[RPG] What power sources exist in D&D and what influence do they have on their heroes


D&D seems to have many different power sources. Is there a complete list somewhere? What flavour is attached to them?

Also, how do the classes relate to the power sources?

Are power sources important to the mechanics?

Best Answer

The class you choose dictates your power source. Most classes draw from just one power source, though some will occasionally dip into other sources.

The power source is a narrative device to provide you information as to where your character got their abilities and training. A martial character has been schooled in how to fight; an arcane character can draw on magic; a divine character receives their powers from their deity. However, it does occasionally have mechanical implications as well. Numerous powers and feats reference things like "arcane powers" or "divine powers" or even "martial classes." These provide restrictions, benefits and balance to the game.

The 4e power sources:

  • Martial - represents military training or general prowess with physical weaponry. (fighter, rogue, warlord, ranger, executioner assassin)

  • Divine - represents that powers come due to a connection with a deity or the spiritual realm (cleric, paladin, runepriest, invoker, avenger)

  • Arcane - your powers come from magical sources (wizard, warlock, swordmage, bard, artificer, sorcerer)

  • Psionic - your powers are mental. (psion, ardent, battlemind, monk)

  • Primal - your powers come from a deep connection to the world and the spirits (warden, shaman, druid, barbarian, seeker)

  • Shadow - your powers come form opening a well of energy from the Shadowfell (assassin, vampire).

Power sources are occasionally important to mechanics, but mostly they are dictated by class. You can have access to more than one power source by multiclassing or by using a hybrid class, but mostly you just have one power source. The mechanical impact is mostly in the choice of feats and paragon paths (some are limited to just martial characters, etc.), but for the most part, you won't see the impact of the power source directly on your gameplay. It's up to you to integrate its flavor into how you play your character.

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