Exciting stuff today, heroes:
Fraser (Bardsung’s lead developer) is taking us through some real-life hero builds created during playtesting!
Time to peek behind the curtain...
(But first, make sure you're following the campaign!)
Bardsung Hero Builds
By Fraser McFetridge
Right from the early days, we knew heroes would be front and centre in player experience.
Our team’s collective experience in tabletop roleplaying games made one thing about character advancement very clear:
Levelling up heroes needs to be fun and rewarding at every stage of the campaign.
That sounds great! But what does it mean?
It means we need:
A hero advancement system that offers you a wide variety of options, but doesn’t feel overwhelming.
A system that rewards you for making varied choices, but also for more focused advancement.
Heroes that can evolve in a multitude of ways, but also have that little something that makes them feel unique.
Abilities that feel big and exciting as the campaign reaches its later stages, but don’t overwhelm the ones your hero gained nearer the beginning.
Oh, and it all has to be simple enough to not make advancing heroes feel like reading a textbook.
We worked through several concepts in theory and practice until we arrived at our solution, which Sherwin already gave an overview of in the last article.
But how does that look in practice? Well, I’ll show you, with some builds I made during playtesting using a 10XP spend across each character.
Let’s start with one of my favourites.
For Nightfeather I wanted to go really simple, and just focus on pure characteristic improvements.
Both of Nightfeather’s abilities focus on the dexterity characteristic, so this was my starting point, increasing it from the native +2 that the hero begins first to +3 (for 3XP), and then again to +4 (for 4XP).
Now Nightfeather has +4 to hit on their attacks, which feels pretty awesome!
This left me with 3XP left over. Sticking to my original plan, I upgraded Nightfeather’s intelligence to +2 for 2XP, and then their strength to +1, for 1XP.
This gives Nightfeather some extra flexibility when encountering challenges but, more importantly, allows me to get a bonus to intelligence-based abilities, if I want to choose an ability from the Path of Knowledge...
With Stoneheart, I wanted to instead focus on improving existing abilities, rather than characteristics.
Stoneheart is a hero that really shines when fighting multiple enemies, and their fate generation comes from hitting with more than one attack during their turn.
So, creating two reliable attacks I could be sure would hit seemed like a great idea.
This was pretty simple, too. I spent 3XP on Balanced Thrust, adding first a +1 and then a +2 Hit modifier, and then did the same for Backswing.
Because I had spare after that, and really wanted to be sure Stoneheart would hit, I purchased Weaponmaster for another 3XP, which really makes Stoneheart shine!
The last XP I’ll save, towards the next upgrade—probably a +3 modifier for Backswing!
Lightweaver is an awesome ranged fighter and support hero, but they’re also fragile and really want to avoid getting pinned down in combat.
I wanted to do my best to mitigate those factors with this XP build. So, my first port of call was to spend 3XP and purchase the Azure Leap ability, which lets Lightweaver teleport away from danger.
Next, I decided to amp up Lightweaver’s support skills. I bought another new ability, Elemental Mastery, for 4XP, which let me add the frostbite effect to the next attack (having a frostbite token increases the severity of attacks made against you).
Then, I upgraded Vortex for 1XP, so Lightweaver has a better chance of generating fate.
Finally, I spent the last 2XP on improving Lightweaver’s wisdom, which felt very fitting.
Well, I’d improved characteristics, modifiers, and a little bit of each by now. So, Dawnguard I decided to give as much utility as I could.
Much like Lightweaver, I started by purchasing some new abilities.
Wrath of the Gods is an awesome ability which allows Dawnguard to set enemies on fire (I won’t spoil anything, but this isn’t good for them), and feeds into Dawnguard’s board control theme with extra pushes. I also improved the range on the ability, too.
Then I went with Hymn of Passage, and upgraded it again. Now, Dawnguard can not only push enemies, but reposition heroes as well. Total control!
Finally, just to make life that little bit easier, I upgraded Guiding Strike, too, so it has additional range when giving out the buff.
And that was 10XP!