The DDO development team continues work on the new Iconic characters coming in Update 18 and The Shadowfell Conspiracy expansion. To learn about the design philosophy and intent behind Iconics, Content Developer Kyle "FordyTwo" Horner sat down with the design team and DDO Producer Athena Peters for an informal Q&A session about all things Iconics.
Kyle "FordyTwo" Horner: So what are Iconics?
Ben "DrOctothorpe" Schneider: The basic idea is you take a fully realized level 15 character and jump into the game with gear and everything setup in one of the stories we've provided—not that you have to follow the story, but for instance, we've got Wheloon; so you jump in as a level 15 Shadar-kai Assassin with your daggers and stealth abilities all setup and you can just march right into the content with the full kit and caboodle.
Athena Peters: There are two angles on Iconics: the gameplay angle and the story angle, the part of why they're called Iconics. The Faerûn Iconics are similar to the type of character you would read about in a Forgotten Realms book, but you can adapt the character traits. They have a back story of their hardship and experiences that have brought them to this point in the story.
Greg "Piloto" Yungman: It's flexible. There's this prestige Iconic character and their play style; we provide a starting point on the roleplaying front and also with special skills and abilities. Being DDO, however, we also enable you to break away from the path. You can re-forge a Bladeforge's path, if you want.
Kyle: Can you break away from the path at character creation, or only at a specific later point?
Greg: The only restriction is Iconics are a specific race/class at level 1, and then they have experience for 15 levels. Once you start training beyond character creation, you can go anywhere. Iconics have full stat customization in character creation, if you want. You can pick your gender, but your race and level 1 class is the thing that's initially set, per Iconic, and then you can do whatever from there.
Kyle: From my understanding there are four different Iconics, which means four different pairings of races and classes?
Kyle: What are the different Iconics and their play styles?
Ben: Each Iconic is a unique race/class combination. In the new enhancement system, an Iconic’s racial enhancement tree features a unique Iconic Enhancement progression. These will generally be derived from the base race, with some cool and powerful twists. Each Iconic is kind of like a unique flavor made from of race, class, and story.
So for U18, The Bladeforged starts at level 1 as a paladin. In the new expansion we're adding three more Iconics: the Morninglord, who starts as a level 1 sun elf cleric; the Purple Dragon Knight, who starts as a level 1 Cormyrean fighter; and the Shadar-kai Assassin, who starts as a level 1 rogue.
Greg: There can be a lot of build choices but we also like the unique gameplay differences that these new races bring to the table. We can call out a few specific gameplay elements of each Iconic, to give you an idea of how they play differently than race class builds available today:
Communion of Scribing: The Reconstruct Spell as a Spell-Like Ability
- Greatly repairs yourself or an ally construct, restoring 10 hit points per caster level (max 150hp), while simultaneously granting an increase in attack speed. D&D Dice: Repairs constructs 10 hp per caster level (max 150).
- Communion of Handling: Your attached weapon becomes Adamantine, bypassing Adamantine damage reduction.
Power of the Forge: Action Boost: For 20 seconds, you gain:
- +20% Action Boost bonus to weapon damage.
- +30 Action Boost bonus to Universal Spell Power.
- +4 Action Boost bonus to all Saving Throws. While under this effect you do not automatically fail saving throws on a roll of a natural 1.
- +10 Action Boost bonus to Armor Class and Physical Resistance Rating.
- Morninglord Weapon Training: Grants you +1 to attack and damage with morningstars, maces, and hammers. Grants +1 to attack and +2 damage with mauls.
- Blessing of Amaunator: You gain use of the Blessing of Amaunator spell-like ability which acts as Aid Mass, Spell Resistance Mass, and Deathward Mass.
- Amaunator’s Brilliance: Spell Like Ability: Sunburst: A globe of searing radiance explodes to blast targets for 6 to 36 points of light damage in addition to blinding them. Oozes and Undead instead take 4 to 6 points of light damage per caster level. A successful Reflex save reduces the damage by half and negates the blindness. The save DC for this spell is based on your Wisdom. Light fearing undead may be instantly destroyed by this spell. Uses spell points. Cooldown decreases with each rank gained.
Purple Dragon Knight
- Cormyrian Knight Training: You now use Charisma or Strength (whichever is higher) for Hit and Damage with shortswords, longswords, bastard swords, and greatswords.
- Rallying Cry: Action Boost: You and all allies within your aura gain +20% movement speed, a +(1/2/3) Morale bonus to Saving Throws. This ability can be used while feared, and dispels fear effects.
- “For Cormyr!”: Once per rest, heal completely. If you are below 25% of your maximum hit points when this ability is used, you and all nearby allies gain your CHA modifier to hit and damage.
- Winter Favored – You now resist 5 Cold damage, and your sneak attacks deal 1d6 extra Cold damage.
- Shadow Jaunt – You become invisible and rush forward. You are ethereal to monsters while Jaunting. Invisibility lasts for six seconds.
- Upgraded Spiked Chain Attack: Attack all nearby enemies multiple times over several seconds, causing them to bleed, and knocking them down on a failed Reflex saving throw.
Kyle: Are Iconics able to use True Reincarnation?
Athena: We are focusing on the quality of the Iconic play experience first. While it's not included with the initial release, TR is recognized as a top priority. Ideally, we'll offer additional build flexibility first, with Lesser Reincarnation, which will allow you to change your base class in the near future.
Kyle: Will Iconic characters be able to move between the Forgotten Realms and Eberron content freely?
Ben: Yeah you'll be able to move between Eberron and Forgotten Realms, like going to your bookshelf and deciding which campaign you want your PnP character to play in that night.
Kyle: What came first when creating the Iconics, the story or the mechanics?
Ben: Creating the Iconics was a lot like coming up with characters you'd want to play in a tabletop D&D game. We're offering a character with a little back story and saying, "Here, you're free in the world and you can play any quest you want." For instance, the Purple Dragon Knight usually has obligations to serve and do all this stuff that a lot of players wouldn't be interested in doing, so our Purple Dragon Knight has something of an out clause; he or she is freed from service, but disgraced, and they have this one mission about clearing their name, but they can just do whatever they want.
John "Vargouille" Cataldo: It's like jumping into their story right in the middle.
Ben: Yeah, if I were DMing a level 15 jump-in module and asked my players to choose from a selection of base characters, these are the kind of characters I hope they'd be excited about playing. And then, on the systems side, we've all been in close contact during development and created things in parallel. We all just sat down together and got to work.
Kyle: Do you have a personal favorite Iconic?
Ben: I like all of them, but I do like how the Purple Dragon Knight story came out.
I think players who like Cannith content will dig the Bladeforged, who literally gets forged in the Creation Forge from the Cannith storyline at the start. You start off as a Warforged in a beam and the beam turns on and you start floating up and find yourself a Bladeforged standing in front of the Lord of Blades.
John: I like to say that you get to meet your maker.
Kyle: Where there any particular challenges during the creation of Iconics?
John: One of the things that changed over the course of development is that we moved further and further way from, "This is exactly the character you're playing," to "Actually, we're gonna give you a lot of options."
So the initial concept was that Iconics are your character at level 15 and we've made all the choices for you, but we knew that DDO players want to actually make a lot of those choices so we worked out this hybrid where it's still good for new players where we give you something to start with, but you can ignore all that and take the 1 level of fighter, for Purple Dragon Knight, but then I'm taking barbarian cause I'm a Purple Dragon Knight who went into the wilds—you know, whatever your character concept is.
Kyle: Thanks for your time, everyone!