I'm having trouble interpreting the 4th Edition Essentials books. How do I determine how many powers a level 1 paladin/cavalier gets? The book never comes out and says it. With skills and feats, it's easy. They say how many you get at level 1 and how many more you get at later levels. Easy.

For powers, they refer you to a table and say to "note which classes features and powers you gain at 1st level, as specified on the Cavalier Heroic Tier table on page 123". All I see when I flip to that page is a table organized by level and a whole bunch of powers at level 1 and beyond. In the level 1 section, they list seven powers. Do I get ALL those powers at level 1? Or do I choose a certain number among them? It seems hard to believe.

To clarify, I got the character builder from DND Insider, but when I created the same character; the builder did not let me choose ANY powers for a level 1 paladin/cavalier. I know I did everything correctly, too. So I'm confused. Why does the character builder not let me pick any powers at level 1? According the builder, I only can choose a Paladin utility power at level 2 (restore vitality).

What exactly should I do for reading/interpreting this essentials series?

This situation also goes for a rogue(thief) that my girlfriend is going to play. She saw all these powers in the level 1 section of the Essentials book and wondered if she got all those powers at once at level 1. It included things like weapon finesse, backstab, first strike, etc. It seemed overpowered, but I couldn't find anyplace in the book where it said to "choose" from that group of level 1 powers. All it did was vaguely point to the chart again and to note which class features and powers I get at level 1.

Is the answer really that simple? I get all of the powers listed under the level 1 section?

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    \$\begingroup\$ An important note about 4e Essentials characters is that they are specifically designed around class features rather than power selection. For example the Fighter (Knight) only makes MBAs and has power strike as an encounter power (with some utility powers at the ususal levels) but has a really good to-hit modifier for a Defender, and can punish 1 per turn (vs 1 per round for just about every other defender) and rather than marking he simply applies his punishment and -2 to-hit bonus to any enemy standing next to him. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


Yes, it really is that simple.

While the main D&D 4e classes have a lot of choices, one key feature of the Essentials classes (especially the early ones) is that they make most of the choices for you.

So yes, you DO get all those awesome level 1 powers in the class table. If you were playing a PHB1 paladin, you'd get to choose some of them from larger lists, but you'd still get a ton of powers and features.

If that seems overpowered, it's by design.

As I mentioned here, 4e is about heroes doing heroic things, not ordinary people scraping up every advantage in order to survive. The mechanics want you to feel cool and capable from the very first encounter.

To this end, classes get all their iconic features right out of the gate: that leads to some front-loading of powers at level 1.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The other thing to note is that the character builder view makes it hard to see all of the powers you get for essentials characters, you have to go look at the character sheet to see everything you have. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 12:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh okay, thank you so much for clarifying! So, I need to take it easy on reading this essential series and read the class descriptions, table, and lists as they are. What I see, unless otherwise specified, is what I get? At level 2, no matter how many more powers I see under that section, unless it offers a choice between those powers in some kind of subset section within that description -virtues or tricks, etc- then those are all going into the characters' repertoire. \$\endgroup\$
    – NoobDM
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, thank you for pointing out the discrepancy with the character builder. I'll have to take another look! \$\endgroup\$
    – NoobDM
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 20:06

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