Diablo® III

Thorns: Game Design Discussion

I was thinking a bit about thorns today, and I think it's clearly ready for a change as a stat. Beyond inconsistencies in terminology, there are more serious things that need to be addressed by this stat.

Currently thorns is a flat amount of damage returned upon being stuck by an enemy attack. It has no proc coefficient and basically only does what it says on the tin. That's a blessing in disguise since it means it will be quite easy and painless to implement a change.

INTENTION: As I see it, the intention of thorns was to provide a source of passive damage. Presumably it would be good for tank builds that deal less active damage.

Systemic Problems:
  • Standing around and getting hit is a boring playstyle.
  • Unreliable. It only functions when hit.
  • Inverse Scaling that gets worse as the rest of the character gets better due to dodge or increased HP pools in higher MP
  • Counter-synergy with similar skills.
  • (POTENTIALLY) Just begging for some kind of AFK abuse. Potentially useful to bots on account of passivity and ease of use.
  • Problems of Implementation:
  • Values are large enough that it's dangerous to scale by typical means.
  • INTENTION OF SOLUTION: Should reward defensive builds without becoming a total replacement for active skill use.

    Solutions:
  • It should function on being attacked, not hit.
  • It should synergize with thematically similar skills by being based into the skills themselves.
  • It should be baked into other active skills to make it less passive and to give a kind of alternate scaling.
  • It should be scaled to keep pace with the endgame.
  • First off, regarding the first point, your dexterity shouldn't handicap your thorns. This also allows the skill to work with certain thematically appropriate skills for the build such as Serenity: Reap what is sown. or Diamond Skin.

    Addressing the next few points is more complicated. I think this is best done on a character by character basis and not as a systemic one-size-fits-all cross-class solution. Let's see how we can bake thorns into skills.

    In the case of thematically similar skills, like Ice Armor: Jagged Ice it would be dangerous to add it in directly and multiply the effect, so perhaps address the passivity. Allow reactivating your Ice Armor to immediately apply your thorns damage in the surrounding area. That turns it into an active ability and gives you a place to tune it without messing with too many moving parts elsewhere. Consider avoiding scaling the damage with normal damage scaling stats. The point here is to open up a new playstyle.

    A good active skill that could benefit from thorns is Furious Charge. Thematically it makes sense, so let's go from there.
    Rush forward knocking back enemies and inflicting thorns damage as well as 195% weapon damage to enemies along the path of the charge.
    Now we can actively apply thorns damage as a barbarian as well.

    As for scaling into the endgame, that is tricky since the game assumes scaling that isn't purely linear. Obviously, we need a factor of multiplication. I personally lean toward vitality as a scaling stat for thorns. Currently, a high thorns score looks like 10,000 damage and a high primary stat looks like 3000. Most people keep their vitality at around 1k, so a balls-to-the-wall thorns build would deal 300k and a normal vitality score would deal 100k, but only in this extreme case of the stat. Seems about right to me since you still have your primary damage sources.

    EXTRA PASSIVE IDEAS.
    Just for fun, here are some extra passive that could use thorns and might add some fun to thorns builds.
    Wizard - College of War: Gain additional thorns damage equal to the sum of your strength and dexterity stats.
    Witchdoctor - Quiver of Nettles: your thorns attack deal an extra 10% weapon damage.
    Monk - Cloistered Monk: Increase thorns damage by 30% when equipped with a staff. Increase Mantra of Retribution effect by 15%
    Demon Hunter - Siege Tower: Deal double your thorns damage if an attack was blocked.

    In any case, let's keep the discussion going. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this. Try to focus on concepts instead of specific numbers where they aren't needed.
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    First post didn't seem to go through (sorry if this double posts)

    I like the concept of thorns activating "on attack" rather than "on strike" and would take it a step further to "on melee or ranged attack". That bypasses the "dodge problem" and makes it work the same as reflect damage from elites.

    On that same line of thought, why not change the static bonus of +x thorns damage to a reflect x% damage? With a low maximum % per item say like 2%, it would scale passively without lots of tedious "balance" calculations and would really start to shine in those higher MP's where the defensive builds are forced to whittle away at large health pools.

    Actively applying thorns damage as a bonus to attack oriented skills i feel takes away from the point of what thorns is at its core, which is a punishment for striking the wearer. I would concede however adding thorns synergy bonus to skills that already have the "thorns concept" would be a great way to enhance the stat as a whole. For instance for every x amount of thorns Serenity:Reap what is Sewn does an additional y amount of damage.

