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A different take on Specter


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Before anyone posts to remind me, yes, I'm perfectly aware that ANet neither has an obligation nor the remotest likelihood of redesigning the elite specialization to suit my personal desires.  All the same, I'm disappointed and wanted to share thoughts on a big "what if" based on feedback I've seen here and around the web in general.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce what the Specter could have been:


[F1] Shadow Form

When activating this skill, the specter slips into Shadow Form, gaining a powerful shroud of shadowstuff which prevents them from being directly targeted (per the GW1 Assassin skill of the same name).  During this time, the specter counts as being in stealth, and uses their Initiative to fuel their shroud.  Initiative regeneration is halted when in Shadow Form.


Caveats, design, and counter-play: 

Initiative would functionally operate identical to Firebrand's "pages" from their Tome skills, and could either be left at 12 (base value) or reduced to 9 (-25%) but with more powerful attacks to compensate; a visual redesign to use a similar UI to Firebrand would further emphasize this, with a "shadowy aura" filling in the space around the pips when Shadow Form is active.  All skill uses in Shadow Form cost 1 initiative -- this sets both a hard limit on the number of actions taken (which can be increased via "Preparation" in Trickery), and allows the thief to remain in this state for longer, at the expense of not attacking.  Since the thief cannot regenerate initiative in this state, they must be mindful of their initiative pool when activating Shadow Form -- and should regard this a a defensive "burst" state.

Furthermore, since the thief is now "in stealth" (but visible), this grants them powerful bonuses and defenses on top of the mitigation of shroud (which could itself grant a 33% damage reduction).  This naturally provides synergy with Deadly Arts' "Revealed Training" and the entire Shadow Arts specialization.  However, as the thief is visible, they can be targeted by traps and AOE attacks, as well as floor effects, meaning they are not invulnerable -- and, unlike Necromancer's shroud (or the current Shadow Shroud implementation), damage is only mitigated, not ignored.

Likewise would this necessitate an equal loss of stolen skills, as F2 would be sacrificed; "Improvisation" and other traits would need to be modified accordingly (or again be rendered useless).


Working around Initiative:

Obviously once Shadow Form ends, you'd be Revealed and very possibly out of initiative -- either forcing the player to rely on auto attacks or to terminate it early (and "waste" more powerful attacks).  However, outside of Roll for Initiative, traits could be provided to "refresh" your Initiative after exiting Shadow Form, granting a little bit back to continue the flow of combat without completely feeling like you just used it all on a massive burst.


Proficiency:  Focus

Unlock the use of the off-hand Focus, allowing you to coalesce shadows into powerful attacks against your foes which can drain their essence.  These skills have been designed to synergize with Deadly Arts traits and provide nominal utility based upon each weapon used -- ergo the use of Poison (which also imparts -33% healing) instead of the more thematic Torment.  Skills have been designed to be serviceable in most game modes.

The skill names are a nod to Specter's currently edgelordy nomenclature.


  • [3] Rending Twilight (sword):  unleash a powerful repost that, if your foe is attacking, dazes your target and fires a volley of shadowy energy, inflicting 4 stacks of Vulnerability with each strike (for a total of 20 over 5 strikes).  The final attack strips 2 boons from your foe.  — designed for those who want to hit hard and punish their opponents.
  • [3] Creeping Darkness (dagger):  open a well of shadow beneath your target, which persists for a brief period, shadowstepping behind them and inflicting stacks of Blight (reduces maximum HP); this attack is unblockable.  While in the well, your target suffers from pulsing Poison, whilst your allies receive Regeneration (1+3 pulses).  — emphasizes mobility and clever positioning.
  • [3] Fleeting Shade (pistol):  shadowstep away from your foe fire multiple bolts of shadowstuff which attack from all directions.  This attack is unblockable.  If all 8 attacks connect, gain quickness and 2 initiative.  — for evasive and rapid-striking playstyles.
  • [4] Lengthening Shadows:  send out a wave of shadows which burst up from the ground, knocking foes backward along their path and inflicting Slow and Poison.  This attack can hit up to 3 times (maximum 5 targets per "strike"), with each successive strike more powerful than the last.  Range:  900; shape:  directional wave.
  • [5] Nightfall:  manifest a well of shadow at the target location, which pulls foes inward and inflicts increasing damage the closer they are to the center, striking up to 8 times (maximum 5 targets).  Pulses Poison and Chill.  Range:  900; radius:  240.


Okay ... but why?

Honestly?  I'm bored and was thinking how I genuinely preferred the concepts behind Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire elites over the weird "cobbled-together" feel of End of Dragons -- that and I know several of you want to wield Binding of Ipos whilst wreathed in purplish shadow, because Fashion Wars is the true endgame.

Other than that, while Shadow Shroud is thematically pretty neat, it's an absolute mess in its current implementation and I am not a fan of having to burn traits on either justifying the rampant use of Torment (via Larcenous Torment) or still being beholden to spamming F1 like a cheap version of Deadeye's Mark (via Augmented Siphoning).  That and Torment just doesn't really synergize with thief, like at all; and while I could have just as easily picked Bleed, the use of Poison is more of a shut-down (thanks to the healing drop) and places far less emphasis on "always take Trickery," which currently feels mandated by a less than meaningful trade-off by Specter's enforced 25% loss of initiative.

As for scepter itself (yes, I misread them, too), it really did end up being "pistol 3.0," just with vastly worse Power scaling and an emphasis on Torment -- which, again, cannot benefit form Trickery's "Deadly Ambush" trait.  While a true condition weapon is neat, the redundant attack pattern, animation locks, and awkward combat (one of the reasons I'm still not fond of warrior's axe, despite it doing good damage), thief has always been sort of a middle-ground between Power and Conditions, able to be played as both or either, and yes, even daredevil allowed for this.  I would have much-preferred something more like necromancer's axe with a non-projectile ranged attack or more AOEs -- though in reality, having more dual-skills via focus would better serve thief as a whole.

Edited by fluffdragon.1523
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