Greetings, and thank you for dropping in!
I originally made a topic pondering the Why’s behind Rath’s current state.
Then a friend asked
and I figured rather than droning on and on asking questions; (aka complaining) why not take a step in the developers shoes (Purely for fun, I wouldn’t want to presume) and better illustrate my feelings.
This topic is enormous, and I’ve put a lot of work into it, but feel free to skip ahead
## Laying The Groundwork
Before we delve into Rath’s kit I first need to set some objectives.
My objectives in this what if is to:
– Create a kit that blends his narrative and game play in a fun package –
– Not fully alienate the core supporters of Rath’s original concept –
In order to do that, let’s first compile everything available (that I could find) on Rath so we can better grasp who he is, and what we have to work with.
Nice and concise; His bio is made to illustrate to the viewer his aesthetic appeal. Three swords, Vampire, Elite guard.
I won’t be touching on his aesthetic, so we’re fine here.
Now, I’ll be pulling excerpts directly from his lore, to form an understanding mired in fact not
( call me out if you see any!) conjecture.
From SUSTAINED ACROSS TIME we learn
[details=Red Observer’s Impression/General Overview ][quote]1. Rath is over 1,400 years old. This at the least we can presume alludes to wisdom and education. It also pertains to how he’s an accomplished Scientist, legendary blacksmith, swordsman, artisan, the list goes on. He’s been productive.
Something about their physical substructure allows them to heal by drawing energy from surrounding living organisms. Life steal will be present in some form; especially note worthy is the absorbing energy portion.
Verod Rath is exceptionally hard to kill. The Red Observer describes some pretty ludicrous immunities from a game play stand point. Even so, we’ll incorporate this characteristic in some form. [/quote][/details]
From BETRAYAL, BETRAYER we learn
[details=Rath’s history and current mindset][quote]1. Rath has become a force of retribution, of vengeance born in wrath birthed from Rendain’s betrayal. This is his mindset when we meet Rath, so it’s important to portray this.
Verod Rath has a long record as a dedicated guardian and over 1,400+ years as Empress Lenore’s personal guard. This tells us he’s been tried and tested,battle-hardened, and carries an enormous amount of practice and experience.
Crafting the phasic blades used by the other Keepers of the Blade. This is a huge characteristic. It reinforces that he’s more than just a soldier and has talents beyond swordsmanship, as we’ll come to learn.
Rath believed this fiction painted by Rendain. Rath bought into the Rendain hype. This fact drives Rath’s motivations in the timeline of the game and how he came to join the BattleBorn. He also gains Rendain’s dagger here.
Rath has been seeking vengeance. He hunted and slayed the other 20 Keepers. This can not be understated. Out of 21 Keepers, he fought and slayed every other one, leaving only himself, Highlander style. His dueling prowess will be a challenge to portray from a balance stand-point.
From Rendain’s dagger and the blades of the fallen 20 keepers, Rath forged a NEW STYLE of sword. “Precept”. This is huge ( not just the sword! ). This sword encapsulates Rath’s current development/conviction and will be fully explored in his game play.[/quote][/details]
From RENDER THE SNAKE HEADLESS we learn
[details=A glimpse into the what can be] [quote] This conversation takes place AFTER Rath has bested Rendain. Living for vengeance has taken a toll on his psyche. He’s restless, and seemingly without purpose. Deande suggests he embarks on a hobby, particularly involving his passions (Swords and Fighting) and an assurance there is more to do and a place to belong.
Nothing essential to gleam for his kit, but a welcome glimpse of the mindset the next iteration of Rath may have (BB 2?)[/quote] [/details]
From AXIOM, PRAXIS, AND PRECEPT we learn
[details=In depth analysis of his swords][quote]1. Three swords personally forged by Rath/is both a skilled scientist and artisan craftsman. We gain a lot of applicable information here to use. He’s a Craftsman, all his weapons are personally made, and he’s a scientist. All traits we can demonstrate in his game play. Particularly the scientist, as he has of lot of connections to energy in his arsenal.
Axiom & Praxis/Twin phasic energy katanas. Phasic energy here may be alluding to states of matter in flux/Convective heat transfer/both or neither.
The phasic edges have a variable edge breadth. This might mean that the width/range of the blades and their cutting point are all in flux. Coinciding with the Phasic Energy description. This info cements the nature of the weapons and glimpses on how to use them.
Powered with energies capable of sub-atomic levels of “sharpness.” This information can be utilized as a means for creative choices.
Praxis is also capable of limited anti-grav. Oddly specific. Made more curious by the fact they’re “twin” swords. This can be utilized.
Tuned to Axiom & Praxis, this two-handed blade (Precept) draws in and amplifies kinetic energy from the motion of the other two swords. That stored energy can be redirected as powerful strikes used to render foes immobile. This is another huge piece of information! I can assume this is where they explain Catalytic Smash? Aside from that, this unique synergy can create some fun game play mechanics! [/quote][/details]
From THANK YOU LETTER FROM CALDARIUS we learn
Rath is certified positive
[quote] 1. Rath forged a phasic blade specifically for Caldarius, which he found sufficient. This information further enforces Rath’s capabilities as a blacksmith/artisan. Also of note Caldarius’ blade is capable of wounding, so it stands to reason that’s an option we can use for Rath as well. [/quote]
From SCATTERED REFERENCES we learn
[quote]1. It is me, King of the Vampires! I have come for you… wait, “blord”? -
Even in a tv ( holovid ) pilot, Rath is typecast as the “Vampire”. The label must merit some truth behind it (should he be the best life stealer?) I’ll try, to at the least do a call out about this.
