Dragon 402 - Playtest: Tools of Two Trades

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DnDi_Large.pngDragon 402
Playtest: Tools of Two Trades
by James Auwaerter and Chad Brown

Many adventurers choose early in their careers to concentrate either on attacking their enemies with weapons, or channeling power against them with implements, and thereafter they never switch between the two techniques. There are exceptions to this general statement, of course. 

Talk about this article here.

i was generally disappointed.


  1. A lot of the feats require juggling. " if you are using a weapon, an implement, a shield, a patridge and a pear tree then... I was hoping that the implement/weapon classes would be allowed to consolidate. People are still incented to use a weapliment to avoid spending gold and feats on two or three items. 

  2. A lot of the feats are too specific to see much use. If you are using a Mace but not a hammer, or a crossbow but not a bow. Would it not make more sense to broaden the feats. Not a lot of people use maces. Wouldn't Simple weapons or ranged weapon make more sense. If the requirements pigeon hole the build, they won't be used. (yes the crossbow feat benefit would need to change.)

  3. I think the non attack benefits are well thought out except for the swordmage/war wizard one. My fellow players don't want me to blast them. A feat that makes such friendly fire slightly less painful will not win friends at the table. I know swordmages barely do damage but DR4 is not meaningful and does nothing for conditions. It also seems superfluous as lot of swordmage attacks are party friendly. If you are concerned about friendly fire, you can take care of that through power selection.

  4. Versatile expertise still seems better at most levels than some of these. I would have appreciated that being eratta'd to scale at 11th and 21st levels in line with the new expertise feats.

Greatly disappointed that the article spent the time to deal with every combination of holy symbol/weapon except Sehanine bow Clerics - who continue to be stuck with Versatile expertise as their only option.

It is a playtest article, so I assume that well argued critism is welcome and will lead to change.

I have to agree, mostly weak options, although they are slightly better than Versatile Expertise simply because the bonus to attack roll is gained at earlier level. I find the White Lotus Dueling Expertise especially weak. How often does a character even make an Arcana or Diplomacy check in the next round after making an at-will attack (baring bag of rat tricks out of combat)? How often would that +2 matter?

Note that swordmages can actually do reasonable amounts of damage at higher levels with the right race, feats and items. The biggest downside to an hit though is not damage. My fellow players would balk at 35 damage (including the 8 reduction), but they would be even more pissed off on the daze effect ;)

Give us more Ki Focus stuff...Shadow Source stuff...and maybe a little something for vampires?
I'll echo my bewilderment of why some of the choices are so narrow in requirement. Especially the devoted priests restriction to melee weapons (while the non to-hit bouns part of the feat doesn't talk or just work for melee).
(In the case of the devoted priest it seems narrow even fluffwise.)

Little bit of a confusing writeup. Why not axe the melee restriction outright? Less text, clearer, interesting for more players.

About the same for Hex-Expertise for the Warlock (which could well be: "any weapon you can use / wield as a warlock implement" instead, with less text, more acessibility and without the power of the feat blowing up.)

The same is true for the other arbitrarily very restricted feats (which seem to be supposed to widen the versatility of tools by the articles fluff / stated intent). Taking away the arbitrary restrictions might make the feats more interesting to a number of players / builds, easier to understand and not overly stronger at the same time.

I fail to see the upsides and see plenty of downsides to the current makup of the feats.


Contrast with White Lotus Dueling Expertise for how it could be done in spite of the narrow non to-hit perk.
I love the feats
FWIW, here's the feedback I sent to playtesting@wizards.com: 

General 1: the biggest problems that weapliment users are suffering from are these: Versatile Expertise scales slower than other Expertise feats (+2 at lvl 15 instead of 11, +3 at lvl 25 instead of 21); and the lack of a "Versatile Focus" feat (+1/2/3 to damage on attacks made with a chosen weapon and implement). The article unfortunately adresses neither. This is easily solvable by updating the Versatile Expertise feat and adding a "Versatile Focus" feat. 

General 2: another problem for a certain group of weapliment users (mostly hybrids) is the fact that they have to invest in a magical weapon and a magical implement at higher levels, or spend a feat to be able to wield their weapon as an implement (usually multiclass Swordmage or Monk, which might not make sense from a roleplaying perspective). A general feat that lets you use any weapon as an implement will fix this problem. Something like this: 

Channeling Expertise
Benefit: choose a weapon group with which you are proficient. You gain a +1 feat bonus to attack rolls you make when using a weapon from the chosen group. 
Additionally, you can treat weapons from the chosen group as implements when making implement attacks. You can use the enhancement bonus and critical dice of the weapon when making implement attacks and damage rolls with it, but you cannot use its properties or powers. 
Special: you can take this feat more than once. Each time you take this feat, choose a different weapon group. 

