Martial Power first impressions

December 5, 2008 at 9:00 am
filed under Roleplaying
Tagged , ,

I got my grubby little mitts on a copy of Martial Power, and I had some time to peruse it. Here’s what I think so far!

For the most part, I think this is a great supplement. But I think I’m already running into supplement fatigue.

It’s pretty good!

There are some mechanical hiccups. For instance, there are some abilities that just didn’t make sense to me. One of the level 3 ranger attacks seems worse off, generally, than anything else. It’s also hard to make a convincing case for taking the ranged build of the ranger anymore— take beastmaster and use a flying beast in order to quarry whatever you want— which is disappointing. 

That said, there are a lot of paragon paths that are both interesting and have some cool abilities. The epic destinies are interesting as long as you ignore the ones from the PHB. (I’ve rapidly reached the conclusion that the epic destinies in the PHB not very good in terms of flavor, and the Trickster path is objectively better than the remaining ones. And as they said in the podcast, Demigod sucks a lot of air out of the room.)

The new builds for various classes are evocative and interesting. The rogue who uses a mace to pummel people is fun, as are the optics of the aerialist. Despite the fact that it completely outshines the ranged ranger build in terms of flexibility and options, it’s still very neat. I also like the new warlord options, especially the one where someone gets free hits on you.

A big stack o’ books

But I said something about supplement fatigue.

I’ve got only three of the supplements: the Adventurer’s Vault;  Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide; and now Martial Power. Between the last two, there’s a lot in the way of additional feats, powers, and classes. That’s a lot of material to sift through, when creating a character or when deciding whether or not something is overpowered.

Mostly, I find wearying the thought of flipping through a pile of books in order to build a character, in order to find the least terrible option. The character creator will fix one symptom (browseable lists of powers), but not the other (power creep). I also find it wearying trying to mentally vet the sheer variety of combinations the book affords.

A big factor is that I thought the PHB was pretty solid overall. There are problems here and there but by and large it’s a fun game, and you can make a lot of different race/class/build combinations work. It feels a lot less bloated than 3rd Edition was, in terms of providing meaningful choices with fewer objectively good or bad routes. It was— dare I say it? — elegant, in many ways.

No, 4th Edition is not so bad yet. It’s only a few books, and as a DM I can handle powers on a case-by-case basis (though the beastmaster ranger thing is somewhat frustrating, especially considering I play that type of ranger in my friend’s game.

Perhaps this is just my naivete rearing its ugly head. The games I’ve been heavily into until now have skewed away from supplements with a lot of crunch. D&D is the opposite, by and large, and I was clearly not prepared what that entails, at least on some level.

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