New Barbarian Spirit Animals

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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby Atoch » Mon Jul 11, 2022 8:22 pm

Hello Sangarunya!

While the road to a new transformed barbarian class may be “long and winding”, perhaps a few of your ideas can be translated into new Spirit Animals and could so be helpful in a less ambitious setting too.

So I took the liberty to “borrow” two of your ideas:

- the “Crow”: As a Free Action you can activate an aura for 3+(basic-)strength modifier rounds. While the aura is active killing an opponent will trigger a fear-check in all opponents in a radius of 15 foot.
Missing the difficulty class by more than 5 points will cause the status of cowering for two rounds. Enemies who missed their save by 5 points or less are only shaken for two rounds.
[to avoid to much similarity with the “Elephant”: the “Elephant” could be changed more in the direction of “Soundburst” and a potential stun effect]

- the “Salamander”: As a Free Action you can activate (self-)regeneration for 3+(basic-)constitution modifier rounds. You can only regenerate to a threshold of 70(?) % of your maximum hitpoints. You regenerate 4, 8 or 12 Hp per round depending on your level.

____

I think these two Spirit Animals would be very helpful to the barbarian who wants to charge into the midst of the enemy and survive.

And while I strongly wish for the possibility of such an action from a storyteller point of view, there is still the lingering question in me if -as a gameplay mechanic- it is wise to support such unwise action?
Wouldn't it simplify and so diminish the job of the general and strategist i.e. the player to much?
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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby Sangarunya » Tue Jul 12, 2022 1:56 pm

Hello again!

Is a party RPG and the joy of this kind of games is the teamwork and the synergies crated between various characters. Every class should have strong and weak points to help the rest of the team and be aided by the other companions. No character must be able to have an answer for every situation and against every enemy. This is not an action-RPG like Path of Exile or Grim Dawn, soloing must not be possible and dealing successfully against every possible enemy has no part in these games. Recent rulesets, from Pathfinder onwards, have increased the power of the players notably and the lethality of systems like AD&D are far behind, changing almost the narrative from a group of adventurers to a team of superheroes. First conclusion: don't give too many powers and options to every class to prevent power creeping.

Let's think about a healer class: should it have exclusively healing spells? What about defensive ones? Recover health points or prevent damage? Both? Would it be beneficial to add some crowd control and offensive spells thematically fitting to improve the arsenal? Clearly, the power level of the later categories should not be at the same level as the offensive classes but it adds more variety and more possibilities of assembling functioning teams. The strong point of a healer class should be keeping the rest of the team alive by supporting them and those few offensive/controlling spells exist to develop alternative options, more limited synergies not as powerful to round up a capable party of adventurers. Therefore, it shouldn't be inappropriate to give the barbarian a few abilities to improve his survival or buff the others if they are thematically appropriate. More options to combine races and classes in a team benefit the replayability. Naturally, the barbarian focus should be dealing damage as much as possible. In addition, the alternative abilities shouldn't fall into the "save button" category - they are included to perform some uncustomary actions in certain combats and not to completely cover the more glaring weak points of a class, functioning almost as "one more life" bonus.

Second conclusion: any new abilities must be evaluated in-game and verify they don't give the class excessive advantages and the power of a solo game. And too many powers out-of-character can modify too much the role of the class in the party.

Thanks for reading!
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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby BlueSalamander » Sun Jul 31, 2022 9:04 pm

Thank you so much guys for the awesome feedback and suggestions! I really appreciate it. :)

Yesterday I updated the Barbarian webpage with the details of the various Spirit Animals.

[Edit] I've also reproduced all the details of the Barbarian upgrade in the latest Kickstarter update page, together with the detail of the upgrades for the Rogue and Monk.

I'll just react to a few of the things that were mentioned.

- access to a few specific spirit animals ("porpoise", "rhinoceros" (and perhaps "bull")) should only possible at a higher level – especially the Spirit animal Porpoise, which gives access to a “True Seeing”-ability (“True Seeing” is a level five spell!)
Could be done, might have to think about it some more.

Still, if you take Porpoise or Rhinoceros at level 1, it does mean you're not taking both of the more destructive powers (Elephant and Scorpion), at least not immediately.

- the concealment effect of the “Spider” shouldn't stack with concealment effects of forest tiles, etc. (even if it would make sense...)
Concealment effects never stack. If you have several concealment effects, only the most powerful one applies. For example: if you have the Invisibility condition, you'll get 50% concealment regardless of any forest or jungle square, Spider Spirit Animal, Blur effect, etc. 50% concealment is the maximum concealment that you can have.

