"There are horrors beyond life's edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man's evil prying calls them just within our range." - H.P. Lovecraft, The Thing on the Doorstep
Beyond the world lies a great yawning darkness, forever pulling at the edges reality. 'Normal' folk rarely consider how precarious their existence truely is. They cower beneath the comforting, coddling glow of their sun, and daren't ponder the terrors beyond - the deathly chill of the grave, the vast and alien void of the stars. You know better, you've seen the truth. The darkness cannot be ignored. It cannot even truely be fought. But it can be controlled - it can be bound. You have followed your curiosity to dark places, communed with intelegences unknowable and caliginous, bound the powers of darkness to your will. You have walked the tenebrous road, and you have not returned alone.
Selling Points: Why play a Binder?
Warning: this guide's probably going to be dismantled completely in a couple weeks, and here's why:
There's only one real reason to play a binder, and that is that you want to play a warlock, but you'd also prefer to play a controller. Unfortunately, the binder seems to be a less effective controller then either its parent class the PHB warlock or its sibling subclass the hexblade. The binder's locked in encounter powers, regardless of pact, are less effective control then the warlock could have selected, or even then some of the hexblade pact encounters. The dailies are freely choosable by the other varieties of warlock, and the binder doesn't get any additional control out of them, while the other warlocks will at least deal more damage with them via their striker features. The binder doesn't have any more or better summons then the hexblade. The at-wills are ok, but not enough to salvage this class as a whole. There may be one or two salvagable builds in this class (polearm gloom maybe), but these would be better served by individual build guides then by a class handbook. The class on the whole is as terrible as a controller as the Ossassin or Vampire are as strikers, and worse is completely obsoleted by other warlock variants.
At the end of the day, the binder is a warlock who gives up warlock's curse for basically nothing. If you're at all interested in the binder for its cool themes, look instead to a Dark, Star, or Vestige pact Warlock or a Gloom or Star pact Hexblade for those same themes with better control powers plus being a competent striker. You have been warned.
How to Look at Options
The following rating system will be used for this handbook:
Red- If you can avoid taking it, do so. If you can't, cry a little. Purple - Mostly bad, but there may be some corner case uses. Black - Acceptable. Choosing this won't make your Binder worse. Blue - A good choice. Solid, if not amazing. Sky Blue - Optimal. If there's a sky blue option, you need a good reason not to take it. Gold - Mandatory. Do not pass this up.
Source Material Covered and its Abbreviations
AP - Arcane Power AV - Adventurer's Vault AV 2 - Adventurer's Vault 2 D XXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX DMA 2009 - Dragon Magazine Annual 2009 DP - Divine Power DSCS - Dark Sun Campaign Setting FRPG - Forgotten Realms Player's Guide HoS - Heroes of Shadow HotFK - Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms HotFL - Heroes of the Fallen Lands MM - Monster Manual MM 2 - Monster Manual 2 MOTP - Manual of the Planes MP - Martial Power MP 2 - Martial Power 2 PHB - Player's Handbook PHB 2 - Player's Handbook 2 PHB 3 - Player's Handbook 3 PHR:DB - Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn PHR:TF - Player's Handbook Races: Tieflings PHH 1 - Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 1 PHH 2 - Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 2 PrP - Primal Power PsP - Psionic Power
A Word of Warning
This is my first go at making a handbook. Progress will be slow, and ratings will likely start of somewhat wonky, and fluctuate wildly until community feedback helps stabilize them. I'm not asking for you to go easy on me, far to the contrary, I'll be relying on criticism and feedback to help this guide shape up to be something worthwhile. In the mean time, if you're using this handbook in making your character, you should take the advice herein with a healthy grain of salt.
Special Thanks To:
- lordduskblade, for pioneering the formatting used in this guide - Malkonnen, for writing the original Warlock Guide - Lord_Ventnor, for writing the Hexblade Guide - Everyone posting in this thread. Thanks for your help and contributions!