Stated for record, both I and Verod Rath have been promised full amnesty and total non-liability for any actions taken while under the orders of the criminal usurper Lothar Rendain. - Ambra Ambra is a bro. Being serious, this shows the general time ( y.19958, d.14) Rath registered for the Battleborn initiative, along with Ambra.
Verod – I know you have some recent history with Caldarius, and any help you can give us in finding him would be, well, helpful. - Ghalt The recent history is never really explained outside speculation this is when he made Caldarius his dagger? This info just tells us Ghalt and Rath have a troubled relationship, and that Rath has good contacts.
Informed speculation suggests Jennerit influence in the blade’s design, some going so far as to speculate that the legendary Jennerit bladesmith Verod Rath had a hand in its crafting. Probably the most pertinent of the bunch, this fact alludes to Rath’s reputation beyond the Jennerit. (and the Red Observer) Further showcasing his accomplishments.
|Off-topic| we also learn the name of Galilea’s blade “Shadowcry” Quite the edgelord there, Gally. [/quote][/details]
Now let’s look at who Rath is currently from a game play perspective.
Label - Attacker
Passive - Genetic Syphon
8% life steal on melee
10% life steal on skills.
Weapon - Axiom and Praxis
Rath’s primary melee attack can be chained for a quick combo.
While his secondary sword sweep deals AOE damage.
Talent - BladeKeeper’s Vestment
Rath’s ceremonial armor is sturdy enough to absorb plenty of damage, but light enough to preserve his speed and mobility.
Skill 1 - Crossblade
Throws an energy blade forward a limited distance dealing xxx damage.
Skill 2 - Catalytic Smash
Unleashes a shock wave, extending directly ahead of Rath, dealing xxx damage and knocking up targets into the air.
Ultimate - Dreadwind
After a brief wind-up, initiates a whirlwind attack lasting x seconds, dealing xxx damage per hit to enemies in range.
- Assassin (Mobility/Crossblade)
- Mutations (Utility)
- Swordsman (Melee/Catalytic Smash)
The above, information is what I’m limiting myself to work with to ensure I achieve narrative/game play cohesion, without straying into mary-stue/wish fulfillment.
( If I still do, please bring it up! )
With all accessible data present; let’s imagine an alternate take!
Passive - Bloodlust
Rath thrives in battle. For every 2 seconds in combat, Rath gathers energy, increasing the health he steals from melee and skills by 4%. (up to 20%) At max charge, Bloodlust can be discharged for added effect. Decays while out of combat.
[details= In depth analysis ] Rath is a “Master” Swordsman. Beyond that, he’s lived countless lifetimes and has had more combat experience than possibly any other BB in the roster.
My goal here was to capture the swordsman/vampire fantasy both for the player and his opponents.
To note: It’s not in the description, but his swords visibly glow up to a max (Example: like the effect from his original helix option To The Point)
I wanted to represent this and his mindset (Force of retribution/vengeance/wrath) by indulging in his “blood lust” as well as considering the scientist in him (The machinations of his energy blades and their interactions with Precept) This passive allowed me to hit on 5 key aspects of Rath:
- It allows me to incorporate his original passive
- Demonstrate his Grasp on Craftsmanship/Science
- His “Melee” Prowess
- His current mental state
- Unique nature of his weapons (Phasic Energy/Kinetic Energy)
Bloodlust decays quickly out of combat (thinking around 4 seconds) Rath should be strong while in combat, and far more vulnerable outside of it in my opinion.
In combat, for Bloodlust’s purposes, only counts if Rath is dealing damage (shield damage applies) not taking damage. This is huge for counter play potential and balance.
The max stacks interaction opens up a plethora of fun and worthwhile helix choices going forward (discussed later), and helps facilitate both of his play styles (Assassin/Swordsman) Do you keep your stacks and commit? (Swordsman) Or do you expend your advantage for burst/utility? (Assassin)
As for how I landed on the numbers. I feel 10 seconds in combat is a long enough engagement period, before he can utilize his discharge, and encourages Rath to get in the thick of battle.
I chose a starting 20% life steal cap as a callback to Rath’s vampire sensibilities and the emphasis from his old passive.
The 20% in relation to skill damage is because it’s more difficult to utilize (Less skill damage overall as well) and encourages high risk/high reward.
To keep power in line, and encourage game health. Rath’s higher starting life/skill steal potential is kept in check by retaining his lower DPS (Damage numbers should not be the basis for prowess) As well as having to “rev-up” in combat. (No skill steal on dry shots) This allows opponents opportune moments of engagement, assisted by him having a visual effect when he’s at max charge.
All this combined results in a more interactive game play loop that rewards commitment/opportunity while (I feel) hitting on his narrative.
Weapon - Axiom/Praxis & Precept
Rath’s primary melee attack uses his twin katanas in a quick precise combo, while his secondary buster sword deals area-of-effect damage. Precept can be chained by discharging Bloodlust.
Quick Melee - Flourishes Praxis in a small radius in front of him.
In depth analysis
Seeing as we’ve already seen Axiom and Praxis in motion most of this analysis will be focused on Percept.
Axiom and Praxis
Swords specialize in 1v1 engagements. Katanas especially so. So I discarded his original AOE focused primary in favor of a tighter more accurate animation cycle. I wanted the player to have more agency on directing where their hits land. I felt for Rath in particular this is important, as precision can allude to sword prowess via more reliable (not assured) critical hits.
Rath losing his AoE on his primary allowed me to add it here on Precept.
Rath loses all pretense for technique/composure, and madly flails Percept in large sweeps around him.
The Precept combo is slow, weighty, and covers large ground. It’s also a 3 hit combo. A left sweep, right sweep and finish with a 360 swing.
