Dragon 395 - Channel Divinity Vecna

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IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Globals/Images/Icons/DnDi_Large.png)Dragon 395
Channel Divinity: Vecna
By Robert J. Schwalb

Those divine servants who follow Vecna often command power over the dead and consolidate their gods evil goals with their own.

IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/395_cd_vecna.jpg)

Talk about this article here.
Overall I really liked the fluff and the tone of the article, plus some of the mechanical crunch looks pretty decent (the attack granting power for example, which can be used on creatures was pretty spiffy). Some of the other stuff looks underpowered, but I'll have to see what Heroes of Shadow does before writing it off. Some solid necrotic support in that book could easily bring it up. I wish the necrotic negating feat in the article scaled by level though, so 5 at heroic, 10 at paragon and 15 at epic. That would make it more generally useful.
Command Undead seems... hilariously weak. You must be a Class that already has a CD power that targets Undead in order to take the Feat to gain Command Undead, which is itself a CD power. Who would ever use Command over (Abjure, Smite, Turn or Rebuke) Undead? Why the hell would you pay a Feat for that?

There's also a disconnect between the article's fluff and it's crunch. The "Class" section of "Creating a Follower of Vecna" states that "Not all player characters who choose Vecna as their god are members of a divine class", yet all of the crunch options require a Divine class.

And you're right; the Necrotic-keyword supporting feats are really weak right now due to the lack of Necrotic powers. I expect that will change some after Heroes of Shadow comes out... in three more months.
You can grant a basic attack to an ally with command undead, in some cases easily out damaging the likes of abdure undead and it doesn't care if there are undead in the encounter. Abdure undead only works on undead creatures, so in a campaign where you're not fighting undead all the time it's practically a pointless power in a lot of encounters. Command Undead works on creature, so you can use it on your allies if they are reduced to zero HP or take advantage of monsters with strong melee attacks when they are reduced to zero HP. For example in the other campaign I am running there has been, in the entire campaign thus far, one encounter with undead.
I'm not talking about Vecna's Final Command, I'm talking about Command Undead.
Oh that one. I just ignored it because it was so terrible.
The fluff has pretty much sold me on making my first evilish character the next time I play in a campaign; A Keeper of the Forbidden Lore avenger or executioner.

Command undead seems pretty weak though. I honestly don't think a slide+dominate would be that overpowered. Or make it a burst and make them make a basic attack against whoever you want. As of now it is severely lacking compared to the current options. I found some of the feats to be....ok.... I liked the flavor of some of them.....
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams
I have linked to this thread as the official discussion thread.

@Aegeri:  Thank you for creating this thread.  Nice job on the formatting. 
Not being "insider" anymore I can't read the article myself, so I have to ask does the new R&D process seem to be doing good job according to this article?
Article is okay, nothing more.

Article Fluff = Thumbs up
Article Crunch = Thumbs down.

Overall note: 6.5
Overall feeling: I feel disappointed, due to better expectations i was having in it

Conclusions: I found it was below average expected quality.


We should really rate them and vote by way of Poll

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Article is okay, nothing more.

Article Fluff = Thumbs up
Article Crunch = Thumbs down.

Overall note: 6.5
Overall feeling: I feel disappointed, due to better expectations i was having in it

Conclusions: I found it was below average expected quality.


We should really rate them and vote by way of Poll



Pretty much this. Loved the fluff.... everything else.... not really.
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams
The crunch is weak and is all illegal in LFR.  Gets a big "meh" from me.
Bearing in mind that I currently can't see the article; why is it all illegal in LFR, exactly?  Dragon content is LFR-legal, unless it requires you to have a location of origin outside the Forgotten Realms.
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.
Good fluff, very bad crunch.

Let me comment the feats:

- There is a decent CD feat (vecna's final command) that is balanced compared to other "make the enemy do a basic attack" powers since it target a creature already at 0 HP (and so it is useless to pile up attacks of opportunity against him), this gets a thumb up.

- Then there is the horrible control undead, that was presented as the "star" of the article and has became an incoherent power that attacks with wis, has an orrible hit line based on "higher ability score" (why? the attack is on wis anyway...) and has a miss line that is better than the hit...

- Everything else is a big "don't care", nice flavour but already mediocre at the heroic tier with no scaling whatsoever.
When they talked about articles going through R&D to improve their quality, I hope this is not the start of it. Mind you these are people who created over 100 pages of errata, the Str Palidin, Str Cleric, Assault & ensnaring swordmages and a large population of powers and feats accross the board that are so underwhelming or bad that they are "no choices, amongst many other obvious and glaring blunders.

The future is looking bright ( /sarcasm ).
Bearing in mind that I currently can't see the article; why is it all illegal in LFR, exactly?  Dragon content is LFR-legal, unless it requires you to have a location of origin outside the Forgotten Realms.


There are other things which aren't allowed in the Forgotten Realms, such as dragonmarks, themes, and most importantly for this article, worshiping an evil or chaotic evil god. Since the article is based around worshiping Vecna, the problem is evident.
D'oy.  Of course.  Pardon me for being dumb.
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.
Command Undead seems... hilariously weak. You must be a Class that already has a CD power that targets Undead in order to take the Feat to gain Command Undead, which is itself a CD power. Who would ever use Command over (Abjure, Smite, Turn or Rebuke) Undead? Why the hell would you pay a Feat for that?



As far as I can tell, Command Undead is NOT a Channel Divinity power. Granted, it looks like it should (looking at its requirements, and general design patterns), but it lacks the Channel Divinity keyword. Which is weird, but almost makes sense from a balance point of view - with CD it would be unplayable (as so many other CD feats, but that is a different matter), and without it... well, it is unimpressive, but I guess you could do worse in an undead-heavy campaign. 



