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Rule-of-Three: 03/21/2011
R&D Staff

You’ve got questions—we’ve got answers! Here’s how it works—each week, our Community Manager will be scouring all available sources to find whatever questions you’re asking. We’ll pick three of them to answer, whether about the about the making of the game, the technical workings of our DDI studio, or anything else you care to know about… with some caveats.

There are certain business and legal questions we can’t answer (for business and legal reasons). And if you have a specific rules question, we’d rather point you to Customer Service, where representatives are ready and waiting to help guide you through the rules of the game. That said, our goal is provide you with as much information we can—in this and other venues.

This week, questions on Heroes of Shadow, following the start of the excerpts we’ve released from the book. Plus, kobolds.

1 It looks like all of the content for Heroes of Shadow will conform with the "Essentials" model. Is that true?

"Essentials model" could mean a couple of different things. For purposes of this answer, we’re going to assume it refers to two things:

  • The format of presentation, with framing text and descriptions included outside of a power’s stat block.
  • The introduction of classes that lack daily powers or that use a single encounter power repeatedly.

The new text format helps readability and in guiding players through character creation and in leveling. It has no bearing on the mechanics. To the second point, the answer is that we support both models.

Heroes of Shadow introduces new builds for classes introduced in Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms. However, the majority of the at-will, encounter, and daily powers they use are also open to warlocks, clerics, paladins, and wizards created using Player’s Handbook.

The idea is similar to the summoner build from Arcane Power. This approach allows us to create a flavorful, new type of character while also creating powers that existing characters of the appropriate class can use. The only difference here is that in addition to the new powers, we’ve also included new feature options for the Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms classes. In the case of the necromancer, we took this path because it made more sense to treat necromancy as a school rather than try to map a specific implement type to it, via the Arcane Implement Mastery class feature from Player’s Handbook.

In addition, Heroes of Shadow includes epic destinies, paragon paths, magic items, and feats that any character can use.

2 We have Essentials versions of some classes that exist alongside and sometimes mingle with the PHB versions of the classes. And we're getting some new versions of other classes in Dragon in the next few months. When it comes to organized play, in particular event-oriented organized play such as at GenCon, are all pregens going to be newer, Essentialized versions, or will we still have wild shape druids, implement mastery wizards, etc.?

We generally use pregens built using Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms to keep things simple and clear. We assume that a player using a pregenerated character has either dropped into the event for a quick game or is a new player. However, as we tend to create pregen characters using the newest books you should see more diverse options in the future.

3 I was wondering, are kobolds ever going to get their own racial write-up like gnolls or minotaurs, or will they be consigned to the fate of the githyanki? I ask this because kobolds are kind of a fan-favorite amongst the D&D community, due to their pathetic adorableness and wicked craftiness with traps.

Kobolds are tricky to present as a character race because their racial power is so good. It works fine for a monster, but in a character’s hands it might be too good. That said, there’s no reason why we couldn’t write up the kobold as a race and run its abilities through several open playtests.

As far as other races go, at one point the assumption was that everything we present should be a core part of the game. However, my personal feeling (editor’s note: this answer comes from Mike Mearls) is that such an attitude might go a little too far in intruding on a DM’s authority and a group’s desire to play a specific type of campaign. What do you guys think? Would rolling out Dragon articles covering orcs, bugbears, kobolds, and other monstrous races as characters be a good or bad idea? Is there a downside to letting players pick monstrous races? Drop a line to or take your case to the forums.

How can I submit a question to the Rule-of-Three?

Instead of a single venue to submit questions, our Community Manager Trevor Kidd will be selecting questions from our message boards, Twitter feed, and Facebook account. You can also submit questions directly to So, if you’d like to have your question answered in the Rule-of-Three, just continue to participate in our online community—and we may select yours!

And now, a final question for you.

What adventure element do you enjoy most as a player?
exploring dungeons
solving mysteries
tactical combat