Julian Love (FX Lead Artist) and Travis Day (Senior Game Designer) held a Q&A to respond questions about the Necromancer. Below you can watch the video (use Chrome if Firefox won’t show it), and/or read our transcript.
Besides the Necromancer, what else will the pack come with? Besides new legendary items and set dungeons.
Julian: We will ship with two new character slots, two stash tabs, a pennant, banner, pet, wings, and a new portrait frame.
What elements does the Necromancer use?
Julian: A lot of the Necromancer’s kit is based on the idea of blood and bone, and we think that the best damage type for that is going to be physical. It’s not really an element so to speak, but I think it is a damage type. That is the majority of the kit, and that leads us to two other elements that we felt fit the fantasy of the class: cold and poison. Poison is the damage type that we decided to fit best with our blight theme.
The interaction between LotD, Corpse Lance and the Plague set — was this intended? If so, doesn’t it make Bone Spear moot?
Travis: It was intended. It was not intended the way some creative players discovered they could use it. So we are going to address some of the abusive cases where you can do things that we didn’t really plan to do, but that is why we have PTR. They are a lot smarter than we are, when it comes to things like this. So we are going to address that; and Bone Set is awesome, Bone Set is really good. Some of the stuff that is happening right now, because again it is not intended to function that way, but we are going to fix it.
Will there be a Blood Mage/Dracula type of Necromancer build? That would be fun to maintain HP and skills.
Travis: Yea. There will absolute be. You may not have seen it already in the beta, there is the Blood Necromancer Set. It is very reminiscent of the full red armor from the Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is very reminiscent to that; but yea, there is a lot of blood magic to set this build around. Spending your health, recuperating your health, and increasing your health. We tie very heavily into the health mechanic for that.
Was there a lot of internal debate about the skills with “X% chance to instantly kill enemy below Y% HP”?
Travis: No. There wasn’t. We did not do, that mechanic much. I think we did it in one place with Execution. I think it is just a cool thematic. The monster has to be pretty low health. The chance for that to happen is relatively low.
The expectation is you are fighting a lot of creatures, so through certain lense, if you have done something to increase your damage to the monster in the first place, and the only rune mechanic that works that way is Frailty, and Frailty is not a chance. It just happens. It is just like the mob has less health, which is very similar to mobs dying faster, and taking more damage.
What was the thought behind the pet set? It seems cool, but dictates many of your skills going against the freedom you wanted.
Travis: Giving the sets as much freedom as humanly possible is one of our goals, for certain amongst the group. We wanted the sets to be really open-ended, not dictate too many skills on your bar. The pet set is kind of the exception. We did make sure we didn’t force you to have all of the pet skills on your bar. You could theoretically… “I am not going to use the Golem, because I think Bone Armor is really good for survivability. Or maybe I am not going to use Revive, because man, Devour is so awesome.”
So it is pretty loose. It really does incentivize you to use all the pet skills, but at the same time it is the core fantasy for the class. It is all about being the Commander of the Dead, and having this massive army. So we can’t set like: Ok, if you are going to use all your pets, then you are going to use all your pets. That’s what this class is all about. But I think there are still some interesting builds that evolve over time; and as players see more of the items.
Is there any new skill sets for a type of “Meleemancer” like in Diablo II?
Julian: Yea. We have got Grim Scythe, and the Nova skills, and a bunch of passives and things that fit into that. A lot of the Saint Set works that way. It is definitely geared towards meleemancer vibe. We definitely talk a lot about that. Focus on that as a fantasy that we want to bring back, that we knew a lot of Necromancer players were into. So, yes.
If our XBox account is linked to our Blizzard account, will we be able to have the Necromancer across both platforms or will we need to purchase one for PC and one for console?
Brandy: They are separate products, just like the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls on PC is separate from the Ultimate Evil Edition on console. So, yes, you will need to purchase the Rise of the Necromancer separately if you plan to play on both platforms.
Necromancer has 3 curses. Why is it that none of these curses have a rune that is a direct damage amplification towards party members?
Travis: That’s a great question. When we were designing the curses, we really went back and looked at the old Diablo II curses; and sort of a running theme on them was like: “This increases your damage,” in some slightly varied way. We wanted the curses in Diablo III to be more succinct, and more clear; and have purity of purpose like: “this is the curse for making a (boss) die, this is the curse for healing people, this is the curse for killing things.”
So part of that was, we have Frailty, which is basically a damage amplifier, but it is a very generous and interesting way to present a damage increase, and then the runes largely across the class as a whole, we try to avoid runes that just say like: “Here are 4 runes that do something kinda neat, and then a fifth one that does more damage.” Because generally that just means that the rune choices weren’t interesting. You take the fifth that is a better version of it, and the rest of these don’t matter.
So we wanted all the runes for the skills to feel either more utilitarian, or more gameplay-defining. Functionally, though, Frailty is a damage amplifier. It is a damage increase for everyone. You curse the enemies with it (for those of you who haven’t played with it), and they are more affected by it. When their health reach a certain threshold, they just die. We thought that was a cooler way to implement the old-school amplify damage curse, that had more flavor to it; but functionally isn’t a frail damage curse.
Will there be a melee thorn pet build for Necros?
Travis: One of the original curses, actually from Diablo II, that used to have some play– people asked in early development was Ironmaiden. We didn’t want to make Ironmaiden a curse, mostly because thorns in our game is not the same as thorns in Diablo II. Monsters AI sometimes dictates sometimes it is not even attacking you, and then you are just standing around waiting for stuff to happen; but we did think: “Well, you know, some people like just that. So let’s add some hooks in place so that people who like that playstyle can have that; or if you just want a bunch of minions tanking, and you are stacking thorns, and they are dying… that’s cool.”
So there are some passives that support that. There is one that give your minions 200% of your thorns, we have also made a Legendary recently that “any curse” will increase your thorns damage based on the number of enemies that are cursed, so you can start putting together a pet-centric thorns build that is kinda support to it; but we didn’t want to push it too hard because thorns has always being really tricky to get right in Diablo III.
Each class has a 2-piece weapon set; do you plan to give a weapon/offhand set to the Necromancer?
Travis: Yea. There is one coming in the next patch for the PTR. That is a main-hand Scythe/off-hand Shield. Necros aren’t really about shields, but it is such iconic artwork that… we have gotta get this in the game somehow; and the Scythe and Shield both really match the aesthetic of the Pet Set, like the Bone look, which is very iconic necromancer. So it is themed around that set, but anyone can use it. It is just a really good 2-piece set bonus for Army of the Dead.