Essential Slayer Preview



Posted last night on Bill Slavicsek's Ampersand column, the Slayer is the other new Fighter build being published in September's "Heroes of Fallen Lands" Essentials Player Book.

It was hinted at in last months Cleric preview that the Knight would be the traditional defender, while the Slayer occupied more striker-ish territory...and boy they weren't kidding. The Slayer, in a break from what we've seen in 4E thus far, is a martial striker rather than a defender.

The class is STR/DEX based and shown in the preview is their "Heroic Slayer" class feature, which allows them to apply their dexterity bonus along with their Strength bonus to all damage rolls from weapon attacks. At 5th and 9th level, the Slayer gets Mighty Slayer and Inexorable Slayer, respectively. I presume these bolster their extra damage mechanic further.

Also shown in the preview is the Weapon Talent class feature (also granted to the Knight) which garners them a +1 to hit on all weapon attacks.

Along with class features, two stances were previewed: Berserker's Charge, which grants a boost to speed and attack rolls when making a charge attack, and Unfettered Fury, which imposes a penalty to melee attack powers in exchange for a damage boost. Pretty much exactly like the Power Attack feat from core 4E...the difference is that this penalty applies to weapon powers and not melee basic attacks...so it seems that for the Essentials Slayer, this is just free damage.

It looks like the Slayer is the answer to players who've been clamoring for a more vanilla flavored Barbarian.

My one complaint here is that the class is STR/DEX based, which pretty much shoehorns Slayers into focusing on heavy blades, since most axe and hammer (iconic choices for this archetype, I feel) feats are STR/CON based. This might not be a problem in Essentials, but it is one point in which the rules between the two lines don't interact well.

A lot of people are also complaining that the Slayer being a striker rather than a defender undermines the class/role system of 4E, which might have a note of truth. But during the Design and Development panel (recorded here) at this year's Gencon, the folks behind D&D admitted that going forward, the major shift in design philosophy is based around building upon themes rather than building a theme into mechanics. From this standpoint, I have no problem with classes as basic archetypes that can fill a number of roles.

For example (and this is just speculation/masturbation on my part, so don't take it too seriously):

Fighter: Knight (Defender), Slayer (Striker), Lancer (Controller), Marshall (Leader)

Rogue: Thief (Striker), Dervish (Controller), Mountebank (Leader)

Cleric: Warpriest (Leader), Hierophant (Controller)

Wizard: Mage (Controller), Warcaster (Striker), Abjurer (Leader), Spellsword (Defender)

Ranger: Scout (Striker), Guide (Leader)

Paladin: Guardian (Defender), Justiciar (Striker)

Druid: Mystic (Controller), Stalker (Striker), Keeper (Leader)

Warlock: Hellbinder (Striker), Feybinder (Controller), Starbinder (Leader)

Just a thought. By the way, the inspiration for these comes from JohnSnow, a regular poster on the WotC forums and on rpg.net.

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