Dragon 394 - Class Acts: Runepriest, Lost Runes of Unmaking

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DnDi_Large.pngDragon 394
Class Acts: Runepriest, Lost Runes of Unmaking

by Robert J. Schwalb

Among the many relics left from the Dawn War are the Runes of Unmaking.

Talk about this Article here.






“My son, we have come to the end. I can teach you no more . . . ."

*blink, blink*

just the introductory passage alone is a testament to how exceptional a writer mr. scwalb is.

"the old man" . . . "the young man"

"chisel and stone, boy!"

"the boy looked up, eyes reflecting flames. “you have held something back.”

the silences, the stares

the build up and anticipation

the hint at more, much more.



as eddie murphy put it, "hercules!  hercules!" bravo, mr schwalb.
Nearly nine months after the publication of Players Handbook 3, the Runepriest--one of the most flavourful and mechanically interesting classes published--finally gets an article.  Alas, the article has proven to be a disappointment.

Runepriests need feats, paragon paths that have synergy with the runes of destruction and protection, magic items, and some more power options.  Instead what we are given is an article with four mediocre rare rewards tied into story elements that, while well-written and entertaining to read, may be wholly inappropriate to the current campaign.

This isn't an article for the players of Runepriests, it's an article for their DMs, and as such does nothing to promote the class or build on the promising framework that was published back in March.
Tibis Refugee of many worlds
I have to concur with Tibis.  For all the build up of this article, this was all we got?  What in the world was the week's delay for, to delete most of it?  At least Seekers got a set of weapon-specific powers which made sense and added to the class.  This thing?  Was a waste of time and bandwidth.
I agree with Tibis and swmabie when I saw this article I was hoping for runepriest feats or powers, maybe a paragon path. Instead we get 'alternative reward items'. At least they require the person to be a runepriest for the property effect, but the daily doesn't even require that. Now if they had turned each of these 4 Rune rewards into a Paragon path and had some powers and/or feats to go along with them, then it would have been a good article.

Now if these were powers and feats combined to get these effects that is one thing, but saying that the Runepriest needs to be granted an item that they can't choice but only to beg and plead a DM for is just wrong. This article has nothing for the average runepriest unless their DM is gracious enough to grant them it on the DM's whim.
chalk me up as another sad player. Was hoping this article would help flesh out runepriest powers, feats, and the like. And instead got  some magic item things. Once (and if) my runepriest player gets that far I'll give him some neat items but would have preferred more options to present him with (and to use for my own.)
Characters currently: Abscense makes the heart grow fonder but the characters disappear.
Great flavour.  Can't fault the flavour.  It's well-written and enjoyable.

The crunch is thoroughly disappointing however.  Four items, of dubious use (since they currently don't interact with rune states in the class powers, as written), which don't come up until level 16 at the earliest, and worse, are RARE.  Player-inaccessible.  To paraphrase someone else's post in CharOps, isn't Dragon mean to be a player resource?  Rare items and adventure hooks belong in Dungeon.  Powers and feats belong in Class Acts.  There's no chance I'll use these items in the foreseeable future.

*Sigh*
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I'll post what I posted in another topic:

So let me get this straight, the runepriest is a class that truly needs help with articles.  It is the only class lacking class feats, and overall lacks support.

The first article to come along and have the name of the class on it, and has very little to do with the class.  What were you thinking?  Why not have this under a "Bazaar of the Bizare?".

Way to waste an opportunity.  We won't have another article for runepriests for a very long time.


Last month, didn't we get some sort of rune items that were based on knowing supernal or something?  This seems like 4 other runes that didn't make the list, so they put it here to make their one CA article for the month.  With 4 of them, I can at most get three for my entire player career, since the DM is only supposed to throw out one per tier.

This is a disapointment, a big one, and as a paying customer I would like some explanation. As much as I dislike backgrounds, at least they might have given something for the runepriest player to have.

I do not play runepriests, but would like to.  Want to know why?  Why play a runepriest when I could play another class of the same role and have so many more options?
I like Rob Schwalb's backgrounds, and I like his mechanics, I enjoy articles by him and want to keep seeing them.

Now I want an actual Runepriest article. One with new options for the class.

Fluff apparently won the contest at the WotC offices.

Fluff is less useful to me as a player than actual mechanics. Fluff, for me as a player is only as good as its relationship to my DM's game. Crunch on the other hand I find routinely inspiring, and useful in games.

I want the crunch.

Bring back the crunch.

