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Developer Update — February 2011 Skill Balances

In this update, we're doing an extensive overhaul of the Dervish. We've taken a close look at this profession and determined that it has a lot of unique and interesting mechanics, ranging from avatar skills to enchantments that have end effects. However, these fun and original mechanics are hampered by cast times and long disables, making it hard to utilize this profession to its full potential. To address these problems and make the Dervish a truly great class, we've made major changes to nearly every skill he uses. This may seem overwhelming and confusing at first, but we feel that these changes will make the Dervish a much more enjoyable character to play, while emphasizing the types of skill interactions that defined him to begin with.

 

The Role of Dervish


We approached this update for the Dervish by first examining what role we'd like him to fulfill. At the moment, the Dervish fulfills a hodgepodge of roles, including melee fighter, condition applier, PBAoE spellcaster, and healer. However, none of these roles really defines the Dervish in the same way that "minion master" describes Necromancers or "nuker" describes Elementalists. When developing a defined role for the Dervish, we looked at what types of gameplay mechanics his skills tended to have. Of these mechanics, we determined which ones added value to parties in PvE and PvP.

After much thought and iteration, we settled on the idea of the Dervish as a "pressure" character who excels at dealing consistent damage and harassing multiple enemies. While he won't do as much direct damage to single targets as, say, an axe warrior, his overall damage across multiple targets will be much higher. Also unlike the Warrior, the Dervish is more vulnerable to Energy denial and enchantment removal, but less vulnerable to conditions. Because his defense comes in the form of enchantments and is more vulnerable to foes with removal, the Dervish has a couple of other offensive advantages: he's better at spreading conditions and has more enchantment-removal abilities. While the Dervish has many powerful abilities, many of his stronger skills are "teardown" abilities, skills which remove an enchantment in order to get a stronger effect.


 

Mysticism


Mysticism: changed functionality to: "Each rank in Mysticism reduces the cost of your Dervish enchantments by 4%. You have +1 armor per rank of Mysticism while you are enchanted."

The Mysticism attribute is a key element of our change to Dervish. It's former implementation supported the idea of removing enchantments to gain a benefit, but made it difficult to manage Energy. Moving the Energy savings from the end to the front of the enchantment simplifies the overall play of the Dervish. It also allows players to focus on removing enchantments because they want the effect, not because they need the Energy for another spell. This change prevents the problem of accidentally recasting an enchantment before it ends, thereby losing the Energy gain entirely. In addition, it stops the Energy management unpredictability that occurs when dealing with enemies who can strip your enchantments.

We've also replaced the Health bonus on Mysticism with an armor bonus. Even with enchantments, the old Dervish was a little too squishy for a character intended to fight on the front lines. This small boost to armor allows him the survivability he needs and emphasizes his reliance on enchantments. While the Dervish does have many skills that remove his own enchantments, the volume of his enchantments should be enough to keep him enchanted most of the time.


 

Avatars


The avatar skills are unique to the Dervish profession and help define its identity. Previously, however, their effects were so strong that they needed to have a long disable time; this made them difficult to use. We decided that these skills would be much more fun if they could be maintained permanently. We adjusted their effects accordingly, to keep them balanced against the fact that they cannot be removed. Additionally, we gave all of them unique active effects that require teardown to use, making the play they provide much more dynamic overall.

All avatars: decreased Energy cost to 5; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; decreased disable time to 45 seconds.
Avatar of Balthazar: changed functionality to: "Elite Form. For 10...90 seconds, you gain +20 armor against physical damage, you gain adrenaline 33% faster, your attacks deal holy damage, and whenever you lose a Dervish enchantment, nearby foes are set on fire for 5 seconds. This skill is disabled for 45 seconds."
Avatar of Dwayna: changed functionality to: "Elite Form. For 10...90 seconds, your attacks deal holy damage. Whenever you cast a Dervish enchantment, you lose 1 hex. Whenever you lose a Dervish enchantment, all allies in earshot are healed for 5...50 Health. This skill is disabled for 45 seconds."
Avatar of Dwayna (PvP): changed functionality to: "Elite Form. For 10...90 seconds, you deal holy damage with attacks. Whenever you cast a Dervish enchantment you lose 1 hex. Whenever you lose a Dervish enchantment, you are healed for 5...50 Health. This skill is disabled for 45 seconds."
Avatar of Grenth: changed functionality to: "Elite Form. For 10...90 seconds, your scythe attacks deal dark damage and steal 0...15 Health. You are immune to Disease and inflict Disease on all adjacent foes for 5 seconds whenever you lose a Dervish enchantment. This skill is disabled for 45 seconds."
Avatar of Grenth (PvP): merged with PvE version; this skill now functions the same in PvE and PvP.
Avatar of Lyssa: changed functionality to: "Elite Form. For 10...90 seconds, your Dervish enchantments recharge 50% faster and your attacks deal chaos damage. Whenever you lose a Dervish enchantment, steal 1 Energy from all nearby foes. This skill is disabled for 45 seconds."
Avatar of Melandru: changed functionality to: "Elite Form. For 10...90 seconds, you have +150 Health, +30 elemental armor, and your attacks deal earth damage. Whenever you lose a Dervish enchantment, all party members in earshot lose 1 condition. This skill is disabled for 45 seconds."
Avatar of Melandru (PvP): changed functionality to: "Elite Form. For 10...90 seconds, you have +100 Health, +30 elemental armor, and your attacks deal earth damage. Whenever you lose a Dervish enchantment you lose 2 conditions. This skill is disabled for 45 seconds.

