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Because MMs aren't complicated enough!

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I mean, I don't actually want to make them THAT much more complicated...


So Masterminds are one of the stranger ATs in this game as a primary pet class.   Summoning pets is always a solid class fantasy in games and for MMOs you really can't beat CoH's Mastermind.  You basically get a tiny army of some pile of non-sense. Robots, demons... random animals.  They have a lot of parts people love and a lot they hate.  And a lot that is very close to what people want but noooot quite there.  I've also seen suggestions for additional pet ATs added to the game.  Some people want just one big pet to control and support. Or blast from a distance over a field of fodder. Or they want to wade into melee with their army of pets. Or into melee along side a single partner pet.  I've been watching these threads for-- oh god like a decade now? ugh.


My overly long proposal here is to resolve a number of these requests and expand the design space for Masterminds.  Not to trim the bloat but to make the bloat have a point and use. To give people more options and more ways of playing masterminds without stepping too far outside the concept.  Importantly to make sure the class also plays exactly as it does now if you choose to ignore these updates.


Right now the only real version of a Mastermind is where you have a team of half a dozen pets of increasing quality/decreeing quantity and you primarily stand back and support them.  Maybe you take some pot shots with your high end cost gun.  Mostly you just direct your pets and watch them slaughter.  That's fine though.  I don't intent to change that.


Now I am aware that what I am proposing is a MASSIVE resource expenditure to do(I think).  Around the same amount of effort as adding multiple new power sets.  I get that.  This is mostly to spark discussion.  If even half of this got implemented I'd be very happy.  Aim for moon, you know.  And of course some people may feel that MMs are fine and need no changes.  Or that we'd be better served by another AT added with Summons as a Pri or Sec to achieve these. Or that this is making masterminds too complicated. That's fine.  I will try to address these as we get to the relevant portions of my proposal.  That said...





The first change is... not a change. I am leaving the inherent alone, the basic controls alone, the summons, the attacks, the upgrades.  All that stays as is.  With a big asterisk.


First REAL change.  When you pick any of the summon powers, you will actually get three powers.  Similar to Swap Ammo or Adaptation.  Each of them summons mutually exclusive minions. If you cast one of the others summons from the same tier, your existing pets of that tier will drop dead and be replaced by a fresh batch of the other type.  They all share a cool down.  If so desired you could toss the additional two summon powers you get and just keep the original and keep playing them as normal with no changes to macros or anything.  On the Enh screen only the original can be slotted.  The rest just copy the enhancements from that original.


Second change.  When you pick up the first of the upgrade powers, the Basic Upgrade, they will give you several powers, like the pets/swap ammo/etc. The first is the "Basic Upgrade" of course as per normal.  You will also pick up a "Sacrifice Minion" power. Using that power will kill, with the dismiss animation, all the minions of the type you cast it on.  So, all three of your T1 or just your T3.  In exchange it will give you a self buff of sorts and the remaining pets go up a relative level as if they'd eaten one of those Incarnate Lvl Inspers. When you pick up the second upgrade power you will get the regular "Advanced Upgrade" and a "Multiply Minion" power.  Which is fairly self-explanatory, casting it summons several additional instances of that tier of pet.


Everything else flows from these two (big) changes.


Multiply and Advanced Upgrade are mutually exclusive.  If you cast it on a minion tier they can't be upgrade to and it will strip the existing upgrade buff off them if you put it there.  Every extra minion is a full minion; bodyguard works on them and they can be upgraded with the Basic Upgrade. Just not the Advanced Upgrade.  As it stands I'm saying multiply should summon a full extra set of minions of the tier you cast it on. I'm not 100% on this ... I feel like you could go with a full doubling and it would be OK mechanic wise.  It would just be a nightmare in cave missions and such. 


This should be alleviated by the Sacrifice minion power.  When cast on a living or dead minion it desummons the whole tier of minion and changes the function of the all 3 of the summon powers for that tier and gives you an endurance discount to all the rest of your powers.  Instead they become a set of unmodified powers, themed for the set. As they can't take their own ENH they have static values that are decent on their own.  Sacrifice also gives you a "buff" that is just a little note indicating you sacrificed a set of minions. As long as you have that buff you keep the powers but you can't resummon anything from that tier. You can only sacrifice two tiers of pet.  For example, 1 and 3, leaving you with just your T2 pets.


The powers from Sacrifice vary based on which primary you're using and which teir you sacrificed.  T1 gives you a set of basic attacks.  T2 and T3 gives you powers that replicate the role of the pet you sacrificed.



So as an example on how this might play out we'll look at Ninja.


The Ninja MM picks up his first three powers.  Two archery attacks and Genin. The Genin gives them 3 powers. 'Call Genin" "Call Wolf Clan" and "Call Mist Clan"  Instead of martial arts, Wolf clan uses claws.  Instead either of those the Mist has one using a katana, one a staff, and one using Sai(Dual blade).

This should be... mostly cosmetic.  The damage should be roughly equal between them.