I felt adding a version of his original combo here would appeal to long time Rath players. I also find justification in the wilder more reckless swings by using the history behind Precept.
His lore suggests a sword of this nature has never been forged before. So it’s natural to assume even someone as experienced as Rath wouldn’t be immediately proficient with such a blade. Couple that with his rage, I find it fitting to channel his “wrath” behind Precept.
The max charge interaction with his primary (activated by holding both triggers down) will be his Catalytic Smash animation. Without any of the extraneous benefits. (wave/knock up)
Like in the original you can delay the release for more depth.
" Why would I ever use my primary? Precept sounds Pre-nerf, El Dragon clap, good! " Some straw-man is thinking.
My solution was by designing them behind ideal time and place usages.
Precepts attacks are slow (does not improve with attack speed gear) have a short delay between each swing, with the final spin ending with him catching a short breath. These limitations necessitate wise use, in exchange for power.
The ideal scenario is for minion wave clearing (It would excel in PvE as well!) and less so when fighting enemy Battleborn.
Avoiding a Kelvin/El Dragon Alt hit spam.
The quick melee animation is his original secondary attack. The blade sweep is fluid, responsive and feels good. Not to mention it adds narrative by promoting the anti-grav characteristics of Praxis.
Power, and shield damage reduced/removed of course. [/details]
Talent - Bladekeeper’s Knowledge
Rath takes full advantage of his extensive experience as a Scientist and legendary bladesmith, allowing him to adapt his vestment and weapons in the thick of battle.
In depth analysis
I was wracking my brain trying to find how to incorporate his blacksmith background into narrative game play. Then it hit me! Place it (and Science) as his talent. The talent section often preludes to what you can expect in his helix choices. By replacing his Bladekeeper’s vestment (which didn’t really convey anything) we can justify more experimental helix choices.
SKILL 1 - 2 - ULTIMATE
Skill 1 - Crossblade (15s)
Launches compressed energy forward a limited distance, dealing base xxx damage, increasing up to xxx with Axiom & Praxis’ current charge. Discharging Bloodlust with Crossblade reduces it’s cooldown by -20%.
[details=In depth analysis] Crossblade is the only carry-over from Rath’s original kit. Ironic, given how hard I am on it. The move, however, was given new light as I did deeper research into who Rath is. Embracing the Scientist inside him, along with his craftsmanship more than justified (Phasic Energy/Variable Edge Breath/Tuning with Precept) having it be his primary skill.
I chose Cooldown reduction as the max discharge effect because I felt it encouraged more thought behind the decision. Similar to say Boldur and his Axe toss. It’s your only ranged harass; you need it. So, do you shoot Crossblade early for immediate gratification and keep your life steal, or do you launch it at max charge, to get it back up much quicker? Helix choices will further expand on this synergy as well.
Not to mention the fact it has great synergy with narrative. Proper management of his swords phasic energy allows smoother transitions (quicker cds) while premature discharges slow the process down!
I touched up the wording of the original Crossblade to better synergize (the narrative) with how I imagine they work, and create a clear dynamic with his primary attacks.
By removing Catalytic Smash (discussed later) Crossblade is now Rath’s only source of ranged harass. Attempting not to dump too much free power to compensate, I instead tied it’s power to it’s synergy with Axiom & Praxis. Also with Rath’s increases mobility overall, It’s opened up more creative alternatives for how Crossblade can develop on his helix page. Allowing distinct paths made viable by the in game environment you’re in.
Crossblade in this form allowed me to pinpoint key aspects of who Rath is into his gameplay, while I feel also makes it, a far more interesting move. [/details]
Skill 2 - Flawless Form (13s)
Rath rushes forward a short distance, in any direction, ignoring unit collision. If Rath dashes through a major enemy, he will be positioned behind them. In addition, granting 30% enhanced movement for 3 seconds.
[details= In depth analysis] Well… If you’ve read to this point or a “detail” here caught your eye… this is probably where I’m going to lose most of you.
If I may be so bold, hear me out.
First let’s address, Catalytic Smash.
Despite now learning about Rath’s applied science behind the CS phenomenon. (drawing energy from A & P) Which while cool (and can be promoted elsewhere as I’ve done), I feel the nature of the move encourages a specific play style and narrows his options. (Concussive Smash is a step in the right direction just eclipsed) I could get more involved on my reasoning behind it’s removal but, let’s not.
Flawless Form meanwhile, double’s down on Rath’s correlation with agility.
With his slender frame, Perfected technique, muscle memory, and countless experiences, I don’t think it’s too much of a jump in logic that he knows his way around a battlefield. This goes two-fold for his swordsmanship as well. You can’t be a sword master with poor footwork, it’s just as essential!
This skill contributes to Rath’s game play/narrative by directly correlating his agility/swordsmanship and adding to his fantasy, as well as harmonizing exceptionally with the rest of his kit.
So how does Flawless Form work?
FF allows you to dash a short distance. (Think about half (or less) of Boldur’s dash)
FF dashes you in the direction you’re walking (not where you’re looking) which opens a lot of unpredictable means of engagement.
FF can also be used in mid-air ( It will not launch you like Melka or Deande) dashing you the same distance as if you would on land.
FF ignores unit collision. This aspect is what I feel makes it really special. This is my game play way of translating someone like Rath. The ability to absolutely walk circles around an enemy.
Activate FF as a Brute Thrall is about to launch a point blank grenade, allowing access to, his shield-less, heinie AND dodging the grenade too!
Activate FF to go through a friendly Montana who’s innocently body blocking your escape route.
To name a few ideas, that you can do with it.
The bonus movement speed is to provide some momentum and further compliments Rath’s Agile tag.
