Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Adam Gershowitz and Nate Levy from EA Mythic. Adam is the lead on combat and careers and Nate is one of the designers working on the Disciple of Khaine, the class that just happens to be the focus of this article.
For those out there who might not be following Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, the Disciple of Khaine is a class available only to the Dark Elves that fills the healer role in a unique way.
Typically, healer classes cast from the same pool of magical energy as everyone else. You can only cast so many spells before that blue bar is empty and you have to wait until it re-fills enough to cast your next heal. It’s pretty standard practice. Still though, they wouldn’t be making Warhammer Online if they didn’t take that convention and twist it to fit the original Warhammer lore more closely.
In order to understand why there is a difference, it is important to understand a little more about Khaine, so, being the intrepid reporter that I am, I asked the guys just that. Khaine, I am told, is not strictly a Dark Elf god, although they take his worship to a new level of perverseness, but is also worshiped by the High Elves.
To the High Elves, Khaine is a god of war and rage and is seen as a kind of “necessary evil”. While no one in High Elf society wants to be seen as a worshiper to this violent god, he is called upon and embraced in important situations.
This though, is where “the many aspects of Khaine” come in. While the High Elves see Khaine as representing the necessary evils of war and rage, the Dark Elves embrace the god’s violent nature. Martial prowess, murder, sacrifice, pleasure in pain… these are the attributes that Dark Elven worshipers revel in when they become Disciples of Khaine. As a result, Disciples draw their energies from the blood of their enemies. Khaine rewards slaughter and suffering in the form of spells so that in order to gain the energy necessary to heal, the Disciple has to first draw blood in melee combat.
While this makes for an interesting story element, it makes for a much more interesting game mechanic when you apply the functionality of the Disciple of Khaine to an MMORPG.
Generally speaking, when people hear the term healer, they think about that guy who stands in the back and fires off healing spells. That just isn’t how the Disciple works. Instead, we are told, the Disciple is going to look more like a tank class to veteran MMORPG players.
“At a high level, in terms of where things start to fall out, they can hold their own in close combat. He won’t put out nearly as much damage as a melee DPS class, but he’s more comparable to a Tank class. Rather than being able to mitigate damage through armor, he’s able to do it through magic. He’s considered more of a defensive fighter.”
“He’s more like a Dark Paladin type class,” Nate told us. “With the Disciple we wanted to take a more aggressive approach to healers.”
“We wanted to have a feel for Paladins without the balance issues,” Adam said.” The Disciple is all about trade-offs and balances, you’re trading melee damage for the amount you heal, etc.”
So, now we know what they were looking to accomplish and we have an idea of how it works. Now, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of the mechanics behind the Disciple of Khaine:
Action Points: All careers in Warhammer Online use Action Points as their main power source. The Disciple needs Action Points in order to make attacks. Every time he uses his attacks, he loses action points.
Essence: Disciples of Khaine have a second reservoir of energy known as “essence”. When he causes damage, he gains Essence. This essence can be used to heal. With other healing classes in the game, the attacks and the healing all comes from Action Points and they often have to make a decision as to which to use. This isn’t a problem for the Disciple.
This interesting class structure will be mirrored by the Empire class, The Warrior-Priest.
“Mechanically, they are very similar,” I was told. “The types of abilities are different. The Warrior-Priest inspires while the Disciple steals power.”
While the Disciple has a large array of de-buffs to choose from, the Warrior-Priest will buff. While the Disciple worships Khaine and draws their power from cruelty and vengeance, Warrior-Priests worship Sigmar and draw power from their own righteousness.
However you slice it, playing a Dark Elf healer, in the form of the Disciple of Khaine, won’t be your run-of-the-mill stand back and heal kind of experience. If you’re the kind of person who likes to heal his allies, but still wants to crack a few skulls along the way, the Disciple of Khaine might be for you.