Character Themes: Heroes of Tome and Temple

This trio of themes focuses on arcane and divine characters, giving us the ordained priest, scholar, and seer. As with the first four, they function similar to Dark Sun themes, except you also get bonus features at levels 5 and 10.

Ordained priest is a bit different from the norm, in that you get to pick from two encounter prayers; one is for weapons, and the other is for implements, which is good because it works for both "styles" of divine characters--as well as for characters that don't use implements. Smiting symbol lets you make a melee attack, and giving an ally a defense bonus along with some temp hps. Shining symbol is a friendly-fire close blast that deals radiant damage and imposes a defense penalty. Not to shabby for a freebie encounter. At level 5 you get a Religion bonus, and at level 10 you grant adjacent allies a constant untyped bonus to saving throws.

The level 2 daily utility affects a close burst, and lets each ally make a free save and regain some hit points (more if they are bloodied at the time). The level 6 daily is a slightly larger close burst that grants a hefty defense bonus that you can sustain as a standard action (bleh), though if anyone attacks it goes away for everyone. Finally, the level 10 daily (again) utility creates a small zone that gives a small defense bonus, boosts everyone's surge value, and deals automatic damage to undead. The best part is that you can sustain it as a minor action.

Scholar gives you a free language from a small assortment and use vulnerability--which you can use for free after you make a Hard DC knowledge check against a monster--giving you a nice defense bonus and damage based off of your Intelligence modifier for a turn, so long as the monster isn't resistant to it. The bad part is that if you didn't beat the Hard DC, then you instead deal half damage to it for a turn. So, it is kind of a gamble, but I gather that players fighting the same type of monster for awhile will quickly pick up on what DC is sufficient (as well as take items and feats to boost their "knowledge" skill). At level 5 you get free skill training (or a +2 untyped if you already have the skill) and another language, and at level 10 you just gain every language in the Rules Compendium or Player's Handbook. You can also make Arcana checks to try and decipher messages written in code or disguised magically.

At level 2 you can pick up a daily that gives you a power bonus to one skill for an entire encounter. Level 6 is an encounter power that lets you change untyped damage to a specific type for a turn, affect you and any adjacent allies at the time. The level 10 daily creates a sustainable zone that imposes an attack and defense penalty to all creatures of a specific type.

Finally, the seer only gives you an encounter power at the start, cast fortune. It lets you roll three d20s, the results of which are used, in order, in place of the target's next d20 rolls. You can only use it once per day on a given creature, meaning that it is good for one combat or skill challenge per other party member. At level 5 you get a Bluff and Insight bonus, and at level 10 you can roll twice on Perception checks and take either result.

The level 2 daily is a sustain standard that grants you darkvision, choose to see things from both your position and a space within 20 squares, and make Perception checks to "notice small details". Level 6 is an encounter that grants you a defense bonus as an immediate interrupt, shifting after the attack is resolved. The level 10 daily is a sustain minor that lets you see invisible critters and objects, and grants you a bonus to Insight and Perception.

I like all of the themes, but my favorite out of the bunch is the scholar (because wizard is my favored class); a well-executed concept that uses knowledge to point out monster weaknesses, though they can make mistakes. This could give a player a lot of social role-playing possibilities. I also like that all the extra languages and ability to eventually be able to just make skill rolls to decipher script.

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