Themes. Captial T, or lowercase t?

So I just read this transcript of a playtest chat dicussion with the designers.


Specifically, the following quote from Mike Mearls concerns me:
For themes, you can pick one and advance in it, mix a couple, or build your own by selecting feats a la carte.


How exactly, then, are themes different from "your character's feats"?

I only notice now, but there are no non-theme Feats on the playtest's character sheets. Is this because they've all taken "system math" feats with their "natural" feat slots? Things like Weapon Focus and Expertise?

Or are your character's feats just the sum total of their Theme?

So... are Themes really even a thing? Do Themes, capital T, grant you bonus feats, or are they just normal feats you take that happen to fit within a theme, lowercase t?

Capital T-Themes were an innovation in 4e because they were packaged game mechanics more akin to a prestige class or paragon path available at 1st level. They were a "third pillar in character creation", not just a collection of feats. And these DDN lowercase t-themes don't even seem to be "bonus feats", but rather are the only feats your character gets.

So do Themes do anything else besides dictate what feats your character gets as they progress? If not, why do they exist? Are they just an aid for players that don't want to pour through huge feat lists?

I was all excited that Themes were going to be in the next edition, but they really aren't. They're just using the name of 4e's Themes to lable pre-packaged feat tracks that dictate what feats you get with your normal feat slots as you advance. That's not nearly as cool.
Planes Wanderer
Or are your character's feats just the sum total of their Theme?

More the other way around.

A theme is a bunch of feats.  Good for quickly builds without getting into the nitty gritty.  So you could say... i want to be a cleric who heals.  Grab cleric, grab healer theme, and go.

The healer theme gives you...
1) Cheaper healing items feat at level 1.
2) Maximize healing items feat at level 3.
3) a third healing type feat at level 5 (i assume).

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.

Most of it just isn't clear yet. It is possible that some of the abilities on the characters are from there theme, but just fit onto the sheet where ever convenient. Other may be feats taken independent of the theme, the ones that come when the character goes up in level may be class abilities or even racial or something else.

Themes may be nothing but bundles of feats, or they may have theme specific abilities, or some combination of both. It is very likely some combination of both or that feats are somehow organized into categories and themes have various slots that have to be filled from different categories.

Until we get to see the basics of the character design rules or the designers reveal some of the details, this is all up in the air.

I see your point. There could be "hidden" feats too, like maybe the Fighter has some version of Toughness that doesn't need to be explained, he just has more HP (though extrapolating his leveling HP gains and Hit Dice, I don't think that specific example is true given the math on the sheet). That's what I meant by "system math" feats these pregens might have.

Usually I fall absolutely against the "wait and see" attitude, where I should not voice my opinions until I see more of the playtest, but in this case I probably shouldn't have said anything until we get character creation playtest materials. I guess I was jumping the gun trying to extrapolate from the pregen character sheets, which may not be making all character creation options visible.
Planes Wanderer
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