Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer Q&A (May 3)

Julian Love (FX Lead Artist) and Travis Day (Senior Game Designer) held a Q&A to respond questions about the Necromancer. Below you can watch the video (use Chrome if Firefox won't show it), and/or read our transcript.

necromancer Q&A

Q&A TRANSCRIPT

Besides the Necromancer, what else will the pack come with? Besides new legendary items and set dungeons.

[bluepost]Julian: We will ship with two new character slots, two stash tabs, a pennant, banner, pet, wings, and a new portrait frame.[/bluepost]

What elements does the Necromancer use?

[bluepost]Julian: A lot of the Necromancer's kit is based on the idea of blood and bone, and we think that the best damage type for that is going to be physical. It's not really an element so to speak, but I think it is a damage type. That is the majority of the kit, and that leads us to two other elements that we felt fit the fantasy of the class: cold and poison. Poison is the damage type that we decided to fit best with our blight theme.[/bluepost]

The interaction between LotD, Corpse Lance and the Plague set -- was this intended? If so, doesn't it make Bone Spear moot?

[bluepost]Travis: It was intended. It was not intended the way some creative players discovered they could use it. So we are going to address some of the abusive cases where you can do things that we didn't really plan to do, but that is why we have PTR. They are a lot smarter than we are, when it comes to things like this. So we are going to address that; and Bone Set is awesome, Bone Set is really good. Some of the stuff that is happening right now, because again it is not intended to function that way, but we are going to fix it.[/bluepost]

Will there be a Blood Mage/Dracula type of Necromancer build? That would be fun to maintain HP and skills.

[bluepost]Travis: Yea. There will absolute be. You may not have seen it already in the beta, there is the Blood Necromancer Set. It is very reminiscent of the full red armor from the Bram Stoker's Dracula. It is very reminiscent to that; but yea, there is a lot of blood magic to set this build around. Spending your health, recuperating your health, and increasing your health. We tie very heavily into the health mechanic for that.[/bluepost]

Was there a lot of internal debate about the skills with "X% chance to instantly kill enemy below Y% HP"?

[bluepost]Travis: No. There wasn't. We did not do, that mechanic much. I think we did it in one place with Execution. I think it is just a cool thematic. The monster has to be pretty low health. The chance for that to happen is relatively low.

The expectation is you are fighting a lot of creatures, so through certain lense, if you have done something to increase your damage to the monster in the first place, and the only rune mechanic that works that way is Frailty, and Frailty is not a chance. It just happens. It is just like the mob has less health, which is very similar to mobs dying faster, and taking more damage.

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What was the thought behind the pet set? It seems cool, but dictates many of your skills going against the freedom you wanted.

[bluepost]Travis: Giving the sets as much freedom as humanly possible is one of our goals, for certain amongst the group. We wanted the sets to be really open-ended, not dictate too many skills on your bar. The pet set is kind of the exception. We did make sure we didn't force you to have all of the pet skills on your bar. You could theoretically... "I am not going to use the Golem, because I think Bone Armor is really good for survivability. Or maybe I am not going to use Revive, because man, Devour is so awesome."

So it is pretty loose. It really does incentivize you to use all the pet skills, but at the same time it is the core fantasy for the class. It is all about being the Commander of the Dead, and having this massive army. So we can't set like: Ok, if you are going to use all your pets, then you are going to use all your pets. That's what this class is all about. But I think there are still some interesting builds that evolve over time; and as players see more of the items.[/bluepost]

Is there any new skill sets for a type of "Meleemancer" like in Diablo II?

[bluepost]Julian: Yea. We have got Grim Scythe, and the Nova skills, and a bunch of passives and things that fit into that. A lot of the Saint Set works that way. It is definitely geared towards meleemancer vibe. We definitely talk a lot about that. Focus on that as a fantasy that we want to bring back, that we knew a lot of Necromancer players were into. So, yes.

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If our XBox account is linked to our Blizzard account, will we be able to have the Necromancer across both platforms or will we need to purchase one for PC and one for console?

[bluepost]Brandy: They are separate products, just like the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls on PC is separate from the Ultimate Evil Edition on console. So, yes, you will need to purchase the Rise of the Necromancer separately if you plan to play on both platforms.[/bluepost]

Necromancer has 3 curses. Why is it that none of these curses have a rune that is a direct damage amplification towards party members?

[bluepost]Travis: That's a great question. When we were designing the curses, we really went back and looked at the old Diablo II curses; and sort of a running theme on them was like: "This increases your damage," in some slightly varied way. We wanted the curses in Diablo III to be more succinct, and more clear; and have purity of purpose like: "this is the curse for making a (boss) die, this is the curse for healing people, this is the curse for killing things."

