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Arcane Power (4e)


New options for wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, bards, and swordmages...

This tome focuses on the arcane heroes: characters who wield strange and mysterious spells and rely on their mastery of magic for survival.

This book provides new archetypal builds for the wizard, warlock, sorcerer, bard, and swordmage classes, including new character powers, feats, paragon paths, and epic destinies.

Product History

Arcane Power (2009), by Logan Bonner, with Eytan Bernstein, Bruce R. Cordell, and Peter Lee, is the second Powered splatbook for D&D 4e. It was published in April 2009.

Continuing the Powers Books. Arcane Power follows on from Martial Power (2008) as the second 4e character splatbook. It focuses on the warlock and wizard from the Player's Handbook (2008), on the swordmage from the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide (2008), and on the bard and sorcerer from the Player's Handbook 2 (2008). Like its predecessor, Arcane Power provides new builds, new powers, new paragon paths, and new epic destinies for its classes. However it's a bit different in one way: Arcane Power would be the only Powered sourcebook to cover five different classes, and the only one to cover a non-core class.

Arcane Power was the latest in a long series of arcane splatbooks, including PHBR4: The Complete Wizard's Handbook (1990), (sort of) PHBR7: The Complete Bard's Handbook (1992), Tome and Blood (2001), Complete Arcane (2004), and Complete Mage (2006).

About the Bard. Of the character classes covered in Arcane Power, the bard certainly has the most varied history. The class originated with Doug Schwegman in The Strategic Review v2 #1 (February 1976), where it was described as a combination of "the norse 'skald', the celtic 'bard', and the southern european 'minstrel'." A more official version appeared in AD&D 1e (1977-1979), but the bard was now relegated to an appendix, and had become almost impossible to play: a player had to take levels as a fighter, thief, and druid before becoming a bard! This celtic bard was probably the truest to classic source material, but he'd soon disappear. In AD&D 2e (1989), the bard became a member of the rogue class, and was now the jack-of-all-trades that has become more traditional in the D&D game. The D&D 3e (2000) bard focused heavily on spellcasting and bard music, which depended on a play instrument skill. However, fans of AD&D 1e could select the Fochulcan Lyrist prestige class from Complete Adventurer (2005), which offered another take on a druidic bard. Finally, in D&D 4e (2008), the bard moved entirely over to the arcane side of things, mostly leaving his roguish past behind.

About the Sorcerer. The sorcerer was a relative newcomer to D&D, first appearing in the 3e Player's Handbook (2000). Thematically, his magic was innate not learned, but he also had a big mechanical difference: though he had a smaller pool of spells to pick from, he didn't have to memorize specific spells each day. Instead, he could cast anything from his repertoire, a characteristic that he shared with the 3e bard. D&D 4e didn't reintroduce the sorcerer until the Player's Handbook 2 (2009). It focused hard on the innate origins of a sorcerer's abilities, which it called "spell sources". This provided a strong foundation for variant sorcerer builds. The Player's Handbook 2 had introduced dragon magic and wild magic sources, while Arcane Power added cosmic magic and storm magic sources.

About the Swordmage. The swordmage was a totally new concept for D&D: an arcane defender who mixed swordplay with magic. He'd originated in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide (2008), making him one of the few non-core classes in the early run of 4e, and the only one to reappear in the Powered series. The most similar class from previous editions of the game was the duskblade, from 3e's Player's Handbook II (2006), but generally the swordmage was quite unique.

About the Warlock. The warlock was another 3e newcomer, meant to expand the ways that arcane magic could work in D&D. He first appeared in Complete Arcane (2004). Thematically, he gained his power through supernatural bloodlines, sometimes becoming the champion of supernatural powers. Mechanically, he varied from the wizard because he could cast spells at will, presaging the at-will spellcasting of 4e. The D&D 4e (2008) warlock's power centered on pacts with supernatural beings — which provided an easy basis for warlock builds. The Player's Handbook (2008) offered the fey pact, infernal pact, and star pact, while Arcane Power (2009) added the vestige pact.

About the Wizard. The wizard is the oldest of the arcane spellcasters in D&D, dating back to Chainmail (1971). He was called the magic-user in AD&D 1e (1977-1979), then the mage in AD&D 2e (1989). The mage was part of the wizard category in second edition — which was also the version of the rules that introduced mage specialists, who could excel in a single type of magic. Wizard then became the official class name in D&D 3e (2000).

Traditionally, the wizard was a "Vancian" spellcaster, which meant that he had to memorize spells each morning, and then could cast each memorized spell only once. These basic assumptions about how arcane magic worked only began to change with D&D 3e (2000), which introduced the non-memorizing sorcerer, and with D&D 3.5e (2003), which introduced the at-will warlock. In D&D 4e (2008), the wizard himself could cast spells at-will too … though the most powerful invocations remained limited.

About the Creators. Bonner was a game designer at Wizards of the Coast from 2006-2009. In 2009, he was quite busy on the Power books, also contributing to Divine Power (2009) and Primal Power (2009).

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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This title was added to our catalog on February 03, 2015.