Dev Blog #86: The Ancient Dead, Part II - Battle Brothers Developer Blog

Nov
04

Dev Blog #86: The Ancient Dead, Part II

This week we conclude our presentation of the ancient dead with the reimagined vampire and an entirely new opponent. If you haven’t read the first part yet, it’s recommended you do so here first. Otherwise, read on!

The Necrosavant

As the ancient empire conquered most of the known world, so would foreign and remote lands turn into provinces. What was local custom or cult once, hidden away and not spoken of elsewhere, would suddenly find itself a part of the empire, and sometimes would creep deep into its very heart. From the blistering deserts of the south came a secretive cult that had its followers not worship fertility as they did in the capital, not strength, not humility and not compassion. They worshipped a perversion of death, the promise to transcend mortality, to exist beyond life and death, forever.

When you have nothing but misery, it’s easy to let go, to welcome the warm embrace of the gods that sets you free from all earthly burden and hardships. But it’s those that have everything on this earth, power and wealth, that cling to it at the end of their life, that clutch to it in desperation, that bargain, that curse, that would pay any price to stay. And it is those who would embrace not the gods, for their touch is not salvation for them, but whose touch would tear them away and apart from the earthly things they prize above all, the things that they have chosen to become. It is those who would forsake the gods and turn to the cult of death instead, that would die over and over again, and yet never leave this earth, forever bound to it, forever paying the price.

Whether an ardent cultist once, or a decadent noble seeking eternal life, they have long since become a being that measures time no longer in years but in lifetimes: a Necrosavant. It will wither away and die in time, again and again, but never leave this world as long as it is rejuvenated with the blood of the living.

necrosavant

Mechanically, the Necrosavant is more or less identical to the Withered Vampire it replaces. The new visuals, however, tell a story on their own, and better reflect how this being exists. The less hitpoints a Necrosavant has, the more it will visually wither away, and the more hitpoints it gains again by savouring a victim’s blood, the more it will rejuvenate until its appearance is almost that of a healthy human.

The Necrosavant retains the ability to turn into a flock of bats to quickly position itself on the battlefield, making it perhaps the most mobile opponent in Battle Brothers. However, it doesn’t wear any armor or shield, leaving it vulnerable to being attacked itself, especially if bereft of its major strength by being stunned or immobilized.

The Ancient Priest

The empire had countless religions and cults, and each had priests spreading the word of their gods, performing rites and proclaiming miracles. The ancient priest was one such individual once. Now brought back to unlife, his very existence is making a mockery out of his faith. His work is turned into a perversion of what he once devoted his life to; no longer does he bless acres, he brings foulness and rot, and no longer does he bring comfort, he brings but horrible visions of a world beyond ours.

priest

The ancient priest joins the ranks of the few spellcasters in Battle Brothers, and like all spellcasters fills a support role. He’s of little danger all by himself, but with ancient legionnaires holding the ranks, he can slowly work to rout a whole company. And then, there’s always his ancient honor guard protecting him.

miasma

The ancient priest’s first skill is to summon miasma, a thick mist of foulness and rot that is harmful to any living being. Miasma is created in an area of 7 tiles and sticks to these tiles for several rounds. Any living being ending its turn on a tile affected by miasma will lose hitpoints – it’s only a few each round, but no armor does protect against breathing in the foul fog, and it does eventually add up if you don’t move out your men.

horror

The ancient priest’s second skill is called ‘Horror’, and as the name implies, it brings horrific visions to it’s unfortunate victims. It’s an area-of-effect spell, like ‘Miasma’, but targeted at people and not tiles. Anyone affected will have to make a morale check – the higher the resolve, the higher the chance that they won’t be affected at all. If a character fails the morale check, their morale will drop by one level. Additionally, if the character fails critically (meaning with a dice throw higher than 140% of their resolve, subject to change) they’ll be affected by the new ‘Horrified’ status effect for one turn and be unable to act.

