. He guarded and sustained her while enacting new wards and protections to hide his intentions. When the time of cleansing came, Khali-Ama was unable to enter the Primordial Isle and Ninev was successfully purified… at cost of 100 years of life. Returning to the Empire Ninev took up her position as Champion… but her arrival was too late to stop the decay of relationships between the Underfolk and the Empire. For the last several years Ninev has been leading the quite fight against the Sol, gathering allies and hunting down people who have made deals with the creatures. Her duties as Emperors Champion have called her back to Whiteport again now that Gwideon is consumed with the coming birth of his next child. During the last 5 years Ninev has grown more confident in her leadership role and is an inspiring presence on the battlefield or in the court. Additionally during her year abroad she has mastered the uses of her reforged sword, once the blade of Justice, it is now as “The Champions Blade.”


Sophitia- During the two years her husband was away Sophitia ruled the empire in his name… and she was very very good at it. Possibly better than he is. Unlike Gwideon who enters the political arena only when forced, Sophitia was born and raised to be a master manipulator. Her actions confirmed the power of the throne but also set into motions a potentially fatal conspiracy. Sophitia refuses to believe that her daughter is dead and constantly holds out hope for her return. Her pregnancy doesn’t worry her, Sophitia’s celestial nature almost assures that she will survive the ordeal. Although Gwideon is officially the leader of the court Sophitia continues to run things on a daily basis now that her husband sees that she is capable of doing so. See “The Nobles” for more details on Sophitia’s actions in the last 5 years.

Orfan- When news of the successful Crusade reached Orfan he was overjoyed, his allies in the surface world had finally succeeded in freeing Otep from the taint of Demogorgon. But after receiving word of the death of both Kri-Ala and Trab, his successor and protégé, Orfan became less and less stable. When it became clear that Ninev wasn’t going to pressure the Empire to assist the Underfolk, and that Gwideon wasn’t going to dispatch his gathered troops underground Orfan abandoned the plans to rebuild the White Port tunnel. His growing rage and paranoia, along with dementia and the influence of the newly reborn shadowfell, have driven him closer to madness. Now Orfan sees enemies in every shadow and has abandoned any trust in the surface folk, given the chance he would kill as many as he could and raise them as zombies to refresh his own ranks… but bothersome diplomats continue to warn him against such actions. Instead he has cut diplomatic ties with the surface world and looks to finish his war with Grimstone by any means necessary.

Admiral Bronze- Admiral Bronze is fading, the deal he made with the Sol to have his wife restored is eating away at his life force like a cancer. For 5 years Bronze has woken up each morning and expected to see the Merchant coming to collect him and in a horrible way he looks forward to it. Bronze has an ace up his sleeve, a second deal made with a Sol. When the Merchant comes to collect Vlad will be waiting for him, and its possible, oh so slightly possible, that it will be the day Vlad adds another shrunken head to his belt. Bronze doesn’t expect to survive the conflict, but he has prepared the Sea Bulls to fight an enemy that may be the end of freedom and thought. He does it for a woman whose name he can no longer remember, a colorless thing that retreats from his bedside to weep tears of peerless azure.

Factions

The Vulture Knights- While the vast majority of other organizations were dispatched to the south, the Vulture Knights remained in the Empire fulfilling their duties. Their inability to stop the attack on Whiteport by the unknown Necromanctic order is a mark of shame on a formerly peerless record. As a result of this failure there is a group of Vulture Knights that has increased the severity of its methods, to them the strength of the Empire is all important and no price (including innocent blood) is too great to assure that. The lack of an Emperor’s Secret has caused problems in disciplining these men and women as philosophical differences began to take lives. Within the last 2 years many of them have been apprehended and reprimanded in their duties but this has only served to alienate a significant portion of the Knights. These Knights have begun to question their current leadership and the regime that appointed it. When approached by the Svarlocks many of these dissidents have begun to change their allegiances away from the crown.

The Cloaked Ladies- Without the omnipresent threat of demonic invasion the Cloaked Ladies have returned to their goodly works. Many of them spend time among the veterans of the last war and many more have returned to their original communities to help with work that requires strength or training. Carpenters, Blacksmiths, and other formerly jobs that formerly belonged "To the men" are now being performed by friendly cloaked sisters in communities that have lost many of their husbands, sons and fathers to the war. The Cloaked Sisters are also responsible for multiple Orphanages throughout the empire, set up and funded by their order. The martial sisters, and those trained in exorcisms or the dark arts, remain in their normal duties protecting against the threat of hidden corruption. A sect of Cloaked Exorcists was completely wiped out by the agents of the god Asmodeus during his co-opting of the Cult of the Serpent, a crime which remains unsolved. Other cloaked sisters have begun to speak to the few representatives of the Goddess Avandra some of them abandoning the faith to join in shaping the fledging church. When questioned they point out the similarities between the Cloaked Lady and the goddess, claiming that the Lady was just another incarnation of a much greater figure.

The Platinum Orders

- The Steel Falcons took heavy losses in the Last Crusade, and the creation of mercenary bands out of the veterans has hurt many of their recruiting strategies. Currently the Steel Falcons are desperate for new men and can only field a force a 5th of their former size. Recruiting houses are growing more and more aggressive, a strategy that has greatly increased the number of assertive and ambitious women in the formerly male dominated order.

- The Conflagurators are attempting to rebuild, but the huge loss of men has nearly crippled them. As such they have opened up their recruiting to include veterans and descendants of crusaders that meet their strict criteria. Their basic teachings offer immunity to the madness that infects the lands of Gra making their rebuilding a necessity in the eyes of the Sea Bulls and other would be explorers.

- The Brotherhood has shut itself off from the empire, completely withdrawing in on itself as it ponders the essence and mysteries of the reshaped universe.

- Since the sacrifice of Dustin Dustin became known the Order of the Storms Eye has become a breeding ground for young adventurer’s, the death defying initiating rituals have become more and more dangerous as each new initiate desperately tries to outdo the previous.

