So I started work on a Shadow class I’m calling “the Puppeteer.”

If you follow me on Patreon, you can get an early look at the class while it’s still in development. My design began with an at-will power that would conjure a “useless object” to take up space and nothing more. I intended for it to be the Shadowtwin.

But a useless conjuration that takes up space has a use — it functions as a wall, if nothing else. In Guild Wars this is referred to as “body blocking.” The phenomenon exists in D&D if you’re using miniatures, but lacks a term of its own.

Since I started out thinking the class would be a striker as intended for the Shadowtwin, I made the power require a move action to perform, and imagined a character creating a simulacrum in lieu of actually moving. It was a cool idea.

I figured opportunity attacks through the simulacrum similar to the Shaman would be cool, so designed a power that used an Opportunity Action to attack an enemy that tried to move without shifting. Basically you would wind up with a wall that could bite.

The class had started to become a bit of a defender. Still cool.

I fiddled around with different ways of creating and moving the simulacrum before I realized I was loading on too many things — conjuration and movement and interrupts were making a mess of the concept. Sure it was all still cool, but it was getting to be more difficult for me to keep track of all the things the class would do.

I cut out the class down to just the “useless conjuration” and the opportunity attack. That made it a controller-defender, not a striker. I remembered the “Flaming Sphere” attack power lacks an opportunity attack and started reworking the power to be an enter square/start of turn sort of affair. It was down to being just a controller.

The class was still the Shadowtwin at that point, and I was trying to figure out ways to exploit the conjuration — hide within it or next to it, trade places with it, dispel it as an interrupt or reaction in lieu of taking damage — all sorts of odd things a character might do with an semi-sentient shadow capable of independent movement.

I think the turning point was when I figured that merging it with an ally might trigger a healing effect. I changed my thinking toward more of a Leader-Controller class with “exploding shadow clones.” That turned out to be lots of fun to design.

So far, I’ve designed the first level of the class and I’m fiddling with its development through the Heroic tier. I’m excited to see where the class will go but right now I’m at a bit of a loss for what to get the leader who has exploding shadow clones.