Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer Q&A (May 3)

Are there any skills you are currently unhappy with and are considering reworking during the beta phase?

Travis: For the most part, we are really happy with how things have turned out. There is two really big outliers. One is Blood is Power. The passive that for every 5% health you lose or spend, it refreshes all of your cooldowns by 1%. For months, people would coming to me and be like: “Man, this thing doesn’t seem good enough.”

My response was usually they are going to break it and not make it better. This is probably too good to ship already. Even though none of us really know how to break it, they are going to break it; and sure enough in the most recent PTR, we have people going like: “Oh, I am pushing Rift 1.02 mentality of my gear; and I am permanently invincible; and blah-blah-blah.”

OMG, Ok. We have to fix that. So as we were working on the redesign for that passive, the only other one that really stands out (and again this is terribly broken) is largely Blood is Power. We just messed up, and we forgot to do something we normally do with our skills which is we have a rune on Bone Armor where instead of being a mitigation tool it turns it into a temporary invulnerability skill (kinda like serenity but with a longer cooldown).

In our game, across the board, if you have a button that makes you invulnerable, we don’t start cooling down the skill until the invulnerability expires to make sure you are never allowed to have 100% uptime of invulnerability. We just forgot to do that for the Bone Armor rune. So that coupled with Blood is Power, coupled with things like Obsidian Ring, people were getting permanent immunity. So both of those things we will be addressing soon. In the next PTR we will fix that actually.



From an interation point of view how was it to develop Bone Spirit from its previous form to this new improved one? Any plans to add it to the 6-piece bonus of the Plague Set?

Julian: It is definitely one of my favorites. We had a lot of clarity when we started in terms of the role it was going to play, and it didn’t change too much in terms of that role, but we also knew that it was a pretty big iconic skill from Diablo II, and deserved a lot of attention in terms of just being thematically awesome. We also didn’t want to repeat what had happened in Diablo II, exactly, or really that much at all; because that’s what you did in the age of sprites, but we should be able to do something way cooler. If you think about the word Bone Spirit, I think for us it was something really more fantastic. So we went through a lot of iterations on it. We had a lot of problems with that. It is effectively a projectile, and projectiles are very very long-shaped. It’s contact position, you have to make a decision as to where that is.

Long story short, it made it really not feel really good in terms of– it would kinda run half-way through a monster before it exploded. So we dropped back to another version than what we have right now; but we are playing around with the different animations… like how we get it to animate in a more lively way. It has a spawn animation, rather than just coming out the way it does, and it sort of made it look like the spirit was swimming in like a race or something… neat idea, but it’s kinda humorous, and we didn’t want that.

So after just trying out all these different ideas, we settled back down into something that is a little bit more tame, but what you see today in the game… we trimmed out some of the crazy that wasn’t working and focused down on the stuff that does.



Decay Golem is cool, but do you plan to give us a tracker on how many corpses the Golem has consumed?

Travis: We talked about it, there is currently no plans. For those of you that don’t know what Decay Golem is, it is the Golem that you activate (like all of the Golem skills it has a cooldown), and when you activate the Decay Golem, it rushes toward the location, consumes all the corpses, and then gets a buff and does a ton more damage. The basic idea for that was people were constantly like: I want to Voltron corpses. Just imagine if the golem piled up more corpses on himself, and murdering people.

We talked about a buff stacker on it. We decided against it. We didn’t really see the need for it.



How many pieces of Necromancer only equipment will there be? Will he have some type of armor made specifically for the class like the mighty belts for Barbarians or the voodo masks for the Witch Doctor?

Travis: The short answer is two. They are scythes, which is the class weapon; and the Phylactery which is the class’s off-hand. I remember when we were making the decision way early in development about what his class armor would be, I was very much of the opinion that maybe belts don’t really add anything to the game…; like Barbarians aren’t really cooler because he has got a belt on, and the fact that it is a class-specific belt, which most people don’t see dropping; so what’s the point of this.

A belt is a belt. Maybe my belt does nothing inherently. So we decided against giving the Necromancer class a class-specific armor piece for that reason.



Could we possibly see any of the Necromancer sets get a 7th piece to allow combining the set bonuses via RoRG?

Travis: Oh, man. I get this question so often. So……. no. This question does come a lot, and we have talked internally extensively about this thing. This concept idea. Like ah, stacking sets. Generally, when we get this kind of question, the way we interpret it is, can we find a way to get a mechanic in the game that will let them be more powerful. Ultimately, the expectation of one wearing multiple sets is: because that is better than one set. Obviously, two sets is better than one set. Duh!