So part of that was, we have Frailty, which is basically a damage amplifier, but it is a very generous and interesting way to present a damage increase, and then the runes largely across the class as a whole, we try to avoid runes that just say like: "Here are 4 runes that do something kinda neat, and then a fifth one that does more damage." Because generally that just means that the rune choices weren't interesting. You take the fifth that is a better version of it, and the rest of these don't matter.

So we wanted all the runes for the skills to feel either more utilitarian, or more gameplay-defining. Functionally, though, Frailty is a damage amplifier. It is a damage increase for everyone. You curse the enemies with it (for those of you who haven't played with it), and they are more affected by it. When their health reach a certain threshold, they just die. We thought that was a cooler way to implement the old-school amplify damage curse, that had more flavor to it; but functionally isn't a frail damage curse.[/bluepost]

Will there be a melee thorn pet build for Necros?

[bluepost]Travis: One of the original curses, actually from Diablo II, that used to have some play-- people asked in early development was Ironmaiden. We didn't want to make Ironmaiden a curse, mostly because thorns in our game is not the same as thorns in Diablo II. Monsters AI sometimes dictates sometimes it is not even attacking you, and then you are just standing around waiting for stuff to happen; but we did think: "Well, you know, some people like just that. So let's add some hooks in place so that people who like that playstyle can have that; or if you just want a bunch of minions tanking, and you are stacking thorns, and they are dying... that's cool."

So there are some passives that support that. There is one that give your minions 200% of your thorns, we have also made a Legendary recently that "any curse" will increase your thorns damage based on the number of enemies that are cursed, so you can start putting together a pet-centric thorns build that is kinda support to it; but we didn't want to push it too hard because thorns has always being really tricky to get right in Diablo III.[/bluepost]

Each class has a 2-piece weapon set; do you plan to give a weapon/offhand set to the Necromancer?

[bluepost]Travis: Yea. There is one coming in the next patch for the PTR. That is a main-hand Scythe/off-hand Shield. Necros aren't really about shields, but it is such iconic artwork that... we have gotta get this in the game somehow; and the Scythe and Shield both really match the aesthetic of the Pet Set, like the Bone look, which is very iconic necromancer. So it is themed around that set, but anyone can use it. It is just a really good 2-piece set bonus for Army of the Dead.

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How will you address the issue that the season in which the Necro gets released in will be full of players playing just the Necro?

[bluepost]Julian: We plan to address that by throwing a big party watching everybody play the Necro, and feeling really good about it. We don't really see that as a problem. When you release a new class, and everybody wants to play it, if that is how it turns out, then that is a success. You have done your job well. That is what we expect to happen. We have also built some new things into the class to make that... probably not an enjoyable experience for everybody, obviously if you aren't into the Necro, maybe it won't feel enjoyable, but the fact that we have done some things to kinda curtail the way the graphics will work for all of your party members. Sure it will make it work pretty well, and I think if we had 4 necromancers onscreen, it is going to be great.[/bluepost]

Does Resource Cost Reduction (RCR) reduce the health cost of Blood Skills, since health is a resource for Necromancers?

[bluepost]Travis: That's a really good question, actually. As recently as this week, I was a actually confused about what we had decided to do with this. Originally, I thought were going to-- like yea, let's make RCR affect health costs. We did not... and then I had a conversation with someone recently, and we were talking through like: "huh, I thought we did. Ok, what would it affect if we did implement that change?" -- and we started talking through the consequences or the expectations, or some interactions we didn't like. Like... "Oh, but this item says when a resource is spent, blah-blah-blah. So will that work with the Necro? Does it work if they take damage? Reasons, reasons, reasons;" and the short version is we talked about it through, we were really close to making that change, but there were some really concerning consequences of that change that we didn't feel comfortable with; so ultimately our RCR doesn't reduce the health cost of the Necromancer's skills.[/bluepost]

Brandy: So it does for Essence, just not for Blood skills.

[bluepost]Travis: Oh, yea. Absolutely. It works on your Essence, which is your primary resource. It just doesn't work if you are using Blood skills that also have Health costs associated with them.[/bluepost]

Just finished a Diablo II playthrough as a Necromancer. What are the class specific weapon and off-hand? Any throwbacks to Diablo II?

[bluepost]Julian: The class-specific weapons that we have is Scythe, and also a 2-handed Scythe; and off-hands are Phylacteries. One of the things here is that we didn't want to bring back wands, obviously for the Necromancer, because the Wizard has wands. So we weren't going to do that, and also we really didn't think that wands was necessarily the most thematically-suited item for the Necromancer either. We wanted something a little bit more edgy. Scythe really seems like a total win. Malthael uses scythes. And then, for the off-hand, we kinda had a similar type of problem in that even though the witch doctor doesn't exactly have an off-hand -- it is called Shrunked-head-- a lot of the stuff ended being shrunken heads, and it is very witch-doctor-ish.

