Sometimes it takes making a mistake before you can find the answer. That’s why we observe, hypothesize, experiment, observe, analyze, and revise. Yesterday I finally added my “Character Role Efficiency” post, and it was in the wake of that I realized my error — encounter powers don’t strictly need to reflect the class’s primary role.

Character Role Efficiency (Jul 9, 2013)

It’s nice when they do and it helps count toward role efficiency, but it’s also far from necessary. That might not seem like an error so much as an oversight — it was an error was on my side, in how I approached class design. It was in realizing that encounter powers weren’t tied to role that I better understood utility powers.

Utility powers are complicated. In order to better explain how utility powers work, I’ll share something else I did yesterday, which was to analyze the power load-out at Heroic, Paragon, and Epic tiers. Some Essentials classes break the mold.

Heroic class
Encounter power 1, 3, 7
Daily power 1, 5, 9
Utility power 10

Paragon path
Encounter power 11
Daily power 20
Utility power 12

Epic destiny
Utility power 26

Unassigned
Utility power 2, 6, 16, 22

(Power swap)
Encounter power 13, 17, 23, 27
Daily power 15, 19, 25, 29

Though there’s a fair amount of overlap between certain kinds of class features and powers, it’s important to note the exchange rate isn’t quite the same. So, what does this all mean? Well — daily powers are about reliability and effectiveness and are easily replaced with class features that add reliability to standard/basic powers.

Utility powers expand a character’s role.

The “efficiency rating” I wrote about yesterday? Any part of a class’s primary or secondary role not covered at 1st level should be supplemented with utility powers. And that’s ultimately how you maintain a balanced class (or theme, path, or destiny) across a tier. Determine your roles and then stagger features across the tier.

How do you stagger a role like “striker” across a tier? Well, simply put — powers like “Power Strike” enable a character to be a striker for a round, whether striker is their primary or secondary (or tertiary) role. Compare the magical ammunition or reagents of Fourth Edition — and you have an “role through advancement.”