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  1. Wall of text incoming! Hi there! My name is Rand118 and I wrote this theory-crafting post before I realized I couldn't post on Pantheon's official forums! So I'll just leave this here... I have loved the Bard class ever since I first played it in the original EQ. I was a high schooler going into junior college as a music major when I first got into EQ, and now I'm eeking a living in Dallas as a twitch streamer by day and a classically trained singer/music arranger by night, so you can see how the Bard is right up my alley! Gotta use that Master's in Vocal Performance! I LOVED the mechanics of twisting songs in EQ, so much that I put in the crazy hours of camping/farming/tracking/cajoling high level friends to help me get my Singing Steel Short Sword. To this day, getting my Bard epic is one of my all-time greatest gaming achievements! I played Bards in Rift, EQ2, and other MMO's, but I've never gotten the satisfaction I had mastering the unique playstyle of the EQ Bard. That being said, I can definitely sympathize with people not wanting to have to experience the same pain of constantly twisting 3,4, maybe even 5 songs constantly to be an effective bard (my carpal tunnels cringes at the thought!). So, I've been theory-crafting about how to keep the good parts of bards from other mmo's (flexibility, buffs, debuffs, quick switching roles, quick travel, increased mana/hp regen) without the pain of constantly twisting songs. So here's my proposed mechanic of Refined Song Twisting! At its core, this system has two parts: Fanfares/Codas (played at the beginning and end of a song rotation, respectively) and Melodies (or motifs, phrases, lines, whatever you want to call it) which are the actual spells. The idea behind this system is that there are 4 or 5 different Fanfares/Codas which determine how the Melodies (spells/buffs/etc.) affect your party and enemies. So, similar to twisting songs in original EQ, you'd play a sequence of songs, but depending on which Fanfares/Codas you played before and after the songs, you'd change what the Melodies would do. Here's an example: start the rotation with Fanfare of Inspiration (which causes your songs to buff the party), play Melody of Alacrity (attack speed haste), Melody of Mind (spell dmg buff), Melody of Endurance (Health/armor buff), and Melody of Virtuosity (crit chance buff) and end the rotation with Coda of Intimidation (which causes songs to debuff enemies). Because you ended the rotation with Coda of Intimidation, every song you play also causes a debuff to enemies surrounding you: Alacrity causes an attack speed slow, Mind causes reduced cast speed/spell dmg debuff, Endurance causes an armor/magic resist debuff, and Virtuosity causes reduced dodge. You only play the song rotation once (eliminating the need to continuously twist songs), but if you want to change your buffs/debuffs, quickly mez an add, or get some hp/mana regen going, you'll need to start a new rotation. That's the gist of the system! The result of this system should be a unique mechanic to Bard that is completely different than other spell casters that makes the Bard into an elite buffer, but must be close to his/her party to impart the buffs and can quickly change his song rotation to react to different situations any party needs. This is similar to the original EQ Bard, but would hopefully alleviate the pain of constantly twisting while still remaining active, fun, and unique. Let's go into more detail on my ideas for how to flesh out the system! Like the original EQ Bard songs, each Fanfare/Coda/Melody would have a short cast time (maybe 3 or 4 seconds) that would require a bit of a setup to get the entire song rotation going. This makes sense gameplay-wise so that the Bard can't instantly change buffs/debuffs in a way that would be too overpowered. It also makes sense logically because playing a song takes time, so 10-15 seconds of casting puts together a cohesive song/piece that has a certain effect on the party and the enemies. There may be times when the song falters or you need to shorten a song for emergencies (say you need to mezmerize an add, you interrupt your buffs/debuffs to play one fanfare/melody to get a quick mez, then go back to your complete buff/debuff composition). It would also require balancing for how many buffs/debuffs you can maintain at a time, so that a Bard can't just play EVERY melody he knows and apply every buff/debuff/DoT/DD/regen spell all at once. Luckily, I have an idea for this, as well! My idea is to have 4 combat Fanfare/Codas and one Travel Fanfare. The Bard can only use 2 at a time, a Fanfare at the beginning of the song rotation, and a Coda at the end of the rotation. These 2 primers, if you'd like to think of it that way, would change how the Melodies affect those around the bard. Here are my initial Fanfare/Coda ideas: 1)Fanfare/Coda of Inspiration - causes songs to buff the Bard's party members 2)Fanfare/Coda of Intimidation - causes songs to debuff the Bard's enemies 3)Fanfare/Coda of Soothing - causes songs to regen and cure debuffs on party members, mesmerize enemies, lowers aggro radius of enemies 4)Fanfare/Coda of Pain - causes songs to damage enemies, root/snare enemies, interrupt spell casting 5)Fanfare/Coda of Travel - causes songs to increase running speed (Selo's!), grant invisibility, track enemies, find corpses We'll get into the actual melodies in a moment, but the idea behind these fanfares is that the Bard has to decide which Fanfares/Codas work for his team composition. If there are many melee