Thinking About Neverwinter's Future Classes

Alternate Title: "Ragar's preparing to DM and has 4th Edition D&D on the brain"

The Warlock: A demon wants to give me all of this power just for signing a paper - what could go wrong?

Now we have our bow-using ranger and a bard healer that's fairly different than the cleric healer already in the game. That just leaves the last of our proposed trio - the warlock. For those unfamiliar with the D&D interpretation of the warlock, it's an arcane spellcaster similar to a wizard or a sorcerer but with one important distinction: to gain their great powers, they have bargained with inhuman forces and made a pact. Some make deals with devils and demons, some with spirits from the Feywild, and some have gazed into the stars of the Far Realm to find something secret and terrible looking back at them. After the rites are finished and the blood on the contracts has dried, these men and women turn their new eldritch powers toward their goals, be it as a conqueror in the name of their demon lord or an adventurer trying to use his new powers to help others in a "fight fire with fire" manner. As you can see, the warlock's story is quite distinct compared to the wizard or sorcerer - now we just have to figure out how to express that in game mechanics.

To start with, let's give the warlock his own weapon. Control Wizards in Neverwinter use orbs as their implement, so those are out. Using the 4th edition rules, we have pact blade daggers, rods and wands as options. I'm opting for rod/staff with this design - no other classes use anything remotely similar and rods/staves are large enough that the unique models and textures you'll see on weapons at higher levels will really stand out compared to a wand or a pact blade at the hip. With a weapon picked out that just leaves the spells to cast through said weapon.

When you dig into the Warlock section of the Player's Handbook, you see that the powers for the three pacts I mentioned earlier tend to focus around central themes: psychic/fire damage with illusions and teleports for Fey Pact warlocks, fire/necrotic damage with DoTs and temporary hit points for Infernal Pact warlocks, and radiant/psychic damage with some movement control for Star Pact warlocks. Each of these is different from the frost damage focused Control Wizard, but my choice for a spec to use would be the Infernal Pact; both of the others have solid concepts, but they both have quite a bit of focus on control with those abilities. It's not to the same degree as the Control Wizard, but we want this class to stand on its own and a DoT-throwing, self-shielding tanky caster would do just that.

With our Infernal Pact concept picked out, now it's time to figure out how to make this class play differently than other casters. For that, let's break out the other thing that makes the warlock in D&D stand out from other casters: the Warlock's Curse. The idea behind the curse in 4th Edition is you would mark the target nearest to you with your curse and once per round you could deal additional damage to that target. A warlock could mark multiple targets, but they could only mark one guy per round and they would only get bonus damage against a single cursed target each round. The question now is: how do we turn this class feature into something more than an extra 1D6 damage per round?

My thought is to expand the warlock curse into three (or possibly more later) curses you could swap in and out of your Special action button - we'll keep the "one curse per target" idea, but have some options. Curse #1 (a.k.a. "All your aggro is mine!") would be a way to add some AoE damage by spreading some damage: do damage to a target near your cursed target and they'll take some percentage of that damage. Curse #2 is our more tank-friendly option. Each attack you use on the curse target will debuff the mob in a different way: something like "fire attacks reduce fire resistance" or "necrotic damage reduces target's Power". Last but not least we have Curse #3 for your more self-sufficient warlocks: deal damage to a cursed target and you'll gain a temporary hit point shield on your warlock. With each of these curse types, there's room for expansion later through Paragon Paths and the class specializations at higher levels. Adding DoTs to the mirrored damage of Curse #1, boosted debuffs or perhaps spreadable debuffs for Curse #2, and party-wide shields for Curse #3 are just some of the possibilities for personalizing your warlock's curses.


That's three classes down and only... way too many more to cover, let alone all of the specializations for these three and the original five that haven't been covered yet. That said we've shown that not only is there room for more of D&D's classes in Neverwinter, but it's possible for those classes to be distinct rather than just an existing class with a new hat. Will we see these classes added to Neverwinter down the road? Maybe not all of them (guessing sorcerer will be their next caster instead of warlock), but we should see some. Will they be similar to what I've laid out in this wall of text? Probably not, but you can't blame a D&D nerd for hoping, right?

Michael "Ragar" Branham

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Two Fighters?
# Mar 22 2013 at 12:47 PM Rating: Decent
5 posts
They should have just gone with a Barbarian instead of the Great Weapon Fighter. There is already a Guardian Fighter, why make two classes that are the same class...but different specialization? It's like if WoW forced you to choose your spec at character creation and couldn't change it. Seems silly to me.
# Mar 22 2013 at 11:59 AM Rating: Decent
1 post
SWORDMAGE You must include the bestest class evar!
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