Nate K
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Hi everyone!

As some of you know, Joe Romero has been running a delightful Character Creation Contest for BattleCon the last few months. This month, contestants are meant to spread the love by creating a character for another contestant.

I have been assigned to create a character for:

Jared Voshall
United States
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Jared's request is:

"Let's see someone's take on a support-type character that focuses on buffs and debuffs to win the fight. Good on their own, but great in one of the Team-based varients."


Sounds like fun!


Now, with every design I do, whether it be for a BattleCon character or a full game, I try to take something we've all seen before and put a new spin on it. I also prefer to design starting from theme and then working my way towards functional mechanics.

We have a character who is going to be throwing buffs onto his or her allies while weakening his or her opponents. There are several components here that are important:

1. The character has to strengthen his or her allies.
1a. This means the wording of this character's abilities must account for one or more allies.
1b. Multiple allies will make this character stronger than he or she is on his or her own.

2. The character must be able to weaken his or her opponents.
2a. This means the wording of this character's abilities must account for one or more enemies.

3. The character must be good enough to hold his or her own in a duel.


Now we've got some design goals!


I'm going to throw out some ideas for myself to get the brain a'storming:

--Yuna-type character who heals allies and attacks with summoned creatures.

--Cleric who heals allies and can negate certain types of attacks.

--Dark cleric who heals allies at the cost of his or her own life--or the life of his or her enemies.

--Enchanter/Enchantress who improves the strength of his or her own weapons as well as his or her allies.

--Blood Mage who draws power from opponents as they are damaged.

--Druidish support character whose animal friends can help allies or hinder enemies.

--Illusionist who can make his or her allies appear more dangerous or confuse his or her enemies.

--Paladin who can cast buff spells on his or her allies while smashing face.


Obviously, not all of those fit the design goals perfectly, but they grant some good starting points from which to branch out.
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Thiago Colas
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São José do Rio Preto
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If you allow me a tip, an Aura Paladin would be a perfect base.
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Nate K
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Let's look at how each of the different ideas I brainstormed fit with the design goals:

Quote:
--Yuna-type character who heals allies and attacks with summoned creatures.


Does she strengthen her allies?

Yes! Her healing spells keep them alive longer so they can bring the PAIN!

Does she weaken her opponents?

...Not necessarily. This would depend on the effects of the different creatures she can summon.

Can she hold her own?

...Not necessarily. I have two concerns about this type of character: first, she may not be good enough on her own; second, she may end up too complicated, trying to act both as a healer/support character and as a summoner/tank. This complication can be mitigated by tying in her buffs/debuffs in with the creatures she summons--one creature provides a healing effect, one can blind her opponents, one smashes face, etc. Tricky, but doable.

Quote:
--Cleric who heals allies and can negate certain types of attacks.


Does he strengthen his allies?

Yes! His healing effects keep them alive, and his ability to negate certain types of attacks allow them to attack with more impunity.

Does he weaken his enemies?

...Not really. His ability to shut down certain types of attacks is useful and can really hamstring the opponent, but that's not quite the same as a "debuff."

Can he hold his own?

Yes! His healing effects keep him afloat, his ability to negate certain attacks allows him to play defensively, and he can slowly whittle away at the opponent's life total.

Quote:
--Dark cleric who heals allies at the cost of his or her own life--or the life of his or her enemies.


Does he or she strengthen his or her allies?

Yes! The dark cleric can provide healing aid to keep them alive longer.

Does he or she weaken his or her enemies?

Yes! The dark cleric's magic is fueled by blood loss. He or she can sacrifice his or her own life, or drain his or her opponent's blood to fuel the healing magic.

Can he or she hold his or her own?

...Probably not. Effects that allow the dark cleric to injure herself in order to strengthen the team would be virtually useless in one-on-one combat. The dark cleric is too much of a support character to work well solo.

Quote:
--Enchanter/Enchantress who improves the strength of his or her own weapons as well as his or her allies.


Does he or she strengthen his or her allies?

Yes! Prior to the start of the battle, the enchanter or enchantress can infuse magical powers into the weapons of his or her allies, granting them bonuses to use throughout combat.

Does he or she weaken his or her enemies?

...Not necessarily. It depends on the sort of effects he or she grants himself and his or her allies through their weapon enchantments.

Can he or she hold his or her own?

Yes! His or her magic-infused weapons can carry the day!

Quote:
--Blood Mage who draws power from opponents as they are damaged.


Does he or she strengthen his or her allies?

