Player's Option: Heroes of Shadow (Mach 2011)

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As a 4e player and DM who's been anxiously waiting for the Shadow power source and the Necromancer class in particular, I was very excited when I read the first vague reports at Enworld about this product appearing in a WotC catolog, slated for a March 2011 release.  Thanlis fished the catalog blurb out of the enworld thread:

Player's Option: Heroes of Shadow
Mike Mearls and Robert J. Schwalb
The Shadowfell is a cold place through which the spirits of the dead  must pass on their way to...whatever. Dark, evil things live there,  suffused with the power of shadow.. Some mortals in the natural world  learn how to tap into this source. Assassins. Necromancers.  Hexblades. By all accounts, a ruthless lot. However, not all beings that  draw strength from the Shadowfell are vile, blackhearted fiends. A few  even dare to call themselves heroes, using the power of darkness to  fight darkness. Are they evil? No. Deeply disturbed and hounded by their  own dark demons? You bet.

Player's Options: Heroes of Shadow
focuses on characters that fight evil in ways that make others cringe.  In addition to exploring the nature of the shadow power source, this  book presents races, classes, feats, powers, and other options aimed at  players hungry to play the archetypal antihero with a dark edge.

320 page trade paperback (6x9), $19.95
March 15, 2011.


Also some info comming out of gencon:
Dave at Critical Hits wrote:
Heroes of Shadow will contain options for all characters to gain shadow powers, not just shadow power source characters. (It’s also likely that this book will contain all new classes and races.) They wanted to add powers that added more flavor to existing characters, and the options in this book will encourage that, like when your fighter has a shadow pact.

The Assassin class is NOT in Heroes of Shadow, but it and the Revenant will appear in Heroes of the Fallen Lands Essentials product.  (this part is in dispute)critical-hits.com/2010/08/07/gen-con-201...


57967878 wrote:
Don't rely on the info posted there. Dave misheard/misunderstood some of the stuff discussed in that seminar. Assassins and revenants are not going to be in HotFL, for example. Some new stuff for assassins will be released online at the same time as HoS is released in print, and a new 'Essentials' build for the assassin, plus some new stuff for the revenant, will be released online when HotFL comes out in print.

My advice is to listen to the audio recordings of the seminars rather than relying on second-hand sources.


I can't wait, myself.  This is a product I've been wanting since 4e was first released.  Is anybody else as excited to hear a release date for this as I am?  What are you hoping to see in this book?

.

I am somewhat concerned about some of the rumors, though.  I thought having the assassin be DDI exclusive was stupid, and would much rather have Wizards 'change their mind' on that issue then keep them out of a book that they fit so well in.

I'm also worried about the supposed material for non-shadow characters.  This book is likely the only book we'll see for the Shadow classes.  Losing one of only three shadow classes from the book, and potentially squishing the material for the remaining two, in order to present some shadow themed options for non-shadow characters does not make me very happy.  I was hoping for more of a self contained book myself.  Oh, well.
It wouldn't surprise me if they printed a new build of the assassin, and a reprint of the class features, so the DDI subscribers didn't kick up a fuss(And rightly so, it was advertised as exclusive), much like we presume they will do in the D&D essentials books.

BUT YAY FOR HEXBLADE. I'm hoping they'll do something really fun with the marking power, and hoping for a Cha primary with Int secondary at some point~
Personally I'd like to see Hexblade be another Con primary with secondaries being Str and Cha. Battlemind opened up some options for my Half-Elf Con-lock, but it'd be nice to have more classes with Con primaries. :P
Planes Wanderer
From that thread:

Player's Option: Heroes of Shadow
Mike Mearls and Robert J. Schwalb
The Shadowfell is a cold place through which the spirits of the dead must pass on their way to...whatever. Dark, evil things live there, suffused with the power of shadow.. Some mortals in the natural world learn how to tap into this source. Assassins. Necromancers. Hexblades. By all accounts, a ruthless lot. However, not all beings that draw strength from the Shadowfell are vile, blackhearted fiends. A few even dare to call themselves heroes, using the power of darkness to fight darkness. Are they evil? No. Deeply disturbed and hounded by their own dark demons? You bet.
Player's Options: Heroes of Shadow focuses on characters that fight evil in ways that make others cringe. In addition to exploring the nature of the shadow power source, this book presents races, classes, feats, powers, and other options aimed at players hungry to play the archetypal antihero with a dark edge.