Avatar skills like Balthazar and Melandru—previously providing only passive bonuses—were given active effects that require skill usage to activate them. Additionally, avatar forms that previously affected only the Dervish now have effects that benefit the party or send negative effects to enemies; this is true for the avatars of Dwayna and Grenth respectively. Because some of the party-wide effects (specifically those from the Dwayna and Melandru avatars) are very powerful, they were split for PvP and only apply their effects to the Dervish in these formats. Our testing revealed that stacking damage with Elementalist conjure spells was a little too effective in conjunction with some avatars, so we've also given each avatar themed damage-types to prevent this.


 

Enchantment Teardown Combos


Since their release, Dervishes have used enchantments to fuel other skills. A major focus with this update was addressing problems with this "teardown" style of play. The dynamic of tearing down enchantments for bonus effects can be fun, but is contingent on two factors: The first factor is that having the enchantments go up must not interfere with combat. The second is that enchantment removal skills must feel sufficiently powerful to compensate for the lost enchantment.

Flash enchantments: a flash enchantment has no casting time or aftercast, but disables all other flash enchantments for 1 second when cast.

To address the casting speed, we've made several of the Dervish enchantments into "flash enchantments." This new type of enchantment can be cast while moving and between attacks, but is otherwise identical to regular enchantment spells. They cannot be cast while knocked down or while activating other skills, and enchantment removal skills like Shatter Enchantment will still remove them. Flash enchantments disable other flash enchantments for a brief duration when they are cast; this paces the stacking of enchantments and prevents compressed damage spikes.

To improve the power level of the teardown combo, we had to look at both the teardown skills and the enchantments that were being torn down.

Creating Effective Teardown Skills

Enchantment-removal skills: enchantment-removal skills now only remove Dervish enchantments. Dervish enchantments are now indicated by a blue border in your effects monitor.

While removing enchantments is a fun mechanic, its enjoyability and effectiveness depend on having enough control to remove the enchantment you want when you want it. By limiting removal skills to Dervish-only enchantments, there is less risk of removing a beneficial enchantment and less risk of having your desired enchantment blocked by having another enchantment put on you. Changing the colors on the enchantment borders helps you recognize at a glance if you have enough fuel for your next teardown skill. This is especially useful in the heat of combat, when you may have multiple effects on your character at the same time.

Because limiting removal skills to only Dervish enchantments makes them harder to use, we've increased the power of some of them to compensate.

Pious Concentration: now only removes Dervish enchantments.
Pious Fury: changed functionality to: "Remove 1 Dervish enchantment. For 1...7 seconds, you attack 33% faster. If an enchantment was removed, this stance lasts twice as long."
Pious Haste: changed functionality to: "You remove 1 Dervish enchantment and for 1...7 seconds you move 25% faster. If an enchantment was removed you run 50% faster instead."
Pious Restoration: now removes only Dervish enchantments; decreased number of hexes removed to 1...2.
Signet of Pious Light: now removes only Dervish enchantments; increased healing to 30...150; now recharges 75% faster if an enchantment was removed.
Signet of Pious Restraint: now removes only Dervish enchantments; now recharges 75% faster if an enchantment was removed; now Cripples nearby foes in addition to your target, if an enchantment was removed.
Signet of Pious Restraint (PvP): now removes only Dervish enchantments; now recharges 75% faster if an enchantment was removed.
Rending Touch: changed attribute to Mysticism; changed functionality to: "Deals 15...65 cold damage to target foe. You lose 1 Dervish enchantment. If an enchantment was removed, target foe loses 1 enchantment and you gain 1 strike of adrenaline."
Winds of Disenchantment: increased Energy cost to 10; now removes only Dervish enchantments; decreased recharge to 15 seconds.

Along with these skills, we've also made changes to scythe attacks which remove enchantments. Many of these skills now provide valuable utility in addition to the attack itself.

Eremite's Attack: increased recharge to 6 seconds; removed fast activation; changed functionality to: "If it hits, this attack deals +1...10 damage and removes a Dervish enchantment. If an enchantment is removed, you do an additional +1...10 damage and strike all adjacent foes."
Eremite's Attack (PvP): merged with PvE version; this skill now functions the same in PvE and PvP.
Irresistible Sweep: increased recharge to 6 seconds; changed functionality to: "Scythe Attack. Deal +3...15 damage and lose 1 Dervish enchantment. If you lose an enchantment in this way, Irresistible Sweep cannot be blocked, removes a stance, and deals +3...15 additional damage."
Irresistible Sweep (PvP): removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 5 strikes; removed recharge; changed functionality to: "Scythe Attack. Deal +3...15 damage and lose 1 Dervish enchantment. If you lose an enchantment in this way, Irresistible Sweep cannot be blocked and removes a stance."
Pious Assault: decreased Energy cost to 5; changed functionality to: "If it hits, this attack deals +10...20 damage and removes 1 Dervish enchantment. If a Dervish enchantment was removed, this skill recharges 75% faster and adjacent foes take 10...30 damage."
Pious Assault (PvP): decreased Energy cost to 5; changed functionality to: "You lose 1 Dervish enchantment. If a Dervish enchantment was removed, this skill recharges 75% faster and adjacent foes take 10...30 damage."
Rending Sweep: removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 6 strikes; changed functionality to: "Scythe Attack. You deal +5...20 damage and lose 1 Dervish enchantment. If an enchantment was lost, you remove an enchantment from each foe you hit."
Twin Moon Sweep: removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 7 strikes; removed recharge; changed functionality to: "You lose 1 Dervish enchantment and gain 10...50 Health. If an enchantment is lost in this way, you cannot be blocked, you strike twice, and you gain an additional 10...70 Health."
Twin Moon Sweep (PvP): removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 7 strikes; removed recharge; changed functionality to: "You lose 1 Dervish enchantment and gain 10...20 Health. If an enchantment is lost in this way, you cannot be blocked, you strike twice, and you gain an additional 10...30 Health."
Wearying Strike: removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 5 strikes; removed recharge; changed functionality to: "Scythe Attack. You remove 1 Dervish enchantment. If an enchantment was removed, you inflict a Deep Wound for 3...10 seconds. You suffer from Weakness for 10 seconds if an enchantment is not removed."
Wounding Strike: changed functionality to: "If this attack hits, you do +5...20 damage, target foe suffers from Bleeding for 5...20 seconds, and you lose 1 Dervish enchantment. If an enchantment was removed, target foe also suffers from a Deep Wound for 5...20 seconds."