While ‘Horror’ can be quite powerful against a company of weak-willed and deserters, it can be countered by investing into the resolve attribute of your men, picking certain perks, and making use of the ‘Rally the Troops’ skill. As mentioned last time, the ancient dead are the missing puzzle piece to make the resolve attribute worth investing into, and together with some general rebalancing, also to make morale management in battle a more interesting and active part of gameplay.

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16 comments

  • RusBear
    RusBear
    Nov 4, 2016 @ 15:27 pm

    If you are going to add in game second line sorcerer with almost 100% arrow resistance (it is a skeleton, am i right) is better to first think carefully or it will be again ” ignored content”

    • IRBIS
      Nov 4, 2016 @ 18:36 pm

      I agree with RusBear. We don’t have suitable tools to avoid spell effects from such kind of spellcaster. Niether range nor melee weapon can help until we have valuable advance in numbers(to flank and defeat the guard) or power. Dog likely will be slain by guard (if it even decide to move at right direction).

      Some magic rings of protection or new type of ranged weapon(e.g. sling – effective againist skeletons) is desirable for such enemy. Olso any kind of raising speed of mercenaries can help(e.g. mounts)

      And about vampires. We need ability to choose position of or mercenaries before combat. Otherwise we rather play save/load game instead of BattleBrothers :)

      • Highroller
        Nov 4, 2016 @ 23:31 pm

        IRBIS, you expressed my concerns with the reworked undead almost perfectly. The first part got me
        all fired up since it’s hard to have a nice line battle that isn’t the result of raiders or orcs mindlessly
        charging forward looking for a place to clobber something. Those priests on the other hand will make
        that borderline impossible without any counter measures to that miasma, like the ones you already
        mentioned.

        Even worse, if they, like all skeletons ,don’t suffer any fatigue and that poison fog really last for many
        rounds, 2-3 of them can turn the battlefield into a fall out zone, from the safety of their backline guarded
        by their honour guards.

        Still there is a speck of hope in there. If those priests used to be human, while still be able to bless things
        like acres in their description, there may be a reworked clergy background able to smite those unholy
        suckers with righteous god fury. I’ll even take normal sorcerers. A tavern rumor states there is a mage on
        the council of “enter town name here”, so maybe they will become a background too. You mentioned
        skeletons being resistant to arrows and bolts? Well they sure as hell aren’t to fireballs.

        • Sarissofoi
          Sarissofoi
          Nov 8, 2016 @ 2:40 am

          I have similar thoughts.
          The Miasma spell also look like a cheap way to force players to invest in HP as it looks like there would be no counters to this other than HIGH HP.
          It would be make more sense thematically for this Miasma to reduce Fatigue rate recovery for player soldiers as it also would have great synergy with skeletons unlimited fatigue.
          Also do this death priests also reanimate skeletons?

  • Dylan
    Nov 4, 2016 @ 16:22 pm

    Love the new faction! keep up the good work

    • drew1988west
      drew1988west
      Nov 5, 2016 @ 15:41 pm

      loving this! ive got to say keeping the old vampire would be pretty cool, think necrosavant that has adapted and mingled in with the elites of the ruling houses

  • keberioksht
    Nov 4, 2016 @ 22:00 pm

    Please look into melee defense stat. Now it is “must have” stat that I have to pick no matter what (there are no other stats that effect defense, and all defense buffing perks increase melee defense by percent (not flat amount).
    Tried builds with high initiative (expecting dodge for melee character) to no avail :(

  • Danubian
    Danubian
    Nov 4, 2016 @ 22:35 pm

    I have serious reservations about balance of these enemies…

    And as Rus said i fear this might, again, be ignored content.

    Seriously guys, you need to add more enemy types and bring some variation in difficulty.

  • Kuroi_Kaze
    Nov 4, 2016 @ 23:53 pm

    Why would you remove Vampires completely? I guess, better idea is leave Vampires with their ability to become bats and think of something different for this Necrosavant guys. Than we will have more different enemies to fight. And while Necrosavants are part of “Ancient dead”, Vampires can be just a roaming enemy like Dire wolves.