Your role is Controller, and your power source is Arcane, while many of your powers are also Shadow. The Arcane power source is all about versatility and control, while the Shadow power source favors obfuscation, darkness, and trickery. Your parent class, the Warlock, is a Striker, you'll have some obvious inclinations in that direction. As a controller, your job involves dividing the battlefield through terrain effects & zones, locking down tough enemies with debilitating effects, clearing out minions, and generally just ruining the DM's day.
Battlefield/Crowd Control: Between your fair assortment of disruptive zones and your Warlock's Ally, you're not completely terrible here. Unfortunitally, many of your daily zones only affect enemies who enter them voluntarily, or who end their turns within them, which makes them much harder to abuse then those of other controllers, while other zones block line of sight not only for your enemies but also for yourself and your allies, which can be as much of a hassle to your party as it is for the targets. There's some stuff to draw on from the parent class, but both PHB warlocks and hexblades are better at it then you.
Target Control: You're ok here, but hard control powers can be hard for a binder to come by - stuns and dominates are hard to find in Binder Powers, though there's a fair bit of immobilize to draw on. There's some stuff to draw on from your parent class in daily powers, but they're better at it than you.
Area Damage: For a controller & secondary striker, you're not too hot at this. No ranged multitarget or burst at will, which means you'll have to rely on encounter or daily powers to clear minions. You've got some options at the encounter and daily level, but nothing particularly good. There's some daily options, particularly poached from the parent class, but both PHB warlocks and hexblades are better those powers then you.
Survivability: Leather armor, slightly better hit points then a wizard, Shadow Walk for near constant concealment, secondary stats in AC, all in all you're pretty tough for a controller. You're still a controller, though, so don't go thinking you can wade into the front line or anything.
Striker: As mentioned, your parent class, the Warlock, is a striker, so you're going to inherit some reasonable competence here. That said, the basic warlock was never the top of the striker pile, and you're less of a striker then they are, so don't get any illusions that this is going to make up for your deficiencies as a controller.
Leader: Not Really your thing. You do have some ability to mitigate enemy damage via weakening or blinding, some abilities grant invisibility to allies, and so on. You can certainly help out, but it's not a key aspect of your class.
Defender: You're tough for a controller, but not tough enough that you want to be taking hits if you can help it. Your summons generally lack opportunity attacks, and you have to go out of your way to have a worthwhile basic attack yourself.
Hit Points: At 12+Con and 5 per level, you've got pretty decent HP for a controller.
Healing Surges: 6 + Con mod, par for the course.
Defense Bonus: +1 each to Reflex and Will is pretty standard. Those should be your highest defenses anyway, which is nice.
Armor Proficiencies: Cloth and Leather, pretty par for the course for controllers. Between Leather, your secondary stats, and shadow walk, you should be fine for AC.
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple Melee, Simple Ranged, nothing to write home about, but it covers your needs. Strength is a dump stat, and you basically have no weapon attacks, so weapons mostly don't matter to you. Human binders who grab eldritch strike for an MBA might could also grab staves or blades as an implement, though, and Gloom pact binders might want a ranged weapon to have an option for an RBA.
Implement Proficiencies: Rods and Wands, with some decent ones to choose from for warlocks. You still might want to spend a feat on arcane implement proficiency, though.
Shadow Twist: an accuracy boost is never bad, but the restriction that the target must have no other creatures adjacent to it, allies or enemies, is going to limit its use.
Shadow Walk: concealment whenever you move three squares or more is a nice deal. Even better for Gloom pact binders, with their high dex, who can train stealth to get even more use out of it. Watch out for sustain move powers, or summons that need your move action to get them into place, as they might cost you your concealment for those turns.
Shadow Claws: the default Binder at will power, equivalent to the warlock's eldritch blast. Not bad, but notably not a basic attack. It's soft control, but at least the punishment for breaking its rule is pretty decent.
Pact Boon: Your Pact Boon determins your secondary stat, your second at will power, all of your encounter powers, your warlock's ally, your Pact lore, and the benefits of the Master Paragon Path. It's obviously a major decition point for the class. See Pact Boons for more.
Pact Lore (lv 4): You gain a bonus from your pact, generally an elemental resistance plus some other abilities. The exact effect depends on your pact.