First danger sign: every single ability (but the Elephant one) is a Free Action, so it raises the question: can the barbarian activate several different spirit animal abilities in the same turn? At level 20 six are available, so six powers could be activated in the first round and let the carnage begins! This could be very very unbalanced.
Actually, you can't activate six Free Action Spirit Animals in one round. At the most, you can activate three Free Action powers. The first one you activate does not remove your Move Action or your Standard Action. But the second one you activate removes your Move Action, and the third one you activate removes your Standard Action.

[Jaguar] Combined with the Scorpion spirit, the level-1 barbarian can move, full attack with a reach weapon (two attacks) and let the cleave feats do the rest.
Actually, you can't combine Jaguar and Scorpion, because that would remove your Move Action, leaving you with just a Standard Action. You need both the Move Action and the Standard Action to perform a Charge.

Elephant: at least is a standard action ability. Once more, fixed numbers for the shaken duration and the recharge time can be tiered. Maybe a bonus can be added when charging (like the real animal) or if the barbarian has been significantly damaged. Sounds like the shouting barbarian is back on the menu!
Interesting suggestions, thank you!

One thing the game doesn't have is stacks of throwing weapons, like axes or daggers - they were in the Baldur's Gate saga and are very valuable to strength based combatants with low mobility or not wanting to choose ranged feats so they can be pretty cool with this power.
True. Still, you add your Strength Modifier to Damage Rolls with Slings and Bows, so those can work even with Strength-based combatants.

contrary to Pathfinder and D&D 3.5 rules, the spell True Seeing in this game is much more powerful because it ignores concealment besides mirror images, blur and alike.
As far as I understand it, True Seeing in KotC 2 works just like the D&D 3.5 version. The original spell makes a distinction between concealment of magical origin, such as Blur or Displacement, and concealment of natural origin, such as that from fog. KotC 2 also makes this distinction. True Seeing in KotC 2 does not bypass concealment from non-magical origins, such as fogs and forests.

Perhaps it would be best if only one Spirit animal ability could be activated at a time. Activation of a second Spirit Animal would automatically cancel the first one.
That also could be done, might have to think about it some more.

If Pierre has considered to add new races with the ability of flying then it changes the situation.
Yes, there will be other ways for you to gain the [Flying] subtype. New subraces and new spells.

the wizards needs a better defensive collection and the game needs more protective spells for the spellcasters and others for dispelling and stripping defenses. We're not at Baldur's Gate 2 level yet.
At least when it comes to Dispel Magic, I think that KotC 2 is a lot better than BG 2. Dispel Magic in KotC 2 actually gives you three different ways of casting it, and you can pinpoint a single effect on a single creature. I don't think you can do that in BG 2.

Anyway, now that the upgraded Barbarian is actually playable, please feel free to comment on whether you still think it's overpowered, and whether it should be tweaked, for example using a level prerequisite for certain Spirit Animals, or by having the use of a new Spirit Animal remove the effect of any previously ongoing Spirit Animal effect.

I do appreciate also all the great suggestions for new Spirit Animals.

Thank you!! Best regards 8-)
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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby MrLicorice » Tue Aug 02, 2022 2:35 pm

Jumping in to express an opinion: I have started a run with both a barbarian and a fighter. Early game the barbarian does dominate, but by mid-levels (when wade-in kicks in) the fighter out damages and out survives the barbarian.

I think it is reasonably balanced as it stands.
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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby BlueSalamander » Wed Aug 03, 2022 8:33 pm

Thank you for the feedback MrLicorice! :)

By the way, another change that could be done easily is to switch certain Spirit Animals (e.g. Porpoise) from Free Action to Move Action or Standard Action.'

Best regards 8-)
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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby Atoch » Mon Aug 15, 2022 9:22 pm

Hi!

I finished my “New Barbarian” run of the tutorial and “Augury of Chaos” [ver.1.43] and I have to agree MrLicorice: There are no balancing issues with the “New Barbarian” in “Augury of Chaos” that need to be addressed.
The theoretical problems, that we discussed, didn’t manifest (strong enough).
That’s good!
But – I have still some minor worries about some potential issues and therefore I will write a bit more :D

But first – some statistics!

I played on difficulty Enchantment with the additional options for “Gold Cost for Leveling-Up” and “Reroll low Level-Up Hit Points” → so money was scarce but I had plenty of HP’s.

