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Amalgam Barons- A Possible Corpus Equivalent To Kuva Liches


Cobalt313
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I am aware that getting a "Kingpin"-type boss for every faction is all but inevitable, but I feel like they should be more than just faction reskins of the same gameplay loop and mechanics of Kuva Liches. Corpus don't see military force and conquest as an end in itself like the Grineer do; if anything, Corpus see force as a means to an end, that end being Profit. Fighting a Corpus Kingpin shouldn't feel like fighting a planet's military occupation while learning the trick to defeating their ever-persistent general in single combat; it should be about breaking embargoes, disrupting supply chains and distribution centers, stealing or destroying assets and ledgers, and performing other such acts of corporate espionage and sabotage, right up until you finally figure out where in the Void the head honcho hid their luxury space cruiser they can't be arsed to leave when they have top-of-the-line Proxies to act on their behalf. To say nothing of the "Kuva" theming; again, that's mostly a Grineer thing courtesy of the Queens' apparent stranglehold on the supply of the stuff throughout the System; the Corpus probably wouldn't have access to enough to reliably replicate the Lich-creation process.

That wouldn't be to say it would be impossible for some Kuva here and there to slip through the cracks and fall into Corpus hands, just that it would likely do so in small enough amounts that Kuva alone would not a Corpus Kingpin make. What the Corpus do have, however, is a revolutionary process to hybridize Corpus biology and technology with Sentient bio-technology courtesy of one Alad V, who seems just the sort of person who would make the effort of obtaining samples of Kuva off black markets to see if his Amalgams react to Kuva in the same way that a certain Eidolon did...

Amalam Aspirants- the Birth of a Baron.

It turns out the physiological differences between an Amalgam and a pure Sentient are different enough that so too is their reaction to Kuva. It's only the "human" half that actually absorbs and benefits from the Kuva- at first, at least- so all it does is make an ambitious and/or troublesome Corpus wage-slave feel like they could plausibly take on a Tenno while armed with nothing but a Dera. Which is exactly what they will attempt to do when given the chance, not that the Kuva in their system actually makes them any more powerful. It does make them slightly immortal, though, and injuries that should kill the average Corpus crewman merely incapacitate this Amalgam Aspirant. It is not until the Tenno tries to give Mercy to this poor fool that the real fireworks begin.

The momentary exposure to Warframe energy triggers an adaptive response in the Amalgam's Sentient parts, which will attempt to mend their host's wounds and offer greater resilience to whatever damage type nearly killed them. This further merging of Corpus and Sentient flesh exposes the latter to the Kuva in the former's system, triggering a chain reaction that even further transforms and empowers the Amalgam as the Kuva causes the Sentient parts to grow and spread even further as they replace or enhance even more Corpus flesh, in the process finding yet more Kuva, and on and on it goes. The Amalgam then suddenly disappears in a flash of light, the spike in Sentient energy having drawn the attention of a very satisfied Alad V, and the Tenno continues with their mission while Alad and his Parners tend to the transforming Amalgam, facilitating its growth and transformation while upgrading and outfitting them with the best Corpus technology available to them. And thus the Amalgam Aspirant is no more, and a new Amalgam Baron is born.

Amalgam Barons- Your New Worst Enemy:

Amalgam Barons are created when a Tenno performs a Mercy finisher on a special type of Corpus called an Amalgam Aspirant, which spawns in missions of sufficient level in a manner similar to Kuva Larvlings, with their arrival announced by a flash of the screen and an announcement by Alad V, or possibly just a Corpus foreman. Amalgam Aspirants can come in Male, Female, or possibly even Moa variations (assuming the latter's hybridization with Sentient technology actually grants them a measure of their namesake) which will affect your Baron's possible appearance and personality, but are otherwise functionally identical and all wield the same under-powered Dera rifle. Also like Liches, what Warframe you use to spawn your Baron will also affect their starting resistances and weapon damage type bonus, though Barons may follow a different set of available elements or Warframe associations than Liches do.

Appearance-wise, Amalgam Barons resemble Corpus individuals more thoroughly engulfed in Sentient mass than normal Amalgam units, though they will still retain a generally humanoid shape and distinguishing features maintaining their identity as Corpus units. Like Liches, names and specific details of their appearance will be randomized, with multiple options for body parts/regions and cosmetic attachments following themes of various types of clothing or varying degrees and shapes of mechanical augmentation or Sentient replacement, though each type of Baron will have at least one or two regions required to sport a minimum amount of Sentient augmentation. There is also a small chance a Baron may spawn sporting a unique "Avaricious" Ephemera or Sydania themed after their associated element, much like the "Vengeful" Ephemeras occasionally sported by Liches. Furthermore, there is a chance Amalgam Barons may generate with unique personality quirks that may impact their behaviors or dialogue responses to certain actions or events, or, which may offer exploitable behavior patterns or additional challenges to consider when fighting their Influence throughout the System.

