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Mike's Best Character Ever: Darago

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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.

Mike Selinker
Adventure Card Game Lead Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Balazar is my first choice of character for Wrath of the Righteous!


I would love to hear from someone who has actually played Darago through an entire AP or the organized play season. I remember a lot of complaints about Darago's weapons and armor being limiting and it being very difficult to play him effectively.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

This makes Balazar a top contender for picks in my group for sure!


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Once all the designer favorites are revealed, are we going to get a playthrough video with each of you playing your favorite character?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I was thinking of playing Kyra but damn I am really liking balazar.


Ilpalazo wrote:

I would love to hear from someone who has actually played Darago through an entire AP or the organized play season. I remember a lot of complaints about Darago's weapons and armor being limiting and it being very difficult to play him effectively.

I've got Darago (w/ Lem, Olenjack, and Ranzak) at about 5.4 in RoTR, with the Wizard/Rogue decks mixed in. I struggled at first to figure out how to play him, but ultimately went with a daggers and clouds build. He's a bit more support-oriented than I had anticipated, but he's not squishy due to the armors. Since all the armors get banished (no proficiencies) you can usually go box-digging at the end of the scenario for something comparable if damage exceeded the reveal/recharge amount. Getting to use any monster for a buff, like Mike mentioned, is where D really started taking off. At this point I'm really only ever frustrated with Darago when he goes up against a summoned monster, since he can't put those in his hand.

Pathfinder ACG Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
brad2411 wrote:
I was thinking of playing Kyra but damn I am really liking balazar.

Making people pick a new character for Wrath each week is fun!

Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Once all the designer favorites are revealed, are we going to get a playthrough video with each of you playing your favorite character?

That's an interesting idea. I'm pretty sure it's not happening soon, or if it is, I'm the odd man out, but long term I'd be on board.


With regards to Balazar's Mancer power feats, which feats are prerequisites for each other? Is the ([] or add 1d4 to any check to defeat a barrier) a requisite for (or to any check to acquire a weapon, an armor, or an item)? If not, the second one doesn't include the die value so its a bit confusing.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

If the close parenthesis of one feat touches the open parenthesis of another, you have to take them from left to right. So yes, ([] or add 1d4 to any check to defeat a barrier) must be taken before ([]or to any check to acquire a weapon, an armor, or an item).

Adventure Card Game Designer

If there are no words between two feats, you must take the first one before the second one.

Pathfinder ACG Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yeah, it's intentionally very costly to work your way down to the combat rerolls on the Eidolomancer. Of course, if you do go all in, Padrig is a real beast.

Adventure Card Game Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Keith Richmond wrote:
Yeah, it's intentionally very costly to work your way down to the combat rerolls on the Eidolomancer. Of course, if you do go all in, Padrig is a real beast.

ACTIVATE BATTLE CHICKEN!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

We've got a Daragno in our Shield of Ranick game.

He definitely fails more combat checks than either Lini(RotR) or Arabundi(rangerC) but the player is really excited whenever he captures an undead.

We are currently in Deck 4.


At least you didn't claim Darago was the best character, like someone else we know. :3


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

I like the way you describe "fuel", Mike. I actually internalize that concept too when playing through. It combines with the concept of "exploration velocity" to when you spend explores (which often cost a card) to explore, then expend some other resources ("fuel") to make it through.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

I probably read the Padrig text about thirty times and just dreamed.

Then I went through his role card and over the moon. He doesn't look like a first time character for me, but if his versatility is indicative of what Wrath's about, yum.


Padrig wrote:
You may banish any number of monsters; ...

Best card ever. I guess they are supposed to come from your hand since no source is specified.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I now really want a rogue that can get barriers in his hands and deck. Who would not want to be able to ambush a monster or villain. Or trap him with the traps he is trying to use on use.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Now that sounds really interesting, brad2411.

Darago is a really cool character. I've been waiting to have an "evil" run-through of a campaign to put him to good use. Maybe I'll bump that up in priority soon.


This is absolutely awesome. Darago is one of my favorite characters. In one of my groups we are up to sc. 3 of deck 4 in S&S, and when we chose role cards, the "any monster" option was the very first one I picked - there aren't many undead in S&S and yes I get excited every time I pick one up.

At first he was slightly frustrating because of his armor, but once I picked up the Instant Armor spell, he is fine carrying a Magic Full Plate and a shield (and the spell has also saved the hides of some other characters more than once). As for weapons, I am trying to get the Animate Weapon spell so he doesn't have keep burying his firearms. Other than that he is holding his weight just fine.

I love the Mancer template. A few weeks ago I adapted it into a homebrew character I am developing in anticipation for WotR. Very much looking forward :)

Pathfinder ACG Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I am glad that Mike chose Darago. If he'd chosen Balazar, he might have had a leg to stand on. Darago might acquire _many_ legs to stand on, but he's totally not the best character.

