Dragon 390 - Winning Races: Eladrin, Beyond the Spiral Tower

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Dragon 390
Winning Races:  Eladrin,
Beyond the Spiral Tower

By Tim Eagon

To eladrin, arcane magic is Corellon’s supreme gift— an art epitomized by the venerable traditions of the swordmage and wizard. However, they are not the only ways of acquiring such power, and one can find representatives of the other arcane classes throughout eladrin society. In particular, artificers and warlocks stand out, though for very different reasons due to the attitudes of the prevailing arcane culture.

Discuss the article here:

390_wr_eladrin.jpg

Tim Eagon My DDI Articles.

DDEX2-8 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster

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I'm quite puzzled... As much as I loved Oasis of The Golden Peacock (and I'm even running it, although very sporadically with one group), I found this article to be mechanically out of place. Or better: OVERPOWERING.
The familiars, the (otherwise lovely) Coure in particular, are incredibly better than the ones presented in the Gloaming Fey article, which have their active benefits function only once per milestone, and in one case (my player's case, with the Moon Wisp familiar) the effect is just removing concealment penalties for 2 rounds in a small burst. The Coure is so powerful that my player got quite angry, because the Moon Wisp is far more adequate at a fluff level, but incredibly underpowered compared to the Coure.
I'm not asking for errata, but I also want to point out that the Warlock feats are ALSO very powerful, all of them. Especially because the requirements of the one that grants Fey Step instead of pact boon effect do not include the actual Pact Boon class feature, implying that even a rogue who just multiclassed into warlock would now have a beautiful surrogate of a pact boon.

The Artificer part seems ok.

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Campaigns and Characters:
Zendikar: Covenant of The Forgotten Relics
- Cylonea: Merfolk (Elemental Priest) Shaman(World Speaker)/Artificer --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff
- Vurokk Dahvre: Shade (Escaped Slave) Blackguard of Fury --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)
Nature's Allies
- Carwyn Sihderfein: Half-Elf (Tuathan) Blackguard of Domination / Binder of Gloom --> Sheet, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)

I'm quite puzzled... As much as I loved Oasis of The Golden Peacock (and I'm even running it, although very sporadically with one group), I found this article to be mechanically out of place. Or better: OVERPOWERING.
The familiars, the (otherwise lovely) Coure in particular, are incredibly better than the ones presented in the Gloaming Fey article, which have their active benefits function only once per milestone, and in one case (my player's case, with the Moon Wisp familiar) the effect is just removing concealment penalties for 2 rounds in a small burst. The Coure is so powerful that my player got quite angry, because the Moon Wisp is far more adequate at a fluff level, but incredibly underpowered compared to the Coure.
I'm not asking for errata, but I also want to point out that the Warlock feats are ALSO very powerful, all of them. Especially because the requirements of the one that grants Fey Step instead of pact boon effect do not include the actual Pact Boon class feature, implying that even a rogue who just multiclassed into warlock would now have a beautiful surrogate of a pact boon.

The Artificer part seems ok.



The faerie dragonling and coure attendant were supposed to be paragon and epic tier familiars, respectively.  I'm not sure why that was removed; it may have been an oversight.  As for the Renewed by Blood feat, I see what your saying about the prerequisites, but the benefit has several conditions and makes it clear IMO that its a replacement for your pact boon benefit.  However, I think it would be worth mentioning in any errata thread to see what the developers think.

Tim Eagon My DDI Articles.

DDEX2-8 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster

Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon

I'm quite puzzled... As much as I loved Oasis of The Golden Peacock (and I'm even running it, although very sporadically with one group), I found this article to be mechanically out of place. Or better: OVERPOWERING.
The familiars, the (otherwise lovely) Coure in particular, are incredibly better than the ones presented in the Gloaming Fey article, which have their active benefits function only once per milestone, and in one case (my player's case, with the Moon Wisp familiar) the effect is just removing concealment penalties for 2 rounds in a small burst. The Coure is so powerful that my player got quite angry, because the Moon Wisp is far more adequate at a fluff level, but incredibly underpowered compared to the Coure.
I'm not asking for errata, but I also want to point out that the Warlock feats are ALSO very powerful, all of them. Especially because the requirements of the one that grants Fey Step instead of pact boon effect do not include the actual Pact Boon class feature, implying that even a rogue who just multiclassed into warlock would now have a beautiful surrogate of a pact boon.

