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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Wondering how classes stack up in playstyle and out of combat utility

    I'm pretty inexperienced with DnD 4e and might be playing in a group soon and I'm not really sure what to make. One player is already pretty set on a cleric and a second sounded like she was leaning towards some kind of defender, leaving myself and one other player pretty much undecided. My understanding is that controllers are not strictly necessary, and that both leader and defender are okay to double up, so I feel like I should maybe try for some control abilities but over all I'm pretty free to play whatever.

    My main question is what does out of combat utility look like between classes in this game? I really want to have interesting out of combat options and 2 skill per level warriors in 3.P make me snore. Beyond that I'm just curious about general play style, power, and fun factor of various classes like bard, rogue, warlock, avenger, fighter, barbarian and anything else worth mentioning. I'd appreciate any advice!

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wondering how classes stack up in playstyle and out of combat utility

    Quote Originally Posted by Da Beast View Post
    I'm pretty inexperienced with DnD 4e and might be playing in a group soon and I'm not really sure what to make. One player is already pretty set on a cleric and a second sounded like she was leaning towards some kind of defender, leaving myself and one other player pretty much undecided. My understanding is that controllers are not strictly necessary, and that both leader and defender are okay to double up, so I feel like I should maybe try for some control abilities but over all I'm pretty free to play whatever.
    Pretty much anything other than controller is fine to double up on (and even that's ok if it's a reasonably damaging one). You do need at least one striker, and if you go for a leader, it should be something with decent attack granting so that you're not precisely doubling up- pretty much anything other than a second cleric or an artificer, really (bard will only have that if you're using Dragon magazine- Vicious Mockery is in Dragon 383).

    My main question is what does out of combat utility look like between classes in this game? I really want to have interesting out of combat options and 2 skill per level warriors in 3.P make me snore.
    4e is encouraged to have a fair amount of creativity outside of combat that doesn't rely on skill checks. In terms of skills, though, some classes get more trained, some get less, and obviously your higher ability skills make a difference. There's a Bard feat you can take called Bard of All Trades that gives a +3 to untrained skills, and Bards have a native +1 to untrained skills, so Bards are decent to quite good at just about any skill, especially at low levels (they also get a utility power for +5 to a diplomacy check 1/encounter). Some classes, like Rogues, get a lot of trained skills. Arcana has a lot of utility powers or feats that let it sub in for other skills, including Arcane Mutterings, a level 2 encounter utility that lets you use it for one of the dialogue skills. On top of that, Wizards also get 3-4 cantrips, and several of those are encounter utilities to sub in for a dialogue skill or some other skills as well. There are also rituals- the Cleric will have Ritual Caster to start, and other divine and arcane characters, at least some of them, come with it built in. Rituals are what you make of them- some are quite useful, others not so much; campaigns don't usually require them but they can open up interesting possibilities.

    Beyond that I'm just curious about general play style, power, and fun factor of various classes like bard, rogue, warlock, avenger, fighter, barbarian and anything else worth mentioning. I'd appreciate any advice!
    I really like bards- fun, thematic powers. At higher levels, Valor bards (Con secondary) can grant ridiculous bonuses; Cunning bards (Int based) can add a sizable dollop of controller.

    Rogues- one of my favorite strikers. They require combat advantage for decent damage, so positioning can be very important, which adds to the interest with them. They start with 6 skills trained, which I think is the highest in the game (Stealth + Thievery + 4 others). Note the feat Cunning Stalker- between that, flanking, and maybe some help from allies, you should be able to maintain combat advantage.

    Warlock- I want to like warlocks. They're intensely flavorful. They're just not that good. People like to hybrid them because you can basically play another class and poach a warlock feature or two, but you don't want to do that juts starting out.

    Avenger- generally trades damage for accuracy. Also pretty fun, and requires positioning as well (your big striker feature doesn't work if you're adjacent to multiple enemies).

    Fighter- Classic defender. Can deal decent damage, especially for a Defender. Defenders are fun if you really want to pay constant attention, because you'll want to use your off-turn actions.

    Barbarian- Get a big weapon and charge. This can be really fun if it's what you're in to.

    A couple of others I like-

    Swordmage- I really like these, but I wouldn't play one as a second defender. If the other player doesn't go defender, though, you can do some defending at range, which is cool and interesting.

    Sorcerer- there aren't a ton of multi-target strikers, but this is one. Tends to have a lot of fun, and some very powerful, powers.

