Dev Diary #13 – Sirin

In our last developer update, we introduced you to the Spires of Terratus – your base in Tyranny. For this week’s update, we’re going to introduce you to the last of your potential Companions – Sirin, Archon of Song.

tyranny_dev_diary___sirin_portraitSirin caused the death of more people before she was seven than most soldiers do in their entire careers. One of the few mages on Terratus who was born with magic, Sirin first displayed her abilities the first time she cried. The midwife assisting with her birth burst out crying and asked what that bright light was and why everything was so cold. Her parents quickly learned anyone who heard Sirin’s voice was compelled by the emotion behind it. Fortunately for them, she was a genial and easy-going child, so it wasn’t much of a problem. Occasionally they would have to remind her not to use her powers on local children – especially after an episode with a local bully – but there were never any major incidents until she was seven years old.

Once word spread that Sirin had powers, people from all over requested her help. Crops weren’t growing? Send for Sirin. Your son broke his leg? Send for Sirin. People spoke of her miraculous voice and its heavenly sound. It wasn’t long before she gained the nickname Songbird, and everyone wanted to hear the Songbird sing.  Eventually, tales of Sirin’s voice reached Kyros, who knew that if this child truly was as powerful as everyone said, she could be a power tool for conquest. Using the Voices of Nerat, Kyros kidnapped Sirin from her family and delivered her to the royal court for training. During her schooling, she was deemed too dangerous to be allowed to use the full extent of her powers, so Kyros and the Voices of Nerat created a special helmet, placing it permanently on her head. If Sirin tried to go beyond the limits the helmet placed on her, the gem placed in it would shatter, killing her.

Once she was deemed ready (and properly under control), she was given back to the Voices of Nerat to help the Scarlet Chorus in their recruiting efforts. From that point on, her voice was used to convince any and all to join the Scarlet Chorus and fight for Kyros. But Sirin knew that she – and her voice – were simply a means to an end and that the moment she stopped being useful, her life was forfeit, so she did her best to recruit as many bodies as she could for the Chorus while planning a means of escape if the opportunity ever presented itself.

~Robert Land, Narrative Designer

Combat Role

Sirin was designed to control and manipulate the flow of battle by afflicting her foes with terrible sicknesses of the mind and body. Sirin’s power as an Archon grants her the unique ability to influence others with song (Those who played Pillars of Eternity’s Chanter class will be familiar with her mechanics). In combat, she will passively sing, causing minor blights and hindrances to foes that hear her voice, as well as subtle benefits to her allies.

As Sirin sings, she builds up a resource called ‘Breath’ that is later used to perform an ‘Aria’. Arias unleash powerful concentrated magical effects from Sirin’s voice on those she directs it towards. These effects can be devastating for enemies, or invigorating for her allies, depending on the Aria performed. A unique progression tree is used for Sirin’s songs that is automatically advanced as she gains levels, unlocking new songs, while Arias must be purchased exclusively from her two talent trees. Overall, the focus from each tree is directed towards either making Sirin a peaceful songstress who aids her allies with powerful beneficial effects, or an aggressive weaver of vengeful arias who aims to break her enemies where they stand.

Since Sirin’s songs are passive in combat. When designing them we thought it reasonable to assume that many users will want to pick one that has an enjoyable effect and leave it active in most cases. This is absolutely OK, and many songs serve to support this strategy. However, we wanted each song to also exist as a tactical counter to occasional problems posed against the party. For instance, I may enjoy using the song ‘Glory in Battle’ to grant my party several direct stat boosts, but if I’m currently facing against the Bane, I might be inclined to temporarily switch to the song ‘Bane of Night’, which is incredibly effective against Bane units. Every song is intended to have a specific theme to its effects and is also designed to have a larger payoff at the end of the song if the last stanza is reached.

When building Sirin’s talent trees, we wanted to allow players to decide if Sirin fits better in their group as a supporter of party offense or defense. Sirin’s ‘Peace’ tree provides several defensive talents, utilities, and a number of Arias that help to bolster ally defenses, free them from hostile effects, and even revive unconscious party members. Sirin’s ‘War’ tree has talents built to use Arias more quickly as well as a variety of offensive Arias that affect enemy minds, push them around the battlefield, or even shock them into submission.

Below are some songs available to Sirin:

Sword of Strength, Sword of Justice: A song of valor and defiance. Adopted by the Vendrien Guard to boost morale in their rebellion. Raises the Might, Wits, and Vitality of nearby allies with the sound of Sirin’s voice.

Bringer of Death: A song ominously describing the power of Kyros’ will as it washes over life and land, reaping those that stand against it. Lowers the Resolve, Parry, and Dodge of nearby enemies, as well applying the Weakened affliction to them.

Blood Brings the Dawn: A powerful battle chant Sirin was forced to sings for the Scarlet Chorus to inspire their victory. Raises ally movement speed and causes enemies to take Fire damage and Bleed effects.

Below are some of the abilities available to Sirin:

Aria of Respite: Sirin’s notes seep into the minds of her allies and draw them to lucidity. Removes a hostile effect from each ally affected.

Aria of Confusion: Sirin bombards her enemies with a cacophony of tormenting sounds. Those that fail to resist her power are Confused.

Sustained Breath: At the end of combat, Sirin can retain Breath for several minutes.

Rapid Tempo: Sirin accelerates her vocal progressions, increasing the speed of her songs and causing her to move through each stanza more quickly, but shortening the duration of their effects.

Guise of Innocence: While not wearing Heavy Armor, Siring becomes immune to engagement.

Aria of Nightmares: Sirin recalls a nightmare and begins to sing. The power in her voice creates an physical embodiment of her memory that will terrify and torment her foes.

Sirin is a literal font of power. With enough time, Sirin’s songs and arias can bring ruin to armies. While not exceptionally powerful in the early moments of combat, when Sirin builds enough Breath to perform an Aria, she can completely lock down small groups of enemies, or grant a surge that sends allies to victory. However, choosing the right Aria for the moment is important, since her Breath takes time to rebuild. Sirin is also rather frail defensively, so while it’s important to make sure she’s close to the battle for her songs, she should not wander close enough to draw attention. If she finds herself in trouble, abilities like Guise of Innocence can help her to escape, but ultimately she will need another ally to step in and take the enemies’ focus.

The longer a battle rages on, the more Sirin’s power seals the enemy’s fate.

~Nick Carver, Systems Designer