March 13, 2009

Players Handbook 2: The Invoker ... a REAL Bad Ass

On March 21st, the Player's Handbook 2 is being released in coordination with World Wide D&D Game Day. Someone at Wizards of the Coast must have realized the growing importance of the RPG blogging community because I was offered a free copy of the book - weeks before it is released - in exchange for reviewing any one of the character classes included in the PHB2. How could I say no? I was already anticipating the release of the Invoker because, from what I had already read online about the class, it seemed right up my ally.

The Invoker is a bad ass.

Plain and simple.

The whole idea behind the Invoker is that they are a divine caster, much like an Avenger, Cleric, and Paladin -- but unlike those classes, the Invoker does not rely on the trappings of a divine focus (i.e. holy symbol) for their abilities to function. They do not pray for spells and are not granted them from some agent of the gods. Instead, the power wielded by Invokers is cut from the very fabric of universe. They channel immortal powers of the gods directly -- and use their power to lay waste to anyone who stands in their path.

Invokers are controllers.

Much like Wizards, in combat Invokers can cast their "prayers" against multiple opponents as early as first level. What I find interesting is that many of their abilities have burst effects that are not simply aimed at damaging foes. These are not the specialist-wizard invokers of AD&D, whose power lay entirely in dishing up massive amount of damage. 4E Invoker prayers include involve plenty of pushing, pulling, sliding, slowing, dazing, and immobilizing. And that's just up to Level 5. Like I said -- they are controllers.

Invokers are summoners.

This is likely the biggest departure from the AD&D version of the Invoker. Whereas invocation and evocation schools of magic were juxtaposed to that of conjuration, the 4E Invoker gets the best of both worlds. Starting at Level 1 they have access to a daily prayer, Summon Angel of Fire, that summons "an angelic figure wreathed in fire." Yeah... and it burns you to a crisp if you stand next to it. The conjuration / summoning abilities of Invokers don't end with angels either: the list of things include magic walls of light, dancing blades, angels with dancing blades, walls of blades, and walls of angels with dancing blades. OK, the last one was a joke -- but you get the idea. As an Invoker, the forces of heaven got your back.

Oh, and at Level 19... you can summon the Tomb of Magrym. Yeah. It's a tomb that pops into existence on top of your enemies. The sorry souls who are stuck inside are in for a confusing experience and have to hack their way out. Did I mention the tomb was made of stone?

Paragon Paths
The Invoker also features four Paragon Paths: Angelic Aspect, Blightspeaker, Flame of Hope, an Hammer of Vengeance. I'll leave it to you to be the final judge of these paths - but in my estimation they are all top notch and provide highly flexible options for your end-game Invoker. My favorite? The Blightspeaker.

I've always had a soft-spot for classes that blend the dark elements of death, pestilence, and decay. Some of my earliest posts here at The Core Mechanic were in fact a 4E conversion of the 3.xE Forgotten Realms Talontar Blightlord prestige class and the blightspawn monster template - both of which were core to my campaign at the time. The Blightspeaker makes their enemies vulnerable to necrotic damage, and then uses the same energy type to harvest the life from their victims to fuel their own power -- but that's not the best part. These foul characters heal themselves every time they score a critical hit.

PHB 2: More Options, No Creep
The Invoker is a welcome addition to what is now a huge variety of classes that are available. For one -- it provides you with a new controller character type for players looking for something a little different than the wizard class. Secondly, the Invoker is substantially different from the 2E wizard-specialist class -- it feels like something entirely new. It is a flexible controller class that can easily play into a secondary role of striker or leader. And, for those looking for options to use during role playing scenes (i.e. non-combat encounters), the Invoker also includes a number of utility prayers to boost your PC's diplomacy and intimidation skills.

All in all I don't feel like the Player's Handbook 2 suffers from any "power creep" -- that is, the Invoker class and the other new classes, are on par with what was offered in the PHB1. It just might take a while to get used to all the core options - but options are good in my book, and I'm very satisfied with the way they are presented in this new member of the D&D family.

Want to learn more about Player's Handbook 2? Read on...
Drop by Wizards of the Coast today!


  1. You've certainly got me interested to see what else PHB2 has in store for players! Of particular interest to me are new feats and rituals that my existing players might be able to make use of.

  2. Great write up. I'm looking forward to reading about the new classes in detail. However, I haven't even worked my way through the majority of classes in the PHB1 yet, and I don't know how much opportunity I'll have to test out the new classes. However, as you say options are good.

  3. You've given me a different perspective on this. When I was looking at the Invoker last night, I thought, "Sheesh! Boorrrrring!" He seemed too much like a cross between Gort and Moses. And while that part of my opinion hasn't changed, you've opened my eyes to the opportunities he gives roleplayers who want to mix divine power with the Controller role. And that Blightspeaker path is damn cool.

    The Invoker still won't be my first, second, or third choice to play (the 4e Bard has rocketed to the top of that list), but I won't dismiss him out of hand, either.

  4. @KenHart - thanks for stopping by! BARD is my favorite class as well, by far. Invoker is still a badass though... even if its an obvious choice for badassery. I mean... in 2E... didn't every munchkin wizard want to be an Invoker? (then called a evocation/invocation specialist wizard). Not much has changed, right?

    >_> <_<


By submitting your comment below, you agree to the blog's Terms of Service.