D&D Encounters: March of the Phantom Brigade – Pre-Generated Characters

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on January 29, 2011

D&D Encounters Season 4: March of the Phantom Brigade begins on February 9. Today we’re sharing copies of the pre-generated characters. When comparing these characters with the ones provided over the past three season I have to say that these are by far the best yet.

Not only are the characters built better, but the character sheet layout is fantastic. Finally we’ve got all of the skills actually listed on the character sheet. I was also impressed by the fact that on each character sheet some tactics are provided. This will be a tremendous help for newer players and should speed things up considerably.

Each character also has a difficulty rating from 1-3 stars indicating how much experience is required to easily run each PC. Again, I think this is a fantastic improvement.

One thing that is missing is alignment. I guess Wizards figured that it’s up to the player to determine their own alignment and run the character accordingly.

You can find these six official pre-generated characters along with all of the other pre-gens Wizards has provided since the inception of D&D Encounters in the Dungeon’s Master Pre-Generated Character Library.
Male Drow
Ranger (Hunter)
Difficulty ***
High Resolution Download (4.8 MB)
Male Human
Paladin (Cavalier)
Difficulty **
High Resolution Download (4.5 MB)
Male Dwarf
Fighter (Slayer)
Difficulty *
High Resolution Download (4.5 MB)
Male Human
Wizard (Evocation Mage)
Difficulty **
High Resolution Download (4.5 MB)
Female Elf
Rogue (Thief)
Difficulty *
High Resolution Download (4.4 MB)
Female Eladrin
Cleric (War Priest)
Difficulty ***
High Resolution Download (4.6 MB)

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1 adamjford January 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Aaaaaand the only leader is female. Way to propagate gender stereotypes, WotC.

2 Ameron January 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Six pre-gens have been provided for each of the four seasons of D&D Encounters so far. Of those 24 total characters there have been five leaders, four females and one male.

Season 1 – Eselda (Cleric) – Female
Season 2 – Phye (Ardent) – Female
Season 3 – Hagen (Cleric) – Male
Season 3 – Sola (Cleric) – Female
Season 4 – Valenae (Cleric) – Female

I don’t know if I’d call the female leader a stereotype, but I see why it might raise some eyebrows. Is it just a coincidence that there has been a female leader in each season? Personally I think it’s just coincidence. After all there’s been a male striker in each season so far and I wouldn’t call that a stereotype either, just coincidence.

3 Jameson Rodriguez January 30, 2011 at 10:02 pm

I live in Idaho, and I haven’t been able to find a hobby shop within any of the hobby shops that sell dnd books that runs dnd encounters in my area. Me and a bunch of my friends have been trying to get a campaign going, but honestly none of us has even seen someone play the game. We thought that maybe dnd encounters would kind of help up get on our feet, as far as being able to run our own stuff, but we seem to can’t find a place to sign up. So my question is if you could like apply to have the dnd encounters material sent to you, to give you an idea of how the dm job works or just the general flow of combat and such things, even if it is material from previous seasons of dnd encounters.

4 Lahrs January 31, 2011 at 9:47 am

I agree, the new pre-gens are well put together. This current season (3) we only had one person (out of 14) use a pregen from start to finish, and this is only because she prefers pre-gen cards over character sheets. I think she will be pleased with the upcoming selection, and I am fairly certain she will play Valenae.

@ Jameson Rodriguez: Wizards definitely prefers a storefront, through the Wizards Play Network (WPN), you can designate pretty much any public place as a place to play and receive the needed materials. My recommendation would be to hit up your public library and see if they would help sponsor a weekly game session.

Find someone who is willing to spearhead this every week, as there is a lot of work involved in running Encounters, but it is very rewarding.


5 Funkfugiyama January 31, 2011 at 9:17 pm

@Jameson Rodriguez – Where in Idaho do you live? Anywhere near Moscow?

6 James January 31, 2011 at 9:34 pm

New to d&d 4e so excuse this question but…. I thought slayers added their Dex to damage as well as strength. Love these reports by the way thanks for posting them.

7 Jameson Rodriguez January 31, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Thanks for the help, ill definitely try that. The library would probably be the perfect place to not only get me and my friends into dnd, but it may spark enough interest in my area that it would be something our hobby shops would actually start sponsoring.

