Themes: How Powerful Will They Make Us?

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So, my group has been running our current campaign since well before themes were introduced. We've mostly just ignored them until now, but recently, someone brought up the topic of adding them to the game retroactively, just 'cause. We're currently deliberating how much this is likely to change the game. It's undeniably going to make our characters more powerful (from the perspective of someone used to playing without them, themes are literally something for nothing, after all), but just how much more powerful are we likely to be? I know that there are strong themes and weak themes, but overall, what's the functional difference between a themeless character and a themed character?

We're currently level 13, which does mean that we're beyond the levels when theme powers are likely to matter the most, but that doesn't mean we're not still going to notice and use our newfound boons, if we do indeed decide to adopt them. Basically, how big of a change would you expect the sudden addition of themes to represent? We are going to allow heavy retraining if the theme obsoletes or clashes with existing feat/power choices (for the obvious example, my character has Linguist, that most iconic of non-optimized feats. Since I'd be getting the Scholar theme, I wouldn't need it anymore, so I'd be getting a free feat to play with), if that makes a difference, though I don't think many of us would need to do so. Do you think it'd be appropriate and/or necessary for the GM to bump up the monsters to compensate? My group is not very heavily optimized (see also: Linguist), but I don't know if that means that themes would matter more (since we have more ground to make up) or less (since we might not immediately gravitate towards the strongest themes).

In short, if we add themes to a themeless campaign, how much should we expect the game to change, on average?
The secret to PC awesomeness in 4e is adding extra combat-related stuff to do outside of the PC's standard action. More interrupts, more minor action attacks, more rerolls and bonuses, simply more answers. Once a PC of any role gets a hold of a few of those powers in their power lists, they tend not to let them go even into paragon and epic (see Low Slash, Fury's Advance, Shocking Feedback, etc).

The best themes have those non-standard action options - Noble Adept, Guardian, Hospitaler, Sohei, etc. In my LFR sessions with my cleric, I use the Hospitaler power about as often as I use Healing Word. Surgeless healing that goes exactly where it needs to! Fey Beast Tamer is awesome for a similar reason - an awesome, combat related benefit (CA) that you don't have to spend utility slots or move actions or anything else on. You can debate how much this stuff breaks people's games, but those powers will be used in almost every encounter.
Basically: A decently entertaining amount more in Heroic, not much more after that - which is just the right level of extra power to add for what is essentially the heroic equivalent of PPs and EDs.
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.
The arguably most powerful themes are Guardian and Sohei, which grant an immediate reaction MBA and minor action attack once per encounter, respectively. Pack Outcast generates free CA just for standing near somebody, but eternal CA isn't especially hard for folks to get if they really want it.

Iron Wolf Warrior has some potentially exploitable multi-attacks, but you have to trade class powers for them, and the best one can be tricky to use on a focus-fire target.

The Hospitaler theme that Popesixtus mentions grants an immediate reaction surgeless heal for WIS or CHA, twice per encounter (at level 10).

Those are the real stand outs in terms of power. There are some very nifty options out there, but nothing that will change your life.
Fey Beast Tamer is probably the biggest standout for my mind, not because of raw power (it's not as good as Guardian or Sohei in that respect) but because of how it can warp the basic expectations of things like party size.  Also, for the way it makes the 'guy with a pet' concept viable for any class, rather than forcing you into one of two not-terribly-optimal choices.  Also, for the way it raises our frequently-dashed hopes about the possibility of a scaling mount game element of some kind.
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.
Basically: A decently entertaining amount more in Heroic, not much more after that - which is just the right level of extra power to add for what is essentially the heroic equivalent of PPs and EDs.



I disagree with this. Those themes with off-standard action powers and/ or free CA will have a significant impact all the way up to capstone level. A DM planning an incredible, campaign-ending boss battle with Demagorgon and his elite guards will do well to account for the Hospitaler heal, the extra nova punch of a Sohei, etc. That stuff will get used.
I don't disagree that it will get used.

But its impact gets a lot less when you get to Epic, because paragon and epic are crammed with similar, or better, powers.

They still have punch, the best ones still have quite a lot of punch, but they fade into the background a bit next to later powers, which is why they have their greatest impact in Heroic.
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 can't think of too many defender powers similar to the Guardian one, or leader powers with as much surgeless punch as the Hospitaler one. The Avenger will still use the Sohei power and Fury's Advance against a lvl 33 solo, while getting saved from a bad roll by some else with the Noble Adept power. They are so good because they mush so well with everything else those classes get, while still making their own impact way into epic. I guess I misspoke; they won't only get used, but will feature somewhat prominently.
Dimensional Vortex.  Better than Guardian.