So even though shrunken heads appeared in Diablo II, it didn't feel like a great fit for us here, so the notion of Phylacteries seemed to ring true. So now with those decisions in place, it makes it a little hard to bring some of those item fantasies from Diablo II forward into that particular space. Simply because it feels very disingenious, or maybe even almost dishonoring to take a fantasy that belongs to a wand in Diablo II, and pull it forward [?] a Scythe. It might be a little difficult to do fantasy-wise, but also just doesn't feel like the right thing to do in terms of honoring Diablo II.[/bluepost]

Brandy: Let those items live up their legacy, right?

[bluepost]Julian: Yea. They (wands) are awesome where they are, and if we can't do them justice, then we shouldn't just bring them forward.[/bluepost]

The Golem is similar to the gargantuan; who would win a brawl?

[bluepost]Travis: Ahh... my money is on the Golem, because he is cooler; and bigger. He is like the Hulk. Very bulky.

Julian: The counter to that, though, might be if you were wearing The Tall Man's Finger, then they would be 3 Gargantuans on one Golem, and like that could be a real unfair set of circumstances.[/bluepost]

Brandy: But what if you take the Flesh Golem, and you revive him into the 8 little Flesh Golems?

[bluepost]Julian: See... this is really hard to answer. You may have to find out on your own.

Travis: But also, pets don't take any damage in Diablo III, so I would probably call it a stalemate.

Brandy: Yea, probably it would last forever.

Travis: Yea. More or less.

Brandy: For quite a while. Perpetual motion.[/bluepost]

Can we please talk about how a lot of the Necromancer's abilities and rune choices cost health? This idea is very awesome and welcome, but I am playing hardcore and I feel like this limits my options in skill builds. Things get scary!

[bluepost]Travis: Then you are braver than me if you are playing Hardcore. Two: You are way braver than me if you are using Blood runes in Hardcore. There are a lot of skills on the Necromancer-- in fact there is basically at least a rune (if not more) that is blood-themed, and has a health-cost associated with them. Some of them are kinda nominal like this is an epic heal. Some of them really are going to chunk your health bar down. There are also a lot of blood-themed skills that are healing. So maybe you don't want to use your primary spender as a blood skill. You would probably don't want to use Blood Nova, because also you need to be in close proximity, and that is just disastrous for Hardcore. The flip side of that is you can get some really good health-regen stuff going for the other Blood skills. There is the Bone Armor rune that increases your Health regen per enemy affected. There is obvious stuff like Blood Syphon, or the Blood rune on your Grim Scythe. I would not pursue Simulacrum if I were you--- buuuuut there is also stuff like Rathma's Shield. Maybe, hey, you really like Simulacrum. Just take that passive (Rathma's Shield), get 4 seconds of invulnerability when you push the button, everything is groovy. It was meant to be a very high-risk playstyle. It is certainly not well-suited for Hardcore. The upside is that because there is so much Health-cost and stuff in there, you have got a lot of tools at your disposal tokeep yourself alive. Maybe just take the healing side of Blood skills, and very sparingly use the Health-cost skills.[/bluepost]

Can we expect items that increase our army size or make our minions more permanent?

[bluepost]Travis: We don't have any items that explicitly increases the caps, or take timed-minions and make them permanent. We do have several items coming in the next PTR that will allow you to either more quickly reach those caps, extend the duration of things, but not indefinite. There is an item that lets you effectly double the duration of Simulacrum. Things like that. So there is certainly going to be items coming soon that you guys can use that will affect your pets in some way; but not permanent, and the caps that are in place are the caps so that we don't break everything -- including your computer.[/bluepost]

Plague set seems really lackluster in comparison of the other set at the moment. Any plan to add other skills like Bone Spirit to the 6-piece bonus?

[bluepost]Travis: I am going to start off this one by saying the set balance right now on PTR is wildly dispersed(sp?). We are very aware. This is also what PTR is for. It helps us find these things, and yea, ok, we have to fix this, and this isn't enough, and... there is a lot going on lately. The Plague Set has some really really powerful items that are coming that will help make it more powerful. We are not adding Bone Spirit exclusively to that Set for any reason, but there will be items that make Bone Spirit a lot more powerful. So if you like Bone Spirit, which I think is freaking amazing, there are items that you can either equip or put it into the cube that will make it a lot more potent.[/bluepost]

Have you considered the place of the Necromancer in 4-man (and 3-man and 2-man) Greater Rifts?

[bluepost]Travis: Yea, we get this question a lot. When we set out to design the Necromancer, at no point we were like "Ok, what is their job in a 4-man Rift? What skills are we going to give them to reinforce that job?" We really just were like wouldn't it be cool-- what would you expect the Necromancer to have: you expect pets, you expect curses, cool, you have got Golems in there, sweet Corpse Explosion. We did give them a lot of really robust tools. The curses are really potent, so it is very easy to picture where people like to bring Necros for more support role, they also have some incredible DPS potential with some of these sets. So it is possible they can fill in damage role, some of the new items give them a lot of utility. So they could be in more like a crowd-control (CC) role. Don't really know, but I think theoretically capable of all the jobs, and it is up to you guys to figure out what you think the best set, or what you enjoy playing the best.[/bluepost]

I'm having really severe survivability issues, especially with the melee specs, but also as a summoner. Can we expect some items that address this?

