Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Antimagic and 4e: Brigadier Hawkeye

Dominic Matte

Brigadier Hawkeye is the first major enemy I designed as an antimagic specialist for 4th edition. He's a high-ranking officer in King Duncan's military, in charge of a small black ops unit that assassinates key magical targets. Not only is he an elite soldier with some leadership ability, he's also slightly psionic and trained to counter users of arcane and divine magic.

Let's take a look at his stats.

Feel free to alter the numbers and flavour to fit your game.
Hawkeye is an elite leader, designed to be accompanied by the rest of his team in combat. I'll provide a sample encounter in a later post.

If you look at the saving throws entry, you'll notice that Hawkeye has the elite's standard +2 to saves, or +4 against effects caused by arcane or divine powers, meaning he'll shrug off a sorcerer's ongoing damage more easily than a rogue's bleed.

Hawkeye also has a small degree of psionic ability, manifesting in an aura of mental white noise that applies a penalty to the attack and damage rolls of nearby non-psionic enemies. As a basic attack, Hawkeye can apply a mark and deal a bit of damage. Nothing really special here, applying a mark on top of the aura makes Hawkeye a fairly effective defender for his allies.

Things really start to get interesting with Magehunter's Strike, a recharge power that deals strong damage but also dazes and weakens arcane and divine characters. Hawkeye should place a priority on shutting down those characters, particularly if the party leader is arcane or divine.

Additionally, once per encounter, Hawkeye can use Pierce Ward to forcibly end a maintained arcane or divine effect. Wizard's thrown up a wall of fire, or the cleric is maintaining a heal buff? Pierce Ward will get rid of that in a hurry, potentially opening up more movement or combat options for the rest of the squad.

Hawkeye's leadership manifests itself in his Call Target ability, which allows him to select a high-priority enemy and boost his squad's attack power against that enemy. Hawkeye is smart, so his first target should be the party healer. However, keep in mind that he won't necessarily know who that is until the healer actually heals someone -- if he attacks the cleric because the DM knows who the cleric is, that's metagaming. Save the first use of Call Target until the healer is revealed, or take out whoever looks weakest in order to expose the healer.

Finally we have Hawkeye's most devastating power, Magehunter's Shield. Once per encounter, he can turn an arcane or divine power away from himself and onto an enemy. There are two potential ways to use this. One is to hold onto it until a player uses a daily. The other is to spend it early, hoping the party will assume he can use it every turn. When I ran my Hawkeye encounter, the first attack that targeted him happened to be a ranged arcane attack, so when he deflected it the party assumed that he could block all ranged attacks and didn't try one again until several rounds later.

Overall, Hawkeye is a very versatile opponent, able to act alternately as a defender, striker, or leader. His major weakness is his lack of special movement options, so watch out for sticky defenders and difficult terrain. Fortunately, he faces less challenge with arcane or divine characters. A wizard can still slow him down, but not as effectively as, say, a druid.

In terms of his antimagic specialization, you'll notice that Hawkeye doesn't have any attacks or powers that prevent casters from using their spells in the way that traditional antimagic does. He can end an ongoing effect, deflect an attack, or temporarily cripple an arcane/divine character. The point is to use antimagic to create interesting tactical options while still allowing everyone to actually keep playing.

Let me know what you think of the stat block in the comments, especially if you've tested it out yourself!

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