The Return of Essentials

I really like Essentials for 4e. I appreciate the formatting, and the class design. It’s not perfect, I hate the random treasure, though that’s not even properly supported, and I think there’s slightly too much overlap between the products. I would love to reboot my campaign with Essentials only PCS. I think they have more flavour straight out of the books, and I think they might make the game move more quickly.

But all that is old news. What’s new is Players Options: Heroes of Shadow, which is the Shadow power sourcebook that looks like Classic 4e on the outside, and turns out to be Essentials on the inside. I’ll let the more mechanically minded rant about the crunch, but I liked the writing and art very much. It’s an odd mix when you add it directly to the two Heroes of… books, but eventually it will even out with the Fey book and whatever else they have planned.

So, the 10 strong product line has turned out to be 11 after all. That’s not counting DDI stuff. So what’s next?

Please please please let it be scenarios. Imagine the Orcus series completely rewritten to Essentials sensibilities. Better still, a new run of modules, perhaps one for heroic, and another for paragon. There’s some good adventuring in the current Essentials boxes, but the last decent standalone scenario was Orcs of Stonefang Pass. You might wonder what the difference might be, but I can see a reformat doing a lot for WotCs rep as an adventure publisher.

Maybe the mooted Madness at Gardmore Abbey will show whether Essentials means anything to DMs rather than just players?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Return of Essentials

  1. I just picked up my copy of Heroes of Shadow on Friday, and I have to agree with you: lovely art and fluffiness. While it is kind of a strange fit next to the Essentials Heroes of… books, its a great addition to the rest of my 4E library. I must admit, it is the first Player’s Option book that I have picked up. I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet (too busy prepping our Sat nite session!) but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far. We mix our Essentials and “Regular” 4e characters freely, and I almost only use critters from the Monster Vault. As far as I’m concerned, it all fits together just fine.

  2. The more I look at Heroes of Shadow the more I think of it as the segue between Essentials and “Core” 4e. I’m wondering if that was the point, to create a bridge to draw the Essentials crowd into the rest of 4e.

    Admittedly I’m not going to buy HoS, though I wouldn’t be opposed to owning it. I’m holding my money for the Shadowfell set coming out next month, but then again I’m a DM more than a player.

  3. After playing essentials for I guess a little over a year via the encounters program and people in home campaigns I can agree on some things about it. Yes, I do like the streamline design and think it is a great way to get new players into the game without them being swallowed up by choices. However, playing a martial class is “boring” after swinging your sword and maybe power striking for over a year, while “magic” classes get to do unique things. One of our players actually was so frustrated with playing her knight after two sessions and is switching to a fighter.
    I bought the Heroes of Shadow and I was hoping for more out of it then I got. However, its not to say its a bad book at all. It may be a little thin for the price but WOTC has done a good job overall on content so I will not begrudge them this. I do have some exception to the “shade” as this was one of my favorite villain types. It seems to me the shade and vampire would of made better themes then classes. But with the move to essentials line this painted them into a corner.

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