At this point the only changes to the MM is they can choose some mostly cosmetic different kinds of ninjas. The next power is the Basic Upgrade.  When they pick that up now has a choice of two upgraded T1 minions or they can sacrifice their pets and instead gain several personal powers.  All of the Genin powers change to becomes Storm Kick, Eagle's Claw and Cobra Strike.  In addition the "Sacrifice note" buff that sits on your bar that gives you an end discount will also give you a small passive +range def.


Now the MM has two options to fight now, they have their pets and bow or melee/bow. In addition to their secondary set. Not every ninja MM will choose that path. But if both your minions die, you can resummon them and upgrade them and if they die again you can cast sacrifice on them their corpses to quickly upgrade to a semi-decent set of blasts.  Or if the pets aren't working for you, you can just switch to the bow.


Now fast forward to the Ninja MM picking up Summon Jounin.  You have three new powers.  Summon Jonin, Summon Spider Clan, Summon Viper Clan.  The Spider Clan uses twin daggers with a toxic DOT and the Viper clan uses two katana(Dual blades).  And if the Jonin are sacrificed you get three powers to replace them.  Venomous Steel(Flashing Steel +toxic dot), Poisoned Lotus(Lotus Drops +toxic DoT, w/-regen), Divine Viper(Divine Avalanche, w/large Toxic upfront and DoT).  In addition the "Sacrifice note" buff that sits on your bar that gives you an end discount will also give you a passive +melee def.


At this point now a Mastermind has a number of gameplay styles available to them.  They can run as normal, with any of several flavors of ninja. They can sacrifice their T2 minions and directly support their T1 pets in the melee with some AoEs, some debuffs and some self defenses.  Or they can sacrifice their T1 and stand behind their T2 minions and fire attacks down range. If all their pets die they can sacrifice them and have some okish self defense and a hand full of range/melee attacks to defend themselves with.  In effect becoming their own T3 minion with a mishmash of "ninja" powers.


But what happens when they have a T3 as well?


We now have Call Oni, Call Blue Oni, and call Black Oni.  They use ice/wind and dark powers respectively.  Otherwise the same set of Dominator type powers.  If you sacrifice the Oni you will get Fireball, Dark Grasp and Shadowy Mist(Self Stealth, PBAoE chance of confusion). In addition the "Sacrifice note" buff that sits on your bar that gives you an end discount will also give you a passive +melee/range def.


If you wanted you could sacrifice your T1/T2 and upgrade your Oni wade into melee with your Oni side by side. Or multiply your Oni and have two Oni flanking you while you wade in with bow/blade.  Or sacrifice your Oni and multiply both T1 and T2 stand back and support your ninja fodder army with "Ninja magic." in a kind of a "ninja sage" role.   Or double upgrade your T2 and sacrifice the T1 and T3 and stand back and let your highly skilled squad of ninja go in and you pound down heavy firepower/support.


Now this is just a hypothetical example for Ninja.  I'm not super committed to the specific sub-types or the specific additional powers and all.  The point of introducing more powers is to allow the players to adjust and expand both mechanical and thematic elements to create a wider range of possible playstyles.


The first change, the change to give you more summon options is for thematic freedom really.  If "Beast" gave you options for all wolves or all lions. Or some bug/spiders.  Maybe a fox spirit instead of ice wolf.  Those are all existing models.  I remember all the complaints about how limited Necromancy was thematically, you're clearly summoning magic zombies and ancient knights and a lich wizard thing.  Maybe some skeleton options or translucent ghosty options for all.  Or even some science/Frankenstein options. A Mummy T3 maybe. More life-like androids instead of clunky bots or wind-up ones that shoot lightning.


Now a lot of that could be done with pure costume customization being expanded to MM pets.  Which we all want.  But just changing the costumes doesn't change that all the T1 zombies are going to vomit on people and/or shoot dark blasts.  That I will always be summoning a flaming Oni as my final "ninja."  Or that I can't give my thugs thematic weapons to match my secondary, I can't be Batman Forever's Mr. Freeze with ice skating thugs with hockey sticks.  And no one in their right mind would waste the time to design an entire Hockey themed MM set.


Thugs could be bent into a number of themes.  Outside of just "street thugs." The obvious is Mafia or Yakuza with some slight variation in weapons.  Because it would be a bit silly to add in a whole "Mafia" set when it would just be a slightly altered Thugs. Just... slightly alter thugs.  This happens with the thugs in CoH.  Skulls, thugs with dark theme.  Hellions, thugs with fire theme.  This is pretty much the premise of every B and C list Batman villan. Hire a dozen dudes to dress thematically and use thematically appropriate weapons.  


Besides just expanding the looks and themes of MMs there's also just how they play on the ground.  A lot of archetypal MMs use very different combat styles.  And they don't always use the same method every time. That's what the second change is for.