For surgeless, the Cleric has huge amounts.

For minor-action attacks, the Avenger already has plenty at high levels.

They'll still have an impact - as they should - and the best ones' impact will still be appreciable.  But compare Sohei Flurry with the equivalent Ranger minor action attack at, say, 20th...
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.
Sohei comes out ahead. Why? Because it doesn't cost a slot. With that free slot I can use a Warlord Hybrid or Multiclass to take A Plan Comes Together, and get:

-A minor action attack from Sohei.
-A minor action attack from Ranger.
-An immediate action attack from Ranger.
-A standard, minor, or immediate attack from my PP, because either it's good and I'm keeping it or I'm getting another Ranger trick thanks to Reserve Maneuver.
-A Standard or Free or No Action attack from a multiclass.

This all combines for a powerful 'Haha, no, **** YOU' turn when you have to nova the hell out of an enemy. Without Sohei you can't actually fill all of your actions effectively, you'll have a hole somewhere. Even if you don't want to multiclass into a class that fills that hole in your action economy, getting TWO full nova turns is a powerful-ass ability. Normally you only get one full turn, not so with Sohei or Guardian.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Or, you can get two minor-action encounter powers from Ranger which do more than 1[W] each.  Or, you can MC power swap for minor action powers that do more than 1[W].  Etc etc etc.

At high levels, theme powers give most people nothing they can't get in-class or from MCing already - and the ones they do provide a really meaningful impact to, are the ones who need that impact most anyway.
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.
The best themes have those non-standard action options - Noble Adept, Guardian, Hospitaler, Sohei, etc.

Don't underestimate Iron Wolf Warrior with its no action attack powers. It's a surprisingly good theme.

Meanwhile, stepping back from magical theoryland, Hellfire & Brimstone has a larger impact in most battles than Sohei Flurry.



Which is irrelevant because...drumroll...the guy who takes Sohei Flurry has no reason to take Hellfire and Brimstone! Shocking, I know. And I like Devil's Pawn a ton, but you just won the award for 'most unrelated post ever'.

TSI: Uhh, no. Why would you care one whit about the number of W's in an attack? Sohei Flurry adds a cool 40-70 damage. 1 W adds...4.5, tops. I'm sure you can see which one is better, yes? What is your problem with admitting that off-action themes are ridiculous good because they give you something that we rate as gold in our handbooks, free?
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
>.<

My point is not that they're not good; they are.

It's that they're much, much better for a level 1 character, for whom they double his encounter attack power budget and add some major extra interest, than for a level 30 character for whom they add, at most, 1/4 to his encounter attack budget, and for the most part don't do anything he couldn't do already, they just do it again.  They add power, that is unavoidable, except by not taking them.  They add a proportionately MUCH larger amount of power to Heroic tier, than to Epic tier.
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.
In short, if we add themes to a themeless campaign, how much should we expect the game to change, on average?



I allowed my players to decide if they wanted to add themes in my home campaign, which was around level 9 or 10 at the time. I told them "these are going to add some extra complications and extend your turns to be longer, but they aren't game breaking, so I will let you decide collectively if they are allowed."

Unsurprisingly, the players added them. It didn't really make a big difference in terms of PC power or of turn length. Just an occasional extra trick. I wouldn't worry about them too much.

My group is not very heavily optimized (see also: Linguist), but I don't know if that means that themes would matter more (since we have more ground to make up) or less (since we might not immediately gravitate towards the strongest themes).

In short, if we add themes to a themeless campaign, how much should we expect the game to change, on average?

I think in a group like yours, the power level isn't going to change much, at least in combat (Scholar can actually make a pretty big difference outside of combat if knowing languages is actually important in your campaign). Even if 1-2 of you took "top 5" themes, it's not likely to make encounters suddenly a breeze. After a few sessions, it might become clear that encounters can be made a little harder, but it's not going to be huge. Even Sohei or Guardian is just going to add maybe 15-20 damage per encounter in an unoptimized build.
It's probably worth about 1 level.  (do you want to be level 14, or 13 with a theme)?

Obviously some are more optimal then others (iron wolf, Sohei, fey beast) then others (animal master), but whatever.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

I have noticed an impact with sohei on my 4th level avenger already and I have only played him in one session with combat.  It let me finish a bloodied enemy off one round earlier than I would have without the theme.  I now have two different minor action attacks in early heroic and will be picking up an immediate one when I hit 7th.  The theme is a big part of that package.

