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Free to a Good Home: One Paladin, Slightly Used

Written by Janna - Published on April 14, 2009

Janna discovered D&D at the age of 16, and she's been rolling the dice for 16 years. (You do the math.) She is fond of intelligent villains, drow society, and campaigns that explore the Dark Side.

I have a confession to make: ever since the PHB2 came out, I’ve been salivating all over the avenger class (heavily salivating; it’s totally gross) and neglecting my poor paladin. Once, she was the bane of all that is evil. Now she sits outside the inn holding a cardboard sign that reads, ‘Will Smite for Food’. Sure, I feel a little guilty. She’s been my PC through thick and thin. It’s sort of heartless to turn my back on her the minute a sexy new upgrade comes along.

Then again, avengers rock. And they’re not alone. Here’s a quick look at some of the new classes that will put your old PCs out of a job.

The Relentless Avenger

If ever you deeply offend a god, that god might mercifully end your existence with a well-placed lightning bolt. But if you’ve really pissed them off, they might send an avenger to settle the score. These agents of divine vengeance will stalk you until your dying day – which usually coincides with the day they catch up to you. Unlike the paladin, avengers are strikers who dish out a lot of damage. They’re also highly maneuverable on the battlefield, and they have ways of making their targets highly maneuverable as well. Nothing can stop an avenger; they’ll even walk through walls if that’s what it takes to reach their prey.

Sure, a paladin can heal with their touch and jump into the path of an incoming attack to save a comrade… but can they drag a foe into another phase of existence for a little one-on-one retribution? No, they can’t.

Female Human Barbarian in DnD
Picture by Kjarr

The Ferocious Barbarian

At first glance, barbarians look a lot like fighters with anger management issues. And, at their mechanical core, that’s what they are: they’re beefy frontline fighters with the ability to channel their rage into furious attacks and ongoing effects. They’re also more agile than the typical fighter, at least when they’re not wearing heavy armor. And they wield big, big weapons that leave big, big bruises.

Fighters have always been the quintessential tough guys, but barbarians are primal devastators with scary attacks like ‘Bonebreaker’ – which literally cripples their enemy – and ‘Butcher’s Feast’ – which sounds like a bargain dog food brand, but also allows barbarians to lob free-action 6[W] + STR melee attacks against all the adjacent enemies who attack them in a round. And their 5th level “daily” power can be used twice a day. That’s just mean.

The Unpredictable Chaos Sorcerer

Warlocks, take note: The sorcerers have arrived, and they’re worthy of awe. Unlike their bookworm wizard counterparts, sorcerers take a ‘shoot from the hip’ approach to spell-casting. That’s nothing new, but these spell-slingers are now able to choose the source of their arcane power: a draconic heritage for the Dragon Sorcerer, or the Elemental Chaos for Chaos Sorcerers.

Yes, wild mages have returned. Sadly, there are no crazy wild surges that cause the sorcerer to shoot a stream of butterflies rather than magic missiles. (I miss the old days.) But some powers have additional effects when the sorcerer rolls an even number on their initial attack roll. A natural 20 slides enemies and knocks them prone, while a botched roll pushes everyone within 5 squares of the Chaos Sorcerer. All these features (and more) ensure that any quest with a Chaos Sorcerer will be far from boring. And they didn’t even have to sell their souls for arcane power. Doesn’t seem fair, really.

Are you planning to trade in your old PC for a newer model? Share your shameful betrayal in the comments section, or tell us why the older classes are still the best!

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Written by Janna

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Janna discovered D&D at the age of 16, and she's been rolling the dice for 16 years. (You do the math.) She is fond of intelligent villains, drow society, and campaigns that explore the Dark Side.



28 Responses to “Free to a Good Home: One Paladin, Slightly Used”
  1. Wolf-Shifter Druid says:

    I traded in my swordmage for a druid the day the PHB2 came out(god, I love wild shape, plus shifter) And that’s also the day my swordmage got under a giant dwarf’s hammer. I was using him to finish the encounter we were all ready in, then SPLAT! no more Eladrin spell sword. All that was left was a puddle of gore and his hand holding the CURSED scimitar. So I had a legitimate reason to switch my druid in.

    But more to my point in this, The new and classic returns in the PHB2 kick so much ass it ain’t funny, BUT you still can’t beat a decked out battle cleric(or paladin) for healing while bringing DA PAIN! Or a swordmage when it comes to spell-blading it.

  2. Ameron says:

    Choice is always a good thing when it comes to character creation, but do we really need all these new classes? Just How Many Classes Are Too Many? Although some of the new classes sound pretty cool, there’s just not enough gaming hours in a week to play all of them.

