Excerpts Archive | 4/21/2008
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The Warlord
4th Edition Player's Handbook

While we continue to present excerpts and previews from the core rulebooks every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday leading up to 4th Edition’s release, we’ve also asked members of R&D to help introduce these previews—to explain in brief what these materials bring to the game.

Today’s excerpt selection concerns the warlord, including its traits, features, and builds. In addition, we posed the following questions to R&D’s Rich Baker: How did the warlord make it into the Player’s Handbook?

His response:


It wasn’t easy to choose the classes to appear in the Player’s Handbook. Many conflicting objectives affected these decisions—for example, we wanted to include multiple builds so that there would be a number of different ways to create, for example, a fighter… but doing so took up more space for each single class description, and that meant fewer classes could fit into the Player’s Handbook. Similarly, we wanted to reproduce popular classes from 3rd Edition as quickly as possible, so that players engaged in ongoing games could convert easily… but we also thought it would be highly desirable to show off new classes that might give an experienced player a chance to try out something he or she had never seen before.

This last point is one of the reasons why the warlord is in the new Player’s Handbook. Just as 3rd Edition introduced the sorcerer (and re-introduced the barbarian) up front, we felt that 4th Edition should introduce one or two classes that weren’t previously part of the core D&D experience.

The warlord first appeared in our second design draft of 4th Edition as the marshal. Those of you familiar with the 3rd Edition Miniatures Handbook might remember this class. (You might also wonder why we changed the name from marshal to warlord. The answer is that we wanted to broaden the concept from a medieval military commander to someone who might be a barbaric warchief, an elven marchwarden, or a noble-born knight-commander.) Of course, the 4E version was only loosely based on the 3E version; among other things, the new marshal has access to the same sort of power selection as any other 4E class, instead of a boatload of auras. It was also moved more clearly into the Leader role, while the 3E marshal was a class that fell “in between” roles, and certainly couldn’t replace a cleric or a fighter in the typical party mix.

The 4E warlord now helps alleviate that unfortunate requirement of party composition in all previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons: before, a party had to include a cleric in order to be effective. Very early on in 4th Edition design, our work on character roles led us to the idea that any character serving as the party’s “cleric”—whether a bard, shaman, warlord, or whatever—needed to be as good at that job as the cleric or else we’d have yet another edition of D&D in which every party still needed a cleric. That led us to the idea of the Leader role, and the warlord as just one of several possible classes that can fill this role. Of course, the warlord fills it in his own unique way, with powers that have a strong flavor of clever tactics and heroic inspiration. Read on a bit, and you’ll see for yourself!
--Rich Baker






“Onward to victory! They cannot stand before us!”

Warlords are accomplished and competent battle leaders. Warlords stand on the front line issuing commands and bolstering their allies while leading the battle with weapon in hand. Warlords know how to rally a team to win a fight.

Your ability to lead others to victory is a direct result of your history. You could be a minor warchief looking to make a name for yourself, a pious knight-commander on leave from your militant order, a youthful noble eager to apply years of training to life outside the castle walls, a calculating mercenary captain, or a courageous marshal of the borderlands who fights to protect the frontier. Regardless of your background, you are a skillful warrior with an uncanny gift for leadership.

The weight of your armor is not a hindrance; it is a familiar comfort. The worn weapon grip molds to your hand as if it were a natural extension of your arm. It’s time to fight and to lead.

Class Traits

Role: Leader. You are an inspiring commander and a master of battle tactics.
Power Source: Martial. You have become an expert in tactics through endless hours of training and practice, personal determination, and your own sheer physical toughness.
Key Abilities: Strength, Intelligence, Charisma

Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather, hide, chainmail; light shield
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, military melee, simple ranged
Bonus to Defense: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will

Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + Constitution score
Hit Points per Level Gained: 5
Healing Surges per Day: 7 + Constitution modifier

Trained Skills: From the class skills list below, choose four trained skills at 1st level.
Class Skills: Athletics (Str), Diplomacy (Cha), Endurance (Con), Heal (Wis), History (Int), Intimidate (Cha)

Build Options: Inspiring warlord, tactical warlord
Class Features: Combat Leader, Commanding Presence, inspiring word

Warlord Class Features

Warlord Overview

Characteristics: You are a strong warrior in melee, able to stand beside the fighter or paladin in your party. Your powers grant allies immediate actions (usually moves or attacks), provide bonuses to attack or defense, and grant healing in the midst of battle.