White Lotus Dueling Expertise: it would make more sense if you got a +2 bonus to Intimidate instead of Diplomacy - you are in a fight, after all. A Diplomacy bonus is hard to justify, roleplay-wise (do you immediately apologize after you hit your foe?). 

Devout Priest Expertise: this is a very powerful benefit for an already very powerful type of build, namely the one that exploits radiant vulnerability. If you choose to keep this benefit instead of replacing it with something else, at least consider making it a +1 feat bonus to damage. 

Hex Expertise: unfortunately, this does not work for Warlocks who don't have the Curse class feature, like the Binder. Consider replacing the additional benefit with something that all Warlocks can use, and removing the Warlock's Curse prerequisite. 

War Wizard's Expertise: as a controller class, most Wizard (and Swordmage) powers are about status effects first, and damage second. A more effective and useful benefit would be something like this: "Also, when an arcane attack you make with a light blade or a heavy blade would hit one or more allies, those allies get a +4 bonus to their defenses against the attack." This could also be +2, if +4 is too powerful.
Dang it. Why did I have expectations for this article? I mean it meets the bare minimum of giving the appropriate feat tax feat bonuses, but the majority of the rider benefits are worthless. About the only way to make some of the riders, like White Lotus Dueling Expertise, useful would be to remove the current one and add a new one. I guess Devoted priest Expertise is good.....not that the radiant mafia needed to do more damage. All kinds of disapointment here.
The secondary effect on "White Lotus Dueling Expertise" is close to useless. In most games skill challenges and combats are seperate, and while Arcana does have an in combat effect with some monster knowledge checks I cannot think of any situation you would hit something one turn and diplomacy the next.

"Eldritch Fusillade Expertise", artificers are still more likely to take Crossbow caster so they do not need to have maintain having two magic weapons. The secondary effect, while necessary is nothing more than that.

"Devout Protector Expertise" and "Mighty Crusader Expertise" are overly complicated, the intent is good however, just needs a less complex way getting that across.

"Hex Expertise" the once per day aspect of the feat might be a little unwieldy in use, maybe replace it with something less powerful that can be used at will.

"War Wizard’s Expertise" the conditions from area abilities are usually worse than the damage, and if used by a swordmage they are usually party friendly area effects. Replace entirely is my recommendation as swordmages will want to use this more than anyone else. Elsewise a bonus to defenses against the attack for allies is probably better than a small amount of damage reduction because then your allies ahve a chance of negating the conditions. 
I must be the only one who likes these specialized feats. BUT I will say that they need a lot of tweaking to work properly.

Mighty Crusader looks good and my shadow ossassin will definitely pick up the weapon ki technique. Battle song is awesome for bards and is a massive upgrade. Devout protector is actually pretty good. The bonus to reflex is great. I think people are getting hung up on all the prereqs for it, but it's a standard loadout for any shield based paladin.

White Lotus Dueling is so situational you might use it a half-dozen times from levels 1 to 30. Arcane dueling makes me think of repeatedly attacking the same target. I'd rather see a bonus to attack or damage for hitting the same target repeatedly.

Eldritch Fusillade needs to be switched from wand to "any arcane implement". This would go a long way towards broadening the feat to many more builds.

Dwarven Rod Expertise is just... strange and has the most most suggestive name in 4e. There's going to be a LOT of jokes about that one. "Let's send old Hammertongue Thunderfist into the tavern and try to impress them. He's an expert with dwarven rods."

The warlocks curse feature on Hex expertise should be switched to once per encounter instead of once per day. Once per day is pretty weak compared to the benefits offered by the other feats.

War wizard's damage reduction is fine in low heroic but is meaningless in paragon and epic where condition effects are the key feature of area attacks. I'd rather see a free saving throw to all allies in the area to avoid getting hit with the condition.

