Review: Playing Revenants

Playing Revenants touts itself as DDI exclusive content, which describes virtually everything else that gets put into both Dragon and Dungeon. It predictably introduces the revenant race, which are souls that have returned from death to enact vengeance, perform a fetch-quest for a powerful god, or just sheer emo-powah. The default assumption is that the Raven Queen wants you to do something, but the article drops suggestions that a devil might use your soul, or that you might come back to right a wrong.
They get a bonus to Con and Dex, can pick another race to crib race-specific options from, can take a standard action before dropping from having 0-or-less hit points, and their racial encounter lets them deal bonus damage by harnessing the soul of a creature that died nearby. Very cool, and I have a couple ideas brewing for a few characters already. The stat block also cites that they are ideal for warlocks, rogues, and assassins but since we wont see the assassin until September (I think), I'm just going to have to take their word for it.

Revenants look like slender MySpace bloggers: pale skin, sunken eyes, often black or white hair, and a rough, scaly texture near the ends of their limbs. Well...not the last part in most cases. This is all supposed to mark them as an agent of the Raven Queen, and despite my sarcasm I actually like all of these aesthetic touches as it makes them thematic to their origins and default purposes. I think that the designers handled this is a very elegant, logical way to a point where it makes sense even if you are playing a minotaur-turned-revenant (which is one of my character concepts).
In 3rd Edition this would likely be handled with a Level Adjustment and a template, which means that in most cases results in a ham-stringed character that might sound cool on the surface but ultimately drown in his own incompetence. I was wondering how they would pull this off, and I couldnt be happier with the results.

Revenants are designed to be a complete race, and Matt certainly doesnt skimp on the details. You get a complete set of feats for every tier (taking up almost five pages), a paragon path, and an epic destiny. First, lets talk feats.
There is one feat for basically every damned race in the game, and since the prerequisites are both the original race and revenant, you can only take the one that matches up with the race that you were before coming back from the dead.
Each racial feat gives the revenant the other race's racial power, so an elf-revenant can use elven accuracy, while a dwarf-revenant can use second wind as a minor action. This is all balanced by the fact that usually you can only opt to use either the original race's power or the revenant's own darkreaping power.
For example, the minotaur one lets you make a basic attack before dropping without any limitation of frequency. These double-racial feats encompass almost all of Heroic tier, though a fair number apply to classes and modify your racial features (as to be expected), allowing you to avoid having to make Endurance checks due to starvation, thirst, or suffocation, or grant you temp hp when you trigger darkreaping.
The paragon feats let you extend the range of darkreaping, do it to more than one creature, gain poison resistance, and stay around kicking until you fail two death saves.
Epic wraps things up with four feats, one of which lets you take a full suite of actions while at 0 or less and also become insubstantial, while another gives you a bonus on death saves and if you roll a nat 20 lets you burn two surges and stand as a free action.

The only paragon path is avenging haunt, and if I had to complain it would be about the fact that we only get one, but since revenants were originally of another race this is more nit-picky than anything else.
The avenging haunt is fantastic at ramping up all of your racial features, making you insubstantial when you burn an action point, and staying unconscious until you are dead-dead (ie, negative half-hit points). The granted powers let you make a counterattack against anything that hits you within 20 squares, turn insubstantial, and a very powerful area-effect attack at level 20 that deals more damage if any affected creature hits you. It all comes together to really play up that "avenging" theme.
Finally, the free soul epic destiny lets you negate rerolls, make an immediate save, impose said saved condition against the creature that caused it, and you get a daily power that lets you reroll a failed save and reroll a save for the entire encounter therafter.

This article does a great job of reminding me why DDI is an excellent investment beyond just the Character Builder. This right here would be worth five bucks, so I consider my money well spent several times over. I'm going to work on a few revenant concepts and see what I can do, and if my players want to off themselves to give it a whirl, I dont blame them.

1 comment:

  1. I thought Assassins will be in either July or August. I know that they said Psions are coming in July, and Assassins soon after.

    Revenants give power gamers a new choice as well. Instead of having to stick with Half-Elves for Versitile Master (or whatever it is called) to get the off-class At-Will, you can now go with the + DEX Revenants, which also have a nice racial encounter power. I wonder if you can use your Half-Elf racial power and the Revenant power once the Half-Elf one becomes At-Will...


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