    I for one have been playing a Paladin since day 1, level 1. He’s 9th level now and I’m really looking forward to pushing him towards a Paragon Path. As tempting as it might be to roll up a new character (like the Avenger mentioned above) I have a lot of time invested in my existing character. So for now, I’m going to stick with my Paladin in my main game and taste the other classes when I play in a Dungeon Delve or an LFR game.

    PS – I played the Avenger at D&D Game Day and I’ll admit that they are a pretty cool class.

  3. Swordgleam says:

    I like the new classes, but I don’t understand how a person can play an Avenger as any kind of actual character, rather than numbers on a sheet. I mean, think about how their powers work.

    “You are my mortal enemy! There is no other I despise more than you! I will shower the gods’ wrath upon you!”
    Three rounds later, enemy drops. Avenger turns to next enemy.
    “You are my mortal enemy! I will hunt you to the ends of the earth and past them! I call upon the might of my god to take my vengeance on you!”
    Two rounds later, enemy drops. Avenger turns to the next enemy.
    “You are my mortal enemy!”

    Etc. How can you rationalize that? The band of raiders who killed your parents, maybe, but how do you justify using Oath on a bunch of dire wolves who just happened to be in your way? And doing it round after round, encounter after encounter, day after day? Either all Avengers are naturally psychotic fanatics, or… I don’t really have an or.

  4. MacGuffin says:

    @swordgleam- simple, three letters: ADD, and/or one word: amnesia
    Its not that the avenger swears everyone to be their mortal enemy, they just simply don’t have the attention span or ability to remember who their mortal enemy is.

    “You are my mortal enemy!”
    *hack, spat*
    ohh! look at that!


    “You are my mortal enemy!”
    *hack, spat*
    who’s this dead guy?

    And now I really want to play an avenger, exactly for this reason.

  5. StupidRanger says:

    I started our current campaign with a Wizard, but third session in, we got the PHB2. And I had to play a Bard. But I felt bad for my Wizard… she only got to see two sessions. So I’m running both of them right now. It’s a little confusing, but I couldn’t abandon the Wizard and I couldn’t resist the Bard.

  6. Janna says:

    @ McGuffin: The ADD Avenger?! I heart dysfunctional super heroes.

    @ StupidRanger: I’ve been double-dipping, too. I couldn’t resist the wild mage sorcerer, but I couldn’t part with my beloved paladin either. My group has taken to running short adventures (via Dungeon Delve) so that we can try out all the new classes without abandoning our old PCs in our ‘real’ campaign. Fun stuff. :)

  7. Rook says:

    Now she sits outside the inn holding a cardboard sign that reads, ‘Will Smite for Food’.

    What a hilarious mental image! That alone made your post worth my time.
    I don’t have the PHB2 yet and been debating whether to get it or not. Sounds like I had better start saving up for it.

  8. Graham says:

    Hmm… methinks you’re misrepresenting the Barbarian somewhat…

    and ‘Butcher’s Feast’ – which sounds like a bargain dog food brand, but also allows barbarians to lob free-action 6[W] + STR melee attacks against all the adjacent enemies who attack them in a round.

    Actually, it’s free-action melee basic attacks, which at that point are 2[W].

    And their 5th level “daily” power can be used twice a day. That’s just mean.

    …say what? None of their level 5 dailies allow this.

    Thunder Hawk Rage gives you access to an additional attack to knock someone prone every round, but that’s as close as they come.

    Do you mean Rage Strike? Because that requires you to expend an unused daily power, so you still don’t get to use it twice.

    I’m just not sure what you’re referencing here.

  9. Bartoneus says:

    I’m fairly sure your image credit is incorrect, it looks like that’s just someone hosting a lot of Wizard’s artwork on their flickr page. I don’t care so much about legality of images used on blogs, but if you’re going to credit artwork it really bothers me to see it credited incorrectly. :)

  10. Steve V says:

    I really, really, want to play a halfling chaos sorcerer….BBBWWWHHAHAHAHAHA

  11. toord says:

    I can tell you … as is .. any group with a decent damage taker, healer, rogue/assasin and one Wild Mage Paragon sorc can easily breeze through whatever dungeon any DM can throw at them. I see WotC fixing this imbalance in an upcoming “errata” :)

  12. Craig says:

    Nice write-up!

    Since I’m one to take the less complicated route, I almost always go for the hack-and-slash types. So, in the past I was always a fighter or fighter sub-class, like a Paladin, etc.

