Divine Power is now on the shelves, andÂ I just finished my initial read-through.
Once upon a time, a little over a year ago, I was bemoaning the lack of options currently present in 4E. I said at the time that we had been spoiled by the wealth of published material for 3E, and that it was going to take some time for the 4E publishing schedule to catch up.
With the release of Divine Power, I officially and publically withdraw my complaint. I think we’ve hit the critical mass of options my brain was waiting for before saying, “There. Now there are sufficient choices.” Not that I’m going to turn down the forthcoming choices – if they stay true to form, Primal Power is going to be very cool, and I can’t wait to see the full versions of the monk and the psion in Player’s Handbook 3. It’s just that I’m looking at the books and thinking, “Any player should be able to build a character they like from these options.”
Overall, I like the book, though I find myself not as blown-away as I was with Arcane Power. A lot of that has to do with the subject matter – I like playing divine characters, but I find the arcane characters and choices to be inherently more cool. Divine characters for me are about roleplaying the connection with the god, while arcane players are about pouring flaming death down on your enemies*.
So let’s take a walk through the book and see what there is.
Not much new here, just a couple of fluff paragraphs and the usual advice on how to use the book. It takes up about half a page.
Chapter 1: Avenger
The avenger is one of the new divine classes introduced in the PHB2. This chapter does a good job of providing a number of roleplaying options that take the class beyond the “divinely appointed assassin” trope – not that there’s anything wrong with being a divinely appointed assassin; it’s just nice to have other options.
The new build in particular deals with some of the lone-wolf issues that the class has. As a Commanding Avenger, you get a little more of the Leader role grafted onto your Striker, in a manner that I think works nicely. The new powers support this well, while not neglecting the other avenger flavours. All-in-all, a nice collection.
And, of course, some of the best bits are in the sidebars, offering advice and options on actually playing an avenger. Some of these sidebars contain expansions on the core mythology of D&D, as is fitting for a book on the divine. We get to find out about some more things that happened during the war between the gods and the primordials, and why there is night and day, and stuff like that. All very nice.
The paragon paths offered for the avenger don’t thrill me too much, but that’s more to do with my taste than any problem with the paths. They do give a nice mix of ideas for different types of avengers, which I appreciate. There is one issue that bothers me: the Favoured Soul paragon path gets a level 12 encounter power that increases his or her fly speed by 4 squares, but they don’t get a fly speed until level 16. Unless I’m reading it wrong.
Chapter 2: Cleric
This chapter introduces a new build: the Shielding Cleric. This build takes the support aspect of being a Leader and turns it up to 11 by mixing in a bit of the Controller. If you’ve been missing the buffing cleric from 3E, he’s back, and he’s looking good. The assortment of new powers seems to be weighted to favour the Shielding Cleric build, with a number that give bonuses and resistances to allies or penalties and vulnerabilities to enemies. Some do both.
Not all of the powers are focused that way, which is good. There’s plenty of stuff to augment other cleric builds, some of which (like weapon of astral flame) are very cool.
The paragon paths, again, don’t really do much for me, but there’s a decent mix.
Chapter 3: Invoker
The more I think about the invoker, the more I like it. And this chapter does a lot to help foster that affection.
The new Covenant of Malediction gives a slightly (but only slightly) more subtle slant to the class, relying more on fear effects than on pure, raw power. It gives a nice balance to the other build featured in the PHB2. The fluff behind it – the invoker speaking ancient words of devastating power that shatter the mind and body of foes – appeals to my imagination, as well. And the powers are suitably vicious.
One mechanical piece that I’m unsure about is the fact that aÂ lot of the malediction powers do something to the caster – leaving him dazed, for example. Now, admittedly, the powers with that cost are pretty impressive, but it still makes me leery. I don’t currently have any invokers in any of my games, so I don’t know how much it makes those power undesirable in combat. I’ll be interested in seeing what others have to say about it.
The invoker’s paragon paths show some of the more interesting ideas in the book. There are more among this class that I find intriguing than any of the other classes. I think part of that is just my fondness for the class, but come on! How can you not love an idea like the Adept of Whispers or the Keeper of the Nine?
Chapter 4: Paladin
Two new paladin builds, each of which really adds to the idea of playing a holy warrior. In the Post Tenebras Lux game I run, the paladin sometimes just feels like a fighter with a couple of different tricks*.Â The Ardent Paladin and the Virtuous Paladin builds help deal with that, offering flavourful and functional options for paladins. The paladin has to give up lay on hands to get the goodies, but the goodies are pretty good.
This chapter also addes the idea of divine sanction, a secondary type of marking ability for the paladin that works nicely in concert with divine challenge to help the paladin be a stickier Defender. A number of the new powers bestow or key off ofÂ divine sanction, as well, making it a nice new addition.
Of the paragon paths, the Gray Guard stands out in my mind as the most interesting. This is a pragmatic, do-what-it-takes kind of paladin that completely undercuts the Lawful-Stupid Paladin stereotype. The other paragon paths mainly focus on whether you kill demons, dragons, devils, or undead best.
Chapter 5: Divine Options
This section brings back the idea of Domains, with a set of feats to incorporate them into your character. I like Domains; I like the idea that a cleric or paladin of Pelor is functionally different from one of Bahamut. The implementation of the Domains looks very workable, with each deity having three Domains, and each Domain having two feats. One feat gives you a skill bonus and a little something extra for one of your powers, and the other feat gives you a new power.
There’s also a section called Your Deity and You, which focuses on roleplaying options for the servants of the various gods. 4E has been very heavy on mechanics over roleplaying thus far, and it’s very nice to see this section included, along with another section on Divine Backgrounds.
New feats, of course. Scads of them, including several new multiclass feats. As is typical of the Power series, a large proportion of the feats are specific to the classes in the book, sometimes paired with specific races. Lots of new options. I haven’t read them all, yet, but they look pretty tasty.
Then we’ve got 10 epic destinies, 7 of which are avatars of various kinds (i.e. Avatar of Death, Avatar of Storms, etc.). They all look pretty nice, but it’s going to be a while before my games get far enough along for those to be really useful to me.
The book wraps up with eight new rituals, which is good, including one for creating holy water, which is very nice to have back in the game.
So, there’s the book. AsÂ I said, I like it, if not quite as much as Arcane Power. Lots of good choices in it.
Go buy it.
*Although, in 4E, you can do this with divine characters, too. Especially the invoker. Back
*Part of the issue is that he’s the only Defender in the group. Paladin, cleric, rogue, ranger, sorcerer, and avenger. Have I mentioned how my players looooooove the Strikers? Back