[bluepost]Travis: No. We really want you to be squishing (laughs). This comes up often. The squishing. I was watching a lot of the streamers doing Greater Rifts over the last PTR. There is certainly squishing in some of the sets, in certain Greater Rifts. We designed tools for the class, like if you have Bone Armor, you have got Decrepify, hopefully these can find a place in your bar if you ever feel like your survivability is not enough. When we are designing our items, my opinion on the subject designing legendaries is, give them as many as we think are cool, and it is better that they have too many, than not enough, so that players can then sorta hone in on what is the right balance for their playstyle. We have got some really really strong survivability legendaries that are coming for them, one of them which seems super simple but is really for the Saint Set (or just any Necromancer set) is your Bone Armor stacks up to 15 (instead of 10). As a side note, we also are changing the way Bone Armor works, so that it doesn't work like the old Soul Harvest, and instead just stacks and refreshes. So if you hit 5 guys, you get 5 stacks. If you hit 4 more, now you have 9. So some things like that, also just some minor tweaks to baseline skills will help bone armor as well.[/bluepost]

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Are there any skills you are currently unhappy with and are considering reworking during the beta phase?

[bluepost]Travis: For the most part, we are really happy with how things have turned out. There is two really big outliers. One is Blood is Power. The passive that for every 5% health you lose or spend, it refreshes all of your cooldowns by 1%. For months, people would coming to me and be like: "Man, this thing doesn't seem good enough."

My response was usually they are going to break it and not make it better. This is probably too good to ship already. Even though none of us really know how to break it, they are going to break it; and sure enough in the most recent PTR, we have people going like: "Oh, I am pushing Rift 1.02 mentality of my gear; and I am permanently invincible; and blah-blah-blah."

OMG, Ok. We have to fix that. So as we were working on the redesign for that passive, the only other one that really stands out (and again this is terribly broken) is largely Blood is Power. We just messed up, and we forgot to do something we normally do with our skills which is we have a rune on Bone Armor where instead of being a mitigation tool it turns it into a temporary invulnerability skill (kinda like serenity but with a longer cooldown).

In our game, across the board, if you have a button that makes you invulnerable, we don't start cooling down the skill until the invulnerability expires to make sure you are never allowed to have 100% uptime of invulnerability. We just forgot to do that for the Bone Armor rune. So that coupled with Blood is Power, coupled with things like Obsidian Ring, people were getting permanent immunity. So both of those things we will be addressing soon. In the next PTR we will fix that actually.[/bluepost]

From an interation point of view how was it to develop Bone Spirit from its previous form to this new improved one? Any plans to add it to the 6-piece bonus of the Plague Set?

[bluepost]Julian: It is definitely one of my favorites. We had a lot of clarity when we started in terms of the role it was going to play, and it didn't change too much in terms of that role, but we also knew that it was a pretty big iconic skill from Diablo II, and deserved a lot of attention in terms of just being thematically awesome. We also didn't want to repeat what had happened in Diablo II, exactly, or really that much at all; because that's what you did in the age of sprites, but we should be able to do something way cooler. If you think about the word Bone Spirit, I think for us it was something really more fantastic. So we went through a lot of iterations on it. We had a lot of problems with that. It is effectively a projectile, and projectiles are very very long-shaped. It's contact position, you have to make a decision as to where that is.

Long story short, it made it really not feel really good in terms of-- it would kinda run half-way through a monster before it exploded. So we dropped back to another version than what we have right now; but we are playing around with the different animations... like how we get it to animate in a more lively way. It has a spawn animation, rather than just coming out the way it does, and it sort of made it look like the spirit was swimming in like a race or something... neat idea, but it's kinda humorous, and we didn't want that.

So after just trying out all these different ideas, we settled back down into something that is a little bit more tame, but what you see today in the game... we trimmed out some of the crazy that wasn't working and focused down on the stuff that does.[/bluepost]

Decay Golem is cool, but do you plan to give us a tracker on how many corpses the Golem has consumed?

[bluepost]Travis: We talked about it, there is currently no plans. For those of you that don't know what Decay Golem is, it is the Golem that you activate (like all of the Golem skills it has a cooldown), and when you activate the Decay Golem, it rushes toward the location, consumes all the corpses, and then gets a buff and does a ton more damage. The basic idea for that was people were constantly like: I want to Voltron corpses. Just imagine if the golem piled up more corpses on himself, and murdering people.