Overall, I do like this approach to fixing versatile expertise but some of these definitely need to be tweaked if they're going to be the upgrades we had been hoping for.

edit: vampires need some love. This is the place to do it.
WotC, there was a problem that required a simple fix.
Adaptable Expertise
Benefit: You gain a +1 feat bonus to attack rolls.  This bonus increases to +2 at 11th level and to +3 at 21st level.
In addition, when you are wielding both an implement and a weapon and are proficient with both, when you attack with the weapon, you can choose to use the magical properties of the implement instead of the weapon's, and if you attack with the implement, you can choose to use the magical properties of the weapon instead of the implement's


There was no need to write a separte feat for every build that minf want to wield a weapon and an implement, and clearly the attempt left you stretched for ideas.

I am... Unimpressed. Excessive fiddliness, and did Radiant-vuln-abuse really need more help?


I have a Paladin. I would never, ever take the Devout Protector feat. Know why? Because there's been times where he didn't have his shield because we were forced into combat in the middle of the night and it was more beneficial to simply use the sword two-handed rather than waste an entire turn putting his shield on. During which, incidentally, Versatile Expertise STILL WORKED. Plus he doesn't even use a Holy Symbol for his implement powers, because he has a homebrew feat that lets him use his Longswords as implements.  Maybe this feat is good in perfect power gamer land where the DM is dumb and never does stuff like attack the party in the middle of the night, but requiring EVERYTHING to be used to get any benefit at all from it? Terrible. Come on, guys, Paladins get kicked in the nuts enough with either needing to keep up with both a weapon and an implement or spend feats to be able to use their swords as symbols. At which point these may actually become useless since a Paladin using his sword as an implement doesn't actually have a holy symbol. :<


Just errata this article to consist of errating Vestatile Expertise to scale properly, and make up Versatile Focus, then give us a feat that lets us generically use weapons as implements. Bam, problem solved forever.


 


 

It's spelled Corellon Larethian, not Correlon, Correllon, Correlllon, Corellion, Correlian or any other way of getting it wrong. I'm a total grognard and I still play 4E.
WotC, there was a problem that required a simple fix.
Adaptable Expertise
Benefit: You gain a +1 feat bonus to attack rolls.  This bonus increases to +2 at 11th level and to +3 at 21st level.
In addition, when you are wielding both an implement and a weapon and are proficient with both, when you attack with the weapon, you can choose to use the magical properties of the implement instead of the weapon's, and if you attack with the implement, you can choose to use the magical properties of the weapon instead of the implement's


There was no need to write a separte feat for every build that minf want to wield a weapon and an implement, and clearly the attempt left you stretched for ideas.

WOTC, please steal this idea.

The fact that weapon/implement classes have to buy two magic items makes it enough of a handicap. Please stop handicapping them with a bad math fix (Versatile Expertise) and just release an updated math-fixed version of it.
Dear WOTC,

Please stop overthinking everything. Expertise is an annoying math fix that no one likes. Either figure out how to get rid of it or make the feats easy and interesting. All expertise feats should have been changed to 1/11/21 long ago.

Stop with the arbitrary restrictions and the hollow justifications.
Needs a lot of work before the full release is done. 

As I said elsewhere, the Hex Expertise is a mess. It specifically mentioned Pact Blades, but is unusable by Hexblades and Binders. I think they forgot they removed the feat to gain a pact Blade somewhere.

The Crossbow one needs reworking to work for all bow/crossbow type weapons, and to make it evident that you can wield these with both hands even though you have a wand. I get the idea they wanted, but as is, it doesn't work.

You need to untie the specific weapon groups from these wherever possible. Please don't like being forced into skewing their character concepts. (Mace and Hammer, etc).

 
From a positive point of view: the bard expertise is very nice.

Most of the others are way too narrow and uninteresting, with the one dealing more damage to radiant vulnerable being unbalanced given how powerful radiant mafia is.

I am okay with the article and think everything in there improve a Versatile Expert. There is some wonky benefit but since the article is a Playtest, it means it won't be incorporated to the Tools until finalized and thus Feedbacks may be given. I would have liked to see a generic Versatile Expertise revision scaling properly but.

I liked the reference to White Lotus Academy, the Hall of Battle and the Itinerant Tutor Nythwon Cadogan. I don't know of Chad or Herid who's behind it but tips hat.

Battle Song Expertise and Devoted Priest Expertise are pretty cool.
White Lotus Duelist Expertise's Skill benefit should be revised.
Dwarven Rod Expertise should include Mace and Warhammer, a weapon most Dwarves are inherently proficient with.
Hex Expertise's benefit could be changed to once per encounter instead of once per day to be more significant.   