The Artificer part seems ok.



The faerie dragonling and coure attendant were supposed to be paragon and epic tier familiars, respectively.  I'm not sure why that was removed; it may have been an oversight.  As for the Renewed by Blood feat, I see what your saying about the prerequisites, but the benefit has several conditions and makes it clear IMO that its a replacement for your pact boon benefit.  However, I think it would be worth mentioning in any errata thread to see what the developers think.



Great to hear that! I hate to add to the problems, but even like this, Fiddling Grig seems more powerful than Faerie Dragonling, because it provides a constant benefit. It would need some more conditions (perhaps not every arcane power triggers the dance) or simply a swap: make the Faerie Dragonling Heroic and the Fiddling Grig Paragon.
Then I'd also like to point out that Gifted Death Dealer is also closer to Paragon than Heroic...

Apart from these power level concerns, I really love the article.

Join the Zendikar D&D Campaign Setting group: discover the fantastic world and contribute to make Zendikar a playable setting!
   - Warning! Spectacular visuals and lore ahead! ... Take a look...
Play-by-Post and my D&D blogging!

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Campaigns and Characters:
Zendikar: Covenant of The Forgotten Relics
- Cylonea: Merfolk (Elemental Priest) Shaman(World Speaker)/Artificer --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff
- Vurokk Dahvre: Shade (Escaped Slave) Blackguard of Fury --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)
Nature's Allies
- Carwyn Sihderfein: Half-Elf (Tuathan) Blackguard of Domination / Binder of Gloom --> Sheet, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)

I actually love the power level of the familiars listed and think that they should be used as the new standard for familiars. Most of the previous ones suck!
Fiddling Gig is at-will immobilization until it is killed- there are many familiar build options that'll keep a familiar going even through focus fire.  It should really be a once per encounter benefit or perhaps it only adds to daily powers.

EDIT: I made an errata thread if you want to express your concerns there.

community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Then I'd also like to point out that Gifted Death Dealer is also closer to Paragon than Heroic...

Apart from these power level concerns, I really love the article.


No, it isn't.  Warlocks are supposed to be Strikers.  They are supposed to do damage.  It's about time the rules started reflecting that.  And it's only for a single power.
agreed.  damage-wise, warlocks not not at the top of the striker list.  this feat helps, if only for a finite group.

eldritch blade compensates for eladrin not having a boost in the primary stat(s) for warlocks.

feywild propulsion is neat and thematically fitting.

the new familiars are great.  i, too, want these to reflect a new standard for familiars. 
Spending a feat to get an encounter utility power is already a very strong deal, and it's about on par with most old familiars.  Please don't tell me you think At will immobilization (a status effect deliberately left off player @wills so far) added on top of all your powers is balanced.
Yeah, have to agree here. I can understand the others power level based on their theoretical place as Paragon and Epic familiars. But at-will immobilization is completely unacceptable, honestly, for heroic or otherwise. Defending it as acceptable because enemies will then just kill the familiar... there are too many ways around that, for clever players. It should absolutely be a 1/encounter ability, just like with most familiars.

I admit, this isn't hard to house rule in my own games. But I've spent long enough defending the current Dragon as being filled with balanced and reasonable options (as opposed to when it was in print), that it is always disappointing to see something like this crop up, and then actively be defended.

I love everything else about the article, but these power levels really need to be checked twice, and hopefully fixed in the compilation...
I might as well post this here too (cross posted from the Char Ops forum):

I did talk to Steve Winter the other day about this issue [familiar power level] and he told me that the tier restrictions were removed because WotC wanted the familiars to be available to heroic tier characters so they'd see more usage.  That said, he recognized that there have been some issues with downgrading their power to an acceptable level so that they're not overpowering every other heroic tier familiar currently published.  I've offered some of my own suggestions (some of which were based on everyone's comments), but we're both looking for everyone else's opinions.  I think with a few tweaks, we can preserve the familiars as good choices without losing their coolness.  If you have any ideas, post them to the errata thread over on the DDI forum.

As for the grig's immobilization ability, I think I may have under-estimated their survivability (plus, there's usually no downside to temporarily losing their constant benefits during combat, unlike most other familiars, duh!).  The way I envisioned it, using the grig in such a way would leave it so exposed that it would most likely be quickly destroyed.  Thus a 1/encounter restriction wouldn't be too far off from how I envisioned it working in the first place...