We talked about a buff stacker on it. We decided against it. We didn't really see the need for it.[/bluepost]

How many pieces of Necromancer only equipment will there be? Will he have some type of armor made specifically for the class like the mighty belts for Barbarians or the voodo masks for the Witch Doctor?

[bluepost]Travis: The short answer is two. They are scythes, which is the class weapon; and the Phylactery which is the class's off-hand. I remember when we were making the decision way early in development about what his class armor would be, I was very much of the opinion that maybe belts don't really add anything to the game...; like Barbarians aren't really cooler because he has got a belt on, and the fact that it is a class-specific belt, which most people don't see dropping; so what's the point of this.

A belt is a belt. Maybe my belt does nothing inherently. So we decided against giving the Necromancer class a class-specific armor piece for that reason.[/bluepost]

Could we possibly see any of the Necromancer sets get a 7th piece to allow combining the set bonuses via RoRG?

[bluepost]Travis: Oh, man. I get this question so often. So....... no. This question does come a lot, and we have talked internally extensively about this thing. This concept idea. Like ah, stacking sets. Generally, when we get this kind of question, the way we interpret it is, can we find a way to get a mechanic in the game that will let them be more powerful. Ultimately, the expectation of one wearing multiple sets is: because that is better than one set. Obviously, two sets is better than one set. Duh!

I love interactions, plus finding things that you didn't expect. I think in the case of stacking all the set bonuses... really they are meant to feel powerful, and interesting, and different; and they just start melding together when you are wearing multiple at a time. So the goal for the Necromancer has been to make sure that kind of thing doesn't happen; but the goal is that they are still as strong as any other class in the game -- which means whatever they are doing with two or one-and-a-half sets. Pick the set you like, go with it. Same is true for the weapons, and all the other items. We have no plans of adding 7-pieces.[/bluepost]

The class feels really locked into a Generator/Spender/Corpse Skill build style. Any plans to shake this up?

[bluepost]Travis: This is another one that people ask about a lot. I know even internally I used to tell people over and over and over. There is not going to be a passive generator on this class; and not just because we said so, it is because we tried it, and it made the gameplay fall apart in ways we didn't like.

We have made a very conscious effort to make sure that generators and spenders are part of the core of the class, and that you are doing these two things at different rates; and also corpses are a resource that you are generating so that you are using them. We try to design the skills accordingly, though. Like knowing that you have multiple things that you have to keep up with. So like the necromancer's resource generator, generates a lot of resource really fast; in some cases like Grim Scythe... two attacks in the middle of a pack, and your bar gets more than full.

Same with the corpse skill. We try to make it easy to consume many corpses at once; and if you just didn't want to deal with it, you have got things like Devour, where you push a button and all the corpses on the screen are gone. Alternatively, one of the ones that our guys love internally, they tell me is way cooler than the rest (even if I don't agree) is the Devour aura, because... ahh, I don't have to push a button now. That's cool, but you have to run to the corpse. So that is not all upside. There is a cost associated with that.

The desire to have builders and spenders and corpse skills is just always going to be part of the class. It is very deliberate, and there are certain exceptions, like if you are doing easy bounding clear content you would probably take the builder off your bar and use Devour; and if you are wearing the Plague Set, you probably don't need anything but Devour. You just run screen to screen pushing Devour and... like cascading Corpse Lances forward, and everything is dead; and all you have got to do is press Devour over and over, and that's fine.

But for any kind of high-level gameplay or Greater Rift-pushing, or forming co-op groups, you certainly you are going to want a better spender. Probably a Corpse skill, because the intent is that they are really powerful. So why would you leave any of it? We have all these corpses on the table. I have got to spend them. So yea, working as intended. Very much so.[/bluepost]

What legendary items for the necromancer are you most excited about and why? What was the most fun to work on so far?

[bluepost]Travis: Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... there is a lot. Sorry. My brain just went blank. We just finished getting all of them in this week, and we a lot of brainstorming the last couple of weeks. So my brain just melted.

Julian: And we don't know the name of them.

Brandy: Yea, they don't have final names necessarily.

Travis: The rings are bonkers-good; but my current favorite that we just put in is a ring, and it is kinda insane, and I am kinda worried about how awesome it is, but it is a ring that whenever you cast a curse, and curses enemies... it takes all of the enemies that were affected by curse, and pulls them to the center of where you cast the curse. So it is like a... range-targeted cyclone strike on a Legendary for your curses.

I was doing that with the Saint Set, and then I was using the Bone Armor that stuns guys when I cast it, and then we added (I think) another ring or weapon where your Bone skills deal a ton of extra damage to stunned enemies. So it is like... group them all together with the curse, cast Bone Armor (with the Bone set) which does a ton of damage and stuns them, and then I hit my Bone Nova which deals like 200% bonus damage to them because they were stunned; and then they were inside my whirlwind of death. So I have got more multipliers, and it was just bonkers. Like absolutely bonkers.