    Now of course…Barbarian…

    Miss the berserker…Now why am I thinking “Clerks” here? :P

  13. Drax40K says:


    You’re spot on. However, I do think he is referring to Rage Strike which, technically, once you’ve collected at least 3 Daily powers, can be used twice in the same day. You can expend two of the Daily to perform the Rage Strike twice before an extended rest.

    I love my Barbarian, and I too put my Paladin on leave (at least until Divine Power comes out! ^.^) in order to play this character. Goliath with a Maul and the Goliath racial feat. Nasty combo! :D

  14. Graham says:

    @Drax40K –

    She, as it’s Janna writing.

    Maybe that’s the case, but then it’s very misleading, as Rage Strike is not your “Level 5 Daily”.

  15. TheLemming says:

    Sorry, this all sounds to me like PHB2 is only cool because the classes are a bit more powerful and therefore it pays off to buy a new rulebook… I mean isn’t that against the whole 4e changes that obviously some of you liked so much?
    I don’t see the point for playing a different class with the phb2 and lately many blog entries just have this mouldy aftertaste. While I’m sorry if I do offend anyone – I really do not mean to do that – it feels to me like 4th edition has changed into a very, very combat based rpg – the rules center only on howto dealing and heal damage – (I know it’s a bit different) but it seems the most quoted sections anyways.
    I read a post earlier while jumping through rpgbloggers stating that a cleric shouldn’t be “the healing bitch” of the team. But instead of finding a roleplaying reason why not (that’s how I interpreted the posting when I started with the first sentence and headline), it was basically about the actions the character loses and therefore isn’t as effective and as much fun to play as the tanks who are dealing so much damage.
    Sorry guys, it feels so strange to me – reading from a lot of roleplaying gamers that actual roleplay is only a side-effect in this hobby and points-action is the focus of the new rpg.
    I’ll stop the rant now, sorry I’ve had to add this and am very curious to get some opinions on it.

  16. Nicholas says:

    @TheLemming: I don’t think that the PHB2 characters are more generally more powerful. I think they have gotten people excited because they play with the formula set in PHB1 and produce more distinct, exotic characters.

    You’re other point is not wrong, D&D is a very combat focused game. I would argue that point is true regardless of edition. However, I think a large part of the reason for that is roleplaying requires less rules. It would be hard to codify right or wrong roleplaying, it entirely depends on your group dynamic. So the way I see it, there are two options. First, the mainstream way which D&D goes, giving little instruction for roleplaying and expecting each group to sort it out. Or, there is the indie way where you provide a lot more mechanics to roleplaying and expect groups to select game systems that fit their style.

  17. Nicholas says:

    @Nicholas: Ack, used the wrong “your”. I have shamed myself.

  18. Tim Saint says:

    Just got PHB2 and Open Grave in the mail, and while I can’t put down Open Grave, I find the PHB2 Characters a bit too… too much, I suppose. They’re exceptionally cool, but for the campaign we play they seem better suited to the occasional exotic NPC.

  19. Barbican says:

    @thelemming I just don’t understand the argument that a game with detailed combat mechanics stifles roleplaying. This argument is especially ridiculous if the person making it is coming from 3rd edition. Whereas most of the skill system was compacted and simplified, social skills were left as complicated as before. Plus, the skill challenge mechanic gives concrete consequences to the outcomes of roleplaying scenes. There is NOTHING in 4e that discourages roleplaying.

    RE: Power Creep
    It is impossible to maintain power perfectly. The most powerful defender is still the fighter. The best healing leader is still the cleric despite the bard being the master of temporary hp’s. The warlord can rewrite the outcome of a battle in a way that the shaman can only dream about. I would say that wizard, druid, and invoker are really close in power level even though they are played in different styles.

  20. Drax40K says:

    @ Graham

    It’s a Daily power that is only available once you have reached 5th level.

    @ Lemming

    It depends on your group, and has absoloutly nothing to do with the rules, and never has. I have NEVER EVER been a group that focused on roleplaying over the actual gaming and mechanics of the rule set. I’ve had a couple players here and there who have immeresed themselves INTO the roleplaying aspects, but it has never ever been a product of the rule set. People who like to roleplay, roleplay, people who don’t, don’t. That simple. Fourth Edition, however, for me as a DM, makes it a breeze to run and string together a series of adventures that tell a good story, rather then having to run unwieldy encounters with monsters that have 3 to 4 page stat blocks. Creating Monsters, traps and encounters is so much easier (and actually enjoyable) as compared to other editions.

