Initial Concept: A Martial/Arcane Weapon-based Striker

So, after last night’s D&D 4/e game — the end of the campaign — I was playing around with some thoughts about a new class. I should warn you, this post will be all stream-of-consciousness.

(Yeah, I’m tinkering again. And I’ll cover how tinkering is really procrastination in a future Doing The Work. Still, I feel like tinkering today as I recover from the damned plague I’ve had all week.)

I’m not going to use 4/e legalese here, because I don’t think the time for that is this early in the thought process. Also, I don’t follow Dragon much (but I do some), so if there’s something I should follow, please let me know.

High concept: a mixed-power character class, someone who enhances (I would use “augments,” but that’s clearly psychic territory) their martial prowess with spells, but is a force on his own otherwise.

Influences: Avenger, Rogue, Psion.

Gimmick: (All new classes have to have one, right?) The at-will powers are all martial in nature, akin to the Ranger or Rogue’s at-will mojo. The encounter & daily powers are mostly minor actions that alter the next attack this turn the character does — which I call a “spell chain” — by adding damage, typing damage, changing what they attack is based on, shifting before/after, etc. Such chains turn the attack from being Martial to Arcane.

The narrative explanation: these people tried to be swordmages, but didn’t quite have that in them. Still, they had the spark of arcane power in them, and learned a different technique — channeling their innate arcane talent into their attacks with a moment of concentration.

Let’s say this is one of your At-Wills:

At-Will * Chained, Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + Strength modifier damage
Increases to 2[w] + Strength modifier damage at 21st level

Then you would have encounter or daily powers that would add or change your At-Will:

  • Your next Chained attack this turn does an additional 1[W] damage, and all damage is cold.
  • You may teleport two squares before or after your next Chained attack, as part of the attack.
  • Your attack is changed to: Close burst 1, Target: two adjacent creatures
  • Your next attack has the follow added: Hit: Target is knocked prone; and all damage is thunder.
  • Your next attack has the following added: Miss: Half damage


Thus, if you used an action point or didn’t move, you could put two or even three of these minor actions before an attack, which means your attacks are rather different each time — once you get into paragon tier, at least.

(And yes, I think giving this power to affect basic attacks is too much — or, rather, it’s a Paragon tier feat to make your basic melee attack have the keyword Chained.)

So you can see where I’m influenced by the Psion, but instead of having a set augmentation path, I’m more about the protean nature of magic. You can switch it up each encounter. Which I think might prompt a working title: The Switchblade (I didn’t like Spellblade for this — too much baggage).

The way I see it, this has two basic paths the way all classes start: the Elemental Switchblade and the Dimensional Switchblade — the former getting buffs based on how many different types of damage are on the current attack (making it more badass if it does “cold thunder psychic” damage) and the other more badass based on how far it’s shifted or teleported this attack. Something like that.

I could also see this class being more Ranger-y, in that it could be a class that an also use ranged weapons.

I’m thinking the main stats for this are Strength (or maybe Dexterity, if this was a whatever-weapon class) for the obvious, and Intelligence for the way the path interacts with the class. This makes the Genasi an ideal race for the class, which I like — the protean class for the protean race.

Anyway, that’s the basic idea. Also, I think the name “Switchblade” sucks. I need a new working title.

Thoughts? Fire away.

– Ryan


5 Responses to Initial Concept: A Martial/Arcane Weapon-based Striker

  1. Alex Hunter says:

    I don’t know if you’ve looked at the Hybrid rules but combining elements from Swordmage and Ranger sounds like a good place to begin. Especially if your aim is a Striker class.

    A lot of this could be taken from Swordmages with perhaps a new build to swap elemental effects on powers.

    I can see each of the effects you listed as different Encounter powers. Being able to add any of the effects you wanted per encounter might be too much. Not sure. Maybe being able to swap out Encounter power adds during short rests as a balance? I think there’s a feat similar to this already. Maybe Arcane Power?

  2. Ryan Macklin says:

    The Swordmage is too Defender-y for my tastes, at least for this idea. We’ve been playing with one in my campaign for a bit, and I think he rocks — for that role. You’re right in what I’m looking for is essentially an Arcane Ranger (though I seem to see that Strikers come in to categories: focus on a foe and focus on a favorable situation — and this is the latter type)

    And yeah, those were meant to be examples of different encounter powers that you would choose, not having access to the entire buffet of powers. So, at level 1, I have one Encounter “Close burst 1, Target: two adjacent creatures” and one Daily “Hit: Target is knocked prone; and all damage is thunder” or something.

    I’ll go through the multiclassing article — I missed that the first time.

  3. Aaron says:

    Seems like a pretty cool concept. Class design frightens me like nothing else, but I love reading about it, especially when someone tries something special unique to break the mold of 4e classes. What’s even better is that with the Psion, now that WotC is breaking their own mold, you can create a class like this and people won’t say “that challenges the core assumptions of 4e! How dare you!?”.

    Can’t wait to see more of this class. And, for what it’s worth, I think the name Switchblade is kinda cool.

  4. Swordgleam says:

    I like this, both in terms of the feel and the gimmick. You should do something with this.

  5. Taylor says:

    Well, you could look at the 3.5 Duskblade for a new name. The original Duskblades were elves who decided to master the arts of the blade and spell, so they were equal parts Fighter and Wizard. They also had an ability to channel their spells into a melee attack.
    For the Daily attacks, it might be cool to give them a dual functionality. You can use it as a straight up magical attack or you can channel it into a melee attack with nasty effects.
    You’ll also have to give the class some sort of damage boosting class feature to really set the class as a striker