Monday, June 8, 2009

Hybrid Class Playtest and Character Concept

One of the things I have been doing in 4e is re-stating up older, 1st Ed, characters of mine to see how well they translate into the new system.
Among the first was one of my first ever characters, a human paladin. There are differences between the 1st Ed version and the 4th Ed version, but all in all I can see far more similarities than differences. Plus since my concept of him was more cleric than paladin it is possible that the 4e version is a much better fit. My witch on the other hand was a different story. I still don't quite have her right. I have generated half-a-dozen characters of her for 4E in the last year or so and none are really close.

Normally I would create a witch class like I did for 2nd Edition and 3rd Edition, but I really didn't want to do that this time. I have mostly settled on a Fey Pact Warlock with some add-ons from Arcane Power. She is not perfect yet, but really, really close. Again, to me it has been more about character concept than anything else. The Warlock seems to work the best, so far. Now before you think "well 4e just can't do it" I will point out that at this point in 3.0 Ed the same character had been a Sorcerer and that was not a good fit at all. At least with 4E I have sorta found an out-of-the-box solution.

But I still have one other character that I have wanted to re-build. Heather.

Heather owns the distinction of being the last 1st Ed character I ever made. Well, the last while I was playing 1st Ed and the last before 2nd Ed came out. She is a half-elf Bard/Wizard/Ranger house ruled to all hell. He character concept is that of a wandering bard that uses magic and song to defeat evil. The 2nd Ed Bard, while easier to use, lost all of what made the Bard cool. The 3rd Ed Bard came close again and with 3rd Ed's multitasking it was really easy to make her IF I figured that she had all the powers I wanted her to start with at 11th level or something. Now 4th Ed originally disappointed me here with the multiclassing rules. Great for most of my multiclassing needs, completely horrible with regards to how I wanted to do Heather. That is till I got the new Hybrid Class Playtest rules from my DM.

The Hybrid rules allow me to do something I used to do all the time in my D&D games, have a character start out as one thing but then later become something else. The Hybrid rules do allow that. So I know Heather is going to be a Bard/Something, but what? Well in 1st ed she was mixed with a Ranger and Wizard. In D&D4 I can get the things I liked about the 1st Ed Ranger in feats and skills (tracking, preferred enemy) so I think my Hybrid here will be Bard and something Arcane. Going to concept Heather originally learned her magic from her mother and the rest on her own. So Wizard, Warlock or Sorcerer. Sorcerer and Warlock complement the Bard's spells much nicer than the Wizard does, though Sorcerer still takes a hit. I am not enamored with the Sorcerer. It has some neat tricks, but nothing in the way of concept I like. The Cosmic and Dragon ones are cool, but if I build those it will be as something/someone else.

Hybrid classes in a sense split the classes in two and then allow you to combine them. Simple enough. Most often you get something that is not quite equal to a dedicated role character, but for a concept I am totally willing to take a performance hit. A Hybrid Bard/Warlock is a combination Arcane Leader/Striker. Since Heather in concept always had a high Charisma (and will here too) this makes her good for being the party face. Both classes have the same key and secondary abilities: CHA, CON and INT. She takes a hit on armor for her warlock half and weapons. Both classes use wands as an implement and both have similar saves. HP at 1st are the same, per level is the same and there are similar skills. The full Bard has more healing surges than that of the Warlock, so they are rounded down. I now need to take a feat to get a class-specific Hybrid talents options. So, in the end, I have a Warlock basically, with Skill Versatility and a per Encounter Majestic Word. On balance not a bad trade. Now for the Hybrid Talent feat, I make take it to gain the Warlock's Fey Pact Boon, it fits the concept well enough, but that seems so little for a feat. Plus I like to think of her as a Bard with some warlock training. So Words of Friendship or Majestic Word are worth the price of the feat. So put all her points into CHA followed by INT, and then either DEX or STR, if I am staying true to the concept then DEX for her bow. Make her Half-Elf and take an At-Will Wizard power as her Dilettante power, most likely Magic Missile, though there is not much to set it apart, fluff wise, from Eldritch Blast. Thunderwave might be better.

Now hybrid characters are verboten in my regular 4E game, so I am going to have to run her in one of my Family Game night games. I'll have to see how she fares. The great thing is that a lot of what I took Ranger for in earlier rules I can get with Warlock now. But only time and gaming will tell me if this is a better way than to do a Bard Multiclassed Warlock. But concept-wise it fits.


Cedric said...

Arcane Power has several charisma based ranged powers that you can use with a bow, so you can still focus on Cha/Int/Con.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Cedric, yes thanks!

I have been reading Arcane Power quite a lot lately and have even come to realization that I might be able to do this character JUST as a Bard and then multiclass the powers in I want with the Multiclass feats. I'll have to build it a couple of ways to be sure. Wish Hybrids were on the DDI character builder, that would make this go faster.

But in any case I know I am going to end up with a Hybrid Bard/Warlock and a Bard. One will my half elf Heather and the other will be my gnome extraordinare and companion to champions, Jassic Winterhaven.