I tried to give my Barbarian and Deathknight the same level of love in money and equipment to get a (mostly) fair comparison between those two – and I will focus on these two:

The used “Spirit Animals”:

Image

Image

Level 5:
The largest difference in kills between my Barbarian and my Deathknight is in the very early levels (over 50 % more!). And the main reason is of course “Scorpion”. “Scorpion” is in the very early levels very strong – as our “theoretical deliberations” predicted. The greater mobility of my Barbarian in comparison to my Deathknight and Jorad (= Half-Giant) was also important.


Image

Level 10:
Now, that’s quite surprising, isn’t it? The smallest difference over the course of 20 levels! While the effect of “Scorpion” is diminished, “Porpoise” doesn’t seem to add anything to the kill-effectivity of my Barbarian!
However, the most important reason for this stark shrink in kill-rate differences should be an increased use of spells like “Web” by the enemy … and by myself. So my melee warriors had to change their job as frontline-fighters to part-time archers quite often – mostly between Level 4 till around Level 9.
If I had chosen “Eagle” or “Spider” as third Spirit Animal, the statistic could look quite different- probably.


Image
Image

Level 20:
While I used my caster almost exclusively for “crowd controll”, debuffs or buffs in the sewers, my magic users could finally let loose and bomb the enemies to death in the castle map; so my melee-warriors had less to do and their kill-stat went down. But having “Eagle” my Barbarian had still a big advantage over my other melee-warriors in the last map.
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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby Atoch » Mon Aug 15, 2022 9:35 pm

Let’s look at the specific Spirit Animals:

- “Scorpion”: While “Scorpion” is very good in the very early game, more important for the damage output in the early levels was still – “Cleave” and using a reach weapon.
My Barbarian, Deathknight and Jorad had very similar attributes and all three had “Cleave”, but only Jorad didn’t use a reach weapon and he got himself out of the reach of targets a lot more often than the others – and this disadvantage could, surprisingly, not be compensated with his “Scorpion” ability.
(Remember: “Scorpion” needs a Full-Round-Action!)

In the late game, using a two-handed “Skewer” weapon”, “Scorpion” is still quite useful. Its practical value in the late game was higher than I anticipated.

It is also the Spirit Animal with the broadest utility.


- “Rhinoceros”:
Playing the tutorial with the new barbarian class, I got the impression that “Rhinoceros” will be the biggest game changer for the barbarian and that it will catapult the barbarian on the top of the best-tank-in-the-game-list, as you can easily get DR 10-12 with activated Rage and “Rhinoceros”- at level 5!

Fortunately, yes – fortunately, the reality in “Augury of Chaos” was more nuanced. For three reasons:
First: the available magic equipment in AoC is a lot more reasonable than in the tutorial. At Level 5 you can get, with activated Rage, perhaps DR 7-8.
Second: Almost all early monster in AoC cause ability damage too! Pierre seems to love these kinds of annoying pests! A few hits and your best damage-per-round hero becomes totally useless – even if he doesn’t take much damage.
Third and most important: The A.I. is just to smart! The enemies tend to ignore the buffed up barbarian.
But – hehe – this can, in some cases, become an opportunity in itself, because the A.I. may be smart, but it can’t cope well with “Ready vs Approach” and reach weapons and “Greater Trip” and “Combat Reflexes”...

Well, while I didn’t find a reliable way to utilize “Rhinoceros” in an effective tank tactic, I did find a noticeable difference in survivability and the needed healing resources between my barbarian and Jorad. I was finally so annoyed with Jorads perpetual near-death experiences and healing needs that I just had to give him “Rhinoceros” too – despite my intentions to let him test other Spirit Animals.

For me, “Rhinoceros” is a must have – but I’m a scrooge. :oops:
(Between: Giving Barbarians the “Die Hard”-feat for free is the best!)

So – is all good?

I still see the possibility that “Rhinoceros” could “unhinge” a module – not one of Pierres official modules (considering his creepy critter-fetish), but something like Hearkenworld, a module with a lot of conventional small fights.
But that’s just speculation.

- “Elephant”:
The most annoying hostile barbarians were “Elephant”- users. Especially if a group of these barbarians began to stalk my poor party of innocent heroes.
I was also positively surprised about Jorads “Elephant”.
In an earlier run I was quite underwhelmed with the usefulness of the fire breath of a Fire-Drake-Fighter. But a Barbarian doesn’t have “Wade In” and this gives him many opportunities to use “Elephant” without sacrificing a Full-Round Attack – ‘cause he didn’t have the chance for one to begin with. A Fire-Drake-Barbarian looks like an interesting concept.