Julian: There is a hat, a ring, the boot. There is a helmet that when you Revive a bunch of monsters, instead of getting monsters from the batch of corpses, instead what happens is all of those corpses generate a one-single bad-ass Revive that is made more powerful based on the number of corpses you used to create it. I think it is a 100+ % additional damage. It is ridiculous. So you can make this really really insane Revive; and then of course, combo-ing that with other skills that purposely generate more corpses -- like the Revive rune that when it dies, it leaves more corpses; and then the Skeleton Mage rune that also generates corpses... now you have got all these corpse generators, and all are feeding this ridiculous Revive mechanic (from the helmet)... and for a pet player, that's just awesome.

Travis: Also, that helmet makes Land of the Dead really compelling for Revive -- which normally it is not, but when you can make 10 super powerful pets...

It is not easy to get a 100 corpses normally, but I just got 10 of these, and they just destroy everything. Yea, that's really good.[/bluepost]

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Will there be any armor pieces that are not set based? Do you have any items that will be added to the beta in that regard?

[bluepost]Travis: There are absolutely armor pieces that aren't part of a set. I want to say two for each slot, but don't quote me. I don't remember off hand. There is a lot of armor pieces that aren't set related, and then there is all sorts of jewelry, rings, weapons, off-hands, all of those that are non-set related; and you guys can cloth them next Tuesday. So you let us know how cool they are, or not. I think a lot of them are awesome.[/bluepost]

Blood-based skills are creating weird behavior, especially with the blood set. Vitality is deprioritized and players are trying to remove it from gear. The set doubling health feels pointless because it halves the potency of your regeneration skills while doubling the cost. Are there any plans to address this?

[bluepost]Travis: They absolutely are. This is one of the things we are talking a lot about this week that came up as a result of the PTR. You guys found some awesome builds. So theme of the blood set really was meant to be, you double your health pool, which does double your cost, so your cost is bigger, but at the same time you are like massively increasing your healing; and since all of the necromancer's blood skills are percent of health themed, it means that the bigger your health pool, the more HP effective health you get everytime you are using a health skill. The thing that has been done recently was again the passive we talk about previously, Blood is Power, was being used in a way that wasn't super great to effectively let people get to a 100% uptime immunity; which meant that the fact that their health bar was tiny wasn't really a problem, because you can't take damage other than spending your health. No big deal, and if you can't take damage then you want that bar to be really tiny, because it takes one tick to regen, and you are 100%, which is enough health to pay for a few more spells.

We are changing Blood is Power. It is just too good. It is still going to be themed around what it is themed now. It is just going to be done in a way that isn't completely out of control. Additionally, like I said, we are fixing the issue where the Bone Armor rune of invulnerability can refresh while it is still active; and as of today, we also decided to tweak some things for the Blood Set that makes it so that your healing mechanics don't drain the stacks as quickly. They are just better, you get more healing out of the stacks. So the idea is that the players have a lot of control over how high their stacks get, and if they get too high, or they don't feel comfortable with like 80% of your health bar per spell cast, you can spend a little time healing, which would then bring the stacks down, and you kind of have this ebb and flow where you are deciding how much health you want to spend on your skills.

The end result of all that hopefully is that when you can't be immune 100% of the time, you do not want to have 5 health, because if anything hits you, you die; and if that happens, your [sp] is going to fail because you are going to die a lot, and it is just not the right thing to do. We definitely want the theme of the Blood set to be about like having tons of health, healing for a whole lot, spending a lot of that health. We will continue to make adjustments over the rest of the beta, to try and bring it to that place.[/bluepost]

Land of the Dead, Army of the Dead, and Simulacrum seem like really long cooldowns for very little impact. Even in the Reanimation Set, I am not using the Army of the Dead very much. What are your overall feelings concerning these skills?

[bluepost]Travis: I use to get a lot of this feedback too, and to be fair, the first times that people have given that feedback, I was just like... well, it is a 2-minute skill, I don't even know how long a cooldown it has got to be, to be worth using in Diablo; and of the most recent beta patch, part of that a few weeks ago, I have actually done a pass on all of the 2-minute skills; because I had just picked the wrong tuning point. I made a mistake. Like Oh yea, the [sp] is this strong, and then teh things I was comparing them to were like 25-second cooldowns; and I just my brain blanked, I guess, that day; but things like Army of the Dead now do substantially more damage. I think the base on Army of the Dead is like 1400% which then sets and items make stronger.

Land of the Dead, we like doubled the duration on from 5 seconds to 10 seconds. It is kinda hard to act on that feedback, because when we get that kind of feedback it is like yea... they didn't literally killed everything on the screen when they pushed it, however there are also things like Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, or CBR stacking, there are other item interactions and set interactions (like the Pet Set), that dramatically reduces the cooldown of Army of the Dead, and we wanted to leave ourselves room to grow into those to the point where Army of the Dead is really good if you are using a Pet Set, and in fact, some of the items we just made like more than double how good Army of the Dead is going to be for example if you are doing that kind of build. The goal is that you build into this things. That you feel really impactful. You should feel really powerful, but they are going to get better with items and Legendaries, and Sets. So that was always kinda the goal.[/bluepost]

What has been the most challenging part about bringing the Necromancer class to Diablo III?