- When the relations broke down with the Underfolk the Order of the Emerald Cave abandoned the Empire in favor of their allies below the world. They have not been seen on the surface world for several years, though their buildings and chapter houses remain intact.

- The Ruby Servants serve a new master, or the same one they always have, now that Asmodeus has ascended to Godhood. Only the highest among the order know the truth, and they grow fat on forbidden knowledge taken from the defeated Demonic Mobb. (Seriously I named them Ruby Servants, who didn’t see this coming?)

- As far as the empire is concerned the Lost Flock is dead. With the imprisonment of Demogorgon, the death of their leadership, and their sacrifice in the battle against the Whispering Fiend the survivors no longer felt that the order had a purpose. As such they have donated their chapter house to charity and vanished. Rumors place them alongside Ninev as her closest allies against the Sol.

Magic

The moment Demogorgon shifted into the Prime Material Plane, and by doing so destroyed many of the wards keeping the plane secluded, the rules of magic changed… and not just for the citizens of Otep. Imagine Otep as a large flat rock carefully suspended above a lake. Below it swim million of salmon, each of them sensing its shadow yet unable to reach it, some unable to even perceive its existence. The strongest and most willful leap out of the water, land on the rock… and are robbed of their strength without the lake to sustain them. This was Otep while the wards were in place. Now imagine that instead of a salmon, Demogorgon is a great white shark who leaps atop the stone. His very weight brings it crashing down, breaking the suspensions and sending the stone into the pond. The ripples blast out from the fallen stone, upheavals swell from the bottom of the lake and resettle… but over time the lake returns to placid stillness. To an outsider the lake is as it was, but to something living in the lake, or living on the stone, the world will never be the same.*

*Also there’s a shark tied to the top of the stone, halfway submerged in the water, desperately thrashing around trying to get free. Also how did a great white shark end up in a lake? Who knows.

To the multiverse the crash of prime back into its collective “pond” sent ripples throughout all of existence and transformed the 3.5 cosmology into the 4.0 cosmology. Many of the planes remain exactly as they were, but some were cast adrift into the Astral Sea (Hell left the lower planes to become a drifting orb) while others were completely annihilated. Some of these adrift planes banded together (the elemental planes into the Elemental Chaos with the Abyss at its heart), others took on new shapes as they landed (the plane of shadow to the shadowfell), while in some rare cases the ripples opened up new frontiers for expansion (The Demi-Plane of fey absorbed much of the Ethereal and became the Feywild).

Normally the destruction of a prime material plane, or in this case its reintroduction to the world, could never have created such a great stirring… but Otep contains the essence of the Leviathan- the creation chaos. Its central purpose is to destroy what came before… a process that has begun with its reintroduction to the multiverse in such a spectacular way.

The change in the fundamental nature of magic has not gone unnoticed… but it has yet to affect the world in a particularly large way. Those that could wield magic of any significant power before the fall of the wards were in positions of power and influence or wandering adventurers. Both of these two groups have continued doing what they had been, growing more powerful as they adapted to their new abilities and reaching previously unexplored heights. The change in Sorcery, specifically the loss of conjuration, is blamed on the reconstruction of the planar landscape.

The greatest change to the nature of magic comes in the form of those known as “Warlocks”. Previously Warlocks and Binders, men and women foolish enough to barter with creatures from beyond the vale, were rare and quickly noticed. Those that made deals with dark powers were eliminated, while those who worked for the interest of the Empire (of whatever society/group/nation they were born into) rose to positions of power and influence with their strange abilities. The Fiends and Fey are more common now and so too are their pacts … making the surveillance of such men and women who accept these powers harder. Additionally there is talk of other covenants that can be made, covenants made with things that have no permanent shape or name who bend and squeeze their way into this reality for moments at a time in the dark of night. Those that search for information on these powers quickly end up either mad… or missing.

Magical items are similarly affected by these new laws. The empire is attempting to gather as many magical items, weapons, and sets of armor that it can… but the sheer number of treasure seekers throughout Otep makes such a persuit nearly impossible. Where once a magical blade covered in flame was priceless, it is now merely a bauble to be traded among treasure hunters. *

*Most new found magical items in Otep are at the lowest possible 4th edition level available to them. The exceptions to this are their Pre-Devistation equivalents which are often power and thus more prized.

The Swap

Murkeye has always been a city of trade. Legal or illegal, magical or mundane, in Murkeye there was no limit to what one could find as long as the money continued to flow. Now that magic has altered, and magic items are more common, those who wish to purchase such goods without drawing the eyes of Imperial Agents come to a meeting known only as “The Swap.”

Populated mostly by criminals and adventurers, the Swap is a place where magic items can be valued and traded for items of a similar value or sold for prices that are truly astronomical. After all, what merchant will really pay you his entire life savings for a single magical blade… even if you swear it truly is worth that much! After all the merchant isn’t going to be able to sell the flaming sword to any passing customers and he certainly wont use it himself anytime soon. Instead, Adventures bring their treasure, loot and ill gotten goods to a group of likeminded individuals who understand what kind of power comes from wielding such objects. What they do with such power… best not to think about it if you still want to make a tidy profit.

The Swap is also a place to gather illegal merchandise such as poisons, cursed items, pre-devistation level magic (which is still claimed as Imperial Property due to its relative power level), and contraband (Sol items, Grimstone Items). Start a fight, raise moral issues or steal from another person here and you wont be invited back or informed of where the next Swap will be meeting. The few troublemakers that refuse to stand down at a Swap quickly find them selves not only outmanned, but also outgunned as the entire arsenal of magical weapons in the location is used against those that would break the rules of fare trade.

Most visitors to the Swaps are going to be fellow Adventurers who have found similar treasures in their own journeys, Noblemen and Women seeking to arm themselves or their men in the best weaponry money can buy, Criminals that have “Liberated” such items from Tombs and Estates, and finally outsiders- a Sol Merchant, Duergar Smiths with tentacled idols, and occasionally Demon Worshippers with black bound books of unspeakable rituals.