I have ordained priest as my other theme in my 14th level battle cleric, which is ok for when a striker ally is in trouble, but not a big boost in practice.  I thought about switching it out for Hospitaler, but my PC doesn't use all the healing powers he has and the party doesn't seem to ever run low on surges.  I may switch it out for guardian since we don't have a defender at the moment, since that will give my cleric another immediate reaction attack and he can take the hits from attacks.

Most other themes don't seem to add much to power curve.
It's probably worth about 1 level.  (do you want to be level 14, or 13 with a theme)?

Obviously some are more optimal then others (iron wolf, Sohei, fey beast) then others (animal master), but whatever.



Really? You think themes are the difference between level 13 and 14? I think a theme that gave you +1 to all skills, attacks, defenses and initiative checks, more hit points, a feat and +1 to two ability scores of your choice would blow away every theme in existance.

Maybe an odd level increase, where all you are getting is hit points and a new encounter power...maybe.

EDIT: typo
It's probably worth about 1 level.  (do you want to be level 14, or 13 with a theme)?

Obviously some are more optimal then others (iron wolf, Sohei, fey beast) then others (animal master), but whatever.



Really? You think themes are the difference between level 13 and 14? I think a theme that gave you +1 to all skills, attacks, defenses and initiative checks, more hit points, a feat and +1 to two ability scores of your choice would blow away every feat in existance.

Maybe an odd level increase, where all you are getting is hit points and a new encounter power...maybe.

Well... Counting the entire them, you get....

A power.
Bonus to skills.
A feature.

So... yea, probably a weaker level, or 1/2 a good level.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Meanwhile, stepping back from magical theoryland, Hellfire & Brimstone has a larger impact in most battles than Sohei Flurry.




I feel pretty guilty using Hellfire & Brimstone sometimes.    You can lay waste to a minion heavy encounter.  


------------ http://twitter.com/#!/combatadvantage http://www.combatadvantage.com
  Hellfire & Brimstone is a close burst, which can make it hard to use without toasting friends too.  [My teammate was forgiving, at least once I used some healing on her.]
The burst says creatures.   The zone the burst creates says enemies.
------------ http://twitter.com/#!/combatadvantage http://www.combatadvantage.com
  Hellfire & Brimstone is a close burst, which can make it hard to use without toasting friends too.  [My teammate was forgiving, at least once I used some healing on her.]


It works well with Arcane Reach.  My Tiefling Mage has been using it to great effect.

Daren
Even themes that don't have a significant combat effect can have a big impact on a characters abilities.  At 10th level, a Sage knows every language.  Not only is that  pretty useful in itself (there's usually not time for a Comprehend Languages ritual when you're listening at a door) but, combined with the Traveler's Insight feat, makes a PC impossible to fool.
Even themes that don't have a significant combat effect can have a big impact on a characters abilities.  At 10th level, a Sage knows every language.  Not only is that  pretty useful in itself (there's usually not time for a Comprehend Languages ritual when you're listening at a door) but, combined with the Traveler's Insight feat, makes a PC impossible to fool.



Or is cheesy and should probably be toned down a bit in a home game (talk to the player first, but I'd suggest a +5 or so cap, still stronger than skill focus, and still significant, just not ludicrous, and lets the level 10 feature be used better for fluff if you have other languages in setting)

"I am the seeker, I am the stalker, I am the walrus"
It's perfectly possible for a DM to have a "secret" launguage if he doesn't want things overheard. And most of the time a party of 5 will have nearly all languages already.

Traveller's insight is a bit strong. But hardly broken.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

For what it's worth, I had spent not one but two feats (plus a race and background--yes, I know how unoptimized that is) to learn every language in the PHB well before Traveler's Insight came out, and you can imagine that I pounced on TI the second I learned about it. My character has known all the languages and been Sherlock Holmes long before Scholar was a thing. This isn't giving me anything I don't already have. It's just freeing up some feats to be used on other things.

In fact, the choice was basically between retraining my current languages known to include a hellaton of non-PHB languages (making my Insight check even more unnecessarily high) or retraining my feats to be a little more, well, optimal. That I'm going to continue knowing all the languages and all the secrets isn't in question. It's just what else is going to happen.

I've never claimed that my character is optimized, but he's very good at the things I want him to be very good at.
Being very good at things IS optimal. Just not combat optimal.

Also, consider that the ability to read all languages is a level 2 magic item.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Precisely. This is what I mean when I say that my group is optimized in a very nontraditional way. We have lots of characters like that. (I didn't explicitly say that in this thread, but I've said it elsewhere.)

