Thursday, April 20, 2017

Howdy everyone,

Thomas “Blixtev” Blair here. The time has come, as it does every few months to talk about the next archetype. Today I am happy to reveal the basic powers kit of… the Fey Assassin!

As with the previous archetypes, the standard caveats apply: We are still building this archetype, so things are liable to change. In fact, they are almost guaranteed to change!

Before we start, let’s review some of the development basics we use on Crowfall®.


We have been building each archetype with what we think would be a ‘minimum viable power’ kit for that archetype to be useful and fun in combat. This means that the current list isn’t final, and some of the powers might even jump to other archetypes (or be cut entirely!) as we continue development.

We are leaving ourselves room on the powers tray for the player to eventually slot additional combat powers (i.e. the ones that the player will acquire via disciplines, advantages or class promotions).

In other words, don’t freak out about anything at this stage.

Each new power we build often has a set of new (and different) components that would be useful not only in the construction of that particular power, but that would also open up a new area of design discovery. The goal is to build reusable elements that we can repurpose in other powers for other archetypes. The Duelist is yet another archetype that has really benefited from previous archetypes and the tech we did build for him gave us quite a few new toys for the powers toolbox.

Crowfall Assassin FX Watermarked-1024x356


The vision for the Assassin is pretty simple and is pretty much an MMO staple at this point: A stealthy, quick-attacking, stabby-stab type that utilizes poisons and has positional-based attacks; however, as with all of our archetypes, we like to spend some time making each as unique as we can. We also try to leverage a few weeks of tech time to get new features added to the combat system that can then be used across the board for all archetypes.

One of the new pieces of tech we asked for was positional attacks, something we’ve wanted for a very long time. This will enables us to do “from behind” and “flanking” positional attacks and to trigger defenses (or not) based on the vector of the incoming attack. (To illustrate how long we’ve been planning this feature: the Legionnaire’s Rear Kick was always intended to only trigger when they got hit from behind. Adding this positional tech will finally cause Rear Kick to work the way we had always intended.)


The biggest feature connected to the Assassin is stealth. You’ve already seen the beginnings of this system, with the Duelist’s Burrow ability (and related powers). We have a fair amount of work still coming on stealth – but a lot of it (1) won’t feel right or (2) won’t even come online until we implement the “anti-stealth” powers as well. In the meantime, while we’re waiting on these features, we’ll continue to grant “detect” ability to all players so that stealth isn’t completely OP.

In summary, just know that we haven’t forgotten about stealth/anti-stealth and that it remains one of the key features of the Crowfall system. As a teaser to what you can expect: We want stealth/anti-stealth to be a game that requires investment on behalf of both parties, and we want to allow both stealth and anti-stealth to be dedicated roles that players can specialize in to make them completely different (and critical to success) in the Campaign Worlds.


Oh, and did I mention the wings? Yes, that’s right. The assassin is our first (and, right now, only) archetype with wings. Adding wings to a player character is always dicey because it can easily lead into a never-ending rabbit hole of new features. What do they do? How do we account for them in animation? Flying (meaning actual 3D flight) is not part of our core game vision, but we like the idea of using wings to enable things like gliding, featherfall effects, superleaps, etc. There are also a bunch of logistical considerations that touch on everything from user input to animation. What is the right way to handle the wings, when not in use? Should we hide them, fold them or leave them out all the time? Will combat animations look good if the wings are out all the time? Do the character’s feet hover off the ground? And so on and on.

After many, many months of brainstorming, testing ideas and revising them, here is what we’ve decided. The wings will be out all the time, but folded back when not in active use. They don’t provide free-form flying, but they do allow the Assassin to have a form of slow fall “glide” from heights, a double jump and will be utilized when the character is sprinting. And, of course, we’ll accommodate them in ALL of the other animations because they look really cool.

Passive poisons

As part of the Discipline system tech, we spent a considerable amount of time working on customizable powers tray loadouts. We wanted to leverage some of that tech so that the Assassin could decide which kind of poison they want to have equipped via granting them a series of passive powers and letting them equip one based on their current combat needs.

Enough musings, onto the Assassin!


The Assassin uses a familiar type of resource at this point, called pips, to fuel powers that have a cost. (This puts us at three pip-based archetypes: Duelist, Templar and now Assassin.) Pips generate every time the Assassin uses a left-click attack or positional-based attack. The Assassin can collect a maximum of five pips.

Assassin powers that use pips all require a minimum of one pip, but can be fueled with up to (the max of) five. When any power that requires pips is used, it always consumes ALL of the pips you currently have collected. The effect of the power can increase (or change) based on number of pips spent. As a general rule, this means that the more pips you spend, the more damage that power will do. In other cases, it might gain secondary effects or add time/strength to any buffs or debuffs applied.

iFrame – Soul – Ultimate Power

We also tend to call these the “Oh Sh..” powers. They tend to have long cooldowns and are over-the-top offensively or defensively. Each archetype has access to one power of this type.

Shadowstep is the Assassin’s iFrame power. When this power is activated, the Assassin is taken out of combat and placed into stealth mode while also blinding all nearby enemies.