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Ok folks, that’s it for this article. I put off the munchkiny Cleric article for another week to get this out there and hopefully inspire a few more games. So I’m going to leave you with these parting words. Double Bonus Exp if you get the reference.


If you had a tattoo, that wouldn't matter
If you had a shaved head, that would be cool
If you came from Spain or Japan
Or the back of a van
Just as long as you're not from Hebrew school
I'd say, "Now I'm getting somewhere!
I'm finally breaking through!"
I'd say, "Hey! Hey! Shiksa goddess!
I've been waiting for someone like you"

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Character:

As i continue to post things about 4th edition i feel its only fair to share my own character with you all. I constructed him using the point buy system, he has gone on one adventure and reached level 2 and used his money to purchase a single weapon. Notes on character construction follow.


Prince Princely

Eladrin Warlord – Level 2

Medium Sized- Unaligned

Strength: 16/ Constitution: 12

Dexterity: 12 /Intelligence: 16

Wisdom: 8/ Charisma: 14

Initiative- +4 Speed- 5

Feats: - Arcane Initiate

- Eladrin Soldier

Passive Insight- +0

Passive Perception- +0

Action Points: 1

Maximum Health: 29 , Bloodied Value: 14

Healing Surge Value: 7 , Healing Surges Perday: 8

Armor Class: 17

Fortitude: 15

Reflex: 14

Will: 15

Skills: Arcana: +11

Languages: Common, Elven

Athletics: +8 Endurance: +8 Heal: +5 History: +11 Diplomacy: +8

Class Features: Combat Leader, Tactical Presence, Inspiring Word, Implement Use- Wizard

Powers:

Furious Smash, Commanders Strike, Scorching Burst, Lead the Attack, Shake it Off, Warlords Favor, Fey Step

Equipment:

+1 Frost Longspear , Climbers Kit

Hide Armor , Tent

Longsword , Ritual Book

Lightshield , Standard Adventurer’s Kit

Heavy Crossbow , 60 Crossbow Bolts



Background: Prince Princely, from the Prince line of Princes, is a Fey Prince from the Fey Wild. Or couldn't you tell? First born of 6 brothers (he would clearly never have an unknown brother who would up the number to 7... that would be bad luck), Prince's family rules over a small domain within the Ghaele of Winters vast kingdom. His father is a Warrior King, his mother the beautiful queen who was rescued from the lair of a dark and miserable Fomororian. His brothers are loyal vassals who only want him to take the throne as is his hereditary right. Thats why his favorite brother (and fraternal twin) Black Princely, only younger than him by a few minutes, was so insistent that he gather more experience before taking the throne. Black is such a good brother that he's watching over Princely's estates, helped get him out of the Fey Wild without their father realizing it and is right now, with no doubt, watching over the chastity of Prince's beloved Fiance; Feya the Nymph.

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Riiiiight.

Anyways i built this character because i like leadership characters, and the warlord allows me to encourage other players and give them combat advice without breaking character. Additionally i wanted to play an Eladrin, but play one that was clearly mocking the "Pretty pretty moon moon" feel that the race has as a whole.

Strength is the primary stat for Warlords, i put a 16 into that. I choose to be a tactical warlord because i like buffing accuracy more than defenses (i think it makes the game more fun to hit monsters than to be invulnerable), so i put a 14 into Intelligence. I made certain that my charisma didn't take a hit so i could still grab some of the better charisma powers and put a 14 there too (Since i knew i wanted a low wisdom a high charisma keeps my Will defense working). Dexterity is a dead spot for me because of my Int, so i put a 10 there. On a power gaming level i should have put the 8 there and boosted it to a 10 with my racia... but I liked the idea of Princely being smart but totally oblivious so i kept his wisdom an 8. Constitution is important for not dying so i invested the rest of my points in there.

The Longspear is my weapon of choice because it lets me stay out of immediate combat while still helping out the melee characters. Frost weapon is a personal favorite of mine on a cinematic level, and i already had it worked into my background that my family was from the Ghaele of Winters territory. The Eladrin Soldier Feat buffs my damage with the Longsword and Longspear, allowing me to swap out for a sword/shield if i need the boost to reflex saves and AC. He wears hide armor because my Intelligence is high enough to give me the same boost as if i was wearing Chainmail, but without the speed penalty.

Arcane Initiate gave me an extra knowledge skill (arcana) and another encounter ability (any one wizard at will). Also it lets me get the multi-class feats for later when i want to grab some offensive ranged control abilities to supplement my buffing and melee damage. Also... fey. I mean i wanted him to have a bit more magic than your average warlord, and he has the Int to back it up. Eladrin soldier gave me a damage bonus per swing, very nice, even if it doesn't scale like weapon focus (It will probably be the first feat i drop if i ever retrain).

Plans for advancement in the heroic tier: A Wizard Multi-Class to swap out my 3rd level attack power for Color Spray, Ritualist, Power Attack and Tactical Assault. After that the Battle Captain prestige path and the Paragon Tier!

So thats my 4th edition character. Appearance wise he's basically the guy above... but with Blue Hair. And those 4 dark plotting people behind me? My beloved brothers of course, only there to wish me well!

See in a day or two folks when i post the Cleric article.

A work in progress


This is a work in progress...i dont have anything but Pain to my ability to actually make a large scale map is impaired. Still...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Here Be Dragons: Vashistan

Welcome to my new column, Here Be Dragons, which is about places and civilizations on Otep! Today we're covering Vashistan, the homeland of the Dragonborn.

The isolated country of Vashistan lies to the West of Otep, on the continent of Sol. Vashistan has been a constant source of annoyance to the Sol since the Sol conquest of the continent 500 years ago. Those that dwell there are the descendents of humanoids who survived the devastation but refused the assistance of the Shadow God and his Sol Followers. As such they became the only unfaded creatures that remain on the continent. Vashistan is a geographically small (roughly one-quarter the area of the Free Nations) region bordered by the sea on the East and the Veles Mountains on the West. It consists primarily of rugged forests and steppes. Vashistan is situated on the very northern tip of the continent, a relatively small distance from the frostfell. Due to its incredibly northern location Vashistan is a land of where the days and nights last for weeks at a time. Vashistan's capital is the twin city of Nevinski-Novgorod, straddling the banks of Stalga River.

