The Front Line: Fighters and Barbarians
Update by Josh Sawyer, Project Director
In this, our final class update, we will be discussing fighters and barbarians. Along with the wily, pain-powered monks (covered in Update 52), these three classes form the front line. The front line defines the heart of any battle, where two sides tangle face-to-face. The responsibility of the front line is more than simply dealing damage. It means holding the line no matter what tries to break through. If the party rogue needs a breather, the characters in the front line need to be able to cover her retreat. If a swarm of xaurips descends on the group after the wizard hurls his fireball, the front line needs to be able to neutralize them en masse or absorb their attacks before they overwhelm the entire party. Designed to take punishment and tackle hordes, the front line are the first in and, more often than not, the last standing in any battle. Next update will focus on some brand new creatures that we haven't shown yet, so be on the lookout.
Each class holds the line in its own way. As covered in Update 52, the monk absorbs damage to fuel special attacks through the use of accumulated Wounds. These attacks can stun, push, or weaken individuals or small groups around them. While monks have to be monitored to ensure their Wounds do not overwhelm them, they can absorb a large amount of punishment and hamper enemy movement on the battlefield. In contrast, the fighter holds the line the traditional way: by standing her ground, blocking opponents, and being infuriatingly difficult to knock out. Barbarians are designed to jump into the fray swinging wildly. Lacking the accuracy and strong Deflection of the fighter, the barbarian makes up for his lack of discipline through sheer speed, savagery, and abilities tailored for fighting groups of enemies. We've already covered the monk's Wounds and how they play into their use, but the other two front line classes differ in how they stem the enemy tide and how players monitor and use them over the course of combat. To show you how they differ, let's look at the details.
If one of Pillars of Eternity's eleven classes is the rock (we'll skip the obvious "pillar" joke), it's the fighter. All across Eora, fighters are known for their discipline, skill, and durability. In the Eastern Reach, they are often employed as caravan guards, soldiers, and personal bodyguards. Accustomed as they are to long marches, strange places, and life on the road, all fighters gain a minor skill bonus to Athletics, Lore, and Survival.
In combat, fighters are steadfast and stalwart. Even novice fighters enjoy the highest base Deflection defense of any class and the ability to passively recover a small amount of Stamina every second. As the levels rise, fighters gain access to weapon specialization, modestly increasing their overall damage for all weapons in a specific category. These categories are broader than they were in the Infinity Engine games. E.g. the Knight category covers battle axes, swords, morning stars, crossbows, and war bows. The Peasant category includes hatchets, spears, quarterstaves, hunting bows, and blunderbusses. The selections are designed to cover a variety of damage types, to include one- and two-handed options, and to always feature at least one ranged weapon. At even higher levels, fighters gain abilities to recover Stamina immediately after being wounded, to protect nearby allies from incoming attacks, to knock down groups of enemies, and even to yank enemy passersby into the fray. Overall, fighters are designed to be low-maintenance, reliable, and long-lived even in marathon battles. Here are more detailed descriptions of some of the fighters' abilities:
- Defender (Modal) - Allows the fighter to trigger Melee Engagement on up to three enemies and increases the fighter's Deflection. While active, the fighter's attack rate is reduced.
- Vigorous Defense (Active) - Dramatically increases all defenses for the fighter for a short period of time. 1/encounter.
- Unbending (Active) - For a moderate time, the fighter will recover 50% of lost Stamina from an attack over the 5 seconds following it. This has no effect on the amount of Health lost and does not prevent the fighter from being knocked unconscious from a temporary dip in Stamina from a strong attack. 3/rest.
- Confident Aim - 20% of a fighter's Grazes are converted to Hits. Additionally, the minimum damage for any melee weapon they use is increased by 25% of the range between the minimum and maximum.
- Critical Defense - 20% of all incoming Crits against a fighter are converted to Hits.
- Crippling Guard - When a fighter Hits or Crits with a Disengagement Attack, the target is automatically Hobbled for a brief duration.
- Unbroken (Active) - This ability can only be activated when the fighter is at 0 Stamina. When used, the fighter will stand back up with 50% of her Stamina. For a short while, her defenses and Damage Threshold are both increased. 1/rest.
