Now that the general “fluff” is dispensed with,
it’s time to get to the real meat of the interview: the
skills you’ll find in your new avatar combat system. Although
Kevin noted that finishing moves would be removed in his blog, the Ten
Ton Hammer staff was immensely curious what kind of skills would be
added in place of these showy attacks.

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Want the details to the system? Keep on reading!

“I’ve removed the concept of different
‘flavors’ of attack – there are no more
prep attacks or finishing attacks, as they were defined in the initial
system,” Kevin said. “ There are still, however,
‘epic attacks’.  These are generally the
final attacks in a given chain, and are designed to be powerful and
effective.  The biggest difference between these and the
old-style ‘finishing moves’ is that there
isn’t a penalty for using them, particularly.  They
cost a lot of Initiative, but you won’t die because you used
one at the wrong time.”

“I’ll briefly give you some specifics (although, of
course, these are subject to change and might be different in the
released version),” he continued. “The final skill
in the Dirty Fighting Offense chain is ‘Overwhelm’,
which is an attack that inflicts +100% damage, cannot be parried, and
hits all targets in a 90 degree arc in front of the
character.  At the end of the Florentine Defense chain is
‘Untouchable’, which gives a 50% damage reduction
buff for 3 minutes.  The top skill in Fencing’s
Control chain is ‘Lightning Thrusts’, which
inflicts +80% damage and hits all targets within 4 yards of the

In essence, Kevin hopes that “players feel super
powered.” Players should feel like heroes in an grand
adventure novel, taking their rapiers and stabbing their enemies while
blabbering witty quips that would make href=""
target="_blank">Jack Sparrow or Dread Pirate
Roberts chortle. According to Kevin, in the new system grunt enemies
are more of a road bump with players easily chopping through anywhere
between three and six enemies at a time. Boss enemies, however, will be
much more dangerous and in line with your increased power level.

Thankfully, the PotBS developers have also eased some of the
“growing pains” a number of us felt when we first
jumped into the avatar combat progression system. With the new
“skill chain” set-up, players will now have a
direction that they can head in without making our heads twist around
Exorcist-style. New players can “simply buy all the skills in
a chain all the way down to its end and be certain they’ve
created a functional, effective character.”

“One of the problems we faced in the more open-ended initial
system is that it was far too easy to create a character that was
incapable of winning even moderately difficult battles,”
Kevin explained. “We saw a lot of people hit the first of the
‘hard’ fights in the mid-levels and get
slaughtered, and eventually give up on avatar combat
entirely.  My approach for combating this was to explicitly
design each chain to be a self-contained complete toolset for winning
avatar combat fights.  In my testing, I only take skills from
a single chain at a time, and I make sure I’m able to win
fights with only those skills.”

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To the
death! No, to the pain!

“This doesn’t mean that all chains are created
equal, of course.  Each school has its own particular
emphasis, and each chain is very distinct in its approach to winning
fights.  For instance, Defense chains tend to work best by
‘turtling’, triggering all their defensive
abilities, and then whittling down one or two targets at a
time.  Control chains use AOE debuffs to minimize their
incoming damage; Florentine Control can even use movement-impairing
effects to ‘kite’ groups of enemies, keeping only a
few in range at a time.  Offense chains focus on quickly
killing the most dangerous enemies first, and then overpowering the
others before they can inflict too much damage.”

Of course, with any new system the entire world around a player will
change, because NPCs that a player encounters will need to echo these
new iterations to the combat system or the game will feel like href=""
run to the local Wal-Mart: disjointed and full of crazies.
explained that enemies will now have distinct archetypes and that the
content team has completely revised their approach to NPC factions.
There are now various “themes” and “every
faction is designed with interdependencies within the typical encounter
group.  For instance, some factions may feature ranged support
characters who will use firearms to cripple you at range, keeping you
away from them while their allies butcher you up close.”

“I’m not sure exactly how many archetypes there
are; I’m going to guess close to 20 different NPC
‘types’, and then variations within
factions,” Kevin continued.  “One faction,
for instance, includes enemies who will fill their mouths with alcohol
and then breathe fire at you.”

“The intent is that you’ll be able to learn the
attack patterns and interdependencies of a group of enemies, and plan
your strategy accordingly; some enemies should be killed first to
prevent them from buffing their allies, for instance.  At the
same time, as you encounter a new faction, you’ll always be
facing something slightly different and challenging.”

At the conclusion of our interview, Kevin encouraged everyone to either
play the new combat system when it came out on the live servers or even
to jump into the test server and give the developers suggestions on the
system. As always, the Ten Ton Hammer staff would like to thank Kevin
for his time, and then we’re off to sail the high seas. I
hope I don’t get href=""
target="_blank">stuck with the dingy

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016