When we first sign on to the special Demo server Turbine had set up to show us Module 7, we found that they'd created a level 16 Monk for us to play with. The Monk class has been in the pen-and-paper game for a long time, but DDO is introducing them with Module 7 as the tenth player class in the game.
As we signed in and got set up, the folks from Turbine introduced themselves: Kate Paiz (who we've spoken with before) is the game's senior producer, and Stephen Muray, lead systems designer, and Jesse Smith, a content designer on the game, also joined us as well (Turbine's Director of Communications, Adam Mersky, also spoke up at the end of the session). As the screen loaded up, Paiz said that with the design of the Monk, they wanted to create a class that played significantly differently from anything they tried before. All of D&DO's combat is real-time (as in, you must press a button to attack, rather than just choosing a target), and the Monk's new abilities add a twist to this system. Basically, the Monk has four different stances (Ocean, Mountain, Wind and Sun -- the developers said they drew a lot of the Monk's lore from Dungeons and Dragons' Oriental Adventures supplement book), and each tweaks his or her abilities and attacks -- during most of the playtest, we used the Sun stance to try and do more damage, though the designers said that depending on how the Monk is specced, he would also be able to tank and or do some self heals and group buffs as the class trained up.
All of the Monk's abilities are governed by Ki energy, which can be tseen in a meter below the health bar, and is simply earned by attacking. Muray mentioned that this was to counterweight the pen-and-paper Monk's "times-per-day" abilities -- in pen-and-paper D&D, many Monk abilities can only be performed once or twice a day, and while Ki energy still lets players perform Monk tricks much more often, they are still kept limited enough that choosing what abilities you use your Ki on is very important.
"Did you just Abundant Leap across that gap? Nice!"
Overall, the class seems fairly balanced, and Paiz said that they had put a lot of time trying to keep the class not only faithful to the pen-and-paper version, but also a dynamic part of the MMO environment. It should definitely be a fun reroll for everyone playing DDO, and for the players who level it all the way up, the later abilities should offer a lot of interesting twists on what the team has created in the game.
After loading the game and playing with the new class for a bit, our game began in sight of a peaceful shrine to one of D&D's greatest heroes.
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