Character Creations: Servant of the Moon

I am looking to create a new paragon path, specifically for paladins. One of my favorite new design choices for 4e D&D is the paladin. I would even say that the 4e paladin was one of the inspirations for my hands on approach to this edition and hence this blog. The reason being that paladins are now no longer bound to preconceived notions of piety and a lawful good deity. The original concept of paladins was rooted in the Christian warrior. But in the world of mythology paladins can serve any deity and no edition has embraced that more than 4e.

So what type of paragon path am I trying to make? I want my powers and abilities to exemplify a certain deity. Now I have a certain deity in mind, however this could be representative of a multitude of mythological gods. Many gods in history and within D&D pantheons are based on archetypal concepts so conveniently they can be mixed and matched. Most importantly I want this paragon path to define an unusual type of paladin. I want a graceful and umbra wielding (not necessarily evil) guardian whose powers are still rooted in defending but take on a more sly demeanor and a mystical flavor.

So what game mechanics typify shadowy and magical abilities. The first thing that comes to mind for me is concealment. This is an excellent mechanic for defenders. Due to its bonuses to defense it can be useful to both gain concealment and give concealment, both of which are perfect for defenders as well as leaders. This is great news for my paladin since paladins are defenders with a leader-like bend. In the same vein, an excellent condition to think about is invisibility. Now remember we are playing a defender so being invisible is counter intuitive to my goal. I want to draw attention. However, nothing makes you more of an unappealing target than being invisible, so perhaps granting invisibility would be a really great thing to offer my allies. Invisibility should be somewhat rare, but it is a great thing to help an ally get out of a jam by literally removing them from the sights of an enemy. I am thinking that I will work concealment into the following utility power:

Shielding Shadows Utility 12
At-Will * Divine

Move Action Close Burst 5
Target: You or one ally in burst
Effect: The target gains partial concealment until the end of your next turn.

This way my concealment power is a little versatile, offering some boosted defenses to me or my allies. This can even have some use out of combat with some training in stealth to make me a “sneaky” paladin. As for invisibility, I think the special action point tie-in would be a nice feature to attach this very helpful status. Again being a defender, I want to grant invisibility:

Shadow Cloak (11th Level): When you spend an action point, all adjacent allies become invisible until the start of your next turn.

While I am looking at class abilities, I should start thinking about the standard 11th level class feature. When I think about well designed paragon paths, one of the most appealing features is synergy. Synergy within your design will make the class feel uniform, powerful, and perhaps most importantly defining. Paragon is the tier where you start to separate yourself from your peers. You are trying to specialize and highlight a particularly powerful aspect of your abilities or personality or flavor. As I already have a power that can grant concealment, I want to reinforce its strength with a unique class ability. As the paladin sometimes doubles as a leader, I want to incorporate that into the path. What I have always loved about archetypal paladins is their ability to take away conditions, think disease and curses and wounds. I could develop a hit point healing mechanic, but I am looking for something a little more interesting. One very helpful feature of many a leader is granting a saving throw. Certainly the extra chance to avoid or remove an ongoing condition sounds paladin like. In conjunction with my Shielding Shadows utility and granting saving throws, I came up with this:

Support from the Shadows (11th Level): Once during your turn if you start or end your turn with concealment, one ally that you can see may make a saving throw as a free action.

My shady divine warrior is shaping up nicely. I have several abilities that are tied to the theme of shadows and concealment and each reflect a paladin design theme of the role of defender with a leader bend. For my 16th level class feature I would like to really drive home the defender nature of the path. After all, at the end of the day I am a defender and I should do that very well. I want something that is powerful and unique but still tied to my darkness and shadow theme. When I think of shadows and darkness I often am drawn to the mechanic of weakness. Weakness in my mind can represent a lot of things: fear, cowering, enervation, sapping of strength, etc. Certainly darkness can invoke fear, and within the game of D&D enervation is frequently associated with shadowy magic, often to the boon of those doing the enervating. I like this idea of my paladin draining the strength of an enemy that is attacking allies and turning it back on them, certainly seems like a righteous feat:

Dark Challenge (16th level): If a creature you have marked with your Divine Challenge makes an attack against one of your allies that does not include you as a target and hits, then it is considered weakened for that attack and you gain a bonus to damage rolls equal to your wisdom modifier against that creature until the end of your next turn.

Next I should start to tackle my new encounter power. Again I want to approach this power with the mind frame of a defender. This power is my bread and butter, something I will most likely use every encounter. This should also be unique and interesting, something a little different that your standard paladin encounter power. I think I will also include some forced movement here. Of course when considering a defender, my mind always defaults to pulls. The pull is perfect for a defender. It keeps dangerous attackers close to you and away from your allies. Damage should be a second thought with these defender powers. I do not want it to be totally overlooked, but my goal here is to corral those dangerous skirmishers and heavy hitting brutes, I will let my party striker lay down the killing blow. So far this sounds like your standard defender power. How can I make this unique. I am a big fan of effects on encounter powers. They are rare and they should be less offensive, but you know they will happen every time. I want something advantageous to be gained by my paladin that she cannot get from most of her other powers. What I want to consider is some personal mobility. Positioning can be huge in 4e and especially so for defenders as they are standing between the enemy and the rest of the party, but often not literally. I am thinking a slick effect to move my paladin around the field and create the feeling of a sly slippery paladin to tie into my original theme:

Shadowy Lure Attack 11
Encounter * Divine, Charm, Implement, Psychic
Standard Action Close Burst 2
Effect: Shift up to your speed before the attack
Target: Each enemy in burst that can see you
Attack: Charisma vs. Will
Hit: 2d6 plus Charisma modifier psychic damage and the target is pulled to a square adjacent to you and is subject to your divine sanction until the end of your next turn.