Summon Warlock's Ally (lv 9): In place of your 9th level daily, you gain a daily summon. What exactly you summon and how good exactly it is depends on your pact.
Master of Magic (lv 22): In place of your 22nd level utility power, you gain Master of Magic. It's not a terrible power, but for a level 22 controler utility it's going to feel a touch lackluster. More in Epic Binder, below.
Shadow Scholarship: Skills
You've got a decent number of trained skills to choose, and a fair selection of useful class skills to choos them from. Not as many as a bard or rogue, but certainly better off then a fighter.
Arcana (Int): A good skill for Int secondary Star pact binders, especially since, as a controller, you may not have a wizard in your party to cover it. Obviously less good for Gloom binders.
Bluff(Cha): As a cha-primary character of dubious reputation, you may find this skill useful for bypassing tricky roleplaying situations.
Dungeoneering (Wis): Wis is a dump stat for you, as much as abberation lore might otherwise be thematically appropriate for Star Binders. Leave this one to your friends.
History (Int): A lore skill that occasionally comes up in skill challenges or delivers some useful information. May be worthwhile for Star Binders.
Insight (Wis): Again, Wis is a dump stat for you. Training in this skill isn't going to be enough to overcome that deficit when rolling opposed checks.
Intimidate (Cha): Another useful skill for Charisma based characters. Intimidate has both combat and non-combat applications, and is thematically quite appropriate for Binders as well.
Religion (Int): A useful lore skill for some common monster types. Another decent choice for Star Binders.
Streetwise (Cha): Somewhat situational. If you do a lot of urban adventuring it's definitely worth picking up, but if your party spends most of their time exploring forgotten ruins in the wilderness this isn't going to see a lot of use.
Thievery (Dex): Having someone in the party who can take care of traps and locks is key, and it never hurts to have more then one. Gloom Binders, with their secondary dex score, can serve well in this regard, though you'll need a more perceptive teammate to help you find the traps in the first place.
Strength: A dump stat, obviously. Starting score 8-10
Constitution: Everyone needs constitution for survivability, and as a binder you have a number of abilities that want you to be closer to the fray then a controller should really want to be. Recommended starting score: 11 - 14.
*A Note About Constitution* Constitution is a second primary stat for your parent class, which means that having an attack caliber constitution opens up a lot of options for your daily powers. If you're a human, you can even pick up a con based at will attack. But doing so will require you to either sacrifice your secondary scores, killing your AC in the process, or drop your Charisma, which kills your encounter attack powers. At the moment, I can't imagine this being course worth considering, but it definitely will warrant some looking into as we progress.
Dexterity: One of two secondary scores, Gloom Pact Binders use Dexterity for initiative, AC, reflex, power riders, and skills. Starting score 14 - 16 if it's your secondary, otherwise 10 - 12.
Intelligence: One of two secondary scores, Star Pact Binders use Intelligence for AC, reflex, power riders, and skills. It may also be useful for rider effects on non-binder Warlock powers, and if you've got an attack caliber Intelligence then you can even think about multiclassing to pick up some Wizard powers. Starting value 14 - 16 if it's your secondary, otherwise 10-14.
Wisdom: You're unlikely to get much use out of it, but there are two wisdom based skills on your skill list, and if you go for stealth training you might also consider picking up perception. Recommended starting score 8 - 12
Charisma: Your top stat, no questions. There are Con-based warlock dailies, and humans can pick up a Con based at will, but even so, you're locked into Cha-based encounter powers by your Pact, so there's no getting away from Charisma as your attack stat. Starting value 16 to 18.
Look, I'm going to be honest with you guys. I've got a new quality control system in place, and it's delaying handbook content while we make sure it has no errors or content before release. This is pushing back post release dates a bit. I should still have everything that was slated for this month out by the last thirty seconds of the month, I swear, but I'll burn myself out doing it, so after that there won't be any updates with any substance to them for like three weeks, though I might post some naval gazing, or reword some questions into ones I feel like answering, just to keep you distracted from the lack of meaningful content.