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Alicitorte

I designed the Elementalist and the Soul Reaper classes for Lost Legends AMA!

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Posted (edited)

Hello everyone!

A bit of background: I'm Nick, I'm 19 years old and a first year student at UC Santa Cruz. During the summer of 2018, I had the tremendous opportunity to intern at FFG, which had been a dream of mine for many years. In many ways, I grew up on FFG games, and I owe my passion for tabletop gaming to them. First with Rune Age, then with Descent 2nd Edition. I can say with confidence I have played that board game more than any other over the course of my life, and so after about 2 weeks at the internship I was entrusted with working on the Lost Legends expansion. It was and still is to this day the coolest thing I've done. My main coworker on this project was Jim, whom you can see in the live playthrough that was released on youtube. Working together, I couldn't have asked for a better colleague, he was the most understanding, supportive, and genuinely good person I've met. But being given that much trust also came with responsibilities. I was so scared, I wanted to make the best thing I could for the community, and for a game I deeply loved. It seemed monumental, even though as you all know, this expansion is "only" a set of classes.

I worked the hardest I had ever worked on this project, and I can say I gave it my all, first with the Soul Reaper, who came together rather quickly, and then second with the Elementalist, which took us much longer to figure out. Now, to be clear, I did the initial design for those classes, and then worked on revisions, up to a point. After I left (about 2 months in), Jim kept working on the project and with the aid of playtesters, incorporated their feedback into the final versions. I also did initial designs for I believe 5 of the hybrid classes (which I'm not sure have all been revealed yet). It's been so exciting to see this project come to life, and now that it's close to release, I figured it was a good time to post about it. If you have any questions about anything, feel free to comment and I'll do my best to answer everything. Obviously there is a lot of information I cannot disclose, but I'll try to answer in the measure that I can.

I can't wait for everyone to get their hands on this expansion, and see what the community thinks of our hard work!

Edit: Spelling

Edited by Alicitorte

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Posted (edited)

The elementalist class is really cool.

I must say the Soul reaper class is a bit disapointing, something like a necrohealer. My druid class was really better ;)

But I envy you, I wish I could design some, too, maybe for free :D

only 5 hybrid classes ? Shouldn't be 8 ? For now, we know we will have the Avenger (maybe you're a fan of the MCU ?), the raider, the truthseeker, lorekeeper, Trickster, and I thought 3 are still not known. Am I right ?

Edited by rugal

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Thanks Nick, it's great to see FFg moving out of the rut of every expansion having to check off specific boxes in terms of content. I love that the Elementalist class doesn't fall into the same card pattern that we're used to and I love seeing that FFg is looking at print on demand content to continue physically supporting what I expect to be descent's largely digital future.

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Elementalist is definitively very cool.
Is there a maximum limit for the number of hearts that you stack on the soul reaper card ?
I mean if we kill a bunch of kobolds are we able to get some 12 hearts for instance.


Anyway very impressed to see that the first move of Trenloe was to put himself within range of the zombies :).

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I second the Elementalist. Grasp makes my overlord side do a double take, but it might be less scary on the board than on paper.

Both these classes are very creative and I think they definitely are a wonderful addition to the class lineup.

How did the Soul Reaper start out? Did you know you wanted a healer that interacted with death, or did you start with something quite different?

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He's saying that he did work on 5 of the 8.

Yes exactly!

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Thanks Nick, it's great to see FFg moving out of the rut of every expansion having to check off specific boxes in terms of content. I love that the Elementalist class doesn't fall into the same card pattern that we're used to and I love seeing that FFg is looking at print on demand content to continue physically supporting what I expect to be descent's largely digital future.

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Elementalist is definitively very cool.

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Both these classes are very creative and I think they definitely are a wonderful addition to the class lineup.