...Not necessarily. It will depend on the kind of effects the blood mage is trying to fuel. Healing effects are not the blood mage's forte, but their are other ways to support the team--causing them to be stronger, or faster, or more agile, or to see in the dark, or to catch visions of the near future.

Does he or she weaken his or her enemies?

Yes! He or she draws energy from them as they grow weaker. The more blood spilt, the more powerful the blood mage becomes. Additionally, he or she can cast withering spells to make them weaker still.

Can he or she hold his or her own?

Yes! The blood mage just needs to draw a small amount of blood to gain a small amount of power, allowing him or her to draw more blood, creating a snowball effect. The more hits he or she lands, the more powerful the blood mage becomes!

Quote:
--Druidish support character whose animal friends can help allies or hinder enemies.


Does he or she strengthen his or her allies?

Yes! His animal friends can provide early warnings of attacks, or inflict additional damage in combat.

Does he or she weaken his or her enemies?

Yes! The animals can trip or distract or poison or confuse the enemies, making them easier targets.

Can he or she hold his or her own?

Yes! Even while solo, the druid's small army can make quick work of the enemy.

Quote:
--Illusionist who can make his or her allies appear more dangerous or confuse his or her enemies.


Does he or she strengthen his or her allies?

...Not necessarily. As an illusionist, the effects he or she casts are not real. He or she may give a boost in confidence, but they can also distract the allies as much as the enemies.

Does he or she weaken his or her enemies?

Yes! The illusions cause distractions and pull focus from the real threats.

Can he or she hold his or her own?

...Not necessarily. Without allies to move in on distracted opponents, the illusionist is unable to deal much damage. The longer the battle, the more likely the enemies will see through the illusions and attack the meaty targets.

Quote:
--Paladin who can cast buff spells on his or her allies while smashing face.


Does he or she strengthen his or her allies?

Yes! The paladin casts buff spells that cause them to hit harder, or move faster, or slowly heal wounds, or absorb damage from attacks.

Does he or she weaken his or her enemies?

...Not necessarily. This depends on the types of buffs cast. Most buffs are focused on helping the target of the spell, rather than weakening those who attack the target.

Can he or she hold his or her own?

Yes! His or her spells strengthen him or her throughout the battle as he or she gets in close and attacks.
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Nate K
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By the looks of things, the illusionist and the dark cleric do not fit the design goals well enough. We can immediately eliminate them from contention.

A Yuna-type summoner MIGHT be a poor fit, but she might also be a perfect fit, depending on the direction we take her. She remains on the table.

A druid character fits the bill perfectly. We will put that type of character at the top of the list and explore those possibilities first.

The list, in approximate order from probable best fit to probable worst fit:

1. Druid
2. Summoner
3. Enchanter/Enchantress
4. Paladin
5. Blood Mage
6. Cleric
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Nate K
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Let's explore the idea of a druid first, and see if it takes us anywhere interesting!

In BattleCon terms, I suppose a druid would have a bunch of animal markers that he or she can add to the board.

Each marker would provide a bonus to allies standing in the same space, or a penalty to enemies on that spot.

The druid's abilities, then, would revolve around placing and moving the animals on the board.

Let's see what kind of effects a druid might have attached to his or her various animal markers.

Hawk

Pretty common for druids to be associated with birds. And hawks are cool.

Boost: +0-1 Range
Penalty: -1 Stun Guard

Bear

Also a common image.

Boost: Stun Guard 2
Penalty: Start of Beat: Lose 2 life.

Fox

Who doesn't love foxes?

Boost: +1 Priority
Penalty: Next movement effect is reduced by 1 space.

Snake

Got to get something cold-blooded in the mix.

Boost: +1 Power
Penalty: -1 Power



Four's probably enough.


I think this is a good start. Now we've got a character whose goal is to call his or her animal friends to the battle and then maneuver them, him- or herself, and the opponent into the most advantageous positions.

The downside? We've seen characters like this before. Khadath and Danny both have a similar gameplan--drop stuff onto the board and control everyone's positioning.

So how can we separate our druid from them? For one thing, both characters are on the slow side and have lots of ways to move themselves and/or their opponents. So our druid could be faster, but have fewer ways to move himself, his opponent, or his animal markers. That would probably balance out fairly well, though--he's got four animal markers he can add to the board, after all! That makes the board a lot friendlier for him and his allies while making it decided UNfriendly for the opponent(s).

Sounds like a lot of fun!

