Handmaiden Playstyle and Player Choice Ideas (Rework)

This thread criticized the current design of Handmaiden:

This thread will be ideas that could be used for Handmaiden to give her playstyle changes and more options for being a unique career, while also making points about her lore and concept. The main goal with these suggestions is to use minimal new mechanics, if any, and primarily use existing elements to form new designs that could be used in part or in whole for potential Handmaiden changes.


Important Philosophical and Loreful Points

Kerillian’s “Handmaiden” is currently a mishmash of High Elf and Wood Elf, creating a confusing character. Clearly her aesthetic and loreful description paint her as a High Elf Handmaiden, as a Wood Elf version would be a Sister of the Thorn.

However, when we look at her talents and passives there is a lot that suggests Wood Elf, not High Elf:

  • The Dance of Seasons
  • Ariel’s Benison
  • Spirit Echo
  • Eternal Blossom
  • Focused Spirit
  • Oak Stance
  • Asrai Grace
  • Willow Stance
  • Shadowstep
  • Heart of Oak
  • Birch Stance
  • Gift of Ladrielle

Obviously things like “Oak”, “Birch”, or things to do with seasons, suggests Wood Elf. Ariel is the Queen of Athel Loren. Asrai are Wood Elves, Asur are High Elves, and Druchii are Dark Elves. Ladrielle, while also worshipped in Ulthuan, would lean towards Wood Elf given she is the Lady of Mists and a patron of travelers in the wilderness (she could be used for Asrai or Asur though).

The point being is she’s described as both High Elf and Wood Elf at the same time and it doesn’t make much sense. She should either be described as and completely personify a Handmaiden or Sister of the Thorn, but not both. Unless that’s some kind of new direction that Fatshark is intending to go or unless Fatshark is implying that while she transitioned into being a Handmaiden, she retained a number of Wood Elven traits, abilities, perks, and names. Aligning her entirely with “High Elf” would be as simple as changing some text (Like changing Ariel’s Benison to Alarielle’s Benison). Otherwise if it’s some sort of blended design, then that’s up to FS and GW and nothing needs to change text-wise.


The following will be entirely focused on a High Elf Handmaiden design.

As discussed before, Handmaiden’s dash isn’t unique any more. In fact, Zealot essentially stole her dash (or at the very least has a much better one). It’s true his cooldown is 60 sec versus Handmaiden’s 20 sec, but at least his is satisfying and impactful. Zealot’s dash currently gives:

  • 25% Attack speed
  • Phasing through enemies during the buff
  • Small damage on dash through enemies
  • All of the above plus a talent

To have Kerillian as a Handmaiden is to allow extensive freedom with design, as Handmaidens are such versatile beings. Her active ability should seek to help provide at least one of three things:

  • Buff
  • Debuff
  • Control

The logic behind that is it would differentiate her from her other careers and she could help herself & her team. Mobility is currently something that’s an integral part of her character and something I believe most people like. So the goal should be to incorporate these playstyle-changing elements into the mobility aspect of her.

An example of a playstyle-changing element would be Shade’s Vanish (Killing an enemy with a backstab grants stealth for 3 seconds). So rather than just stacking stats, it allows the character to do something they couldn’t previously do. It allows for new or different playstyles, creating more interesting and engaging gameplay & variety. Wraith-Walk is another example (Kerillian’s dodges can now pass through enemies).

Passive

  • The Dance of Seasons
    • Currently - Increased dodge distance by 15.
    • Change - None.

Perks

  • Renewal

    • Currently - Aura that increases stamina regeneration by 100%
    • Change - None.
  • Ariel’s Benison

    • Currently - Revive can’t be interrupted by damaging attacks.
    • Change - Revive can’t be interrupted and Kerillian takes 20% less damage while reviving.
      • Concept of the change: It makes it more powerful and far easier & less frustrating for players to notice. While she can suffer damage and be downed while reviving, she will not be interrupted unless she is downed or cancels the revive herself.

