One of the first articles published at Dungeon’s Master was our take on the Necromancer. Since that time we’ve produced a revised version of our heroic, paragon and epic tier take on the class, along with a general write up on different kinds of Necromancers. The Necromancer as envisioned by us was developed to address the fact that there were no Wizard specialists in 4e D&D. Along the way we’ve toyed with the idea of releasing a build of the class that is built on the Warlock and Cleric structure as well.
However, the article by Bartoneus on D&D 4e: The New Player’s Option at Critical Hitshas put any thoughts of developing alternate powers for the Necromancer on hold for now. Wizards of the Coast is releasing Player Options, Hero’s of Shadow. This will feature the Necromancer, Assassin and Hexblade.
I’m very excited about this release for a number of reasons. First, the Necromancer is finally getting some love and will be featured as its own class. Consider how iconic this class is in fantasy literature I’m surprised that we haven’t seen something official earlier.
In my mind the Necromancer could fill any of the Striker, Leader or Controller roles. It will all depend on what kind of a spin WotC decides to place on it. I think it would be very interesting to see the Necromancer as primarily a Striker, with Controller as a secondary role.
I envision it as a class that can summon minor undead who would attack from melee. These summoned undead will probably deal the Necromanscers primary damamge in much the same way the Beastmaster Ranger’s pet does. The Necromancers other powers would have more of a controller feel to them, with weakening and immobilizing attacks being prominent. Of course these summoned undead could employ more controller options, almost acting like a horde of minions that are under the control of the Necromancer.
Imagine the Necromancer summons several skeletons and they rush towards the enemy. The damage the do is minimal, a flat amount based on the Necromancers level. However, if two or more of these minions are adjacent to an enemy they cause additional damage or employe some type of effect.
Another alternative would be a leader who doesn’t heal hit points with the Necromancer equivalent of Healing Word, rather the Necromancer would provide temporary hit points equal to the value of a healing surge, plus a bonus based on level and appropriate ability score. This would place a unique spin on healing in combat as these temporary hit points would still expend a healing surge. At the end of combat the temporary hit points would disappear, possibly leaving a PC very low on hit points.
The next reason I’m looking forward to this release is the Assassin. As a player I’ve recently discovered the joy of playing this class in our ongoing home campaign. As a result I look forward to even more powers and Assassin based goodness with which to destroy my enemies. Of course I’ll need to wait almost a year, but I’m sure it will be worth it.
In all of this I do have one area of concern and it surrounds the Assassin. This class was made available to DDI subscribers as a bonus. My understanding, which may be flawed, was it would not be released via any other source. As a result the class wouldn’t see many new additional powers, but that’s ok, it was after all a freebie. A reward for being a subscriber.
This isn’t the first time that WotC has taken material released through DDI in either Dragon or Dungeon and then published it in another book. Several sections of the DMG 2 on skill challenges were found in various Dungeon magazines. While the content is solid, a bad taste is left in my mouth when I realize I am paying for material twice. This however, is not a rant about the state of the DDI, I’ll save that for another day.
In closing I’m excited about this upcoming release and I look forward to the new material. This change in approach for player supplements should hopefully keep things fresh and allow 4e to stay viable as a brand for some time to come. I’m sure as we advance upon the release date that more snippets and details will be released to us about the new classes and how their powers will work. Will it be the standard power system, the Psionic point system or some sort of hybrid? We already know that the Assassin uses the standard power system, but will alternatives be introduced for the new classes that are being released. Time will tell.