Reading all languages isn't good enough for my character, of course, since he's a port/revision of my illumian Truenamer from 3.5 (read: lots of words), but now we're drifting off track.

The consensus seems to be that overall, themes won't make that enormous of a difference in the way combat runs, is that right? I don't think any of us are taking the really top-notch themes, but of course, I haven't received everyone's input yet. (Ironically, Guardian fits my character really well, since he's got a strong off-tank focus, he loves conditional bonuses, and a bonus to Insight is just hilarious for him . . . but there's really no way he could be anything other than Scholar, when all is said and done.)
The consensus seems to be that overall, themes won't make that enormous of a difference in the way combat runs, is that right? I don't think any of us are taking the really top-notch themes, but of course, I haven't received everyone's input yet. (Ironically, Guardian fits my character really well, since he's got a strong off-tank focus, he loves conditional bonuses, and a bonus to Insight is just hilarious for him . . . but there's really no way he could be anything other than Scholar, when all is said and done.)



Lots of posters on the board think they don't make a big difference, but I don't think that tells the whole story. It really depends on which themes you take; Explorer or Veiled Alliance won't break your game, but some themes are just head and shoulders better - Sohei, Fey Beast Tamer, Guardian, Hospitaler, Noble Adept, maybe Harper and a couple of others.

Also, your DM should educate himself about these standout themes and figure out if they fit in with the power level of your group. If your DM is used to PCs that regularly use multiattacks and/ or invest in lots of ways to gain CA, then those themes just pile on more of the same. If your group is an average, non-optimized group, then the PCs and the DM will be delighted to know that one or more monsters per encounter grants CA all the time, no muss or fuss.
Themes are power creep. The DM decided it was ok by a couple of players who felt they wanted this stuff.
Though I disagree with the use of Themes,I won't be caught standing still. I went Gladiator as per origin and I'm going to crush things.
Keep Them Close is going to make my burst effects horrific,as I'm a Warden,MC Fighter and a bunch of other titles.
I agree with the idea that interrupt/reaction makes any character more powerful,provided a reliable trigger.
I had no single target encounter attack until Disruptive Shove,which still fits my burst specialization.
For what it's worth, I had spent not one but two feats (plus a race and background--yes, I know how unoptimized that is) to learn every language in the PHB well before Traveler's Insight came out, and you can imagine that I pounced on TI the second I learned about it. My character has known all the languages and been Sherlock Holmes long before Scholar was a thing. This isn't giving me anything I don't already have. It's just freeing up some feats to be used on other things.



Yes it is, it's giving you two feats... I just think a (minimum) +10 bonus for a theme feature and a single feat is excessive, well beyond what you can do for any other skill (afaik). For getting all the languages the hard way, sure, since that requires significantly more investment

In fact, the choice was basically between retraining my current languages known to include a hellaton of non-PHB languages (making my Insight check even more unnecessarily high) or retraining my feats to be a little more, well, optimal. That I'm going to continue knowing all the languages and all the secrets isn't in question. It's just what else is going to happen.



At which point either the languages are in setting and therefore your DM should probably be giving you them with the Scholar feature anyway (although, he'll be less willing to because of traveller's insight, which is a major reason why my scholar doesn't have it), unless they're secret languages, or they aren't in the setting, in which case you shouldnt be able to take them.

And yes, the ability to read all languages is a level 2 item, but it doesn't help you to communicate, and doesn't add to TI, I like the scholar feature in general, its wonderfully flavourful, and can generally be used to get bonuses in diplomatic skill challenges by speaking the same language (dm/scenario dependent of course), I just think that its interaction with TI is over the top.

I've never claimed that my character is optimized, but he's very good at the things I want him to be very good at.



I understand this completely, my scholar is an Avenger, with a minimum +23 on any knowledge check (bear in mind only one of those is a class skill by default) at level 17 (8(half level)+5(trained)+6(ability mod)+2(bardic knowledge, he has skald MC) +2 (philospher's crown)) (and most likely taking Lorekeeper as his ED to push this up even further). I still think +10 from a feat makes it too easy, you shouldn't be passing hard DCs that often without some considerable effort.


"I am the seeker, I am the stalker, I am the walrus"
We should seperate combo's (scholar + traveler's insight) from theme's themselves.

Theme's themselves add about 1/2 a level.

Combo's can easily be more. How much more depends on the combo. But this is true about any feat/PP/item, ect...

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.