    Question: is thorns damage mitigated by armor/ar? If so then I would suggest having thorns bypass mitigation since the achievable maximum amount of thorns damage is 10k-15k (correct me if im wrong on that please!)
    Reply Quote
    First post didn't seem to go through (sorry if this double posts)

    I like the concept of thorns activating "on attack" rather than "on strike" and would take it a step further to "on melee or ranged attack". That bypasses the "dodge problem" and makes it work the same as reflect damage from elites.

    On that same line of thought, why not change the static bonus of +x thorns damage to a reflect x% damage? With a low maximum % per item say like 2%, it would scale passively without lots of tedious "balance" calculations and would really start to shine in those higher MP's where the defensive builds are forced to whittle away at large health pools.

    Actively applying thorns damage as a bonus to attack oriented skills i feel takes away from the point of what thorns is at its core, which is a punishment for striking the wearer. I would concede however adding thorns synergy bonus to skills that already have the "thorns concept" would be a great way to enhance the stat as a whole. For instance for every x amount of thorns Serenity:Reap what is Sewn does an additional y amount of damage.

    Question: is thorns damage mitigated by armor/ar? If so then I would suggest having thorns bypass mitigation since the achievable maximum amount of thorns damage is 10k-15k (correct me if im wrong on that please!)


    I agree that thorns is currently passive damage to being attacked. I just feel that as such it's not a very satisfying concept. I think at it's best it would an alternate damage source for defensive builds. The problem is that getting passively attacked has all kinds of strange consequences. Changing it to reflecting a % of the damage improves it's usefulness for hard encounters, but makes it far worse for weaker enemies. In any case, that doesn't help with MP scaling since the mobs scarcely do any more damage despite heaps and heaps of more hps.
    Reply Quote
    In that it is passive damage and has such a low possible output it is already terrible for weak enemies because the weak enemies will die from your main damage output before thorns makes a noticeable impact.

    I say it shines on higher MP's because when your forced into long engagements its low output becomes more noticeable, like in the same sense that monk passive fleet footed 10% movement speed doesn't help much when you spend lots of time tanking elites but really shines when your one-shooting everything it makes your whole run much faster.

    The only other way i can come up with at the moment to actively apply thorns damage would be a charge up skill, similar to the way rage works with a barb. Something like you become a damage battery and after your "full" of thorns damage you activate it and it applies that damage to your next attack or maybe even an aura of pain like mechanic. I just think that once you get away from the concept of taking the risk of damage for damage in return its just not thorns anymore.

    EDIT: I have horrible grammar... feel free to point and laugh if i missed anything.
    Edited by Pyobe#1328 on 6/26/2013 8:38 PM PDT
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    I think I get what you're saying, but I really do feel that at it's best, thorns should be an alternate damage scaling route. Specifically, I'd like to see a build available that rewards different damage stats than crit and IAS.
    Reply Quote
    06/30/2013 12:11 AMPosted by Pry
    I really do feel that at it's best, thorns should be an alternate damage scaling route. Specifically, I'd like to see a build available that rewards different damage stats than crit and IAS.


    This!
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    Thorns caps out around 25k damage. We could use vitality to scale thorns damage, like 20% of vit is used as a multiplier for thorns. This would typically look like a 200% buff to thorns and buffs most builds equally. That would help make the stat more useful for everyone.

    To go further and make it a useful stat to build around I suggest a class based ring and chest piece per class that gives two alternate play styles for thorns per class and that combine to offer a third play style as a set bonus.

    As an example: Wizard themed ring : Your thorns deal fire/cold/arcane/lightning damage and proc your passive damage type based effects.

    Wizard themed chest: Your thorns become vampiric and return 10-50% of thorns damage dealt as life.

    The base rolls for the chest items would be a main stat 100-200, a 10-20% buff to thorns damage, 10-20% melee damage reduction and 2-3 sockets and 3 random rolls.

    The base rolls for the rings would be main stat 50-150, 5-10% melee damage reduction, 5-15% life, thorns damage dealt to elites is increased by 20-40%, a socket and 2 random rolls.
    Edited by Cyvert#1312 on 7/4/2013 1:17 PM PDT
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