320 page trade paperback (6x9), $19.95
March 15, 2011

Personally, Im excited about paperbacks. Cheap, portable, convenient. Im much more likely to buy it. Wont even feel guilty if I abuse it. Rips creases stains ... do your damdest!

I care deeply about artwork, and fine artwork is the only real loss.

But. I have DDI and thats better to use for actual gameplay.

It would be cool if all books came in hardcover and softcover versions. The softcovers Im more likely to buy on a whim. The hardcovers Il buy for the books that turn out to be my favorite, in which case, I really want them to have the stunning glossy artwork that Iv become accustomed too.
$19.95



And that's how it gets on my "Buy" list.
Thanks Thanlis!  I thought I saw the actual blurb there somewhere, but when I went to quote it I couldn't find it.  I'll put that up in the original post.

320 pages eh?  That's much more then I had feared.  With that many pages, and no core game rules to cover, the book could easily have room for a decent number of races, more then three classes, and maybe some of that fluff I'm hoping for.  (please, please, please let there be some in character fluff and fiction!  Even just a little bit, at the beginning, or a sidebar to start out chapters!)

I still wonder what the binding, paper, cover, and art qualities will be.  I guess I'll have to wait until the essentials books start rolling out to see.

Regardless, I was always going to get this book, regardless of the price or page count, but I'm happy to see that it looks like something of a bargain as well.

So lets see, this book will have an introduction, a chapter for races, one for each class (including powers and paragon paths, these should be the longest section), a chapter for hybrid versions of the classes, a chapter for epic destinies, a chapter for feats, and probably a chapter for equipment and items, at the very least.  Heroes of the Fallen Lands is 352 pages, and covers five classes (cleric, rogue, fighter, wizard, and ranger), and five races (dwarves, eladrin, elves, halflings, and humans).  If they can fit five races and five classes in 352 pages, is it too much to hope for at least four races and four classes in 320?
I wonder if this will hasten the Elemental power source for PHB4, with the remainder of the shadow classes to be one of the filler power sources (along with Psionic).

I would think that if the Assassin is mentioned, that the whole class would be inside. (unfortunatly)
Terms you should know...
Show
Kit Build - A class build that is self sustaining and has mechanical differences than the normal scale. Started in Essentials. Most are call their own terms, though the Base Class should be said in front of their own terms (Like Assassin/Executioner) Power Points - A mechanic that was wedged into the PHB3 classes (with the exception of the Monk) from the previous editions. This time, they are used to augment At Wills to be Encounters, thus eliminating the need to choose powers past 4th level. Mage Builds - Kit builds that are schools of magic for the Wizard. A call back to the previous editions powering up of the wizard. (Wizard/Necromancer, for example) Unlike the previous kit builds, Wizards simply lose their Scribe Rituals feature and most likely still can choose powers from any build, unlike the Kit Builds. Parcel System - A treasure distribution method that keeps adventurers poor while forcing/advising the DM to get wish lists from players. The version 2.0 rolls for treasure instead of making a list, and is incomplete because of the lack of clarity about magic item rarity.
ha ha
56902498 wrote:
They will Essentialize the Essentials classes, otherwise known as Essentials2. The new sub-sub-classes will be: * Magician. A subsubclass of Mage, the magician has two implements, wand and hat, one familiar (rabbit) and series of basic tricks. * Crook. A subsubclass of Thief, the Crook can only use a shiv, which allows him to use his only power... Shank. * Angry Vicar, a subsubclass of warpriest, the angry vicar has two attacks -- Shame and Lecture. * Hitter. A subsubclass of Slayer, the Hitter hits things. * Gatherer. A subsubclass of Hunter, it doesn't actually do anything, but pick up the stuff other players might leave behind. Future Essentials2 classes include the Security Guard (Sentinel2), the Hexknife (Hexblade2), the Webelos (Scout2), the Gallant (Cavalier2) and the Goofus (Knight2). These will all be detailed in the box set called Heroes of the Futile Marketing. (Though what they should really release tomorrow is the Essentialized version of the Witchalok!)
I wonder if this will hasten the Elemental power source for PHB4, with the remainder of the shadow classes to be one of the filler power sources (along with Psionic).