Eremite's attack is now a circular attack that sacrifices an enchantment. Irresistible Sweep gains utility in its ability to remove stances. Pious Assault had its Deep Wound removed to become a skill that can rapidly tear down enchantments for AoE damage. Rending Sweep's difficult hex condition was replaced with an easier enchantment-removal condition. Twin Moon Sweep keeps its Health gain, but is now unblockable and heals for more Health. Wearying Strike and Wounding Strike both require removal now, since Deep Wound is a strong condition Dervishes can apply to multiple targets. Most of these attack skills have unconditional effects as well, so failing to remove an enchantment is not quite as bad.

Creating Effective Teardown Enchantments

Teardown skills also require strong enchantments to power them. In addition to changing many enchantments to flash enchantments—which makes them easier to combo with—we've also improved the effectiveness of others by making their ending effects more powerful. Because the damage on many of these enchantments was intended primarily to make up for the casting time, we've seen fit to lower or even remove the flat damage on some of these skills. Many enchantments also had their recharges lowered so that they'll be available when you need teardown skills. The Energy cost was raised in response to this change, to prevent spamming. However, the changes to Mysticism and the addition of adrenaline skills should prevent any major Energy problems when using Dervish primaries.

Aura of Thorns: changed to flash enchantment; decreased recharge to 10 seconds.
Balthazar's Rage: changed to flash enchantment; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "All nearby foes are set on fire for 1...3 seconds. For 20 seconds afterward, this enchantment does nothing. When this enchantment ends, you gain 1...2 strikes of adrenaline if any foes are within earshot."

This update added adrenaline costs to the Dervish skills, so we felt it would be useful to have a skill that boosts adrenaline gain. Since Balthazar's Rage had a somewhat weak effect anyway, we decided this would work for that purpose.

Dust Cloak: changed to flash enchantment; decreased damage to 10...40; decreased Blindness duration to 1...4 seconds; decreased recharge to 6 seconds.
Eremite's Zeal: decreased activation time to 1/4 second; increased recharge to 15 seconds; changed functionality to: "You gain 1...3 Energy for each foe within earshot, maximum 8 Energy. For 10 seconds afterward, this enchantment does nothing. When this enchantment ends, you gain 1...3 Energy for each foe within earshot, maximum 8 Energy."

While it is not a flash enchantment, the strong Energy management provided by the new Eremite's Zeal makes it a valuable teardown skill; it can be used to power one teardown skill, while giving you Energy for another.

Grenth's Fingers: changed to flash enchantment; decreased Energy cost to 5; changed functionality to: "Flash Enchantment Spell. All nearby foes are struck for 10...40 cold damage. For 30 seconds, your attacks deal cold damage. When this enchantment ends, you transfer 1...2 conditions to all nearby foes."

Grenth's Fingers was a poor skill due to its casting time and somewhat weak end effect. We made it a flash enchantment for easier use and changed the end condition to make it more desirable for condition management.

Guiding Hands: increased Energy cost to 10, decreased recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 20 seconds, your next 0...3 attacks cannot be blocked. When activated, this skill removes the Blindness condition."
Guiding Hands (PvP): split for PvP; increased Energy cost to 10, changed functionality to: "For 20 seconds, your next 0...3 attacks cannot be blocked. When activated, this skill removes the Blindness condition."

Guiding Hands was rather powerful, but needed more of an effect to warrant a slot on most bars. Blindness removal seemed to fit the bill and worked well with the name of the skill. Guaranteed hits are dangerous in PvP, however, so we left the recharge the same in the split version.

Heart of Holy Flame: changed to flash enchantment; increased Burning duration to 2...5 seconds; decreased holy damage to 5...30; decreased recharge to 10 seconds.
Lyssa's Haste: changed to flash enchantment; increased Energy cost to 10; changed functionality to: "Enchantment Spell. For 3...15 seconds, your Dervish enchantments recharge 33% faster. When you activate this enchantment, all adjacent foes are interrupted. When this enchantment ends, all adjacent foes are interrupted. 50% failure chance unless Wind Prayers 5 or higher."

Dervishes have a large number of skills that boost run speed (more about this in a later section), so Lyssa's Haste seemed like a good candidate for reworking to provide more utility.

