Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nizari -- state of the union!

The Nizari guild, ah, my favourite since I've returned to LS on this most recent streak of over a year. Where to begin...

To start with, the Nizari aren't a bad guild. Oh no, not by any means. There are a few guilds that have more flaws, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to speak to most of those issues. However, I will say that of anyone on LS, I probably know the Nizari guild as well as anyone (at least from the player perspective).

To start with, other than Kensai, I'd say that Nizari are the strongest 'melee' guild in the game at maximum potential. Nizari get copious amounts of dodge, sword, dagger, combat reflexes, killer instinct, and other juicy melee specialties. That stuff is all magnified when they unlock combat meditation towards the top end.

But basically, let's be honest -- that's all they have. They don't have any "manuevers" to keep them busy or burn spirit on, like a kensai. Aside from wearing magical items that drain spirit actively, and wild talents, Coma literally does not use spirit. At all. Ever. Even brutes use spirit!

Then there's what we do have. Poisons. Poisons look great on paper but really aren't all that great in practice, especially since they were substantially weakened some time back after Erebus discovered someone (not me) abusing them.

What's wrong with poisons? Well, to start with, there's no way of telling what they're doing or not doing. The help files say they do this and that, and I'm sure they probably do. But there's no feedback to the player that any of this is actually occurring, other than some generic "The brown-skinned human shivers from the effects of the poison." type messages. Occassionally if an NPC is highly resistant to poison you will get some "Coma is largely unaffected by the attack." type of messages after the generic emote.

It'd be nice to see that my foxglove is actually taking some creatures' sight, or not. It'd be nice to see that my nightshade is applying periodic damage: A brown rat is severely poisoned by the poison coursing through its veins. It'd be nice to see that my hemlock is causing the creature I'm fighting to miss combat rounds (or whatever it does).

Poison also wears off really fast, even with massive investment in the poison lore skill and specialty. It would be nice if it would scale out a little so re-applying it wasn't such a continuous thing.

What do Nizari need? Just some flavor, especially when it comes to combat. Something that makes them feel rogueish and stealthy. Maybe some creative ways to open combat, like a surprise attack or a stun. Maybe a hamstring type of ability that lowers their opponent's speed and dodge ratings. Maybe some use for throwing, or crossbows, or any of the other stuff that seems so terribly in-character and we even get specialty access for, but really serve no purpose right now. Maybe a way to disappear from combat and disengage that's based on stealth and manipulation.

I know that Erebus and Smizzmar were once working on a very ambituous re-write of Nizari which sounded entirely cool, and was going to take the guild in an entirely new direction. Something like that would be awesome, but the major gaps in the guild could probably be addressed using the current favour and boon system and some new skills/abilities too.

So, to sum up, here's my very short list for things that would be great for Nizari:

1) A small number of combat manuevers to spice fighting up. "e;kill all" just doesn't seem too assassin-ey. It's also waaaaaay boring. These manuevers don't have to be terribly powerful, but should at least be 'worth doing.'

2) Poison improvements such as duration that scales with skill and more detailed feedback about what exactly the poison is doing or not doing, both in terms of damage and side-effects.

3) Out of combat perks to round the guild out a little bit. One idea I've had for awhile is a kind of ability that ties in with the "hunter/assassin" aspect of Nizari. Since Nizari are essentially hired assassins, I think it would be slick to have some kind of innate scrying or crystal ball ability to assist the Nizari in finding their targets (or even a more vague custom solution that just indicates target proximity and vector).

4) Addition of more boon/favour targets to the existing list of choices, assuming the guild re-write isn't coming anytime soon, this would at least keep things a little more fresh for people working their way up.

Lost Souls

A little background about this blog in case anyone out there randomly stumbles across it. This blog is about the MUD Lost Souls. A MUD is an old-school online game, sort of the predecessor genre to the new-fangled MMORPG market that most people are familiar with these days.

Anyway, Lost Souls is the best of these, and has been around for something like 15 years. Pretty cool, overall. It's text-based but incredibly deep. I encourage anyone who finds this blog to go give it a try.

More information can be found at http://www.lostsouls.org -- hope to see you there.