Or at least get the crunch and fluff in balance so that articles are about 60:40 = Fluff:Crunch, not the 90:10 or higher in favor of Fluff we have seen lately.
I also find it insulting considering the editorial for this month laid out that people don't play certain classes because they lack options.

Three classes that need serious help because they lack hard copy help are:

-Artificer
-Runepriest
-Seeker
It has only been a few days since the Dragon editorial. Quite likely, this article was already written by that time. It'd be somewhat unrealistic to expect old-style Class Act articles packed with feats and powers that reflect the feedback we gave with the editorial yet. Stop freaking out.

The runes themselves are actually pretty cool. A runepriest with even one of these will be quite a presence on the battlefield if they use it properly.
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
I quite liked this article. Why? Because I mostly DM and this article clearly belonged in Dungeon and should have been called "Bazarre of the Bizarre". Mr. Schwalbe, your writing is excellent and I love the flavor you added to these items, but to call this article a "class act" is wrong. Compared to the other class acts articles we've seen over the last 2 years, this is entirely different.

What I'm hoping is that this article is simply part 1 with a part 2 to follow in the near future. Runepriests need more powers, feats, and paragon paths. The lack of support for this class is painfully obvious. What do I say to the Runepriest player in my campaign? He's been begging me to kill him off so he can roll up a "real class".  By that he means a supported class with options. I have to say that I have been a big supporter of Dragon and Dungeon and defended the increased amounts of fluff. I love that stuff, it's always been a part of Dragon since I can remember (long before 3e was ever dreamed of).  But this article clicked a switch in my head. This was the chance for Dragon to show that it could do both fluff and crunch with equal vigor. This should have been the chance that WotC showed they were willing to support both pre-Essentials and Essentials classes. Maybe next month. Maybe....

In the meantime, I think next week I'll use that ogre executioner mini my players fear so much and carve up that Runepriest like a leg of lamb.

Hehe, does your ogre need a custom-made Axe of Runepriest Slaying? (+2d8 damage vs Runepriests)
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
By the time this article is due for conclusion in the character builder will the character builder support alternate magic items like these? Doesn't support the Dark Sun ones as yet.
Linked to this thread.  Thanks Max.  You want a job doing this permenantly?
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Agree with the above posters.  This should not have been labeled a Class Act article.


Here's some examples of what could have been included in a Class Act Article -

A clear description on how Rune States work with Paragon Rune States.  As they're written now, all they do is lead to confusion for most players.  *BIG ITEM*  Way alot of people read the Paragon Rune States is that they have to give up the destruction / protection riders on powers if they want to enter a Paragon Rune State, like Vengeance.

More Rune Feats (would love to see Domain Runes)

Racial Rune Priest Feats

Some new powers (Rune Priests need something to grant some Saves)

New Class Feature (A number of people want this but I'd prefer it to wait for a new Divine splat book.)
This article was laughably bad. Why the delay for four 15-20th level items? It's as if the designer had no idea what the Runepriest was all about- they need buffs that go with Rune of Protection and Destruction, as a previous poster said, not more runestates. They need feats, and paragon paths that work with them. Not 4 measly items in a 2 page article.

Glad my sub is running out, Dragon just isn't worth the bandwidth anymore.
Do you think they're holding out support until the next divine power book is ready? Seeing as how that probably won't be hitting the shelves until the last quarter of 2011 or sometime in 2012, it would be a particularly cruel wait. The problem with this is that there has be ZERO mention of any "power" books. I suspect the line is being abandoned.

I'm normally not a conspiracy theory kind of guy, but reading the Runepriest "class act" has got me thinking. Perhaps the nay-sayers are correct and WotC is abandoning support of pre-essentials classes. Someone on these forums used the analogy of the bear that kills other bear's cubs as a way of ensuring that only its genes get passed on. At first I thought this was crazy talk, but after today I'm not so sure.
Ok; before we start raging a bit more, let's point out that the article in itself isn't a bad idea. Take it how it is; it's an article with special items for Runepriests. I haven't seen the article, but the fact is that this article was going to happen sometime. It is a good idea to have rune items (but whether the quality of the article matches the quality of the idea, I have no idea).

That said, this article had the worst timing and and it was deceptive of WoTC to call it "Class Acts: Runepriest". Did Wizards not see the large amount of people going "yay class acts runepriest, now we'll get some support for runepriests" ?  You would have thought that someone in Wizards would have realized that what we were generally expecting wasn't what we were actually getting.