I would think that if the Assassin is mentioned, that the whole class would be inside. (unfortunatly)



I wonder if there will even be a PHB4, or if we are seeing instead of it...

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

ave to say, things are looking bad for there being a PHB IV in the first place.  Doesn't seem much use for it in the essentials lineup, and I like the players option way of introducing new power sources, anyway.  I hope we'll see similar books in the future reprinting and updating existing power sources.
Isn't 320 pages a bit thick for a paperback book?  That's more pages than the PHB3.  Somewhere I think there's a typo.
Isn't 320 pages a bit thick for a paperback book?  That's more pages than the PHB3.  Somewhere I think there's a typo.

In my hand, Im holding the Swordmage novel by Baker. It has 375 pages and is a normal sized paperback. Very convenient to carry and reference.

Actually, this novel only costs $7.

So, hopefully, the $20 paperback books to come will generate profit. Dont begrudge this price, because technical books (like scientific studies or rules manuals) are necessarily more expensive because of the elaborate research that must go into them.
Isn't 320 pages a bit thick for a paperback book?  That's more pages than the PHB3.  Somewhere I think there's a typo.

In my hand, Im holding the Swordmage novel by Baker. It has 375 pages and is a normal sized paperback. Very convenient to carry and reference.

Actually, this novel only costs $7.

So, hopefully, the $20 paperback books to come will generate profit. Dont begrudge this price, because technical books (like scientific studies or rules manuals) are necessarily more expensive because of the elaborate research that must go into them.


He means a paperback RPG book.

It depends - the digest sized core books for a lot of RPG systems are around that size, but that's pretty large for what amounts to an expansion.
Celtic: "He means a paperback RPG book."

Obviously wer talking about the upcoming RPG book. Im saying, a paperback with that number of pages isnt thick.

Now Im holding a 'thick paperback', and it has 835 pages.
I can kinda see how this turned out like this. Shadow is cool and all, but making 4 new classes (other than the Assassin) would have been forcing things like psionics did.

I mean, sure, there's Illusionist, but he'd be too close to the Wizard illusionist, with a more narrow focus, and dark.

There'd be the shadowdancer,who well, is already eaten by the Assassin.

There's the blackguard/dark knight whatever you wana call it, who's just an anti-paladin and a hexblade in diferent armor (or do hex blades wear heavy too?)

There's the shadow caster,who is again, just a wizard but dark, and likely can be a build of the Necromancer in order to give it more flavour.

That said, I'm not too fond of Wizard's going back on "DDI exclusives", but honestly, if it gets the assassin more support, I don't care. Right now, its the same stuff they launched with, except more racial feats,and random combo with avenger stuff.
Remember they may have  new assassin builds with out reprinting the base class, arcane power had a swordmage build with out reprinting the base class. You still needed the FR book to know how it or the dark pact warlock worked.

And on that note...
Anyone think or hope that they will print SHADOW concept powers or feats for other power sources?

