Variations: A Guide on Themes
Or, “Yes, I'm a noble that kills people and takes their stuff for a living. I don't see why this surprises you.”
Themes, introduced in the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, are meant to add a new dimension to characters , combining with race and class to define a character from the start of his career. They can be seen as the heroic tier equivalent of Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies; however, as something you start with at 1st level, they are more likely to be prerequisites for something you take later in your career than require prerequisites.
I anticipate two types of people needing this guide- those who already have a class in mind and want to know how to complement it and those who have run across a theme they like and want to know what sort of class it can work well with. While I will try to provide a useful resource to either type, this guide will be more focused on the latter; it's my hope that more class guides will start addressing themes so that players who have already picked a class can get guidance more focused on that class than this guide will be able to provide.
I will be using the standard color rating system:
Gold options are nigh mandatory choices. If you have access to such an option, you need a strong reason not to take it. Don't expect many of these to show up; in the context of themes, it would mean a power better than anything you could take from your class in the same slot, and there are a lot of good class options out there.
Sky Blue options should be seriously considered. They are amongst the best things that characters have access to.
Blue options are nice, but not as likely to override the other options available as those above.
Black options are standard. You wouldn't hurt yourself by taking these, but you can probably find something better.
Purple options are situationally useful, but generally sub-par. You need a reason to take these.
Red is downright bad. Either there is no situation in which it's useful or there is a strictly better option available.
Thanks to the following people:
lordduskblade, for the standard guide format and his many contributions to the community.
Lord_Ventnor, whose unfinished theme guides gave me a place to start.
Aren't there already a bunch of theme handbooks?
Until recently, the only theme handbooks were out of date and incomplete. Someone mentiond the need for a new one, which apparently caused three of us to start rating themes. I'd started on Dark Sun themes before the two recent handbooks popped up, and I thought as long as I'd done the most time consuming themes (Dark Sun themes having way more elements than Essentials themes) I should post them. I don't know for sure whether I'll end up rating all themes in light of the other handbooks, but from looking at them I think I'm coming at this from a slightly different perspective and may have some useful additions to make.