Dragon 396 - Class Act: Bards of Wolfstone

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DnDi_Large.pngDragon 396
Class Act: Bards of Wolfstone

By Robert J. Shwalb


Wolfstone’s bards are among the most important people in the stronghold. The warriors look to the bards to restore their courage—to give them hope. The bards recount the heroes’ deeds and shame the craven to action. They are historians and storytellers, but also combatants, fighting shoulder to shoulder with the berserkers and other soldiers.


Talk about this Article here.


IMAGE(http://img808.imageshack.us/img808/7761/bards.jpg)


 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I just wanted to say I really enjoyed the article, and the mechanics in particular. This is not a crazy amount of powers and feats, but it is a great selection, with stuff that was needed in the game (attack options for the melee bard), and a good level of polish. None of the options presented strikes me as overpowered, but they all seem playable and useful. Also, I haven't found any editing or mechanic errors, as happens too often in magazine articles.

I really would be happy with Insider content if we could get about 4 articles like this each month. Is it too much asking? 
My blog about 4e rules and news: Square Fireballs The Magic Item Reset: A standalone set of items for 4E
I really liked it. I especially loved the Viking-feel to it about Skalds. Good fluff, good crunch.
Cool Powers + Feat for Weapon Bards.

Cookie to Mr. Shwalb.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

i am linking to this thread as the official discussion thread.

@Plaguescarred:  thank you for creating this thread. 
Excellent article. I liked the feeling of proper viking Skalds. I liked the thematic but well-balanced feats. I like how the powers actually felt rather distinct with their 'mini-auras' and the like.

This is also exactly the sort of article that does a great job of expanding the base setting. Remember - Wolfstone isn't new. Having more articles that follow-up on elements like this really helps flesh out the Points of Light world, and I'm a big fan of that.

Even my standard complaint - that the article could be longer - doesn't apply here as much as usual. Schwalb does a good job of covering pretty much everything in the short article - solid narrative for flavor, good background on the role of the bards, advice on how to build such a character, plus room for well-described mechanics. Nicely done!
I was pleasantly surprised by this article, makes me wonder how large the crunch-heavy article they talked about this month is. While I currently dont have a bard in any of my games, I'd definitely give this article's content a go if I was.
Primal Arcane?
If a bard take one of these powers does that bard qualify for all primal only feats?
I don't understand the need for labeling the powers Primal in addition to Arcane. 
Seems like a bad design choice, and it sets a bad precedent.
Primal Arcane?
If a bard take one of these powers does that bard qualify for all primal only feats?
I don't understand the need for labeling the powers Primal in addition to Arcane. 
Seems like a bad design choice, and it sets a bad precedent.



This precendent was set a long time ago.  To answer your question, no the bard would not count as a Primal class after taking one of these powers because that is not one of the class's listed power sources.  However, feats and items that modify primal or arcane powers could both possibly apply to these powers.
Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon
Primal Arcane?
If a bard take one of these powers does that bard qualify for all primal only feats?
I don't understand the need for labeling the powers Primal in addition to Arcane. 
Seems like a bad design choice, and it sets a bad precedent.



This precendent was set a long time ago.  To answer your question, no the bard would not count as a Primal class after taking one of these powers because that is not one of the class's listed power sources.  However, feats and items that modify primal or arcane powers could both possibly apply to these powers.

Please point to one other Power with two source descriptors. 
Primal Arcane?
If a bard take one of these powers does that bard qualify for all primal only feats?
I don't understand the need for labeling the powers Primal in addition to Arcane. 
Seems like a bad design choice, and it sets a bad precedent.



This precendent was set a long time ago.  To answer your question, no the bard would not count as a Primal class after taking one of these powers because that is not one of the class's listed power sources.  However, feats and items that modify primal or arcane powers could both possibly apply to these powers.

Please point to one other Power with two source descriptors. 



Do Essentials and Paragon Path powers count, because that's were most of them are?
Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon

Do Essentials and Paragon Path powers count, because that's were most of them are?



One power.  Two Power source key words, in one power. 

Even if this does set a prescedent I guess I'm not seeing that big a deal. It adds some complexity, sure, but it's an option in the magazine and I would expect a wide range of complexity levels there.

I guess what I'm saying is that it doesn't seem distinctly overpowering unless there's something I'm missing.
In order to take these new powers, are you required to multi-class / hybrid into a primal class?  

Under "Creating a Wolfstone Bard", it says "To create a Wolfstone bard, you can build either a multiclass character or a hybrid character."  However, it doesn't list being a primal class as a requirement for any of the powers.

Does having "primal" in the powers' keywords indicate this requirement? 

I like this type of article. 
In order to take these new powers, are you required to multi-class / hybrid into a primal class?  