Barons spawn aboard a personal Capital Ship that flies invisibly through the System, from which they direct the growth of their Territory and the accumulation of wealth and assets. This progress is represented in a special Profit meter on their profile, which increments periodically at a rate determined by the number of map Nodes they currently control. Once this meter fills, the Baron may gain a new Title, which increases the number of planets they can Influence at once, the number of resource types taxed per influenced planet, and the level ranges of enemies spawned in Baron-Controlled Territory missions. Unlike a Lich's levels, a Baron's progression to higher Titles can be not only increased, but also mitigated and possibly reversed by certain player actions, which will be discussed in further detail later. Though higher Titles may make Barons more difficult to fight, they will also increase the rewards yielded by their eventual defeat, should the player choose to challenge a high-level Baron rather than take the time to force them to a lower Title before confronting them.


Nepolysts- Because Corpus never fight for themselves:

All Amalgam Barons will generate alongside a unique form of Sentient-hybrid Proxy called a "Nepolyst", which bears the same connection to their Baron master as other Sentients do to their progenitors and serves as the primary enforcer of the Baron's will throughout the System. Each Nepolyst has a similarly randomly-generated appearance to their parent Baron, using one or more main body types associated with that of their Baron, as well as a number of variations on limbs and cosmetic attachments, some of which may correlate directly to Sentient body regions on their Baron master. Each Nepolyst also bears a signature Amalgam-variant Corpus weapon similar to the Kuva weapons wielded by Kuva Liches, including the damage type bonus associated with their Baron's elemental affinity. Names are also randomized, though it will still be addressed simply as "Nepolyst" in their Baron's in-game voice lines, as is the possibility of an assortment of personality traits and Quirks that will affect their behavior or abilities in combat and/or their interactions with their Baron, possibly in conjuction with the latter's own Quirks.

Like Liches, Nepolysts will periodically invade Baron-Controlled Territory missions to attack the player if the Baron is sufficiently angered, and learning the correct sequence of Requiem Mods needed to defeat one via Mercy execution will play a key role in the Baron's defeat. Performing a Requiem finisher on a Nepolyst without the proper Requiem Mods equipped will cause it to release a deadly burst of Sentient energy in retaliation and increase its Rank by one step, granting it additional abilities, stacking permanent resistances to one or more damage types used against it, and increasing its base level modifier. Nepolyst Ranks are permanent and cannot be removed or reduced, but as their level bonus is relative and scales with the enemy level ranges offered by their Baron's current Title, players struggling to defeat a high- or max-Rank Nepolyst may opt to lower their Baron's title, making the fight more tolerable in exchange for reduced rewards. Raising a Nepolyst's Rank also causes the Baron's Profit Meter to fill more rapidly for a short while, allowing them to automatically ascend Titles should the meter reach the proper threshold. Successfully defeating a Nepolyst with the proper Requiem sequence does not kill their Amalgam Baron outright, but it will reveal the location of their Capital Ship as a special Railjack mission (if it was not already discovered) through which the player may directly confront and kill their Baron once they are ready. Defeating the Nepolyst also forces it to drop a significant volume of Credits and other resources, and renders it unable to invade missions for a limited time, which also imposes a negative progression modifier on the Baron's profit meter that can cause it to slow, stop, or even reverse its advancement, with the possibility of forcing the Baron to a lower Title should it drop below the appropriate threshold.

Baron-Controlled Territory- Hostile Corporate Expansion:

When a Baron first generates, one or two planets in implied proximity to its Capital Ship will come under the Baron's Influence and be populated by a small number of Baron-Controlled Territory nodes, and any missions completed on these planets will have a portion of their Mission Rewards taxed. Where Liches tax relatively evenly across the board, Barons tax items categorically, selecting one or more specific item types (exact number per planet increases by Title) to tax at a high rate variable by the number of Territory nodes present on that planet. Defeating the Baron will restore all items taxed in this manner, possibly with interest if the Baron possessed a high enough Title at the time of defeat. Unlike Lich-Controlled Territory nodes, Baron-Controlled Territory nodes may spread automatically at regular intervals; control spreading to Nodes on a planet adjacent to those already under Baron control, or marking new planets with new footholds of Territory nodes if the current number of Influenced planets is less than the maximum number allowed by the Baron's Title at the time of expansion.

