Posted by : David Guyll May 06, 2011

Despite a fairly sparse offering of only four themes, this is a nice article. For heathens who do not play Dark Sun, themes are a way to provide mechanical support for your character's background. To take a quote from the article, a theme can readily answer what you were immediately before you started adventuring. More so than simply taking a rank or two in a Craft or Profession, themes could be used to provide a way for your history to meaningfully affect your character. Mind you, none of them involve bookbinding, basketweaving, or farming, but you never know what future articles or third-party support will bring.

Alchemist
This theme grants you the Alchemist feat (including a complete description of what the feat does), one free formula, and lets you create an item after each short rest for free. The only recipe featured is alchemist's fire, but then if you're reading the article then you should have access to the Compendium anyway. The level 5 and 10 features let you learn more recipes for free, as well as granting you an attack bonus with alchemy items that you made.

All of the powers are utilities which can grant an ally a bonus to damage objects, create a zone of smoke while legging it, and creating a zone of difficult terrain that burns creatures knocked prone in it.

I like this because it lets you make an arcanist that also knows alchemy without having to spend a feat on it. The free recipes and free items will also likely encourage their use at the table. 

Animal Master
This nifty theme gives you an animal minion that you can boss around. You get to choose from a cat, dog, hawk, monkey, raven, or a close-enough approximation to your liking. Regardless of which you choose, they act more like familiars than animal companions, having no attacks, a unique trait, and some skills to help you out. You do start with distracting attack, which requires your minion to be within 5 squares and lets you gain combat advantage against a target within 5 squares.

As the name implies these guys are minions, and while most monsters will "normally" ignore them they can be killed, and you don't have Raise Beast Companion or the ability to reform them out of arcane runoff. If they did, they stay dead, and it takes either a month or an adventure wrap-up to get it back, except at level 5 when you can get a new one every extended rest at the DM's discretion. 

The theme powers let you command your animal to do various tricks that it wouldn't otherwise do, grant you a defense bonus and let you ignore flanking, and eventually share senses with it. 

The other two themes are the order adept and wizard's apprentice. I won't got into detail here, as I've already spoiled half the article. Suffice to say, this is some pretty cool stuff and I look forward to cooking up my own and seeing what other people come up with. Yeah, it adds some more power creep, but not a whole lot (certainly not enough to make me reconsider how I balance my XP budgets).

Edit: Apparently there's a list of all the themes that will come out this month.

  • Chevalier
  • Explorer
  • Guardian
  • Guttersnipe
  • Hospitaler
  • Mercenary
  • Noble
  • Ordained priest
  • Outlaw
  • Seer
  • Scholar

{ 1 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. OMG. So many themes! This is the best month for content I have seen in a long while. Go WotC!

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