Thanks to Jim Auwaeter & Chad Brown for the article
And to artist Mathias Kollros for the cool artwork. The illustration of the Deva is quiet cool.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

It is a playtest article, so I assume that well argued critism is welcome and will lead to change.

I have to agree, mostly weak options, although they are slightly better than Versatile Expertise simply because the bonus to attack roll is gained at earlier level. I find the White Lotus Dueling Expertise especially weak. How often does a character even make an Arcana or Diplomacy check in the next round after making an at-will attack (baring bag of rat tricks out of combat)? How often would that +2 matter?

Note that swordmages can actually do reasonable amounts of damage at higher levels with the right race, feats and items. The biggest downside to an hit though is not damage. My fellow players would balk at 35 damage (including the 8 reduction), but they would be even more pissed off on the daze effect ;)

I agree with all of the above; I'm struggling with the randomness of the +2 Arcana/Diplomacy rider benefit on White Lotus Dueling.  (Flavorwise, I get it: magical dueling is all about magic and etiquette.)  I might use this with my Scholar-theme Bladesinger to tweak Use Vulnerability, but even then to get any use out of the rider benefit I would have to enter combat and hit with a basic attack BEFORE making a monster knowledge check.

Luckily, there are two alternatives to Versatile Expertise for my Bladesinger here.  War Wizard might help when my Bladesinger wants to cast a Bladesong-enhanced Color Spray (as a daily) and is trying to convince fellow adventurers in the blast zone that "it won't hurt as much."  Given that Bladesong alone is a +5 boost to damage, maybe War Wizard could be beefed up a little more than 4/6/8, given it's already somewhat conditional.

That said, all of these Expertise feats with rider benefits are by definition better than Versatile Expertise, which screams "I'm a big bucket of sucky feat tax!"
-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
FWIW, here's the feedback I sent to playtesting@wizards.com: 

White Lotus Dueling Expertise: it would make more sense if you got a +2 bonus to Intimidate instead of Diplomacy - you are in a fight, after all. A Diplomacy bonus is hard to justify, roleplay-wise (do you immediately apologize after you hit your foe?). 

War Wizard's Expertise: as a controller class, most Wizard (and Swordmage) powers are about status effects first, and damage second. A more effective and useful benefit would be something like this: "Also, when an arcane attack you make with a light blade or a heavy blade would hit one or more allies, those allies get a +4 bonus to their defenses against the attack." This could also be +2, if +4 is too powerful.

Another option for War Wizard would be just to exclude one square (ally) from the area of effect; sort of a limited Spell Accuracy rider, or some magic item properties. But -4/6/8 damage (and no effect negation) is not much of a friendly-fire damper.  White Lotus Dueling could use an entirely different rider; it doesn't really matter which because the +2 arcana/diplomacy bost has very little applicable use in the middle of combat.

-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
I do not get why everyone is getting up in arms about the feats, i find them all to be great, im ok with tax feats as long as i get something extra, my bladesinger i am making loves that War Wizard since all my spells are going for damage and not side effect spells, and my str templer is going to pick up Mighty Crusader.
I was honestly hoping for something in this article that would be useful for characters who mix power sources, like a fighter|wizard or barbarian|sorcerer.  Instead, everything has a very narrow focus, and even then manage to miss the mark more often than not...  it's pretty disappointing.
I spent all day at work picturing gnome artificers accidently shooting their wands with their crossbows.

While it's a fun thought, the whole concept seems a clumsy fix.

I really think Crossbow implement is better for Artificers, but maybe expanded to have the expertise built into it.

Or "Artificer Expertise" +1/2/3 for simple weapons or rods staves and wands, can switch as a minor action. Gets across that artificer with the bandolier of wands and rods much better, even if they are still splitting magic item resources.

Or a superior Crossbow only open to Artificers that has a groove or hook that  accomodates a wand or rod which allows the enhancement and expertise bonus to work with both implement and weapon powers. (And make it small for the sake of the Tinker Gnome archetype.)
Ultimately you know what I think the problem is here,

the expertise feats that came out were great in that they made individual weapons have properties that were not class dependent.

If you know how to use a longsword, you know how to parry attacks with it, if you know how to use a rapier you know how to strike at a weak point and cause more damage. Dosen't matter if you're a ranger, or a thief, a swordmage, or a battlemind.