8 Rach February 2, 2011 at 12:04 am

I still don’t agree with having Drow included in “Essentials”. Traditionally, Drow are the bad guys, not the Drizzts. I totally agree with having it in the regular stuff (I’m primarily a 3.5 player, after all) but Essentials is supposed to be about the original basic feel.

I’ve already had one player try to use being a Drow as an excuse to start PvP in Encounters. He won’t get away with trying it again. =/

9 Jameson Rodriguez February 2, 2011 at 4:35 pm

@Funkfugiyama I actually live in the Caldwell area, by Boise.

10 Graham February 2, 2011 at 9:15 pm

@James –

Yes, the Slayer adds his Dexterity to damage, but the character sheet is correct.

His damage is: 1d12 + Str + Dex
= 1d12 + 4 + 2
= 1d12 + 6, as the sheet says.

11 Cameron February 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I totally wish there was a D&D Encounters nearer to me and was on a better day. This season seems great!

12 David February 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm

to Jameson Rodriguez
Try Team Dewey in Nampa, Phoenix Fire in Meridian or All About Games in Boise

13 Seb Wiers April 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I came into this season without ever having played D&D 4e (or 3e, or 2e) and played Fargrim initially. While I agree he’s easy to play (you pretty much just need to pick out non-minions to attack, stay near a defender, and avoid provoking opportunity attacks) I don’t think he’s well built. He’s has a frustratingly high wiff factor, which is NOT fun when you have zero multi-target attacks, and denies you the chance to use things like “reckless violence” cards.
After the first session, I designed my own character based off the Fargrim sheet, called Grimfar (I literally modified the sheet in photoshop). I did consistently better than the folks running Fargrim, and ended up getting the “moment of awesome” in every chapter on the first session. 🙂

str 20 | con 13 | dex 14 | int 8 | wis 10 | chr 10
AC 18 | Fort 18 | Ref 13 | Will 11 | Init +2
Feats – Axe Expertise
HP 28 | 11 surges @ +7hp
Greataxe – +9 vs AC, d12+7(re-roll 1)
Throwing Axe – +9 vs AC, d6+7
(Skills- whatever. Suggest streetwise so you can take Crowd Fighting. Intimidation would also be nice, if we weren’t always fighting the undead. Athletics is a must have given you’ll end up at +10, and pretty much any athletic stunt in combat will get you a “moment of awesome” vote.)
(Stances- Battle Wrath is your bread and butter, so anything else needs to be REALLY good. I suggest Unfettered Fury, for the occasional encounters with low-AC brutes. With this build, Berserkers Charge is not needed.)

Having +9 on attacks (rather than +7) makes him much less frustrating to play, and its not like I missed the 1 point of AC. Higher damage bonus helps to, obviously. 🙂
In fact, the reduced AC may have encourage the DM to attack me. I ended up having fun because I got to soak up so much damage (took Swift Recovery at level 2 and got an Iron Skin belt as loot), effectively making me a mini-defender. I even stacked my fortune deck with Sacrifice / Why Me cards and got the “50 damage points taken” award in a couple chapters, without ever being knocked unconscious.

14 Chet April 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

QUESTION: I have a question about the Belgos Drow Ranger Hunter. I looked at the Essentials Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms to bounce back & forth between pages to figure out how they came up with the pre-gen character numbers. I could figure out all but one. The Longbow damage modifier is +5 but I could only come up with + 4 (+2 Feat, +2 weapon Proficiency) Where does the other +1 come from to make +5?

OBSERVATION: One thing they don’t have on the otherwise great and esthetically pleasing character sheet is whether the characters are Controllers etc. Since Encounters are directed partially toward the new player, I’d think that basic concept should e listed maybe even with an explanation or flavor text blurb like the powers have.

OPINION: If there were no examples like these pre-geNs, and not having a D&D Insider account, it’d be hard to understand how to come up with the numbers with confidence, IMHO. I think the books for being “Essentials” should have actual character building and attack/damage modifier calculation EXAMPLES. Ironically the original 4e player HB has one example of how to add up a wizard attack. I also found a video on the Internet that explained it, but they added a skill number wrong, but I only caught it because I learned that they did.

4E EXPERIENCE: I haven’t had time to play 4e, but find these Encounters recaps and Podcasts to be very entertaining and informative. As well as youtube Chris Perkins w/ the writers of Robot Chicken game play and some other youtube videos and the Penny Arcade Podcasts. I was able to download all but this Phantom Brigade Encounter as pdf’s elsewhere, to follow along and understand the structure of 4e better, because there’s no place within reasonable distance to play Encounters here.