Next post will explore the summoner concept.
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Nate K
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Now let's look into the idea of a summoner character to see if it has more or less merit than the druid.

A summoner can bring mystical allies to the battlefield to grant bonuses to her allies while attacking the enemies. This is trickier to emulate mechanically. Zaamassal gives us a good template to mimic, though: A character with several cards that change the way the game is played, and the ability to switch between different cards.


A summoner might, then, look something like this:


Unique Ability: Host of Familiars

[Name] has several Familiars that she can summon. Only one Familiar may be active at a time; if she chooses to summon a new familiar, the previous Familiar is replaced. She starts the game with one active Familiar of her choice. She may also choose to unsummon a Familiar at any time to trigger its unique attack.


Her unique base would undoubtedly allow her to switch Familiars. One or more of her styles might allow her to summon Familiars, as well.

Her Familiars might look something like this:


Restheral the Generous

Before Activating: [Name] and [Name]'s allies gain 2 life.

Unsummon: [Name] or an adjacent ally get's +2 Power.


Ontero the Bright

Opponents get -2 Stun Guard.

Unsummon: [Name] and all opponents are stunned. Use this ability only as a Start of Beat effect after all other Start of Beat effects have been resolved.


Syvixus the Hungry

[Name] and [Name]'s allies gain "On Damage: Opponent loses 1 life."

Unsummon: The nearest opponent cannot move this beat.



I don't know. The concept is pretty interesting, but we're getting a similar character in Devastation, and she seems like she would be difficult to balance.

Let's take a look at the enchanter/enchantress.
 
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Nate K
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What I like about the enchanter or enchantress concept is the idea of preparing before battle. This character imbues his or her weapons with magical powers, and can do so for his or her allies, as well. Once engaged in combat, though, the enchantress must stick with the choices she made before hand and work with the tools she has. So she's a flexible character in that she has plenty of options for how she will approach each fight, but once the battle has begun, she's locked in and cannot re-enchant her weapons.


There are several ways one could approach this. The one I happen to like the best is that she has a wide array of styles she can select from, and can also give her allies an additional style.


Something like:

Unique Ability: Weapons Enchantments

[Name] has 10 style cards. At the beginning of the game, she must select 5 of them to use. She may grant 1 of the remaining 5 style cards to each of her allies. The rest of the style cards are not used this game.


And some examples of style cards she might have:


Reinforced
Range: +0
Power: +2
Priority: +0

Stun Guard 2


Light-As-A-Feather
Range: +0-1
Power: +0
Priority: +0

At the end of the beat, after recycling your discards, you may return a base card from one of your discard piles to your hand.


Flaming
Range: +0
Power: +0
Priority: +1

On Hit: Opponent loses 2 life.


Boomerang
Range: +0-3
Power: -2
Priority: +2

End of Beat: Lose 1 life.


Invisible
Range: +0
Power: +0
Priority: +0

Ignore Stun Guard. Reduce enemy Soak by 1.


Razor-Sharp
Range: +0
Power: +1
Priority: +1

On Hit: You may move 1 space.


Poisoned
Range: +0
Power: -1
Priority: -1

End of Beat: If you damaged an opponent, repeat this attack with -1 Power.



Et cetera.

I think this concept is really cool! Unfortunately, I'm not sure that it really fulfills the "debuff" aspect of the challenge.

So far, it's looking like the druid is the best choice. I think that's the direction I'm going to take. But I'm definitely keeping the summoner and the enchantress in my back pocket--they're super cool.
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Nate K
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Uh oh. The enchantress character was the first one to get a thumb from Jared. Are you liking that idea better than the druid? Because I can totally go that route if it's more to your liking!
 
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Jared Voshall
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Honestly, I think the Paladin would be the way to go, personally (though I do love the way the Sorceress and Druid look, and the Summoner would definitely make a fun character). Similar to the Summoner, in that you could use the different stances to simulate different auras (allies get X, enemies get Y) - but this is your character, and I definitely like what you do with the characters you make.
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Nate K
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Working with a damaged keyboard--please forgive some formatting oddities!

The Paladin is next on the list. i should probably do a test run on him/her before settling on a particular design to pursue.

So how would a Paladin character look?

First: he would probably be a somewhat stereotypical brawler--slower but with the ability to hit hard.

Second: his buffs would allow him and his allies to absorb damage; deal additional damage; move faster; and otherwise limit the opponents options in order to take control.

Unlike Zaam or the Summoner character i brainstormed the Paladins buffs would have a set time limit--they would stay in play until the magic fueling them ran out.