Vashistan's government is unique in that it is neither a monarchy nor a feudal state. Rather, Vashistan is ruled the Tsar, a military dictator, and the Katyusha, a legislature of regional representatives. The Tsar is elected from the ranks of the Katyusha every seven years, though there is no maximum limit to the number of terms any given Tsar can hold (which has lead to the assassination of more than one incumbent Tsar). A series of checks and balances of power between the Tsar and the Katyusha exist, but are rarely used since the Tsar is chosen by the Katyusha majority. To illustrate the separation of the offices, the Tsar holds court on the Nevinski side of the river, while the Katyusha resides on the Novgorod side.

Vashistan is a socialist state, with most agriculture and large-scale commerce performed in the name of the government. Small-scale businesses exist, but rarely rise above the local level of distribution due to the Vashistani's unique views on business. Those who work on the farm collectives are not bound to the land, but rarely leave due to their limited skill set. Most of those who leave their farms enter the military. Military service is compulsory and hereditary in Vashistan. The second and fifth child of each household are separated from their family in early adolescence and sent to be raised in military camps to ensure the survival of the nation. Other citizens may volunteer for military service from early adolescence onward. Due to the close proximity of the malevolent Sol and their mindless thralls, military service is considered important and a praiseworthy cause.

Not surprisingly, the members of the Vashianti Nation worship Bahamut. However, Vashistani depictions of the god show him in his archaic dragon form, rather than as the modern Platinum Lord. Kord is also worshiped in Vashistan under the name Oprichnik, but is always placed in a subservient position to Bahamut. Other minor deities recieve some attention on a regional level, but only Bahamut and Oprichnik are recognized as deities nationwide. The Church of Bahamut in Vashistan is run by Cardinal Versoduki, an Ancient Gold Dragon who predates Vashistan itself. For many years Versoduki was vastly limited in the scope of his powers, the wards kept him from accessing his most powerful sorcery and clerical abilities. Now that the wards have lowered he feels the calling to return to the Astral Sea and serve at Bahamuts side… a call he has managed to put off out of love for the nation he serves.

Due to the aforementioned proximity to the Sol, the dragonborn of Vashistan have developed a culture that contrasted sharply with the decadent Sol and their colorless thralls. Dragonborn are loud, frequently extroverted people who are almost never alone. From birth, Dragonborn are taught to value community and interdependence. This value is most simply reflected in one of the Vashistani army's credos, "Stand together, fall alone." Dragonborn rarely made deals, instead offering "favors" which are repaid later in the form of other favors. Declining a favor is seen as reprehensible, as is bringing up a favor one is owed. Putting a price on anything is a sign of weakness and corruption in Vashistani culture, the first step towards the destruction of the state. This doesn't mean that the Dragonborn don't understand the concept of value and worth, one big favor can be repaid by many small ones, but they never create official tallies or agreements.


The collectivist nature of Vashistani society is perhaps most starkly exemplified by rites in the Vashistani military. Before each battle, each soldier is expected to give a blessing to each occupation responsible for a contribution to his or her gear, including miners, smiths, loggers, and even the cooks and farmers who provide their rations. Part of the Coat of Arms of the Vashistani military reads "A soldier with no one to protect is a sword with no arm to wield it."

Culturally, dragonborn favor brightly colored clothing, especially in colors of red, green, and gold. Bear fur is prized as material for over-clothing such as coats and hats. Dragonborn refuse to hunt the animals outside of their own territory, the colorless fur of the wildlife is seen as bad luck. Due to the emphasis on community present in Vashistan, dragonborn typically eat their morning and evening meals in large groups, during which music and storytelling is common. Most farming communities have professional musicians and storytellers on staff (though most professional storytellers are elderly citizens retired from some other profession). Vashistani music favors the accordion and the 20-stringed bandura, with most vocal parts written for a male and female vocal pair.


Vashistan was formerly a patriarchal state, with roles for females typically restricted to farming, cooking, and military service (where they were forbidden from achieving officer ranks), however, this trend has been largely undone over the past two centuries. Most historians highlight the ascension of Tsarian Anya Romanov, the first female Tsar, in 447 as the defining victory in the equal rights dispute. Romanov's opponent accused her of selfish pursuits of power, while Romanov pointed out that society could not truly form a collective if some members were considered inferior to others. Romanov served for three terms before retiring.

Though geographically small, the communal nature of its inhabitants had lead Vashistan into dense population. The country has no fewer than 6 major cities, 2 of them of comparable size to Whiteport. Nevinski-Novgorod is the largest city in Vashistan, with each side of the twin city geographically larger and possessing a greater population than the Imperial city of Murkeye.


Vashistan was discovered by Otep in 507 GD by Captain Jeremiah Stone of the Sea Bulls. Stone's ship, the Light of Deliverance, was dragged northwest by a tempest, straight into a kraken's hunting ground. Though the Light's crew was able to defeat the beast, the ship sustained heavy damage and was in no condition to make the journey east, back to the Primordial Isle. After drifting for two days, the lookout spotted lights to the west (in fact, the lights of Nevinski-Novgorod). Hoping for assistance, Stone steared his damaged vessel into the port of the previously unknown civilization. Initially, Stone and his crew were distrusted by the dragonborn, based on their physical likeness to Sol operatives. The dragonborn extended aid after discovering holy texts of Bahamut in the crews' quarters. Stone and his crew were startled to find that while the dragonborn worshiped Bahamut, they had never even heard of the Cloaked Lady.

When the Light of Deliverance sailed back to the Primordial Isle, two Vashistani ships--one containing a diplomatic envoy and another loaded with trade goods--came with her. By 513, Vashistan had extended trade relations to the Empire. When the Eladrin city-state of Bella Romana declared independence in 523, the Vashistan was the first foreign power to recognise their sovereignty. This show of faith was rewarded in 528, with the creation of Gateway Delta, linking the market squares of Novgorod and Bella Romana (Though technically opened before Gateway Gamma, Gateway Gamma was already a proposed project when a Gateway to Nevinski-Novgorod was presented). Vashistan has declined offers to open trade with the Free Nations, disapproving of their individualistic culture. The only official commentary on the subject was made by Tsar Vasili Petrov; "We will begin trade negotiations as soon as their is a government with which to negotiate."

