So, brave soul. I hear you want to adventure. That is an honorable profession, and a profitable one as well. I can see what race you are, and your training is obvious from your demeanor. But I still don't know the most important thing about you. Who are you, really? Not what you were trained to do, but what you are, what you have been before you even started adventuring. Answer me that, and your path to success will be opened.
Themes, originally debuted in the DSCS, and given a rules update in Dragon #399 and beyond, are the 'third pillar' of character design, alongside class and race. This guide will not only rate the themes on their virtues, but also tell you what class/race/build they work best in, as a theme that is good for a paladin might suck on a wizard etc.
Red: A trap, obsoleted by something else, or just plain crap.
Purple: Situational at best. Substandard in most cases.
Black: Not bad. You could do worse.
Blue: Consider it, at least.
Sky Blue: One of your best options, period.
Gold: Mandatory. Not just the best. Mandatory. A very rare rating.
This Handbook covers the following sources:
PHB - Player's Handbook
PHB2 - Player's Handbook 2
PHB3 - Player's Handbook 3
D XXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX
DA XX - Dragon Annual, year XX
NWCS - Neverwinter Campaign Settings
HOTF - Heroes of the Feywild
BoVD - Book of Vile Darkness
AoE - Area of effect, often denotes a burst or blast attack.
AP - Action Point
BBEG - Big Bad Evil Guy (typically a Solo or an Elite)
DPR - Damage per round
eClass - Essentials Class, coming in or after Heroes of the Fallen Realms.
ED - Epic destiny
MAD - Multiple-attribute dependency. Otherwise known as stretching your ability scores too thin. Typically a designator for a build needing three or more ability scores to function.
MBA - Melee basic attack
NAD - Non-AC Defense (Fortitude, Reflex or Will).
OA - Opportunity attack
oClasses - Classes published from launch to HotFL, use the standard AEDU system.
PP - Paragon path
THP - Temporary hit points.
NOTE: Since the Dark Sun Themes are rather different and specific, I will refer you to Lord Ventnor's Theme handbook for those.
Lord_Ventnor, first and foremost for his excellent work on this subject.
LDB, for the standard handbook formatting
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