There’s a lot of hidden power in this skill. I feel it’s kept in check by it’s short range, lack of damage (no helix adds damage) the animation lock (you can’t cast/attack until it’s done) learning curve, this iteration of Rath’s lacking cc options, and his fragile nature in game.
Ultimate - Serenity (54s)
For 8 seconds Rath wields Precept with absolute mastery, unleashing up to 3 slashes each dealing xxx damage. While Serenity is active, Flawless Form’s cooldown is reduced.
[details=In depth analysis]Taking a step away from Link’s “signature” move, I wanted Rath’s ultimate to instead utilize as many aspects of his narrative/gameplay possible.
Here’s a more descriptive explanation:
Rath gets a lucid moment in his madness. For a brief period, Rath has “serenity” During this time, he can wield Precept (Which he normally flails madly) with the same refined precision he does Axiom and Praxis. With a clear head, and a monks focus, he wastes no movement. Flawless Form, only capable with Axiom and Praxis prior can now be used with Precept, providing him unprecedented movement in bursts. Finding his mark, he breathes, then swings…
That’s what I pictured when I thought up Serenity. It culminates a lot of what we know about him and expresses it through a fun and satisfying ultimate.
How does Serenity work?
When activated, similar to Pendle’s Miasma, we pull the camera out (thinking overhead/3rd person) briefly as we see him unsheathe Precept ( Call out happens here)
When it pulls back, you now wield precept and your Primary/Secondary attacks take on new properties (Like ISIC during Omega Strike) during the duration. Your Primary attack will unleash one of his 3 Strikes, while your secondary will allow you to use the lowered cooldown (down to 5) of Flawless Form.
During this 8 second period, Rath can only use Precept and FF. The attack pattern for Precept is also different. It’s more refined, similar to his A&P combo (specializing in 1v1 over AoE) As well as a slight but noticeable increase of striking range. All 3 strikes can be used one after the other barring a slight pause, or you can delay each strike (You lose any unused strikes when the ult ends)
Outside of FF and it’s movement buff, Rath walks noticeably slower (different stance) and can not sprint. But he can jump.
Some cool tidbits:
Activating Serenity doesn’t immediately discharge A&P energy. So if you ult at max stacks you carry over the skill steal until the first strike. (Precept is classified as skill damage during Serenity)
This ultimate gives Rath an execution and the resources to follow through. I feel it’s balanced by:
Being avoidable ( the strikes don’t home-in, and can miss)
High learning curve (can often trigger it prematurely wasting precious time)
CC (Crowd Control will snap you out of Serenity)
Slow moving (Poor use of FF will have you fall behind fleeing targets)
Single target focus (Being flanked or entering anything other than a 1v1 can be disastrous)
Lack of CC (Outside your agility, you have no handicaps for locking an enemy down)
Helices are one of the most unique aspects of Battleborn. They can provide further depth, (even changing/providing utility) shore up weaknesses or expand on strengths.
The problem I’ve found with our current helix options is their pigeon hole design, with a lot of evident superior choices. I hope to rectify that.
I wanted to honor the placement intentions ( limiting to an extent, but also my way of validating my take) of Rath’s original helix options and will adhere to them (replacing instances of CS and DW with my respective counter parts)
I’m providing a link to his original helix tree for reference:
My goal here with the helix tree is to make both of his paths (Assassin/Swordsman) clearly distinct, to their respective play style. While the mutations will provide neutral utility.
The Assassin half will be focused on skill (Burst damage) and mobility.
The Swordsman half will be focused on melee (sustained damage) and survival.
The mutations will focus on providing tempting alternatives for both paths, favoring neither.
To Preface: The numbers you see (including the few above) are in perpetual flux (existing only on paper, balance is hard) and are only there as an example.
You can be a little reassured at the least, that the numbers hold some merit. I’ve adapted them from equivalent skills already present in the game, not completely out of my ass!
Eviscerating Blade - Enemies hit with a direct Crossblade suffer bleed damage. **+213 Damage over 4 seconds**
Concussive Smash - Precepts chain strike releases a shock wave in a small area, Knocking targets into the air. Can be used once every 10 seconds.
Battle-Hardened - Flawless Form increases Rath’s defense for a short time. +25% **Damage Reduction for 3 seconds**
A deeper look
I wanted to start the tree with an immediate distinction between the two paths, and having a level one mutation was a bonus. Allowing me to showcase where Rath gains his scarce CC options.
Eviscerating Blade :
I try to yield to original helix names (I think Mortal Wound is cooler, just doesn’t roll off as well) where appropriate.
I felt, a DoT (not unheard of at level 1) played to the strengths of an Assassin, and creates some presence for this Rath early on.
A direct impact would be the center mass of the Crossblade, (where the points meet) the bleed won’t trigger on fringe hits.
I feel the damage (Borrowed from KU) is justified by being walled off by necessitating some skill. It’s also static; doesn’t scale in any way.
I also changed the average 2 second duration to 4. Lowering the overall per-second damage, but increasing the duration. As a melee (I feel) it’s more important to slow shield recharge as you close in.
Concussive Smash :
The baby groot version of Catalytic Smash.
I felt justified in returning some disruption back to Rath using mutations; so reviving a variation of Catalytic Smash seemed a no-brainer.
This version uses the original Concussive Smash animation, so the radius is small (enough to knock up a max of 2 BB maybe) Works on all enemies.
It’s instant activation allows you to clutch it for interruptions when dueling, also you can still prime it (delay)
Also increases the Chain hits Area-of-Effect providing hidden power (The smash isn’t just a knock-up)
It consumes Rath’s Bloodlust so it’s not open to abuse (No Deande Uppercut here) I also added an internal cooldown of 10 seconds, due to it’s interaction with other helix options.