    I agree with Nicholas, the classes aren’t neccessarily ‘more powerful’ as much as they’re just ‘different’ and offer a new approach to playing. Playing the Barbarian for me is a refreshing change from the Paladin I had been playing. I still thing both classes have a good balance of strength and weaknesses that make them interesting and fun to play.

  21. TheLemming says:

    Hmm, reading through all your comments I have to agree –
    it must be more of a frustration thing with 4e and therefore a kind of uselessness for my gaming group – I apologize for the comment above and I guess you’re right with – it’s hardly (if ever) the rules – and always the gaming group ;).

  22. Stinky Ben says:

    @Drax40K –

    It seems crazy to say it has NOTHING to do with the rules!! I’ll grant that you can ALWAYS find a way to RP – I’m running a 4E game now, and it is RP-based, with intrigue and lots of characters.

    But will you seriously claim that 4E is not WAY more crunch-based, and way less fluff than previous editions?! Ludicrous, I say! @Lemming, you were totally right the first time! B-)

    To go one step further, I’d say that, in the interest of “balancing the classes” ((WHY, for the love of Corellon? this is no computer game! we have a DM, for Moradin’s sake! he is endowed with the almighty power to do anything he wants to balance things DURING the game, in real time!)), WotC has succeeded in mostly just making all the classes pretty much the same. All right, some have more ranged attacks than others, and some do a little bit more damage on average, but ultimately they’re all just making some attack roll against some defense and dealing some kind of damage. Occasionally someone gets pushed. Gone are the days when your fighter was busy rending limb from limb while the wizard was telekinesising the polymorphed goblin/piglet over onto the patch of grease that he had just cast… Back in the day, the classes were totally imbalanced, and yet none of the classes seemed any less worth playing — in fact, playing each different class seemed far more unique then.

    It always has to do with the group playing, to be sure, but it DEFINITELY has also to do with the rules of 4E! If anyone insists otherwise, I will respectfully deny your right to an opinion! ;) Heh, unless you make a convincing argument, that is.

  23. Stinky Ben says:

    Also, I, too, think the Avenger looks tasty. Er, I mean crunchy.

  24. Stinky Ben says:

    One final thought, then I’ll shut up!

    @Drax40K –

    I wonder – because there is certainly some truth to what you’re saying – if what I’m describing is only noticeable to someone who DOES focus on RP aspects. You’re saying the rules of earlier versions didn’t support RP any more than 4E’s rules. I agree completely. The mechanics have nothing to do with RP. That’s the role of fluff! The main difference, then, in 4E’s ability to support RP is not in how the mechanics work, *it’s in the fact that they trashed so much fluff to make room for more mechanics!* Consequently, they kind of left RPers high and dry, so to speak.

    If that’s the case, then what @Lemming was saying might not be as noticeable to you. If you ignored the fluff before, in favor of crunch, and now you ignore the [lack of] fluff, in favor of all the juicy crunch, then 4E might not seem any more or less RP-friendly than anything previoius — for you.

    Die-hard RPers will always find a way, but the 4E literature doesn’t really give them nearly as much to work with as earlier versions did, IMHO.

    Anyone else agree/disagree?

  25. TCDM says:

    Regarding the loss of fluff…

    I’m not going to wade into what 4E has become, but I will make the case that D&D is finally moving in a direction that a lot of RPGs (HERO, GURPS, et cetera) have gone in for years – the separation of crunch and fluff into separate books.

    I LOVE fluff. I eat it up. But I don’t want a list of gods taking up space in my PHB, because my campaign is going to have its own. I don’t want too much background on why people become avengers or how bard’s are trained or whatever in my book, because that’s the kinda stuff I’ll create for my campaign – organizations of traveling minstrels and dark orders of vengeful clerics.

    All I want Wizards on the Coast to tell me about the paladin is: “Divine. Defender. A holy warrior empowered by the gods to defend that which is just.” And then a list of powers and feats. That’s it. I’ll make my own fluff.

    For those of you who bemoan the death of fluff in 4E, take a look at the Forgotten Realms books. Not one, but TWO core books for the Forgotten Realms that are mostly fluff. 1 class, 1 multi-class, 2 races, and a boatload of paragon paths. (And I’d argue that paragon paths are AT LEAST half fluff – they’re a huge fluff improvement over prestige classes.) There’re some rituals, but most of the books are chalk full of descriptions of organizations and backgrounds and cultures and cities.

    Fluff is still running strong in the D&D universe, it’s just in the campaign books where it belongs, instead of the rule books, which should be full of rules.

