On the Horizon: Combat disciplines

On the Horizon: Combat disciplines

Howdy, everyone!

Thomas “Blixtev” Blair here, and I’m going to chat with you today about perhaps one of the most important and long awaited systems in Crowfall®, the Discipline system!

Yes that is right, we have been talking about and planning for disciplines since the Kickstarter days, as they are a key element in character progression and differentiation in Crowfall. I’m happy to say we are finally at the point where a large portion of the missing pieces have been implemented and disciplines have transitioned from something we talk about in vague terms to something we equip on our characters during internal playtests and see a change.

Now that we have built a few of the combat disciplines and have a much better idea of what we can do with them, I am going to show you some of our early examples and explain the system in  more detail. We decided to start with combat disciplines as they have the largest amount of animation, FX, sound and design work, but remember that there will be crafting and exploration-focused disciplines in the future.

What are Disciplines?

Put simply, disciplines are our “multi-classing” system. They allow you to customize/optimize/break your archetype in any number of amazing ways.

Those of you who played Shadowbane will recall how disciplines worked in that game. For those who didn’t play Shadowbane, disciplines were inventory objects that could be permanently equipped to your character, essentially granting the character a “subclass” with additional powers, skills, attributes, etc. In addition, these subclasses permitted access to unique armor and weapons. Initially, the Shadowbane player was limited to three disciplines. After a few expansions, the cap was raised to four at max level.

For reference, one of our forum contributors, Jah, was able to provide us with an old screenshot of a Shadowbane discipline (Thanks, Jah!)

ShadowbaneDiscipline

Disciplines in Crowfall will be similar in many ways, and yet different in a few subtle (but important ways). Ours are inventory objects (and also runestones because we like the idea of these being magic totems) that are used to grant powers, stats and access to new kinds of weapons, but, in our case, disciplines can even do more. In some cases, they can unlock new equipment slots, grant passives and even open up new power trays. (In short: ex-SB players will find it familiar, but better. New players should just find it really, really cool.)

For example, Knights who equip the Sharpshooter discipline will gain access to specific active and passive bow powers, as well as granting the bow slot, arrow slot and ranged power tray.

Some differences/specifics on how these work in Crowfall:

Disciplines runestones can only be equipped once. They can be replaced but the new discipline runestone will overwrite the existing one, destroying it in the process.

There are multiple “quality levels” of runestones (because like everything else in the game, they can be crafted).  Higher quality means increased bonuses from attributes, statistics, etc.  The things that are granted by the runestone (powers, equipment slots, power trays, etc.) are available for ALL quality levels.

This also implies an upgrade path for each discipline. You can start with a “green” Sharpshooter runestone and later upgrade to an “orange” one to get some numerical benefits.

Another key difference is that not all disciplines are equal in power/effect, so we’re giving different archetypes different numbers and types.

Wait, WHAT?!

Types of Disciplines

We have broken disciplines into three types:

Weapon disciplines: This type of discipline is based around a specific weapon type, i.e. Master of Maces or Master of Bows. Most archetypes have a choice of at least two and sometimes seven different styles of weapon to choose from. Each archetype may equip one Weapon discipline.

Discipline_tooltip_weapon (1)

Major disciplines: This type of discipline is based a themed subclass, i.e. Friar or Arcane Archer. These usually come with stats and three to four powers, new equipment slots and even upgrades to baseline archetype powers. Each archetype may equip one to two Major disciplines.

Discipline_tooltip_majors

Minor disciplines: This type of discipline is based around one power or idea, i.e. Executioner or Glass Cannon. These usually come with one active or passive power. Each archetype may equip one to three Minor disciplines.

Discipline_tooltip_minors

The reason there is a range on the number of disciplines an archetype may equip is because (let’s be honest) not all archetypes will end up perfectly equal from a balance perspective. (Baseline faster movement speed, anyone?)

Allowing different archetypes to have more (or fewer) discipline slots gives us a nice counter-balance to that. An archetype may end up with fewer disciplines because their core mechanics or base powers are so strong it justifies removing a discipline slot. (Myrmidon, I’m looking at you!)

Moving towards launch, we hope to smooth out the obvious balance issues between the archetypes as much as possible, obviously, but it’s never a bad idea to include a few “release valves” to help relieve that pressure. Having the ability to adjust the number of discipline slots for each archetype gives us another handle to attack that problem – and gives players a new system to explore (and theorycraft), which is a double-win in my book.

The goal, overall, is to give you guys a seemingly endless number of combinations to explore.

Acquiring disciplines!

Disciplines can be crafted via the Runecrafting profession. Each types will require a different core component during the crafting process. For Weapon Mastery disciplines, an advanced weapon of the appropriate type is required. Major disciplines require finding and binding a specific kind of thrall to a soul gem, and then using that soul gem in the crafting process. (i.e. a Friar thrall is used to craft a Friar runestone.) Finally, Minor disciplines will require rare components that have been looted or harvested from NPCs.

What do I do with all these powers?!

You may have noticed in recent playtests that powers can be moved from the Power UI to the Active Power bar. We’ve also added three slots for passive powers, as well as enabled the retaliate power to be swapped. It is our intention that players be able to obtain many more active, passive, and retaliate powers than they can actively loadout into their Power tray.

Loading a power into your Power tray will set that power initially on cooldown, so that our clever macro-writing players won’t able to abuse this system and “insta-swap” powers in and out to effectively access all of their powers at once.

Discipline_PowersUI

I Hope you have enjoyed this early look at our up and coming Discipline system. We are making the powers, animations and FX for them as I write this. Our team is super excited about this system, and we can’t wait for all of you to be able to explore it with us in the future. (Disciplines haven’t entered the “soon” phase of development yet, but we’re working on it, I promise!)

As always, please feel free to leave comments on the forums, and let us know your ideas as to what would make the coolest Combat, Crafting and Exploration disciplines!

See you in game!

Blair
Design Lead, ArtCraft Entertainment

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