DESIGNER’S DIARY 9: CLASSES OF CONFLICT – TALON
Talon was already in our minds when the initial discussions for this project took place a decade ago. The starting point was simple: during the 3rd edition era, the Monk, with its lawful alignment restriction, ceased to be an option for Brutal Races other than hobgoblins. Considering that even among hobgoblins, the number of monks would likely be low, one of the official classes would go to waste.
So, Talon was designed as an alternative to the Monk. To this day, the mechanical counterpart of Talon is still the Monk. However, when you examine Talon, it’s like a mix of Monk and Barbarian. As you’ll see, these two are among the most dissimilar classes. Furthermore, there are traces of the Ranger in Talon as well.
When we started designing Talon recently, some of its features were clear. These included a movement bonus, a rage-like but different temporary state, unique handcrafted weapons and armor, HP regeneration, and disease-poison resistance. These features were always part of the Talon theme.
From both roleplay and thematic standpoints, Talon fits well with examples like Tarzan or Wolverine. So, in the design process, we went through these two famous examples that may not have directly inspired Talon but had similarities out of necessity. We took note of how terrifying and formidable a fighter Wolverine is. We added how Tarzan navigates through the trees and survives. Ultimately, we decided that Talon should be a more durable warrior than the Monk but less versatile.
When we needed a special attack for Talon, we had to think quite a bit. Initially, the idea of the Dive Attack seemed promising, and it had a requirement to attack from above. However, upon further consideration, we realized that some winged races or equipment and spells that grant flight capabilities could break the mechanics of this attack. There was a possibility that what an orc Talon struggled to trigger, another character could do easily each time. Therefore, the format of Dive Attack was changed. It became more like Wolverine’s attacks, performed by running and jumping. Additionally, a total usage limit was imposed. But it didn’t stop there; different Dive Attack modes were introduced, such as jumping onto an enemy and then onto another, staying on top of an enemy for extra attacks, dealing different types of damage to an enemy, or sliding between an enemy’s legs instead of jumping. With these changes, Talon’s combat became very dynamic from a mechanical perspective.
The feature that was initially conceptualized as “rage-like” was tuned into Ferocity. It’s a personal buff with some side effects. It requires careful consideration before use, as the damage it inflicts on the user can sometimes be more significant.
In addition to all these features, the hand-made claws and armor added a lot of options, but they also had their limits. For example, they could never become magical. To solve this, we introduced the idea that daggers could be turned into claws. This way, as Talon progresses in levels, they won’t be helpless against certain enemies when they don’t want to carry swords.
The subclasses proved to be more challenging than the class itself. As with most classes, our system was clear. The first subclass would be the default one, just like the Fighter’s Champion or the Life Domain Cleric. Ferocity was a subclass that was relatively easier to design in this regard. The second subclass needed to offer deeper mechanics, and the third had to be in a very unique structure. For the second subclass, we transformed Talon’s poison abilities into a more area-of-effect mechanic. The third subclass had to be unique. If we talk about Fighter, it’s like the Eldritch Knight, or for The Pack, it’s like Casterling…
We thought a lot about this. The cannibal theme was always on our minds, but putting it into a mechanic was not easy. We also considered whether this might be seen as too aggressive an option by some. However, when it comes to Brutal Races, we finally decided that it was a natural process for a character, even one disconnected from tribes and able to survive in the wilderness as an apex predator, to consume their enemies. Still, it was challenging from a mechanical perspective. In the final version of the book, we foresee that Devourer may still undergo some changes. Nevertheless, we want to say from now that this option will offer players a lot of unlimited choices.
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