However these feats are INTENSELY class tied. Several of the feats are clearly designed for particular builds of Paladins. Some of the feats can be used by different classes, but for the most part you look at each feat you know exactly what class and build it is designed for.

So stop pretending these are weapon and implement feats and just do it via class. It's a feat bonus to attack so it wouldn't stack with any other expertise feats. Then make the effects fit the class not the items, cause it's so awkward to do that.

Paladin Attack Expertise:
"You get a +1/2/3 feat bonus to attack with holy symbols and one weapon group you choose when you take this feat. In addition you gain a +1/2/3 bonus to damage when hitting creatures with the undead, elemental, or immortal origin using items that benefit from this feat."
WotC, there was a problem that required a simple fix.
Adaptable Expertise
Benefit: You gain a +1 feat bonus to attack rolls.  This bonus increases to +2 at 11th level and to +3 at 21st level.
In addition, when you are wielding both an implement and a weapon and are proficient with both, when you attack with the weapon, you can choose to use the magical properties of the implement instead of the weapon's, and if you attack with the implement, you can choose to use the magical properties of the weapon instead of the implement's


There was no need to write a separte feat for every build that minf want to wield a weapon and an implement, and clearly the attempt left you stretched for ideas.

WOTC, please steal this idea.

The fact that weapon/implement classes have to buy two magic items makes it enough of a handicap. Please stop handicapping them with a bad math fix (Versatile Expertise) and just release an updated math-fixed version of it.

The question would be how it interacts with classes that use the same item either as a weapon or implement depending on the power used. Or with classes that have a holy symbols and weapons since technically you do not wield holy symbols, you just need to carry one.
You do wield holy symbols - you just wield them in a slot specific to them.

And yeah, Damon's feat isn't perfect - but it's a damn sight better than the offerings here.

I'm aware of the current philosophy - giving everything flavour and specificity - but this isn't an area, in my opinion, where that's beneficial.  All it does is leave some people STILL out in the cold (totem users, pretty much anyone who uses a weapon AND an implement separately, pretty much anyone who uses a weapon AS an implement...) with older feats which provide later scaling and no additional bonuses.

What this issue needs isn't new bloat, it's errata.  Changing Versatile Expertise to scale appropriately would be enough of a fix for most people.  Then it's fine to go ahead and design all the wildly over-specialised build-specific fluffy bloat that the designers seem to want, because the baseline is there.  But sorting out those millions and millions of combined wand/crossbow wielders whilst entire implement groups (tomes, totems) are ignored is... short-sighted, and deeply, deeply disappointing when it comes from one of the most anticipated articles for several months.  The single most important thing that this article does is bring the Instrument implements in from the cold - giving them Expertise that they have never had at all is a nice touch.

Like so many things recently, this could have been so much better.  I've said it before, I'll say it again - we have imaginations.  We can provide our own flavour.  What we are not is competent games designers, most of us, and many of us play in RAW campaigns anyway.  So, flavour is fine, it can be inspiring - but make sure it's attached to sensible, functional mechanics.  We can flavour things ourselves, we can't write the mechanics.

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 do not get why everyone is getting up in arms about the feats, i find them all to be great, im ok with tax feats as long as i get something extra,



I was considering not touching on this, but I just can't let it be.

You seriously consider White Lotus Dueling Expertise to be a great feat? You consider hitting with an at-will for a benefit of +2 to Arcana and Dimplomacy to be part of a great feat? I'm playing an Arcana maxing Swordmage who is built with the intent of using almost exclusively at-will attacks at higher levels because of how I have buffed them up. That's about as close to the target character for that feat as you can get, and I am completely uninterested in that rider. It is crappy compared to what quality expertise feats do as their riders, and I fully intend to to keep Light Blade Expertise as that is extremely useful. Only good thing for WLDE is that it has the bare minimum expertise boosts.
I think the way White Lotus Dueling Expertise is supposed to work is that while you're talking to someone and trying to befriend them or get them to trust you, you should attack them with an at-will attack, so that if you hit you'll have +2 to diplomacy and they'll like you more.  It makes perfect sense to me.
The question would be how it interacts with classes that use the same item either as a weapon or implement depending on the power used. Or with classes that have a holy symbols and weapons since technically you do not wield holy symbols, you just need to carry one.



For the first issue, it would fix the problem they have, and would give them +1/2/3 to attacks with their weapliment.  They don;t have the problem of having to maintain both a property leveled implement and weapon (what the second part of the feat addresses) but it wouldn't effect them in any negative way.