(continue rage)

Actually, seriously. How did they not realize that this would make people angry? It seems inconceivable that they'd think that people clamoring for support for Runepriests would be happy with a couple of rare items. I thought they were trying to release content that many people are going to be able to use.
As others have said, this is a disappointment. Mainly due to the name, and the false expectations - something that the magazines have done before! I recall Channel Divinity articles not worthy of the name, and this seems the exact same thing - something that should have been a Bazaar of the Bizarre, not a Class Acts article. Come on, Steve, you guys can do better than this!
I thought this article was quite good, however it also illustrated how desperately WotC need to reinstate the power book series and start supporting people who began playing 4e before essentials came out.
Nearly nine months after the publication of Players Handbook 3, the Runepriest--one of the most flavourful and mechanically interesting classes published--finally gets an article.  Alas, the article has proven to be a disappointment.

Runepriests need feats, paragon paths that have synergy with the runes of destruction and protection, magic items, and some more power options.  Instead what we are given is an article with four mediocre rare rewards tied into story elements that, while well-written and entertaining to read, may be wholly inappropriate to the current campaign.

This isn't an article for the players of Runepriests, it's an article for their DMs, and as such does nothing to promote the class or build on the promising framework that was published back in March.



This.

I was so excited about the possibility of having a more fully-supported class.  Runepriests have such an amazing flavor to them, but ultimately have little "crunch" to make them interesting or fun to play.

Notice that they were released after the "Divine Power" book, meaning that none of the Domain feats support Runepriest powers.  And also note that the Runepriests are the only non-augmentable class that don't have an at-will power that scales to 2w damage in the Epic tier.  And, unless I'm missing something, only PHB3 has any powers, feats, or paragon paths for Runepriests.

And we got this article...  While fun to read, and with interesting rewards for runepriests, it does absolutely nothing to address these oversights.  Ugh... 

Less Essentials support, more 4e support, in my humble opinion.
I hope to see Steve any moment jumping in to say there is an error bout the Runepriest article and that it was sent the wrong draft after editing.....and such and that next month will be the REAL Runepriest article...Sorry bla bla bla..  Undecided

The higher the expectations, the deeper the deception i guess....i am disappointed. I was, well i think many of us, were expecting a lot of this well awaited article.  


Guys, i request a full Class Essential Runepriest article for January or February.   And dont get me wrong, i dont mean Essential, i mean full Class support article we used to see last year.

Prove that you care about the Runepriest (and the Seeker). 

Plague

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Agree with the above posters.  This should not have been labeled a Class Act article.


Here's some examples of what could have been included in a Class Act Article -

[A bunch of good stuff]

Runepriests need a Class Basics article. "Keeping Rune Effect & Choosing Different Non-Standard Rune State" is not adequately detailed in PHB3, and there are other Runepriest things that could use some helpful analysis. 

Anyone else think it's weird that these awards/items aren't really leader-y? With the exception of the Rune of Fiery Might, the rune states just affect the user.  (The Rune of Fiery Might isn't even that great, with ~200+ creatures level 19+ popping up with the "resist fire" search term, and ~60+ with "resist variable". The Epic Tier will not be kind to this thing.)  

D&DNext: HTFU Edition
I hope to see Steve any moment jumping in to say there is an error bout the Runepriest article and that it was sent the wrong draft after editing.....and such and that next month will be the REAL Runepriest article...Sorry bla bla bla..  Undecided

Plague



I think I'd be happy if Steve would jump in and just say that the title of the article was supposed to be a "Bazaar of the Bizarre".

Over all, I liked the article, I just hated it being called a Class Acts when it does nothing in support of the class except some fluff and 4 items of rare loot.
Runepriests need a Class Basics article.

This got me to thinking that WotC could have earned some serious brownie points in the months following the publication of the various PHBs, by publishing exactly this kind of article, one for each of the classes presented.  Ideally they would be written, individually or jointly, by the designers responsible for the classes and should be written as soon after the classes were finalised as possible, so as to have their thinking fresh in their minds.

20/20 hindsight though.
Tibis Refugee of many worlds
I loved the article. I try not to get hung up on article titles, but I realize its an important part for many others. I'll start pitching some ideas and see if anything sticks to the walls.
Matt James Freelance Game Designer Loremaster.org

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WotC hates Runepriests.
LMAO!!!
Matt James Freelance Game Designer Loremaster.org

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I agree with Matt. I try not to get hung up on the titles, but I understand that many people prefer things to be better defined. It helps set expectations.