By having this exist here instead of a feature skill (with range) Rath has been opened up to less obvious choices.
The polar opposite of the Assassin path, Battle-Hardened encourages you to enter the fray, and provides some confidence to do so.
It can also assist in escape, used in conjunction with Flawless Form’s movement speed.
I felt this was a cool way to portray the Red Observer’s findings: [quote]nearly impervious to most small arms fire, resistant to many poisons and toxins, all but incombustible, and is seemingly immune to asphyxiation.[/quote] without completely breaking him
Energetic Projection - Crossblade’s max distance is increased. In addition, Crossblade expands the longer it travels.
Dazzling Blade - Enemies hit by a Bloodlust discharged Crossblade are blinded for a short time. +1[color=yellow] Second Blind Duration[/color]
Volatile Blade - Crossblade’s max distance and size is discreased, but now explodes on impact. +50% Area of Effect Radius
A deeper look
This was a fun one to do, as my first triple choice for one skill.
What was once a one and done (Anger’s Echo severely eclipsed the other choices) I feel I’ve made a compelling case on variance, and having no one right answer for every game.
Fun Fact : To encourage visual acuity (Your opponents can tell visually what helix you’ve picked) These choices can change the color of his Crossblade!! (I believe this is possible since Toby’s mines can change color!)
It also compliments Rath’s Swordsmith/Scientist side by “visually” showcasing him adapt his weapons. As if he tinkered them for the current situation.
Energetic Projection :
This title use to belong to a dead helix. Hopefully this one is different.
Crossblade remains Red. Bonus: If it can be made to appear more refined (sharper)
With Anger’s Echo removed, the increased distance actually merits deliberation. Allowing Rath to snipe/secure kills at a longer range of engagement.
Adding to the allure, is it’s expanding nature. (ex: x to X) It get’s noticeably larger (thinking bigger and thicker over lengthier along the edges) the longer it travels. (collision with terrain can end it prematurely)
With good leading/foresight this skill can hit the more shifty BB, reliably. (The intention behind it’s design)
The center mass is greatly expanded on, increasing chances of landing multiple direct hits.
It wouldn’t be stated, but I feel the travel speed of Crossblade would also increase with this choice, to assist it’s timing. Something you’d only learn by using it.
It can be noted this choice has no immediate cons. That’s due to it being more utility and less of an increase in damage overall (like volatile blade) It favors refinement over immediate gratification.
Dazzling Blade :
Crossblade becomes White. Bonus: If it can be made to appear more luminous ( glowing )
Another mutation another opportunity to introduce CC to Rath.
Crowd Control is so strong in this game. Just by providing one, it makes this a viable option for many at any given time.
The blind is applied beyond the first enemy.
I chose a blind as his CC for a few reasons:
As an assassin, (in general) vision is paramount. Denying it is a large factor in succeeding in your role.
The nature of Rath’s blades (energy) lends to having a blind (over say a silence/stun/slow)
Of all the CC in the game it’s the least debilitating to an opponent (Short duration, doesn’t stop casting or movement) and has better synergy with mobility (One of Rath’s forte)
Caldy is his bro (head cannon: Caldy taught him the blind as thanks, for the blade)
Crossblade’s properties remain exactly the same for this one. Size, range, travel speed are all vanilla.
I locked it’s utility behind Bloodlust. Rewarding synergy over free power, and balancing it’s use in the process.
Like Concussive Smash before, my mutations favor no bias for either build.
Volatile Blade :
Crossblade becomes Yellow . Bonus: If it can be made to appear more unstable (rough)
Again the polar opposite of the Assassin path, I wanted this choice to favor close quarters engagements.
AoE like CC is incredibly enticing (due to wave clear) so I’ve added some balancing factors, to maintain choice:
This Crossblade is much smaller (think X to x)
It has a slower travel speed. (it’s likely going to be angled like how we use Anger’s Echo)
It’s range has been gutted (very noticeable), in favor of AoE
No longer penetrates
There are upsides as well
The impact damage of Eviscerating Blade is all but guaranteed (on 1 target) Note: the bleed is only on the first target, doesn’t extend into the explosion.
The Bloodlust bonus on Crossblade effects the Explosion
Less leading required - it’s larger radius makes it far more forgiving for in-the-moment firing.
The radius is generous (Thinking the size of Caldarius’ flashbang) easily tagging a wave of minions for exp if it isn’t safe to engage.
Terror from Above - Allows Rath to double-jump.
Energy Mirage - At max Bloodlust, Rath’s primary melee combo creates afterimages, hitting twice, at greatly reduced damage. **-60% Damage**
A deeper look
The first real choice (to some) in Rath’s original helix.
This is the first level that focuses on improving Rath’s core strengths over his skills.
My take is no different.
Terror from Above:
The only true COPY/PASTE choice from Rath’s original helix tree.
A huge fan favorite for many Rath advocates, I don’t tamper with it in any major ways.
I would touch up it’s forward momentum when triggered on a sprint (no loss of velocity)
All attacks and skills can be used while double-jumping (great mobility synergy with Flawless Form)
As an Assassin having access to a higher range of motion (Vertical mobility) is a huge boon, GBX got it right here.
I’m really happy with this one.
With Spin to Win, players had to run number crunching tests to prove that it even did anything significant (still in question) In short, it felt unsatisfying.
We won’t have that problem with Energy Mirage.
At max bloodlust, Each swing of Rath’s primary (Axiom and Praxis) three hit combo gives off a faint ( I don’t want to place too much particle clutter on the players screen) residue (translucent energy) behind it. Applying 40% of the swings damage.
