Posted by : David Guyll April 16, 2011
Due to a combination of some Heroes of Shadow reviews providing misinformation on just how much--if not all--material was Essentials only, and people who believe that stuff in an Essentials book is somehow incompatible (or even more laughably, a separate edition by any degree), I am not surprised to find 20-30 page forum threads of people bitching back and forth. Is it odd that I find it refreshing that at least some are complaining about how crappy the shade is/isn't?
First things first (again); Essentials isn't a new edition (or even a half edition, errata, or what the fuck ever). It's a limited book line that just so happens to have some classes that follow a different starting and advancement structure. That's not a bad thing, "allowing" designers to think more than a step outside the box. Yeah, past classes did minor changes, like giving you flexibility on making at-wills into encounters (most psionic classes), or giving you up to three at-wills (in the case of the druid). Using an entirely different class structure doesn't mean that we've somehow stepped into a new edition.
Were things really this bad when WotC released Magic of Incarnum, Tome of Magic, or Book of Nine Swords? Do people even remember how much shit changed between 3rd Edition and Revised? To make things as clear as I possibly can about the content in Heroes of Shadow, virtually all of it can be used by clerics, paladins, warlocks, and wizards of any structure. There are some powers that are tied to class features, but they are way in the minority (unless your DM is sane and doesn't mind your warlock grabbing a "binder-only" summoning power).
Second, some people are upset that the shade and vryloka have racial penalties, and/or some are also pissed at Mearls for his justifications on why shades lose all of one healing surge. I really see no problem with a small penalty here or there, especially when it's nowhere severe enough to render the race unplayable as a specific class. I remember back in the day when a real racial penalty was having a net -2 to your stats, and no racial features of merit, or being Small with a Strength penalty and trying to play an inherently dead-end class like the fighter. One less healing surge? One? Wizards get six, though I've never encountered--nor heard of--an instance where one healing surge spelled the difference between life and death.
Again, this mentality just serves to irrationally straight-jacket designers. If they make a race that gets a penalty only when using spells or using melee attacks, then we'll talk.
Others are pissed off that the shade racial is a standard action, and that it allegedly does for the most part that "anyone can do in the right situation". I'd like to point that using Stealth requires total concealment, superior cover, or the DM's mercy/leniency/rules ignorance. I know that at night, these requirements might not be as steep, but the fact that they can hide behind allies and create areas of dim light as a minor action at will by 6th level should not be discounted so readily (that, and all those dim-light feats). Others complain that some of the classes that the shade is good at (ie, rogues and assassins) will now have a wasted skill. While I can understand the sentiment behind this, the same thing could also be said for races with weapon proficiencies, racial features whose usefulness depends on the class you play (like goring charge), or skill bonuses for skills that you need a feat to take, or won't ever use.
In short, I think a the vocal minority needs to take a step back and look at the larger picture. Just because WotC put some sub-classes and races with (minor) penalties in a book does not mean that other classes won't get laundry-list power articles, or that 5th Edition is coming out, or that Mearls doesn't listen to you (because he hates you).