Features Archive | 6/3/2011
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Playtest: Warlock Rules Updates

This month we’re providing some potential updates to the Player’s Handbook warlock class via a playtest article. We’ll be closely following feedback on the article, and we will take time to make any further revisions if it becomes necessary. Note that these changes are currently confined to the warlock features and powers that appear in the Player’s Handbook. Once you’ve had a chance to review and playtest the material, please send your feedback to playtesting@wizards.com with the subject line “Warlock Playtest” by June 17.

Design & Development

Many of the updates in this document are primarily for clarity or ease of usage. In many cases, the Sustain entries of the powers were revised, either to become Effects, or to make them clearer. For example, curse of the bloody fangs, a 5th-level attack power, originally had the following text:

Sustain Minor: The target and any of your enemies adjacent to it take 1d10 damage (save ends).

That entry doesn’t really make sense. It’s not clear what the saving throw represents. Does it prevent the damage? Does it prevent sustaining the power? There’s really no ongoing effect to save against. So we revised the power to instead use an effect line, and gave the target an ongoing effect to save against.

We also adjusted damage in many places, starting with the warlock’s curse damage, which we changed to be applicable once per turn, instead of once per round. This update keeps the curse damage in line with similar changes we made to Sneak Attack, and allows the warlock to still feel like a striker when he or she gets off-turn attacks (through immediate actions and the like).

Most of our damage adjustments were upward, either by directly increasing damage, by adding damage or miss effects to daily attack powers, or in some cases, by making powers that previously had no damage rolls associated with them now deal damage. Damage was reduced on some powers, but in truth there were only a few warlock powers in the Player’s Handbook that were dealing excessive damage.

We did redesign the thief of five fates power to make it more effective and less of a “trap” power. On the surface, the original power might look appealing to a casual player, since it seems like you can dramatically affect an enemy’s ability to attack, but the net effect of the power is that you have a small chance of actually affecting an enemy’s next action, and that chance gets smaller the better the enemy rolls. Using a daily attack power that has the potential for no effect (and no damage, either), can be very disappointing for players. In this case, Rich Baker took a swing at providing a better implementation of the theme, creating a power that does some upfront damage but with a more obvious and fun effect that reflects the five fates that are stolen from the target.

This sort of dramatic change is one that we don’t want to do very often. On the one hand, replacing a poor power with a better one is good because it provides a new option without adding to the hundreds of powers a class might already have available. On the other hand, a drastic change of this degree creates a significant disparity between players using our online tools and players that primarily use our books. Being told that your power does slightly more or less damage is shrug-worthy compared to being told that your power does something completely different. We’re particularly interested in gleaning some feedback on this degree of change. Also, consider if your opinion is different depending on the popularity of the power in question, or how iconic it might be.

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