Tier 5

  • Spirit Echo

    • Currently - Striking multiple enemies in one swing grants temporary health based on the number of targets hit. Max 5 enemies.
    • Change - Staggering an enemy with a melee attack grants temporary health. Health gained is based on the strength of the stagger.
      • Concept of the change: It’d give better synergy to her design.
  • Martial Blessing

    • Currently - Melee killing blows grants temporary health based on the health of the slain enemy.
    • Change - None.
  • Eternal Bloom

    • Currently - Healing yourself with a First Aid Kit or a Healing Draught also heals your nearby allies for 20% of their maximum health. Removes any wounds.
    • Change - None.

Tier 10

  • Focused Spirit

    • Currently - After not taking damage for 15 seconds, increases Kerillian’s power by 10%. Reset upon taking damage.
    • Change - After blocking a hit or being pushed, Kerillian’s attack speed and stun recovery is increased by 35% for 1.5 seconds.
      • Concept of the change: She gets brief moments for swift counterattacks. When she’s playing more defensive(such as for her team) it allows an ebb and flow of defensive and offensive playing. The stun recovery is to counter situations like block breaking & enemy pushes so she can get use out of the talent.
  • Oak Stance

    • Currently - Increases critical strike chance by 5%
    • Change - Each attack adds a 5% power stack. At 20% power the next attack will consume all stacks and penetrate armor.
      • Concept of the change: The change to more “in the moment” and power oriented choices will shift her away from crit chance stacking which seems illogical on her anyways. This can allow players spikes when playing to help with killing enemies or shaving away at armor in hordes. It can also be timed to unleash a powerful armor penetrating attack on specific enemies.
  • Shadowstep (Moved from Tier 20)

    • Currently - Further increases dodge distance by 20%.
    • Change - Increases power by 10%. While moving or reviving Kerillian takes 20% less damage from ranged and area of effect attacks.
      • Concept of the change: A straightforward blend of simple power and defense that will stack with other defensive tools to better protect her when she’s helping the team. As Handmaiden already receives +15% dodge as a passive and most of Kerillian’s weapons have good dodge, the 20% additional dodge distance can be replaced with something else. If this is something that is felt as “necessary to stay”, then the dodge distance effect could replace Heart of Oak(15% bonus to max hp). Handmaiden could also run into the situation too at times where her dodge range is too high (because it stacks with her passive) and it makes efficient combat more difficult on several of her weapons.

Tier 15

  • Smiter

    • Currently - The first enemy hit always counts as staggered. Deal 20% more damage to staggered enemies. Each hit against a staggered enemy adds another count of stagger. Bonus damage is increased to 40% against enemies afflicted by more than one stagger effected.
    • Change - None.
  • Mainstay

    • Currently - Deal 20% more damage to staggered enemies. Each hit against a staggered enemy adds another count of stagger. Bonus damage is increased to 60% against enemies afflicted by more than one stagger effect.
    • Change - None.
  • Enhanced Power

    • Currently - Increases total Power Level by 7%. This is calculated before other buffs are applied.
    • Change - None.

Tier 20

  • Willow Stance

    • Currently - Dodging grants 5% attack speed for 6 seconds. Stacks up to 3 times.
    • Change - None.
  • Asrai Grace (Moved from Tier 10)

    • Currently - Reduces the cooldown of Dash by 15% for each nearby ally.
    • Change - None.
  • Wraith-Walk

    • Currently - Kerillian’s dodges can now pass through enemies.
    • Change - None.

Tier 25

  • Heart of Oak

    • Currently - Increases max health by 15%
    • Change - None.
  • Birch Stance

    • Currently - Reduces block cost by 30%
    • Change - None.
  • Quiver of Plenty

    • Currently - Increases ammunition amount by 40%.
    • Change - None.

Dash & Tier 30

  • Dash

    • Currently - 20 second CD - Kerillian swiftly dashes forward, moving through enemies.
    • Change - 30 second CD - Kerillian swiftly dashes forward and gains Phasing, allowing her to move through enemies and have dodge state for 3 seconds.
      • Concept of the change: The increase in cooldown allows her to use a more potent active with more potent talents. The point of Phasing is to remove the clunkiness of her dash and give her brief freedom of movement during and after the dash. Having dodge state means enemies can make attacks on her but they can’t track her with the attacks. The Phasing buff icon would just use Dash’s icon.
  • Gift of Ladrielle

