Engineering a Skill

While it was greater minds than I who designed and coded the new aerochemantics skill, I did have the pleasure of writing the skill lines you see when the skills are used. I was a bit nervous about this task since aerochem would be following beautifully written skills like aquachemantics and wildewood but in the end I hope that the text adds a lot of flavor to the skills and to the Aeromancers guild.

This was a unique opportunity for me in a couple of ways. The first was that the release event would be a great opportunity to get rid of some of the weather-control machinery in the Aeromancer guildhall without being too contrived. This is something I’ve wanted to do since Shamanism was released, as many players seemed upset that the Aeromancers have weather-manipulating equipment but weather control goes to the druids. In destroying the lab and the offending equipment, I hope this will clear the way for the guild to see weather control as a lost technology and focus on their present skills and roleplay opportunities.

The second opportunity this presented was being able to “beef up” the Aeromancers’ background and RP without rejecting what had already been established for them. I usually overhear two big complaints from the guild, one being that the whole “philosophy” RP is hard to work with and isn’t as desirable as some of the background other guilds have. With the arrival of Zedlon Windwhisper and his aerochemantics from the future, a time where the Aeromancers were fighting for their lives and didn’t have time for philosophy, the guild has more than one path to roleplay. Past tradition and the future don’t have to conflict and now they have the opportunity to choose philosophy and floaty things or the more “hard” science of engineering and chemical reagents.

The second big complaint that comes up is that the Institute has all the cool toys and the Aeromancers get left in the dust. I’m pretty sure that the new guild airship is making the Institute jealous right now!

These are all things I had running through my head while I was up late writing the aerochem skill messages. Since the skills had already been designed, I still needed to work within the mechanics of the skill (you can’t really bypass working lightning or energy in when writing an electric damage skill) but I wanted to put a unique spin on it. I was aiming for a “cool” message when the skill was used, but also one that would tie in with the desire for a science-oriented skill. This is why you’ll notice that a lot of the item-based skills have you building the item yourself rather than magically summoning it or glossing over how you are gaining the mechanical benefit. For the reagents, I wanted to keep a slightly “magical” feel to the abilities without losing the fact that you are mixing chemicals to get a spectacular reaction.

These same sorts of things applied when writing the AB files. Mechanics really define combat for a guild, but I think the skills are really what players take notice of in terms of roleplay too. To that end, I really wanted to support the “Aerochemantic Engineer” terminology. The opportunity to create new things as an admin is a true joy, but I love seeing players use admin-created things as a base and run with them. I hope what has been released with aerochemantics provides a solid base for the players!

I hope everyone enjoys aerochemantics, both for the flavor and the mechanics. I’m excited to see what direction the Aeromancers take their new skill and roleplay! I would also love to hear what your favorite parts about aerochem are so far and I’m happy to answer questions in the comments if I know the answer.