    My $0.02

  26. Halfbat says:

    @TCDM – And it’s worth noting that the FR Player’s Guide is the one with maximum crunch, too. Whilst there can’t help but be some overlap between the two, it’s been separated really well. I get the impression it was all compiled as one, then surgically split apart. I’m _really_ pleased at the fluff and crunch separation.

    @barbican Power Creep: Absolutely. Doesn’t seem to be much creep, just difference. Whilst our group, too, loves some if the PHB2 classes, it’s interesting watching the dynamics: all of us (whether playing or DMing) are really nervous without a fighter or a paladin in the front line. For example, we found the barbarian worked really well when the solo defender was occupied and pinned by a fighter and an invoker’s invocation (a class that’s better than it looks) but, the trouble was the barbarian appeared to us to be really brittle without an actual solid, core defender being present.

    Have fun,

  27. DeZwarteMaan says:

    Paladin: Paladin were the champions of justice. Chivalry and honor wrapped in a tin can! ;) They are the generic holy avenger who smites his foes. He didnt hit little kids, or trample the weak, nor did he attack from afar because these are the weapons of the weak and unjust.

    Avenger: your God commands you in a vision… “HERE is My enemy.. Destroy Them!” It will be done my Lord! Off they go and noone stops them. Not a wall, nor guard.. They do not stray from their path, except to eat and rest to continue to their goal. Their Enemy that thei God has commanded upon them. Destroy! They are the vessel of destruction. One step from being an avatar to exact the God’s vengence.
    It is a TRAVESTY to use a God’s weapon so flimsy in a campaign. Every creature they meet isnt a foe of their God, nor is it stopping them from their quest. NOW, there might be a God who has such enemies (Evil God of CE alignment anyone?) But a God of Truth, Love, Peace, Order WILL NOT TOLERATE BLASPHEM IN THEIR NAME!!!!

    Choose a class for what that class is truely about. Embrace it’s intent. Maybe you are a sword of Vengeance for a God. One day in RP you become the RP hook as you shudder, attain a vision and tell the party.. “God has marked the King and we must destroy the Heretic!” Oh damn, It’s stomping time!

    To make a Sword of Vengeance into a blesphemer is contemptable in my book and by using a power to get ‘bonus’ will get you severely in trouble in my campaign world. You are merely a really good fighter until your God’s enemy is in sight.. then you become a weapon the paladin says “Holy smite-tards” and before getting out of your way.

    Sorcerer: Sorcerer’s have their mighty power hammer. They gave up the happy pretty generic usefulness of being a Mage. Mages were supposed to be book nuts who delve into arts a sorcerer could never understand. Touching numbers, powers and rituals a sorcerer couldnt handle. A Mage needed body guards in the field because he was out of his ‘norm’ in the dungeons. He’s not meant to hold a dagger and fight in the lines. He stands on the hills and opens Gates to other dimensions as calls forth Beings that he Bends to his will and launches forth into battles.

    Mage: They are a lot more gimp than they used to be. I mean a Mage had a spell book so that he could choose his spells and dedicate time to memorizing them. A sorcerer had powers/skills he could just unleash but the sorcerer was set in stone. The Mage had fluidness. If he was focusing on Summoning and binding he prepared his spells. If He was going into combat… if he needed that knock spell he forgot to memorize. “Damn”. Where’s the fluid nature of the Mage now? Now he has rituals. granted they have some usefulness but the generic nature to Mages has cut a difference between the specialists of yesteryear.

    I was a Wild Mage like no other. Wrecklace abandon as I unleashed the dweomers.. “I cast Nahal’s wrecklace dweomer in the shape of a nahal’s wrecklace dweomer…. etc… for a polymorph other.. in the shape of a Normal Sea turtle” Of Course I had items of chance that increased my castings +15-25% and my dice rolled high so sometimes I’d get my spell and extra affects of positive note.. Muhahahahaha!!! Nothing like having a Mage who can grab spell energy from mid-air and turn it into a Nahal’s to get any spell effect that he knew … Boy, I loved those spells. :)

    I understand the “WHY” they are making the rules easier. But they have ultimately changed the old scopes and some of us diehards of the old years 70-80’s are cringing at the lack of amorphous nature of the rules. The new rules are set and dry. The old ones allowed massive variance. YES, they took time and the rules lawyers went crazy… but now you have to just Roleplay it out and assume it. Like thief skills and how they had to specialize in lockpicking, hiding, or otherwise.

    i need to read more books. I’m only just now starting 4E and I am barely done reading the PHB and some stats from PHB2. Whew… expensive books.

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