here from a couple of days ago. As you can see by the title of my review, there's been some discussion about what Essentials means for 4th Edition and if this is a sneaky way for Wizards to launch a whole new line of slightly changed rules and powers that require a whole-new buy in. First, if this were to happen, 4th Ed - like all those before it - has an incredibly deep line of books that would make for fun, variable games the rest of your life.
Anyway, I was inspired by this document Wizards has produced to help make it glaringly obvious what changes were actually made to 4th Ed. with the Essentials rules update. First and foremost a lot the changes that were made in Essentials weren't actually made for Essentials. That is to say that the updates are actually just incorporating the errata and hundreds (thousands?) of questions sent to the Q&A squad over at Wizards. Keep Reading for the details!
The document is only five pages long and mostly explains a lot of clean-up work done between previous books and the Essentials line. Here's how Wizards describes the document, "The revisions presented in this document add clarity to older powers or are representative of philosophical changes in our design process." With that in mind, I'm not going to touch on everything, just the stuff that's actually interesting to me.
I really like these changes as it opens up a lot more options for the races. Dwarven Fighters now become much easier to pull off. Elven Wizards are a natural fit. Halflings are now able to draw on a huge amount of options for characters with their choices.
The interesting change, however, is the options human characters have to make. Humans gain an extra At-Will power at character generation, but now we have the option of giving that up in favor of a new encounter power. The power, Heroic Effort gives the human character a +4 to a failed attack or saving throw after the roll has been made. It's a huge ability and is something I think a lot of people will be giving humans a second look as a result. The only annoying thing is that this option is not explained in HotFL. I had to find it in the pdf to see that humans get a choice. Why this wasn't given an option in HotFL is not clear - players should have the option to choose an extra At-Will or Heroic Effort, and it should be clear in HotFL that Heroic Effort does not replace the extra At-Will but is just another option. It is not.
Powers, Feats, and Items. Oh My.
The feats Great Fortitude (+2 to Fort Defense), Iron Will (+2 to Will Defense), and Lightning Reflexes (+2 to Ref Defense) all got the paragon restriction pulled off of them and now scale with tier level. I like this change a lot as it allows for a character to make up for a weak ability score set and make their defense not just utterly suck. It's a good change and gives players more options (always good!).
The big item change was the cleaning up of implements and how multi-classing works with them. Now all non-weapon based implement feats that allow a character to multiclass also grants the proficiency with the requires implement. Sure you still need to carry around a small lockbox of your various implements to use the powers, but you're automatically proficient with the implement.
There are a ton of power changes with a lot of them clarifying or changing their keywords, but the nice thing is that a lot of powers that didn't do anything when you missed the attack now have an effect. Even if it's just half-damage, being able to do something with an encounter or especially a daily is a really valuable gamey aspect that makes your character never feel useless. There are some classes that have had this for a while now, but this just makes it so that a lot more powers and classes have access to a miss effect.
The Best Part