members on the bard's team, he'll want the physical combat buffs of Inspiration and debuffs of Intimidation. If there are more casters and energy using monks/rogues, he'll want the regen of Soothing and the buffs of Inspiration. If the Bard is soloing, he'll want the Damage of Pain and the speed of Travel, or possibly the debuffs of Intimidation. Different enemy types and different party members would require the savy Bard to change his compositions to best take advantage of his circumstances! Now let's look at the actual Melodies which would give us the specific effects of the Bard's songs. This is the most detailed part of the system, so would need some refining based on how Pantheon's stats work and the details of how Visionary Relms' classes work. However, my idea is that there is a melody for each different character stat, and depending on which Fanfare/Coda combo surrounds the melodies, the different melodies will cause different effects. I also toyed around with Melodies that were related to elements, like fire, wind, water, etc., but that seemed to Shaman-y. I thought melodies that were related to emotions and characteristics had a more Bard-y feel! So, here's my initial list of Melodies: 1)Melody of Alacrity - agility/speed manipulation (Inspiration - attack speed haste, Intimidation - attack speed slow, Soothing - remove DoT's, Pain - DoT, Travel - out of combat move speed SELO'S!) 2)Melody of Power - strength manipulation (Inspiration - melee dmg increase, Intimidation - melee dmg reduction, Soothing - remove debuffs, Pain - Direct Damage) 3)Melody of Mind - intelligence manipulation (Inspiration - spell dmg increase/casting speed increase, Intimidation - reduce cast speed/spell power, Soothing - Mezmerize, Pain - Silence/interrupt, Travel - Invis) 4)Melody of Endurance - stamina/health manipulation (Inspiration - health/armor buff, Intimidation - armor/magic resist debuff, Soothing - health regen, Pain - root, Travel - track humans) 5)Melody of Soul - wisdom/perception manipulation (Inspiration - vision buff/night vision/analyze enemy, Intimidation - reduce aggro range, Soothing - party mana regen, Pain - enemy mana drain, Travel - corpse find) 6)Melody of Virtuosity - dexterity manipulation (Inspiration - increased crit chance, Intimidation - reduced dodge/ac, Soothing - energy/stamina regen - Pain - snare, Travel - track animals) 7)Melody of Charm - charisma manipulation (Inspiration - raise charisma/faction/reputation, Intimidation - taunt/aggro increase, Soothing - reduce aggro/fade, Pain - fear, Travel - give sustenance/food/water) Like I said, this is the most complicated, nitty gritty part of the system and would require fine-tuning and in-depth development. However, the idea is that you have many different melodies to choose from, and you create a song rotation based on what the situation requires. In my rough theory-crafting, I used 7 common RPG stats (Strength, agility, intelligence, endurance, wisdom, dexterity, and charisma) and used a melody that related to each stat. With 7 melodies to choose from, I'd say 3 or 4 should be the max the Bard would be allowed to use in a rotation, otherwise the song would be too complex and the composition would fall apart. This keeps the Bard from using EVERY buff all the time and also makes logical sense. A composition that has too many melodies/motifs/ideas going on at once just becomes noise and wouldn't inspire anyone! Let's look at an example fight using these Fanfares/codas/melodies! The Bard is in a group with a warrior tank, 2 rogues, a monk, and a cleric. As the monk goes to pull, the Bard starts his composition: Fanfare of Inspiration, Melody of Alacrity, Melody of Power, Melody of Virtuosity, and closes with a Coda of Intimidation! This combination of songs gives the group attack speed haste, a melee dmg buff, and increased crit chance while debuffing the enemies' attack speed, melee dmg, and dodge chance. With such a melee heavy group, the damage of the party should be greatly increased while significantly decreasing the damage taken by the warrior. After your foes are vanquished and the monk moves on to the next pull, the Bard starts up a Fanfare of Soothing, followed by the Melody of Soul and Melody of Endurance to regenerate health and Mana, ending with a coda of Soothing to increase the effects of the regen! This system would also allow flexibility by allowing the Bard to choose to use the same Fanfare and Coda to increase the effects of the buff/debuff/regen while reducing the versatility of the song by no longer causing effects to both allies and foes. This may seem like a super complex system, but what this system (or something like this) accomplishes is to create a unique casting system that fits the Bard theme, allows for players to have a high ceiling for perfecting rotations and providing flexible bonuses to their group, while also requiring less key strokes during a battle that can cause finger pain/carpal tunnels/tedium than the old song twisting. I make no claims to being a game designer or expert on creating game mechanics, but I am very passionate about the Bard class and would love to see a complex, rewarding, unique playstyle that would make Bards challenging and coveted by the groups they join! Please feel free to comment, criticize, give suggestions, or chat about my idea for the Bard. I stream on twitch as Rand118, so you're also welcome to come by my stream and discuss the Pantheon Bard with me there. I can't wait to dive into Pantheon, hopefully as a talented, in-demand Bard! Rand118
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