Hey, Iām back from D&D XP!
The weather was bitterly cold in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but it was a fun convention, especially since I could finally start to talk about a couple of projects that have consumed my life since April of last year ā Dark Sun and Gamma World. Iāve been touching on Dark Sun off and on for months now, skirting around a number of things we werenāt ready to reveal yet. By now many of you have seen info from the character sheets used in the Dark Sun preview adventure, and Iām sure you have a lot of questions about character themes.
Character themes are a new element of character identity that sits alongside race and class. When you choose a theme, you get an encounter power for that theme, and you have the option of taking additional powers out of that theme at higher levels by swapping out class powers for theme powers (with a few limits). Themes can also serve as prereqs for feats and paragon paths. Think of āem as callings, professions, or even origin stories; to some extent your choice of theme answers the questions āHow did I become a hero?ā or āHow do I go about being a hero?ā
Themes we revealed at DDXP include gladiator, wilder, elemental priest, and templar. We considered all four of these themes as potential new classes early in the Dark Sun design process, and took an especially long look at a gladiator class as a potential martial controller. Ultimately we decided that the concept of āgladiatorā was broad enough to include both members of a gladiator class as well as fighters, battleminds, barbarians, melee rangers, and other combat-oriented characters who found themselves in arenas. In fact, almost anyone might become a gladiator, whether they wanted to or notāit just depended on the characterās story. Ditto for the templar and other class possibilities we were examining; sure, you might expect to see a lot of spellcasters choosing the templar theme, but thereās no reason your fighter or rogue couldnāt be a templar. Your fighter-templar might be a soldier in the sorcerer-kingās guard, while the rogue might be a templar spy. Becoming a templar means that you gain at least a modest ability to wield the kingās magic (thatās your theme encounter power), and of course you might decide to color your power selection at higher levels with the occasional templar power in place of your fighter or rogue powers.
Once we realized that gladiator and other such "identity factors"Ā were something you might add onto your character regardless of your class, the notion of other Athasian character tropes that werenāt classes and werenāt paragon paths quickly followed. Strangely enough, themes remind me a lot of 2nd Editionās character kits. One of the things that always bugged me back in 2nd Edition was that character kits such as āpirateā were repeated over and over again in the various splatbooksāthere was a piratey kit for the fighter, one for the rogue, one for the ranger, and so on. Our 4th Edition themes arenāt quite that class-specific; thereās one gladiator theme, not a gladiator for every class. Iām pretty excited about the concept and the character-building possibilities it opens up.
OK, on to Gamma World for a brief visit. I ran three brief sessions of GW during DDXP, quietly showing off the design draft to a small number of players. I made a set of pregen characters to bring to the show, and I gotta say, the one that for some reason stuck out in every group was Abo Bombal ā a doughty mutant brawler who was half-cockroach and half-yeti. I figured that "Abo Bombal" was as close as he could get to sayingĀ āabominableā and no one had ever bothered to correct him. I even found a Star Wars mini that looked just like a yeti cockroach, go figure! Poor Abo was worsted in all three sessions, but we had fun with him while he was around. In the Saturday night session WotC community guru Trevor Kidd played Abo, and decided that with his Int of 5, the only thing he could say was his own name ā kinda like a pokemon, I guess. Inquisitive: āAbo?ā Excited: āAbo Bombal Abo Bombal!ā Resignation: āBombal Aboā¦ Bombal...ā For some reason it struck us as hilarious at 10 pm on Saturday night. Anyway, it was a very promising set of demonstrations, and it seems that a lot of people are waiting eagerly for a new Gamma World.
One more thing Iāll spill about Gamma World for now: Itās built very firmly on the D&D rules chassis. You have the same defenses, the same power format, the same monster stats, and so on ā the first time in 30 years or so that Gamma World and D&D will be compatible games. Youāll be able to drop D&D monsters into your Gamma World games, and Gamma World monsters into your D&D games. I think thatās pretty helpful to Gamma World GMs, since it vastly increases the resources available to you. You can draw from thousands of D&D monsters, miniatures, adventure maps, and more to create your Gamma World adventures. It used to be a real drag that you had to convert things between systems, but this time around, itāll be a snap.
That seems like plenty for now. More on War at Sea next time, I promise!