Tim Eagon My DDI Articles.

DDEX2-8 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster

Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon

As for the grig's immobilization ability, I think I may have under-estimated their survivability (plus, there's usually no downside to temporarily losing their constant benefits during combat, unlike most other familiars, duh!).  The way I envisioned it, using the grig in such a way would leave it so exposed that it would most likely be quickly destroyed.  Thus a 1/encounter restriction wouldn't be too far off from how I envisioned it working in the first place...



Yeah, it is the sort of thing where it probably will work fine in most cases, but all it takes is one guy designed around familiars who can abuse it. If someone loads up on nothing but familiar feats, the familiar's defenses will be through the roof. Take some of the feats that boost familiar movement, and you can have it dart in, immobilize the enemy, and then it steps back out of reach - against a melee enemy, you can keep that up pretty indefinitely. Persistent familiar guarantees another round of actions even if it does get destroyed. Plus various powers that can save your familiar from death or otherwise boosts its defenses.

Essentially - it would be a fine ability, if it existed in a vacuum. And that's the trickiest part of game design, especially once so many options are available - taking into account not just the new game element itself, but everything else it interacts with.
As for the grig's immobilization ability, I think I may have under-estimated their survivability (plus, there's usually no downside to temporarily losing their constant benefits during combat, unlike most other familiars, duh!).  The way I envisioned it, using the grig in such a way would leave it so exposed that it would most likely be quickly destroyed.  Thus a 1/encounter restriction wouldn't be too far off from how I envisioned it working in the first place...



Yeah, it is the sort of thing where it probably will work fine in most cases, but all it takes is one guy designed around familiars who can abuse it. If someone loads up on nothing but familiar feats, the familiar's defenses will be through the roof. Take some of the feats that boost familiar movement, and you can have it dart in, immobilize the enemy, and then it steps back out of reach - against a melee enemy, you can keep that up pretty indefinitely. Persistent familiar guarantees another round of actions even if it does get destroyed. Plus various powers that can save your familiar from death or otherwise boosts its defenses.

Essentially - it would be a fine ability, if it existed in a vacuum. And that's the trickiest part of game design, especially once so many options are available - taking into account not just the new game element itself, but everything else it interacts with.


this reminds me of several similar threads regarding a player devoting sizable character resources towards one trick.  the general consensus has been that a dm should not penalize a character for being exceptionally good at something towards which the player has dedicated significant character resources.

if someone were to devote that many feats towards familiar feats, then that familiar should be rather remarkable.  the opportunity cost, in terms of the number of feats to which you are referring, is significant.  yes, it would be quite a trick, but it is still only a one trick pony.

if someone were to devote that many feats towards familiar feats, then that familiar should be rather remarkable.  the opportunity cost, in terms of the number of feats to which you are referring, is significant.  yes, it would be quite a trick, but it is still only a one trick pony.



Sure, except keep in mind that each of those familiar feats does something other than boost his defenses. Half-a-dozen feats can get the wizard plenty of other tricks - while also making the familiar pretty durable. So there isn't too much lost, there. The familiar is still pretty good, and the wizard still has plenty of wizard tricks.

But more importantly - the familiar should be awesome because he's spent all those feats on the familiar, not because he's chosen one specific familiar over all the others. That's the real issue.
Instead of having familiars with tier requirements, could the abilities of familiars scale by tier? 

For example -- the Disembodied Hand and the Rakshasa Claw could be the same familiar, with the Claw reflecting the upgrade that the Disembodied Hand receives at paragon tier.  I recall seeing other familiars that could be combined in that way -- and then some fairly simple extrapolation upwards and downwards could be used to fill in the missing tiers.

if someone were to devote that many feats towards familiar feats, then that familiar should be rather remarkable.  the opportunity cost, in terms of the number of feats to which you are referring, is significant.  yes, it would be quite a trick, but it is still only a one trick pony.



Sure, except keep in mind that each of those familiar feats does something other than boost his defenses. Half-a-dozen feats can get the wizard plenty of other tricks - while also making the familiar pretty durable. So there isn't too much lost, there. The familiar is still pretty good, and the wizard still has plenty of wizard tricks.

But more importantly - the familiar should be awesome because he's spent all those feats on the familiar, not because he's chosen one specific familiar over all the others. That's the real issue.


generally, i agree with your concern about that one familiar.  i just wanted to make that one caveat about opportunity costs.
Instead of having familiars with tier requirements, could the abilities of familiars scale by tier? 