[bluepost]Julian: No question, corpses. Corpses was the most challenging thing by far. So we have never really intended or planned on having a corpse gameplay mechanic in Diablo III from the start, and so we had to find a way to sort of shoehorn that in into the Diablo III experience. One of the big problems that I think is kinda obvious is that we made a decision early on that when monsters die we wanted them to fly around, and in some ways we had to get rid of that in order to bring corpses back. So there was the problem of... wow, wait a minute, we need something reliably to stick around. There were server performance issues with having a bunch of new items on the screen, we got challenges in terms of console because you got 4-player co-op... hey, man... you just used my corpse. What's up with that?

Not all problems can be solved with couch co-op justice. So those were big problems there, and then the biggest one probably of all was rig and expectations around the corpses themselves in that when it was very important at one point for you to single out an individual corpse, that the corpse had to be the loudest thing visually onscreen, and that was bad for a game that already has visual loudness issues. So all of those things were really big hurdles that we had to gradually take on one at a time, and get to the place that we are right now, which is that we feel like it works really well, and doesn't feel like a thing that we shoehorned into the game.

We talked more about Revive as a challenge, but it isn't really a challenge. We never think about how many monsters we have got into the game, but internally, it is like 1,100+, from a data-standpoint. Not necessarily visually. So we had to literally pour over every single one of those. That is a different kind of challenge, but it is one that is easily defeated by a lot of people.[/bluepost]

Will Revive be able to raise a fallen ally in a party? Even if it is temporary.

[bluepost]Travis: No. (laughs) We had a long time ago, hey what if casting Reviving in non-Hardcore? What if casting Revive on your buddy's tombstone, which is like auto-revive them. It is cool. We might still do it, if we find have time leftover, but we have just been so focused on getting so much of this stuff done. Maybe. It would be cool, but...[/bluepost]

For the purposes of Obsidian Ring of the Zodiac, do Skeleton Mages and Command Skeleton count as resource spending attacks?

[bluepost]Travis: To my knowledge, yes. If they do not, it is a bug, and please report it. We are going to fix it.[/bluepost]

The Bone Armor-focused Set looks really interesting, but are you worried about its performance in fights against less than 10 enemies? Considering this seems meant to function as the Necro's tanking set.

[bluepost]Travis: It is one of the sets that has survivability built into it. The reason you are asking, if you find yourself where you die, your fight a Rift Guardian, you have to rebuild your stacks one at a time, it definitely sucks. That said, I think it is ok to have strengths and weakness for different sets. I think you have to play more cautiously, or adapt the way you are playing as a consequence of the fact, that this one does have a little more ramped uptime than the other set. That is probably fine. We may change it, but at the moment we have no intentions of changing it.[/bluepost]

Are you going to implement the Iron Golem from Diablo II?

[bluepost]Julian: We are not going to implement the Iron Golem from Diablo II. It is a little unfortunate, right? Because it is a really clear fantasy, it is really cool, the iron interaction is kinda interesting and tantalizing. It's something that you want to mess with, but it is also quite a big challenge to figure out how that was really going to work, having players walk around constantly looking at items that they could turn into golems, and taking them away from gameplay wasn't exactly a win. So from a fantasy standpoint, it was really interesting, and there is something there, but it just wasn't something that fit into Diablo III gameplay in the way that we would like, so we chased other fantasies.[/bluepost]

Did you consider to create Skeleton Mages as permanent active passive pets?

[bluepost]Julian: Yea. We did. In fact, we did that. Remember, when we showed it at BlizzCon, all we did was our very first version of Command Skeletons. Actually had 3 Mages. It was like 7 melee, and 3 Mage; but ultimately, we found a better opportunity for Skeleton Mage by pulling them out, and making them their own skill. This created different kind of playstyle opportunity. It is nice to have a pet that you have to manage. In fact, the early days, we had a lot of feedback of... hey, I want to have the skill that let me manage my army, and build and maintain it, and we didn't really have that. All we had was a golem, and command skeleton, which were permanent pets. So introducing this for Skeleton Mages, gave us that kind of more active management feel for the players who want it.[/bluepost]

Why is their hair white?

[bluepost]Julian: (whispers: artists! laughs) Well, it turns out this is a super hardcore legitimate reason for this, that is explained by lore; and I am not going to answer it today, because that is going to be answered in the future by some other media that we are going to release. So if I tell you today, it would be a huge spoiler. So you will have to wait for that one.[/bluepost]

Do you plan to fix the number tracker for the pets? Sometimes Skeletal Mages and Revived minions's icons are not showing on the UI.