Passive Powers

Every Crowfall Archetype gets an archetype-specific Retaliate passive power that can only be used when stunned or knocked down. This power, when activated, will leap the character back to their feet from the stunned or knocked-down state and will then generally deal damage to everyone in the area.

Retaliate powers are treated like a hidden combo, so players never see it on their powers bar… the button to activate it only appears when you are stunned or knocked down. The cooldown is lengthy, so you might have to eat a full stun or knockdown in some cases, if crowd control immunity hasn’t kicked in on you yet. The Assassin’s retaliate power, for example, is a leap to her feet that also deals damage to nearby enemies. (In the near future there will be multiple kinds of retaliates, and players will be able to loadout a different one if they so desire.)

The Assassin is also granted three passive powers:

  • Apply Poison – Poison
  • Apply Poison – Disease
  • Apply Poison – Nature

The Assassin can only loadout one poison passive at any given time. Each of these poisons enables the Assassin to have a chance to apply that poison type while performing any attack. When applied, the poison will apply a damage-over-time effect of the appropriate damage type and unlock other gameplay functionality with the Infect tray power.

Sprint is technically a passive ability, but we don’t display it on the power bar. If the player is in combat mode, depressing the Shift key will increase the speed of the character (currently by 30%) and rapidly drains the stamina bar. We recently added Trailblazer as a passive to all archetypes to make them move quickly while out of combat.

Left and Right Click Powers

The left-click power for the Assassin deals damage and generates one pip with each attack that hits a target. The right-click power is a short (10m) Dash that also deals damage on any target(s) they dash through.

AssassinAbilityTree CombatTray-1024x529

The Powers Bar

Let’s look at the Assassin’s powers bar in detail.

The first power in the tray is one of the positional attacks and the bread and butter of any rogue type character, Backstab. This attack deals bonus damage if the Assassin is located behind the target. This attack also generates two pips.

The next power is Kidney Shot. This attack deals damage and stuns the target. The amount of damage and duration of the stun is based on the number of pips used.

Infect is the third tray power and is the tray power that has a direct interaction with the current poison applied on the target (whichever poison the Assassin has equipped as their passive). This does mean it is generally not advisable to use this power against a target who has no poison active on them.

  • Poison type/Poison already on target – AoE poison damage explosion
  • Disease type/Poison already on target – Healing absorb bubble applied to target
  • Nature type/Poison already on target – Snares target, deals bonus damage

This power also increases the proc chance rate of the current poison passive the Assassin has equipped.

The next power in the tray is Curse Weapon. This power overloads all damage dealt by the Assassin to disease-type damage. The duration of this buff is based on the amount of pips spent when activating it.

Disengage enables the Assassin to create some space with their current target. It is very similar to the Ranger power of the same name. This power generates one pip, and if followed up with a forward Dash attack, it will grant the Assassin a damage buff for a few seconds. This power is a key part of the Assassin’s arsenal; the character is light on defense and makes up for it in mobility.

The next power in the tray, Dagger Storm is a point blank AoE-style attack to all nearby enemies.

Stealth Mode

Stealth mode, as with the Duelist, is a way of turning your character invisible to other players. Currently, all players have the ability to potentially detect stealth characters, but eventually this will change when our anti-stealth features come online. Note that detection is also positional – your target’s chance to detect you will be increased or decreased depending on the direction they are facing.

AssassinAbilityTree StealthTray-1024x529

Stealth Tray

The first power in this tray is Ambush. This is the traditional (devastating) rogue attack that can only be made from stealth. It is a single-target attack. The Assassin is removed from stealth and hits the target very (very!) hard and applies a Daze effect. This attack also generates three pips when it lands.

Cheap Shot is an attack where the Assassin stuns a target and generates two pips. This attack is primarily used as a setup for a five pip Kidney Shot follow up, creating a ‘stun lock’-style of gameplay. Use of this power breaks stealth.

The next power is Recon. Recon applies a debuff that is unique to all Specialist archetypes called Exposed. This is a very nasty debuff that causes the target to take extra damage and generates bonus pips for the Assassin. Using this power does not break stealth. It plays a particle on the target that clues them in that a stealthed character is nearby and probably about to wreck them with a sneak attack. (Note that other stealth/anti-stealth archetype(s) can trigger effects off of this debuff as well, in the same manner that “Sin” can be utilized by Confessors and Templars in different ways.)

Spirit Dart fires a spirit dart at the target that applies the current Assassin poison. This version of the poison deals no damage but does allow for the mechanics of Infect to work. This will create more from stealth opening options for the Assassin such that a big Infect attack would be a good option. Use of this power does not break stealth.

TL;DR Summary

We’re excited to be working on the Assassin for a number of reasons, primarily because it allows us to continue investing time and resources into our stealth/anti-stealth game, but also because it’s a great addition to our varied lineup of interesting archetypes. To that point, the Assassin adds a number of new features to our design toolbox: Wings! Poisons! Positional Attacks! Stealth! Even more fun gameplay and variety to Crowfall.

We can’t wait to see the Assassin in action! As always, we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas – and see you in game!

Thomas Blair Design Lead, ArtCraft Entertainment

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