Review: “Divine Power”

DivinePowerOverview: Divine Power is the latest sourcebook for the 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons that includes new options for the Avenger, Cleric, Invoker, and Paladin classes.  Each class gets a new build along with a ton of new powers, paragon paths, feats, and epic destinies.  If you or one of your players is enjoying playing a divine class then this book is definitely a must have, but there are actually a surprising number of features that other players and DMs will want to borrow your copy to read as well!

In-Depth: Every player of a divine class should take a look at the ‘Divine Options‘ section of this book which starts by introducing the classic concept of Domains and how they work in 4th Edition.  Every divine character gains access to the domains listed for the deity that they worship, each domain has a divinity feat and a domain feat associated with it.  For example, if your character is a cleric of Avandra then you have access to the change, freedom, and luck domains.  Other domains (there are over thirty total!) include arcana, creation, darkness, desctruction, earth, freedom, justice, knowledge, poison, undeath, and plenty of others.  The domain feats grant different bonuses to a character’s at-will attack powers, while the divinity feats provide access to a new channel divinity power, each of which is gained exactly like any other feat.

Perhaps most surprising in this book is the ‘Your Deity and You‘ section, which several of the players at my game yesterday wanted to read to find out more information about the implications of worshipping particular deities, in particular the kinds of enemies that an Avenger of each deity would hunt.  While the book is still probably light on fluff from what people expect of previous editions, this book definitely seems like a step in the direction of including more fluff.

Throughout the book there are many sidebar stories and suggestions that really flesh out the ideas around divine characters.  From the story of how Avandra inadvertently created doppelgangers to how a player can seriously try to play a peaceful character in the world of D&D.  Also there is a nice sidebar in the cleric section of the book that provides some information on the few dead gods of the basic D&D 4E universe.

On to the crunchier side of the book, the new feats presented seem to be the standard fare for the power source books.  A few are universally kickass like the Demonbane feat that lets your undead targetting powers also target elementals, while others are an assortment of race specific or class-build specific divine feats to further differentiate characters.  At epic levels most divine characters will probably take the Glorious Channeler feat which lets them use two channel divinity powers in an encounter, and the new selection of multiclass feats are similar to the other power source books in giving paragon level multiclass characters more options.  The one feat that really surprised me is the multiclass Divine Channeler feat, which lets any character with a wisdom of 13 and trained in religion to gain the channel divinity ability, which I think is a great option for some people to inject a little divinity into their non-divine characters!

Divine Power introduces a whopping 10 new Epic Destinies, seven of which are based upon specific domains that the character uses such as Avatar of Death, Avatar of Hope, and the Avatar of War.  I am very happy to see the altered demigod epic destiny that appeared in the Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide called Chosen now reprinted for non FR fans with a selection of level 26 utility powers typed to each of the PHB deities.  This reprint is effectively a house rule that I was already brainstorming for one of my players, so I’m very happy to see it made it into the official rules.  The last two options are the Exalted Angel and the Saint, which are both rather self explanitory.

If you play an Avenger: The new Censure of Unity grants a bonus based on the number of allies adjacent to your enmity target, adding a slight leader-like edge to the class.  The new avenger powers seem to fit in line with those in the PHB2, with a lot of focus on shifting and moving around the battlefield.  Some of the highest level powers involve teleporting of both the avenger and enemies all around the battlefield that surely promise loads of fun and surprises for the DM!

The new paragon paths cover a wide range of avenger types, from the Ardent Champion that focuses on reckless and powerful attacks to the Favored Soul that actually lets you sprout wings and gain a permanent fly speed.  The Relentless Slayer is very reminiscent of older edition rangers with a chosen type of enemy that they are especially good at killing, while the Watchful Shepherd path focuses on protecting and aiding allies.

If you play a Cleric: The new cleric builds is strongly focused on aiding allies and debuffing enemies instead of dealing damage.  Many of the new cleric powers don’t do any damage at all, instead lowering a targets defenses or stunning and dazing them, while many of the new daily powers seem to be focused on boosts to allies that last until the end of the encounter or creating zones that can be sustained to change the course of battle.  Dismissal is a new power that banishes a creature to a remote plan for a period of time, and this book finally sees the return of the spells Cure Critical Wounds and Mass Cure Serious Wounds.

