Empath Design Direction
At the start of GS4, we announced that Empaths, as Mental-Spirit hybrids, would eventually be losing access to the Major Spirit list and gaining access to the Minor Mental list. At the time, Empaths were a strong service class with weak combat abilities, and our intention was that access to the Minor Mental list would help not only by emphasizing their hybrid Mental nature, but also by providing additional combat options to the class.
As part of our continued development of Empaths and looking forward to the Minor Mental list, we have re-evaluated the design direction and have decided to no longer pursue converting Empaths from Major Spirit to Minor Mental. This decision was not made lightly; it is based on a review of the current state of Empaths and the ramifications of the change in lists.
As we have continued development of Empaths in the years since the release of GS4, we have made substantial improvements to their combat abilities. Empaths can now hold their own in combat using spells such as Bone Shatter, Wither, Empathic Assault, and Harm. With Empaths no longer needing the Minor Mental list to address their shortcomings in combat, the need for and benefits of the conversion diminished substantially. The class is in good shape currently, and with the upcoming lore review, guild skills, and a handful of remaining open spell slots available for enhancing the class further, we consider making a foundational change to the class to be unwarranted. In a nutshell, we're following the maxim: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Some players may be wondering if this means the Minor Mental list is no longer planned for development. It absolutely is. Developing the Minor Mental list is one of our primary projects for 2008, in support of the release of the Monk class, and later, Savants.
This decision also does not mean that we no longer consider Empaths to be hybrids, or that their magic no longer has a Mental aspect to it. The Empath spell list (1100s) will certainly continue to reflect their Mental/Spirit hybrid nature in its spells.
I'm still in the 30 day period but not for much longer, and when I see GM posts that I should train in this or that, I do take it seriously. I just need to know what to give up.
We (staff) can't really tell you what to train in. One of the great things about role-playing games is that you get to make choices for your character's design. It's up to you to weigh the advantages and disadvantages for each skill.
I can tell you that expected core skill training for an Empath is both 1x in Mental and Spiritual Mana Control. Typically, this means we will design and evaluate abilities with the understanding that an Empath is trained as such, and by not following that expected training, it can cause less than desirable results for your character.
Class-based advantages are a natural part of a class-based system. The fact that empaths excel as the heartiest of the pures (with their Physical Fitness access) is an intentional design aspect. This is an important facet of the healing portion of the class. They need quick access to a high amount of HPs and need a high natural HP recovery rate. Perhaps later, they may also need the stamina associated with additional PF training.
Empaths casting through their primary circle through wounds again is an intentional benefit of the class, just as bards not losing mana when armor hindrance affects their primary circle. Class-based systems yield class-based benefits.
Empaths can pull off chain class armors, but it comes at a significant TP investment (their armor training cost is even higher than wizards'). Clerics do this much better, and again, it is an aspect of spiritual magic. Notice that the Empath circle hindrances are actually higher in the heavier armors than the spiritual circles, though. It does not reach the level of difficulty that Wizards and Sorcerers have, but it is still out-paced by Clerics. These are intentional design aspects - Empaths are meant to be hearty and well-defended.
However, that heartiness is meant to come at a cost - their attack prowess. Empaths have a far smaller list of options of attack and disabling spells than the other pures classes, by a significant margin from the Wizard/Sorcerer side and slightly on the Cleric side (though I'd like to see more Cleric attacks). I agree that Empaths have an unfair advantage when it comes to physical attack strength. They do outpace some semis (albeit by a very small margin). The fact that 1109 only increases melee AS and not affecting bolt AS for a pure class is odd design, in my opinion, and is an obvious left over from the GS3 days when Empaths had no offensive spells to pull them through combat. Though I'm of the mindset that Clerics and Sorcerers could use some help in the bolt AS area, it doesn't mean that Empath bolt AS is too high. Wizards are their superior by a large enough margin.
