Problem: Tracking has long been silly, and needs to be fixed. In my opinion, pits add precisely zero to the game in any meaningful way. It's just not fun. Having pre-pit wars for events and other competitions sucks. On top of that, being obligated to be a tracker is not fun either.
Overall thematic change: The only way to give room for more dynamic and exciting abilities is to delete pits entirely, as simply adding would make the skillset perhaps too strong. Pit/spikepit/snakepit- 99% of tracking in combat is pits, so deleting them opens up a whole new world of possibility. Now, there are two obvious ways to go about replacing pits, either make the bond (dog/wolf) stronger, or make new trap abilities with actually good effects.
My thoughts are that making the bond stronger encroaches on guardian/wiccan territory, and as such do not want to make the dog/wolf -too- strong by itself. As such, remove pits and add traps that are not useless, and also tweak the bond skills to be more less awkward. The theme of traps are that they fire on entry. That has to change. On-entry gives no control to the tracker, and limits clever, engaging, or skillful play.The new skills would all use balance/power to setup, but would NOT use balance/power on activation (free action), so you can combo with it dynamically.
Current ability list:
StinkTrap Not particularly useful, but fine
DeepseaHunter Swiftswim is useless due to very few underwater rooms in a straight line, but the rest is fine
Trip Fine, but needs to be fixed to not trigger on the person disarming, that makes no sense
PoisonExpert It's a pre-buff, should not be 10p, but fine generally.
LegSnare Decent, could use buff on # of uses or something, not a major impact
Bloodthirst Horrible, also reduces clamp chance I believe
Deadfall Gives concussion. If concussion is nerfed via REPORT 98, can leave as is.
Armour Annoying, just make bond this hard to kill as default. They die in like one or two hits without
Darts Not horrible, but no control over it
Pit Delete pits
Spikepit Delete pits
Snakepit Delete pits
FootHold - Activate to extends tumble effects (tumble/roll/somersault/wind/etc.) by 2 seconds.
LegSnare - 5p setup, Activate trap to ignore parry and double wounding on gut/legs for next 3 attacks (6 for 1-handers) only for this tracker
BodySnare - 5p setup, Activate trap to ignore parry and double wounding on chest/head/arms for next 3 attacks (6 for 1-handers) only for this tracker
BloodthirstWoundDoggo - Replaces regular attack with a wound hit (no damage), can choose limb. Clamp chance removed.
BloodthirstHypnoticDoggo - Replaces regular attack with hypnoticgaze (like beast spellcasting). Clamp chance removed.
BloodthirstClampyDoggo - All attacks are now clamps, can attack only once every 15s rather than 10s.
Darts - Same setup as current darts (you envenom each one beforehand), but activates automatically with each with knighthood attack only for this tracker (on left-hand hits only, aka every hit for 2h, every left hand hit for 1h so it's fair).
IronMaiden - 7p setup, Encapsulate enemy, removing them from combat for 5 seconds (think like phase/maze, but very short term).
SavageDefense - 5p setup - Designate a bond/ent, will nullify the next attack from that entity on the tracker only. (i.e. a demon tries to hit you, blocks that hit on you. He attac, but he also protec). Tracker bond is left to recover, and may not attack for 30 seconds.
One trap per room, traps decay in 5 minutes. Tracking is now conscious and deliberate.
A little background here of why the theme has to change: Tracking has long been a mini-game that detracted from warrior kill methods (I say that loosely, they need to be fixed for sure) and damage/hindering attacks. A warrior tertiary should not completely negate your kill methods and buildup. For example, right now if you're resetting pits constantly, you're not spending your balances on warrior attacks, wounding, whatever else. Under the new style, it takes preparation and a little planning, but once set they would be directly enhancing your combat advantage, whether that is more wounds, removing an ent's hindering on you so you can press the offense more, and so forth.
While I can't really comment on the PK combat balance side, I also like the various bond 'specialisation' abilities you've suggested, that allows you to focus your loyal companion on a particular task. I just think thematically that's pretty nifty.
Hopefully you get more useful feedback about this!
Only complaint is that deleting pits entirely would be a problem for solstice coal-shovel owners, many of whom went for it solely for pits I imagine. Luckily, it has a pretty easy solution, and one you suggested.