Mirage Cloak: changed to flash enchantment; decreased Energy cost to 10; decreased duration to 1...7 seconds; increased recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 1...7 seconds, you have a 40...80% chance to block incoming attacks. When you cast this enchantment, all nearby foes are struck for 10...40 earth damage."

Mirage Cloak is a good skill that was limited mainly by its overly-high Energy cost. We reduced this cost and added a recharge to make it more usable in general. The damage on this skill was moved to the front in order to prevent spikes through damage compression, and the block chance now scales, requiring investment in Earth Prayers.

Sand Shards: changed to flash enchantment; increased Energy cost to 10; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 30 seconds, the next 1...5 times you hit with a scythe, all other adjacent foes take 10...60 earth damage."

We are reworking Sand Shards to fulfill a more PvE-oriented role—similar to Splinter Weapon. This will enhance the AoE capabilities of the Dervish. The previous functionality of Sand Shards has been moved to Mystic Sandstorm, with a few changes that are discussed later.

Staggering Force: changed to flash enchantment; decreased recharge to 6 seconds; changed functionality to: "All nearby foes are struck for 10...40 earth damage. For 30 seconds, your attacks deal earth damage. When this enchantment ends, all nearby foes have Cracked Armor for 1...10 seconds."

Staggering Force was another somewhat weak enchantment that we felt could provide more utility. In this case, it provides Cracked Armor when it is removed.

Zealous Renewal: decreased Energy cost to 5; reduced recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "All nearby foes take 5...30 holy damage. For 5...25 seconds, you have -1 Energy regeneration and gain 1 Energy whenever you hit a foe. If this enchantment ends prematurely, you gain 1...5 Energy."

As an Energy-management skill, Zealous Renewal was poor, due to its delayed effect. We've changed it to provide Energy for attacking, and we gave it a small refund at the end if you remove it. This second change allows it to be used as a teardown enchantment and as Energy management.


 

Scythe Utility


The scythe is already a unique weapon, possessing the ability to hit multiple foes at once. We noticed, however, that this weapon enjoys much more popularity in classes other than Dervish, due to its high critical damage and the high bonus damage from skills. When professions like Assassin or Warrior use the scythe, they can use their primary attributes to get much more damage out of it than a primary Dervish. Similarly, Rangers wielding scythes can use attack skills more frequently due to Expertise. We've made several changes to address this discrepancy.

Scythe critical hits: reduced the amount of damage done by scythe critical hits.
Scythe attack speed: increased scythe attack speed.
Adrenaline cost: many scythe skills now cost adrenaline instead of Energy.
Scythe bonus damage: scythe attacks that do not remove an enchantment have had their bonus damage reduced or their functionality changed.

To reduce some of the effectiveness of Assassins using scythes, we have decreased the critical hit modifier. This puts more emphasis on having high Scythe Mastery to do damage, rather than on high critical hit chance. To keep the average damage the same, we've increased the speed of normal scythe attacks. Overall, this means that the Dervish will do slightly more damage per second than before, but the damage will be more consistent and less prone to large spikes of damage in short periods of time. The change to adrenaline cost and the lower damage on non-teardown scythe attacks prevent Rangers from spamming scythe attacks that do high-bonus damage at low cost. They also put more emphasis on enchantment use with scythes, an area in which Dervishes have an advantage due to Mysticism.

Aura Slicer: changed attribute to Mysticism; removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 4 strikes; changed functionality to: "Melee Attack. If this attack hits, you inflict Bleeding for 5...15 seconds. If you are enchanted, you also inflict Cracked Armor for 1...10 seconds."

Giving Cracked Armor to Dervishes allows them to be more effective in high-level PvE, while simultaneously making them unique as a melee class. By moving the skill to Mysticism, the Dervish gains a unique advantage when using a scythe. While the Dervish has two other ways to inflict Cracked Armor, these spells are prohibitively expensive without Mysticism and are ineffective without another skill to remove them.

Banishing Strike: changed attribute to Mysticism; decreased activation time to 1 second; decreased recharge to 3 seconds; change functionality to: "If it hits, this attack deals 10...60 holy damage. It deals double damage to summoned creatures."
Banishing Strike (PvP): changed attribute to Mysticism; decreased recharge to 3 seconds; changed functionality to: "If it hits, this attack deals 10...60 holy damage. It deals double damage to summoned creatures."

Banishing Strike isn't very useful outside of dealing with the occasional spirit spammer or minion master foe in PvE. We've adjusted this skill to be a flat-damage holy damage attack. It activates faster than normal, making it useful even when not attacking summoned creatures. Because the damage ignores armor, this skill can also help the Dervish deal damage in hard mode, where enemy armor is high. This skill is split, since an armor-ignoring, fast-activating attack is a dangerous spike tool in PvP.

Chilling Victory: cremoved Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 6 strikes; changed functionality to: "Scythe Attack. If it hits, this attack strikes for +3...15 damage. For each foe hit who has less Health than you, that foe and all adjacent foes are struck for 10...30 cold damage."
Chilling Victory (PvP): merged with PvE version; this skill now functions the same in PvE and PvP.

Chilling Victory is a fun and powerful Dervish skill, but the Energy cost made it difficult to use. We switched this skill to use adrenaline, to better manage Energy and meter its usage in combat. To emphasize the Dervish ability to deal AoE damage, we toned down the single-target damage that this skill deals, but allowed it to deal its damage multiple times for each foe hit. If it's used in a group of foes, it will do considerably more damage than the old version. Because of these changes, we are comfortable removing the previous PvP split on this skill.

