Legacies, Part II

Posted on December 22, 2012 by


Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit that this has been a pretty long hiatus on my part, taken for reasons that don’t need going into.  But what to talk about after such an absence?  I’ve decided it’s time for the most often requested post of this blog, a continued discussion of the Legacy system.

In my last post, I outlined the ways in which using a non-linear advancement system allowed you to help your players flavor their characters.  Today I’ll be sharing some of the other Legacies from High Seas, and explaining some of the choices that I made when giving players these powerful new abilities.  In my next post I’ll be talking about how you can design your own Legacies for your players.


What some of my players don’t know is that of all the characters in High Seas, Caecius gave me the most trouble.  A wind genasi, he was on a quest to find his brother and get revenge on the cult that forced them apart.  While he may have started out as a controller (a slide wizard) he rapidly transitioned to one of the highest damage members of the crew, in no small part due to some of his earlier legacy abilities which then got changed.

Initially Wind Bolt was designed to make his Magic Missile spell a decent alternative to his low damage crowd control, but as he moved towards a striker role it quickly became a staple of the build.  Because of this, Caecius stopped getting legacy abilities that increased his single target damage.  Freezing Bolts and Concussive Missiles helped to bring back some of his control in a minor capacity.  Mana Well was given to him as a support ability.  I love support abilities for Legacies, because they encourage teamwork and do not directly benefit the character using them, so balance is rarely an issue for me.

Legacy of the Unchained Elements

After many years, Caecius finally has another lead on Perdita Manu, the cult of Vecna that experimented on him and his brother. As he gets closer to his goal, his wind magic becomes more powerful, and more dangerous.
Advancement: Repeated use of the Magic Missile spell.

Tier 0 – Wind Bolt
When used as a standard action, your Magic Missile deals twice your intelligence modifier, and can deal either cold or force damage.

Tier 1 – Multishot
When you cast Magic Missile as a standard action, you may attack a second target within 10 squares of the first.

Tier 2 – Freezing Bolts
Daily (minor): Your next Magic Missile spell this turn slides targets hit 1 square and immobilizes all targets hit until the end of your next turn.

Tier 3 – Concussive Missiles
Daily (minor): Your next Magic Missile spell this turn stuns all targets hit until the end of your next turn.

Tier 4 – Manawell
Daily (minor): Until the end of the encounter, you enter the Manawell stance. Once each turn, you may expend one of your encounter attack powers as a minor action to allow an ally within 10 to recover an encounter attack power of the same level or lower.


Celindara was introduced to the game late, about halfway through the entire campaign.  One of the great Leviathans bound to a mortal body, Celindara was the party’s first true defender, a role at which she excelled.  Because she was a Warden, she suffered from a serious mobility issue, which her Legacy attempts to address with abilities like Waterstride.

Legacy abilities like LeviathanLeviathan’s TendrilInhuman Body, and Form of the Lesser Leviathan were all designed to highlight her true nature as a creature of the deep, as well as make her job of defender (perhaps the most difficult role in 4th edition) an easier one.  Because many of my boss encounters tend to be immune to the crowd control effects that she brought to the table, I felt justified in giving her enhanced abilities to control a regular fight.

Celindara was bound to Jacobi, and that connection gave birth to her Symbiotic Leash power.  Because it trades a daily attack power for a daily attack power of the same level or lower, I was unconcerned for balance, as it would remain relatively constant over the party as a whole.

Legacy of the Ocean’s Wrath

Long kept imprisoned deep within the sunken city of Mykaanos, Celindira was once part of the great Leviathan Lavixus. Now she is free to roam the surface, but bound to Jacobi in a mortal form. Nevertheless, her true power can not be completely contained.
Advancement: Defeat and consume other Leviathans and Leviathan-Spawn.

Tier 0 – Leviathan
In addition to her other creature types, Celindira is also considered to be a Leviathan, and speaks all of the languages of the ocean. She does not need to eat, breathe, or sleep, although she may choose to do any of these things.

Tier 1 – Waterstride
You gain a teleport speed equal to half of your move speed.

Tier 2 – Leviathan’s Tendril
Encounter (standard): Make a melee basic attack against an enemy within 4 squares, if the attack hits, you may drag that enemy adjacent to you. They must remain adjacent to you and are dragged along with you (save ends).

Tier 3 – Bond Mastery
Celindara’s control over her bond to Jacobi becomes more advanced, she no longer needs to drain his life force to sustain herself. In addition, she may choose one of the Watershaper utility powers to learn permanently.