    Warlord or Shaman- your second leader. Both have some very strong attack granting powers, and show a very different look from the Cleric. Warlords can potentially boost the party's initiative too, Shamans get a generic skill boosting encounter utility. Note that Shamans are complex to play due to the Spirit Companion. Warlords can go STR|INT, STR|CHA, or even INT|CHA for lots of skills choices; Shamans can go WIS|INT for a lot of skills as well.

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    Default Re: Wondering how classes stack up in playstyle and out of combat utility

    Thanks for the advice. I'm probably going to make an artful dodger rogue for charisma shenanigans. Now I just need a race and whatnot.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wondering how classes stack up in playstyle and out of combat utility

    Fortunately, DEX|CHA for racial stats is actually the single most common combination in the game:

    Changeling (Eberron Players Guide)
    Dragonborn (Kapak Draconian, specifically- Dragon 421)
    Drow (Forgotten Realms Players Guide, but note that they only get one of the two racial powers)
    Halfling (PHB)
    Pixie (Heroes of the Feywild)
    Revenant (Heroes of Shadow)*
    Satyr (HotF)
    Vryloka (HoS)
    Shade (Hos)
    Goblin (Monster Manual)**
    Kenku (Monster Manual 2)**
    Hengeyokai (Dragon 404)

    And of course Humans are always good picks, even with only 1 racial bonus.

    *Revenants can pick up features from their choice of race. So really you can be an undead Tiefling or something with the right stats.
    **Monster races- DM may/may not allow them

    I'd avoid Shades, as thematic as they are, because Rogues are fragile and Shades lose a healing surge. Pixies have flight (Kapaks have a limited form of it), which can be interesting but might annoy some DMs.

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    Default Re: Wondering how classes stack up in playstyle and out of combat utility

    I'm thinking a low intelligence pixie valley girl who stabs everything, thanks for the help!

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    Default Re: Wondering how classes stack up in playstyle and out of combat utility

    Quote Originally Posted by Da Beast View Post
    I'm pretty inexperienced with DnD 4e and might be playing in a group soon and I'm not really sure what to make. One player is already pretty set on a cleric and a second sounded like she was leaning towards some kind of defender, leaving myself and one other player pretty much undecided. My understanding is that controllers are not strictly necessary, and that both leader and defender are okay to double up, so I feel like I should maybe try for some control abilities but over all I'm pretty free to play whatever.

    My main question is what does out of combat utility look like between classes in this game? I really want to have interesting out of combat options and 2 skill per level warriors in 3.P make me snore. Beyond that I'm just curious about general play style, power, and fun factor of various classes like bard, rogue, warlock, avenger, fighter, barbarian and anything else worth mentioning. I'd appreciate any advice!
    The skill gap isn't as wide as in 3e. Fighters still don't have as many skill points as rogues, but that's alright (rogues have a wider list of must-have skills). Note that Intelligence has no impact on the number of skills you get.

    One of the feats I like the most is Skill Training, which permanently expands the number of trained skill "slots" by one. Any character can train in any skill. So a fighter can train in Perception (and doesn't have to lose any skills either). The feats aren't popular, however, because multiclass feats give a class skill and something else. (Multiclassing is ... very different.)

    Any class that gets Ritualist for free is really great out of combat. Note that Essentials classes do not "get" rituals for free (as the casting Essentials classes get class abilities that essentially mimic the must-have rituals). There's nothing preventing them taking the feat. In terms of out-of-combat rituals, bards are probably the best (because they have a couple of class-only rituals), and if you take the Nature skill you have access to even more rituals. (You don't actually need the skill, but some rituals require skill rolls.)

    Almost every class gets some non-combat utilities. Wizards, of course, but rangers get a surprisingly good list (including one that rerolls skill checks for anyone who listens to your wisdom). Note that these utilities unfortunately compete with combat utilities. The value of ability scores is higher when it comes to skills, because you gain a +1/2 level bonus to all skills (trained or no). It's roughly the equivalent of having maxed out cross-class skills in everything if you're untrained... but training is a +5, not a +10 at max. As a result, don't expect your fighter to be particularly charming even if they took Skill Training (Diplomacy). Still, a noble fighter might want to take that for RP reasons.

    There are fewer skills, so they're broader. History, for instance, is basically the tactics skill. Any warlord should be taking that... and that means you know non-tactical history as well.

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