That said, I'm glad to see more fluff and different rewards. I realize the Rune Priest, unlike many other classes, needs more crunch. However, for someone like me, the ideas that this sort of article inspires is just awesome. Yes, the items are marked as rare, but to be honest, that just helps ensure that players don't walk all over their DMs. If I wanted something like this, I would bring it up with my DM and see if we could work it in for my character. In addition, this helps me better understand what rune priests could be. Not everyone needs that sort of nudge, but sometimes I do.
I loved the article. I try not to get hung up on article titles, but I realize its an important part for many others. I'll start pitching some ideas and see if anything sticks to the walls.


Titles are important, because WotC uses them to portion out player and DM content. Each gets vaguely the same number of articles a month (usually on alternating days); so in a month where we're supposed to have (for example) 5 Dragon and 5 Dungeon articles, filling a Dragon article with DM content means that month has jumped from being 50/50 player/DM to 40/60. Given how little of each mag we end up with each month, losing one article out of five or six (which is about the number of "content" articles we get once you discount editorials and previews) is a major blow. And yes, it really is a "lost" article, because it seems that most players are into DM or player content, not both.
I'm not a fan of the article.

Let's take a specific rune priest using a specific power.  Since these are high level items, I chose Mark of Battle's End as the power to look at.  I knew nothing about it, I chose it at random.

When I use the power, I now have three choices of runes to enter.

Destruction: Allies get +1 to hit from my class feature, and the power has a kicker to slide my allies 3 squares to the target.
Protection: Allies get Resist all 2/4/6 from my class feature, and the power has a kicker  to push my allies away from the target
the Item: My allies do +10 damage.

If I use the item's rune state, the kickers on the powers rune states are no longer relevant.  My class feature rune states are no longer relevant.  If any future feats are created to enhance existing rune states, they don't apply.  If any future items enhance existing rune states, they don't apply.

In other words, these items do not really work with the class

Now, +10 damage for your allies at will for as long as you want it ... isn't exactly shabby.  It's a really nice item.  But it replaces the existing elements, and can't work with them.  And because it's so nice, it's going to keep the player from using the power's runestate kickers as they are relevant to the situation; it will lead to more booring play.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

I did want to chime in, since I didn't mention it in my earlier post, saying that the article is very well written for what it is, and the items are intriguing. It's just that most people were hoping for more then items and some fun fluff from a class acts article. So it's not the format of the article but the placement that I really object to.
Characters currently: Abscense makes the heart grow fonder but the characters disappear.
The thing is that both the alternate rewards system and rare items straddle the line between purely player content and purely DM content (and lets not forget that these are not the first alternate rewards to have appeared in the pages of Dragon).  While, it's ultimately the DMs perogative to use alternate rewards and its the DM's responsibility to limit the amount of rare items, I don't think that WotC ever intended to squelch player input into what they get.  If I had a runepriest PC and they put one of these runes on their wishlist, I'd certainly find a way to reward them with one.
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Names mean a lot to consumers when the products they pay for are organized by name. "Class Acts" is a category of articles that has its own filter button on the Dragon index. This implies that all articles in that heading are of the same type.

For me, the problem is not that these items were created. I think they're fine, and the fluff of the article adds great flavor that I as a DM can use. The first problem is that in the past, "Class Acts" have been used as the delivery of new powers, feats, backgrounds, and options that the PLAYER can choose from. These are DM items, and this is a DM article that should have been in dungeon and called "Bizaare of the Bizarre."

The second problem is that the Runepriest is one of the most unsupported classes in the game. Perhaps THE most unsupported class (although us artificer fans should point out that the Runepriest has only been out for less than a year, while the artificer has been rusting away for far longer than that). WotC has clearly failed to support the Runepriest and people were hoping for big things from this article which it failed to deliver. This is not the fault of the author who wrote a good piece, but rather from the NAME which caused people to get their hopes up for something different.
So Kord was send running by Ygorl?!? Ygorl is not even a solo, he's a mere level 26 elite. No wonder Kord doesn't like to speak about this incident Tongue out
It's all been said, so I am just going to note my points of agreement.

1) Well written article. Very enjoyable read.
2) This was not Class Acts. This was a Bazaar of the Bizarre, with specific Runepriest support.
3) Rare items are in the DM's purview, not Player. Should not be in the Dragon.
4) Runepriests need more support, badly. And clarification. This article, ultimately, provides neither.
57650768 wrote:
Hello Gamers. Look at the hexblade, now back to the slayer, now back to the Hexblade, now BACK to the slayer. Sadly, it isn't the slayer. But if it stopped masquerading as a reskinned WoW Warlock and started using Charop, it could FIGHT like the slayer. Look down, back up. Where are you? You're on a battlefield with the Striker your Striker could strike like. What's in your hand, back at me. I have it. It's an oyster with two magic items you love. Look down, back up, the items are now Astral Diamonds. Anything is possible when you game with Charop. I'm on a dragon.
So disappointed by this article.  Was hoping to get actual feat/power support for my heroic tier runepriest, but instead, it was an article on alternative rewards for paragon tier runepriests.