- “Porpoise”:
The most controversial Spirit Animal in this thread. But I found our worries were – unfounded? No, that’s not quite the right term. “Porpoise” is unproblematic in AoC, because in the early game there are almost no enemies “Porpoise” would give an advantage against (with the exception of some minor “Blurr”-effects).
After I chose “Porpoise” at Level 5, I activated it the first time at Level 7-8?
Only around Level 10 I began to use “Porpoise” regularly and it finally became the most important and defining Spirit Animal for my Barbarian for the rest of the game.
While all other Spirit Animals are nice to have, “Porpoise” gives the barbarian a chance for a specific purpose in a party.

But around Level 15/16 you can get at least 3 kinds of magic equipments that give True-Seeing/Blindsight-effects. So there are only about 7-8 Levels in which a barbarian can reclaim this “exclusive” advantage against other melee-classes (disregarding spells and the new monk specialisation of course).
I think that’s o.k.
[Besides, a lot of enemies also use True Seeing equipment – which mysteriously tends to destroy itself...]

“By the way, another change that could be done easily is to switch certain Spirit Animals (e.g. Porpoise) from Free Action to Move Action or Standard Action.”


One of the most satisfying action of my Barbarian: activating “Porpoise” (free action), run to one of these pesky Warlocks (move action), seize him by his collar with “Greater Grappling” (free action) and “Pin” him to earth (move action).

This wouldn’t be possible if “Porpoise” costs a move action – so I’m not in favour of such a change -even if it would be “fairer”; it would also take the fun out of it a bit.
[Grappling someone inside enemy-territory has its own risk, so I don’t see such action as unbalanced]

My concerns about “Porpoise” are still rather related to the early levels. There is no problem in AoC, but doesn’t the possibility of such a powerful ability restrict module-makers? Perhaps someone wants to create an evil mage boss for a Level 5 party … and then a barbarian “one-punches” him?

- “Bull”:
In the tutorial I chose “Bull” from the beginning. And I got a very strong impression of it. Small maps, many elemental traps - it was a feast for my barbarian.
In AoC however … the beginning doesn’t give many opportunities to use it and after Level 6, when you can get “Greater Bullrush”, I almost never activated it – and I never needed to use it.
I think this is a problem in the conception of the “Bull”. Its utility is just to narrow!
So I would prefer my idea of the “Bull” (Enlarge-effect and free Bull-rush-feats). But not all Spirit Animals have to be great – you can choose only 6 anyway.

- “Jaguar”:
In a prior run, one of my heroes was a dexterity-focused mantis gladiator – and for him the (very expensive) “Belt of the Lion”, which gives the same “Pounce” ability as “Jaguar”, was an essential magic equipment.
So I was quite astonished that for my barbarian “Jaguar” wasn’t that important at all– and that indeed “Jaguar” was seldom used. Well, I would have liked to use it more often, but you have to “charge” to use it and “charging” wasn’t possible in many cases. (Back then I changed the formations for my mantis gladiator, so that he was alone and separate from the others → and such a change did help with the “charging” opportunities. But may barbarian is more a social butterfly kind of type.)
The astonishing fact was, that it didn’t matter so much, ‘cause my strength-focused barbarian could utilize the many strength-based combat-manoeuvres in a very effective way – while my mantis gladiator was capable as a damage-dealer only.

- “Spider”:
I gave this Spirit Animal Jordan at Level 15 – and, if remember correctly, I never used it. - What? - Yes, there wasn’t any reason to use it ever – at Level 15 and above.
But, as I have written above, I wished I had it in the lower levels, when still all the “Web” and “Grease” spells were lying around.
“Spider” has the best secondary traits and I therefore thought “Spider” would be preferable to “Eagle”, but …

-”Eagle”:
“Eagle” is evil - and I love it!
“Aye, you should’ve seen it! I was first there … then there …. on the top, I grasped one of those suckers, squished him and threw him down the wall! Aye, you should’ve seen it, the fear in their eyes! But for this, you’ve to be strong, as strong as us barbarians, ha, not like this feeble paladin girl...”
Yeah, it is cool.
However, in AoC, there are only a few fights on the last map during which you can enjoy such situations.

