Thoughts on the Warrior

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For my second post in this Ten Part Series: “Thoughts on X”, I have chosen the Warrior Hero Class. I am jumping out of order here to give my alphabetically challenged class a chance to get to the front of the line. I hope you enjoy it!

Designing the Warrior

It’s not really a question of whether or not a fantasy Role-Playing game will have a plate wearing combat specialist that focuses on the martial aspects of battle–it’s a given. The primary question I had to answer was, “What that martial combat specialist was going to be like?” followed closely by “What to name it?”

In 2004-2005 when I was doodling in my notebook and hashing out this game, I was trying to be different. I didn’t have exactly the same views on game design back then, but they were being codified into something that I do have today. I had some ideas that I was not able to put directly into words, but they were based on a few things: make it as addictive to play as a MMORPG, remove as many barriers to play as possible, and take a step beyond all the RPGs you have played, every chance you get. With those things in mind, I looked at what I had to work with for this class, and I split the names into a Knight, Fighter, and Warrior on my first run around.

Next, I started thinking about how it would play. I wanted the Warrior Hero Class to be an “entry level” class that people could pick to play without much thought. You know why? Because that is how it always worked in RPGs. As reasons go, that was really not a good reason. I rationalized making them as “entry level” with the idea that there were a lot of new concepts and styles of play. Unchained Heroes was supposed to be different and it would be introducing new ideas into the Paper RPG world, so we needed some vanilla ice cream (aka comfort food).

As an “entry-level” class it was originally designed to be full of passive abilities and would not use Resources like Energy. Everything a Warrior would use would either be always active or require a little build up to happen. Enter stage right–Tactical Points. The Warrior was designed to accrue Tactical Points and then use them as the battle went on. As the game evolved, Tactical Points took on an entirely new feel and became a core game mechanic. As their resources evolved, the Warrior evolved in new ways as well; moving away from being “entry-level” to being in tune with the feel of the other Hero Classes.

After hashing that out for a bit, I began to focus on a name. As the Warrior was envisioned to encompass many styles of play and fit into all walks of life, the name “Knight” was out. A Knight suggested formal training–possibly a title–and all the baggage that comes with it, such as: shiny armor, fighting from horseback, helms, lances, and the like.

That left Fighter and Warrior. The decision was not a clear path from there. Even though I never felt Fighter was a good class name for anything, since a Rogue is a fighter and a Sorcerer is a fighter. In fact, I felt that just about anything that fights would technically be a “Fighter.” At the time though it won out, a Fighter was the only generic name that I could use to keep a broad definition and keep them open to many playstyles. It lasted that way for a while, but in the end I could not keep it anymore. Warrior was a better fit and the Fighter became the Warrior.

When I decided on the name Warrior, their place in Unchained Heroes changed for me. A Warrior was entirely different than a Fighter in my mind; it said someone that fought in the trenches; new how to handle themselves on a battlefield; was someone people could look up to or grudgingly respect. To be called a Warrior was an honor. A Warrior meant armor and weapons and shields. Warriors were the people that others looked to on the battlefield and that is when I felt that their role as a commander would fit. The name Warrior has stuck ever since. Now it takes the Warrior takes its rightful place along the rest of the Hero Classes where it belongs.

Reactions to the Warrior

The Warrior is a fan favorite, especially as a Champion/Tank class. The players that have used a Warrior have consistently expressed how fun it is to play. The combination of drawing the attention of their enemies, getting beat on, and dishing out counter strikes in response is addictive because even during your opponent’s action, you have a reaction available to you. The survivability, number of actions, and the mechanics behind them have surprised many members of the group, changing how they feel about playing a tank in a role-playing game. I feel that it is a great success.

The Warrior rewards players for using their abilities as designed. This encouragement is a positive reinforcement that invokes a positive response. I also believe that with chance being involved, the response is heightened. The abilities mitigate some risk, while still allowing for Lady Luck’s place in a RPG. On a basic level, it also feels very good to be able to respond to a threat any time it rears its head.

The Warrior has been played as “Sword and Board” Warrior, a “Sword and Swordbreaker” Warrior, and a Swashbuckling Pirate. The group has recently been looking at another role of the Warrior in a much more favorable light, the role of a Field General; which has pushed them to try to attain new levels just to experience the higher level abilities this role provides. The Warrior plays great as a frontline fighter, but as in a commander role they can provide excellent support abilities for everyone on the battlefield. The Warrior provides many different styles of play while keeping things familiar and that I believe, is the secret to its success.

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