Under "Creating a Wolfstone Bard", it says "To create a Wolfstone bard, you can build either a multiclass character or a hybrid character."  However, it doesn't list being a primal class as a requirement for any of the powers.

Does having "primal" in the powers' keywords indicate this requirement? 



No - the only requirement for these powers is to be a bard of the appropriate level (or to acquire them via multiclassing into bard via the usual method, or so forth).

Primal Arcane?
If a bard take one of these powers does that bard qualify for all primal only feats?
I don't understand the need for labeling the powers Primal in addition to Arcane. 
Seems like a bad design choice, and it sets a bad precedent.



Having the powers is not enough to qualify as a primal character - that requires a class with the Primal power source.

The Umbriri, a Paragon Path from the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide (released in the first few months of 4E) has three powers that are both Arcane and Shadow power source.

We have also seen classes that use powers from two seperate power sources. The Essentials Scout and Hunter have both Primal and Martial powers. The Executioner Assassin has both Martial and Shadow powers.

So, I'd say the precedent has been set. The question is, as you mention, is this a bad design choice or a bad precedent?

I don't see any reason why. It slightly expands some character options for these powers so they work with feats and other bonuses that apply to one power source or the other. I can't think of any problematic combos that arise from this. I can't think of any rules issues that this produces. What precisely is it that you are concerned about?

Do Essentials and Paragon Path powers count, because that's were most of them are?



One power.  Two Power source key words, in one power. 




Here's a few:

Assassin Shadow (Umbriri PP) - Arcane, Shadow
Shadowed Psyche (Umbriri PP) - Arcane, Shadow
Spirit Spell Assault (Shyran Spiritblade PP) - Arcane, Primal
Withering Onslaught (Covenant Agent PP) - Divine, Shadow
Eldritch Tactics, Bewitching Glare, and Arcane Instincts (Fighter Utility) - Arcane, Martial
Eldritch Leap (Eldritch Knight PP) - Arcane, Martial

Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon
Good article and pretty solid too.
This level of details and play options is what I'm looking for in dragon.

Do Essentials and Paragon Path powers count, because that's were most of them are?



One power.  Two Power source key words, in one power. 




Here's a few:

Assassin Shadow (Umbriri PP) - Arcane, Shadow
Shadowed Psyche (Umbriri PP) - Arcane, Shadow
Spirit Spell Assault (Shyran Spiritblade PP) - Arcane, Primal
Withering Onslaught (Covenant Agent PP) - Divine, Shadow
Eldritch Tactics, Bewitching Glare, and Arcane Instincts (Fighter Utility) - Arcane, Martial
Eldritch Leap (Eldritch Knight PP) - Arcane, Martial




Note that all those are either Paragon Paths or mostly swordmage utilties stolen for the knight, which came out last month.
Personally I'm always excited to see this sort of article and they have seemed few and far between lately.  Regardless of any funkiness with keywords, it still gave new options for my melee bard as well as interesting backstory/flavor.  In the end, this is why I subscribe.  Thanks for the great article!
The Wolfstone Bard seems like a solid class. The flavor is great, and the mechanics are interesting. Intentionally building with a hybrid or multiclass in mind is a design space worth exploring. Mechanically, only the Paragon Path, Mythic Skald, actually requires a Bard to hybrid or mc, but synergizing with such in mind is cool.

The suggestion for this pure Cha build to be for a non-Cha 'Dwarf' race seems ... incoherent.

But the class stands on its own. At a glance, the following races seem more appropriate.

The Cha-Con Half-Elf seems a great race to favor the Cha Wolfstone Bard mixing it with the Cha-Con Valor Bard (without hybrid or multiclass). This race synergizes mechanically and flavorwise. Such an 'Elfborn' (Álfborn) character can sport a muscular Viking flavor, but with the Álfr blood adding preternatural beauty, charisma, and 'luck' for fate-decreed survival.

Even an Eladrin Cha-Int Wolfstone-Cunning Bard is worth looking at.

A Str-Cha Dragonborn seems ok to mix the Cha Wolfstone Bard with a Str-Cha Thaneborn Barbarian. The European adder (vipera berus) is the serpent that the Norse dragon resonates - usually silver-gold scales with onyx black patterns. With backsweeping black horns and serpentine tail.

A Cha-Wis Kalashar seems decent for a Cha Wolfstone Bard mixing a Cha-Wis Prescient Bard, plus just about any of the Wis Druid, Seeker, or Shaman builds. Unfortunately none of these primal builds really benefit from Cha. The  Viking with 'second-sight' who is 'psychic' (Hugr) who can prophesy (Spá) is appropriate for 'prescient' and 'telepath' flavor. The dream-dimensional flavor of the Kalashtar can reflavor as a primal guardian spirit (Fylgja).

Great article.  I appreciate the quality we have seen lately as opposed to the daily spam previously.  Makes me feel less worried about the DDi changes when I read something like this.