Posted by : David Guyll March 26, 2011

The last preview for Heroes of Shadow showcases a bunch of feats. I like a lot of them, but some of them seem very...focused. For example, Legioncaller of Moil gives your summoned shadow critters a bonus to attack rolls and defenses, while Executioner of Undeath lets you reroll any damage dice when attacking undead once. While both are focused, Legioncaller of Moil differs in that you have greater control of how it applies to your characters, as well as when it will be used. With Executioner of Undeath? That depends on what the DM throws at you (as well as, I suppose, your knowledge of what the campaign/adventure will be about).

Another potentially problematic feat is Ghost Scorpion Strike. The compendium lists 264 monsters with insubstantial somewhere in their stat block, plenty of which are in Seekers of the Ashen Crown, Scepter Tower of Spellgard, or other WotC adventures. At least 41 of those are wraiths of some sort, many of which have necrotic resistance and poison immunity. This might be fine for wizards packing disrupt undead or mages with the right specialization to ignore necrotic resistance, but honestly how many of these do you expect to fight? Same goes for Tainted Wounds. Yeah, stripping away healing is all well and good, but there isn't exactly a plethora of monsters with regeneration (or any other healing abilities).

Despite a handful of feats that will invariably be added to the pile of trap options, there are a few really good ones in the mix. I particularly like Spectral Step, which makes you insubstantial whenever you burn an Action Point. It only lasts a turn, but taking only half damage from basically everything can be a big help when you need to move, or setting up readied actions for area-effect attacks. There's also entire categories of feats that we only see by name (except for the Revenant Racial, which already exist). Shadowborn and Winterkin feats will give you thematic abilities associated with the Shadowfell. How well they will compete against other options? We'll see, though many Multiclass feats just don't seem to cut it nowadays.

{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. A lot of people play focused campaigns and adventures, and can make use of more focused and thematic powers. In 4e retraining is a snap. So if your ghost-fondling feat pays off for one adventure and then you find out the next one is going to be about fighting orcs or something, you can get rid of it. I wouldn't necessarily call them trap options.

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  2. I try to let the players know about what to expect out of a campaign. Nothing too specific, as I like to surprise them, but a general idea. For example, I'm running Age of Worms, and have told the players that after the first two adventures that they'll be dealing with a lot of undead.

    Retraining is also nice for mitigating decisions that just aren't working out, though I let new players change up their characters within the first few sessions if they aren't satisfied.

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  3. Insubstantial is one of the worst-applied abilities. I get the feeling that when the game designers wrote up the ability, they said "this ability is only going to get used for undead, and they'll all be weak against radiant." However, that isn't what happened. The compendium is littered with monsters that have insubstantial and no weakness, essentially giving them double HP.

    I suggest that all insubstantial monsters have a significant weakness - for example, 10/tier to radiant or fire or whatever is appropriate.

    Most of the feats you describe seem to follow the 4e trend of: feats=crap. Which is why more and more you see everyone taking the same set of good feats, plus a few class-specific feats.

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  4. When I run insubstantial monsters, I tend to reduce their hit points by a small chunk if its always on, but don't if the monster can only do it once per encounter for a round or two. As for feats, I think that having passive feats that always modify something important about your character--hit points, defenses, attack, damage, etc--make highly situational feats much less appealing.

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