It essentially turns his primary 3 hit combo into a 6 hit combo without increasing completion time (like spin to win does)
This really pushes Rath forward as a top-tier duelist and someone to watch in a sustained battle.
It’s power is kept in check by requiring max Bloodlust to function, necessitating an aggressive approach.
Leaving combat, getting cc’d (taking damage while not dealing damage loses Bloodlust), and discharging the energy will all remove the effect.
Flash Step - Rath can trigger Flawless Form a second time immediately after use.
Blood Frenzy - Activating Flawless Form, charges Bloodlust to max.
[details=A deeper look] Our first double Flawless Form level, and possibly one of the most balanced. Both provide ample power (without explicitly increasing damage) in the right moments.
Flawless Form is pure utility, and I kept that function here. Creating a really tough decision
(the best kind) for any play style.
I can clearly see an aspiring Assassin go for the Swordsman choice and vice versa depending on the circumstances.
Flash Step :
The window of opportunity is 1s (2 tops) to get another dash in.
It does not reset or prolong the initial 30% movement speed buff.
Counts as an extension of the first one, for purposes of Flawless Form triggers (balance)
Getting to Max Bloodlust on demand is a huge (especially with it’s interaction with other helix choices)
This choice is balanced by:
If you already have Max Bloodlust, this does nothing (Though you can use this to immediately regain it, after discharging it)
If you’re using Flawless Form not to engage in combat, the stacks will decay quickly, diminishing any benefit (Though you do have an opportunity to FF into a Bloodlust Crossblade)
Lurk in the Shadows - Stack 5% of Bloodlust, every 2 seconds while sprinting. (Up to 20%)
King of the Vampires - Discharging no longer consumes Bloodlust, while in combat. In addition, Bloodlust’s cap is increased to 25%.
Bathe in blood - Bloodlust now also increases all melee attack speed by 4% for every 1 second in combat (up to 20%)
[details=A deeper look] Possibly the toughest helix level I had to work on. Bloodlust is an involved passive, that in it’s current form favors the Swordsman (intentional).
How could I use this level to open up different paths to Bloodlust (It’s function is never changed) without continuing to heavily favor the swordsman path (IE: only the swordsman choice is any good) I pondered this for a while.
This is what I came up with
Lurk in the Shadows: ( open to suggestions for a better name!)
As lackluster as this appears on paper, It’s a game changing (play style wise) choice.
Before level 5, Assassin Rath had to dirty his hands often (more than he’d like) to get the necessary Bloodlust to maximize Crossblade and sustain themselves.
Assassin Rath favors mobility and opportunity above all, this helix makes it so Bloodlust works in tandem with his goals.
Out of combat decay for Bloodlust no longer sets in (as long as you’re moving)
You can achieve max Bloodlust in 8 seconds over the 10 it takes normally. (They work in tandem)
It frees you to roam more aggressively (You’re not as predictable IE: having to attack the minion wave for Bloodlust)
You can be in one spot then immediately head to another; losing no down time on Bloodlust.
More consistent access to bonus’ provided by having max Bloodlust
King of the Vampires:
Like the mutations before, this choice dramatically changes how you approach Rath.
At first glance, this choice doesn’t appear to provide any CC. But applied with Concussive Smash (This and Blood Frenzy are why it has a cd), and Dazzling Blade you have the means to be a cc machine.
In essence reviving Support/Tank Rath (For those that favored this approach)
You sacrifice power in return for more team-orientated mechanics.
Outside of that interaction, the freedom to utilize discharging abilities and always obtaining any max Bloodlust bonus’ while in combat can be desirable for his other play styles.
This option dramatically increases your survivability (the extra 5% is icing) in combat.
Bathe in Blood :
By comparison his Swordsman choice, appears the most mundane on paper. If you think that though you’d be mistaken, there’s power in spades here.
Rath scales exceptionally well with attack speed, and the shortened time (1 over 2) allows Rath to hit the cap in 5 seconds (only for the attack speed) over the normal 10.
More importantly! This choice is the only place to increase the Precept combo’s attack speed (It isn’t affected by exterior influences like gear/allies) Increasing his AoE potential tremendously (this option also improves the feel of this combo, making it more smoother/fluid overall)
Simple doesn’t always mean bad. This choice encapsulates the Swordsman play style.
Slice the Atom - Increases Crossblade’s base damage by 10% and a Bloodlust discharged Crossblade by an additional 15%.
Battle Rhythm - Activating Flawless Form generates an overshield on Rath for a brief period. **+225 Overshield for 2 seconds**
[details= A deeper look] This is the 2nd time, we’re torn between improving Crossblade or Flawless Form. I feel I succeeded in demonstrating the same level of choice as Eviscerating Blade and Battle-Hardened presented.
Burst or Survivability?
Slice the Atom :
Fun Fact: Inspiration for the name came from an excerpt in Axiom, Praxis, and Precept
This is the only direct increase of anything damage wise, in Rath’s entire helix tree.
Rath’s original helix had a CB damage increase here (Brutal Blade) and I felt adding one here as well was appropriate…but with a catch!
Casting Crossblade outside of Bloodlust nets you a 10% increase (below the average 15%) or you can release a Bloodlust charged Crossblade adding an additional 15% (Increasing to a total 25%)
Instant gratification or patience?
I’ve taken the underwhelming placing of Rath’s overshield helix (Unstoppable Assault) and tying it to Flawless Form (at a reduced duration) where it has better synergy.