Don't know if it will work with the mechanics but I am thinking about playing an unlucky, depressed, pessamistic hexblade. The fighter and paladin charge in yelling "hit me" and this is the guy going "Yup, their attacking me just my luck." kind of like Eore with a mark mechanic "Just attack the donkey, I'm used to it" or you know spiderman. "what is it attack the wall crawler week?"
The sea looks at the stabillity of the mountian and sighs. The mountian watches the freedom of the sea and cries.
Remember they may have  new assassin builds with out reprinting the base class, arcane power had a swordmage build with out reprinting the base class. You still needed the FR book to know how it or the dark pact warlock worked.


I think, presuming that they mention the Assassin in the introduction and/or back cover, then they would have to reprint the basic mechanics. Otherwise, people who haven't heard that it's a DDI exclusive (there must be some!) would feel cheated if they bought the books for that class and couldn't play it. Although it might not have the same builds, powers, etc. as were in Dragon, I expect the rules for shrouds, defense bonuses, proficiencies, etc. will be reprinted.

I'll throw a vote in for goblin-types--some of them are shadow-ish (and a goblinoid PC is as likely as anyone to be "not-evil-but-not-nice") and it makes sense to put them all in one place.
I think this maybe the replacement for the PHB series as it comes out at the exact same time as a PHB should. If wizsrds is going this route to save money and in turn make more profit then so be it as long as the product inside is good. I for one don't care about any power source after this and I may stop buying D&D other than a yearly monster manual or if some other new product really catches my eye. I have more than enough at that point to play D&D for years to come.
While this is also the last book I'm explicitely looking for, if $20 is the new price point, I'd be much more tempted to buy books I'm only half-interested in on a whim.
I'm looking forward to this.  Yay confirmation of hexblade and necromancer!  Since those two classes and assassin were mentioned, I think WotC may wind up proving some people right: the shadow source is the leader-less source.  Assuming hexblade is a defender and necromancer is a controller.  Which I think is likely.  All speculation, so feel free to debate me.  Honestly, I could imagine there being a persuasive argument for other roles, but somehow I doubt WotC will do that.

I'm also voting for goblinoids/kobolds in the book.  They just feel right for it.
Nothing about the blurb indicates to me that those are the only three classes.  The book is nearly as long as heroes of the fallen realms, which has five classes.  I'm still hoping for a shadowcaster/beguiler type class.  At the same time, I wouldn't mind if they doubled up on controllers or strikers instead of including a leader.  I think a fluffy shadow leader could be done - handing out temporary HP with its class feature ability, granting real hp only when it is drained from the life force of enemies, inflicting penalties to enemy attacks and defenses instead of bonuses to those of allies, and so on.

All that said, I like the idea of shadow as a selfish, solitary power source, and wouldn't mind if it had no leaders, or at least no primary leaders, in order to convey that.  Actually, there's something intrinsicly altruistic about the defender role as well, so I wouldn't mind of the hexblade turned out to be a second shadow striker instead of the defender we're all currently assuming it is.

I don't know if goblinoids or kobolds feel right for this book.  To me the former feel much more appropriate for the martial and primal power sources (goblin rogues, rangers, and shamen; hobgoblin fighters and warlords; bugbear barbarians), while the latter always felt more arcane to me (due to the dragon connection).

To me, the races I associate with the shadow power source are Shadar-Kai, Revenants, Kenku, and Changellings.  Maybe shades.


Not that I don't want to see a book presenting the monsterous humanoids as player options, especially for Eberron, but I'm not really convinced that tying them to the Shadow powers source really works, thematically.
Hey, good point on Changelings being shadowish. Maybe we'll actually see some real support for them in the book.
Planes Wanderer
It seems like it's an unusual size for an RPG sourcebook that happens to be a paperback.  As most of such books are generally limited to around 192 pages.  They use the term 'trade paperback', which generally I associate with comic book graphic novels rather than novels.  Most of those books generally have an average of 6 to 8 issues of a monthly 22 page comic book, which puts that under 320 pages.  Ok, I realize that some textbooks may be around that size but I haven't seen a RPG book that's like a textbook.