I love interactions, plus finding things that you didn’t expect. I think in the case of stacking all the set bonuses… really they are meant to feel powerful, and interesting, and different; and they just start melding together when you are wearing multiple at a time. So the goal for the Necromancer has been to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen; but the goal is that they are still as strong as any other class in the game — which means whatever they are doing with two or one-and-a-half sets. Pick the set you like, go with it. Same is true for the weapons, and all the other items. We have no plans of adding 7-pieces.



The class feels really locked into a Generator/Spender/Corpse Skill build style. Any plans to shake this up?

Travis: This is another one that people ask about a lot. I know even internally I used to tell people over and over and over. There is not going to be a passive generator on this class; and not just because we said so, it is because we tried it, and it made the gameplay fall apart in ways we didn’t like.

We have made a very conscious effort to make sure that generators and spenders are part of the core of the class, and that you are doing these two things at different rates; and also corpses are a resource that you are generating so that you are using them. We try to design the skills accordingly, though. Like knowing that you have multiple things that you have to keep up with. So like the necromancer’s resource generator, generates a lot of resource really fast; in some cases like Grim Scythe… two attacks in the middle of a pack, and your bar gets more than full.

Same with the corpse skill. We try to make it easy to consume many corpses at once; and if you just didn’t want to deal with it, you have got things like Devour, where you push a button and all the corpses on the screen are gone. Alternatively, one of the ones that our guys love internally, they tell me is way cooler than the rest (even if I don’t agree) is the Devour aura, because… ahh, I don’t have to push a button now. That’s cool, but you have to run to the corpse. So that is not all upside. There is a cost associated with that.

The desire to have builders and spenders and corpse skills is just always going to be part of the class. It is very deliberate, and there are certain exceptions, like if you are doing easy bounding clear content you would probably take the builder off your bar and use Devour; and if you are wearing the Plague Set, you probably don’t need anything but Devour. You just run screen to screen pushing Devour and… like cascading Corpse Lances forward, and everything is dead; and all you have got to do is press Devour over and over, and that’s fine.

But for any kind of high-level gameplay or Greater Rift-pushing, or forming co-op groups, you certainly you are going to want a better spender. Probably a Corpse skill, because the intent is that they are really powerful. So why would you leave any of it? We have all these corpses on the table. I have got to spend them. So yea, working as intended. Very much so.



What legendary items for the necromancer are you most excited about and why? What was the most fun to work on so far?

Travis: Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… there is a lot. Sorry. My brain just went blank. We just finished getting all of them in this week, and we a lot of brainstorming the last couple of weeks. So my brain just melted.

Julian: And we don’t know the name of them.

Brandy: Yea, they don’t have final names necessarily.

Travis: The rings are bonkers-good; but my current favorite that we just put in is a ring, and it is kinda insane, and I am kinda worried about how awesome it is, but it is a ring that whenever you cast a curse, and curses enemies… it takes all of the enemies that were affected by curse, and pulls them to the center of where you cast the curse. So it is like a… range-targeted cyclone strike on a Legendary for your curses.

I was doing that with the Saint Set, and then I was using the Bone Armor that stuns guys when I cast it, and then we added (I think) another ring or weapon where your Bone skills deal a ton of extra damage to stunned enemies. So it is like… group them all together with the curse, cast Bone Armor (with the Bone set) which does a ton of damage and stuns them, and then I hit my Bone Nova which deals like 200% bonus damage to them because they were stunned; and then they were inside my whirlwind of death. So I have got more multipliers, and it was just bonkers. Like absolutely bonkers.

Julian: There is a hat, a ring, the boot. There is a helmet that when you Revive a bunch of monsters, instead of getting monsters from the batch of corpses, instead what happens is all of those corpses generate a one-single bad-ass Revive that is made more powerful based on the number of corpses you used to create it. I think it is a 100+ % additional damage. It is ridiculous. So you can make this really really insane Revive; and then of course, combo-ing that with other skills that purposely generate more corpses — like the Revive rune that when it dies, it leaves more corpses; and then the Skeleton Mage rune that also generates corpses… now you have got all these corpse generators, and all are feeding this ridiculous Revive mechanic (from the helmet)… and for a pet player, that’s just awesome.

Travis: Also, that helmet makes Land of the Dead really compelling for Revive — which normally it is not, but when you can make 10 super powerful pets…

It is not easy to get a 100 corpses normally, but I just got 10 of these, and they just destroy everything. Yea, that’s really good.




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