Preview: Ranged Warlord

human_warlordWhen preview material for the 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons first started to come out, what excited me the most was probably the addition of the Warlord class.  The Races & Monsters preview book described the class alongside pictures of armored warriors covered in weapons (both melee and ranged), shouting orders and pointing out tactics to their allies.  When 4e was finally released the Warlord class was extremely interesting and very new, but completely lacked that “Weapons Master” feel that I had really wanted to associate with the concept. In fact, it had no ranged attacks or abilities at all.

It wasn’t until late last year when I found a post by Wyatt on his blog detailing rules for a ranged Warlord build, and I found myself thinking it could definitely be presented as a great add-on to the core rules.  So that’s exactly what I set out to do, and today I present to you a preview of the first three levels of our Ranged Warlord!

These rules were originally written entirely by Wyatt from Spirits of Eden, but I liked it so much I asked for his permission to take his ideas and run with them.  In the end I worked to edit them, balance them against the core rules, and format them so that they fit in with the other rules provided for 4th Edition. Then I ran everything by Wyatt and received his blessing on it.  If you’re as excited as I am to try it out, please use these rules here as a playtest.  We welcome all feedback on it and are definitely curious how it stands up during play.  The rules presented here are still a work in progress: the final build will include powers all the way up to level 30 (excluding utility powers because the existing ones are just as useful for a ranged warlord as they are for the melee builds), as well as possibly a few paragon paths to go along with the ranged concept.  The full build should be released in the next two months, but if I hear a lot of good feedback and encouragement I just might finish it sooner!

Backrow Commander Warlord

Your leadership takes the form of quick commands, cunning strategy, bold action and tactical superiority – but not from the front lines. Behind your allies, or close to them, you observe the battlefield with your sharp wits and quick reflexes, seeing through your enemy’s tactics and finding the flaw that can shatter them. You might also take a more daring approach, coming closer to the danger zone to stand by your allies despite your lack of a blade, taking the cuts and bruises along with them. You assist your allies by creating opportunities for them to strike and by damaging your enemies from afar. Other warlords strike viciously and topple enemies – but you strike meticulously, with a calculating eye, knowing that small strikes and exploited openings will quickly add up. You are more effective at defeating melee attackers, but even slippery ranged attackers can be outmaneuvered with a well-aimed bolt. You use your Dexterity for your attacks, so make that your best ability score. Many of your powers will use your Intelligence or Charisma modifier – choose one to make your second best score. Wisdom should be your third best score to increase your Perception skills, or perhaps the score you did not choose out of Intelligence or Charisma, to allow you a more versatile selection. You should greatly considering getting training in Perception to enhance your view of even the most minute details on the field.

New Class Feature:

The Ranged Mastery class feature is available to any warlord who wishes to command from behind a wall of soldiers and focus on Dexterity, rather than Strength. To select this class feature, you must give up the Commanding Presence class feature, in addition to proficiency in chainmail and military melee weapons.

Ranged Mastery: You gain proficiency in military ranged weapons, access to all ranged Warlord powers, and the range of your Combat Leader class feature is increased to 15 squares. You may still take any of the Warlord powers listed in the Player’s Handbook and Martial Power.

Level 1 At-Will Exploits


Level 1 Encounter Exploits


Level 1 Daily Exploits


Level 3 Encounter Exploits


Some of the powers (especially Ricochet Shot) are still being re-written for clearer wording, but hopefully you can get the gist of how the power works from this post. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!


  1. Great job :)

    Wyatt´s last post: Celebrating 10,000 hits in…

  2. highbulp says:

    Okay, for Ricochet Shot I think what you want is:

    Hit: Dexterity modifier Damage. Make a secondary attack against 1 creature within 10 squares of the target and with line of effect to the target.
    —Secondary Attack: Dexterity vs. Reflex
    —Hit: 2[W]+Dex modifier, and both targets hit by this attack grant combat advantage.

  3. Looks great to me!

    greywulf´s last post: Dragon with a broken wing

  4. Cooperflood says:

    Suppressing Fire is missing the Weapon Key Word. Other than that the powers look fine. My issue is with the class feature. No WotC class features grant access to class powers (with the exception of some at-wills). Personally the fact that the ranged powers are based on DEX and the Melee powers are based on STR should be enough to keep most standard builds from dipping into the new ranged powers (look at most Ranger builds). Additionally I would make them give up Hide Prof as well. Losing Chainmail doesn’t do anything because a DEX based character will wear light armor anyways.

  5. @Copperflood: That’s pretty much what I based the original build on. I thought it didn’t really need additional class features, because having to use DEX for the ranged attacks would mean higher stat dependence if you wanted to dip (or otherwise standard distribution for ranged-only Lords).

    Wyatt´s last post: Revised Spirit Oaths

  6. @highbulp: That would work, except I really want to get across that the Warlord does not need line of effect (or sight) to the second target. Ricochet Shot definitely needs some re-writing though.