Vashistan has never sent envoys to Otep before the arrival of Stone, due to their preoccupation with the Sol and lack of seafaring knowledge. There have been rumors of small contingents of immigrants joining Sea Bull caravels to traverses the ocean, the strong and personable Dragonborn are always welcome aboard Sea Bull vessles. Vashistan has never been invaded outright due to its positioning on the globe; northern Vashistan experiences extended periods of day or night, depending on the time of year (dubbed "The Land of the Midnight Sun" by traveling merchants), while sourthern Vashistan is blocked by the Veles mountains. Sol thralls, accustomed to the tepid and unchanging weather that covers the rest of the country, have a poor survival rate in the blistering cold of the Vashistani winter. Vashistani scholars have argued that the reason the Sol themselves never press into Vashistan is that they require shadow to thrive, and a place where light or darkness reign uncontested for weeks is quite literally a place without shadow.

During the year 500, a strange phenomenon occured, referred to colloquially as "The Warp." Though in the middle of the harsh dark season, a series of Auroras appeared over Vashistan in the shape of platinum dragon. The church of Bahamut cited the event as prophesied, calling it "The Gift of the Dragonson." Come the next morning, the inhabitants of Vashistan noticed their appearances had changed. No longer a variety of demi-humans, humans and humanoids; the Vashistani had been universally transformed into a race of Dragonmen with platinum scales. Furthermore, the sick and injured awoke well, the old felt younger, and the city of Alingrad, the only city west of the Veles, found its fields recovered from the warping magic of the Sol.

-Andrew T, 7/7/08

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bonus Exp! Defenders: Paladin


Here's part 2 of my article on Defenders.

Paladin

In 3.5 the average Paladin was level 2. After all that’s when they got the saving throw bonus and there were enough alignment variations that a Paladin could justify his cause as “I love lawl cats” as easily as a knight in shining armor. The problem with Paladin was the same problem that fighter, cleric, wizard and sorcerer faced; early good abilities followed by long levels of nothing. Those days are gone now, because Paladins have gotten a huge overhaul… probably the most significant in terms of flavor and ability. What kind of changes? Well Alignment restriction is gone and so is violating the terms of your faith. Good paladin kills innocent person? Meh, he feels bad. No mechanical punishments though, that’s in the past. Want to play a Paladin of Neutral? Tell your wife “Hello” and get to it. The entire concept of “Smite” being a little bit of extra accuracy and damage against your cosmic opposite has been replaced with abilities that can break your opponent into pieces… even if they aren’t opposed to your alignment, church, theology or personal paradigm. Oh and your horse is gone, get over it.

If Fighters are Defenders of Defender/Strikers, Paladins are Defender/Leaders. They get a solid healing core to go with their defensive abilities, not so much that your party shouldn’t have a leader character… but enough so that the leader is comfortable doing things other than healing or buffing in the middle of combat.

Paladin builds are generally split between Charisma and Strength. The Charisma build favoring flashy divine effects similar to spells and channeled through a holy symbol, while the Strength build resembles the fighter in its weapon choices and focus on physical hits. Unlike the fighter, who can choose to go between his Shield and Two Hander, the Paladin is most effective when he specializes in one build or the other. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t “splash” abilities in if you like them, but to be aware that you should focus specifically on your chosen type of attack. Implement Attacks don’t become accurate through weapons (Unless you have a Holy Avenger) and Weapon proficiency can’t be used to help implements. Wisdom is the second most important ability score for your character as many powers gain greater bonus’s if your wisdom is higher.

Races: Because the Paladin has two statistics that it needs to choose between (Str and Charisma) the list of “Best Races” are not identical.

Best Strength Paladin:

Dragonborn: Unlike the Fighter who has reliable powers and marks his enemies even when he misses, the Paladin needs to be as accurate as possible. Thus a Strength based Fighter is more reliant on the tiny bonus’s his strength score gives him than his fighter counterpart is. Dragonborn is the only Core Race with a Str bonus (not including humans) and its secondary bonus to Charisma is useful for its ability to fortify the few “splash” charisma powers you may choose to add to your retinue. The extra healing on healing surges is a useful for staying up. Str based Paladins are almost exclusively single target based and the Dragonborn AoE breath weapon is a useful ability for carving away minions between you and your chosen foes. Finally the Dragonborn skill bonus’s both apply to Paladin Class Skills.

Best Charisma Paladin:

Half Elf: A tough decision between Half Elf and Halfling, but the Combo abilities of the Half Elf combined with its Constitution bonus and Diplomacy group bonus beat out the Defensive abilities of the Halfling and its Fear Resistance. Half Elf combo’s are extensive and a major part of the character… so you should choose your Half Elf power wisely. I recommend Eyebite for its cheesy quality (mark an enemy but they can’t see you) or Hellfire Rebuke for an opening damage move that punishes your opponent. Eldritch Blast is another possibility to cover a hole in your ranged offense. If Warlock powers don’t match your characters identity the Warlord Ability Furious Smash is easier to land than a normal attack and helps your allies take advantage of your charisma. Sacred Flame from Cleric is another option as Wisdom should be an important part of your character no matter what build you choose.

Channel Divinity: What the hell?

Channel Divinity is an encounter ability split between two powers you have automatically (Divine Mettle/Divine Strength) or that can be augmented by taking any of the Divine Specific feats (Raven Queen’s Blessing etc.) When choosing your deity make certain you check out these specific feats in case you want to grab an ability from them later. Obviously don’t let the mechanics of the Deity change the “Theme” of your character, but keep it in mind. Armor of Bahamut wont come up often (unless I’m your DM) but when it does you’ll be very happy, the same with Sehaines Reversal. Raven Queens Blessing and Melora’s Tide are both more likely to occur and thus less obviously powerful. Finally, as much as I hate him, Pelor’s Radiance gives the Paladin a more powerful version of Turn Undead... which is devastating each time its used.