Something like:

Unique Ability: Aura Enhancement

[Name] has 5 Aura cards. Each of [Name]s styles is associated with a different Aura. Whenever one of [Name]s style card goes to a discard pile its associated Aura activates. Whenever an Auras associated Style returns to [Name]s hand the Aura deactivates.



So after the first two beats the Paladin would always have 2 Auras active. And each Aura would last for two beats before going away.


Some examples of Auras:


Aura of Justice

(Style: Just)

[Name] and all allies get Stun Guard 2 and Before Activating: Advance up to 1 space.


Aura of Serenity

(Style: Serene)

[Name] and all allies get +1 Priority.


Aura of Thorns

(Style: Vindictive)

Whenever [Name] or any allies take damage the nearest opponent loses 2 life.


Aura of Righteousness

(Style: Righteous)

[Name] and all allies get +2 Power.


Aura of Light

(Style: Blinding)

[Name] and all allies get +0-1 Range. All enemies get -1 Priority.



Okay now that ive typed all that out a Paladin character sounds pretty cool. Not sure if i like him or the druid idea better. Need to mull this over.
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Nate K
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Alright, after some consideration and some dinner, and taking into account Jared and Thiago's suggestions, I think I'm going to go with the Paladin.


The Paladin's ability does some interesting things. On the one hand, the opponent is never surprised by which Auras are active. On the other hand, they provide the Paladin with a nice, steady boost for two turns. So the Paladin is going to be at least somewhat predictable, but hopefully can use brute strength and careful planning to win the day.


Let's give this guy a name, shall we?


Using WotC's D&D name generator I came up with Davryn Tarmikos.


Davryn Tarmikos, Wandering Paladin


Unique Ability: Aura Enhancement

Davryn has 5 Aura cards, each associated with one of his Style cards. Whenever an Aura's associated Style is put into a discard pile, that Aura becomes active and its effects are put into place. Whenever an Aura's associate Style returns to your hand, that Aura deactivates.


STYLES

Just

Range: +0
Power: +1
Priority: -2

(Aura of Justice)

Stun Guard 3
Start of Beat: Advance up to 1 spaces.


Serene

Range: +0-1
Power: -1
Priority: +1

(Aura of Serenity)

You cannot take more than 4 damage this beat.


Vindictive

Range: +0
Power: +X
Priority: -3

(Aura of Thorns)

Vindictive's Power bonus is equal to the life you have lost this turn.
Stun Guard 4
Before Activating: Advance until you are adjacent to the nearest opponent.


Righteous

Range: +0
Power: +1
Priority: +1

(Aura of Righteousness)

You cannot move or be moved this turn.


Blinding

Range: +0-2
Power: -1
Priority: +0

(Aura of Light)

You automatically win clashes this beat.
End of Beat: If the opponent moved this beat, you and your allies may each gain 2 life.


BASE

Thrust

1 Range
4 Power
2 Priority

You cannot switch sides with an opponent this turn.
Stun Guard 2
Before Activating: Advance 1, 2, or 3 spaces.


OVERDRIVE FINISHES

Sustained Enchantment
Range: 1-2
Power: 3
Priority: 3

Soak 2
Your Auras do not deactivate for the rest of the game.

Aura Burst
Range: 1
Power: 4
Priority: 5

Reveal: All your Auras are considered active until the end of the beat.


AURAS

Aura of Justice

(Style: Just)

Davryn Tarmikos and all his allies get Stun Guard 2 and "Before Activating: Advance up to 1 space."


Aura of Serenity

(Style: Serene)

Davryn Tarmikos and all his allies get +1 Priority.


Aura of Thorns

(Style: Vindictive)

Whenever Davryn Tarmikos or any allies take damage the nearest opponent loses 2 life.


Aura of Righteousness

(Style: Righteous)

Davryn Tarmikos and all his allies get +2 Power.


Aura of Light

(Style: Blinding)

Davryn Tarmikos and all his allies get +0-1 Range. All enemies get -1 Priority.
 
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Nate K
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Hmm... Between his styles and his unique base, he's got 5 ways to move around. That's a bit too much. I should tone that down.
 
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Nate K
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Okay, that's a bit better. Now, I'm also worried that he's a bit too powerful--he's got a lot of Power bonuses and he's not all that slow. I think I'm going to tweak some numbers. Or possibly take away some of the Stun Guard.
 
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Nate K
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Now he seems a bit more balanced. Those Auras really make it difficult to calculate things!
 
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