The cleric now has a wide variety of paragon paths as well such as the Battle Chaplain and the Compassionate Healer, who is not suprisingly extremely adept at all kinds of healing.  The Messenger of Peace is perhaps a functional presentation of a peaceful character in D&D that plays nicely with the new build and powers presented for the cleric, gaining a bonus to defenses when using non-damaging powers and bestowing a penalty to creature’s attack roles that are close to you.  The last path that really stands out is the Seldarine Dedicate which is for elf and eladrin clerics who gain the ability to use longbows and shortbows as implements for cleric powers.

If you play an Invoker: The new Invoker build is focused more on moving and debuffing enemies.  The new powers include three new at-wills which each seem to be very unique, one can target up to three creatures at a time while another actually boosts the effectiveness of a defender’s mark on the target.  A large majority of the Invokers powers are area effects, as should be expected, but many of the new powers employ interesting and unique mechanics such as Trumpet of Eight Dooms which uses a d8 roll to instill various effects on each target.  Invoked Devastation is a level 29 attack power that actually targets the Fortitude, Reflex, and Will of a target and can hit each target up to three times for a different effect.

The Invoker gets a selection of interesting new paragon paths, the Adept of Whispers that focuses on stealth and the more subtle side of the divine class while the Divine Philosopher is in a league all its own by gaining an at-will power from a different divine class as an encounter power in addition to the ability to use knowledge skills to gain advantages against various monsters.  The Stonecaller path can actually create large earthquake zones of difficult terrain and the Theurge of the Compact can summon devilish fiends that will attack foes but may resort to attacking allies if nothing else is within range.

If you play a Paladin: The Paladin is probably the class that has been the most in need of an update such as Divine Power, and I hope that the diversity of new powers helps balance things out more.  The new class features let a Paladin swap out their Lay on Hands ability to instead gain either the Ardent Vow feature or Virtue’s Touch, which removes afflictions from allies which I believe helps set the Paladin apart form other healing classes.

Ardent Vow is an ability that boosts damage to a target, but it also subjects the target to a Divine Sanction which is a new type of mark that does damage when an attack is made that does not include the paladin similar to divine challenge but with less restrictions.  The book also introduces the new at-will power Ardent Strike which marks the target with divine sanction, effectively giving the paladin two marks to use in defending their allies!  On top of this, a selection of new powers presented in the book also mark enemies with divine sanction some of which can mark numerous enemies at one time or even mark it for the rest of the encounter.

Champion of Corellon is a paragon path for paladins that focuses on effective use of heavy armors, while the Demonslayer and Dragonslayer both will be quite effective against their chosen enemies.  The demonslayer does automatic damage to adjacent demons as well as preventing them from shifting, while the dragonslayer has resistance to fear and close/area attacks while having an attack that literally grounds and locks down a flying opponent.  The Gray Guard is actually a presentation of the “not necessarily 100% good and righteous” paladin and Questing Knight is the classic paladin with a driving goal in life.  Knight of the Chalice is particularly potent at fighting devils, and I bet you can guess what the Slayer of the Dead is good at fighting!

Conclusion: The Paladin seems to be the most improved class in this book, but the added options for the cleric, avenger, and invoker are also great new inclusions in the game.  Most of all the general content such as domains and the epic destinies are the best parts of the book, with the fluff and stories sprinlked throughout really adding that extra layer of value and interest to the book.  Much like Martial Power and Arcane Power, if you’re playing a divine character this book is really a must have.  This sourcebook over the previous two, however, is the best one for a DM to own as it presents more information on the gods and provides some great mechanics for designing NPCs that worship evil gods!

Comments

  1. I bought Martial Power as a PDF when it came out, and it’s been the last D&D book I’ve bought. I may come around to buy this one though, and Adventurer’s Vault 2 whenever it’s out. I rather like some of what I’m hearing and the Divine Classes are some of my favorites.
    .-= Wyatt´s last blog ..A Punishment Ill Fit (III) =-.

