Bringing the Corsair to Life
In Red Scar Development Blog 06, we speak with 5e Kings of War Developer, Alex Delaney, about his process with the Corsair archetype for Kings of War the Roleplaying Game.
Where does your creative process begin for adapting a Kings of War archetype and were there any challenges to the Corsair archetype in particular?
I began my process in the lore and the narrative of the archetype we are trying to emulate and enable in play: the Salamander Corsair mercenaries, with their iconic combination of pistol in one hand, sword in the other, and a respectable feather in their hat. Using this image and the lore of the Salamanders—and indeed mercenaries of all stripes, striking out to write their own legend across the land—I was immediately enthralled with the character type that swings from rigging and chandeliers alike, iconic weapons in hand. They are up close and personal, uncaring of the mounting odds they face.
Then, I focus on the gaming experience of what I want this character to be able to do that is unique from the other archetypes.
From a gameplay point of view how can we implement this image?
The iconic weapons suggest a specialisation or focus on a combination attack, concentrating on either multiple targets or one foe. The class initially offers features that overcome the limitations and restrictions placed on dual wielding in the 5e ruleset . Then I teamed the two-handed fighting style with a reliable means of using sneak attack when equipped with a ranged weapon. Daring, our new mechanic to the 5e system, can also be used to power a missed shot, potentially hitting another target.
Was this archetype based upon an existing class or did it require an entirely new build?
Immediately, it was clear that this was going to an archetype of an existing class, but my only question was, which one? Existing classes have the wide strokes of the Corsair in them, but I needed a specialisation to bring them out. Given that the Corsair was meant to invoke the idea of a lightly armoured hero, taking the grand gamble that it will all payoff I felt that the features of the Rogue class would give it much of the mobility and feel that it required.
This allowed me to focus on what made the style special of Obtess and the Firebrands. Of course, the danger when you are working with a character in mind is that you write either lore or mechanics that are tailored to one character rather than an archetype of characters. The Corsair archetype as a wider idea was centred around specialised weapon usage and being able to cut their way to the enemy leader.
The question did come up about if this archetype should be a Salamander exclusive option. Limiting an archetype to one race due to a specific vision is always an option, but not one that I am in favour of because it always runs the risk of prematurely robbing a player of an opportunity to reinvent or creatively use the archetype. Instead, the design process I used was to reward iconic Kings of War combinations with additional features, or as in this case, ensuring ancestor benefits lined up with the combination.
Salamanders (Obtess in the Kings of War RPG Ashen Gold Quickstart) for example have a bonus to their constitution score and natural armour, which allows them to not only be more hardy in fights but to be hit less often when they stick around. In addition, they have the hot blooded ability to deal damage back to those who do manage to harm them. To many the idea of a Constitution-based rouge may be a little odd, allowing those who see the miniatures of Obtess or the Firebrand Mercenary and want to play that character can while still allowing players to create their own characters within that same vein.
Finally, what makes the Corsair so special?
They use their trusty pistol to overcome many of the shortcomings of carrying a range and melee weapon into battle. Negating the penalty for firing ranged weapons while engaged in combat, the Corsair can regularly make two attacks whether with two one-handed ranged weapons or one melee and one ranged weapon. I also kept the very mobile and robust options available to Rouges in this current edition, which makes the Corsair a foe not taken on lightly.
At later levels, the Corsair is able to negate the enemies’ ability to overwhelm them with numbers and unlock even more manoeuvrability. Some of their late game abilities allow them to turn their movement into a defence as they dodge out of the way of their foes.
Finally, the Corsair can inspire their party or themselves, gaining additional hit points, and in the first round of combat, they may unleash a fury of attacks against their foes. On top of the dubious ability, Legends Never Die, allows them to survive the near impossible.
So, grab your finest hat, your most ostentatious feather, and begin forging your living legend as a Corsair of Pannithor.