Take IronMaiden and make it into the new Pit. Setup the pit for power, activate it to drop a target into a pit. Too deep to be attacked in, but takes 5 seconds to climb out of. Maybe make it longer (and have Rockclimbing bring it back to 5s for power) in exchange for being able to cure down there.
There's probably additional issues that'd need tweaking but it seems like it'd work well enough?
Another idea is instead of free active control over pits, let trackers define things that set off their traps, with only one trap per trigger-category and vice versa. For instance, setup a dart trap that fires on your every attack, or instead set it to fire on every ice cure, or when a (specific) enemy attacks the tracker. A spring trap that fires on target movement, or a stun trap that fires on your own. Sacrifices a little bit of agency, but allows for multiple trap setups at the cost of more power and a little less reliability, and retains a little of the 'don't let them set up or they're scary' flavour without having area denial battles.
Categories I can think of:
On attack (Tracker or target's)
On movement (Tracker or target's, entry or exit for target, exit only for tracker)
On cure (Target's, pick one, 3s cooldown between triggers)
On sip/sparkle/scroll read (Target's)
Savage defence is super strong, but also super weak at the same time. I like the thematic of it but it probably needs adjusting for better use cases without being obnoxious to the guardian. It's also hugely disparate between using it on, say, a demon vs a pooka (entire ent vs a small fraction).
Also, for disambiguation: How does current hound/wolf react to disloyalty? How does that play into the new tracking attacks? Also does paranoia/another affliction cause the traps to blow back on the caster or not fire? Otherwise I absolutely love the direction.
Being pitslave seems like the worst and doesn't really look like anything I'd ever enjoy.
Most critically: You can fight back from the pit. You can be gusted/carried out of the room by your allies.
The balance is very rough. While comments on the specific numbers are welcome, I am mostly interested in what people think of the general idea.
1. Improve and diversify your hunting companion.
- As it stands, we only get one companion, which is hounds or wolves. I would suggest that trackers have the ability to hunt some new companions, aka pokemon style. And each new companion has its own sub skills, a normal attack, activated attack and passive. For example, we start with out hounds that has its normal attack, an active skill which is to clamp on someone and an improved scent ability (able to seek out targets faster than other companions), then we have a bear that does a slightly better attack (more damage than the hounds, albeit slow balance recovery), a roar ability (fears personal enemies), and a passive that has more health and sturdy than other companions.
- Companions cannot be killed but once their health reaches 0, they cannot help you during battle and are considered in a DOWNED state.
- You can swap companions during battle for a power cost of 2 or 3, but swapping downed companions costs 5 and a cd for 1 minute before you can summon them again.
- You can only have 2 companions active, but you can change them everytime out of combat to your preferred playstyle.
2. Add more skills related to BOND
- Other than Seek, Unite, Look, Listen, Move, Attack, Passive and Recall, we unlock more commands we can give to our companions, like "Sic' Em" which gives your companions more damage for 10 seconds at the cost of power and mana, "Protect Me!" which makes your companion go more s defensive and they'll take hits from your enemy occassionally and "Strength of the Pack." a 10 power buff that lasts perhaps a minute and you and your companion deal more damage, attack slightly faster and have a bit of resistance buff.
3. Retain traps except pits but improve some of them.
I also believe tracking/hunting be merged with some of the basic skills like cluck, snakecharm, rustles and prints be merged into one skill while the rest like ambush, tent, pathfinding fall under environment skills. That said, since we're going to merge the skills, I suggest a new tracking specialization called Soulbeast.
Soulbeasts are those who can merge with their hunting companions, retaining their active skill, a slight buff depending the companion they merged with (more health when merged with bear, more critical chance/wounding while merged with the wolf/hound, etc.) and gaining buffs when using bond commands.
Soulbeasts, however, cannot swap companions and can only have 1 active at a time during battle. So make sure you chose the right hunting companion before a big fight comes.
Most of the Soulbeast skills will be passive with a few exceptions that costs power. One power will allow the warrior to strike twice per swing (2nd strike will be 50% of damage dealt), a passive or power skill that removes afflictions every 10 seconds (skill duration is 1 minute), unable to be knocked down, gusted, etc.
I hope this helps improve the tracking/hunting skill.