  2. Sounds like a good buy.

    One nitpick is that the FR Epic Destiny was similarly called “Chosen”, not “Chosen One”. I am glad to see it ported to core, however, and hope to see the Eberron gods included in a Dragon article.
    .-= Graham´s last blog ..Damn you, Dave! You and your… logic… =-.

  3. @Wyatt: I think this book definitely does some interesting things with the divine classes, but I also expect you’d be less interested than most people in all of the fluff that is presented. Do you use the PHB gods at all in your games?

    @Graham: Thanks for catching that, I updated the post to show the correct name for the Epic Destiny in the FR book.

  4. OriginalSultan says:

    Are there enough Paladin powers such that one could make a character using only Str based powers or only Cha based powers? I ask because in PHB1 there were some levels where there wasn’t an attack power for either Str or Cha. Hopefully this book fixes that problem.

  5. TheMainEvent says:

    The big question: how many radiant and fear keyworded powers are they for the Avenger? I have my Student of Caiphon/Avenger to consider!

  6. Don’t forget the super awesome close burst 5 healing surge from the new cleric Channel Divinity. The only problem being it has to be swapped out with Turn Undead, which is also pretty useful. :(

    Nice review, Bartoneus! :)
    .-= Geek’s Dream Girl´s last blog ..Divine Power: E’s Top Five Fun Ways to Roleplay a Cleric =-.

  7. @OriginalSultan -

    All they really needed to add to do that would be 2 or 3 powers for each side. I really hope that happened in the 30+ that would be included.
    .-= Graham´s last blog ..Damn you, Dave! You and your… logic… =-.

  8. Graham & Original Sultan: I’ll check that as soon as I get home and let you know some specifics of what is provided!

    Geek’s Dream Girl: Thanks!

  9. A very good review. It has solidified my desire to pick up the book.

    I need to make a paladin as soon as possible.
    .-= Nicholas´s last blog ..5 Character Concepts from Mythic Design (With Stat Blocks) =-.

  10. @Bartoneus -

    Thanks, man.

    Looking through the Paladin again, the only one that is actually missing is a Strength power in the level 9 Dailies. Every other level has at least one of each.

    Though there are a few levels that have 3 Cha powers to one Str power. Strength just needs some more options, I think. And with that Vow ability, they should get some.
    .-= Graham´s last blog ..Damn you, Dave! You and your… logic… =-.

  11. @Bart: I don’t buy books for fluff, since, yep, I don’t use any of it at all. I barely use D&D monsters or races much as it is, I don’t use any of the settings or setting assumptions. However, that doesn’t stop me from purchasing books which contain fluff. I just skip over those pages. As long as the crunch is good I don’t mind the existence of fluff even if I would rather it not exist.
    .-= Wyatt´s last blog ..Paradiso: Behind the Wyatt I =-.

  12. Graham & Original Sultan: I’ve gone back and looked through the specific powers. The Cleric seems to be spread thus – if there are 5 powers, 3 of them are wisdom attacks and 2 are strength. The new paladin powers seems to be the opposite, out of 5 powers (avg. per level) 3 are strength based and 2 are charisma. Obviously this changes a bit based on which level powers, but surprisingly it’s actually true for the majority of the new powers! So to summarize, wisdom clerics and strength paladins specifically get a great boost in power selection from this book.

    Just to give you an example, a new level 1 paladin encounter attack Valorous Smite is charisma vs. AC, 2W + Charisma damage and each enemy within 3 squares of you is subject to your Divine Sanction mark until the end of your next turn. That’s one damn good defender!

  13. Sweet! So does that mean the Vow paladin is a Cha-based build, then?

  14. Graham: The Valorous at-will power is strength based, so I think you could say the Vow Paladin build leans towards Str-based but I think they definitely had to provide a mix of powers so that every paladin can make good use of this new ability.

  15. OriginalSultan says:

    Paladins definitely needed a boost in power. Hopefully this book gives them one.

  16. @Bartoneus -

    Good to know. I had assumed that Divine Sanction was specific to the Vow paladin.
    .-= Graham´s last blog ..Damn you, Dave! You and your… logic… =-.

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  1. [...] Review: "Divine Power" "If you or one of your players is enjoying playing a divine class then this book is definitely a must have, but there are actually a surprising number of features that other players and DMs will want to borrow your copy to read as well!" [...]

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