    • Currently - Kerrilian disappears from the enemy perception for 2 seconds after using Dash.
    • Change - Kerillian’s allies disappear from enemy perception for 2.5 seconds after using Dash.
      • Concept of the change: It’d give her an interesting tool for protecting allies, regardless of where they are. Protecting allies who are downed, allies she dashes away from, and allies she dashes to. Aggro will then be drawn to her instead of allies for that brief window. Her stealthed allies could assist her even though she isn’t stealthed. Can be used to protect allies from a number of enemy attacks because it will cancel those attacks on her allies, without needing to taunt or stagger. It’d open up a plethora of potential uses.
  • Bladedancer

    • Currently - Dashing through an enemy causes them to bleed for significant damage over time.
    • Change - Dashing through an enemy causes them to bleed for significant damage over time and her next two attacks ignore armor.
      • Concept of the change: It acts as contrast to the altruistic Gift of Ladrielle. This is much more self-serving but allows Handmaiden to more reliably deal with threats for a brief moment. It will also allow her some horde damage via bleed while allowing her to meet new breakpoints. E.G. Longbow charged 1-shot body shot Gunners.
  • Power from Pain

    • Currently - Each enemy hit with Dash grants 5% critical strike chance for 10 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times.
    • Change - Dash now staggers and increases stagger power by 50% for 4 seconds.
      • Concept of the change: The dash can once again stagger enemies like it had before. This would be primarily horde enemies and a very brief stagger on elites (E.G. 0.5 seconds) that aren’t super armor, just like before. Now she will also have a brief moment of increased stagger on attacks which she can capitalize on for uses such as pushing, attacking, control, and procing her & her team’s stagger talents.

Potential Questions

  • Why Handmaiden and no one else?

    • It has to start somewhere. Handmaiden is one of the best candidates because her design is currently so lost. It’s like a half-baked pie. The other careers are fairly straight forward with their identities but Handmaiden’s only shtick is “I move well”. You have a lot of design freedom with Handmaiden, so starting with her you can create a potent mold that can help other careers both current and future, design-wise. This is important because there is a current lack of consistency with career designs that should be addressed. The designs I chose and the tiers that they’re on is quite intentional.
  • What is the primary concept and goal behind your design choices?

    • Handmaiden, like all careers, should feel distinct from other careers while also feeling powerful and engaging. My concepts were geared towards a very “in the moment” character that has very brief displays of power that rewards a player the more effective they are with the tools; all of this while maintaining a prominent feeling of mobility. Couple that with support tools and you have this unique hybrid character that really stands out.

      In the effort to minimize potential dev work, I chose to use things that already exist like strength potion’s armor penetration, damage reduction, blocking an attack grants a bonus, buffs, stealth, etc. The same icons can be used. The text for names (like Oak Stance) is easy to change, if you even want to change it. The Dash buff “Phasing” can just use the existing Dash icon as it currently isn’t used for a buff. You get the idea.

13 Likes

I miss the old HM with Eldrazors Precision (less attack speed, more power). That concept may be a good niche to run with - less spammy then other Keri classes, but more oomph. More of a deliberate thoughtful master of combat rather then a god of reflexes. Combined with her mobility it made for a great loop of “Get there, Kill it with one perfect strike, get to the next target.”

Sadly the current HM goes in the opposite direction with Willow Stance encouraging being as spammy as possible.

3 Likes

I’d love to see the “cosmetic” name-change to fit more into the Asur lore.

You got some very interesting ideas here, I personally like the suggested change to Focused Spirit a lot. I’m still kinda salty about the fact that Handmaiden didn’t get Bulwark talent… would love to have it as an option for sure.
Also Ariel’s Benison … this passive triggers me so much since it’s just useless because of the autoblock on revive.

Looks like very good changes to me.
I do like that despite adding somwhat buffs to her skilltree, they are still in the same tier to pick out of, so you’ll have to choose. Also putting more focus on her reviving aspect is a nice touch. (I’d most likely would choose the new Shadowstep over the other two in Tier 10, that dmg res is very tempting).
Also, dmg res to ranged attacks is a new feature that more Heroes could need and could make those tankier classes a bit more stand out (namely Unchained and Ironbreaker, FK is in a good spot i’d say). FS said that more ranged stuff, as in enemies as well as weapons could be something they would add. A nice touch to this could be that classes with resistance to ranged attacks are more resistant to friendly fire too…

It would be nice if that perk with revive worked at all :stuck_out_tongue:

2 Likes

It’s not just the autoblock. Benison is pretty much the last layer of defense (and still easily defeated) in a situation where two layers (block and Dash) take care of almost everything - and if they don’t, you’re screwed anyway.