    @Cooperflood & Wyatt: Yea, for the first playtests I’ve tried to take it in the direction of giving up more options rather than less. If it turns out that too much is given up, then we can always scale it back. Honestly I just have no idea how it will effect the Warlord to have access to both melee and ranged powers, but I can only assume Wizards has avoided giving them ranged powers for a reason.

    “No WotC class features grant access to class powers (with the exception of some at-wills)”

    The Beast Ranger build in Martial Power grants access to ranger powers with the Beast keyword, that’s what I based this build off of in many ways.

    “Losing Chainmail doesn’t do anything because a DEX based character will wear light armor anyways.”

    Actually if someone wanted to make a melee/ranged Warlord then giving up chainmail becomes a bigger disdvantage. Also something I’ve discovered in my game, class granted armor proficiencies are really good because they let you avoid the normal prereqs that you’d need to take the armor trianing feats. (Ex – you can make a Cleric with a Str of 8 that wears chainmail, but if you make a Rogue who wants to wear chainmail then you need a Str of 13 for the feats)

  7. I like it so far. Will be waiting to see how it develops. ^_^

  8. I don’t see any particularly good reason why Wizards’ has (much like why Rogues have to use crossbows and not just any bow), except maybe to save on space, which was why I wrote that in the first place, but you already heard that before, I think.

    Wyatt´s last post: Revised Spirit Oaths

  9. For “Bring to Bear”, is that per ally 2+int, so with three allies it would be:
    3w + dex + 3*(2+int)

    That is some serious damage. It may be very situation based but still, having three allies adjacent to one tough opponent isn’t that difficult.

    Also, all those at-wills seem pretty powerful. The cleric versions (which are pretty much the same) are fixed bonuses. Lance of faith gives +2 attack damage, priest’s shield gives +1 AC. Righteous brand is the only one which is based on a stat bonus. That one requires you to be in melee combat and be using a secondary stat to make the attack as well.

    With all of that said, I do like the idea but doesn’t the bard now fill this niche?

    joshx0rfz´s last post: Preview: Ranged Warlord

  10. I don’t play with the PHB2, so for me, the Bard doesn’t really fill anything! *awesomeface.jpg*

    Speaking functionally, it does fill the “rear leader” kind of role, but not in the same ways as this build does. So no, I don’t think it does fill this niche, neither flavorwise nor really in functionality. At least, it does not fill it so thoroughly that nothing else can be done within the niche. But your milage may vary.

    Wyatt´s last post: Revised Spirit Oaths

  11. @Wyatt – I’ll buy that.

    joshx0rfz´s last post: Critical Bits for the week ending 2009-03-28

  12. @Joshx0rfz: I agree, one thing I’m putting a lot of attention towards is how much damage some of the more striker-like powers put out, so they may be scaled back later on. The Bard is an arcane class, and has a lot of other effects, I think our ultimate goal for the Ranged Warlord is that the rules work to create either an entirely ranged leader or also a melee/ranged leader who is good at both and can survive in the front lines if he needs to.

  13. I’ve always thought that the Warlord class should have had Heavy Thrown weapon exploits. Something to use a first strike weapon before closing in for melee combat. It would of course have had shorter range and more limited ammo capacity than a regular ranged attack but it would have added some versatility.

    BTW, I like your build and exploits.

  14. @Kirk: There are actually a few exploits in the book Martial Power that are heavy thrown only, which is why I think it’s clear that WotC is making the conscious decision not to give the Warlord ranged powers (yet).

  15. I did notice that this build tends to focus on Dexterity as far as ranged attack powers go, and I can already see a Ranged 3 trend. My deal has to do with Heavy Thrown (which is what I thought of when I first saw the Ranged Warlord title.) I like that you took the interest to build the Ranged Warlord, but the powers highly favor a light thrown or bow user.
    Just wondered if you considered giving some love to an axe-lobbing, grizzled ol’ Dwarven commander. (Just as way of a “for instance” but you get the idea.)
    Thanks for the article though, definitely a fun read.

    Teachernine´s last post: Saga Digital Library

  16. @Teachernine: Martial Power actually introduces several heavy thrown Ranged powers, so this build isn’t specifically focused on that because it’s already been considered and added in the core rules. As far as the Dex vs. Str predicament that the heavy thrown weapons create, I think to be balanced a ranged warlord build has to be Dex focused in much the same way that most of the Rogue’s attacks (melee and ranged) are Dex based. If you give a melee warlord with a high strength an equal powered ranged attack that he can used Str with, then that throws off the balance.

  17. And I agree with that sentiment. My original build doesn’t really take into mind light thrown weapons either…that only snuck in because it can sneak into ANYTHING that is ranged and weapon-based, basically. It is intended to be for bow users.

    Wyatt´s last post: Touhou Is My Kind of D&D

  18. Blumpkin says:

    @ teachernine: I may be coming late into the debate but, the light thrown(dex) vs heavy thrown(str) arguement doesn’t matter if you aren’t using a basic attack, as the power calls for a ranged weapon only. It’s true that the basic attack for any heavy thrown involves strength. If the power is a dex based power and calls for any ranged weapon, then it doesn’t matter if it’s a bow, crossbow, heavy or light thrown weapon, it will still use Dex.


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