Channel Divinities built in abilities are both fantastic and a major part of your arsenal. Divine Mettle allows you to make a second save or help one of your friends make a save before their turn and avoid the penalties of whatever is afflicting them. Even Strength based Paladins should keep this power in mind. Divine Strength is extra damage, whether your hitting with a charisma power or just smacking someone with your blade for double the strength damage. Remember that as encounter powers you should use these as much as possible.

Strength Build:

The Strength Build for the Paladin is very similar to the Fighter in many respects. Most of your abilities are going to be based off of Str to hit AC, accuracy may be an issue until you get a sufficiently powerful weapon. Fortunatly the Paladin has several smites that use strength to hit Reflex, Will and Fortitude defenses. These accurate powers should be a major part of your arsenal. That being said Strength based Paladins have two advantages over their charisma based counterparts. Their damage scales with weaponry, so larger more powerful swords/hammers/axes will allow a Paladin to do more damage than the prayers that have fixed dice. Secondly when a Strength Paladin takes an attack of opportunity on his foe they are more likely to connect and will hurt them more. Strength Based Paladins will have a large Fortitude Defense, making Poisons and negative energy effects less likely to affect them. The Strength Build character faces the same dilemma a fighter does on choosing between one handed and shield and two hander. I recommend Swords more for Paladins than I do Fighters, they are more accurate and the Paladin has no Mace or Axe specific benefits to gain.

Charisma Build

The Charisma based paladin has not abandoned his weapon in favor of a holy symbol, but he does rely on his Charisma score to attack rather than his Strength. At higher levels his abilities are more reliant on Implements than weapons, making a powerful holy symbol a required part of his inventory. This has advantages and disadvantages just like the Strength Build. The primary advantage of the Charisma build is that they target reflex, fortitude and will saves as opposed to AC. The Second advantage is that many of these abilities are AoE’s, Longer Ranged, or radiant damage based. AoE and Ranged attacks are useful for what is primarily a melee class, while the Radiant Damage is incredibly dangerous to Undead who are vulnerable against it. The higher charisma equals a more powerful will defense which is useful against any number of mental attacks used against the paladin. Most importantly a Charisma Paladin will do more damage with his Mark, making it a greater threat against enemies who would choose to ignore him. The greatest weakness the Charisma build faces are enemies that are resistant to Radiant Damage or have very high Defenses. Additionally it is more expensive to play a Charisma based paladin since you need a powerful weapon and a powerful holy symbol to make yourself as accurate as possible.

Healing and Leading: Part of your role as a Paladin is to assist the group beyond the role of “Meat Shield”. Lay on Hands is a powerful ability that allows you to spend your own Healing Surges to fix others. Many of your abilities grant bonus’s to defenses or allow people to spend healing surges or gain temporary hitpoints. In many ways you are toeing the line between Leader and Defender. When playing a paladin, even a not so good one, keep in mind your vast number of utility and attack powers that help out the team. Hitting an opponent hard is fine, but if it comes down to defeating your enemy or saving a friend the Paladin is in the unique situation that he can do both.

Weakness: Almost universally Paladins are going to have poor reflex defenses. Very few of the Races that make good paladins have good intelligence or dexterity scores, and both of those scores are dead weight for the paladin. It should be noted that both Tiefling and Halfling make good Charisma Paladins and can avoid this issue more easily. Using a Shield will also cover up this deficiency. Paladins who miss with their powers waste them, unlike Fighters their abilities are not reliable and many do not have a “Miss” effect to them. A few have “Effects” that take place no matter what, but these are relatively few. Finally, like their cousin the fighter, Paladins have relatively few ranged powers. Strength Based Paladins will have almost none, and Charisma paladins are usually limited to 25ft.

Picking Powers: For at Will/Encounter/Daily picking powers for the Paladin is mostly based on your choice of primary statistic. Choose Strength based powers if you are strong, charisma if you are charismatic. Grab powers from the opposing side if it strikes you as important to have or stylish, but make sure that your foundation of powers is still based on your original build.

Strength Powers: 1-10

At Will: Grab Holy Strike and Valiant Strike. Valiant Strike is a very useful power when your surrounded by minions or the like. Holy Strike is an excellent way to sustain damage on a marked enemy. Both are solid support you as a damage dealier.

Piercing Smite: Str vs. Reflex means your more likely to hit, that alone makes this a worthwhile power. The fact that it can mark additional targets is fantastic since Paladins have a difficulty marking multiple enemies.

Paladins Judgment: The only Strength based daily at level 1, it hits as hard as the Fighter powers with the added benefit of healing an ally. If you miss you still heal a friend, a useful trick in a tight spot.

Staggering Smite: Unlike a Fighter who is reluctant to use too many knockbacks lest they loose their ability to threaten a target, the Paladin can take advantage of the knockback while still threatening their opponents with Divine Damage.

Martyr's Retribution: Huge damage on this one, but it costs a healing surge. Still does half damage on miss... so a proper two handed or hie die roll swing can still pack quite a whallop. This is the single strongest hit at level 5 for any class, and remains the single strongest hit for any class until the end of that Paragon tier almost 15 levels later.

Thunder Smite: Knocking a target prone with increased critical hit chance is very very solid. Unfortunately this is your only Strength Option at level 7. If you dont like Thundersmite i hope you have a halfway decent charisma to take one of the Charisma based abilities.

Level 9 Powers- None of the level 9 powers are strength based. If you didn't take any of the multi-class feats to swap this power out at level 10 you will be stuck with an ability that is based on one of your secondary or tertiary scores. If you did take multi-class feats grabbing Adept Power at level 10 is the best way to go and swap this out for a Cleric, Fighter, Warlord or Ranger ability based on strength. Otherwise... Crown of Glory is your best bet for its automatic slowing aura.

