If you were looking to pre-order the Shadowfell Conspiracy, you’re a bit late. The Dungeons and Dragons Online game server went down Monday to put that expansion in place. I decided I’m going to go over the Iconics first and the new areas before I render my verdict on the expansion overall. While I’ve played with the other three that are actually from the Forgotten Realms setting and are directly related to Shadowfell, the Bladeforged Paladin, a specialized Warforge class, was part of the pre-order as an Iconic character, meaning they can start at level 15, just five levels before they can enter the Epic level quests, fully geared and ready to go.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like playing Warforged. I don’t mind running with them, and I like the bonuses they get from not being alive, more like living constructs, but they’re a bit like Dwarves and Halflings, not my favorite races to play. I like my Humans, Drow, Half-Elves, Elves and Half-Orcs. That’s not to say I hate those races, mind you; some of my favorite fantasy characters fall under the Dwarf and Halfling umbrella. I just find it a bit easier for my play style to go with the other races. So finding me in a character creation screen, building only my second or third Warforge, would probably be quite amusing.
Each of the Iconics will have their own backstory, and while the Forgotten Realms Iconics all start in the same tavern area in the new expansion, the Bladeforged starts in Eberron, where Dungeons and Dragons Online had been primarily set until last year, and the Menace of the Underdark expansion came out, giving players the option to get their feet wet in the Forgotten Realms. Now, the backstory isn’t very deep, just enough to give you some flavor and know where your new character is coming from. The Bladeforged Paladin is a Warforge created by the Lord of Blades using the Creation Forge, a powerful tool that can bring the contructs to life, a device he had used a while back in an update that’s part of the House Cannith addition to the game, where you confront the Lord of Blades on the Creation Forge itself. So, you creating a character created by the Lord of Blades off that Forge to go out into the world for him is an interesting prospect. Coupled with this are new options for the look of your Warforge. The Bladeforged are very spiky, and you can adorn them with all sorts of blade attachments on their face.
Now, the Iconics get a few bonuses to start out with. As they get into their Paladin Caster Levels, they pick up the ability to heal Warforge and other constructs with the repair spells, which is actually a pretty big deal, considering they don’t get full healing from regular Cleric spells, and would have to rely on a Wizard, who’s usually too busy with crowd control or insta-death, or a Sorcerer, who’s got fewer spells than a Wizard so they probably wouldn’t be carrying those anyway. So, for a Paladin class to get those Repair spells on top of the Divine healing spells and the other bonuses, and their Lay On Hands ability coupled with the other immunities a Warforge gets, can create a pretty potent self-healing dealer of damage or tank. Paladins don’t hit quite as hard as a Barbarian or Fighter, but they have a built in survivability that makes them a great asset to any party.
The Bladeforged has some decent benefits aside from the Repair spells over a standard Warforge Paladin, such as an increased aura of Good bolstering yourself and allies, you take less Slashing Damage, and one of the bigger things is that instead of -2 to your Charisma at the start, you’re taking a -2 Dexterity hit. As a Paladin, you’d be running around in full plate armor most likely, so the Dexterity hit isn’t a big deal anyway, but not taking a hit on Charisma is a bigger deal, as Charisma fuels your extra save bonus when NPCs are trying to cast effects on you, you’re getting through traps, etc. So not having to pump as many points into the stat to get it where you’re not crippled as a Paladin is a big bonus. What’s not so good? You don’t get healed by Divine healing by another 10%. So without taking a healing amp, instead of regular Warforge who get something around 55% of the incoming healing, you’ll only get 45% of that, which can be a big burden on a Cleric or Favored Soul, but you have those nifty repair spells to ease the pain.
Now, you don’t have to take all fifteen levels with the Bladeforged, but you will always be starting with at least 1 level of Paladin. That will never change. You talk to the Lord Of Blades, and then you can go and take your other levels in other classes if you like, but I didn’t experiment with that. While I’ve played with multi-class builds before, including an ‘Exploiter’ build that relied on the two-weapon fighting DPS of the Ranger and coupled it with a level of Rogue to start for traps, then either a monk level or fighter level for AC or a bonus feat. I’ve seen come interesting builds that combine the Artficer and a few other classes with the Bladeforged Iconic, but I’m not up for experimenting much. I like the classes for what they can do and what their strengths are, generally, and I find multi-classing, while making you more versatile, also hampers you with gear needs and can just be a general pain to level up. So I went straight Paladin, filled out my enhancement line and got my level 15 ‘starter’ gear, which comes with every Iconic and is tailored to that class.
I took mine out into an at level explorer area, sans a hireling healer, to test the class out, and found it was a nice enough jump over the other Paladins I’ve played, one a Drow Tank build, the other a Human Two-Handed DPS build. The DPS was good, I liked the saves, and the damage I was taking was something I could easily keep up with. Questing was about the same, although I took a hireling in as a back-up just to be sure. While I’ll probably never run this class solo, being able to toss a decent repair on myself on top of the Paladin abilities and spreading the wealth around will be nice. The only real downside right now is that none of the Iconics can be True Reincarnated for that stat and feat benefit, and you can’t True Reincarnate into an Iconic class. Other than that, the Bladeforged was a lot of fun, and I like the little boosts it has over the standard Paladin. It’s not so much more over-powered that it breaks the class, but it’s enough of a boost that it earns its Iconic status.
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