And as was already said, holy symbols are wielded, just not in a hand.
I do not get why everyone is getting up in arms about the feats, i find them all to be great, im ok with tax feats as long as i get something extra,



I was considering not touching on this, but I just can't let it be.

You seriously consider White Lotus Dueling Expertise to be a great feat? You consider hitting with an at-will for a benefit of +2 to Arcana and Dimplomacy to be part of a great feat? I'm playing an Arcana maxing Swordmage who is built with the intent of using almost exclusively at-will attacks at higher levels because of how I have buffed them up. That's about as close to the target character for that feat as you can get, and I am completely uninterested in that rider. It is crappy compared to what quality expertise feats do as their riders, and I fully intend to to keep Light Blade Expertise as that is extremely useful. Only good thing for WLDE is that it has the bare minimum expertise boosts.



i had a fight in my group where they had a skill challenge and try talk the guy from sending more people as they battle some of the henchmen (the leader was out of reach and when they killed the ones they that was there, more showed up) and  Arcana and Dimplomacy was part of the challenge (arcana to get on the magic part of the leader, and well dimplomacy is well normal)....i had it where they got to the fight the out of their level guy if they failed and they failed and "died" but i think if they had that, it would had changed what happen during that fight since most of the time when they rolled for arcana and dimplomacy they missed it by one or two, it was sad and funny.
I think the way White Lotus Dueling Expertise is supposed to work is that while you're talking to someone and trying to befriend them or get them to trust you, you should attack them with an at-will attack, so that if you hit you'll have +2 to diplomacy and they'll like you more.  It makes perfect sense to me.



The power of friendship, Nanoha-style.  Let's make an all-Arcane party and go befriend the crap out of some goblins. Money mouth

i had a fight in my group where they had a skill challenge and try talk the guy from sending more people as they battle some of the henchmen (the leader was out of reach and when they killed the ones they that was there, more showed up) and  Arcana and Dimplomacy was part of the challenge (arcana to get on the magic part of the leader, and well dimplomacy is well normal)....i had it where they got to the fight the out of their level guy if they failed and they failed and "died" but i think if they had that, it would had changed what happen during that fight since most of the time when they rolled for arcana and dimplomacy they missed it by one or two, it was sad and funny.



And? I've had in battle arcana skill challenges before(heck I was in a dungeon where there was one in every encounter a while ago). That doesn't change my mind that the secondary benefit is one of the most worthless expertise secondary benefits ever released. My character will be rolling an in battle arcana check every battle once he gains Trick of Knowledge. A conditional +2 bonus is not worth the feat slot when there are better things out there.

Besides to use the benefit of the feat, you have to slow down the entire skill challenge since you can generally either only attack or roll a skill check making the skill challenge take twice as long.

As I said elsewhere, the Hex Expertise is a mess. It specifically mentioned Pact Blades, but is unusable by Hexblades and Binders. I think they forgot they removed the feat to gain a pact Blade somewhere.  



I can understand the confusion, but pact blades aren't unique to hexblades. You're thinking of pact weapons. Pact blades are a type of magic weapon that first appeared way back in Player's Handbook 1.
Hello there!  

I'm one of the two authors of the piece, and since it's a playtest, I thought I'd see if I can help clarify anything and ask some questions to help guide the post-playtest version of the piece.  To be explicit, I do not know anything right now about the next steps for the piece, including the time-frame for review, inclusion in the tools, etc.

I'll try to ask about one topic at a time, to keep thread-switches from being too confusing, but I'll try to respond however people like. I'm going to start with a general statement: The intent of the piece is not to update Versatile Expertise, but instead to provide support for (non-hybrid) builds that want to use more than one `tool', and that currently fall through the gaps in feat support.  While I don't know how much input I'll have on the post-playtest version, I am keen to hear about any non-hybrid two-tool-using build that isn't covered by the piece.

First Up: White Lotus Dueling Expertise

This feat does indeed provide a very specific and relatively weak extra benefit.  The strength of this feat is that it provides its benefit (with arcane/basic attacks) with any tools you can use; not even any one thing, but any things. Certainly, some characters will prefer to specialize in one thing; this feat is for the character that wants to invest instead in variety.

From my personal point of view, I'd take it on my character that uses dagger, longsword, instrument, wand, staff, and rod.