Clearing Baron-Controlled Territory nodes from an Influenced world will not only mitigate the Baron's mission reward tax and their accumulation of Profit, but also allows progress toward their defeat in the form of both Amalgam Shareholders that can be Mercied to grant Requiem Murmurs as with Kuva Thralls, as well as the possibility of optional bonus mission objectives one may complete in order to impose a direct penalty upon the Baron's Profit Meter to reverse growth.


Market Sabotage: Acquisition and Market Sabotage: Liquidation- Weaponized Economics!:

Amalgam Barons do not automatically gain or lose Titles if their Profit meter is sufficiently emptied or filled through means other than a Requiem attempt on their Nepolyst. Instead, once the Profit meter fills or empties, players will be offered one final chance to sabotage their Baron's advancement in the form of a "Market Sabotage" mission that appears for a limited time on a specially-marked Baron-Controlled Territory node. Market Sabotage: Acquisition appears at a full Profit meter and will allow the Baron to advance to a higher Title if it expires, while Market Sabotage: Liquidation appears at an empty Profit meter and allows the Baron to retain their current Title if it expires. Naturally, clearing a Market Sabotage mission within the time limit produces the opposite result: a successful Market Sabotage: Acquisition prevents the Baron from advancing their Title and empties their Profit meter, and a successful Market Sabotage: Liquidation forces the Baron to lose a Title while emptying their Profit meter.

Additionally, at the start of a Market Sabotage mission, players will be presented the option to sacrifice varying amounts of specific certain resources from their own Inventory to impose a further penalty or boost to their Baron's profit meter upon mission completion, the latter possibly even allowing the Baron to gain a Title instead of lose one. Specifics may vary, but current plan is that sacrificing materials available on the planet the Market Sabotage node occupies will penalize Profit through market saturation, while using resources from off-world will increase Profit through diversification, with the size of the increase or decrease being based on the quantity and rarity of sacrificed materials, up to and including a whole change in Title. 

Regardless of intended outcome, all Market Sabotage missions begin with an objective to carry a Datamass to a secure terminal to hack it, though what happens afterward varies depending on whether or not the player chose to sacrifice resources:

-If no resources were offered, players will simply be required to defend the terminal for a short amount of time, which will grant access to rooms containing marked resource caches and other assets that players will be required to destroy before heading to extraction. If the terminal is destroyed before the sabotage is complete, the mission will fail.
-If the player chose to offer resources that decrease the Profit meter, they will be required to defend the terminal for an extended period of time proportional to the total value of the sacrificed resources. If the terminal is destroyed prematurely, the mission will not be considered a failure and extraction will be made available, but the effect of the sabotage will be limited by the percentage of progress made in defending the terminal.
-If the player chose to offer resources that increase the Profit meter, players will not be required to defend the Terminal after the Datamass is inserted, and will be allowed to proceed to extraction as the Baron mocks and/or thanks the player for presumably accidentally enhancing their portfolio.

There is also a higher-than-normal chance that a Nepolyst will spawn during Market Sabotage missions, regardless of the Baron's current Anger level.

Capital Ship Assault- End of a Corporate Empire:

As mentioned previously, learning the Baron's Requiem sequence and/or successfully defeating their Nepolyst at least once will unlock a special Railjack mission through which you may launch an assault directly on your Baron's Capital Ship to confront them directly, so long as you have the proper Requiem mods equipped. This will require players to clear one or more Sabotage objectives once aboard the Capital Ship in order to open the way to a fight with both the Baron and their primary Nepolyst working together as a team. How the Baron's presence affects the fight may vary in different ways depending on type, but may include some of the following possibilities:

  1. A dual-boss fight similar to that with Alad V and Zanuka, in which both the Baron and their Nepolyst fight as individuals with their own unique abilities, each protecting or resurrecting the other should one be downed while the other remains standing. This consequently requires both Baron and Nepolyst to be downed at once in order to open the latter to Mercy and progress to the next stage of the fight.
  2. Baron and Nepolyst combine into a single unit with enhanced power and mobility, requiring additional sustained damage or the exploitation of a weak point to momentarily separate them and allow the Nepolyst to be downed and Mercied before it can rejoin with its Baron to become invulnerable again.
  3. Baron does not join the fight directly, but instead operates a protected command chair/bunker from which it can deploy groups of secondary enemies and additional support structures to protect, empower, and defend the Nepolyst, which must be properly dealt with before you can properly damage and Mercy the Nepolyst directly.