[bluepost]Travis: Usually we have a tracker for Skeleton Mages. You should have a tracker for your Revive. Part of the reason you might not have seen it on a Revive sometimes is that, again, the Revive skill is still being finished; but yea, definitely. You should have: this is how many skeleton mages, this is how many Revives. That is information I need that is onscreen. If it is not there soon, we will make it there before we are done.[/bluepost]

Why dance around the concept and implementation of the classic Poison Nova skill with Death Nova and its runes instead of just putting Poison Nova in the game?

[bluepost]Julian: I am going to take the blame for that, but let me explain why that happened. For some classes in the game, which is really a good example, the damage type is the fantasy. So when we talked about fire damage on the Wizard, all the things that she does with fire absolutely integral with the fantasy of being a fire-wielder, and the same thing with frost and lightning. So it made it seem like the damage type and the fantasy are intrinsically linked; but that is not always true.

I will give you an example of how that is not true with the Witch Doctor. When you use Acid Cloud, for instance, we wanted you to melt dudes, because that is what acid does; and if it doesn't do that, then it doesn't feel really cool. Well, we didn't want to introduce a new damage type in the form of acid, because that is kinda bad for itemization that have a billion damage types. So what we did there is... alright, you can still melt dudes, it will still look like acid, but under the hood it is going to be poison. So how does this inform our decision around for doing this with the Necromancer? We didn't want to bring poison back as a fantasy for the Necromancer.

We didn't think it was very deep in Diablo II. We didn't like the idea of putting poison on a blade and stabbing guys one at a time. We didn't think that gameplay was fun. It really wasn't all that in-depth in the way it was presented in Diablo II. We also just-- I think from an art standpoint, I didn't really want nuclear green stuff all over the Necromancer, because that nuclear green poison stuff, that is the Witch Doctor. He already does all that. We want to push those classes apart. So instead, the theme we did like were things more like Death and Decay, and blighting is what we really ended up with. So once we decided that we liked blight as a theme, then the next question was what kind of damage type is it, and poison was the nearest thing that fit, and that is how we got there.

So it seems like we are dancing around it, but it is actually just that we are really chasing the fantasy first, and the damage type just second.[/bluepost]

Why is the Pestilence Masters' Shroud the Empowered Bone Spear Set? How does that tie in to the Necromancer's elements themes?

[bluepost]Travis: The Pestilence Master's Shroud is a set that is all about Corpse Lance and Bone Spear. Really when we got to that Set, we were looking at it, and we really wanted a set that was all about corpse skills in some fashion, and we also wanted to make sure that there was a set that was targeted to range-caster playstyle. So the fantasy more tie-in for us for like pestilence, plague, corpses... Ok, corpse set.

Also Bone Spear, because corpse skills plus casting is just sort of the vibe that we wanted. That said... because we said so.

Brandy: (laughs)[/bluepost]

What are the rewards you get by completing the Necro Set dungeons? How does that tie in with all the other Set dungeons?

[bluepost]Brandy: So the rewards that you get from the Necro Set dungeons are two brand-new pennants for the class. They are not related to the existing achievement for Set dungeons at all. So if you have already completed the full set to get the super awesome wings, that is not changing. You don't have to go and get the Necro in order to keep that achievement; or you don't have go get acquire the Necro to complete it (if you haven't completed it yet). It is just additive. So you have these two new pennants that you can go and collect, if you go and pick up the Necromancer pack. [/bluepost]

Nevalistis, Travis, and Julian: How do you plan on playing your Necromancers? Melee or Pets?

[bluepost]Travis: I am totally going to build the same Set build that I was telling you about. I was like... I slapped it all together, and I was like alright, let me try this and this, and OMG, if I curse them, and then I stun them, and then I explode them... holy shit! So I am definitely doing the same Set on launch. Assuming I get it before I get the other sets.

Brandy: For me it would probably be the Plague Set because the moment that I put that set on, and the corpse lances just started firing off I was giggling like a little girl at my desk. It was just ... so satisfying. It is a really visceral set. I really enjoyed that. So that is probably where I am going.

Julian: My first class in Diablo II was a Necromancer Pet build. Playing Hardcore right off the gate. I really wanted just to get through the satisfying vibe of the classic Diablo II Necromancer fantasy. So... pets![/bluepost]

Brandy: So that wraps it up for this Q&A. I want to thank you all for tuning in today, and hanging out with us; and for sending us your awesome awesome questions. We got through lots of stuff today. I am actually pretty impressed with all the things we talked about. All the different insights that maybe on things we don't necessarily get to see from time to time. So thank you guys for taking some time off your busy day. I know that you guys need to run back and hop right back in into the Necro stuff. The more Revives. Thanks for joining me today.

Travis: Thank you guys for tuning in.

Julian: Thanks!

Brandy: And we will see you guys next time. Bye!

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