  • Tercero
    Nov 5, 2016 @ 6:08 am

    Maybe finally need to understand, that magic should be available for human race as well.

  • Ulrich
    Ulrich
    Nov 5, 2016 @ 20:25 pm

    These Ancient Priests reminds me Liches with toxic cloud attack from HeroesIII. :)

  • Chris
    Nov 8, 2016 @ 10:53 am

    Not a fan of “magical” effects in this game. Not only I feel it goes against the low-fantasy spirit of the game but it also feels like an artificial way to force the player to keep the mercs mobile.

    Furthermore, where is the vampire? Where are the zombies? The undead were unique in that they would rise and rise again, would not loose stamina and would also make rise your own dead men. I want to see that back, since I bought the game once I saw how the undead worked in the previous version.

    I’m not sold on this “ancient rome” undead faction. The only interesting thing about it are the amours coming from different ancient periods and the fact that the necrosavant changes his appears according to his health. Other than that it feels like a generic scheleton faction. I really hope there is a “Ancient Dead, Part III” coming that brings back some of the original (and graphically revised) undead.

    • PsenBattle
      PsenBattle
      Nov 8, 2016 @ 11:06 am

      Hey Chris,
      dont worry about the classic “undead”. They are still in the game forming the “zombie” faction with all the classic zombies, necromancers, ghosts and now fallen heroes:
      http://steamcommunity.com/games/365360/announcements/detail/894352973047856381
      Heres a little info on the topic.
      The Ancient dead is a different faction made up entirely by skeletons.

      Cheers!

      • Chris
        Nov 8, 2016 @ 12:34 pm

        That’s great news! I thought the Ancient Dead were to replace the old undead. As an 4th non human faction they’re a welcome addition, but I still worry about the magical effects. ;)

  • RusBear
    RusBear
    Nov 9, 2016 @ 10:54 am

    Yes – I do not like to add magic to the game. No – I do not want the mag in my team. I like the starting hardcore style of pure military tactics. Necromancer and Shaman Goblin – I’m willing to accept. But I do not think that’s worth doing one more magic game they so too much. it is not necessary to listen to the children, who are asked “healing” and “fireballs”.
    Devs, we understand that the game is gaining the popularity and this fact diluted casual community, but remain strong, we believe in you )

  • Axiin
    Nov 17, 2016 @ 20:53 pm

    I’m not happy with the prospect of this update. I bought this game recently after watching a few Let’s Play videos and I’m for the most part enjoying it.

    I’m playing on veteran right now, and have a couple of level 10 and level 9 guys with solid gear (210 armor body/140 head, tier 2 weapons, a couple of teir3)

    I Just tried to take down a necromancer on a 2 skull contract.. Upon arrival I found 20 skeletons and 2 necromancers and a body guard. I lost completely… because the necromancers revived 2 guys each per turn. It was insane. The skele double line prevented me from flanking to get at the necros… and prevented my archers from getting in range (to get in range would have exposed my archers) When I finally did get a single guy around (an attack that cost me dearly) the body guard just bounced me so I was lucky to get 1 attack a turn. It was an interesting battle… that turned into a boring slaughter of my guys because I had no reliable way to counter the 4 damned skeletons a turn…

    The problem here wasn’t engagement, it’s that my tactics are limited. I have no way to increase mobility, no way to increase range aside from the bow spec perk… It took me 5 or 6 turns just to engage the necro with a single guy…

    I can’t imagine what a AOE spell is going to do to me… There is a lot of line fighting in this game and with the mechanic of leaving melee / free attack … there is no reliable mobility aside from the disengage skill … if this AOE comes into play, I will HAVE to take that skill on EVERY character except perhaps my archers. I CAN’T weigh risk/reward from melee disengagement since I can’t tell hit chance if I try to disengage from melee… thus i have to take that skill.

    *I* have no AOE counters… No spell casters… no options. No way to increase AP or movement…

    Magic has NO place in this game… I love how smart this AI is! I love how it will screw me over, I love the challenge, it makes me think, but man… Please FFS don’t add AoE / Lingering AoE without an actual viable counter.

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