I won’t dwell on this one too much, as it’s synergy is evident, as well the many scenarios where this can be utilized.[/details]
Triggered Reflexes - When Rath’s shield is broken from a full charge, Flawless Form’s cooldown is greatly reduced. **+75% Cooldown Time**
Hemophilia - At max Bloodlust, enemies are wounded for 1 second if hit with Rath’s primary melee combo, 5 seconds if hit with Crossblade. **Up to 5 Seconds Wound Duration**
Energy Projections - At max Bloodlust, increases all melee strikes damage distance. **+20% Damage Distance**
[details=A deeper look] This is the 2nd time we focus on Rath over his skills. Last time it was a decision between Assassin or Swordsman. Here we have a mutation factored into the mix.
Level 7 was the hardest decision (relative) to decide on, in Rath’s original helix. Providing real choice (mobility/utility/damage) It’s been my template going forward when designing my interpretation.
I hope this iteration provides the same level of difficulty.
Triggered Reflexes :
I liked Evasive Maneuvers from Rath’s original helix. It expounding on the assassin fantasy really well.
With us having Flawless Form, I felt an interpretation would be more appropriate over a COPY/PASTE, adding more synergy over all.
A 75% cooldown reduction reduces FF down to 3.25 seconds, if it was just used.
To balance this, I added the extra condition of it having to be from a full charge (think comeback king) so it has clear moments of opportunity.
With the amount of synergy strewn through-out the helix tree, being able to potentially use FF immediately (counts as a fresh cast for bonus’ purposes) after casting, this can be a tempting choice for any play style.
The original Spin to Slow, sounded great in theory, yet it just never felt right in execution. You could only ever really apply it when it wasn’t needed, and the balance condition (final hit of the combo) made it difficult (if impractical) to slow a fleeing enemy (the desired effect).
It was a lot stronger when Slow’s also effected attack speed, giving it a ton of hidden dueling power, but that’s no longer present.
I chose to step away from Slow’s altogether in this version of Rath. For someone emphasized on agility, I felt it unnecessary to provide handicaps. Instead opting to improve your ability (not assurances) to stick on a target. Which opened up this helix to go in a different direction.
Like the other mutations before this one, I chose to use this slot to provide another useful utility ability. Wounds.
Before Beatrix (who’s identity is a little too tied to wounds) wounds were scarce in favor of an abundance of slows, and stuns (which also isn’t present anywhere on this Rath)
I felt out of the remaining CC, a wound made the most sense, was easy to balance, and had a neat tie-in lore wise (the Rath forged Caldarius dagger can wound)
I balanced this ability, by again locking it behind Bloodlust, creating clear windows of opportunity for counter play.
Crossblade can also apply a wound to maintain neutrality between the paths (it was originally only his melee combo, which is why the wording is so weird sorry!)
This one is really cool!
Like Energy Mirage, I took this opportunity to provide power creatively, over a flat percent damage increase (which is what To the Point does)
While at max Bloodlust (Clear trend here) ALL of Rath’s melee attacks (most potent with Precepts combo) project energy a short distance beyond their range.
If you have Energy Mirage, this uses the same animation, just extending (it will be noticeable) the length. If you didn’t take Energy Mirage, it also uses the same animation just without the extra hit.
For Precept you’ll clearly see a wave of kinetic energy extend beyond it’s length, It would look awesome.
Increasing your range of engagement is something I feel any of his play styles will consider.
Ever-Present - Reduces Crossblade’s cooldown. **-25% Cooldown Time**
Sustained Blade - Killing an enemy with Crossblade grants health regeneration for a short time. **+120 Health Regeneration over 4 seconds**
A deeper look
The final upgrade options for Crossblade, and the second time you get a take on the Swordsman interpretation. How should I vary it from the Assassin’s play style?
This is what I came up with
A near identical version of Rath’s original helix Quick Cross (I felt Ever-Present sounded more ominous) that was originally on the Swordsman side.
Looking at it in a vacuum, it makes sense, when compared to old Energetic Projections. It might have even been a viable choice (I feel it can be, which is why I touched it up and moved it forward), if Anger’s Echo didn’t dominate how Crossblade was used.
By placing it (rightly) in the Assassin route, It allowed me to experiment with the Swordsman option.
The choice alone is flat. What made it work (and why I chose to include it) is it’s synergies with Crossblade’s bonus from Bloodlust.
This version comes with an innate “potential” of -20% cd. Adding another -25% suddenly becomes incredibly tempting.
Depending on how it’s factored this can bring Crossblade down somewhere between 8-9 seconds.
Do you go for a more “ever-present” Crossblade pressure, or opt for a burst of health regen?
Sustained Blade :
I almost went with a form of weaken to improve on dueling, and maintain the swordsman’s preference for sustained combat.
I decided to step away from that, because I felt this version of Rath has enough tools available to handle himself and I didn’t want to add a 3rd potential utility to Crossblade (already has the blind and a wound on offer)
This excerpt from Sustained Across Time
sealed the deal for me, on the current incarnation.
The high burst of health, i feel is balanced by the strength of it’s rival option, the requirement of a killing blow, and it’s late unlock (level 8)
Life from Death. Fitting, for a “Vampire”
Seize the Moment - Doubles Flawless Form’s movement bonus. **+60% Movement Speed for 3 seconds.**
Untouchable - Rath becomes more resistant to crowd control for a short time after using Flawless Form. **-50% CC Duration for 3 seconds**
[details=A deeper look] The last augments for Flawless Form, and like level 4 earlier, also a difficult decision on which to choose.
Seize the Moment:
A late game shot in the arm for the Assassin path ideally. Truly doubling down, on mobility. Literally.
This choice provides a short but enormous boost of speed. If you can’t pursue/create any moments of opportunity, I have nothing else to give you to help.
Similarly, the Swordsman could desire this option to stick on a target, or relocate to another point of contention.
