Saturday, October 24, 2009

Primal Power

So Primal Power is the newest book released for D&D. Like the other Power books, it goes over the classes from a certain power source, this time the Primal power source. This had previously been the power source I understood the least; martial was easy to understand (hit things), Arcane was all about using magic, and Divine was about using power given from the gods. Primal was tricky for me, though; it seemed that its power came from nature itself, but it was kind of vague on how that worked. Primal Power clears that up a bit - it notes that the physical world has spirits that act as kind of protectors, and that they acted as something of a third side in the war between the gods and primordials, trying to keep the world from being destroyed.

That helped me, because it put a face to the power that went to the Primal classes. It also gave me some cool new material to work with, because the primal spirits don't think the way people do - they aren't always interested in keeping everyone or everything alive, and the way their minds work makes them difficult to communicate with, at best. They are the wild card; the gods and primordials had easily discerned goals, but the primal spirits are unpredictable.

On the mechanical side, the new builds for each class fill some holes, including some that I didn't even notice before. For the barbarian, there is the Thunderborn, who knocks people away then beats them - and is noted as having a controller secondary role. Then there is the Whirling Barbarian, who uses two weapons, instead of one two-handed weapon to slaughter his foes. For the Druid, there is the Swarm Druid, who, instead of assuming a single animal form, can shift into a swarm of insects to harass his foes. There is a secondary build which is noted as a partial build, available for any other build to use called the Summoner, to let the Druid summon animal allies. The Shaman gains the Eagle Shaman build, which gives the Shaman a build to assist ranged allies by using his spirit to guide their attacks, and the World Speaker, which lets the Shaman use his spirit companion almost like a defender to shield others. The Warden gains the Life Warden build, making Wisdom important and allowing the Warden some secondary healing powers, and the Storm Warden, which lets the Warden uses his Constitution bonus for AC and lets him slow and slide marked enemies.

Each class is given an assortment of new paragon paths, and at the end of the book are 8 new epic destinies, all of which accentuate the flavor of the Primal power source. Besides those, there are a number of new feats for the Primal classes, including a set fo new feats which I found very neat: Tribal feats. Tribal feats are fun because by taking one, like the Four Winds feat, which gives you a +2 bonus to Athletics, you gain the bonus. But for every ally or party member of yours within a certain area that also takes the feat, you each gain another +1, up to +5. It encourages teamwork even in character building, which is something that has impressed me about 4th Edition.

Aside from that, there are all the little tidbits of information about the implied D&D campaign world throughout the book that we have come to expect. I like those little touches, because they give me insight not only into the implied world, but also into what the designers and developers are thinking. All in all, I really like Primal Power, though I wouldn't recommend it for someone just looking for story -most of the book is lists of new powers that Primal classes can take. But if you are looking to expand on what the Primal classes in the Player's Handbook 2 can do, you should pick this up.

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