The Assassin Class, Redux

In the Rogue Class, Part Five, I discussed the Assassin in broad terms, but didn’t have enough reference text to write about it in detail. I have since corrected this fault, with a copy of Dragon Magazine #379, with the original 4e Assassin, and Heroes of Shadow, with the Essentials version. The two are nearly unrelated in their mechanical conception of the class. That’s not uncommon in the Essentials reworks, but it’s quite pronounced here.

The Rogue Class, Part Five

In last week’s History of the Rogue, we saw the shift from fragile rogues who should stay clear of combat as much as possible to agile murder-machine rogues. This shift isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I think for most people it makes the rogue feel more like an action hero, on par with fighters, barbarians, and so on. It’s a good class choice for a swashbuckler – and 4e takes that idea and runs with it.

Christmas Themed Adventures – 2015 Update

When I went looking for a Yule/Holiday/Christmas one-shot adventure, I was surprised to see there wasn’t a ton of content out there. Here is the list of what I was able to find, updated with some new items for 2015. I also wrote my own adventure last year for D&D 5e called the The Darkest Night.

In Defense of Skill Challenges

This article was referenced recently on the Talking TableTop podcast and originally appeared on www.gameschangelives.com. I’ve overhauled the original 4th ed version for 5th edition to showcase the many ways skills, tool kits, spells, and even backgrounds can be used to encourage a cooperative and narrative non-combat chase scene.


A common complaint about 4th edition DnD was that it reduced all roleplaying opportunities to skill checks via the Skill Challenge mechanic. We all know you should never let a game tell you that you can’t roleplay, but I understand where the concern comes from because I felt the same way. Mechanics should encourage roleplaying, not stifle it. As I believe you can’t truly understand a mechanic until you get it on the table, I folded a skill challenge into my 4th ed game. What I discovered was that when properly used, skill challenges enhanced roleplaying while keeping high-stress non-combat situations stressful. 

The Ranger Class, Part Six

Thus far in this series we’ve occasionally seen big shifts in the ranger, as in 2e to 3.0 and 3.0 to 3.5. Those are peanuts compared to the shift to 4e. Every class underwent radical change. Having to strip the ranger down to either Martial or Primal powers forces this kind of change – while there were variant 3.x rangers that dropped spellcasting for other features (the scout, and a lot of third-party publishers), 4e is the only edition in which the core ranger does not cast spells of any kind. As a result, the ranger is a midpoint between the fighter and the rogue, without much focus on nature. WotC later introduced a Primal spellcasting archer (also with a thrown weapon option), the Seeker, in the Player’s Handbook 3 – they always interested me, but I won’t be covering them in this article. The short version is: archery-based Primal controller, and the Primal source does a lot of heavy lifting for rationales.

Psionics, Part Seven

In last week’s article, I discussed some of the peripheral support for psionics in 3.5 D&D. This week, I’m moving on to 4e, which means we’re going to the Player’s Handbook 3 and Psionic Power. 4e nominally has four psionic classes, but if you can find any credible psionic theme in the monk, you’re doing better than I am. I won’t be touching the monk in this article, since it isn’t psionic in any other edition, and it might get its own History of the Classes series someday. The Ardent, Battlemind, and Psion are the Leader, Defender, and Controller for the psionic power source, respectively.

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Dark Sun, Part Five, Part Six)

(Curious about the image? It’s Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “Psyche Showing Her Sisters Her Gifts from Cupid.” Psyche, y’all.)

Jeremy Crawford Interview – Gen Con 2015

The four days at Gen Con started off great! On the first day, I was able to sit down and speak with Jeremy Crawford. Jeremy is one of the lead designers of D&D 5th edition. Tribality readers should also recognized Jeremy Crawford with his great efforts on Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition and Blue Rose.

We met in the Gen Con Hall D Dungeons & Dragons game area, and we were surrounded by people that were playing D&D Adventurers League games through Baldman Games, and Jeremy had just completed a meet & greet with Mike Mearls for D&D players.  We were joined by Matt Lemke of Through Gamer Goggles.

Deities of the Nentir Vale (4e) for D&D 5th Edition

The Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook includes the awesome Appendix B that provides deities for running your game in the multiverse worlds of the Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Dragonlance and Eberron. It also provides the Celtic, Greek, Egyptian and Norse pantheons of antiquity. This can be a big help since creating a religion for your world can be lots of work. While not included in the 5th edition Player’s Handbook, the default pantheon from 4th edition was provided as a sample pantheon called Dawn War Deities on page 10 of the 5th edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. I’m looking to revisit my previous campaign that was set in 4th edition’s default setting of the Nentir Vale and this pantheon provides a set of ready to use deities for a campaign in the Vale.

Run a Nentir Vale Campaign for D&D 5th Edition

Earlier this week, I was surprised to see the Nentir Vale on the list of settings in the latest D&D poll alongside Greyhawk, Eberron and other big settings. Seeing Nentir Vale on the poll gave me hope D&D’s 4th default setting may get official support in the future (but I wouldn’t bet on it). One of the biggest strengths of the Nentir Vale as a setting is the fact that there’s less material written about it than other settings such as Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Dark Sun and Golarion. This can be a major benefit, since a DM can learn all they need to know about the Vale setting quickly, without having to handle the baggage of countless campaign books, novels, comics and video games. Many of the details of the Nentir Vale are intentionally mysterious and vague, leaving tons of room for the DM to world build, filling in the blanks with their own ideas.

The Warlock Class, Part Two

Last time in History of the Classes, I looked at the 3.5 Warlock and Binder classes, as two different approaches to a practice of creepy, forbidden, occult power. Both classes allow and encourage the character to surprise foes with unusual powers – no two members of these classes are likely to be the same, or even especially similar. Now we come to the 4e Warlock, which is the first iteration of the class I’ve personally played.

(Part One)