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Canthan Guardian Elite Specialization Suggestion: The Fangshi

Shin Ryu.5802

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Before Arenanet's legal team panics, I'll begin by officially and unconditionally granting Arenanet the copyright to any idea they might actually choose to use in name or principle.

While the overall idea is to provide a fresh new way to play a given profession, the are a few basic guidelines they have favored in the past: 1.) No entirely new weapon types, but new skins or ways of using them are okay, 2.) a profession should remain true to its core conceptualization, but looking at them through the lens of one or more other professions has been expressly stated as a starting point for new elite specialization concepts, 3.) new abilities or skills should have at least some precedent within the game's existing asset structure, and 4.) it should ideally be designed to fit within the story or regional "color" of the current installment. Frankly, it's only a guess that the popular far-Eastern themed Canthan region will be the subject location of a new expansion, but let's roll with that.

For "color" purposes, the Fangshi uses divination to protect and support allies and debuff enemies--essentially, a Guardian conceived through the lens of a Necromancer or a Mesmer. The concept of seeking good fortune and avoiding bad fortune (or denying good fortune to and inflicting bad fortune upon enemies) should manifest in game play by rewarding apt timing and placement of skills, and being mindful of what allies and enemies are doing at any given moment. The emphasis on requiring and rewarding situational awareness is a novel introduction to what is often played as a "face roll tank" profession.

The core of any Guardian is the Virtues. For "color" purposes, the new variants could be called "Seals," "Seal of Justice," "Seal of Resolve," "Seal of Courage." For a new functionality, I suggest taking a page from the Druid #2 staff skill, Astral Wisp, which damages a foe but encircles them while healing a allies it passes through. The "Seal" could be targeted and sent to an enemy or ally in the form of a shikigami that flies to and circles the target, providing a small aoe effect appropriate to its type. Thus, a Guardian would gain the ability to truly share the passive effects of their virtues with allies by temporarily sacrificing access to the effects for themselves--something entirely consistent with the original Guardian design concept. Allies in their aoe proximity could enjoy the passive effects of Virtue Seals while enemies would suffer appropriate damage types or debuffs. For enemies, Justice could inflict burning (of course), Resolve could leech health or inflict weakness, and Courage could inflict vulnerability. The "Seals" would automatically return after a certain amount of time, or could be recalled at will to be retained or redeployed. Whether and how long a "cooldown" period would be is a matter of game balancing. Admittedly, my suggestions are deliberately vague.

New weapon options become more restricted with every new elite specialization, but the dagger fit nicely with the ceremonial "flavor" of the fangshi. It could be used to rationalize just about any new Symbol skill: a "Symbol of Purification" that functions as a lesser Purging Flames, a "Symbol of Binding" that immobilizes, or whatever combination of boons or debuffs helps balance and compliment the other weapon skills. Dagger skills could offer boon strips or boon stealing (or perhaps boon copying or redistribution to proximate allies), inflict conditions, or include an interrupt in the form of a taunt--for a "tank" profession, the Guardian has surprisingly limited access to taunt skills to draw aggro--but I digress. Skills with built-in movement effects (closing, retreating, stepping behind a target, etc) could put more "dance" into the melee rotation, but having it be a mid-range weapon (like the scepter) could be interesting too, with daggers dancing in various patterns with various effects. In any case, evasion skills are off the table--Guardian is already a tanky profession with access to Aegis and other blocking skills. To the extent the Guardian is to gain some completely new utility from the dagger, it should be "softening up" enemies via debuffing.

The Firebrand showed us that ostentatious and cool-looking symbol animations are entirely possible, so something akin to the Well skills re-imagined as eight trigram-themed patterns in motion could be beautiful in terms of both form and function. To differentiate them from Consecrations (which are already functionally Well skills) and to encourage rather than restrict character movement, they could remain centered upon and follow the character (or other target) as an aoe effect. Functionally speaking, they would not be unlike the Herald's Facets or the Holosmith's Laser Disc skill in that regard, but they are not yet a general skill class unto themselves. Something generic enough to be picked up and applied to other profession Elite Specializations might be appropriate--perhaps "Aura" skills. Glyphs are skills (currently limited to Elementalist and Druid) that change according to attunement or form changes; perhaps Glyph skills that change according to which Virtues are activated? The possibilities are just too endless to contemplate...

At any rate, I've enjoyed reading the suggestions of other players for new Elite Specializations, and hope this likewise succeeds in entertaining others.

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