Crippling Sweep: changed functionality to: "Scythe Attack. If this attack hits a foe, that foe is Crippled for 3...12 seconds. This skill deals +10...30 extra damage if that foe is moving."

Reducing damage on scythe critical hits made it less threatening to run from a Dervish. We preserved some of that threat by adding bonus damage against moving targets to this skill. Dervishes are now encouraged to remove their enchantments more often, so we also removed scaling Cripple duration.

Crippling Victory: removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 5 strikes; changed functionality to: "If this attack hits a foe, that foe is Crippled for 3...8 seconds. If you have more Health than target foe, all adjacent foes are also Crippled and take 10...30 earth damage."

This skill only inflicted Cripple, which we thought made it a little lackluster. So we added some extra AoE damage and the chance to Cripple multiple foes, giving this skill more appeal.

Lyssa's Assault: decreased Energy cost to 5; decreased activation time to 1/2 second; increased recharge to 15 seconds; changed functionality to: "Scythe Attack. This attack interrupts an action if it hits. If you are enchanted, any skill you interrupt is disabled for an additional 1...10 seconds. This attack does 50% of normal damage."

Interrupts are an important utility skill that Dervishes lack when compared to other martial classes. Because we made so many improvements to the Dervish's Energy management, this skill's old functionality became less useful; therefore, we reworked the skill to give Dervishes a utility interrupt.

Radiant Scythe: removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 6 strikes; removed recharge; changed functionality to: "This attack strikes for +1 damage for each point of Energy you currently have, maximum 5...30 damage. You gain 1...7 Energy if this attack hits."

Radiant Scythe is a great fit for an adrenaline scythe skill. Still with good damage, and now with an Energy gain, Radiant Scythe provides a combination of killing power and utility.

Reap Impurities: removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 4 strikes; removed recharge; changed functionality to "Scythe Attack. If this attack hits, you deal +3...15 damage. Each foe you hit loses 1 condition. For each foe who loses a condition, all foes adjacent to that target foe take 10...40 holy damage."

With a high cost and weak conditional healing, Reap Impurities was difficult to use without proper planning and setup. To give it more interesting play, we changed the cost to adrenaline and modified the functionality to play off of conditions inflicted by flash enchantments.

Victorious Sweep: decreased damage to +5...25.

As mentioned earlier, we reduced the damage on non-teardown scythe attacks to focus the Dervish character less on burst damage. Especially in conjunction with the faster attack speed on scythes, we didn't want the damage on skills like this one to overshadow the power of teardown combos.

Zealous Sweep: added the following functionality: "You gain 1 strike of adrenaline for each foe you hit."

Zealous Sweep is already a skill that encourages striking more than one foe. This fits in nicely with our goals for Dervish. Adding adrenaline gain to this skill helps it fit in better with the Dervish's new types of attack skills.


 

Improving Unwieldy Skills


Dervishes have several skills that are difficult to use and difficult to apply well in combat. In many cases, this is due to restrictions on the skill that prevent it from being too powerful. However, some skills are unwieldy due simply to their functionality. We addressed some of these skills in the earlier section on teardown enchantments and scythe attacks, but other skills can also be improved to support the role we envision for the Dervish.

Ebon Dust Aura: changed to flash enchantment; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; changed duration to 20 seconds; changed functionality to: "When you cast this enchantment, all nearby foes are Blinded for 1...7 seconds. For 20 seconds, if you are wielding an earth weapon, your melee attacks deal +5...20 earth damage. When this enchantment ends, you are cured of Blindness."

Ebon Dust Aura has historically been a difficult skill to balance, due to its power of continually Blinding an opponent. We've changed this skill to be an elite version of Dust Cloak, which also boosts the damage of attacks while wielding an earth weapon. This makes it into a versatile teardown enchantment that cannot output the same overwhelming amount of Blind as the older version.

Grenth's Aura: changed to flash enchantment; decreased Energy cost to 10; increased duration to 20 seconds; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 20 seconds, you deal 5...25 less damage and steal 5...25 Health whenever you hit with a scythe attack. When you cast this enchantment you steal 5...25 Health from all adjacent foes."

With the abundance of enchantment-removal skills that Dervishes possess and the difficulty of finding a good balance for this skill in the past, we felt it was necessary to rework Grenth's Aura into a more useful skill. In keeping with the theme of Grenth, this skill now provides life-stealing abilities for the Dervish. This should help with survival, as well as providing some armor-ignoring damage in high-level PvE. To prevent abuse daggers, which have low damage and fast attack rates, this skill only works with scythes.

Heart of Fury: changed skill type to stance; removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 4 strikes; removed recharge; changed functionality to: "For 2...12 seconds, you attack 25% faster."

Previously, Heart of Fury was trying to do too much. As a simple stance that increases attack speed, it can act as a staple skill for many Dervish bars. Because of the increase in attack speed for scythes in general, it was necessary to limit the Dervish to only 25% increased attack speed.

Pious Renewal: changed to flash enchantment; changed functionality to: "For 8 seconds, nothing happens. When this enchantment ends, Pious Renewal is recharged and you gain 0...5 Energy and 0...30 Health."

