Continued from previous post.

Now, I got to this point by examining what a race, class, or theme gives you, taken in terms of bonus feats and encounter powers. Using humans as a starting point, and kind of moving out from there, a race grants you an ability score bonus, an encounter power, and roughly one “bonus feat.” Some are pretty poor choices overall.

Your theme gives you (at 1st level) what amounts to an encounter power and a bonus feat. Some powers are daily, but they’re on par with decent encounter powers. Most also give you additional bonus feats at 5th and 10th level. Wizards of the Coast calls them “features,” and they’re designed to work with that encounter-equivalent.

Themes also grant access to some alternate utility powers, but utilities are the one type of power based on a character’s level rather than their, well, anything else. Now classes are where it gets a bit more difficult to discern effects and such. A class (again, at 1st level) provides a couple benefits that vary dramatically.

Each class provides the equivalent of an encounter power based on their power source. This is most obvious with divine classes, ’cause they get the nearly-useless channel divinity powers. Channel divinity isn’t usually effective for much apart from perhaps harming undead. The other power sources aren’t much better though.

In addition to the “power source power” (sometimes split into options), each class usually offers a role-based power as well. These are mostly on par with encounter powers in terms of utility, whether they’re marking enemies at-will, or bestowing a couple heals to your allies each fight. Oh, and strikers do their damage.

Classes also get sort-of a bonus feat. Usually it’s a weird little wimpy thing, which is hardest to pick apart from Martial classes, because their power-source power is almost identical. Figure the ranger gets one of two combat styles (which may grant bonus feats), and then uh, Prime Shot. What a great feature. [/sarcasm]

To summarize:

Race grants:
ability bonus
racial encounter power
bonus feat equivalent

Theme grants:
encounter power equivalent
bonus feat equivalent

Class grants:
source encounter power equivalent
role encounter power equivalent
bonus feat equivalent

Starting to notice a pattern? Well, there are a number of features that are applies to a character as they advance in levels, but I think a lot of those can be ignored when you focus on the character “chassis.” If that sounds familiar, well, here’s my post about a chassis that began the conversation about what goes into a character.