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Some comments on class design

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After playing about a dozen hours of the backer beta, I had some comments on some of the design choices for classes.  This isn't really a discussion about balance since numbers can be changed down the line, but there are a few fundamental design choices that I think can't be patched around.

 

Wizard Sub-classes:

I think the wizard sub-class needs to be rethought.  The problem is that the spells are not well distributed.  This is especially noticeable if you choose the enchanter subclass.  A lot of the higher level enchanter spells overlap with the lower level enchanter spells and these do not stack.  Thus, if you pick enchanter, a lot of your spells will become useless as you level-up and this cuts down on your options that are already cut down by the sub-class downside.  I think wizards need to go the way of priest where there is only a benefit and no downside.  You can also add some benefit to the non-sub-class wizard that would make not taking a sub-class actually attractive.

 

Devoted:

I think the devoted bonus is too oppressive.  Since a majority of players will never use more than one weapon type, taking the devoted  over a generic fighter is a no-brainer.  Either proficiencies need to be beefed up which would make switching between weapons actually an attractive option instead of being a nuisance, or you need to give a bonus to the generic fighter, or you need to make the downside to the devoted an actual downside.

 

Blackjacket:

I can't see anyone ever taking this sub-class for the same reason you would never not take devoted.  The game just doesn't make switching weapons attractive enough.  Also, I think removing constant recovery eliminates an essential part of what makes a fighter a fighter.  It would be like removing sneak attack from the rogue.  I think the downside needs to be a weakened constant recovery, which still gives you the option to take rapid recovery.  The bonus should be changed to something like you can use the proficiency from one weapon type at reduced power for another weapon type.  Or remove the downside from weapon proficiencies.  Something that doesn't require you to switch weapons for the class to actually do something.

 

Beckoner:

Since you can only have one summon at a time, this class seems kind of weak.  I think a better bonus would be to raise the summoning cap from 1 to 2.  That way you don't feel useless after casting one spell.  Of course, this would make you feel useless after casting two spells, so maybein thee end, summoning is just too difficult to balance to make this sub-class feel fun to play.

 

These were some of the main issues I had while building a variety of characters.  In general though, most of the sub-classes feel unique and fun to build around.

 

 

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I agree very much so on wizard sub classes.  I made a conjurer because the familiar sounds cool and I wanted to check out the bonuses.  For those wondering, familiar is a spell that has to be cast in combat.  I summoned a bird that gave me a +1 dex buff and was very easily killed.

 

At level 6 I had access to the first 3 levels of spells.  I picked all conjuring spells: sunless touch, ghost blades, necrotic lance, web, arcane veil, and miniature meteors.  I know beta isn't complete, but none of these really scream conjurer to me, and even with the increased power level this is not an adequate toolkit.  It would be even worse getting to level 6, as there a bunch of lower level illusion spells that you give up that are incredibly useful.  I feel a generalist would be better off in every regard.

 

I then went back and created a new character to look at the other sub-classes.  Evoker, Illusionist, and Transmuter seemed to have interesting abilities at least, but I'm not convinced they will justify the penalties.  Giving up two schools and the increased recovery on non-sub class spells is too punishing for solo class.  On the other hand it is a okay way to offset the lower power level of dual class.  I think single class really needs help, maybe a 'free' spell of that school every level, or a bonus spell pick every 3 levels.

 

A lot of the carryover ideas from D&D 2nd ed. and the infinity engine games just flat out do not mesh with the idea of crpg balance and all specs being viable.  I would rather see more thematic specializations that coincide with gameplay roles rather than the archaic, arbitrary spell schools we've all come to know and love.  Have a blaster sub class that does more direct damage, a summoner that can actually summon.  A 'sorcerer' sub-spec with more casts per combat but only 1 spell per level, or can't cast from grimoires.  I think the hunter sub specs were done very well even if they don't end up being game breaking.  They alter game play in a meaningful RP friendly way and are balanced enough that they feel optional.

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I pretty much agree with your wizard points. I just don't think the depth of spells exists yet to divide them into schools, or at least not as many schools as there are.

 

I was also thinking, and I know this really throws high complexity into the mix, but just as coming from different areas can affect stats/attributes, I think they should affect spells, at least druid spells. I would think a druid from one climate would have a propensity and proficiency for certain spells based on the inherent nature of those regions. Sort of spell schools for druids, but these make sense. the current sub-classes are sort of interesting, but only in an abstract way.

