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[Cantha] Speculation on Possible Elite Specialization


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It's Saturday, which means free time and sitting down to think through the upcoming End of Dragons expansion, set in Cantha! Thus I present to you my thoughts on a new direction for Thief, both as a profession, and a means to address concerns I've read echoed throughout the forums for some time.

And what could be more interesting than unthinkably mashing up the themes of Thief and Necromancer?

Doing so with a design that grants 14 new skills.

Focusing on Utility: Off-hand Focus

Probably the last weapon that would be expected, let alone used before for an elite specialization, is the Focus. Magical in nature, it's used predominantly by caster professions -- and the Guardian, who is arguably a hybrid -- to channel and, well ... focus the arcane energies which they command. What better implement for instilling one's will upon the very shadows which serve the Thief?

The interesting thing about this choice is that, like off-hand weapons, this means that the Focus would only grant 2 skills as a weapon. Drawing inspiration from other professions, as much as the Thief's own off-hand weaponry, I would propose that the these skills be largely utilitarian in nature; lesser attacks which hinder foes and bolster allies. It's true potential, however, comes from how it works with other weapons -- more on that later, however.

Taking Things Further: Shadow Conjuration

Utility skills. They're either well favored or much maligned, depending on your desired build and who you're asking. Each elite specialization has introduced 4x utility skills unique to it.

Considering recent directions with Thief and the thematic nature of the new elite specialization, these utility skills should provide something a bit more than being "just another attack" (or convenient stun-break). And what is "shadow conjuration," aside from proof I've played too much D&D? A new direction.

In essence, these utilities would spawn minions of living shadowstuff -- slinking little fiends of raw shade that attack foes and provide both offensive and defensive potential, akin to those commanded by a Necromancer. Unlike the Necromancer and its themes of macabre, shambling horrors, however, the elite specialization should strongly capitalize on the concept of manipulating shadows directly, imbuing them with a semblance of life and ravenous hunger both. If you're thinking of the Shadow Beasts from Guild Wars 1, you're on the right track.

Like other summoning-type skills, Conjurations would have a secondary usage, causing the minion to unleash a more powerful skill against foes or which creates a beneficial effect for nearby allies. This would also allow for a healthy split between styles: offense, defense, utility, and support.

Interactions with Main-hand weapons: Dual Wield Skills

For those readers unfamiliar with the profession, one of Thief's core -- and most underutilized -- mechanics are Dual Wield Skills. These skills are only available to a Thief who is dual wielding, and created via specific weapon combinations.

This would also mean that, being an off-hand weapon, the new specialization would receive 3 additional dual wielding skills through combinations with Dagger, Sword, and Pistol, respectively, whenever a Focus is wielded in the off-hand.

In addition to its Utility skills, I feel it would be interesting if these dual-wield skills were a secondary means of generating conjured shadows, freeing skills 4 and 5 for providing additional circumstantial utility, much like Pistol and Dagger already do.

The New Profession Mechanic: Giving Thief a Shroud -- Shadow Form

The concept here is the old Elite enchantment Shadow Form. While it is mechanically present in the modern Shadow Arts trait line -- and further proof that Thief indeed stems from GW1's Assassin -- thematically is the profession absent such an iconic skill. Obviously becoming untargetable wouldn't be very fair, but a defensive state where the Thief is enshrouded in a seething mass of writhing shade, however, feels perfectly in line with an evolution of the Shadow Arts traits and a largely unexplored realm of the profession.

(Besides, tendrilous, creeping shadowstuff would look far better for Thief than the billowing fell energies of the Necromancer's shroud.)

Conceptually, "Shadow Form" would become the new F1 skill of the specialization -- not its elite skill -- granting Thief an additional 5 skills while the mode is active. As it would replace Steal (much as Daredevil and Deadeye have done before it), would it equally synergize well with the existing Trickery, Shadow Arts, and Deadly Arts trait lines, gaining bonuses to recharge, boon generation, and potential defenses as well.

Limiting factors for this new ability are currently undetermined, and I would not wish for it to directly emulate Necromancer's Shroud skill -- it should be separate, if thematically similar, and not have any equivalency to life force and serving as "an extra HP bar." Thief should remain a hybrid class with strong offensive potential, rather than giving them an even more potent defense.

In all, would it potentially lessen the reliance upon Stealth as a core mechanic, giving the Thief a means to maintain its versatility and thematic core, without being quite the same frustration it is in competitive play. Moreover, this opens up the new Elite trait line to have a Master or Grand-Master trait that would emulate Mirage, by granting conjurations "Shadow Form" as well, serving to beguile enemies and potentially allow the Thief to duck away from an unwinnable fight -- not that it would prevent their more keen-sighted foes from pursuing them!

Lore, as a Source of Inspiration

Reddit user Mugwump_and_the_Zoid brings up the Am Fah and Jade Brotherhood in their reddit post on the subject of an elite specialization for the End of Dragons expansion, and how these two factions would have needed to shelter from the Ministry of Purity.

