Arbitrary’s post on the need for more ‘hat quests’ in WAR for the Knight of the Blazing Sun triggered a comment from myself on the prospect of a Slayer mohawk ‘hair quest’. As ludicrous as it sounds, it did make me ponder on the nature of gear and customisation for the Slayer class. Slayers are traditionally not very well endowed in the clothing department, eschewing most armour for a more effective fighting style, a more honourable death and possibly to give a chance to the poor blighters that are facing them in combat. So how will gear work for Slayers in WAR?
Let’s take as read that Slayers will at least be allowed trousers, which although perhaps not flush with armour points, will give suitable bonuses to stats, and avoid the need for players to stare at dwarven buttock-beards for considerable lengths of time; my guess would be that Slayers will rely heavily on avoidance stats, such that they avoid or parry many blows but will take a bit of a pummeling when they do get hit. Let’s also allow Slayers to wear a chest piece, be it no more than a leather vest or a light chainmail shirt. This still leaves us with, at a minimum, feet, shoulders, head and hand slots that are free of armour and ideally need to be filled in some way.
My thought for this: tattoos.
There would be a special ‘armour’ item in the game based on tattoos. The tattoos would be for specific slots, just as their armour counterparts are, and could have stats attached to them much as gear does. Being that my idea of a Slayer is based on avoidance stats, you could have token amounts of armour attached to the tattoo without it totally breaking immersion: it would be slightly harder to accept that by forcing a pint of ink under one’s skin one would gain plate armour levels of damage resistance. However, the higher level tattoos could be magical in nature, Runic Tattoos say, and therefore justify higher levels of armour and other non-Slayer-like stats. I think this fits in quite nicely with the Slayer theme: if you see a heavily tattooed dwarf running at you, you know that he’s going to give you a good kicking; if, on the other hand he only has a heart with the word ‘Mother’ tattooed on one arm, you can probably take it as read that he’s fairly new to the school of slaying.
Thinking on customisation itself, there are lots of nice touches that can be added to the trophy slots on a Slayer: eye patches, nose-to-ear rings, even scars! Fighting a battle with a tough boss that rewards a trophy will award the Slayer a lovely-looking deep crusty scar to have run down one arm, or across your character’s back. Due to the fact that Mythic’s game is already a dark and dangerous place, they have the potential to make veteran Slayers look a real mess, but in the best possible way. Slayers, although stylised and eulogised among Warhammer fans, are generally nothing more than wandering wrecks, they’re the sentient living equivalent of ghost ships: terrifying to look upon, falling apart, haunted and dead to the world, while still refusing to actually die.
As for actual game-play, I’ll be interested to see what mechanic Mythic devises. The easy route would be to go with something like the standard rage mechanic as seen on WoW Warriors or City of Villain Brutes, where the longer the Slayer fights for, and the more enemies they defeat, the greater the damage they deal out as the blood lust takes a hold of them. It’s not a particularly exciting mechanic, but it is effective and proven to work. The interesting part will be how Mythic devise and structure the various Mastery paths (talent trees, to those WoW players out there) for the Slayer. At the moment I’m stuck on a Melee DPS Damage Path, a Melee DPS Damage Path, and… uh, a Melee DPS Damage path. Slayers are “dwarfs what kill stuff”, to use the Barnett parlance, and so it seems hard to see a Mastery path for a Slayer that doesn’t involve “killing stuff betterer”. Mastery paths could, for example, be based on weapon types, with axes doing pure burst damage, hammers having less damage but crowd control effects such as stuns, and daggers doing more damage than axes but through DoT bleed effects and the like, such that the damage is spread out over time. My other thought is that the Mastery paths could be based around weapon styles, so Two Handed, Dual Wield and… uh, hmmm a one handed weapon and shield is just not very Slayerish, and a one handed weapon on its own would be a bit pointless. I would, therefore, offer up a new item: the Battle Horn. The Battle Horn is something that the Slayer can blow in combat to strike fear into their foes and raise the morale of their fellows. This would allow the Slayer to be more than just a melee DPS class, to bring a little utility to the field of battle by providing some de/buffs. The standard Slayer would be able to use the Battle Horn and provide these de/buffs, but the Slayer who specialises in the Battle Horn Mastery path has additional benefits added to the standard versions of these abilities, as well as the core de/buffs being improved by putting points in to Battle Horn Mastery, as it is with the Masteries of other classes already.
Anyway, these are just a few thoughts from someone who is desperately trying not to get too excited about the chance to play one of their favourite RPG classes – trying not to be a total Slayerette – they aren’t meant as predictions for what we will actually see from Mythic, they’re just ideas that I needed to write down because they were flailing around in my head like a Slayer in an encampment of chaos henchmen.