-”Bear”:
I levelled up just before the last fight, so I never used the “Bear”. But we all are familiar with “Evasion” and the “Bear” isn’t that different, is it?
Last edited by Atoch on Mon Aug 15, 2022 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby Atoch » Mon Aug 15, 2022 9:39 pm

In the pre-release discussion I was one of those, who called for a limitation of the simultaneous use of Spirit Animals. And, if I remember correctly, there were 2 specific scenarios mentioned, which were seen as problematic.
The first was the composition of “Porpoise” and “Jaguar”, which would give you an excessive ability to annihilate caster in the first round.
Well, the present game-mechanic doesn’t allow this, ‘cause the “free” activation time isn’t free after the first one – and you will probably not find a “charging” path to a caster anyway…

The second was the cumulation of defensive means by Spirit Animals like “Rhinoceros”, “Bear” and “Satyr”. These, together with their natural offensive potential, would make barbarians very strong, but “faceless” in comparison to other melee warriors, it would leave them without weakness.
Now, I never tested this scenario and that isn’t accidental, because, as the pathetic minmaxer that I am, I preferred offensive Spirit Animals. The offensive is just much more important in this game. You will not easily beat AoC with a defensive style of gaming.
The cumulation of defensive Spirit Animals looks very strong, and in some rare cases it might be, but most of the time it is just a missed opportunity.

But so, I don’t find a good reason for limiting the simultaneous use anymore...

In my game practice I mostly used only one long-lasting Spirit Animal per encounter, seldom two, and almost never three. (and I only used them, because I could and knew, I would resting soon - not because I hoped for or had a big advantage)

My conclusions:

Offensive: The new Barbarian is strong, but a Fighter with “Superior-Two-Weapon-Fighting” and “Wade In” should still be a level above the barbarian in sheer damage output. (Perhaps MrLicorice can help us with some numbers/statistics).
Having “Porpoise” the Barbarian is poised to compete with the monk class as caster-killer – and he is a very strong contender.

Defensive: I wasn’t interested in the “old” barbarian - mainly because I regarded him as “uneconomical”. Survivability by having a large pool of hit-points may make sense in a tabletop-setting, but in a computer-game, with one fight after the other, the huge bill of the healing department has to be addressed!
And it got addressed. I estimate, that my barbarian, having “Die Hard” and “Rhinoceros”, used slightly less healing resources than most of my other heroes.


In a party-centred game there is no need to perfectly balance the particular classes. But no class should make another class irrelevant or obsolete.
My Deathknight at least didn’t get obsolete and wasn’t inferior to my Barbarian. The debuff ability of my deathknight was very useful and potent. And it is arguable, that a deathknight is the smarter choice for a second strength-focused melee warrior in a party.
I think, that a barbarian, as a pure damage-dealer, should have 15 %- 20 % more kills than a deathknight. According to my statistics my barbarian had rather 20 % - 25 % more than my deathknight – but that is still a good number! (the numbers in my statistic aren’t that sound anyway).

While I see no need to make any changes for “Augury of Chaos”, the impact of most of the Spirit Animals is heavily depending on
- the enemy composition
- map design/settings
- and (indirectly) the available magic equipment.

A module-maker has to have these variables in his sight.

_______
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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby BlueSalamander » Wed Aug 17, 2022 4:16 pm

Awesome feedback, Atoch! Thank you! :)

Perhaps someone wants to create an evil mage boss for a Level 5 party … and then a barbarian “one-punches” him?
Good question. Maybe give the mage boss enough henchmen to make this impractical.

(Bull) the beginning doesn’t give many opportunities to use it and after Level 6, when you can get “Greater Bullrush”, I almost never activated it
Yeah, it does depend a lot on terrain. But terrain can also be modified by casters, for example with Stinking Cloud, Energy Wall and Prismatic Wall. Maybe a mage and a Barbarian could take advantage of that. The free bull rush action may also be useful to break unwanted grapples and pull allies out of dangerous terrain.

Best regards 8-)
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Re: New Barbarian Spirit Animals

Postby Atoch » Wed Aug 17, 2022 5:09 pm

Yeah, it does depend a lot on terrain. But terrain can also be modified by casters, for example with Stinking Cloud, Energy Wall and Prismatic Wall. Maybe a mage and a Barbarian could take advantage of that. The free bull rush action may also be useful to break unwanted grapples and pull allies out of dangerous terrain.


You are not wrong. During my battles there were quite a lot of these opportunities.
But in most of these cases, the “free action”, given by “Greater Bullrush”, is enough – in my experience.

Hm, but – if I had given Jorad the feat “Mobility”, so he could “move”, “push”, “move”, “push”, … (I’m not totally sure, if you need “Mobility” for this – if the “pushes” are “free actions” - but I think so)

Perhaps it is worth trying this in my next run... on the other hand “Mobility” costs two feats… :?

Perhaps somebody else can test this for me? 8-)
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