Thank you all, I really appreciate it! The Elementalist was definitely the most controversial class within FFG and throughout the beginning of testing. I really wanted to make something truly unique and different from what was already available, because I felt that a lot of the ground had already been covered in terms of mage classes. Part of the challenge with both of these classes (elementalist and soul reaper) was to create something original, with the dozens of classes that exist within the game. But originality isn't something that takes precedence over fun and enjoyment, and that's what I had to keep reminding myself. Finding the balance was hard, and I don't know that I succeeded with the Elementalist, but I did try to make the choices for picking cards as interesting as possible, as well as playing with them. Some people will dislike it, understandably so, but I'm glad at least some find it cool😊.

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I second the Elementalist. Grasp makes my overlord side do a double take, but it might be less scary on the board than on paper.

Yeah, Grasp was a big balance challenge. Throughout iterations, it became way too weak, then too strong. In the end, we went with closer to the original, and changing the other elemental cards. I think it definitely is the most interesting one in an overlord vs players scenario.

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Is there a maximum limit for the number of hearts that you stack on the soul reaper card ?
I mean if we kill a bunch of kobolds are we able to get some 12 hearts for instance.

No there isn't! You can indeed have as much essence as you want on your Essence Harvest. And while yes against Kobolds, that is a lot of potential healing, I think it does get balanced by the fact that sometimes, you will fight large monsters and receive little essence. And believe me, 12 essence is good, but that also means that there are 4 players, and many more monsters, so you will need more healing to spread around! I think the mechanic scales nicely to the number of players, though we found that at 2, sometimes the Soul Reaper will be starved for essence, which is why we designed some of the 1XP cards to boost essence gain for those situations (I don't know if that's a spoiler or not, hope it's okay for me to say that😁.

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How did the Soul Reaper start out? Did you know you wanted a healer that interacted with death, or did you start with something quite different?

So, believe it or not, the Soul Reaper did not start out at all the way it is now. Originally, we had an idea for a "shaman" class. Yes, there is already a shaman, but we thought closer along the lines of a WoW shaman, with totems that grant buffs and debuffs. It ended up getting scrapped very early due to logistical reasons (it's a PoD product, so we couldn't have tokens). Then I thought about it for a few days, and inspiration came from the game League of Legends, from the blood mage Vladimir. I thought: a blood mage that sucks life out of enemies and transfers it to him or his allies, or transfers conditions around, seemed pretty fun to me so I threw a prototype together, and after a lot of feedback, we found quite a bit to improve and change in the class. The original idea was liked by everyone though, so we ran with it. A few days later I think, we realized that the connotations with blood and self harm could cause problems, so we had to come up with a different theme. "Essence" was proposed by one of our coworkers, a bit more abstract, and I really liked the idea of a "Soul Reaper". Unlike the Elementalist, which went through about 3 wildly different iterations, the Soul Reaper from the beginning had that Soul Harvest ability and synergies with its other cards. However, the cards changed a lot throughout our process, many for power level reasons, others because they were simply uninteresting. Some were kept from the original design, albeit tweaked to be balanced. In the end, it is fairly similar to the original design in terms of theme and just how it works, but the abilities aren't the same. Hope that answers your question!

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When creating the new classes do you looked at some fan made content ? Did some of them insired you ? Did you discuss the possibility to add one of these fan made classes to the official pool ? Knowing that some of those are really good (Rugal's Druid for instance, but yes token are involved) has it never occured to you (Jim and you) to see if you could print a 'Thank you Fan Community" package with the best stuff around ?

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On 4/27/2019 at 2:21 AM, Tintaglia said:

When creating the new classes do you looked at some fan made content ?

I can answer that, the answer is no. Because it's not ok to swipe someone else's intellectual invention and sell it. Lawyers have been pretty clear on that.

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On 4/27/2019 at 2:21 AM, Tintaglia said:

When creating the new classes do you looked at some fan made content ?

I can answer that, the answer is no. Because it's not ok to swipe someone else's intellectual invention and sell it. Lawyers have been pretty clear on that.

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Posted (edited)

Now that thoses classes are out officially, I'm curious to know some things about :

- For the elementalist, for sure, the idea is great and the class looks good, the next I will play on for sure (even if I'm afraid it's a bit overpowered for a poor Overlord). I don't know how you got this idea, but I congratulates you.

