Howl at the Moon
By Robert J. Schwalb
Most lycanthropes possess unremarkable appearances and can pass for any man or woman—the human forms they wear are masks that conceal a bestial nature they struggle to control. Or so the stories go. Explore lycanthropy from the player’s perspective by going into detail about the myths and legends.
Talk about this article here.
Very good, has a lot of hidden uses thanks to the Druid's Beast Form powers and the fact that the attacks are all MBA's. This is what a theme should be!
I find this theme feels weak till level 10, where it suddenly becomes useful if you aren't a druid.
I mean, until then, its a minor action just to use an at-will power, and another to switch back so you can do your normal stuff. Your utilities are based on the form, thus requiring you to stay in a form that limits your abilities...until level 10.
The werebear at-will seems surprisingly bad for every defender but battlemind, as wardens AOE mark, paladins and sword mages have fancey marks, and fight's auto-mark on attack anyway. The Essentials defenders get nothing out of it either.
Also the at-wills get no enhancement bonus to damage rolls, which also sucks. It make matters worse even their dice size isn't impressive.
Having said that, I might make my Mul Battlerager i have planed for next campaing a wearbear.
Finally they release this article! Why did they wait until the end of the month?
I like the themes - but I think the accuracy of the basic attacks needs help. These target AC, but have a progression like a NAD racial attack.
I think they either need to be:
Level+2 vs AC
stat+1/2 lv+2, and give impliment/weapon key words (as the lv 10 feature will allow impliments & weapons, this will work - in heroic the deficit is not that bad anyway)
TBH, I'd also prefer that the utility effects move away from the Shifter's model of "You must become bloodied, stay that way until your turn (refusing anyone else's heals during that time), and then spend a minor action on your turn before you actually have any features..."
If it's something that's supposed to trigger when you become bloodied then it should be automatic (a free action or a no action); if it's only supposed to function when bloodied then it should probably be a feature rather than a power. "While bloodied, you gain..." similar to dragonborn.
Yes, the latter would mean you're gaining a utility feature rather than a utility power, but that's no longer a drastic departure from the norm given that attack powers have similarly been replaced by features with many classes.
The accuracy issue also needs to be addressed. It really ought to be +3/+6/+9 vs a NAD if it doesn't have a proficiency bonus and is unable to benefit from expertise, although it might be easier to just make it a flat "Level + 6 vs AC" attack (akin to companion characters) to bypass those and other potential interaction issues.
I liked the article a lot, but I thought that the Pack Outcast and River Rat themes were the Werewolf and Wererat theme.
That's a separate issue, but a significant thematic one: when people think "werewolf" they typically think of the hybrid form, but a werewolf PC doesn't actually become one (in that sense) until 10th level.
I'm not sure how readily that could be addressed (making hybrid form available at 1st level) without requiring some other tinkering with the feature's balance. Technically, nothing stops you from using the standard wolf form and simply saying that it looks like the hybrid instead of a wolf, but that's a bit awkward.
Is the hybrid ability to use items so potent that it has to be delayed until 10th? The only thing that delaying it seems to do is make the theme nonfunctional until 10th for anyone other than a druid or druid hybrid.
Not to be overly harsh, but these are strictly bad in most every sense.
I will focus on the werewolf specifically as it has a counterpart that I am familiar with, and will show it in comparison to an equal level fighter.
Fighter at 1st level:
Fighter using a shield and long sword = -2 ac, -1 to hit, +1 damage.
Fighter using a greatsword = even
Fighter at 8th level +2 weapon:
Fighter using a shield and long sword = -2 ac, -3 to hit, -1 damage.
Fighter using a greatsword = -2 to hit, -2 damage
This assumes nothing other than a basic weapon advancement. There theme basic attacks are just bad all around.
5th level is reasonably decent, some skill boosts and +2 movement, vs outcast +2 to hit.
10th level is worthless. It effectively says, your 1st level power is gone, and now you are a hairy version of your previous character with no benefits whatsoever.
2nd level power should be a stance or triggered effect (upon being bloodied) that lasts till the end of the enounter, while bloodied.
6th level power is... just... bad. Trade a utility to occasionally knock someone down, when you are forced to use a MBA that is horrible to begin with. Oh, and your knock down doesn't enhance your original attack, it just knocks them down. Perhaps add some damage boost in addition to the knock down or something. Just not worth it.
10th level power... the coup de grace of bad. So now you are on par with an equal level character *but* now you kill your friends also. (on par, but definitely not better).
There is no reason to ever take this theme over pack outcast which is superior in every way. Please, please fix this theme (and the other two as well, they suffer many of the same problems). I would love there to be viable were creature themes, but these certainly are not it.
My suggestion on how to fix the theme:
ABM = Highest Ability Modifier
1st level: Wolf form, ABM +4 vs AC, 1d8 + ABM, +2 speed
2nd level: Triggered upon being bloodied. Lasts till end of encounter. While bloodied regen.
5th level: Hybrid form, +1 speed, allow items. ABM +5 vs AC, 1d10+ ABM
6th level: Knock prone, allies attacking the enemy gain +1d6 (or +2)damage until the start of your next turn.
10th level: Come up with a new class feature.
11th level: ABM +6 1d10+ABM+3 dmg
16th level: ABM +7 1d10+ABM+4 dmg
21st level: ABM +9 2d10+ABM+5 dmg
26th level: ABM +10 2d10+ABM+6 dmg
Make it at least on par with an equal level character so it isn't strictly worse at every level.
Just out of curiousity, how often does Wizards actually change things like this at the suggestion of its players?
On that note, maybe the werewolf's bite having a bit lower damage an "...and the target grants combat advantage against the next attack" or even "until the start/end of your next turn" would put it on par with the other two and make it a little more interesting (fitting the 'wolf pack' motif).
Still, while I like the IDEA of these themes, I can't help but feel that the 1st level powers should apply or at least allow for the hybrid form innately (including retaining the use of shields and all other items/features/powers), since even if its use does not restrict your abilities or equipment at all, it really just amounts to "You gain low light vision and an alternative melee basic attack." The former is negligible power-wise and the latter is only situationally helpful for certain classes (those without a decent MBA to begin with - and they probably don't want to be in a position to make MBAs on a regular basis). It certainly doesn't compete with the bulk of the powers provided by other themes.
The 10th level features could then apply something minor but appropriate to the character based on the animal type. (Rather than just being "Hey, your 1st level power is actually kinda usable now!" as is the case currently.)
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