I’m pleased to say I’m putting the finishing touches on the heroic Ur-Priest!

(“Heroic Ur-Priest?” Isn’t that an oxymoron?)

This class has eluded me for a long time, despite the fact that on most accounts I already knew what I was going to need to make it! I’m basing the Ur-Priest on the Invoker, which seems pretty obvious once you think about it.

In Third Edition, the Ur-Priest was often an evil cleric who lost his faith and cast off the trappings of his religion to instead steal power from the gods. Fourth Edition provides use with the Shadow power source, the perfect embodiment of such corruption.

The Invoker carries over much of the fluff of the 3e Favored Soul, a breed of divine spellcaster who was “chosen” to receive power directly from the gods rather than praying for spells like everybody else. Mechanically they were a “divine sorcerer.”

Knowing this, why did the Ur-Priest prove so difficult to design? Most of my trouble came from trying to design a system for stealing spells and siphoning power. To be blunt, 4e just doesn’t work that way — there’s just no benefit to “stealing spells.”

So I had to start from scratch and try to embody the class’s feeling.

Actually, I started looking at the Malediction Invoker, because that seemed to have everything I had wanted but was afraid to ask for — but as I began work on it, I found myself removing a lot of the basic stuff that made the Maledictor what he was.

An Ur-Priest is vain, arrogant, and tyrannical. I borrowed the name from one of my favorite Magic: the Gathering cards for the very first power I decided to keep:

Act of Betrayal [Shadow, Implement, Charm]
Standard action * At-will * Close blast 5
Target: One or two enemies in blast
Attack: Intelligence vs. Will
Hit: Each target uses a basic attack against a creature of your choice (including itself) as a free action, with a +4 power bonus to the attack roll. These attacks don’t provoke opportunity attacks.

It’s basically the Wizard’s “Hypnotism” power, but with several significant changes — first, I protected the target(s) from Opportunity Attacks, which had the potential to be devastating before. Second, I made the power target up to two enemies.

Act of Betrayal doesn’t slide a target the same way “Hypnotism” can, but it also enables the player to choose any basic attack, rather than just an MBA.

My feeling is the possibility of getting two enemies to hurt each other/themselves is well worth the extra attack rolls required to pull it off — “Hypnotism” wasn’t the best controller power to begin with, but I believe Act of Betrayal just does it better.