If you want to play the Kingpin type and have dozens of thug mooks that people have to get through before fighting you, the big bad boss.  You can do that(Multiply T1, upgrade T2 as your personal body guards and Sacrifice T3 to get T3's powers.  Maybe even wait until T3 defeated and THEN sacrifice)


If you want to play the Toymaker who has one giant super robot and dozens of drones and gadgets and guns of his own you can do that(Sac T1/T2 for their powers, upgrade T3)


If you want to play the Sauron darklord type who has an army of the dead around him as he wades in to cut a swath, these changes give you that(Multiply T1, Sac T2/T3 for their powers)


Now you can do all those kinds of playstyles right now with Masterminds.  They would just be done poorly for the most part.  Require a lot of pool powers and heavy IO investments and have very tight build restrictions to get any kind of good play out of them.  And it would be hard to switch between them without a respec.



Now all of this is well and good for theme and playfeel but I was also trying to resolve some longstanding issues with MMs as well.  Mostly that they kind of suck in Incarnate content.  Or honestly the low minions suck in general at mid to high gameplay.  That's part of what the Sacrifice mechanic is for.  When you sacrifice one of your pet tiers the other two go up a level.  If you sacrifice two of them, the remaining one goes up two levels.


One of the biggest issues is just the Purple Patch along with the sheer scale of dmg demolishes anyone more then a level or two below 50.  Being able to push them up a level or two should make them significantly more effective at surviving.  And you can push your T3 up over your own level if you want.  Or have an army of little guys of equal level to you.  Or some combo thereof.  Now you might have to tweek that.  Like maybe they cap at (yourlevel+1) or even just (yourlevel).  I dunno how OP a single monster pet would be with a semi-decent MM following.




Now the biggest issue with all this is the massive time investment to build an absurd about of new pet types for all the MMs to even have.  Something like 40 new pets with over a hundred powers to bug test and make sure the AI isn't gonna beef it.  Even if half of these are just tweaked versions of the base with things like a damage type changed or a BS attack switched to a Kat.  That's still time.  A LOT OF TIME.   It might just be better spent on making a half dozen whole new MM sets.  I won't argue that.


I don't really have a counter point to make to that, yeah.  It's huge.  Maybe it would be better to run it as pure cosmetic changes? Still leaves me a bit wanting.  And I'm always for squeezing more into existing powersets rather then make a powerset that's just a huge overlap.  You could get pretty much what I'm asking for if you just make "Monsters," "Minions," "Bugs" and "Infection" as MM sets.  Provided MM customization also came out and we could tweak them.  You'd end up with about as much work either way I think.



The other big issue I see is that it makes MMs, an already complicated beast, much more complicated.  More choices and decisions.  People don't like button bloat and I've seen people nix ideas that even just added something that was going to sit unused in their power window.  This would add a lot of junk into your window if you didn't plan on using any of it.  I don't have any counter-argument for button bloat.  It's gonna add more buttons.


I would argue that the complexity isn't as big an issue as it might seem.  First off, most of it is in the set up.  Reviving your pets might seem more complicated now, remembering how you wanted them all set up.  Remember that if you're just summoning/upgrading them like normal it's all the same.  It only gets a little more complex if you want to use the additional controls.  Of course if you're pressed for time, in the heat of the moment, you can just chunk 'em and go solo until you have some breathing room.



Of course I've also intentionally left out most hard numbers.  Those would all be subject to change.    The ideal should be that you can't go pet-less without sacrificing a lot of power.  And I don't think you should be able to do better without pets all the time.  But it's ok to do better with fewer pets. 


I also didn't touch on changing any of the bits like the specific powers or AT of pets.  The personal attacks you come with as a base.  The AT mods for buffs/dmg/etc.  Bodyguard.  Resist/def caps for MMs.  All that is still important to consider but it's outside the scope of what I wanted to discuss.  I believe there's a few other threads that cover that fairly well.



And that's... all I can think of to write on this.  Thank you for reading!
















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Interesting concept.  It was a slog to read but the examples helped make a clear picture of what you had intended.  I'm not an advanced MM player so my input is limited but it would certainly be interesting if, at the least, the tier 1 pets had as much variety as Demon Summoning, for example.  I'd like a genin who was all hand-to-hand with maybe the Burst of Speed as it's AoE power (so it can teleport) while another used claws and struck hard with Eviscerate as a ST attack and the 3rd being a tool user and throwing weapon specialist with Shuriken Throw, Masterful Throw and the like.  For jonin, one with a katana and supplementary control like caltrops, blinding powder and choking powder while the other has staff attacks, diversion tricks like taunt and then making itself intangible for a couple seconds.


As is, all pets in a tier share their same powers for most pets like Necro, Ninja and most Mercs.  More variety in pets seems like something worth looking into if not more of you ride for diversified pet choice and upgrade options.

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I really like the "Swap Ammo pets" so I'mma focus on that.


In terms of cosmetics and even playstyle, this has a ton of potential to liven up MM sets and let them have more primaries while also not needing to be made from the ground up. Like the Ninja example with different weapons / powers as they level, theyre still thematically ninja but you could have everyone use blades instead of just the T2's, or have all electric bots, etc.


Its a cool idea 🙂

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