My blog about 4e rules and news: Square Fireballs The Magic Item Reset: A standalone set of items for 4E
Command Undead isn't a Channel Divinity power - but it is terrible.  Maybe if the hit line included Stun instead of immobilize.   But as is, the creature can still attack and the power only does damage if a creature ends it's turn next to it - in many cases that's going to be an ally trying to kill it.  All this for a standard action, no thanks.  (Although for a non wisdom build, that's likely to miss - it's not too terrible

Equally as lackluster, but well over shadowed by Command Undead is Master of Secrets.  Misread this the first few times, but it seems terrible for a feat.  If I'm not trained in a skill, I can take this feat to get the ability to get a skill power in one of the listed skills.  I don't get a skill power, just the ability to use one of my utilities as a skill power.  Considering the limited use of this (there are only so many utility slots you can use, and not many skill powers are going to be outside what you'd normally have trained) why not just take the skill training feat for the skill power in question.  I still get the ability to choose the power AND I become trained in the skill.  Alternate option, works just like it is with the added line: "If you select a skill power for one of these skills, you become trained in that skill if you are not already."  At least that would give me a cool incentive to use my utilities on skill powers and give some purpose to this feat.

Otherwise I liked the fluff a lot.  As for LFR legal, I don't think LFR says you can't worship and evil god, it just says you can't be evil.  There is no reason an unaligned character can't worship Vecna as far as I understand it - but I could be wrong.
I think it's because you can't worship a god more than one notch along the alignment scale from yourself - so to worship Vecna, you'd have to be Evil, which you can't be in LFR.
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.
Taken from LFR CCG v2.0 Interim:

Characters must be unaligned, good, or lawful good. In addition, LFR characters may not worship any deity with an alignment of evil or chaotic evil.

Anyway, as for the article - Pretty much what I've come to expect from Schwalb. Decent fluff (Sorry Steve Winter, "Flavour"  ), not-so-decent crunch. In all honesty, this article felt largely out of place and unneccessary to me, more like something in homebrew (okay, here's my evil campaign, here's some feats I made up for evil gods) than real content.
A Beginners Primer to CharOp. Archmage's Ascension - The Wizard's Handbook. Let the Hammer Fall: Dwarf Warpriest/Tactical Warpriest/Indomitable Champion, a Defending Leader. Requiem for Dissent: Cleric/Fighter/Paragon of Victory Melee Leader Ko te manu e kai i te miro, nona te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai i te matauranga e, nano te ao katoa. It's the proliferation of people who think the rules are more important than what the rules are meant to accomplish. - Dedekine
Taken from LFR CCG v2.0 Interim:

Characters must be unaligned, good, or lawful good. In addition, LFR characters may not worship any deity with an alignment of evil or chaotic evil.




This.  Also, you can only worship a deity from the Forgotten Realms setting.  Options for some gods from the generic setting can be taken if you worship the appropiate FR god that corresponds to that generic god on the equivalency chart in the CCG.  Vecna isn't on the equivalency chart for obvious reasons, so options with Vecna worship as a prereq are double illegal.
I am sure i've seen Command Undead in an upcoming preview of Heroes of Shadows (not January and Beyond) in a article called Rolling into 2011, discussing the Blackguards, Necromancer and Nethermander, the new D&D Encounter Seaons being,  among other things etc...

I can't see it anymore.

EDITED Found it, but it's preview of Heroes of Shadows is gone.

www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...

IIRC, it was an option to take instead of Turn Undead for Clerics

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

You have the wrong article. It was actually in this one.

Yup this is it thanks Aegeri, so it got changed a little huh ?

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Evil always gets the bottom end of the stick, doh!
Not being "insider" anymore I can't read the article myself, so I have to ask does the new R&D process seem to be doing good job according to this article?



If it's job is to push the publication date back without actually reducing the amount of errors, or poorly worded/balance crunch in the article then yes.
Thinking about it the power could be somewhat decent in heroic tier... if your whole party was revenants. Even more so if they had some capability to be sticky. And you didn't miss. So I guess potentially a decent power with some good luck and in a highly situational scenarios.
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move."-Douglas Adams
Some people said they liked the fluff,

frankly the picture created more interest then the hemming and hawing around evil characters. If they hadn't spent so much time reminding us yet again that "evil characters might be hard to play" they could have skipped all that same crap and really developed more ideas about how Vecna could be the source of a Hero's power.

Revenant: Fearful that the Raven Queen will call them back at any time pledges to Vecna
Eladrin: Endless pursuit of deeper and more secret magics than Corellon provides, conflicted over his soul/hopes to learn how to return to life her dead human lover
Deva/Shardmind: Wants to know if a secret the Gods have kept from the world holds the key to their creation

They should have ramped up ideas for Avengers and Malediction Invokers, maybe even with something about Arcane and Shadow multiclassing/hybrids.

An Avenger Paragon Path would have been great, that whole idea is so fantastic the next game I'm in I might play a conflicted Avenger of Vecna, who hopes one day to kill his master who he feels cannot be trusted to keep his secrets safe.

Perhaps even Clerics who hail from a land that revolves around Ancestor Worship, former guardians of a cave where peaceful undead ancestors rule and provide guidance to their living descendents. Raven Queen or Orcus worshipers destroyed the site and now pledged fully to Vecna the cleric hopes to exact Revenge 

A great Epic Destiny for the future might be "Redeemed Apostate"

with the requirement being worship of an evil deity or a Warlock pact, the hero can change their alignment to Good and have features that reflect a hero who after 20 levels of adventuring as evil has finally decided to redeem himself in the final tier.