Posted by : David Guyll May 11, 2009

Silent7Seven contacted me about their own ongoing playtest: the rune soldier. The rune soldier is a defender that doesnt have a fixed power source and operates how you would expect, using runes to bolster herself and/or allies, while hindering enemies. On the surface, the rune soldier seems very similar to a swordmage in that they both merge magic and swordplay in some fashion. Rune soldiers, however, are a great deal more heavily armored and utilize magic differently through runes that they can enscribe on targets.

The class is also very, very flexible on how you build it. Perhaps a bit too flexible? Much of the statistics arent filled out, giving you a sort of blank check to work with. You pick from a series of runes that determine armor proficiencies, extra class skills, hit points, and more. Its pretty complex, but if you are digging the complexity of the recent classses it'll be right up your alley.

You get an at-will called rune strike, which lets you hit an enemy will applying a rune to them, but other powers can also let you use a rune as well. Not only does a rune do something when drawn on an enemy, but after you draw it you can activate it later, which triggers another effect but erases it (you can then draw it again). Finally, you can otherwise apply a rune to a willing creature as a standard action.

What this means, is that in addition to having two at-wills by virtue of existing and at-will derived from your class, that you three other powers that have up to three differing effects depending on what-and-when you use it. Holy power cards, Batman! Granted, the rune effects themselves are fairly minor, but stacking all of that at once is going to be a daunting practice, even for skilled players.

I have no comment on the powers themselves at this point. I would prefer to playtest this and see how well they stand in play as opposed to practice. I'd like to compare and contrast with the swordmage to see how different they end up being, but a brief overview suggests that they are a pretty unique animal.

Mostly, its a great concept and I'd like to pitch in my two cents to help give them as much feedback as possible in order to get a really great end product. I dont think that this is the class for casual players. You're better off going swordmage if you want to play a fighter-wizard right out of the gate. At the least, do not try to play this class on the fly. Get at least a sheet of paper and jot some fucking notes down.

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FEEDBACK
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Since its a playtest, I totally have some feedback. I am keeping in mind that they are trying to create their own class, from the ground up, while also doing their own thing with it. There are a lot of mechanics in this class that we havent really seen yet, ranging from essentially fleshing out the class traits yourself to giving at-wills a kicker effect if you get a natural 15 or higher.

Key Abilities: I would list Strength, Constitution, Charisma, and Intelligence, in order of importance. The fighter lists four ability scores, and from what I saw the elemental runes can potentially add either Con or Cha as a key score.

Armor Proficiencies: Change this to list what every rune soldier would get, no matter what rune they select, and have the rune instead supply additional armor proficiencies listed in the description. For example, if every rune soldier would end up being proficient with leather at the worst, then list cloth and leather. This has a more consistent layout to what you see in official products.

Implements: I would just list wands, and have the property of a rune weapon cite that a rune soldier can use it as an implement. This is again just me trying to maintain a consistent feel with other implement using classes such as the bard, who only lists wand as an implement but can use wondrous item instruments for implements that state as such in the item's description.

Bonus to Defense: I wouldnt list anything here at all, and save it for the rune's description.

Hit Points:
I would place a flat value here, and have a rune potentially grant Toughness as a bonus feat.
Hit Points Per Level: I would put a flat value here.
Healing Surges: I would put a flat value here, and potentially have a rune increase your healing surges, increase your surge value (as a dragonborn), or just grant the feat that gives you more healing surges (to avoid ending up with too many).

I would change the wording on some powers to, again, maintain consistency. For example, under the rune of mystery it should say, "you slide the target a number of squares equal to your Intelligence modifier +1," instead of, "the target moves as you desire..."

Rune strike shouldnt be listed in the level 1 at-will powers section, but instead moved to the class features section since its a class feature and not a power that you can opt out of. Also, it is important to note that a player can only take one other at-will in the instance that you wanted a character to still get only two at-wills in total, counting rune strike.

I would almost recommend taking the styles of runes and making them into individual class builds. Like how sorcerers have different Spell Sources, a rune soldier might have their own runic styles, or somesuch. This would give you something like an astral rune soldier and an elemental rune soldier to start with. You can extend this concept to give yourself rune soldiers based around languages, using something like truename magic to fortify themselves.

This could potentially in turn help you define power sources for differing classes, or just solidify on a single power source. Arcane seems a logical choice, and I feel that this class is different in style and scope from the swordmage that even as an arcane defender they wont bleed together. However, the astral runes might better fit a divine character (the description seems to work well with this idea). Finally, if you dont want to define and existing power source you could label their powers as "inscriptions".

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