Pious Renewal is a difficult skill to use, so we reworked it as a flash enchantment that can be used as an infinite feeder enchantment for teardown skills.

Shield of Force: changed to flash enchantment; increased Energy cost to 10; changed functionality to: "Enchantment Spell. For 1...16 seconds, blocks the next 1 attack against you. If an attack is blocked, all adjacent attacking foes are knocked down and suffer from Weakness for 5...20 seconds."

Shield of Force had some promise as a defensive skill, but its cast time made it impractical to use on demand. This change improved the effect of the skill for knockdown and Weakness, to give the Dervish a quick breather from all attacking foes.

Veil of Thorns: changed to flash enchantment; increased duration to 5...25; decreased recharge to 15 seconds; changed functionality to: "When you cast this enchantment, all nearby foes are struck for 5...50 piercing damage. For 5...25 seconds, you take 5...35% less damage from spells."

This skill has a decent synergy with Armor of Sanctity, but generally there is little reason to Cripple a foe who is already attacking you. Because of this, we've reworked Veil of Thorns to provide defense against spellcasters.

Vow of Piety: changed skill type to enchantment; added activation time of 1/4 second.

With Heart of Fury changing to a stance, it became impractical to maintain this skill while still having access to faster attack speed. As a result, we altered this skill to be an enchantment.

Vow of Strength: increased recharge to 20 seconds; changed functionality to: "Elite Enchantment Spell. For 15 seconds, whenever you attack a foe with your scythe, you deal 10...25 slashing damage to all adjacent foes."

To support Dervish presence in elite areas, we changed Vow of Strength to be more like Hundred Blades. Their duration and recharge are not the same, however; this reflects the difference between an unremovable buff skill and an enchantment.


 

Enchantment Complexity


The Dervish class centers on enchantments; this makes it difficult to use skills that require you to be not enchanted and skills which tear down all of your enchantments. This problem can also go the opposite direction with skills that require many enchantments to be effective. We already addressed the issue of skill-removal enchantments being difficult to use, but we also wanted to improve the functionality of these other types of skills.

Changing Skills that Limit Enchantment Use

Extend Enchantments: changed skill type to skill; removed activation time; decreased recharge to 10 seconds, changed functionality to: "For 10 seconds, your next Dervish enchantment lasts 10...150% longer."

The double loss of all enchantments on this skill made it viable in a very small set of situations. We reworked the skill as a simple buff that increases the length of your next enchantment. Because this has potential for abuse when used with skills like Shadowform and Spell Breaker, we limited its use to Dervish enchantments only.

Meditation: increased recharge to 20 seconds; increased Energy cost to 10; decreased activation time to 1/4 second; changed functionality to: "Enchantment Spell. Lose all adrenaline. For 20 seconds, you gain 1...4 Energy every time an enchantment on you ends."

The Dervish already has several strong options for healing, so we decided to rework this skill entirely. We put the Energy gain from old Mysticism on this skill to support some of the more niche spellcaster Dervish builds.

Natural Healing: increased casting time to 2 seconds; increased recharge to 6 seconds; changed functionality to: "You are healed for 30...150 Health. If you are not enchanted, this spell activates 50% faster."

Natural Healing provided less healing while enchanted; this disadvantage held it back from being a viable skill. We switched the disadvantage to its casting time, allowing it to still be used reliably when you are enchanted. While we don't expect this skill to see a lot of use on mainstream Dervish builds, it now has a place on niche builds and builds which use Dervish as a secondary profession.

Simplifying "Mystic" Skills

Making enchantment removal a fun play-style was difficult, considering that several Dervish skills scale their power based on the number of enchantments you have. This means that you often don't want to remove enchantments because that makes another skill less powerful. Several Mystic skills now have improved functionality if you are enchanted, rather than improving based on the number of enchantments you have. This change has the additional benefit of not loading down the Dervish's skill bar with enchantments just for the sake of boosting other skills--and it lets us give these skills more utility. We did not change all skills in this way, however, as some Mystic skills were not losing out on usage because of scaling.

Mystic Corruption: changed to flash enchantment; increased Energy cost to 10; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "All adjacent foes suffer from Disease for 1...3 seconds. For 20 seconds, nothing happens. Disease duration is doubled if you are enchanted when you activate this skill. When this enchantment ends, all party members in earshot are cured of Disease."

Extending the duration of conditions usually has questionable benefits, so we reworked Mystic Corruption to inflict a condition.

Mystic Healing: increased recharge to 4 seconds; changed functionality to: "Heals you for 5...65 Health and all enchanted party members for 5...65 Health."
Mystic Healing (PvP): Increased recharge to 20 seconds; changed functionality to: "You are healed for 5...65 Health. Also heals all enchanted party members for 5...65 Health."

Mystic Healing is now easier to use as a party healing enchantment without loading your bar down with other enchantments. The strength of party healing needs to be closely regulated in PvP, so we decided to split this skill.

Mystic Sandstorm: removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 5 strikes; increased casting time to 1; changed functionality to: "Create a Sandstorm at your location that lasts 3 seconds. Each second, foes nearby this location take 10...20 earth damage. Attacking foes take an additional 10...20 earth damage. If you are enchanted when you cast this spell, it lasts twice as long."

The condition of losing all your enchantments makes this skill unusable in most situations. We provided this skill with a stronger functionality than the old Sand Shards to make it a viable damage-over-time skill for the Dervish. Being enchanted when you cast this skill simply increases its duration.