Tier 4 – Inhuman Body
Encounter (interrupt): When you would be critically hit, you may treat that attack as a normal hit and become insubstantial until the end of your next turn.

Tier 5 – Symbiotic Leash
Daily (minor): Celindara or Jacobi may sacrifice a daily attack power, the other regains a daily attack power of the same level or lower.

Tier 6 – Form of the Lesser Leviathan
Daily (minor): You assume the form of the Lesser Leviathan until the end of the encounter, gaining resist 5 to all damage. Once before the end of the encounter, you may use your Leviathan’s Tendril ability a second time.


Lorenzo Decosta was a difficult character to manage, especially when it came to giving him new powers and abilities.  A ranged rogue, his damage was already absurd, and doing anything to increase it was absolutely not on the table.  However, this drunken former leader of a mercenary company also quickly became known by his friends for his ability to come up with unusual solutions to problems, usually involving some underhanded tactics.  The character also focused on his dual nature, a tenuous line between scalawag and hero that he seemed to teeter on at all times.

Because of this, Decosta was given a dual track legacy.  For doing heroic and awesome things he gained a certain set of powers, while for doing cowardly and stupid things he gained others.  Originally I had intended to give him abilities for balancing the two tracks, but in the end he was gaining enough powers without the third track.  With little exception, all of these powers either aid in Decosta’s survivability (usually the sneakiness powers) or give him support abilities to aid his team (heroism).

Vagabond’s Legacy 

Lorenzo secretly desires to retake his old mercenary company, but knows that he cannot do it with his current reputation. As word of his antics, both impressive and foolish, spread across the Dragon’s Maw, he moves closer to his goal.

Advancement: Commit acts of heroism or sneakiness.

Tier 1 (heroism) – Full Hands
Decosta can load and fire his crossbow while also wielding a light blade, he does not need to switch weapons for defense purposes.

Tier 2 (heroism) – Tracer Bolt
Daily (minor): Your next ranged attack paints the target on a successful hit. Allies have a +3 bonus to hit that enemy, and deal an additional 2 damage to them, save ends.

Tier 3 (heroism) – Quick Hands
While it still takes Decosta a minor action to stow a weapon, he may draw an item as part of the action required to use it. This includes potions and ammunition.

Tier 1 (sneakiness) – Panicked Maneuver
Once per encounter as an immediate interrupt when you would be hit by an attack, you may redirect that attack to an adjacent ally instead.

Tier 2 (sneakiness) – Frantic Jab
Encounter (interrupt): An enemy moves adjacent to you. You may make a basic attack against the triggering foe to stab them in the face with a loose crossbow bolt, then shift two squares. If the attack hits, they are blinded until the end of their next turn. You lose your next standard action.

Tier 3 (sneakiness) – Trickster’s Mine
Daily (minor): Designate a square within 2 as a trap, your allies can see it, but enemies must make a difficult perception check to see it. When an enemy moves adjacent to it, that enemy takes 2d6+5 damage, is pushed one square, and knocked prone.

Tier 1 (well rounded) – Hidden Flask
Daily (minor) – Decosta or an adjacent ally may spend a healing surge. If used on an ally, they recover an additional 10 hit points.


While I had a great time designing all of the Legacies in this game, my favorite of all was designing the one for Jacobi Rizzo, the captain of the Dawn’s Arrow.  A skilled bard and storyteller, Jacobi was a Skald, the Essentials Bard with an incredible aura mechanic.  Seeing this, I knew that I wanted to use his aura as part of his legacy, expanding on the abilities available to him from his class.

As the only non-striker on the crew (or at least that’s the way it seemed sometimes) I decided that his legacy should passively improve his healing, drastically increasing its range and power.  His activated powers were all dailies which added a new effect to his aura.  Because they were all daily, I felt comfortable giving him roughly twice as many new powers as other characters had, since theirs tended to lean towards encounter powers.  He gained new ones by having adventures with the crew, and each new one gave him new abilities.  Some of these adventures included personal side-stories for the members of his crew, which gave powers based on their heroes.

Legacy of Stories

A skilled bard and a collector of stories, Captain Rizzo is always seeking new tales to add to his repertoire  Lately he seems to be finding himself a lot closer to the legends than he is used to, and his stories have become more real, more powerful.
Advancement: Uncover legends, witness stories in the making.

Collector of Legends

Each Legend that Jacobi completes increases the size of his Skald’s Aura by 1 for purposes of your class healing power. This power also heals an additional 1 hit point for each completed Legend.

Legend of Cragfall
Daily (minor): Until the end of the encounter, allies within your aura deal an additional 3 damage with all attacks.