Charisma Build

At Will Powers: Bolstering and Enfeebling Strike. Bolstering strike will give you some extra HP for tanking and refreshes each time you use it. Enfeebling strike is good since it grants you the same defense bonus the rest of the party enjoys from your mark.

Shielding Smite: Granting a friend a bonus to AC for a full set of Enemy turns is significantly better than giving one target a single attack penalty. Use this to protect the Rogue that is helping you hit and doing significant damage, an Overzealous Warlock that got too close to use his Curse, or an unlucky Ranger or Wizard who couldn't get away from the enemies they were irritating.

On Pain of Death. The Damage this power does is fantastic, not only does it do 3d8 it also does ongoing damage if the target attacks ANYBODY. Additionally even if you miss it still does half damage... but it also gives you that sustained damage! Even if the target makes its first save it probably took a total of 4d8 from this power, though if the target is unlucky it can take so much more.

Invigorating Smite: This power heals you and all your friends when the chips are down. The fact that it can heal the entire party after you get hit by several aoe's or traps make it a fantastic addition to your repertoire.

Hallowed Circle: As a charisma paladin you have relatively few AoE powers, this burst 3 does some nice damage and leaves an encounter wide bonus to defenses. Good for killing Minions, good for hurting lots of incoming enemies and good for instances when you know your friends arent going to be moving much or shouldn't be moving much.

Benign Transposition: Battlefield Control + Damage and its defensive enough to save a striker in trouble or defend against a sneak attack from behind... or for when your friend is stuck across the ravine and cant make the jump, the orcs are closing in and its time for you to prove exactly what your steel is made of.

Radiant Pulse: Attack one enemy within 60 feet and blast his minions to smithereens... and then keep it up as a Minor Action. A constant damaging burst with knockback for a minor action? Fantastic. Remember to use your mark first since your minor action will be to keep this up.

Utilities: Because many of your abilities allow you to heal or stockpile temporary hitpoints, many of your utilities allow you to take damage for a friend. These are vital and important powers that can make a huge swing in the tide of a battle. If you can spare the Leader Character from having to spend healing surges on himself, or keep a Striker or Controller up for longer than you’ve done your role as a Defender just as easily as if the attack had hit you instead. Early “Martyr” powers are close range, but as you level up its possible to zoom around the battlefield protecting multiple people at the cost of your own hitpoints.

Martyr's Blessing: Its kind of slim pickings at level 2, either a limited bonus to AC or a skill bonus thats only useful out of combat... but can only be used once per day. Martyr's Blessing will let you save a friend from getting killed if your nearby, good for that first moment of combat when an alpha strike goes off and targets your less fleshy friends.

Wrath of the Gods: Early fight action, add your charisma as a bonus to all damage for a full encounter. Even if you play a strength paladin you'll probably be giving a +1 or +2 bonus. A charisma Paladin will be giving +3, +4 or higher! Thats all damage for you and any adjacent allies for a whole fight!

Cleansing Spirit: Cleansing Spirit has 5 range and is an encounter ability... and it still barely beats out Noble Shield. The Shield is fantastic when the party is hit by an AoE because it cuts the damage in half for everyone but you. That being said you're not going to be hit by a gigantic death AoE every session/extended rest and there wont always be situations when that comes in useful. But any encounter that you get a free reroll with a bonus is a good one.
*Note: If you have a cleric or warlord in your party who has a similar power to this you can either stack them or grab Noble Shield. Noble Shield is one of those iconic awesome powers that you should really consider.

Marks: The Ability to Mark opponents is theoretically the core ability, and most important power available, to the Defender archetype. The Generic Mark inflicts a -2 to hit penalty on any attacks that don’t include the Marker in their targets and one mark will always override a previous mark making it impossible to stack them. Marked creatures are aware of all penalties and consequences of the mark. In a fluff fashion Marking can be anything from a spoken Challenge, an invisible burden, an insulting tag (like Zorro) or any other number of options. Both the Fighter and Paladin rely on Marking enemies for battlefield control.


The Paladins Mark:

- Pros: The Paladins Mark has a range of 25ft and requires a minor action to activate. You can force enemies to deal with you from a range without endangering yourself immediately with the Paladins Mark. The Paladins mark also has the incredible ability of dealing automatic Radiant Damage if it is ignored, damage that scales with level and charisma score. Undead, Creatures with a high AC or defensive trick, or enemies at a Range hate the Paladins mark because it punishes them despite their relative safety. Additionally there is no penalty for the Paladin if he chooses not to engage his target, allowing him to manipulate them or wound them without exposing him needlessly.

- Cons: The Paladin can only mark one enemy at a time (not counting specific Prayers). This makes it harder for him to control large groups of enemies and force them to attack him. Additionally he has to be within 25ft of them to do so, so Wizards and Snipers can often remain unimpeded for several turns before the Paladin gets close enough to force his divine challenge on them.

- Situations and Tips: The Paladins mark is excellent for use against powerful monsters and enemy controllers that like to focus on a single target at a time. Additionally the Paladin mark is fantastic for dealing with mindless or unintelligent undead who may attack enemies besides the paladin despite knowing that they will take the Radiant Damage. Since this triggers the vulnerability the Radiant Damage of the mark can often accumulate to a significant threat.

Prestige Path Rankings:

Astral Weapon: The marking ability is solid and regaining encounter abilities is never a bad thing. The +2 on saves against fear is great, that’s an extra 20% fear resistance. The Encounter ability is only ok, but worth it if you have a rogue as your striker. Pray for more seems unnecessary… but since its an encounter utility its not bad. Astral Whirldwind is poop, it does nothing unless you hit and only does medium damage for a level 20 power. The refresh rate on it will only happen if you’re fighting minions or using it late in the fight. All in all this path starts out strong and then fizzles halfway.