Mystic Sweep: changed attribute to Mysticism; increased activation time to 1 second; increased recharge to 6 seconds; changed functionality to: "If this attack hits, you deal +3...12 damage. If you are enchanted, this attack deals an additional +3...12 damage."

Mystic Sweep was changed to only require one enchantment for a bonus effect. It was moved to Mysticism to prevent abuse on other classes.

Mystic Twister: removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 5 strikes; decreased recharge to 8 seconds; changed functionality to: "Deals 10...60 cold damage to all nearby foes. If you are enchanted, this spell deals an additional +10...60 cold damage."

Instead of having Mystic Twister count targets based on the number of enchantments you've got on you, we changed the effect to rely on a single enchantment for extra damage. We also lowered the radius to keep this skill balanced.

Mystic Vigor: increased healing to 3...15 per enchantment.

Mystic Vigor didn't need many changes in order to make it a strong skill; simply increasing Health per enchantment was enough to make it more useful.


 

Improving Build Diversity


Wind Prayers is full of skills which increase running speed, but the run-speed cap makes it undesirable to use more than one. Additionally, this attribute line has several redundant skills for Crippling foes and removing enchantments. This causes competition between many of Wind Prayer's skills. We changed the functionality of these skills to give the Dervish greater utility and reduce some inter-attribute competition. On the other hand, a large discrepancy exists between the Earth Prayers and Wind Prayers lines: Earth ends up generally being more useful in PvE, whereas Wind is generally more useful in PvP. This happens because most Dervish defensive skills are in Earth, but Wind has most of the run boosts. We adjusted skills in each line to provide some functionality from the other line, making it easier to try a different line while retaining the most important functionality in your build.

Attacker's Insight: increased Energy cost to 10; decreased duration to 3...10 seconds; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 3...10 seconds you have a 50% chance to block while attacking. When this enchantment ends, you inflict Weakness on all adjacent foes for 3...15 seconds."

With the change to Lyssa's Assault and other 10 Energy Dervish attack skills, Attacker's Insight lost much of its original purpose. We reworked this skill to be a blocking option in Wind Prayers. To prevent overly defensive play with this skill and skills like Armor of Sanctity and Shield of Force, we made the radius adjacent, not nearby. This should make it harder to offensively apply Weakness to foes with these skills.

Conviction: decreased duration to 10 seconds; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 10 seconds, you have +10 armor if you have a condition and gain 1...3 Health regen for each condition you have. When this enchantment ends, you are cured of 1...2 conditions."
Conviction (PvP): merged with PvE version; this skill now functions the same in PvE and PvP.

With the change to Grenth's Fingers, Wind Prayers gained a strong anti-condition skill. Because Earth already has a good block skill in Mirage Cloak, we reworked Conviction and merged its versions. Now the skill is useful when facing many conditions.

Enchanted Haste: removed attribute dependence; changed to flash enchantment; decreased duration to 8 seconds; increased Energy cost to 10; changed functionality: "For 8 seconds, you move 25% faster. If this enchantment ends prematurely, you lose 1 condition."

Along with being another run boost in Wind Prayers, Enchanted Haste was also another skill that encouraged you not to remove enchantments. We reworked this skill to be a generic run boost that also provides some condition defense.

Eternal Aura: increased casting time to 4 seconds; changed Energy cost to 15; changed to infinite duration; changed functionality to: "You have +100 max Health. When this enchantment ends, all party members in the area are resurrected with 40...50% Health and 20...30% Energy."

Now that avatar skills can be maintained without Eternal Aura, we changed this skill to provide a unique function for Dervish. This skill now automatically resurrects all party members if you die, as well as providing a teardown option for earlier resurrection.

Fleeting Stability: changed to flash enchantment; decreased Energy cost to 5; changed functionality to: "For 2...7 seconds, you cannot be knocked down and move 25% faster. This enchantment ends prematurely if it prevents a knockdown."

Self-knockdown skills are difficult to justify in a bar, even when they can be prevented. This change adds a valuable run-speed skill to the Earth Prayers line and removes the skill's previous downside.

Grenth's Grasp: changed to flash enchantment; decreased Cripple duration to 1...11; added the following functionality: "Transfers 1 condition from you to your foe."

While Grenth's Grasp had a few strong builds behind it, it needed to do more than just Cripple to qualify as a strong Elite skill. We added a small amount of utility, in the same theme as Grenth's Fingers, to encourage the use of this skill.

Harrier's Grasp: changed to flash enchantment; decreased duration to 5...20 seconds; decreased recharge to 15 seconds; added the following functionality: "When you cast this spell, you lose Cripple and 1 other condition."

Harrier's Grasp was one more in a long list of redundant Dervish Crippling skills. While its name lent itself to acting as a Cripple, the skill needed more appeal. As a flash enchantment with a shorter recharge and Cripple removal, this skill is now much more viable for chasing a fleeing foe.

Harrier's Haste: changed to flash enchantment; decreased duration to 3...12 seconds; increased Energy cost to 10; decreased bonus damage against moving foes to 3...12; decreased recharge to 10 seconds;

Harrier's Haste was already sufficiently interesting; we left its functionality alone. However, we switched it to a flash enchantment, making it a viable feeder enchantment for a teardown skill after chasing down a target.

Intimidating Aura: changed attribute to Mysticism; changed functionality to: "For 60 seconds you have +40...100 max Health and take 1...10 less damage from foes with less Health than you."