For how prevalent hard CC is in this game, and dedicated teams centered on it. You’d think any form of resistance would be welcome. Sadly that isn’t the case, with the exception of Pendles (which this is hardly focused on by many who play him)
Alone, this option may seem trivial. But it’s in it’s synergies with Flawless Form and the helices that came before that help it shine, and justify it’s late game unlock.
If you’ve heavily invested in the Swordsman path, activating FF prior to getting CC’d you have 25% DR, and an Overshield on top of the shortened duration, to mitigate incoming damage, as well as some possible remaining movement speed to help you reposition.
Reducing a 2 second stun down to 1, can make a huge difference in this context (being team focused will still shred you as it should)
For the Assassin, it’s synergy with Triggered Reflexes allows you to consider this option vs a heavy CC team.
Lastly CC reductions apply to other outlier effects too, providing some extra value. Venom, debuffs (Priority Target/weaken), wounds, etc can all also be reduced.
Make Way! - Activating Serenity immediately pushes all enemies, minus the target Rath is facing, away a short distance.
Iaido - Rath immediately reacts. Quickly releasing 1 shield-piercing strike that can critical hit, but deals reduced damage. **+100% Shield Penetration,** **-50% Damage**
Collateral Damage - Percept releases kinetic energy, increasing Serenity’s damage distance. **+25% Damage Distance**
[details=A deeper look] The Ultimate helix. It should illicit excitement for the player, especially by it being the last helix unlocked (you can often end a game before even reaching 10)
My goal for these choices was to cater heavily into different play styles over any flat damage boosts. The player has been using the vanilla version since level 5. These choices should help cater to that players needs;
These choices in particular I also wanted to make amazing. So tempting in fact, that you’ll want to immediately replay Rath to try a different choice (since they’re all viable)
Make Way!: (There’s so many ways this can be named! Share some!)
The fantasy behind this choice is: Making your own opportunities
All game you’re often either capitalizing on mistakes, or seizing small opportunities, rarely making any.
Without actually increasing the power behind Serenity, this allows you to pick a target and create your own path to them. Very cool.
The push effect would ideally trigger during the camera pull-out, as you’re unsheathing Precept. Providing you with an awesome view of the push-back! Bonus: if it can be timed with his call out.
As for how I imagine the marked target is calculated. The game will track whoever you had focused with your reticle (if it’s an enemy), as you activate Serenity. Excluding them from it’s effect.
Outside of the Assassin path, Support Rath would likely choose this as well, to further compliment their disruptive capabilities.
Being able to forcibly isolate a priority target (albeit briefly) is too cool to pass up.
How I’d use it:
Activate Serenity and push away whoever Miko is healing and then kill Miko asap. Jet outta there when finished!
The fantasy behind this choice is: Accomplishment gained from Skill
Like the technique it’s named after, the idea behind this version of Serenity is:
with smooth and controlled movement, find your moment, strike, then sheathe in one clean swoop.
This choice emphasizes decisiveness, quick-thinking, and response time.
Gifting the reward of making a decision and following through. No regrets.
Iaido bypasses the wind-up (in favor of quickly drawing Precept) Allowing a raster reaction.
The slash animation is sped up, making it more responsive over-all.
All other aspects of Serenity remain the same.
The damage loss is high, and may put some off. I feel it’s off-set by being able to critically hit, and the 100% Shield Penetration.
There’s value in being able to more quickly get in deal your damage and get out. Shortening the entire process overall, places it on cooldown quicker, increasing it’s up-time.
How I’d use it:
You spot an Ambra beginning to flee after triggering her Flame Shield. Activate Serenity, swing, bypass the shield, secure the kill, sheathe. Feel good.
The fantasy behind this choice is: Kill everything in sight
Collateral Damage extends the damage distance augment from Energy Projections onto Percept during Serenity. With the different stance (IE: flailing) he uses with Percept outside of Serenity, the Damage distance extends a lot farther by comparison.
This choice speaks to Rath’s rage and retribution. Less concerned with technique he swings with abandon, aiming at everyone and anything even posing the slightest threat.
Collateral Damage, brings Percepts signature AoE to Serenity. This choice favors all-in styles (swordsman) who want to get in and spread the chaos. Broadening it from it’s usual focus on single-target damage.
Possibly the favorite choice for PvE.
How I’d use it:
Flawless Form inside a dug-in Kleese’s rift network, and start swinging at him. Destroying his Rifts as collateral damage, while keeping his nearby allies at bay. He escapes, but you’ve uprooted him, and your team capitalizes on the moment. You kill him shortly after.
To conclude, let’s now return to my objectives and see how we did.
–Create a kit that blends his narrative and game play in a fun package –
I feel pretty good about this one.
Through out his kit and helix choices, I used all the knowledge available to make the best decisions I could while representing as many aspects of his lore I could squeeze in. Culminating in a seemingly fun, and versatile version of Rath.
– Not fully alienate the core supporters of Rath’s original concept –
This one not so much. I think I was immediately disqualified by removing Catalytic Smash and Anger’s Echo. I hope my attempts to appease them (where applicable. Adhering to lore/variance was priority) won’t go unappreciated.
Throughout the process of making this Topic, (the refresher on his lore especially) made me really reevaluate and appreciate our current Rath.
He’s a damn cool, dude. Just in general.
It’s given me a new appreciation of his original kit(Dreadwind, and quick melee notwithstanding) as well.
First thing I’m doing is getting back on (haven’t played since I began this endeavor!) and get a game in with Rath!
So, did you read this far? If so, firstly thank you. Second, what did you think? Questions, comments? If yes, please, please share them, I’d love to read it (good or bad)