Archive for March 2010
Between God of War 3, finals, and a full-time job toiling it what is the food industry's equivalent to purgatory, I had almost resigned myself to not even bothering talking about PH3 given that its pretty much a no fucking DUH that I'm going to like it.
In short, PH3 does brings a lot of ambitious things to the table, including a new power source with one class for each role (always a plus), a new mechanic to go with said power source, a couple of fucking bizarre races, skill powers, hybrid classes, and superior implements, and for the most part I like all of it. Its an excellent addition for players, especially those that were butthurt over the lack of psionics in the initial 4E run or (more likely) those that were disappointed for the piss-poor execution of psionic rules in every other goddamned edition.
There are only four races, trimmed somewhat from the five in PH2 and a lot from the eight in PH. Of the four, the githzerai had been previewed before and the minotaur got a racial treatment in Dragon. The only changes made since then was that the minotaur can opt to add a bonus to Wisdom instead of Constitution and their goring charge can key off of any physical stat they damned well please. This allows them to perform well in divine classes while still adhering to racial concept (I'm considering two-weapon ranger...heeell yes). The wilden was also playtested and talked about, which leaves us with the shardmind.
To me, the shardmind fills in the "what the fuck" niche. They look humanoid, to be sure, but they dont function like you would expect most humanoids to as they are just a bunch of tightly-packed intelligent crystals left over after a gate was destroyed. They get a lot of variable benefits: +2 to Int and +2 to either Wis or Cha, three languages (you get to pick one), bonuses to three skills (you get to pick one), telepathy, psychic resistance, immortal origin, and their racial lets them teleport and cause all adjacent enemies from the origin point to grant combat advantage. The only downside is their appearace. See, while I like the idea of shardminds I dont necessarily like the look. I think Wayne Reynolds did the concept of a crystalline humanoid a lotmore justice in Expanded Psionic Handbook via the psionic killer.
Of the classes, every single fucking one of these got preview articles except for the runepriest, which is kind of a melee-centric cleric that uses runes to grant benefits to nearby allies that can change each time she uses any power with the rune keyword. I dont feel ripped off since Wizards barely gave us half the class and virtually no mechanical support to back them up. This has the added benefit of making me like some of the classes that I was iffy on or just didnt care for, like the ardent and seeker. With the full suite of rules and options presented, I'm more able and willing to give them a shot. Except for the monk. They were insanely badass during their playtest run.
The psionic classes thankfully dont embody a completely alien subsystem of rules and instead mostly stick to the tried-and-true power model. I say mostly because three of the four psionic classes have power points that you can use to augment at-will disciplines, kicking them up to an "encounter grade" degree of power. Since they refresh during a short rest, it gives you quite a bit of flexibility in terms of power usage, especially given that there are magic items that you can also augment. It sticks close enough to the existing power model to avoid confusing new players, while still bringing in an interesting new mechanic that emphasizes the flexibility that they were purported to have in 3rd Edition. Its just, they dont suck.
Skill powers have already been previewed and reviewed, but basically in a nutshell they are an array of utility-only powers that you can pick up if you have a requisite trained skill. Good way to add some conceptual flavor to a character without having to resort to multiclassing or hybrid builds. Mostly win, as some of the powers suck ass.
Superior implements are really cool. You have to take a feat to use a single one, and it has to be a type that you can already use. You can pick up the feat more than once, which lets you use more superior implements. There are four types of superior implements per implement category, each possessing one or more properties. In a sense, they are the love child of standard implements and weapons. For example, accurate wands have the accurate property, which is just a +1 bonus to attacks. Cinder wands, on the other hand, have empowered crit and energized (fire), which means bonus damage on a crit and/or when you use a fire attack. Tiefling fire wizards just got alot more fucking epic.
And thats the long of it. Really great book that adds a lot of interesting and new things to the game. In the future I might post some more focused critiques on content, though MyGirlfriendIsADM did some pretty extensive work on that, already.