Dragon 386 - Humans of the Wild: On Civilization's Fringes

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DnDi_Large.png      Dragon 386
Human of the Wild:
On Civilisation's Fringes

By Robert J. Schwalb

In today's Dragon article, we get four Human bloodlines related to tribes of the near wilderness – Bogtangle, Foamgather, Sunspray, and Wolfstone.  These bloodlines include a number of backgrounds, as well as bloodline feats with associated powers. 

By an outsider’s estimation, the Hastaani are a primitive folk, spread across simple and backward communities without any of the modern innovations found in the civilized lands. Yet, as Uri learned, they made do with what they had, lived in peace with one another, and presented a united face through social obligations and strong connections that acted as a glue for all the people in each village. Though simple in demand, Uri learned they were clever, due to having overcome their hardships through surprising ingenuity and determination.


Talk about this article here.


386_humans_of_the_wild.jpg


 

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

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A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

      Dragon 386
Human of the Wild:
On Civilisation's Fringes

By Robert J. Schwalb

In today's Dragon article, we get four Human bloodlines related to tribes of the near wilderness – Bogtangle, Foamgather, Sunspray, and Wolfstone.  These bloodlines include a number of backgrounds, as well as bloodline feats with associated powers. 

By an outsider’s estimation, the Hastaani are a primitive folk, spread across simple and backward communities without any of the modern innovations found in the civilized lands. Yet, as Uri learned, they made do with what they had, lived in peace with one another, and presented a united face through social obligations and strong connections that acted as a glue for all the people in each village. Though simple in demand, Uri learned they were clever, due to having overcome their hardships through surprising ingenuity and determination.


Talk about this article here.



 


Everything in this article is great, but Wolfstone is made of pure golden win.  I want to play in Wolfstone.  It's a little bit Ragnarok, a little bit Helm's Deep, and all awesome.

WotC and Robert J. Schwalb, Tell me more about Wolfstone.  Tell me more about the hard men and women who live there.  Who runs the show?  What sort of slime skulks in the cold shadows, making plans to betray the Captain of the Guard while swearing oaths to him and taking rings as gifts in the mead hall?  What Terrible Thing slithers about the ancient caves underneath the keep?  Why now have the dwarves returned to a place they left a thousand years ago?  What are the forces arrayed against the mighty fortress?  Where are their lairs, so I can sneak in, cut the throats of my enemies, and rob them for justice?  I gotta know!

The Chaos Scar is great, but building something out of Wolfstone could define 4e in the way that B2 defines Basic D&D.  These guys are fighting the hopeless Dusk War right now, and I want to get in there and fight the good fight with them, shoulder to shoulder.  This stuff is compelling, which I have so far found lacking in most other material for 4e.
I killed Aleena.
Interesting article. I like all the fluff and the fleshing out of backgrounds, but seems to me that giving humans racial powers kind of breaks the system as far as game balance compared to the other races. Sure humans have to spend their extra feat at 1st level to get it, but then they still get the extra trained skill and at-will power which makes them inherently more versatile. I don't see why you wouldn't choose one of these tribes if want to play a human.
While I don't think the mechanical benefits of the feats presented are quite good enough from a power-level point of view, the idea of offering Humans feats to add flavor to their race is simply brilliant.

Humans usually seemed a little bland to me in 4E, which is oddly ironic, considering how diverse they were in previous editions and how Humans can be good at any class, but it was likely the lack of cultural flavor.

Adding this way of adding some flavor at the cost of a feat is pure genius, and drawing the Human racials into it, namely that they get Bonus Feat with which to pay for this, and adding a cultural at-will attack power to replace the Bonus At-Will only adds to the brilliance.

I do hope this way of flavoring the 4E Humans will see more support, possibly in the form of more cultures and flavors, such as the glacier barbarians (resist cold?) illustrated in the article, or maybe humans from magic-rich environments (bonus to Arcana?).

EDIT: Clarification.
Interesting article. I like all the fluff and the fleshing out of backgrounds, but seems to me that giving humans racial powers kind of breaks the system as far as game balance compared to the other races. Sure humans have to spend their extra feat at 1st level to get it, but then they still get the extra trained skill and at-will power which makes them inherently more versatile. I don't see why you wouldn't choose one of these tribes if want to play a human.


Um ... yeah, and?  There are already three other Heritage feats out - Dhampyr, Vistani, and Deva (Aasimar) that all do the exact same thing, except they can be taken by anyone and not just humans.  Ok, they don't provide extra trained skills, but they give other beneifts plus a racial power instead.  So why complain about these feats?  Humans have been able to do this for over a year now.
This article actually makes me want to play a human, something that hasn't happened for a long time!

I have to say that Dragon is really impressing me lately!
Schwalb knocks one out of the park, as usual. While the mechanics in this article are great, I really like the new lore -- especially Wolfstone, though Foamgather is conceptually brilliant as well.