In any case, defeating the Baron will still require you to once again damage the Nepolyst enough times to deliver three consecutive Mercy finishers with the properly-equipped Parazon in order to exploit the vulnerability in both their Kuva and their shared connection as Sentient hybrids. Upon success, the Baron will exclaim disbelief at their defeat and attempt to beg or bargain for mercy, leaving you with the same "Vanquish/Convert" choice as with a defeated Kuva Lich, possibly flavored instead as "Bankrupt/Merger" or something. Choosing the former sends a deadly feedback shock through the Nepolyst that kills the Baron and consequently the Nepolyst, but leaves the latter's body intact enough that you may salvage its weapon for your own use. Choosing the latter instead destroys the Nepolyst and many of the Baron's Amalgam components while sparing their life, for which the ex-Baron will express gratitude while they teleport off the ship, allowing you to return to your Railjack and extract. Both options award players with all items and resources stolen via Reward Tax, plus additional rewards based on the Title of the defeated Baron.
 

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4 hours ago, (XB1)Ben 3 Sound said:

Now that's a kingpin system! It's really cool and you've perfectly captured the feel of toppling a crimelord's whole operation. But in space! I particularly like hitting them where it hurts, the wallet. Cause sure you can kill a lich, but you can RUIN a baron.

I am honestly so happy to hear that.

And yes, this was designed to be a bit more involved experience than Kuva Liches (though I did have some other threads detailing ways to make them more interesting too) but the Corpus' business aesthetic and reliance on Proxies certainly helped lend itself to the idea. I also thought letting the Baron's empire and the Nepolyst rank up independently of each other, as well as allowing you to forcibly lower the former's level, would kinda allow for a chance of a risk-reward element to actively letting your Baron rise before you make them fall rather than simply encouraging you to defeat them as quickly as possible without letting them rank up.

I'm still debating a bit whether the actual rewards for a high-Title Baron would just be a simple interest return on reclaimed Rewards, or if perhaps instead Barons would just have their own drop tables in addition to the stolen rewards, to which raising their Title would be like refining a Void Relic to tip the odds in favor of the rarer/better drops.

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This is a brilliant idea, though what interested me was the ability to sacrifice items to increase the barons title. That would be interesting, as different resources could be valued differently. Argon crystals could be higher value than anything else due to the decay, or the larger resources, fieldron, detonite injectors and mutagen masses could have a much higher value than something else.
 

Honestly this is a great idea and would make the kingpin system actually enjoyable.

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12 hours ago, (PS4)reidy35 said:

This is a brilliant idea, though what interested me was the ability to sacrifice items to increase the barons title. That would be interesting, as different resources could be valued differently. Argon crystals could be higher value than anything else due to the decay, or the larger resources, fieldron, detonite injectors and mutagen masses could have a much higher value than something else.
 

Honestly this is a great idea and would make the kingpin system actually enjoyable.

That was part of the idea, different categories of rarity would impact the Profit meter to different degrees, something like [Common -> Uncommon -> Rare -> Research -> Argon]. I know technically Argon counts as "Rare", but given its half-life, the fact that it comes from the Void and might by extension by slightly sacred to the Corpus, and the fact that it cannot be found on any planet capable of hosting Baron-Controlled Territory disqualifying it from being used to negatively impact Profit, they would probably let you spike their Profits by anywhere from a half to a full meter each, maybe even have unique dialogue responses from the Baron.

Definitely wouldn't be able to use Kuva, though. That would spell disaster for the entire System.

Now that I think about it, though, I feel like resources used to lower Profit might need to be limited to the occupied planet's Common and Uncommon resources, both to make it less trivial to strip the Baron of Titles and to help emphasize the idea that you're cutting into their profit margins by flooding their inventory with trash wares they can't sell. That and it'll give veteran players something to do with their millions of Nano Spores.

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I just realized the Baron's Profit progression has at least three different aspects to it that are meant to happen over time automatically, yet I'm fairly certain while I want said progression to happen at a significant enough rate that players will feel a need to do something about it, I don't know if I'm comfortable with the concept of players walking away from Warframe for a while with an undefeated Baron on their hands only to come back to the game to find their Baron at the highest Title with every planet short of the Void under their control.

Currently, I have three parts of their progression I intended to be time-related:

  1. Profit gauge incrementing
  2. Spread of Baron-Controlled Territory
  3. Time limit on Market Sabotage missions before automatic Title change takes place.

Among these, I have four possible ideas by which "time passage" could be measured:

  1. Advances between missions
  2. Advances after a certain number of missions have been completed.
  3. Real-time limit gated by player login time (e.g. stops progressing after a certain threshold where a player has not logged into the game)
  4. Real-time limit independent of player login status (e.g. current global/event mission timers)

I have some ideas which of the latter could be assigned to which of the former, e.g. Profit gauge increments each mission, territory spreads each daily login, Market Sabotage on real-time countdown, but I figured I'd get some thoughts and feedback from other users here on what they all think would make this system work best. Any ideas?

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