Finally, I need to develop a 20th level attack power. Daily powers can be a lot of fun because while the power should exemplify your role, it can also give you some leeway to explore unique avenues that most of your standard powers do not account for. Your daily, especially for paragon, should be a battle changer. There are a couple of things I want included in this power, one is certainly concealment. I also want this power to isolate my enemies, keep them in check so my allies can either get away from them or target them more easily. The best mechanic for this is immobilization. As with my encounter attack power, I should shy away from a lot of damage, however this is a daily attack power. My curve should be a little higher. Here is what I am thinking:

Grasping Shadow Hands Attack 20
Daily * Divine, Implement, Necrotic, Radiant, Zone
Standard Action Close Burst 2
Target: Each enemy in burst
Attack: Charisma vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d10 plus charisma modifier radiant and necrotic damage and the creature is immobilized (save ends)
Effect: This power creates a zone of lightly obscured squares equal to the size of the burst. While within the zone you and your allies gain resist 15 radiant and necrotic damage and take no penalty from attacking targets with any concealment. Enemies within the zone grant combat advantage.

You may be wondering about why I chose radiant and necrotic. This is just a personal choice of mine. I view shadow as a mixture of light and dark. This is the shade of gray between the two energy types. So in this case I like flavor to dictate the mechanic.

My paladin paragon path is done! You can easily adapt this path to most campaigns. I created it with a paladin in mind, but you could open it up or tinker to make it fit another class or even race. I think flavor wise it is most inspired by the 4e core deity Sehanine. All the names of the powers and flavor text I have listed below reflect a Sehaninic feel. Certainly you could make this an appropriate option for a god like Selune (Forgotten Realms 4e) or Eilistraee (Forgotten Realms 3.5). I even think someone could make this work as a follower of Vecna (push the concealment as secretiveness, dark challenge feature literally draining the life of the mark, so on and so forth). Here is my final product:

~Servant of the Moon~

There are many who fall in love with the moon from a young age. Just as oceans are pushed and pulled by the mysterious attraction that Sehanine holds over the goddess Melora, so too are the people of the world drawn to Sehanine’s awe inspiring presence in the sky. The moon is welcoming and free, any may lay their eyes upon her glowing majesty and need not avert their gaze or be blinded as with Pelor’s sun. Indeed, the moon allows a certain wanderlust and openness that is not so present in the daylight hours. This is what invokes a wildness, an untamed desire within all creatures who are fascinated with Sehanine’s sensual glory. Those that embrace her do not so much serve her as revel in her presence. They dance and hunt and rejoice in the shadowy evening hours. They are accepting and egalitarian and often fend for those that are deprived of the same freedom that Sehanine encourages in her faithful. They deplore being restrained and are frequently seeking change and new experiences. And just as with the many faced goddess herself, the Servants of the Moon are as fierce and deadly as they are mysterious and graceful.

PreReq: Paladin, must worship Sehanine

Moon Maiden’s Cloak (11th Level): When you spend an action point, all adjacent allies become invisible until the start of your next turn.

Support from the Shadows (11th Level): Once during your turn if you start or end your turn in concealment, one ally that you can see may make a saving throw as a free action.

Waxing and Waning (16th level): If a creature you have marked with your Divine Challenge makes an attack against one of your allies that does not include you as a target and hits, then it is considered weakened for that attack and you gain a bonus to damage rolls equal to your wisdom modifier on that creature until the end of your next turn.

Prayers

Moon Shadow Dance Attack 11
You dance about becoming cloaked in a swirl of undulating shadow as you channel the moon’s sensuous and mysterious sway over the hearts and minds of others, drawing your enemies closer to you.
Encounter * Divine, Charm, Implement, Psychic
Standard Action Close Burst 2
Effect: Shift up to your speed before the attack
Target: Each enemy in burst that can see you
Attack: Charisma vs. Will
Hit: 2d6 plus Charisma modifier psychic damage and the target is pulled to a square adjacent to you and is subject to your divine sanction until the end of your next turn.

Shielding Shadows Utility 12
Sehanine often hides secret lovers from prying eyes with her shadowy cloak, you do the same to defend you and your allies.
At-Will * Divine
Move Action Close Burst 5
Target: You or one ally in burst
Effect: The target gains partial concealment until the end of your next turn.

Keep to the Shadows Attack 20
Avoid the blazing light of zealous good and the utter darkness of evil.
Daily * Divine, Implement, Necrotic, Radiant, Zone

Standard Action Close Burst 2
Target: Each enemy in burst
Attack: Charisma vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d10 plus charisma modifier radiant and necrotic damage and the creature is immobilized (save ends)
Effect: This power creates a zone of lightly obscured squares equal to the size of the burst. While within the zone you and your allies gain resist 15 radiant and necrotic damage and take no penalty from attacking targets with any concealment. Enemies within the zone grant combat advantage.

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