Don't get me wrong, the article was very well written, but was NOT a class acts article.
I'm not a fan of the article.

Let's take a specific rune priest using a specific power.  Since these are high level items, I chose Mark of Battle's End as the power to look at.  I knew nothing about it, I chose it at random.

When I use the power, I now have three choices of runes to enter.

Destruction: Allies get +1 to hit from my class feature, and the power has a kicker to slide my allies 3 squares to the target.
Protection: Allies get Resist all 2/4/6 from my class feature, and the power has a kicker  to push my allies away from the target
the Item: My allies do +10 damage.

If I use the item's rune state, the kickers on the powers rune states are no longer relevant.  My class feature rune states are no longer relevant.  If any future feats are created to enhance existing rune states, they don't apply.  If any future items enhance existing rune states, they don't apply.

In other words, these items do not really work with the class

Now, +10 damage for your allies at will for as long as you want it ... isn't exactly shabby.  It's a really nice item.  But it replaces the existing elements, and can't work with them.  And because it's so nice, it's going to keep the player from using the power's runestate kickers as they are relevant to the situation; it will lead to more booring play.




Once again we have a failure to actually read the rune master class feature text.


Runepriest at-wills are rather deceptive, tbh- you choose a rider, regardless of your current rune state, when you use the power.


You GAIN THE BENEFIT of the rider.


THEN, you enter the rune state. <---- this step right here is where you can choose to enter the item's rune state, or your PP's rune state. It doesn't invalidate the previous steps. You still got the rider, regardless of what rune state you're in now. The rune state only matters for the purpose of the Rune Master class feature.
Oh Content, where art thou?
If I use the item's rune state, the kickers on the powers rune states are no longer relevant.  My class feature rune states are no longer relevant.  If any future feats are created to enhance existing rune states, they don't apply.  If any future items enhance existing rune states, they don't apply.

That isn't quite how it works. To slightly rephrase Kerrus's post for Runic powers:

  1. Pick Power.

  2. Pick Power Rune Effect (Destruction or Protection).

  3. Pick your own Rune State (Must be same as Power Rune Effect unless you have different Rune States that say you can pick 'em.)

  4. [Use Power]

Proof: Look up "Runic" in the Compendium Glossary. It doesn't help that things like the Persistent Runes power show that WotC didn't quite get it either.


D&DNext: HTFU Edition
I agree with Matt. I try not to get hung up on the titles, but I understand that many people prefer things to be better defined. It helps set expectations.

That said, I'm glad to see more fluff and different rewards. I realize the Rune Priest, unlike many other classes, needs more crunch. However, for someone like me, the ideas that this sort of article inspires is just awesome. Yes, the items are marked as rare, but to be honest, that just helps ensure that players don't walk all over their DMs. If I wanted something like this, I would bring it up with my DM and see if we could work it in for my character. In addition, this helps me better understand what rune priests could be. Not everyone needs that sort of nudge, but sometimes I do.


The thing is, there is a quite reasonable chance that we won't see more published support for the Runepriest for another year (I have no idea if anything resembling a "Divine Power 2" is coming up for publication, and there is significant competition among the classes for Dragon column inches).  Between that possibility, and the sketchy state of the class, it should have been a given that what needed to be published was a "belt-and-bracers" article that went into depth on the class, it's unusual mechanics, and offering some new options - with a decent dose of flavour, of course.

That's certainly the kind of article that players of the class, including me, were hoping for.  Instead we got an article that would have been more appropriately published after the class had gained some of the much needed support that more mechanics-heavy articles would have given it.

I don't blame Mr Schwalb for this though.  He wrote what he felt would be a welcome article and did a reasonable job of it (the flavour was very good; the mechanics as manifested in the items were nigh-irrelevant except as more background material).  Instead, the blame has to land more on the editor.  It's his responsibility to ensure that the material published in Dragon isn't just of good quality, he needs to ensure that it is relevant to the needs of the players that the articles are meant for.

And this article failed on precisely that score, and that is why it has been excoriated.
Tibis Refugee of many worlds