Arcane Assassin Design

To start, I’ve had it envisioned in my mind of doing a premeditated ganker/hard carry hero for a while now. Originally in my mind, I had a theme of a Harpy/Vulture that would use it’s ultimate to set a nest. If opponents came into contact with the nest, the Vulture could fly to the nest, devour the eggs and gain bonus stats. If the Vulture chose not to defend the nest, negative consequences would affect the hero. At the same time, I had been wanting to do a psionic type of carry that would utilize perplex on its auto attacks since perplex is so underutilized in the game. When Vultures skills started to be scavenged and put on other heroes, I decided to take the initial concept of Vulture’s premeditated ganker/hard carry aspect and combine it with the psionic warrior to form the foundation of Arcane Assassin.

The very basis of what I had intended with the psionic warrior theme was I wanted the perplex to be a passive that affected his auto attacks. Applying a basic perplex to a hero on attacks is not only just situational but it also fails to intrigue or draw in the player as to what it is exactly accomplishing on its own. While playing Dota 2, I played Lanaya, the Templar Assassin for the first time and I absolutely loved her theme, but I felt like her entire execution was a complete miss with how I envisioned the hero. The animations of her attacks just felt completely off with the art distinction. I never imagined her animations to play out as such. When she has these mind blades extending from her hands that look like they could extend in an instant to attack her target, it somewhat kills the vibe of the hero when she sends out this pathetically slow little blast. But that vision of the mind blades resonated in my mind to make the ability, and I wanted to do the extending of attack range correctly so that it feels fluid and as if an assassin truly is making quick work of his opponent.

But what sort of strategic offering to the hero should the ability add? I had a feel in mind and at least one effect, but nothing set in stone. I then thought of attaching a mana burn to the ability. Much like how I designed Rudra upon the idea that no hero was utilizing Energizer well, I realized that the idea of mana burning could work to supplement a hero who utilizes Nullfire Blade extremely well. So I have in my mind this charge based attack system on a target. Attacking the same target increases your range multiple times until you hit a point, at which you perplex and drain mana on them. When you have a number like 800 maximum range, this seems like an extreme distance between you and your target now. There were two things I didn’t want out of this hero, that he became an reliant on just big numbers or that he relied on Blink Dagger/Portal Key like Lanaya, taking out the premeditation of his ganking. As criticized and cliche as they are, I felt like attaching a blink on the successful completion of the ability was the best approach to keep him consistent as a ganker while also allowing for future depth in development, so I felt comfortable enough with Psychic Reach to become the crux of his set.

The other issue I had with Lanaya as a hero was how inefficiently her Meld was used as a ganking tool. I knew I loved the ability, but I wanted it to fit my vision for how it should be utilized. It is one of the most fitting skills for a premeditated ganker, a hunter waiting on prey, but it never gets used as such. Instead, it’s either a pseudo juking tool or you have to combine it with Blink Dagger in order to get the most effectiveness out of it. I think the difference between the two is that Lanaya had no incentive to use Meld as a Shadowmeld of a Night Elf, Meld could instantly apply it’ s effects from casting to attack. To circumvent this and also make it harder for Arcane Assassin to initiate with a Meld style ability, I decided to have it reset the charges of Psychic Reach and have them regenerate automatically while invisible. This allows for easier initiation because of the range increase and promotes waiting for all of the charges to reset, given a premeditated wait for 5 seconds down to 2.5 seconds. But the ease of initiation I felt like was not the greatest of synergy to force premeditation, so I decided to combo it further with Psychic Reach. To combo it further I felt like it would be better to serve a strong, but not devastating 1 off critical strike that has its damage amplified if it hits a target with 0 mana. With the intention of Psychic Reach’s/Nullfire’s mana drains going off before the ability, I felt like this helped to further his niche as a bursty mana burner, but not extremely bursty damage dealer. I felt like at this point I had turned Meld from a poor man’s trap setup to a fearsome predatory skill as he awaits his prey, Refract.

For the next bit I wanted to a simple ability that would enable Arcane Assassin to mesh with his ganking prowess but also enable him to slightly hard carry well. As simple as it may be, I thought a simple attack speed bonus for a few attacks would enable him to get off his Psychic Reach while at the same time not becoming this overbearing skill. A simple flurry type of skill to mesh with his skillset.

Lastly I needed a skill to tie it all together. I wanted Arcane Assassin to have low strength and relatively low base stats, and I wanted him to function as a hard carry in the sense that he could anti carry. So I felt like the best approach to do this was to create a disarm for him. I also was creating a hero that would actually struggle more against intelligence heroes who are generally weaker defensive wise. By being unable to burn all of their mana, Arcane Assassin would struggle to do maximum damage to them, while a disarm would do little to protect himself from the majority of their crowd control and damage. The idea of Psionic Riposte was to create this situation where you either take damage, or take damage and suffer. It creates a prominent 1v1 scenario where Arcane Assassin is capable of decimating the target and certain heroes being slightly helpless if they were foolish enough to be caught out of position with no room for assistance.

As I fleshed out Arcane Assassin, I wanted him to be a premeditated ganker/hard carry combo from the start. I was able to keep these design elements through iterations by keeping his hard carry focus on anti-carry measures while also creating a specific niche in the hero in that he targets non-Int heroes better than he would the easiest gank targets, Int heroes. Of course, with how potent some of his abilities may seem, balancing based on theory alone is always a challenge and whether or not Arcane Assassin would be too strong or even too weak remains to be seen, but enjoy his DREAM page!

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