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?