As for the classes, well it's good that the Hexblade is back.  It always seemed like an interesting class in concept and flavour to me, but it's mechanics sort of fell weak.  I'm guessing it's a defender class, as I'd like to see a class that curses enemies who tried to harm it's allies.  I think the closest point of reference to this would be Divine Challenge, except that it might have a more variable effect for punishment that includes increased penalties or things that vary depending on build.

As for Necromancers I could see it diverging in a few different ways.  Summoning might be a major thing for one build, but looking at the Necromancy spells in previous editions, a lot of them relied on inflicting unpleasant status effects.  So I could see a build that heavily uses debuffs.  As to what would make it different from other controllers, well it always seemed to be something where the necromancer got buffed in different ways, whether it was becoming more like undead or something else.

This seems to be about the standard size for the upcoming essentials line, so when they start rolling out in, what, September?  It should give an indication of what the book will look and feel like.

I think the Necromancer will very much focus on undead use - whether through summoning, a class pet, something new, or a combination thereof.  The straight debuff/hamper gimmick has been covered many times over by other 4e controllers - I can't imagine any 4e version of a 'necromancer' class where some manner of undead pets aren't their defining thing, regardless of build.
Given the name (Player's Options: ___, similar to Player's Essentials: ___) and the format (paperback) this looks to be part of the D&D Essentials line. 

It really looks like DDE isn't just a end of 2010 product line and will be continuing well into 2011. DDE might actually have supplanted generic 4e, and be 4.5 after all.  

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

Also check out my books at 5mwd.com/publishingIncluding Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuildinga compilation of my blog series on Worldbuilding.

 

Given the name (Player's Options: ___, similar to Player's Essentials: ___) and the format (paperback) this looks to be part of the D&D Essentials line. 

It really looks like DDE isn't just a end of 2010 product line and will be continuing well into 2011. DDE might actually have supplanted generic 4e, and be 4.5 after all.  



Except that the Eseentials line is 10 products and we already know what those 10 products are. This might be using the format of the Essentials line, but it is not an Essentials product.
Given the name (Player's Options: ___, similar to Player's Essentials: ___) and the format (paperback) this looks to be part of the D&D Essentials line. 

It really looks like DDE isn't just a end of 2010 product line and will be continuing well into 2011. DDE might actually have supplanted generic 4e, and be 4.5 after all.  



Except that the Eseentials line is 10 products and we already know what those 10 products are. This might be using the format of the Essentials line, but it is not an Essentials product.



Then list all ten please. ;)

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

Also check out my books at 5mwd.com/publishingIncluding Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuildinga compilation of my blog series on Worldbuilding.

 

That it's called "players option" and not "players essentials" is a pretty clear indication that it's not part of the essentials line.  The description for the essentials line sounds like those products will stay in print while other products (previous 4e books, the players option books) might rotate in and out of print as a cost saving measure.  That's the 'essential' part of the line, but the book format seems to be something of a staple moving forward, as the heroes of shadow book shares the dimensions, price point, and approximate page count of the equivalent essentials books 'heroes of the fallen lands' and 'heroes of the forgotten realms'.
There are three classes confirmed so far, and the possibility for more. My best guess would be four or five (since there won't be any other power sources in the book).

Confirmed so far (Only the assassin's role is known. The roles of the hexblade and necromancer are conjecture.)
Assassin (Striker)
Key Stats: Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma
Hexblade (Defender)
Key Stats: Intelligence, Strength, Dexterity
Necromancer (Controller)
Key Stats: Intelligence, Charisma, Constitution(or Strength)

Additional classes might include the beguiler(second shadow controller) or witch(shadow leader).

It's also possible that there will be more than two builds for each class in the book, since the book is dedicated to the power source (though more might be saved for a future Shadow Power book).
Nothing about the blurb indicates to me that those are the only three classes.  The book is nearly as long as heroes of the fallen realms, which has five classes.