4E BRANDING: I’m a graphic designer, so I can appreciate the branding, artwork and typography etc. (which no doubt comes from Hasbro) which led me to look into 4e having not played since 1985 with the 1970’s Holmes cyan and black rules booklet I dug up. It’s the box with the red dragon, magic user and fighter with bow and arrow. I don’t think they stood a chance lol but it captured the spirit of the thing and still holds up to attract players IMHO. the dice were smaller and white and had to be filled in a with a blue crayon to be readable. I also have Keep n the Borderland so I was disspointed the Encounters had no similarities not even wit a hint of the Caves of Chaos : ( … I’m 44 btw fwiw.

THANKS for reading and if you can answer the Question!

15 Seb Wiers May 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Belgos’s ongbow ATTACK modifier includes +4 for dex, +2 for proficiency, +1 for Bow Expertise (feat granted by class), and +1 for weapon expertise (class feature), for a total of +8. I note this because the proficiency bonus does not factor into damage. (see “Ranged Basic Attack”, Hero’s p.26)

Belgos’s longbow damage modifier includes +4 for dex and +1 for the “Weapon Focus: Longbow” feat, which is his level 1 feat selection, for a total of +5.

16 Chet May 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Thanks. As a result I understood the 4e Essentials Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms book, and Belgos’ pre-gen sheet better, and figured out which pages the info is on. This made me pay closer attention. I had to bounce around these pages: 150, 148-161, 26, 334, 157, 152-55, 308, 303-21, 311, 156, 158.

I understand what they’re calling ‘Traits’ on the pre-gen sheet, which explains the +1 damage with Bow Expertise if conditions are met: pg152-55 Bow Hunter Lvl 1 Archery Style, p308 Weapon Training Matrix, pg311 Bow Expertise Adventurer Feat Explanation.

Plus there’s the Stance Minor Action Powers that can add bonuses if conditions are met, so I can see how he can be a 3-star hero can be tricky to play. I may go back to borrow the original Players Handbook, to help me understand why Essentials builds are different, and are the ones Wizards are encouraging to use.

Still, an example explanation in the books would be helpful, considering they’re trying to make the game easier to understand for new players. Your information helped to that end, I could reverse engineer so to speak, and pay closer attention to what they meant by Ranger’s use Basic Ranged attacks “as opposed to other classes which rely primarily on class-specific powers.”

Thanks very much for the timely and concise explanation.

17 Seb Wiers May 2, 2011 at 9:32 am

The pre-gens can be hard to “reverse engineer”, since the sheets don’t mention anything that can’t be swapped out as you level and isn’t conditional, such as Belgo’s +1 from the weapon expertise class feature. They are also perhaps not so helpful when it comes time to level the character- at that point, you might as well make a new sheet, and treat it as a new character.

When I re-built Fargrim (took a 20 strength and Axe Expertise; with a fixed one attack per turn, I wanted to minimize the chance of a miss) I was really puzzled until I went through the book step by step, creating the new character from scratch and looking at every relevant entry. Once I did that. it all fell in place rather nicely.

18 Chet May 7, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I was wondering about leveling up. It’s interesting how DM’s allow leveling up if a TPK looks imminent between Encounters.

Do veteran players find playing levels 1-3 a little boring, although the interesting Encounters themselves seem to make up for it, and probably speeds up less complicated combat and not as many die rolls.

For that matter out of curiosity what level characters has anyone played in any 4e campaign?

Do these Essentials Builds play better, and are they more interesting than builds from the original 4e PHB’s?

Could you use powers from those original 4e PHB or DDI and mix them with Essentials powers when leveling up (I never read the original books)?

As an aside, I watched the very entertaining youtube videos of Chris Perkins DM-ing the Robot Chicken writers. The Ranger kept using Shield of Blades power I couldn’t find, especially not having a DDI account. I finally tracked it down to the PHB Miniatures Barbarian. Could you use a power like that which is not in any book, with an Encounters build, or does that just not make sense? am I confusing the issue? lol

Fwiw, Here’s an interesting article by Richard Baker about his Design & Development of the upcoming Dark Legacy of Evard.


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