First, class mechanics go further than just the F skills, however for the necro this is less apparent. For example, fear is meant to be a class mechanic, yet there simply aren't enough skills that inflict it. The staff is the only weapon with a fear skill. When looking at the thief however, they have dual weapon skills, Every weapon combo gives a special skill. While this is a lesser mechanic, it is definitive in every weapon combo and stands out more as a mechanic than fear.
Second, life force only really exists for death shroud, which I find pretty boring. it's always the same, always has the same skills, always used as a panic button and never really feels like it sets necros apart. In contrast, the thief has steal which, although needs work in itself, provides a variety of abilities, meaning there is always a motivation to use it.
Third, necros are supposed to focus on inflicting conditions and buffing allies, yet the conditions they inflict don't feel particularly unique because every class seems to spam conditions in this game, and their buffs (ie removing conditions from allies) are available to other classes too so necros just don't seem to shine.
Fourth, the following is stated on the official wiki: "Necromancers are masters of the dark arts. They summon the dead to fight for them, channel blood energy and rend their enemies' souls. Necromancers draw on life force and use it to strengthen or heal themselves and others."
This is completely untrue because they do not spend life force on strengthening or healing allies. My suggestion addresses this description and fits more with the official description.
Fifth, A class mechanic should be something that shines through in the majority of your playtime as that class. Currently, death shroud is used in the Minority of our playtime (because we use it purely for survival when health is low and healing is on cooldown). This is backwards. We should have a way of playing with our class mechanic, the very thing that makes us different, in the major part of our playtime, not the minor. My idea addresses this because it gives us a chance to constantly way up our options and make a decision on whether sacrifice life force for an immediate benefit, whether we sacrifice it to benefit allies or ourselves, or whether we conserve it to the last moment for that all important death shroud.
I have therefore come up with an idea which I feel may help to diversify necro a bit more and make them 'feel' more unique. It comes in the form of F skills, because I feel that these are instant indicators of class disparity, as well as bonus skills which do not take a space on the utility bar, therefore providing you with a bonus class ability that other classes would need to use a utility slot to accomplish (for example, other classes have 'panic button' skills, but they aren't free to them like the necro's F1).
My idea is to add another core mechanic in the form of 'Offerings'. i was considering 'Rituals' but I believe other classes already have 'Ritual' skills, so this has more identity.
Firstly, change the life force bar by breaking it into 6 mini bars (or charges), similar to the warrior's 3 adrenaline ones. Then add the following skills which act as toggle abilities. Ie, you activate, and they drain 1 charge of life force every 4 seconds and provide an effect, until you press the button again to deactivate them. The final one has the exception of taking 2 charges per pulse instead.
F1: Keep as death shroud - It works, but alone is just too plain. The following skills should solve that. (The 'pulses' of life force degeneration would not be required here either).
F2: Blood Offering - You sacrifice life force to inflict bleeding on surrounding enemies every few seconds. (Traits could then multiply this effect or add other conditions). it can be accompanied by a bleeding animation on your character to show they are sacrificing blood to do it.
F3: Life Offering - You sacrifice life force and convert it into healing for yourself and allies. (Traits could add additional effects to this, such as condition removal per pulse). It can be accompanied by a spiritual aura to show life pulsing from your character.
F4: Death Offering: You sacrifice 2 stacks of life force per pulse to inflict a 1 second fear on surrounding enemies. (Traits could either up the fear duration, or add additional effects, such as buffing yourself and allies). This can be accompanied by a skull simply flashing over your characters head or something as a visual indicator.
I believe this will not only provide the necro with a more solid grounding in it's current mechanic, but would also allow for more varied play styles as death shroud alone just doesn't feel like enough.
It can also be tweaked a bit through testing (ie the seconds per pulse can vary between each skill) but I somewhat addressed this by making the final one take 2 pulses as I feel it could become overpowered otherwise.
Would love to hear peoples feedback on this.
EDIT: I would like to add my replies further down the list to save trawling through to see other suggestions I've made to this.
1. Blood offering could potentially act as a life steal instead of bleeding. (someone said they felt necro needed more lifesteal). Maybe it could simply add lifesteal to attacks, or drain a bit of health every pulse.
