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Classes: Bard, Cleric and Healer

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Stephanie Shaver's rantings return with a look at three more classes


I am sitting in my forest area, making fireflies fade from green to red to nothing. Earlier, I was getting my butt handed to me by a bunch of swampmoss lerks that probably need some tweaking. I named one of them Fenral the Render, but I'm not sure what I think of that name. It might suck. It might not. I suspect the programmers won't take it the way I meant it, but what do they know?

Where was I? Oh, fireflies. Right. The firefly emitter is spinning hypnotically on the monitor next to the one where I'm typing out this here entry. We're in the E3 homestretch, which is a nice way of saying that most of us have brains the consistency of creamed corn strained through a fine mesh.

Hey, I know! Let's talk classes. See the last two articles if you need a refresher on caveats and more information about the system that drives our class structure.

This week's top is support, and for once I don't mean pantyhose. The "Support" classes are the ones that borrow-beg-steal the most from our IFE/text-based fantasy games. These are the classes that people often think of as "weak" because they're not combat monsters, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and not all of us want to stand around and get creamed by ukar all day.

Bard (Support/Ranged)
Game designers just don't seem to know what to do with Bards. Are they fighters? Are they sneaky? Well hey, in Hero's Journey you can make a Bard-Rogue or Bard-Warrior and decide that for yourself -- or make a Bard-Ranger and tell other games to go away.

Bards evolved from a humanitarian need for neutral couriers and free agents, and began as a sect of Kinnaes who developed so-called "charm magic". Bards are notorious wanderers, and still called upon as diplomats and mediators. Wandering the Known World nowadays isn't nearly as safe as it once was, but like all Elanthians, Bards have learned to adapt.

Bards are manipulators. They can twist an opponent's morale (Demoralize) and faction (Charm), reflect damage (Resonate), or drop an opponent into sleep (Lullaby). The Loresing ability reveals the secret history of some magic items and gems, which is similar to, but not the same as, the one in GemStone III and IV. You won't have to come up with a song for the object -- unless you want to, of course, in which case, a quick reminder: rhyming "hand" with "land"? Sooo ten years ago.

In-Game Screenshot

Cleric (Support/Melee)
I remember the first time I played a Cleric in an online game other than GemStone. It was, to say the least, confusing. I was used to a Cleric whose primary use was to raise the dead and beat up the ones that got up on their own. I wanted to be a holy warrior. But most online games take their cue from tabletop RPGs, where healing is the Cleric's domain. We went in another direction.

The dedicated servants of Elanthia's gods have always existed, but in the last two hundred years they have become desperately necessary. They're the best equipped to handle the Broken. What are the Broken, you might ask? Well, you see....

In Elanthian cosmology, all life uses three major building blocks: Mind, Body (Physicality), and Spirit. The natural state is for all three of these to be present and glued together. Then the Gearsmiths had to go and screw everything up, and now the bonds that keep these fundamentals in their right place have gotten wiggly. Someone (or something) that has lost one or two of its building blocks is called a Broken.

Human Class Concepts

Once merely an anomaly that occurred only under highly unusual circumstances, the Broken have now become an all-too-frequent occurrence and are a major threat to the stability of the struggling nations. While Body-based Broken are easily dispatched with a whiff of Mortar or a bit of Cyclone, Spirit- and Mind-based Broken can't be hurt so easily, not even by Wizards.

Now you might be saying -- hey, that's great, Steph, thanks for the primer course, but what do they do? Well, they "rezz", for one. They have the best raise dead ability in the game; they even have a Mass Resurrection ability. They can also create rezz points (Mercy Ground) and safe havens (Sanctuary), cast hexes (Castigate), and lay the smackdown on the Broken (Smite). Healing abilities? Not really. That's what Healers are for.

One final note on Clerics. Those of you who want a Paladin class? We're a multiclass game. Which means that Cleric-Warrior or Gearknight-Cleric or any other combination thereof is probably what you're looking for.

And those of you who enjoy being the healer of the party? Read on to the next class. Combined with Cleric, you'll be healing friends and influencing people with the best of them.

Ilvari Class Concepts

Healer (Support/Support)
We learned something from our other games -- people like healing classes. They like them enough to eschew the killin' parts of the game and just heal, heal, heal.

Before the Sundering, it was rare to see a Healer outside of a city; most were kept under lock and key by the Arcanum. The Ilvari Yondolaen aristocracy squirreled away the secrets of healing magic, protesting that it was far too difficult for just anyone to learn. When Shay "Willowdaughter" Yondolaen broke from her famous family, she took healing magic with her and put it in the hands of her students.

Thus, early Kinnaes were trained in healing magic, which may explain how they survived being hunted down like rabid dogs. Since that time, the secrets of healing arts have become widely disseminated. Today, Healers are deployed into the field as readily as Warriors and Gearknights.

A hero to heroes, the Healer keeps combatants in the fray. Though Healers won't take wounds upon herself like they do in our other games, the main focus of this class is still healing and support. They get a lesser resurrection ability; the Cleric version is still better, but in a pinch a Healer can make do. Abilities like Martyr allow a Healer to channel her health into another, while Zone of Recovery creates a broad area wherein the health of all friendly targets regens much more quickly than normal. Anti-Triage may be a mixed blessing to some -- the current proposed version of this ability kills lesser creatures in the area, but heals stronger ones. Gameplay will decide if that sucks or not.

(Hey, we like to try new stuff, but we won't keep it around if it's no fun.)

Well, it's happened again. You've wasted another perfectly good hour with Click and...wait. Sorry. Flashback to Sunday's drive into work. I hope you guys enjoyed this installment. It's our last on the classes. Next time around...well, you'll just have to see, won't you?

Bye now!

- Stephanie Shaver, Lead Designer

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