On the other hand, that this is "Player's Option" instead of PHB4, which makes me question if we'll see a Shadow Power. What if they released only this book but included 4 or 5 builds a class? (And nudge people towards DDI if they want more builds?)

Whatever happens, I'm pretty confidant that this is an experiment to test the 6x9 paperback format with people whining about 4.5 and new players getting into the game variables removed.

Then list all ten please. ;)



I think I've linked to them all correctly.
Give us some playtest articles please..Tongue out
Give us some playtest articles please..



You already have one, the DDI Exclusive: Assassin article. :P
Personally, I want a blackguard type class... as a striker.  Because I want a heavy armor striker, and a heavy armor shadow class, so my mind sort of naturally combines the two.  But that's just me.
From that thread:

Player's Option: Heroes of Shadow
Mike Mearls and Robert J. Schwalb
The Shadowfell is a cold place through which the spirits of the dead must pass on their way to...whatever. Dark, evil things live there, suffused with the power of shadow.. Some mortals in the natural world learn how to tap into this source. Assassins. Necromancers. Hexblades. By all accounts, a ruthless lot. However, not all beings that draw strength from the Shadowfell are vile, blackhearted fiends. A few even dare to call themselves heroes, using the power of darkness to fight darkness. Are they evil? No. Deeply disturbed and hounded by their own dark demons? You bet.
Player's Options: Heroes of Shadow focuses on characters that fight evil in ways that make others cringe. In addition to exploring the nature of the shadow power source, this book presents races, classes, feats, powers, and other options aimed at players hungry to play the archetypal antihero with a dark edge.

320 page trade paperback (6x9), $19.95
March 15, 2011


I can't wait until this comes out. Hexblades and Necromancers are 2 of my favorite classes.Laughing
I Am A: Neutral Good Human Druid (5th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-16
Dexterity-13
Constitution-17
Intelligence-15
Wisdom-16
Charisma-14

Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

I'm really confused as to how they plan to progress in future. Will there be no Arcane Power 2, Divine Power 2 or similar? What of the hardcover general DM splat books like Plane above and such? Will we still be getting books on the Feywild and Shadowfell and such? Or are they going to disappear into some strange paperback book?

I'm also not really happy about paperback books. I've always preferred hardcover books, but then again the cheaper price is something I can get into.
The Seeker and the Runepriest demand their power books.
I do think we need a heavy armored striker. We also need a new range-centric Striker.

A suggestion I once made for the Hexblade that was pretty popular was for its Daily powers to modify its mark punishment mechanism. With Dailies having names like 'Curse of...'.

I can also see a Necromancer pet class with polymorphing powers for its pet and powers that give it debilitating auras.

the mention of 'powers' suggest to me we might indeed see shadowy options, like those Necromancy themed powers (what was the name of that article... 'Secrets of the Forbidden City' or something?), for various classes.
58292718 wrote:
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The Seeker and the Runepriest demand their power books.



Don't forget the artificer. Arcane power was out before Eberon so nothing in it for them.
The sea looks at the stabillity of the mountian and sighs. The mountian watches the freedom of the sea and cries.
Huh.

Maybe theyl only publish paperbacks, until all the rules and errata stabilize. Only after that theyl publish the hardcovers?
This sounds like the Player's Strategy Guide. With advice on how to play characters that are more evil than supported by the Player's Handbook.
I don't think this will be the book to provide a heavy armour striker, which still has a long way to appear.  As we already know what the assassin is like, as I could see there being more than the 3 mentioned, but not necessarily 5 classes.  Maybe we'll finally get one in Player's Option: Heroes of the Elements, or wherever that power source will be introduced.

And I guess it's wait and see about what they do with future releases.  I hope in about 2 months time, someone posts photos from the upcoming releases seminar, so that we know what exactly are they planning on doing.