Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First Look: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos Art

I recently discovered Tyler Jacobsen's blog, which showcases some of the art that he does (including some published D&D pieces).  He recently posted a first look at some of the new characters that will be in HotEC.  The new subclasses presented in this book will be the Elementalist (rumored to be a Sorcerer build), the Shugenja (rumors point to Monk), and the Sha'ir (a confirmed Wizard build).  Actually, truth be told the Sorcerer and Monk rumors may have been confirmed at some point (I vaguely remember reading that), but I can't be sure so I'm going to play it safe.  Anyways, the current speculation is that Anise is the Sha'ir, Galafaer is the Shugenja, and Scar is the Elementalist.  Now, the current builds for all of these classes should (interestingly enough) all be wearing cloth armor.  So if Scar's appearance seems problematic for a Sorcerer, the same would be true for a Monk or Wizard as well.

It is, of course, possible that he's supposed to be a different class with an elemental flair (and that a named Elementalist character is not included in the book's art); after all, HotF featured Rowena (a Warlock/Hexblade) and Viltham (a Wizard, likely Illusionist) in addition to examples of the 4 subclasses featured in the book.  It's also possible that this plate doesn't include all of the named characters from the HotEC art.  But what if Scar is the Elementalist?  There's already a precedent for Sorcerers fighting with weapons (namely daggers) in melee; what if HotEC simply stepped it up a notch?  After all, the Cleric (and Bard, and Warlock) supports both a ranged-caster archetype as well as an armored weapon-user, so what's preventing the Sorcerer from doing the same?  Sorcerers have a history of being a bit more physical (if only marginally so) than Wizards, and this would be a nice way to further differentiate the two classes.  A differentiation that is sorely needed in my opinion, since well-built blaster Wizards can already beat the Sorcerer at his own game. One of the more radical possibilities is a dual source Martial/Arcane Sorcerer. 

A while ago there were rumors (though I can't recall how reliable they were) of a simplified Essentials-style caster.  A boomstick Sorcerer, if you will, that functioned very much like the basic attack spamming builds (Slayer, Thief, etc).  Or maybe people just wanted such a build (why should spellcasters always be more complicated?).  This being the case, it's possible that the designers went the lazy route and made a MBA-spamming Sorcerer build, either like a Skald or a Slayer with an Arcane flavor.  I actually hope this isn't the case, because it strikes me as disingenuous.  A ranged basic attack spammer would have been interesting.  Sure, the concept has been touched upon with the Hunter and Seeker, but those guys aren't lobbing fireballs around.  A simplified design for a caster that just wants to make things go "boom!" is fitting.  Forcing the Sorcerer into the MBA (but with magic) spamming mold is much less so.  Since the "blow stuff up" ranged guy is out based on that picture, and I don't like the lazy MBA spamming possibility, I'm hoping that something much more innovative was done with the Elementalist.  Something similar to the Berserker's dual role, perhaps?  A unique take on a gish?  Maybe a character that plays as a defender until some trigger causes an uncontrolled burst of elemental energy to surge through his veins, turning him into a controller or a striker?  Pure speculation, of course, but that picture of Scar just begs for it!

On a related note, he also published plates of the HotF characters: Keldar, Andronus and Rowena, and Viltham, Lyrindel, and Nistyncia.  I'll just say that I love this picture of Lyrindel, and I'm at a loss as to why this wasn't included in the book.  All of the other pictures of her look a bit "cartoon-y," and some seem almost like caricatures compared with the art of the other characters.  I never got the sense for what a Hamadryad would really look like from the book's art, but this picture hits it perfectly.  She looks like a more alien version of a Elf, with the dark blotches giving her an almost reptilian flair.  Perhaps not the paragon of beauty that her Nymph aspect is supposed to evoke (nor does it have any plant-like characteristics reminiscent of the Dryad aspect), but I like it nevertheless.  I imagine this being her "default" form, with her racial power offering a peek into either her Autumn Nymph heritage or Dryad future (think Galadriel when Frodo offers her the Ring in Lothlorien).  A transformation that lasts only for a split second, but forever affects all who behold it.

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