> This feat does indeed provide a very specific and relatively weak extra
> benefit.

I don't mind that it's weak. As both a player and a DM, I do mind that it's extremely fiddly.

"...and a +1 feat bonus to Arcana and Diplomacy." (or even just to one of those skills, your choice) would be FAR preferable to the current "and sometimes you get this circumstantial benefit that you'll probably forget about on the rare times when it comes up during the round after you triggered it," effect.

This is also the main problem that I have with the benefits provided by most of these other feats. 4E is already burdened by the need to track umpteen conditions (especially at higher levels) as it is, even without throwing these short duration/circumstantial/situational effects into the mix.

As I expressed over in another thread ( community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758... ) I also feel that the requirements for many of the feats are also unnecessarily convoluted. I don't want to just copy the whole post over here, but the example I brought up is Devoted Protector, for which...

Prerequisite: Proficiency with holy symbols.
Benefit: You gain a +1 feat bonus to weapon attack rolls and a +1 feat bonus to implement attack rolls you make with a holy symbol. These bonuses increase to +2 at 11th level and +3 at 21st level.
Also, when you are using a shield with which you are proficient, your shield bonus to Reflex increases by 1.


...would be a far cleaner alternative to the current version and has the same overall effect for anyone who expects to routinely use those three items. (Anyone who isn't going to use them is better off taking another form of expertise anyway, so the attempt at enforcing the use of those three items in the current, eye-crossingly wordy version isn't necessary.)


In short, I don't really mind if the end result is that the rider benefits end up weaker than they are now, but a KISS rewrite is desperately needed.
In general, you want fewer conditional effects, and more constant bonuses. While I can sympathize with the goal, that's a big shift in the philosophy of the game. I have some doubt that R&D will want to start with such changes in a Dragon article for multi-tool users.

The general idea of the `extra benefits' from the Expertise feats ties strongly into the use of the tool (there are a few exceptions, but the rule is very clear). This will naturally make the multi-tool expertise feats more complicated. If there is a good way to maintain the `cookie on use' aspect of the feats with simpler wording, I'd love to hear it. If the flavor of the feat suggests constant bonuses rather than situational or conditional, I can try to make a pitch (although I don't know that I'll have a much stronger voice than everyone else in the playtest).

As a specific example, your suggestion for Devout Protector Expertise is simpler, but also simply more powerful. I would certainly not mind seeing a simpler, slightly stronger version in the final; be sure to submit your feedback!
First Up: White Lotus Dueling Expertise

This feat does indeed provide a very specific and relatively weak extra benefit.  The strength of this feat is that it provides its benefit (with arcane/basic attacks) with any tools you can use; not even any one thing, but any things. Certainly, some characters will prefer to specialize in one thing; this feat is for the character that wants to invest instead in variety.

From my personal point of view, I'd take it on my character that uses dagger, longsword, instrument, wand, staff, and rod.



Using more implements is more of a drawback than an advantage.  Characters only get a certain number of magic items.  Most characters only have to invest in three big ones to keep up with the games math: armor, neck slot, and weapon or implement.  When you have a character who uses both an implement and a weapon, you need to spend more resources on just your core items and thus you tend to fall behind classes that use a single weapon or implement.  Often there is nothing to make up for this lack.  The versatility may seem powerful on paper, but once you take into account the limited item selection that PCs get, that versatility means very little in practice.

That said, there would be nothing overpowered about this feat if it just gave a +2 feat bonus to Arcana or Diplomacy (or even both, but that's probably unnecessary).  It really seems like the rider was added just to have one and at that point, why not just update versatile expertise (which would save  a lot of headache all around btw)?  How often are you really going to be making diplomacy checks while attacking someone?  I guarentee you that this feat's effect will be forgotten or irrelevent 99% of the time.

In general, you want fewer conditional effects, and more constant bonuses. While I can sympathize with the goal, that's a big shift in the philosophy of the game. I have some doubt that R&D will want to start with such changes in a Dragon article for multi-tool users.



Looking at all the other expertise feats, only holy symbol expertise has an effect that varies from round to round, and it provides a much more powerful bonus than any of the feats listed here.  Many of the others provide static bonuses, and some are even quite powerful (i.e. staff expertise, light blade expertise, rod expertise).  Saying that the norm is extremely finnicky bonuses is simply not true.