Hope to see more human bloodlines in the near future!
The most fun part for me will be figuring out where these groups might appear in my Eberron campaign.

Bogtangle: This bloodline would be great for portraying the oft-overlooked human clans of the Shadow Marches. Alternately, they could be Q'barrans who've settled in the Basura Swamp, far from Newthrone's influence. A little less likely, but the poison-use theme jives nicely with a group that's learned from the Poisondusk lizardfolk.

Foamgather: This screams out Lhazaar Principalities to me. It's perfect for them. Alternately, the half-elves of House Lyrandar (who can take feats with the Human prerequisite) would also fit this theme-- especially if they're born and raised in Stormhome.

Sunspray: This one's a little harder. There's only one significant desert on Khorvaire, and that's the Blade Desert, with the Talenta halflings on one side and the Valenar elves on the other. Still, the "Sunspray" could work very well as a marginalized human tribe trying to make a go of it in the one place the halflings and elves don't want.

Wolfstone: A lot of the resolute, honorable warrior stuff would work well for Karrnath, so maybe they're Mror-influenced humans of the Icetop Mountains. The Graywall Mountains, bordering monster-infested Droaam as they do, could also inspire a culture with a "hold the pass" mentality.

Best part? Once I pick a proper geographic location in Eberron, I can drop the names from the article! ;)

 
Um ... yeah, and?  There are already three other Heritage feats out - Dhampyr, Vistani, and Deva (Aasimar) that all do the exact same thing, except they can be taken by anyone and not just humans.  Ok, they don't provide extra trained skills, but they give other beneifts plus a racial power instead.  So why complain about these feats?  Humans have been able to do this for over a year now.



For myself, I don't have any problem with the idea of heritage feats that grant powers, I just have a problem with these specific ones being way too powerful. Well, not all of them, but I specifically dislike:

1) The fact they all give a +2 bonus to a skill. Vistani, Dhampyr and Deva Heritage all give a +2 bonus for very specific purposes, which is much more reasonable than a +2 bonus accompanying a free power (already a very strong offering from a feat.) If these gave more restricted bonuses I'd be much happier with them.

2) Of the specific powers, Bathed in the Light seems pretty strong - immunity to fire (or radiant) for essentially two attacks an encounter? (The one it absorbs and the one offset by the healing.) I might find that ok for a class utility, but for one gained through a feat, it seems a bit much. Same goes for the Unrelenting Mountain power, which would be fine if it wasn't for the Resist 5 All. Even while bloodied, that is very potent, and can trivialize things at level 1 - especially being able to acquire this power for classes that might already have such defenses, like Battleragers or Swarm Druids. A smaller amount of Resist, or removing it entirely, and the power would seem reasonable to me.

Now, despite all this, I found this a fantastic article, with some incredible flavor and ideas I liked. I can see myself making good use of Wolfstone and Sunspray in particular, and I just like the idea of a city of floating ships.

Which is why I'm hoping to see these powers fixed - as it is, it is one of the first Dragon articles I'd consider not allowing in my games, and I certainly don't want to do that with an article full of such excellent flavor.
This is how that Wizard article a couple of months ago should have been, rather than using a feat to replace a Utility that your PC already has with a more mediocre Utility.  Essentially it cost the Wizard a feat and none of the powers were really greater than the power they replaced (they should have been as good as a feat AND a power since it cost both).

I understand that the Wizard article may have changed in the editing process.  Perhaps the Human article made it through differently.  This is a good direction.  Please keep up the good work.
Bogtangle: For 2 feats and an at-will I get:
* A daily that adds an average of ~12 damage.
* A ranged at-will that does d6 + attribute and slows/immobilizes (range 5/10) that must use a blowgun
* +2 nature
* An otherwise insignificant boost to blowgun damage.

Combined with the other blowgun feats, this may be something a ranged rogue could build around.  A fighter may also get some mileage out of it as a method of keeping enemies at a distance.  

Foamgatherer:  For 2 feats and an at-will I get:
* +2 Endurance
* Double the time I can hold my breath
* Ability to swim speed and fight with any weapon in water
* +1 attack with all nets
* A versatile at-will that can be used range or close, and allows for control of enemy movement.

Combined with the net training collection, this is strong.  Dual wielding fighters and ranges that use a net and three headed flail (or double nets) may be happy with these benefits.  The heritage feat may be a bit weak, but the bonus to hit with nets could be very valuable.  Plus, there are a lot of fighter feats that trigger off of the forced movement of the at-will. 

Sunspray:  For 2 feats and an at-will I get:
* The ability to turn fire or radiant damage into healing once per encounter.
* +2 Endurance.
* + 1 melee / range attack when mounted
* An at-will that deals radiant and hampers enemy attack roles.

