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It wouldn't be an alpha update if I wasn't working on it right up until the last second! I am still coding as fast as I can here to get the most obvious problems fixed. The plan is that when I can't keep my eyes open anymore, I'll call it done, and kick off the build process. When I awaken in the early AM tomorrow, we'll put the update live. If something goes wrong the update may have to be postponed until Saturday evening/Sunday morning, but I doubt it'll need more than a day of delay at most.
No time for a long blog post today, I'm just typing this up while I eat lunch and then it's back to debugging Halloween. But here are the notes I wrote on the other two skills that I had time to revise.
Archery is supposed to be a versatile damaging skill. Where fire magic is basically just murdering 24/7, archery can mezz, manage aggro, and so on. But the non-murdering parts of Archery weren't very fleshed out. I added some new supporting loot effects, much of it aimed at supporting an Animal Handling pet, for the classic "ranger" vibe. There's some equipment that boosts taunt and some that reduces taunt, depending on how you want to play it with your pet.
The skill also didn't have a full complement of either abilities or treasure, so two new abilities were added along with corresponding treasure. Restorative Arrow is a Major Healing ability that can only be used on an ally, not yourself. The primary use case would be to heal a pet (including an undead pet!), but it can also be handy when in a group. It uses Reservoir Arrows. Mangling Shot is a new attack that stuns at range. It's pretty great. It uses Long Arrows.
I had a hard time dealing with the "heavy archery" abilities (Heavy Shot and Heavy Multishot). They don't really make a lot of sense in the modern game. I originally envisioned them as being just flat-out better than other archery attacks, but requiring very expensive arrows. But now I don't want to balance around the difficulty of obtaining ammunition, at least not on a per-ability basis! For now, I've revised these abilities to be very-slow-reuse mega-attacks. That way they can be better than other attacks, but not overpowering everything else entirely.
My "vision" for Archery doesn't really include Epic Attacks -- I've always felt like archery should be a fast skill that's good at reacting to new situations, and slow attacks don't help that. But in practice, the heavy attacks seem fine. I mean, they do a lot of damage, and hey, who doesn't like assassinating things from afar? But still, I may replace those abilities entirely in a future revision, and repurpose the heavy arrows into quarrels for the upcoming crossbow skill.
Druid is the king of debuffs, a duke of heals, and a ... whatever's just below duke... of killing stuff. I found the skill to be in reasonably good shape, compared to some of the others I revised. It just needed some fleshing out and the removal of a lot of "50% chance to do blah" treasure effects. I added a few new treasure effects for healing, a few more debuffing effects, and a bunch of DoT effects. Druids can gear up to do either poison or nature damage-over-time (or a mix). The DoTs are very effective in soloing. The debuffs really shine in a group, when used against big Elite monsters. (But the debuffs are still quite useful when soloing, too.)
The ability Cosmic Strike was refactored into a VERY big damage-dealer with a very slow (45 second) cooldown. I wanted it to have a really big damage number, to give it that "Dreva says you're supposed to die now" kind of finger-of-death vibe. But to do that it needed to be slower and cost more Power. At 45 seconds it's still usable in most fights, and it's quite satisfying to use.
Like Archery, Druid was missing some abilities to fill out its treasure table. I added two new abilities: Cloud Sight causes partial blindness, which is a debuff, and also does very respectable damage. Pulse of Life is a smaller targeted heal for people who want to focus more on the supporting aspects.
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