For example -- the Disembodied Hand and the Rakshasa Claw could be the same familiar, with the Claw reflecting the upgrade that the Disembodied Hand receives at paragon tier.  I recall seeing other familiars that could be combined in that way -- and then some fairly simple extrapolation upwards and downwards could be used to fill in the missing tiers.


a nice idea
Spending a feat to get an encounter utility power is already a very strong deal, and it's about on par with most old familiars.  Please don't tell me you think At will immobilization (a status effect deliberately left off player @wills so far) added on top of all your powers is balanced.


At-will immobilization is available from level 1 with Ruthless Killer (changes Grasping Claws to an MBA which immobilizes as long as you are adjacent to the creature), and the fighter's Grappling Strike (which grabs - and while it's possible to escape, many fighters will have high enough defenses that it's impractical at best. Most monsters don't train Acrobatics or Athletics).

Wow.  This article actually convinced me to work the Arcane Familiar feat into my slightly homebrewed Half-Eladrin (variant Half-Elf) Cunning Bard – Resourceful Magician – Feyliege's feat list, which is bogged down by various other feats that I would have to deleat to get bang for my buck with Familiars. 

But a Coure attendant is too cool and thematic for this character to pass up.

Thank you Shroomy!

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I asked this over on the Char Ops board, but the thread has kind of dropped off the main page, so my question may be a bit more visible here.  What would you guys think if the grig's immobilization worked until the end of your next turn or until the grig was no longer adjacent to the enemy?

Tim Eagon My DDI Articles.

DDEX2-8 Foulness Beneath Mulmaster

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I asked this over on the Char Ops board, but the thread has kind of dropped off the main page, so my question may be a bit more visible here.  What would you guys think if the grig's immobilization worked until the end of your next turn or until the grig was no longer adjacent to the enemy?




It depends... If it becomes once per encounter, it could be cool to have it until the Grig is adjacent. Although bad for the Grig since the monster will kill it ASAP.
If it remains at-will, I'd suggest making it until the START of your next turn, which is the shortest duration possible. And it would still be powerful.
Or as someone said, limiting its effect to daily and/or encounter arcane powers. In that case I'd say until the end of your next turn is good, since it would allow the grig to escape a sure death, something that I think a Grig would surely do, even id it's just a familiar.

I'd kind of prefer the "until the grig remains adjacent", because I imagine the grig playing its fiddle in the monster's hear! But given the potential "locking" effect of it, it should then become an encounter power/feature.

Join the Zendikar D&D Campaign Setting group: discover the fantastic world and contribute to make Zendikar a playable setting!
   - Warning! Spectacular visuals and lore ahead! ... Take a look...
Play-by-Post and my D&D blogging!

*All my latest rolls!*

Campaigns and Characters:
Zendikar: Covenant of The Forgotten Relics
- Cylonea: Merfolk (Elemental Priest) Shaman(World Speaker)/Artificer --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff
- Vurokk Dahvre: Shade (Escaped Slave) Blackguard of Fury --> Sheet, Obsidian Portal's, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)
Nature's Allies
- Carwyn Sihderfein: Half-Elf (Tuathan) Blackguard of Domination / Binder of Gloom --> Sheet, Fluff, Blogs (1, 2)

Spending a feat to get an encounter utility power is already a very strong deal, and it's about on par with most old familiars.  Please don't tell me you think At will immobilization (a status effect deliberately left off player @wills so far) added on top of all your powers is balanced.


At-will immobilization is available from level 1 with Ruthless Killer (changes Grasping Claws to an MBA which immobilizes as long as you are adjacent to the creature), and the fighter's Grappling Strike (which grabs - and while it's possible to escape, many fighters will have high enough defenses that it's impractical at best. Most monsters don't train Acrobatics or Athletics).




There is a huge different between "An at will attack power you have to choose to use your standard action on, that does AtWill attack damage, causes immobilization and nothing else, and ensures there's a target available to melee" i.e. the cases you just mentioned and

"At will effect tacked onto every power you have, including ranged attacks, aoes, minor action attacks, and maybe even the attacks of summoned creatures or sustained conjurations" when it's very likely the only target in melee reach is a nigh unkillable familiar" i.e. the Grig.
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