2. Someone stated that traits such as blood, death and curse needed work. My reply is that each of the proposed abilities could have traits in their respective trees. I had taken them into account when thinking up the idea. Ie, death offering can have traits in death tree, blood in blood. this way, our trait specs feed a little more into class mechanics meaning more build options without necessarily forcing us into 'turtle spamming' death shroud.
3. Others stated that death offering looks too overpowered. I suggest it either using all or half of our life force. If all then possible traits could allow us to increase duration to 2 seconds, or retains a bit of the life-force spent (ie 25-30%).
4. Each of the proposed skills can have individual or global cooldowns for more balance.
5. Some people are saying necros just need lifesteal and traits reworked. My suggestion addresses both of these issues because it adds a lifesteal ability, and traits can be altered to match the new skills.
6. Some have believed I seek to revamp death shroud. this is not the case. i am suggesting we leave it in, how it is (fix the traits though) but add these other skills that utilize life force to even us out a bit more.
----> 7. Others have said that they don't use Death Shroud purely for survival, and instead spam it every time LF if full. That is fair enough, however I still feel this is problematic gameplay-wise. Having an either-or scenario, where you either use it every minute, or every time you need to survive, makes it get boring pretty quickly. Imagine 80 levels, plus end-game, just spamming it non-stop. The same four skills over and over. The same grinding strategy. GW2 is meant to avoid boring, routine builds. Forcing necro into a black and white 'spam or save' does not solve this. My suggestion is not intended to totally revamp necro, nor break it in any way. I am simply suggestion something which fits the class description and allows for more diverse and strategic gameplay. Having us constantly decide how we spend our life force, in a similar yet different fashion to thief's initiative, will mix up gameplay and the suggested abilities will allow for a wider variety of build<----
What I have created is merely a base idea so i'm still looking for it to be revised and balanced.
EDIT 2: Suggestion by Thyar
Thyar took a look at my idea and made an alternate version which I believe to be simpler yet still running on the idea of out-of-death-shroud abilities. I believe his idea may be a bit simpler and and easier to balance so I could see it becoming a more viable option.
"F1 – Death Shroud with its usual skills.
F2 - sacrifices Life Force to enable each of the Necro's weapon attacks to steal health (per attack) from an enemy for 6 seconds. This would stack with other life stealing skills, effects from sigils, etc...
F3 - sacrifices Life Force to enable each of the Necro's weapon attacks to provide health (per attack) for self and nearby (within 600 feet) allies - including pets, minions, and illusions - for 6 seconds.
F4 - sacrifices Life Force to inflict a random condition on an enemy for each attack that the Necro receives (infliction period lasts for 6 seconds)
I would make the cost for F2 to F4 abilities a flat 33% cost of one's total LifeForce bar, to help keep this balanced.
Unless I am mistaken here, all Necros of whatever playstyle and weapon sets would receive some benefit from at least two of those three.
I reduced the duration time for F2 to F4 from 7 seconds to 6 seconds, which at a 1.5 average basic attack from an enemy would mean they trigger (in optimal situations) for about 4 attacks. "
It still gives us a bit more to play with as death shroud always has a chance of being a panic button, and alone makes the class a one-trick pony. This addition adds strategy because spending life-force means potentially weaker death shroud duration if it is needed, but that sacrificial nature of combat feeds well into the nature of the necromancer.
I think I need to clarify something about this thread. It is not a 'let's knock death shroud' or 'death shroud sucks' thread. The purpose of this Thread is to suggest that Necromancer overall needs a bit more class identity. I feel that Life force could have been a much better mechanic, but all it is is a fancy cooldown for death shroud. I don't want to lose or replace death shroud, I simply want to add diversity to the class to utilize it's unique resource, and in doing so will give the class something unique to accomplish OTHER than death shroud. All other classes have other mechanics aside from their 'main' ones. Necro apparently has life-stealing and fearing as a core mechanic, but this really does not shine through. I am proposing a way to utilize life force as the class was described to do, and to give it more identity when not using death shroud. As an example, people notice the warrior's unique style even when they aren't using their burst skills. People notice the thief's unique style even when he isn't stealing. they notice the Mesmer's identity even when they aren't shattering their illusions. What do they notice about the necromancer that the other classes aren't already doing?
Thanks again for the great response so far!
Edited by Majigor, 14 June 2012 - 09:39 AM.