Legend of the Nereid
Daily (minor): Once before the end of the encounter as a free action, when one of your allies within your aura would take damage, that ally becomes insubstantial until the end of their next turn.

Legend of the Leviathans
Daily (minor): Until the end of the encounter, Leviathans within your aura lose their Unnatural Resistance. 

Legend of Aziman
Daily (minor): Once before the end of the encounter, when an ally within your aura becomes bloodied, you may allow them to spend a healing surge as a free action. 

Legend of the Sleeping City
Daily (minor): Until the end of the encounter, when you or one of your allies would spend a healing surge, one of their allies within your aura may spend the healing surge instead. 

Legend of the Wyrmskull
Daily (minor): Until the end of the encounter, allies within your aura have a +2 to attack rolls and a +1 to speed while fighting on the deck of a ship.

Legend of Caecius I / II
Daily (minor): Once / Twice before the end of the encounter as a free action, when one of your allies within your aura uses an encounter attack power, you may have them not expend their use of that power.

Legend of Thestrel
Daily (minor): Until the end of the encounter, allies within your aura deal an additional 3 points of damage to enemies that have damaged them since the end of their last turn.

Legend of Decosta
Daily (minor): Once before the end of the encounter as a free action, when one of your allies within your aura would be ht by an attack that targets only them, you may redirect that attack to a creature adjacent to that ally.

*Legend of the Coral Knight
Daily (minor): Until the end of the encounter, allies within your aura have Damage Resistance 2.

*Legend of the Weave
Daily (minor): Until the end of the encounter, abilities that you use deal 3 extra damage or heal 3 additional hit points. 

*Legend of Kaldis
Daily (minor): Until the end of your next turn, your aura is reduced to 3 for all purposes. No creature may move in or out of your aura, or attack through it. This shield may be broken by heavy damage. Sustain Standard.


Thestrel was a tough character to work on.  Like Decosta, the Slayer class meant that I could ill afford to give her any increase to damage.  In the end, it was her mysterious parentage that really shaped her Legacy, as she was the granddaughter of an Amythest dragon, which gave her arcane abilities.  This also allowed me to give the Slayer some more interesting abilities in combat, because while it was the first campaign for Thestrel’s player, she quickly became bored in combat due to the extremely basic nature of the class.

This was also my opportunity to give one of the characters a mark ability.  Celindara had not yet been introduced to the game, and the party had no defender, so a single target mark was a fun way to shape the character’s role in combat.  I then gave her Mage Bolt so that she would have ranged options, and Arcane Pursuit to make her mark feel sword-magey.  In the end, I was very happy with the arcane swordswoman feel that the character developed in combat.

Spellsword Legacy

As Thestrel becomes more skilled in combat, a new power is awakening inside of her. The fury of battle seems to take on a new level of beauty and elegance for her as mysterious new abilities begin to emerge. Are they somehow related to her past, her family, or are they a symbol of something else?
Advancement: Slay enemies, or damage marked foes.

Spellsword’s Mark I / II / III

As a minor action, Thestrel may mark any target that she has hit this turn. If the marked foe makes an attack that does not include her as a target, the attack roll is made at -2, and the first time Thestrel attacks that target before the end of her next turn, she deals an additional 2 / 4 / 6 damage. This mark lasts until Thestrel marks a new enemy.

Tier 0 – Mage Bolt
Encounter (standard): Thestrel fires a blast of arcane energy at a foe within 5 squares. This attack deals 15 damage to the target and always hits. If the target is her marked enemy, she may teleport to a square adjacent to that enemy.

Tier 1 – Arcane Armor I / II
While Thestrel has an enemy marked, any other enemy that damages her deals 3 / 5 less damage with each attack.

Tier 2 – Arcane Pursuit
At-Will (Move): If your marked target is not adjacent to you, you may teleport up to 10 squares, to a space adjacent to your marked foe.

Tier 3 – Improved Arcana
Thestrel gains Spellsword’s Mark III and Arcane Armor II.

Tier 4 – Dragonfire
Daily (minor): Thestrel deals 2d6+CON to all creatures in a close blast 3. This attack requires no attack roll.


So there you have it, the Legacies from High Seas, and some of my thought process behind them.  These may have been a lot of work, but they were worth every moment, as were the final Legacy abilities that I gave the characters mid-way through the finale game.  While I wont include those abilities here (due to the fact that they were overwhelmingly powerful and imbalanced), giving players temporary abilities can do wonders for a game.

Next time I address Legacies, I’ll talk about what you can do to make your own for the players in your game.

Until then, smooth sailing.