Champion of Order: Champions Action is solid support for the rest of your group. In Defense of Order blends the Paladin and Fighter mark, a stupendously good ability and passive damage on elementals and demons certainly works for certain campaigns *cough*otep*cough*. The Champion Hammer only makes the previous 2d6 better. Certain Justice is amazing since weakened and dazed enemies are basically pussy cats.. and combined with the high accuracy of the power and the improved mark you have it just wins. None Shall Pass, besides the awesome value of saying that as loud as you can, is a fantastic utility for important fights. Rule of Order is a proper level 20 power, good for halfway though the fight and smashing an opponent to dust or as an early way of weakening your foe. Really solid class, the Demon/Elemental thing might deter a few folks but this is the superior Strength option for Paladins.

Hospitaler: Passive healing on your mark is good, especially since the target also took damage… the healing aura on your action points is kind of weak though. The boost to lay on hands is great though. Warding Blow is a great encounter ability for fighting controllers or any enemy with status effects. Healing Font is a solid ability but it has a typo in it which makes me question its value… but spot healing for a full encounter is really good whether its 1d6 + your wisdom mod or 1d6 x your modifier. Finally Life Giving Smite is a solid heal with good damage, I like it because you don’t need to hit to use the healing effect. Hospitaler is ok, but multi-classing cleric is probably better.

Justiciar- Both level 11 abilities are gross and disgustingly powerful. The level 16 ability just makes standing close to your paladin buddy even better. Just Radiance would be better if Paladins had more ways to mark multiple enemies, but its hit effect is fantastic. Strike Me Instead is the king of Martyr Powers and takes your enemies biggest AoE gun and turns it into nothing. Challenge the Unjust is the best level 20 paladin power in the game. It hits 200 feet of enemies, marks all of them, does radiant damage and combo’s into your Just Radiance. Justiciar is your best bet for those Charisma builds bar none.

Paladins:

-Warlock. Charisma build Paladins can take advantage of any of the pacts, ranging from the trickery of Fey, the Utility of Star, or the raw damage of Fiendish. The Perma-Eyebite mark combo is one of the early exploitable parts of 4th edition. Warlock/Paladin might seem odd but it can provide 4 nasty builds that straddle the line between defender, striker and leader. I could write an entire column on Warlock-Paladins so do yourself a favor and look into it.

- Ranger. If you want to do some serious melee damage than Ranger’s dual wield line combined with the defensive power of Paladin isn’t a bad choice. Ranger melee powers also include a lot of movement abilities, abilities that the Paladin can take advantage of as he closes with his marked enemy or moves close to a foe with the intent of challenging them. Paladin and Ranger also share Wisdom as a secondary stat making many of the secondary effects impressive.

- Fighter. In the same way that Fighters can grab some wonderful Paladin powers the reverse is also true. A strength based Paladin will love some of the shield specific abilities that Fighters have along with their self sustaining utilities. Gaining reliable powers for a Paladin is fantastic and grabbing strength based attacks is a great way to avoid the lack of Strength powers at certain levels. Also a Strength Paladin with a single multi-class feat to Fighter can become a Sword Master (yes that class really is that good).

The Last Word: Fighters vs. Paladins- Who’s better?

Obviously this is pure speculation and opinion at this point… because 4th edition is balanced you see.

I’m going to say this before I go any farther. The best fighter or paladin you can play is the one that makes you happy, has a unique personality that engages you and your party, is the one that fits your DM’s story and ultimately avoids the straw death. (The Straw Death is also known as the Viking’s shame. Dying in your bed.) Isn’t that what DnD is really all about? The heroic battles, the story, the party interaction… and then the heroic end.

I would rather have a Halfling Fighter who used daggers and had a 16 charisma in my party than a cookie cutter, as long as he made me happy and brought the story to a better conclusion.

That being said, if you really want to know what the “Best” you can do is…

Fighter: Elf Fighter- Bastard Sword and Shield- Swordmaster Paragon Path- Demi God Epic Destiny. Wild Warrior Feat for Perception and Hunters Quarry. This build never runs out of powers. Ever. It has multiple ways of getting back Encounter Powers and Daily Powers, offers battlefield control with a high AC, hits hard and accurate, combines AoE with solid single target damage and protects its allies while blasting the hell out of bosses. You really cant do much better than this for a well rounded defender who does excellent damage and has amazing survivability.

Paladin: Half Elf Paladin- Charisma Build- Multiclass to Warlock- Eternal Seeker Epic Destiny. I cant really go into this much without really talking about it… but essentially you can mind screw the hell out of anybody like a controller, do damage only slightly lower than a striker (Your missing the warlock curse), and have ridiculous survivability combined. Using the epic destiny you grab the high level powers of any class you want ending up with Utilities that are without compare. I will point out that a Pact Blade in one hand, a holy avenger in the other, and the duel wielding feats make this a high level horror capable of making a DM convulse into tears. Literally the build that can do “anything”.

As you can see one of the builds is a super specific swordsman that takes everything nasty about fighter and becomes the ultimate in melee combat. The other takes the flexibility of Multi-classing and creates a build that ends up being capable of filling 3 party roles with ease. Also I’d like to point out that while these builds are horrifying at their peak they are ridiculously good at all 3 tiers of play, from level 1 till 30.

But that didn’t answer the question did it? Which one is better- Fighter or Paladin? On a purely mechanical level the Charisma Paladin is probably better … its weaknesses are easier to overcome (money), it gets some ridiculously powerful AoE control/defense powers, gets better use of utilities (more of them are charisma based) and does a better job in Skill Challenges with proper skill selection. When they get a holy avenger they just explode, and until then they have access to the daily/encounter abilities of weapons and holy symbols as well as Shields. It has better saves (Constitution and Charisma for Fort/Will, Reflex is going to be low for all Paladins). Additionally the races with Charisma bonus’s are more numerous allowing better customization. Tieflings and Halflings both make amazing Paladins. Additionally the Paladin is a better “tank” for boss encounters and Solo encounters which are where the really iconic nature of the game comes into play. Finally the Charisma Paladin multi-classes really really well into Warlock, can stay in class for paragon pathing into Justiciar, and can grab “Student of the Sword” for the ability to get an extra mark.


Ok folks, thats it for Defenders. Come by next week for a look at the Leader Classes- The Warlord and Cleric (and possibly the Artificer!)

-Sam