I really like the at-will, I must admit.  This fits well in any undead heavy campaign for any melee class.  A rogue might consider getting it if they have racial proficiency in a nice big weapon for use when the sneak attack is not available.  However, the first feat may go entire levels without being useful. On the other hand, if you're adventuring in a volcano dungeon or in the City of Brass, you might get nailed by fire damage every encounter.  If you can find a way to turn an enemy attack into fire or radiant reliably, this could be a big win...

Wolfstone:  For 2 feats and an at-will I get:
* +2 Athletics
* A daily that gives resist 5 when bloodied and reduces pushes and proning, but must be activated before the forced movement.
*  ~3.5 bonus damage on an action point when bloodied.
* An at-will that pushes all adjacent enemies on a hit. 

Not too exctiing for most PCs, but a Dragonborn with Draconic Arrogance would have loved it.  Is there a convenient way for humans to deal damage on a push?  This may be useful for a controller type PC that doesn't have a great way to clear enemies off of him.  A big investment to get it, but I can see an invoker going this route to create some room so that they can get back behind the front lines.

A nice article.  I don't think the contents will see extended play, but I do think they will see some.

I'd really like them to make heritage into a part of 5E.  Every character should be required to pick three backgrounds (geographic, social and professional - each of which applies a minor bonus and a penalty) and pick a heritage (which provides a significant utility power).
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I found it very interesting that the Sunspray's nemesis was a brown dragon named Shaitan!
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We're glad people like the article. We're jumping in here just to point out that we've fixed the rather embarrassing typo in the headline, and that we caught it ourselves before anyone else pointed at it, only rather too late for the early edition.

And let me just add that I was not the proofreader on this ...

Steve 

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

We're glad people like the article. We're jumping in here just to point out that we've fixed the rather embarrassing typo in the headline, and that we caught it ourselves before anyone else pointed at it, only rather too late for the early edition.

And let me just add that I was not the proofreader on this ...

Steve 

This makes me really curious as to what the typo was, did anybody get it?

We're glad people like the article. We're jumping in here just to point out that we've fixed the rather embarrassing typo in the headline, and that we caught it ourselves before anyone else pointed at it, only rather too late for the early edition.

And let me just add that I was not the proofreader on this ...

Steve 

This makes me really curious as to what the typo was, did anybody get it?




Looking at the first post, it looks like it read "civilisation" instead of "civilization". Clearly, on civilization's fringes, such petty concerns as spelling are far less important than being awesome.
We're glad people like the article. We're jumping in here just to point out that we've fixed the rather embarrassing typo in the headline, and that we caught it ourselves before anyone else pointed at it, only rather too late for the early edition.

And let me just add that I was not the proofreader on this ...

Steve 

This makes me really curious as to what the typo was, did anybody get it?

Looking at the first post, it looks like it read "civilisation" instead of "civilization". Clearly, on civilization's fringes, such petty concerns as spelling are far less important than being awesome.

Or maybe these fringes used to be British colonies!


I'd really like them to make heritage into a part of 5E.  Every character should be required to pick three backgrounds (geographic, social and professional - each of which applies a minor bonus and a penalty) and pick a heritage (which provides a significant utility power).



Y'know, that idea could be houseruled with a fair degree of ease, I bet.

Still, I agree that it'd be nice to these three backgrounds incorporated into a charactger's generation.

I just wonder how one would work it for Devas?  Memories of a past life would apply here, perhaps?

I like the article, I'm just not sure how the Bogtangle Heritage daily power qualifies as an attack.  I think it'd be classified as a utility?  The wording's strange when compared to other daily attacks, as there is no specific attack line.
We're glad people like the article. We're jumping in here just to point out that we've fixed the rather embarrassing typo in the headline, and that we caught it ourselves before anyone else pointed at it, only rather too late for the early edition.

And let me just add that I was not the proofreader on this ...

Steve 

This makes me really curious as to what the typo was, did anybody get it?




Looking at the first post, it looks like it read "civilisation" instead of "civilization". Clearly, on civilization's fringes, such petty concerns as spelling are far less important than being awesome.



It also says "Human of the Wild" instead of "Humans of the Wild".
I like the article, I'm just not sure how the Bogtangle Heritage daily power qualifies as an attack.  I think it'd be classified as a utility?  The wording's strange when compared to other daily attacks, as there is no specific attack line.



Actually, if I'm not mistaken, it's similar to the artificer's various sigil spells from the Eberron Player's Guide.
Can anybody explain to me why when I try to download this article it tells me that I do not have the right entitlement for this article, and I should upgrade my subscription, when I have an active D&D insider account?

EDIT: Ok, weird... now it just downloaded.
I like the article, I'm just not sure how the Bogtangle Heritage daily power qualifies as an attack.  I think it'd be classified as a utility?  The wording's strange when compared to other daily attacks, as there is no specific attack line.



Actually, if I'm not mistaken, it's similar to the artificer's various sigil spells from the Eberron Player's Guide.




Ah, my mistake.  Not used to seeing that format for some reason.
And the poison based assassin is now crying with joy.

Lovely poison at will there.
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