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Martial Power 2 (4e)
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Martial Power 2 (4e)

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Sharpen your sword and tighten your bow!

This must-have book is the latest in a line of player-friendly game supplements offering hundreds of new options for D&D characters, specifically focusing on martial heroes. It provides new archetypal builds for fighters, rangers, rogues, and warlords, as well as new character powers, feats, paragon paths, and epic destinies.

Product History

Martial Power 2 (2010), by Richard Baker, with Tavis Allison, Eytan Bernstein, and Robert J. Schwalb, is the fifth Powered splatbook for D&D 4e. It was published in February 2010.

Continuing the Powers Books. By 2010, Wizards had published splat books on all the power sources from the 4e Player's Handbook (2008) and Player's Handbook 2 (2009): Martial Power (2008), Arcane Power (2009), Divine Power (2009), and Primal Power (2009). Though the core books were scheduled to reveal a new power source each year, that just allowed for one more Power book each year.

So Wizards decided to return to already covered grounds, beginning with Martial Power 2 (2010). This led some critics to say that the 4e line was exhausted; one can understand this argument, because Wizards' very well-designed 4e release schedule was also quite narrow, with its focus on very crunchy books. However, once players actually saw the content of Martial Power 2, they tended to change their tune.

As with the previous Martial Power book, this one has lots of new material for the four core martial classes, the fighter, ranger, rogue, and warlord. This includes new builds, powers, combat styles, feats, paragon paths, and epic destinies.

The Power of DDI. Martial Power 2 faced one other notable issue in the marketplace: by the time it was released, the DDI online app was humming along and had become many gamers' core source for the crunchy bits used to create characters. As a result, it's hard to find a review of Martial Power 2 that doesn't question whether it was more useful to buy the book or a DDI subscription.

Expanding D&D. Martial Power 2 introduces a few new mechanics to D&D 4e.

The first is the combat style. Styles are build around "style feats", which tend to provide bonuses to specific at-will and encounter powers. Unfortunately, combat styles are somewhat redundant with two similar ideas that had already appeared in Dragon magazine: the arena fighting feats from Dragon #368 (October 2008) and the technique feats from Dragon #373 (March 2009); piling them all up can create balance problems.

The second is the martial practice. These practices are essential rituals for the martial user. Since the core idea of 4e was to mimic the versatility (and fun!) of the magic-using classes for the rest of characters, this was a nice expansion, filling in a gap.

About the Fighter. The fighter gets a new brawler build, harking back to one of the oldest D&D systems: unarmed combat. AD&D (1977-1979) famously included separate "grappling", "pummeling", and "overbearing" rules, which were largely too complex to use. AD&D 2e (1989) instead had an "attacking without killing" section that included a very complex "punching and wrestling results" table that supported results ranging from a haymaker to a gouge. However, D&D 3e (2000) was the first edition to really incorporate unarmed combat into its standard combat methodology; it supported everything from bull rushes to tripping, but each unarmed maneuver still had its own specific rules — some of them requiring multiple steps, which made them somewhat unwieldy. D&D 4e (2008) used much the same technique, somewhat simplified, but the brawling fighter showed another possibility: it effortlessly incorporates some of 4e's unarmed combat methods into the brawler's powers.

About the Ranger. The ranger includes two new builds, a hunter and a marauder, separated mainly by the prime stat: the hunter is a dexterity ranger and the marauder is a strength ranger.

The hunter archetype had been an implicit part of the ranger class since its earliest days. The very first ranger in The Strategic Review #2 (Summer 1975) was able to track. Hunting became a non-weapon proficiency in the Wilderness Survival Guide (1986) and then transformed into a hunter secondary skill in AD&D 2e (1989).

The marauder archetype focuses on the ranger's classic ability to wield two weapons, something that had also been highlighted in the two-blade ranger build in the 4e Player's Handbook (2008). This ranger ability originated in AD&D 2e (1989) and was popularized by Drizzt Do'Urden in The Crystal Shard Trilogy (1988-1990).

About the Rogue. The rogue gets one new build, the shadowy rogue, who focuses on stealth. This originated as two skills in Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975), "move with great stealth" and "hide in shadows", neither of which got much more detail at the time. Martial Power 2 also includes an arcane trickster paragon path, harking back to a popular prestige class that had first appeared in 3.5e's Dungeon Master's Guide (2003).

About the Warlord. The warlord received two new builds, an insightful warlord that focused on perception and a skirmishing warlord that focused on archery. These new builds massively varied the class, but had little historical basis in the game, as the warlord was still the new guy on the block.

About the Creators. The lead designer for Martial Power 2, Baker, had by now been working on D&D for over 15 years. His main focus in 2010 would be on the Dark Sun Campaign Setting (2010), a line that he'd cut his teeth on back in 1992-1994.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Product Information
Pages
160
ISBN
978-0-7869-5389-9
File Size:
14.24 MB
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File Last Updated:
January 26, 2015
This title was added to our catalog on January 27, 2015.