- The soul reaper is deceiving. I think there was room for better healers, even without using tokens for that. A shield preventing some damage loss, or a regenerating healing, for exemple, are among some ideas I have. A few cards from the soul reaper looks great, like Ethereal armor and Holy bond, but the idea in general for this class is not very exciting to me (and at least 1 friend). And to be honest, I wished for my druid to be official so I'm disapointed.

- For the hybrid class, I don't know how much you designed, but I'm a bit disapointed.

          - The trickster looks fun. Not exhausting the card to exchange places with another hero 5 spaces. Woha ! I'm going to have big bad moments as the Overlord ...
          - The Ravager is nothing imaginative, but looks rather strong
          - The lorekeeper All-knowing is one of THE cards if wished to see. Something that opens combos and ideas of gameplay I  searched for. I hoped for more like this one.
          - The Truthseer is strange. True sight looks like absurdly strong (but fun idea), Translocation looks like so strong too (no fatigue cost ?!), but Premonition is nothing really interresting
          - The Heretic is strange, too. Arcane healing, except with Quick recovery and Unity which is so strong, is limit playable. Dark recovery only help to the mage. Forbidden arts is something absurdly strong too, with an army of familiar that does so much damage.
          - The Crusader's divine light is really great. The 2 others are good, but are a bit "the more you're strong, the stronger you are".  I don't like it. I hoped it would have a some skill about preventing some damages, like a shield of faith, or something, maybe sacrifing some hearts do reduce the loss for his friends.
          - The Avenger's idea divide me. I like the idea the more the friend suffers the more you are strong. But Death from above is useless alone, and not so strong comparing to the high price to have it and play it (in fact, it asks 4-5 xp to be played, and 2 tokens, for "only" a move and an attack.
          - The Raider is the strangest one. If I correctly understand the logic about the hybrid class is that they offer the possibility to have 2 tree of abilites and since you take a Scout class, the Raider should offer Warrior abilities, but the Surprise assault looks like a Thief ability, Divide the spoil a Treasure hunter one, and only Close the gap is a funny warrior abiliy (but you need many money to use this with good results, the final is going to be a carnage, for sure).


In fact, too much of thoses cards are about fight, and fighting alone. I wished to see more action to offers other abilities, like " Action, 3 fatigues : while this card is exhausted, each time another hero within 3 spaces of you suffers hearts from an attack, perform a Willpower test. That monster suffers 1 heart of each shield on the roll" or maybe " 1 fatigue : Exhaust this card when another hero within 3 spaces of you suffers hearts from an attack. Reduce that amount by 2". Instead of premonition, something about the rune would be great. In fact, Runes are out of thoses class. I wished to see something about shields, too, or about travels, or about Overlords cards too (not discarding or counter them, but around them, like if the Overlord plays cards, the hero gains movement points, etc ...). But I know those class were made for the app, and the travel on the app are nothing like the normal travel so and the app ignore Overlord cards and all. But it's a shame.

To resume, in fact, this is too much of "move and fight" to my taste. I hoped for more tactical options.

Which class did you design ?
Have you looked into the internet about custom class and ideas ? If not, why not ?
Was there an objective about thoses class ? The app in mind, so fight above anything else ?

Edited by rugal

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Posted (edited)
On 5/3/2019 at 7:04 PM, rugal said:

Even with a special authorisation of the creator ?

It's a pipe dream man

Edited by Bucho

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Nothing stopping FFG from requesting a limited use license from the IP owner (they are experts at that, after all) or paying them for the IP rights.  In this case, the latter is the more sound business practice (IMO).  The cost of 1 employee's labor plus an intern for approximately 12 weeks last summer likely fell somewhere around $30,000 wage + fringe, so there is your operating budget.

Note: I have no idea what FFG pays its employees or how long it took them to create Lost Legends.  I'm just guessing based on the OP's information and other info FFG has released on Lost Legends.

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I've worked once for Asmodée with Croc on Claustrophobia, and it really worked well. I was paid, but I didn't care, I almost refused but he insist.

So, why not again ?

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