The general idea of the `extra benefits' from the Expertise feats ties strongly into the use of the tool (there are a few exceptions, but the rule is very clear). This will naturally make the multi-tool expertise feats more complicated. If there is a good way to maintain the `cookie on use' aspect of the feats with simpler wording, I'd love to hear it. If the flavor of the feat suggests constant bonuses rather than situational or conditional, I can try to make a pitch (although I don't know that I'll have a much stronger voice than everyone else in the playtest).

As a specific example, your suggestion for Devout Protector Expertise is simpler, but also simply more powerful. I would certainly not mind seeing a simpler, slightly stronger version in the final; be sure to submit your feedback!



Look at these feats and then look at something like staff expertise.  The simplified version would still be much less powerful than all of the other expertise feats.  I don't really get the flavor connect, if that's the justification for the complexity of these feats.  How does a skill bonus that never will  come up show the flavor of being an arcane duelist?  Shouldn't it provide a benefit for fighting one-on-one or give some way to futher integrate swordplay with magic?  Something like staff expertise's combat casting would make a lot more sense.



The intent of the piece is not to update Versatile Expertise, but instead to provide support for (non-hybrid) builds that want to use more than one `tool', and that currently fall through the gaps in feat support.


It is urgent to update the Versatile Expertise feat. Just change 15 and 25 to 11 and 21. It is already a solid feat, that can satisfy the math-fix needs of every conceivable D&D character. The feat should allow the hero to select *any* “accessory” and treat it as a weapliment, adding the bonus regardless of whether the hero uses it for a weapon or an implement. The “extra feat benefit” is simply the hero can have TWO weapliments. For example, a Sorcerer can use both daggers and staves as weapliments.

Once the playtest updates the general Versatile Expertise feat, then its ok for more specialized forms of expertise to be there as alternative options for players who want them for specific builds.
In addition to what embertiger has written...

> As a specific example, your suggestion for Devout Protector Expertise is
> simpler, but also simply more powerful.

Of the two:


Benefit: When you are using a holy symbol, wielding a melee weapon with which you are proficient, and using a shield, you gain a +1 feat bonus to weapon attack rolls you make with the weapon and a +1 feat bonus to implement attack rolls you make with the holy symbol. These bonuses increase to +2 at 11th level and +3 at 21st level.
Also, when you hit with a divine at-will attack power or a basic attack while wielding a melee weapon, using a shield, and using a holy symbol, your shield bonus to Reflex increases by 1 until the start of your next turn.



Prerequisite: Proficiency with holy symbols.
Benefit: You gain a +1 feat bonus to weapon attack rolls and a +1 feat bonus to implement attack rolls you make with a holy symbol. These bonuses increase to +2 at 11th level and +3 at 21st level.
Also, when you are using a shield with which you are proficient, your shield bonus to Reflex increases by 1.


The only practical difference is the shield-Reflex benefit being constant instead of conditional, and it's stronger mainly because "+.5 Reflex" isn't a quick-example solution. "Also, when you are using a shield with which you are proficient, you gain a +1 item bonus to Reflex." would probably be a lower-powered alternative (since it won't stack with a common type of gear-based defense boost).

> be sure to submit your feedback!

I have. The post I referenced was written after I sent in a much longer email to the feedback address.

As I said, I'm not terribly concerned about the power level. I am concerned by the fact that these feats (unlike previous expertise feats, which do mostly provide static benefits) are going to be more hassle than helpful, to the point that (as both a player and a DM) I'd rather drop something like the White Lotus rider entirely than have to deal with it in its current form.
I strongly agree with the critiques above that reject the mechanics that are convoluted and less useful.
In general, you want fewer conditional effects, and more constant bonuses. While I can sympathize with the goal, that's a big shift in the philosophy of the game. I have some doubt that R&D will want to start with such changes in a Dragon article for multi-tool users.



It is worthwhile to quote the Legend & Lore by Mike Mearls:

“A good DM [or player] needs an action resolution mechanic that's easy to use and quick to apply to new situation.

It's much harder to run games that encourage immersion, improvisation, and creative play if the DM [or player] has to stop for five minutes to figure out how to do something.

The best mechanics are simple, intuitive, and easy to remember, allowing DMs and players to learn them by heart and keep the game moving.




Mechanics that are forgetable, incompatable, convoluted, temporary, situational, conditional, rarely-useful, with obscure requirements, and within heaps of inconstant modifier totals that shift from round to round, fail to be the “best mechanics”.