Balazar is really awesome and I considered him for my "best". My sole objection is that I really want to see and use all of the cards in my deck, and between gathering up monsters and putting cards on top of his deck his hand ends up a bit static. Mind you, lots of people like that: it's a hallmark of melee types.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Keith Richmond wrote:
Balazar is really awesome and I considered him for my "best". My sole objection is that I really want to see and use all of the cards in my deck, and between gathering up monsters and putting cards on top of his deck his hand ends up a bit static. Mind you, lots of people like that: it's a hallmark of melee types.

Not having seen all the characters yet: so far I think Balazar is my top pick for a WotR character. You raise an interesting point though; I rather like how dynamic Lem's hand is, for instance. I'm hoping there will be a card in WoTR like S&S's Captain, that recharges other cards to good effect.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Rules question on Balthazar & Padrig:

I noticed that his Eidolomancer role gives him the ability to use his strength skill in place of Con, Fort, Dex, and Stealth. Does changing the skill make it a strength check in this case? I assume so, since otherwise the power would be useless. I'm guessing this is effectively the same as RotR Sajan's Dex for melee combat power, which changed the blessings that affected it, but I wanted to make sure.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'd say yes. It says you are replacing the skill. The statstones replace the die, which means it is still the same skill. But in this case, it is replacing the entire skill.


Keith Richmond wrote:

I am glad that Mike chose Darago. If he'd chosen Balazar, he might have had a leg to stand on. Darago might acquire _many_ legs to stand on, but he's totally not the best character.

Balazar is really awesome and I considered him for my "best". My sole objection is that I really want to see and use all of the cards in my deck, and between gathering up monsters and putting cards on top of his deck his hand ends up a bit static. Mind you, lots of people like that: it's a hallmark of melee types.

To be fair, Mike never says he's the best, just that he's his favorite (outside the title of course, which matches Chad's formatting from last time).

---

Isaic, I'd say I agree with Hawkmoon (never hear those words around here).


Ilpalazo wrote:

I would love to hear from someone who has actually played Darago through an entire AP or the organized play season. I remember a lot of complaints about Darago's weapons and armor being limiting and it being very difficult to play him effectively.

I have finished RotR with Darago in the group (along with Zarlova, Flenta and Wu-Shen). I found Darago to be a "late bloomer" type of character. I felt he started off as a "jack of all trades but master of none". Once he gets rolling and accumulates some feats, he is pretty powerful. I didn't really find his weapons and armors to be a drawback. I know I'm in the minority on this but I prefer to have armors in hand for everybody. Weapons are fine since they can handle this smaller threats and save his spells for the bigger fights. I would say that you must have a focus for developing Darago and stick to it or else he will remain a jack of all trades but master of none. Whatever you do with Darago I'd say he ultimately functions like a hybrid between wizard and bard.

Adventure Card Game Designer

Orbis Orboros wrote:
To be fair, Mike never says he's the best, just that he's his favorite (outside the title of course, which matches Chad's formatting from last time).

BEST. EVER.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck, Companion, PFS RPG, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
Orbis Orboros wrote:
To be fair, Mike never says he's the best, just that he's his favorite (outside the title of course, which matches Chad's formatting from last time).
BEST. EVER.

As far as released characters go, he's by far the best in my opinion as far as his powers using his theme to be really unique. In terms of cool and playability though... nah, screw it, he might actually win there too.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
BEST. EVER.

Yeah yeah Mike... Although there is one reason why Balazar is even better than Darago, and it has nothing to do with CharismaBasedArcana UberPadrig MonsterCollector SuperTyrannomancer. The one reason above all!

He is a GNOME.
Period!

Yeah I know it has nearly no impact on PACG but who cares about technicalities, it's all in the roleplay :-)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

It would be kind of funny if one of his role cards allowed him to play attack spells.

"After you play a spell that has the attack trait, banish it ([] or don't, whatever)."


Mike Selinker wrote:
Orbis Orboros wrote:
To be fair, Mike never says he's the best, just that he's his favorite (outside the title of course, which matches Chad's formatting from last time).
BEST. EVER.

Oh. Well, then. Er...

Are you sure you and Chad are playing the same game? XD

Pathfinder ACG Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mechalibur wrote:

It would be kind of funny if one of his role cards allowed him to play attack spells.

"After you play a spell that has the attack trait, banish it ([] or don't, whatever)."

The idea came up - though I think your writeup might have made a more compelling sales pitch :) We wanted Balazar to focus on his Eidolon and summons and not make yet another fireball slinger.

As happy as you are with Balazar now, start imagining the possibilities for a class deck ;)


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Mike said "BEST. EVER." He did not specify a criteria for what he considers to be the best ever.

Besides, I want see Tanis' article about Flenta (with a Cat in the deck, of course).

Speaking of the "replace the skill", I have a question that I'll be posting in the regular forum.


I want this guy in a Mini, Reaper needs to hurry up and pump one out

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

mlvanbie wrote:
Padrig wrote:
You may banish any number of monsters; ...
Best card ever. I guess they are supposed to come from your hand since no source is specified.

Yes—whenever you play a card, it comes from your hand.

(Balazar explicitly says "from your hand" because I didn't want people to read his power as "You may banish a monster you encounter to draw a card." But on Padrig, "any number of monsters" makes it pretty clear that it's not talking about things you're encountering.)

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