When we were designing the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set, I proclaimed loudly that I wanted a necromancer as a character. The prototype game that inspired PACG was about messing with dead things, as folks checking out Lone Shark's upcoming Apocrypha Adventure Card Game are learning.
But back then, the Pathfinder RPG team quickly admonished me that while they admired my love of necromancy, a necromancer was a type of wizard, and thus I would have to wait until we had a product that contained a wizard who wasn't named Ezren. When Tanis started lining up characters for the Wizard Class Deck, I reserved a spot for Darago, the necromancer I wanted to unleash on the world.
Flavorwise, Darago is just fantastic. Darago has two ways to go after he starts trucking with forces man was not meant to truck with: He can become a Necromancer and raise an army of undead, or he can become a Soul Warden and battle people who do so. This is one complex cat.
But mechanically, that's where Darago became a trailblazer. The guy in the bone suit unlocked a vast part of the game we're still exploring.
From the start, I imagined that a player could place more than just boons in a character's hand. Even though banes didn't have checks to acquire, nothing prevented us from making a power that put a monster into your hand after you defeated it. But what exactly would you do with it? That, I theorized, was simple: You'd turn it into fuel.
"Fuel" is a concept I use to refer to any card that can be spent to trigger an effect. Lini, for example, uses allies with the Animal trait to fuel her powers. Darago is built to kill monsters that have the Undead trait and then combust them. So once he checks the appropriate feat, Darago can scoop up a monster that has the Undead trait and then banish it to add 1d4 to his check. And that's any of his checks.
Now, in an adventure without many Undead, Darago has a rough go. Thankfully, we don't actually know how to write one of those. And so Darago plows through the ranks of the fallen, throwing every Skeleton back at its bony brethren. If he checks another box on the Necromancer role card, he can pitch Zombies to help his friends as well, or he can keep the monster and just bank it as an extra hit point. This bag of party tricks is pretty darn fun to do.
But if he checks one more box...
...on his Necromancer role, Darago can do this trick with any monster at all, a vast improvement. Now Darago threshes every monster he meets, turning that nasty Ogre into a bonus on his check to acquire a card that has the Magic trait, which allows him to explore again and maybe find another Ogre for the same trick. After a couple of checkboxes, he's a blender.
Meanwhile, on his Soul Warden role, he can use Undead to draw his own cards. Put the Soul Warden near a Ghost, and he'll turn it into an Incendiary Cloud.
Evolutions of Darago: The Mancer Template
We called this bag of party tricks the "Mancer" template. For the design team, templates are phrasings that can be expanded and modified to make cool powers. Here's the template for Mancer: "When you defeat an X and would banish it, you may put it in your hand. You may banish a Y from your hand to Z."
Satisfied with Mancer's appearance on Darago, we put the template on Skull & Shackles Lini's Aquamancer role.
This allows Lini to hoover up monsters that have the Aquatic trait and banish them to help characters at her location fight. There are a whole lot of those. It's totally badass to play a gnome who picks up sharks and throws them at other sharks.
And then when we designed Wrath of the Righteous, that's when it really got nuts.
The summoner Balazar got two Mancer roles: an Eidolomancer for harnessing eidolons and a Tyrannomancer that can harness monsters. What's an eidolon, you ask? Meet Balazar's crazy snakebird friend, Padrig.
With Padrig in hand, Balazar is a Swiss Army Darago. You will be stunned at what he can do after he kills a monster. If there's a thing in the rules a character can do, Balazar can probably make a monster do it for him.
There might be more Mancers coming, too. It's all because a pasty-faced kid woke up one morning and said, "I'd like to rob some graves." And that's why Darago is my favorite PACG character.
Adventure Card Game Lead Designer