A QA (Quality Assurance) favorite at Obsidian, barbarians are the wild, unconventional counterparts to fighters. Barbarians need not be from the "hinterlands" of Eora, though the vast majority are. In the Eastern Reach, barbarians most often come from Eir Glanfath, though some can be found in rural Dyrwoodan communities or drifting in from abroad through port cities like Defiance Bay and New Heomar. Barbarians are often used as shock troops for dealing with mobs or simply to intimidate the easily-cowed with their ferocity. As the Dyrwood has settled down over time, the regular employment of foreign barbarians has slowed significantly, but they still make up the majority of Glanfathan front-line forces. Barbarians all have a strong skill focus in Athletics and lesser focus in Survival.
While fighters rely on disciplined adherence to proven combat techniques to weather difficult battles, barbarians charge furiously into melee and wreak enormous damage to everyone around them. Barbarians are relatively inaccurate, but every melee attack they make gives them an opportunity to strike out at bystanders. Barbarians have the highest Health and Stamina of all classes, which they need given their low Deflection -- a defense that suffers additional penalties when the barbarian frenzies. A barbarian's Frenzy is one of his most valuable tools, allowing him to dramatically increase his damage output and Stamina for a short period of time. However, in addition to suffering penalties to Deflection, the barbarian's Stamina and Health meters are obscured for the duration. It's not uncommon for barbarians to suddenly drop unconscious -- or dead -- when their frenzies come to an end. Many of the barbarians' higher-level powers shine when they are surrounded by a throng of enemies, outnumbered and often badly-wounded. Even so, they are designed to burn brightly and expire brilliantly in the unfortunate event that a battle drags on. Due to the nature of their abilities, barbarians are a higher-maintenance class than fighters.
- Carnage - When barbarians hit with melee attacks, they automatically make reduced-damage attacks at all additional enemies within a short distance of the target.
- Wild Sprint (Active) - The barbarian gains a large movement bonus that lasts a few seconds. While active, it allows the barbarian to ignore the stop effect from Engagement as well as the hit reaction from an Engagement Hit. Additionally, his Deflection is reduced during the sprint. 3/rest.
- Blooded - When a barbarian falls below 50% Stamina, he gains a bonus to damage for as long as his Stamina is below 50%.
- Thick-Skinned - Allows the barbarian to take only 1 Health damage per 8 Stamina damage received, instead of the normal 1 per 4 ratio.
- Brute Force - When finesse fails, barbarians rely on brute force. On any attack that normally targets Deflection, the barbarian will automatically target the enemy's Fortitude if it is the lower defense.
- One Stands Alone - When barbarians are Engaged by two or more enemies, they gains a bonus to melee damage. They cannot be Flanked unless they are Engaged by more than three enemies.
- Vengeful Defeat - When barbarians are reduced to 0 Stamina and have melee weapons equipped, they immediately make instant Carnage attacks at every enemy around them. 1/encounter.
- Heart of Fury (Active) - In a blur of movement, the barbarian performs a melee attack with each equipped weapon at every enemy within 2m. Each attack does increased damage and Carnage applies. 1/rest.
Our take on the traditional front line classes attempts to capture the spirit of their Infinity Engine predecessors while introducing some interesting and fun differences for players to experiment with. We hope that you've enjoyed this and all of our other class updates. More importantly, we hope that you enjoy making all the parties you can imagine when the game comes out. As always, let us know what you think in our forums. Thanks for reading.
- Update #52 - Monk
- Update #56 - Paladins
- Update #62 - Ciphers
- Update #71 - The Heavy Hitters: Rogues and Rangers
- Update #74 - The Mob Rulers: Wizards and Druids
- Update #78 - The Leaders of the Band: Chanters and Priests
Eternity at E3
Hey, everyone. This is Brandon Adler. I just wanted to give you a quick update about our E3 presentation.
Everything went really well and the game was well received by the gaming press. We gave short ten to fifteen minute demos in which we showed off the first few areas and explained the basic concepts of the game. After the demo we had a quick question and answer session and gave any interviews that we could fit in before the next batch of journalists. All in all, it was a grueling, yet rewarding, experience.
There have been some questions about why we chose to do a closed door demo for the press and have not released footage from the demo. While the demo looked great, there are still parts of the game that need more polish before we release videos to the public. In addition, a lot of the demo footage was filled with spoilers and we would like to show off portions that are less critical to the story. Look for a video that shows some non-spoiler, polished gameplay sometime in the next couple of months.
If you would like to learn more about the demo and what was shown, take a read through some of these great articles:
Kicking it Forward: Harbour
Our friends at Tasty Minstrel Games have a new Kickstarter that needs your support. Harbour is a light-hearted fantasy board game where you and your friends play as ambitious entrepreneurs in a bustling port city. Play as one of the many colorful characters as you buy property, sell goods, manipulate market prices - and at times break the rules.