It works as advertised afaik, unfortunately it’s easily defeated. It prevents merely taking damage from interrupting your revive, but nearly all sources of damage (especially on higher difficulties) also stagger you which it does nothing against. Or they do so much damage that you get downed practically immediately.

2 Likes

Well the thing is that you don’t even get to use that passive, since your revive gets interrupted by a stagger anyway every time it breaks under a large amount of attacks.

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Aye, that’s the biggest killer. It’d actually be a super solid passive if it prevented interruptions from -anything- other than going down or letting go of the button.

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I miss it a bit too, honestly. It was a real head scratcher when it was replaced with “10% power if you don’t take damage for 15 seconds”. Which is just a worse replacement no matter how you look at it.

Bulwark could easily replace Smiter, for sure. They both would be useful on her.

I think resistance to any kind of damage should affect friendly fire. So being resistant to ranged attacks should also affect friendly fire.

This is correct. I didn’t think it worked before but when a developer mentioned it does work, I tested it and sure enough, it does. The problem though is as you mentioned where enemies will still push you or stun you. So adding a bit of damage reduction on top of making the resistance to interruptions encompass everything would make it very straightforward and useful.

In this video you can see it working. I stopped the revive process and started reviving again to demonstrate it working (I just didn’t feel like healing the bot and downing it again, so I didn’t complete the revive). I chose to dash after a bit against the gunner because I thought it might down me at the time.

5 Likes

Yeah but friendly fire will actually cancel your revive.

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That’s another problem entirely, I think. “Fixing” it (not sure whether there’s a bug involved anywhere) might make Benison slightly better, but still not useful.

I understand why we were given a worse replacement, as there was pretty much no reason to not take Precision. It was too good to give us a real choice (and iirc, the alternates weren’t that good either). Not that the situation is that much better now… Free extra damage is just too attractive.

You are right, it would.
Makes me think, what if reviving part of her role would get boosted to a very high level… If she revives someone, she can’t be interrupted, period? By neither friendly fire, being pushed or even downed, also stagger in general (also specials maybe? Banner for sure)? Something akin to zealots invulnerability, but only for the time of the revive, linked to the bar for the revive, maybe give it 0,5 s more so ping won’t be an issue.
This might be a bit over the top, but it would also make Ariel’s Benison very special, and the HM in general, accompanied by your changes.

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It’s also not like it couldn’t start as that and if it’s too strong, then remove the ability to be uninterruptible against specials(and specifying that in the tooltip).

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The alternatives were “restore health on monster kill” and “reduced damage when last person standing.” It wasn’t that powerful (only 10% net dps), it was just the only real choice next to absolute garbage. In the current talent tree it would be a lot more competitive.

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I’m agree with you (even if I would still like to see a little damage reduction), but another HM’s great problem are her weapons. They seem to me perfect only for WS and Shade… but HM is a crowd control career, she needs some weapons that has an “impact” on hordes. Glaive and 2H Sword could be good cadidates… but they need some love.

I’ve had solid success by spamming the 1st heavy of her shield and spear weapon. You can chain into it from almost anything. Push -> heavy -> push -> heavy. Light -> heavy -> light -> heavy. Push -> pushAttack -> light -> Heavy. Push -> heavy -> light -> heavy. Etc etc. All of these heavies I mentioned are the 1st heavy, which is a horizontal strike with powerful stagger.

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Wasn’t it same characteristics as 2h hammer heavies?

It has Tank, if that’s what you mean, yes. Low hitmass on armored enemies and such?

This is true, Elf Shield has a very decent stagger. But I would like to see more “stagger power” also on more aggressive weapons, afterall HS is a crowd control career, not a tank.

I meant about the same damage, cleave as well as stagger, like almost the same attack.