Pocket Paragons Design Blog: Zetterburn, the Fire’s Roar

In today’s Pocket Paragons design blog we’re turning up the heat with Zetterburn, the Fire’s Roar!


Zetterburn is the face of Rivals of Aether, and a powerful rushdown character that sets his enemies ablaze and finishes them off with powerful claws. The Rivals of Aether characters are still undergoing a lot of playtesting and development, so the version you see here may not be the final one published exactly, but I wanted to share my design goals for Zetterburn and give some idea of how he’ll feel to play.

Character Strengths:

  • High damage, especially with a powerful burst.
  • Easy to pick up while still allowing interesting decisions.

Character Weaknesses:

  • Low utility– damage is the only real gameplan.
  • Passive is weak and easy to play around.

“Unleash Your Fiery Rage!”

In Rivals of Aether, Zetterburn lights his opponents on fire and then consumes the blaze for devastatingly powerful attacks. I wanted to include that play pattern in his Pocket Paragons kit, but it was hard to represent being on fire without overdoing it. Taking 1 damage a turn is the simplest execution, but it’s very, very powerful, and the rest of his kit would have to be much weaker to compensate. It also disincentivized players to give up the guaranteed free damage.

Ranno, the Poisonous Pacifist ended up taking on the free damage every turn style of play, and even then he’s got some drawbacks to keep it in check. Zetterburn’s fire burns much slower in this game, only hitting enemies when they Rest. By doing it this way, I still kept a little of the flavor of taking damage over time while shifting the power to his big Strength attacks. The real passive isn’t the Burn Damage, but rather being able to ready your Weapon on Blazing Uppercut for a combo (with potential Execute!) or a big burst attack with Scorched Slam.

The damage on his passive isn’t worthless, though. Even if you never expend it with one of your other moves, getting 1 or 2 free damage from it over the course of a game means your opponent essentially starts at 8 or 9 life. And if you plan your plays outright, you can leave the Burn Damage up so it hits them when they Rest and then spend the energy to unleash one of your boosted effects right after– maybe even the same turn!

Shining Burst is a great move and knocking foes away, and I wanted to capture that feel by allowing it to counter weak hits, knocking the opponent away, and getting a little extra damage in while you’re at it. Wildfire Mane doesn’t hit very hard, but it’s consistent in getting a little extra damage in.

Claw Rush is Zetterburn’s Weapon, and I made most of the Rivals characters’ “weapons” their Forward Strong attack from the fighting game since getting hit by one of those sure can feel like an instant death! I wanted to put a little bonus on Zetterburn’s Weapon to make it feel special, and while I originally thought it was a weak bonus (getting your Weapon back after your opponent safely Rested? who cares?), the playtesters have really liked it and it’s allowed Zetterburn to keep the pressure on.

– Brian McKay

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