With revisions to Rending Touch, Winds of Disenchantment, and Rending Sweep, we thought Intimidating Aura could use some work to provide a different type of use for Dervish. As a long-lasting enchantment, this new version of the skill works defensively to improve Dervish durability.

Onslaught: changed to flash enchantment; decreased duration to 3...15; increased Energy cost to 10; decreased recharge to 10; changed functionality to: "For 3...15 seconds, you attack, move, and gain adrenaline 25% faster."

Onslaught is an elite that currently finds use on various Dervish bars due to its faster attack and faster movement speed. With the addition of adrenal skills, we thought it was appropriate to give this skill a small buff.

Pious Haste: changed duration to 1...7 seconds; increased recharge to 12; changed functionality to: "You remove 1 Dervish enchantment and for 1...7 you move 25% faster. If an enchantment was removed, you run 50% faster instead."

Like Pious Fury, Pious Haste could have a place in builds that sacrifice enchantments, but the removal at the end made it difficult to control. We moved the enchantment removal to the skill's activation and added a a faster speed boost to make it worthwhile.

Rending Aura: changed to flash enchantment; increased duration to 30 seconds; decreased recharge to 6 seconds; changed functionality to: "When you cast this enchantment, all nearby foes take 10...40 cold damage. For 30 seconds, your attack skills remove enchantments from knocked-down foes. When this enchantment ends, nearby foes are affected by Cracked Armor for 1...10 seconds."

Being a retribution-style skill, Rending Aura saw little use outside of specialized builds. We changed this skill to be the equivalent of Staggering Force for the Wind Prayers line, giving it a teardown option to get Cracked Armor.

Test of Faith: removed Energy cost; added adrenaline cost of 7 strikes; decreased recharge to 5 seconds; changed functionality to: "Deals 15...65 cold damage and takes 1 enchantment from target foe. If that foe was not enchanted, that foe is Dazed for 1...4 seconds."

With the addition of Daze, Test of Faith's functionality separates it from other enchantment-removal spells in the Dervish arsenal.

Whirling Charge: changed to flash enchantment; decreased recharge to 6 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 1...6 seconds, you move 33% faster than normal. The next time you strike a foe, all other nearby foes take 10...60 cold damage and this enchantment ends."

We based the revised version of Whirling Charge on the warrior skill Enraging Charge, but added an AoE damage component instead of bonus adrenaline. This skill should be very powerful in conjunction with a Dervish's opening charge into a group of foes.

Zealous Vow: decreased Energy gain to 1...6.

The increased number of adrenaline skills available for Dervish and the front-loaded reduction in spells granted by Mysticism made Zealous Vow into an overpowered Energy engine. The Energy and scaling were toned down on this skill, forcing a more committed investment in attribute points and bringing this skill in line with other Dervish Elites.


 

PvE Damage Adding Skills


While examining the Dervish builds that see play in the current game, we noticed that a vast majority of builds contain Aura of Holy Might and/or Asuran Scan. We decided that skills that directly add damage, like these do, were problematic for the game on many levels, because they heavily influence the types of effective builds.

Aura of Holy Might: increased duration to 45 seconds; increased recharge to 30 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 45 seconds, you deal 20...25 holy damage to all adjacent foes whenever you lose a Dervish enchantment."
Asuran Scan: changed functionality to: "For 9...12 seconds your attacks cannot miss target foe. Killing a foe hexed with Asuran scan removes 5% death penalty."

While we expect PvE skills to be powerful, reliance upon these skills has reached the point where they need to be reworked. The Dervish bars can then be opened up for new skills. The Aura of Holy Might skill now enhances teardown enchantments by adding damage on removal. While damage on removal is too spiky for PvP, it is acceptable for PvE. Asuran Scan has been changed to a utility skill that allows you to strike a foe even while Blinded, as well as providing some protection against accumulating a death penalty.

We also adjusted the following skills that add a flat percentage of damage:

Intensity: changed skill type to skill; removed casting time; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 10 seconds, the next time you deal elemental damage with a spell to a target, you deal 40...50% of that damage to all other nearby foes."
"By Ural's Hammer!": increased recharge to 60 seconds; changed functionality to: "For 30 seconds, all dead party members in earshot are resurrected with full Health and Energy. Resurrected party members deal 25...33% more damage. When this effect ends, affected party members die. This skill does not incur a death penalty."

We changed Intensity into a skill that gives Elementalists the option to have more AoE on some of their otherwise less- powerful single-target spells. We reworked "By Ural's Hammer" to be a type of AoE Vengeance, as damage multiplying skills are not nearly as powerful when limited to dead allies.


 

Other Changes


Body Blow: decreased Deep Wound duration to 0...15.

With the ease of Cracked Armor application that Dervish now have, it became apparent during testing that Body Blow was a valuable skill for Dervish even with no attribute investment. We've rescaled the duration on the Deep Wound for this skill such that primary Dervish cannot use it. We are not concerned about Warrior use of Dervish Cracked Armor skills because they are either linked to Mysticism or prohibitively expensive for Warriors to use.


 

Future Adjustments


As with any change of this magnitude, we've done a lot of testing to make sure that as many skill combinations as possible are balanced. However we realize that with our limited testing base we cannot possibly account for every type of build or team composition that our players will come up with. We'll continue to closely monitor the new Dervish for several months after this release and make smaller balance adjustments as necessary when problematic builds appear.