This, combined with Thief having the unique association with shadowy essence through the Shadow Arts trait line, serves as the basis for the concept.

Remember, we are returning to Cantha, so conceptually, whatever specialization Thief receives must fit the region and its lore. Thus something inspired by the Am Fah, Jade Brotherhood, and those who trafficked in the idols which spread the Miasma through Shing Jea and Kaineng City would be rather fitting -- particularly the concept of a reclusive or vagrant existing upon the fringes of society.

Design Goals

More than my personal love of the idea of a Thief wielding a weapon as innocuous (and deadly) as a Focus, I'd like to see the profession's next elite specialization not simply be an extension of an existing trait line -- as Daredevil was to Acrobatics, and Deadeye to Trickery.

Producing a specialization which focuses on utility and synergy with the core Thief profession, as outlined above, is the core goal of this design, thus allowing maximum freedom of builds and potential for unique play.

Why Focus, though?

As interesting as other weapons would be, what Reddit user Mugwump_and_the_Zoid points out is true: they haven't really a place in Thief.

Off-hand sword is already the provenance of Warrior and Revenant, the latter of whom has a build dedicated to the weapon through the spirit of Legendary Assassin Shiro Tagachi. Moreover, dual swords would indeed be too like daggers, which themselves are entirely based around the Assassin profession from the Factions campaign of GW1, from which modern Thief stems in many of its traits and skills.

Scepter was originally what I had hoped for, but after watching the progression of Pistols and Rifle, I cannot help but to feel that it would either be "Shortbow 2.0" or "Pistol 3.0," neither of which are necessary when already we have 3 ranged weapons, two of which are locked at 900 units (as scepter would be as well). The same would be true of longbow competing with rifle and Deadeye.

Mace, axe, and heavier weaponry simply feel out of keeping with the themes of the Thief class, and would be even more divergent than some of the other elite specializations out there -- and far harder to find (or conceive of) lore for.

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Shrouds are the Necromancers class mechanic, why should it be on any other profession?Elite specializations simply iterate on the mechanics, but don't replace them.

Also, minions should stay on the Necromancer.They already are able to summon Shadow fiends, so Thief doing so is nothing new.Thieves aren't even associated with Death Magic the Underworld, where those creatures come from.Also, the Shadow Beast you linked is a Necromancer.

Also, I disagree with the idea that Focus has no place on Thief.Thieves have been using Shadow magic since the beginning.After all, Shadow Steps and Stealth are Shadow Magic.A more magical take on Thief via Shadow Magic wouldn't be out-of-nowhere.

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@Fueki.4753 said:Shrouds are the Necromancers class mechanic, why should it be on any other profession?

Please read the section a bit more and it'll answer everything for you, I promise.

That aside, I would say because insofar, most elite specs have added in a skill type from another class. Wells were originally only for necromancers, but Chronomancer and Scrapper can use them, or how Tempest and Reaper can use Shouts (from Warrior and Guardian). Or, you know ... Deadeye replacing steal with "Deadeye's Mark."

Outside of elites, Preparations were originally only for Rangers, but Thief's traps got renamed to that (mostly due to bad design decisions with the exploitation of runes).

@Fueki.4753 said:Elite specializations simply iterate on the mechanics, but don't replace them.

Odd, considering that Firebrand, for example, completely replaces the core Virtues of Guardian with entirely new skill bars similar to Engineer's backpacks or other bundles, albeit with limited charges. Or how both Berserker and Spellbreaker replace the mechanics of Burst skills with their own unique versions (and limitations).

@Fueki.4753 said:After all, Shadow Steps and Stealth are Shadow Magic.

Strange, as I distinctly recall both Mesmer and Engineer having access to stealth, yet only one of them is magical.

As for "shadowstep," even that isn't unique to Thief. Our only true profession mechanics are Initiative and Dual-wield skills.

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@Fueki.4753 said:Shrouds are the Necromancers class mechanic, why should it be on any other profession?For all intents, Holosmith is a Shroud. Completely replaces all skills, has limited use that requires a recharge period. As is Celestial Avatar, for that matter.Shroud, limited transformation, call them what you will, they're class mechanics that mimic, in a way, the Shroud, but have thematic ties to the class they belong to.

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  • 1 year later...
35 minutes ago, Ara the Elegant.6825 said:

Mugwump here.  Taking a look at my old comment a year+ later, I'm honestly pretty surprised at how close I was to Specter.

Spectre turned out alot better then I expected tbh. 

Knowing alot anticipated a support styled specc I dreaded the concept where as thief lacks any core synergy with a support specc we would get a overloaded kit of pure support and we would see it drown as a support only specc. 

What they seem to have done is create a amazing Hybrid with supportive elements and offensive boon options to create it in the most flexible manner they could. 

Which is a positive as I was always against thief getting a actual healer role specc. 

I was miles off what spectre is myself tho 😂😂

Edited by Daddy.8125
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