The Sigil of Power discussion has been beaten to death and while I agree that an Empath is the pure class that easily can take the most advantage of it, it requires a significant TP investment to even come close to the efficacy of Sign of Wracking. It's not an issue, at least at this time.
I don't know what the issue with Empath TP costs is. I think they're absolutely in line with where they need to be. What is the concern there exactly?
Healing experience has also been discussed to death, and the final verdict is that it comes so infrequently that it is not of balance concern in the regard that they have it available. What is concerning is that there is virtually no risk involved in healing yet the amount of experience is relatively significant. With hunting there is obvious risk, with lockpicking there are deadly traps. Healing carries only the risk of bleeding out or over healing blood, both of which only occur when one is new at the practice or completely not paying attention. We'd like to incorporate more risk for the reward.
Additionally, the other substantive alt. exp. gain form, lockpicking, requires TP investments. We'd like there to be a clearer TP investment that goes along with healing. The skills that are obvious for that are Physical Fitness, First Aid and Mental Lore - Transformation and, to a lesser degree, Spiritual Lore - Blessings. We already have begun adding in these aspects, but we think we can do more in this regard.
One final "inequity" that I'm aware of but wasn't on the list is the idea of hybrid CS/TD calculations. As it stands, the Empath spell circle is considered a fully spiritual circle with respect to CS and TD calculations. With the release of the MnM list, we will update Empath TD spells to provide hybrid Spiritual-Mental TD and the Empath circle will be considered a hybrid Spiritual-Mental CS circle, thus receiving fractional benefits from either Spiritual or Mental CS boosters. This is a minor adjustment in the end, but it's something that needs to be resolved.
I think I addressed all the concerns. In summary, I do agree that Empaths have a couple areas that need work and we would like to address these eventually, but they are not on our short list at the moment. (As for Estild and I, that short list right now is comprised of unarmed combat, 340, the Monk CML and the FWI hunting.)
|The last 10 players healed are kept track of. Each time a new person is healed, the oldest name on the list is bumped off. A single player can only appear 2 times on the list. A healing pass increases this to 4 times.|
|An empath must first link (via TOUCH) to their prospective client. This linking process takes 30 seconds (15 with a healing pass). Once established, the link lasts for 3 minutes. All wound transfers done during this link are considered part of a single healing session (one entry on the above list).|
As recently announced in the Free to Play (F2P) discussions, we're implementing a new feature for healing Empaths. You may now TOUCH <target> LINK to establish an Empathic Link with the target. For F2P Empaths without a Healing Pass, it takes 30 seconds to establish the link. For F2P Empaths with a Healing Pass or for non-F2P Empaths, it takes 15 seconds. While a link is established, it lasts for 3 minutes and no other Empath can transfer wounds from the target. An Empath may only have one link active at a time and each player can only be linked to one Empath at a time. The Empath or the target may UNLINK at anytime to end the link early.
F2P Empaths will be required to form an Empathic Link before they can transfer any wounds. This is optional and now live for any non-F2P Empaths. In the far future, this will be a requirement for all Empaths, but not until we implement and review a number of other things with healing. This feature has always been on my list to implement, but as a much broader project. It'll be some time before I get to the latter, but I did want to warn everyone now.
|Lyquitta, Cleric of Kuon|
|Also, for the healing, it's sounding like the LINKing portion of healing is going to become a mandatory part of the system in the not-so-far-off future, with paid subscibers getting the 15-second form, and F2P subscribers keeping their 30-second form (sans pass, that is). I do agree, though, that something needs to be done with bleeders, so that patients can't bleed out while waiting for the empath to finish their LINKing roundtime.|
No, it's very far off before it's a requirement for all Empaths. You can expect there to be many skills and factors that will allow you to mitigate the perceived disadvantages of such a system. It is definitely possible for patients to bleed out while waiting for the link, but such a scenario is more hyperbole than reality. Yes, it can happen, but it's something that happens with any frequency.