Sunday, December 18, 2011

GW2 Expansion Profession: Shaman/Seer (AKA the Tribal Bard)

Ok so.. idea. I was thinking about how to represent a new type of magic in a way that doesn't visually/conceptually overlap with the existing schools. Specifically I was thinking of tribal/shamanistic magic, but how do you represent that visually? Like.. in WoW it's just a combination of nature and elemental magic in one class, but that's kind of lame. Obviously ritual objects are a big part of tribal religion, like totems and fetishes and stuff like that. Yeah, wow has totems, but i'm more imaging a spell that summons an 8 foot tall totem pole beneath the shaman to elevate him out of harms reach; not a dinky little thing that gets rehashed in multiple colors and pulses buffs. Ritual objects alone aren't enough to form the basis of a new type of magic that could feel iconic and visually distinct on the level of necromancy and elemental magic though.

So from there I was trying to think of ways to illustrate a raw, savage, very humanistic kind of magic without treading on existing themes, and the word "rhythm" occurred to me. And then I read a post suggesting the addition of the bard (more of a magical minstrel in most games), and it seems like a perfect fit to me, plus it's something I haven't really seen before; the Tribal Bard (granted, that would be a stupid name but you get the idea). Manipulation of sound and rhythm and dance (in addition to totems and other ritual objects). They could carry a big drum on their back or hip similar to the way engineers have packs, in addition to using their voice to blast people with sounds ("What.. no i haven't been playing Skyrim.. what even is that? I've never heard of that game... :zip:).

Their class mechanic could make use of the drum, or they could just use it in their casting animations or utility skills. Casting animations would resemble raw tribal dance, something much less fluid and "wizardy" than what we see from the scholar professions. In terms of gameplay i'm thinking a medium armor class that makes use of a mix of traditional melee and caster weapons. Staff, hammer, scepter, dual axes, dual maces, dagger offhand, and torch offhand is what came to mind.

In terms of playstyle it just kind of depends what the game needs, but like most gw2 professions it'd probably be able to do a bit of everything. I imagine it being a little berserk/savage/suicidal in melee (where thieves/rangers are more about finesse, and warriors/guardians are more about discipline). I could also see it having an agressive support streak, with most weapon sets favoring buffing allies offensive capabilities and freeing allies from enemy control over offering lots of protection. But really the theme is broad enough to go a lot of different directions with the gameplay.

Side note: Bone imagery could also be useful tools in visually illustrating the effects of magic skills, since necromancers seem to be firmly focused on disease and blood. It's kind of a defiled new dead vs respected old dead thing. I guess spirits could be part of it too, but personally I'm not a huge fan of ghostly apparitions, plus mesmers are already creating their own transparent non-entities. The other reason I prefer bones is because bone spells would look more concrete and physical (like earth magic). I like the idea of keeping the school of magic firmly tied to sensation and humanity, with a combination emotion/sound/rhythm and more corporeal themes of tribal culture like bones and totems.