Religion: Warlords favor martial gods such as Bahamut and Kord, and those who have a particular eye for strategy or leadership esteem Ioun or Erathis. Evil and unaligned warlords often worship Bane.

Races: Dragonborn make excellent inspiring warlords, and half-elves are equally inspiring leaders. Eladrin are skilled tactical warlords. Tiefling warlords are versatile, combining powers from both builds, and humans can excel at either path.

All warlords have these class features.

Combat Leader
You and each ally within 10 squares who can see and hear you gain a +2 power bonus to initiative.

Commanding Presence
Choose one of the following two benefits.

Inspiring Presence: When an ally who can see you spends an action point to take an extra action, that ally also regains lost hit points equal to one-half your level + your Charisma modifier.

Tactical Presence: When an ally you can see spends an action point to make an extra attack, the ally gains a bonus to the attack roll equal to one-half your Intelligence modifier.

The choice you make also provides bonuses to certain warlord powers. Individual powers detail the effects (if any) your Commanding Presence selection has on them.

Inspiring Word
Using the inspiring word power, warlords can grant their comrades additional resilience with nothing more than a shout of encouragement.

Creating a Warlord

The two warlord builds are inspiring warlord and tactical warlord. Some warlords lean more on their Charisma, while others rely on Intelligence, but Strength is important to every warlord.

Inspiring Warlord
You lead by exhortation, encouragement, and inspiration. Your powers help your allies find new surges of courage and endurance within themselves, helping them heal, shrug off debilitating conditions, and defend themselves from attack. Your attack powers rely on Strength, so that should be your best ability score. The benefits you give your allies, though, depend almost entirely on Charisma, so make that second best. Intelligence is your best third choice, so you can dabble in other warlord powers and to help your Reflex defense. Select powers that make the best use of your high Charisma score.

Suggested Feat: Inspired Recovery (Human feat: Toughness)
Suggested Skills: Athletics, Diplomacy, Heal, History
Suggested At-Will Powers: commander’s strike, furious smash
Suggested Encounter Power: guarding attack
Suggested Daily Power: bastion of defense
Guarding Attack
Warlord Attack 1
With a calculated strike, you knock your adversary off balance and grant your comrade-in-arms some protection against the villain’s attacks.
Encounter Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Strength modifier damage. Until the end of your next turn, one ally adjacent to either you or the target gains a +2 power bonus to AC against the target’s attacks.
Inspiring Presence: The power bonus to AC equals 1 + your Charisma modifier.

Bastion of Defense
Warlord Attack 1
Honorable warriors never fall!
Daily Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 3[W] + Strength modifier damage. Allies within 5 squares of you gain a +1 power bonus to all defenses until the end of the encounter.
Effect: Allies within 5 squares of you gain temporary hit points equal to 5 + your Charisma modifier.

Tactical Warlord
Your leadership takes the form of quick commands, cunning strategies, and tactical superiority. Your powers guide your allies to extra and more powerful attacks, as well as helping them move quickly in combat situations. You also assist your allies by moving your enemies around or knocking them prone. You use Strength for your attack powers, so make that your best ability score. Intelligence is secondary, because your Intelligence determines just how effective a leader you are. Charisma should be your third best score, so you can dabble in other warlord powers and to improve your Will defense. Select powers that make the best use of your high Intelligence score.

Suggested Feat: Tactical Assault (Human feat: Weapon Focus)
Suggested Skills: Endurance, Heal, History, Intimidate
Suggested At-Will Powers: viper’s strike, wolf pack tactics
Suggested Encounter Power: warlord’s favor
Suggested Daily Power: lead the attack
Warlord’s Favor
Warlord Attack 1
With a calculated blow, you leave your adversary exposed to an imminent attack from one of your closest allies.
Encounter Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Strength modifier damage. One ally within 5 squares of you gains a +2 power bonus to attack rolls against the target until the end of your next turn.
Tactical Presence: The bonus to attack rolls that you grant equals 1 + your Intelligence modifier.

Lead the Attack
Warlord Attack 1
Under your direction, arrows hit their marks and blades drive home.
Daily Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 3[W] + Strength modifier damage. Until the end of the encounter, you and each ally within 5 squares of you gain a power bonus to attack rolls against the target equal to 1 + your Intelligence modifier.
Miss: Until the end of the encounter, you and each ally within 5 squares of you gain a +1 power bonus to attack rolls against the target.

Be sure to return Wednesday for a look at paragon paths from the Player's Handbook!