 

I could see something similar for barbarians.

 

But like I said, added complexity would be the weakness of this idea.

Joe

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I don't agree to the criticism of the Beckoner. He is very powerful and summoning double the creatures with the same casting time is good. Since summons only last 12 seconds you need to resummon right after the initial cast in order to keep some summons on the field. So there is no "one cast and then you'll do nothing".
I played a Beckoner/Bleak Walker with Shared Flames and Mith Fyr as dps support abilities and enemies got wanked pretty hard.

Edited by Boeroer
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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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in re: beckoner.  My criticism wasn't necessarily that beckoner was weak.  It just doesn't feel good to play him because you cast one summon and then that's it.  A summoner class doesn't make a lot of sense when summons are limited to one cast at a time.  However, I can see it being a good multi-class option so maybe my criticisms weren't completely fair.

 

Also, as a side note, there is a potion class with the drug monk, but there is no explosive class yet.  I wonder if you can just make the blackjacket the explosive class.  Otherwise I don't really see it getting played.  The only use scenario that I can imagine at this point is if there are a bunch of weapon with per encounter spell charges.  Then you can play the blackjacket as if it was some kind of jank wizard, although at that point you might as well play a wizard.

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I disagree with the Devoted, being stuck with a -10 accuracy to weapons(it's even worse if it applies to spells and stuff as well) penalty outside of one weapon type is pretty big. Especially without metagame knowledge if you pick a weapon that has subpar choices. You are correct about the modals, but that's an issue with modal balance as opposed to the subclass.

 

My opinion on the Wizard subclasses is they need to be forced like Paladin and Priest subclasses and give just a passive ability that synergies well with their school while penalties and benefits are removed. Evoker is the only one I feel does this well, Conjurer and Transmuter both have subpar spells and Illusionist and Enchanter seem to be situational. Of course spells themselves need to be tweaked heavily, particularly the casting times.


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in re: devoted.  I agree with you that -10 accuracy is a big penalty.  However, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it actually make a sound?  Or in other words, how often are players going to switch between weapons mid-battle?  My last several playthroughs of pillars 1 on potd, I don't think I ever switched weapons mid-battle.  Of course, if you pick the wrong weapon at character start, you might break your character, but I would be surprised if the game didn't allow respecs.  If that's the case, unless they make weapon-switching really attractive, I don't see you ever picking anything other than devoted for a damage dealing fighter.

 

Also, I realized why I didn't like the classes that I mentioned in the first post.  Ultimately, the sub-classes are fairly minor changes to the base class.  They're there mostly for flavor and to give direction/focus to your character.  For example, if you want to make a tank character, it makes sense to pick unbroken.  However, the difference between unbroken and the regular fighter isn't that big, but just by picking the subclass it feels more like a tank.  The problem with classes like beckoner or enchanter is that it is difficult in the current game to build a character around those classes.  You can't build a summoner because of the limit on summons.  You can't build an enchanter because there aren't enough enchanter spells and the enchanter spells that do exist overlap each other.  The blackjacket is supposed to be a jack of all trades, but I think ultimately he'll just feel like a worse version of a regular fighter because there is no pay-off for making a jack of all trades character (at least in pillars 1).  All of the other sub-classes have a well-defined flavor and correspond with a specific build.

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in re: beckoner.  My criticism wasn't necessarily that beckoner was weak.  It just doesn't feel good to play him because you cast one summon and then that's it. 

But that's not true. You have to resummon all the time if you don't want to end up with no summons. And you are still a full-blown chanter besides summons who can also cast other invocations or hit stuff with a weapon. The advantage of the Beckoner is that he can summons twice the minions at the same time. This is very benefical when it comes to body-blocking. It's also twice the damage potential because while the summons are smaller and have less health, they still have the same damage output (which is not bad at all). Also twice the summons can do twice the things at the same time. I think it's a great concept and more powerful than allowing to have two parallel summons on the field. This would mean you'd spend double the phrase points and need twiche the casting time. It's actually worse than the current approach. A Beckoner can keep on summoning right after the initial summoning process - in order to replace the damaged summons with freh ones. Samne effect as haveing two single summons on the field - but spares a lot of time. 


Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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in re: devoted.  I agree with you that -10 accuracy is a big penalty.  However, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it actually make a sound?  Or in other words, how often are players going to switch between weapons mid-battle?  My last several playthroughs of pillars 1 on potd, I don't think I ever switched weapons mid-battle.  Of course, if you pick the wrong weapon at character start, you might break your character, but I would be surprised if the game didn't allow respecs.  If that's the case, unless they make weapon-switching really attractive, I don't see you ever picking anything other than devoted for a damage dealing fighter.

Why mid-battle? The Devoted is bound to a single weapo for the whole game retraining aside - I wouldn't want to retrain for every battle where I'd meet immune foes), not only for one battle. Doesn't really matter how often you switched weapons in mid battle in PoE - what matters more is how often you wanted to switch weapons from encounter to encounter.

 

If the Devoted meets a flame blight and his devoted weapon is an estoc, a spear, a rapier or whatever piercing weapons - then he's screwed. Well, not really screwed - but he will either do no damage OR he has to switch weapons which will lead to -10 ACC (and no proficiency which alse affects some of his abilites that only work for proficient weapons - he will also not be able to use modals).

 

Of course you can choose a weapon that's most likely enough to counter immunities like a Great Sword and thus won't feel the need to switch weapons too often - but all those weapons have lower base PEN and you still might encounter situations where it would be better to switch a weapon.

 

But in the end, a comparison between PoE and Deadfire in regard to weapon switching is futile because the PEN/AR system is very different from the DR/DR bypass system of PoE.

 

I totally agree on wizard's subclasses and Blackjacket though.

For example: The Black Jacket is only (a bit) useful for your first playthrough - if you don't know anything about the game and its enemies. Once you have a bit of meta knowledge this subclass becomes totally useless unless you want to create a gunner build with quick switching OR if you want to cheesily cancel long recovery times wich a quick switch (which still works afaik). Both is not really the intended use of the Black Jacket I presume. 

Edited by Boeroer

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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Subbing thread.


"Time is not your enemy. Forever is."

— Fall-From-Grace, Planescape: Torment

"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question, and he'll look for his own answers."

— Kvothe, The Wise Man's Fears

My Deadfire mods: Brilliant Mod | Faster Deadfire | Deadfire Unnerfed | Helwalker Rekke

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The loophole of the devoted is to choose the sword.

 

With that, two types of damage.

 

This greatly reduces the risk of problems. Admittedly, he will not always have the maximum penetration (estoc etc.), but he has a counterpart (+2 penetration).

 

However, I agree with the black jacket and the wizard =  really bad actually.

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I think the best character i made was a devoted dual-wielding scepters since the proficiency is just a pure damage boost with marginal downside.  I can see a devoted with a war-bow good as well since they added two damage types to bows for some odd reason.  

 

However, my main gripe with devoted wasn't that it was too powerful, but that it feels too much like a normal fighter.  95% of the time it will just be better than a normal fighter so there is no reason not to take devoted unless you're building a tank character.  Of course, this could change depending on what incentives the developers create for switching weapons mid-battle, but as it stands now, the devoted sub-class just seems like bad design.  (95% of the time the blackjacket will be worse than a normal fighter so that's bad design for the same reason, just going the other way.)

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Devoted seems like it could be a minor noob trap. If you haven't played a Pillars game before you might not understand the value of dual-damage-type weapons, and make a considerably less useful character just by choosing the wrong weapon type to focus on.

 

Not that I think it's a very big issue, compared to other noob trap options, especially in older games.

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Devoted seems like it could be a minor noob trap. If you haven't played a Pillars game before you might not understand the value of dual-damage-type weapons, and make a considerably less useful character just by choosing the wrong weapon type to focus on.

 

Not that I think it's a very big issue, compared to other noob trap options, especially in older games.

The game has a warning for beginners when selecting a multi-class character, maybe it should have a similar warning for sub-classes? 

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Devoted seems like it could be a minor noob trap. If you haven't played a Pillars game before you might not understand the value of dual-damage-type weapons, and make a considerably less useful character just by choosing the wrong weapon type to focus on.

 

Not that I think it's a very big issue, compared to other noob trap options, especially in older games.

The game has a warning for beginners when selecting a multi-class character, maybe it should have a similar warning for sub-classes? 

 

Or why not simply a game-wide warning for all new players! ;)

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*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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