Khadgar by zeeaall

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By: zeeaall
Last Updated: Mar 13, 2020
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Archmage of the Kirin Tor

A masterful Mage who combines elements into a plethora of different spells, adapting to each situation.

I'll reiterate this below, but let me just say right off the bat: the base kit is essentially an adaptation / reskin of Merlin, the wizard character in Gauntlet.

(I'm updating this with a lot of the stuff discussed in the comments. Thanks for the questions!)

Combat Trait

Master of Magic
Combine two elements with your Basic Abilities to replace this with a spell.

Primary Abilities

Conjure Frost
[Q] Add a Frost element to your spell.
Conjure Fire
[W] Add a Fire element to your spell.
Conjure Arcane
[E] Add an Arcane element to your spell.

Secondary Abilities

Ray of Frost
[QQ] After 0.5 second, channel a ray of frost that deals X damage per second to the first enemy hit, increasing up to X over 2 seconds. Slows by X% per second for 1.25 second, up to X%.

Does not go over unpathable terrain or deal damage to Structures.
Deep Freeze
[QW] Slow enemies in a cone in front of you by X% for 2 seconds.
Frozen Orb
[QE] Launch an orb of ice at the targeted location that deals X damage per second to enemies in an area around it and Slows them by X% for 2.5 seconds. Lasts X seconds.

Does not go over unpathable terrain.
[WQ] Swoop forward as a fiery raven, dealing X damage to all enemies you pass through and igniting them for X damage per second for X seconds.
[WW] Hurl a small fireball in the targeted direction, dealing X damage to the first enemy hit.

Does not go over unpathable terrain.
Phoenix Flames
[WE] Launch an arcing projectile that deals X damage to all enemies in its impact area.
Nether Tempest
[EQ] Fire a volatile arcane beam at a nearby enemy, dealing X damage and chaining to other enemies, prioritizing Heroes. Hits up to X Heroes and X non-Heroes.
Arcane Shock
[EW] Cause a burst of arcane energy in front of you, dealing X damage to all enemies hit, knocking them back a short distance, and stunning them for 0.5 second.
Prismatic Barrier
[EE] Raise a protective barrier for X seconds that cannot be crossed by enemies and grants allies inside it X Spell Armor.


Honestly, this is just a reskin of Merlin from the game Gauntlet, since I envision Khadgar working in basically the same way, which is also very similar to Invoker from Dota. Whenever I see a post asking "which kind of Hero do you want next" (in terms of gameplay), I always imagine Merlin, and whenever I see "which characters do you want the most", I always think of Khadgar. Thing is, I think Merlin's kit and concept would work really well for Khadgar, so I decided to create this concept page just to the put the idea out there. Next time I see one of those posts, I can link this instead of trying to explain it in like 3 lines, lol.

So really all I did here was rename the abilities to fit Khadgar as a WoW mage, and made very slight adaptations to bring their power level a little closer to what you'd expect from a HotS character, such as "Deep Freeze" not stunning, and "Prismatic Barrier" not granting invulnerability. Gauntlet is a very different game from HotS, so while these things aren't game-breaking there, they'd be too OP in HotS. But other than that, I think the kit could work surprisingly well with proper tuning, despite being ripped straight from a different genre altogether. Of course, if Blizzard ever adds a character with this mechanic, their actual abilities would likely be different, but I think it's a solid example.

I also think it'd be perfectly fine for him to not have Heroic Abilities considering he already has 9 Basic Abilities, or maybe he could have passive Heroics (like choosing one of the three magic schools to buff). I guess he's also a good candidate for a hero with no Basic Attack, since they'd be pretty pointless anyway, there'd always be a spell preferrable to that.

The way this whole thing works is, Spells are made of 2 elements. When you conjure just 1 element, nothing happens. When you then summon a second element, they combine into the respective spell, which gets "equipped" to your Trait button. You do this whenever you want to equip a different Spell, which always goes to your Trait button. The trait as it is listed here will almost never be seen. Think of it as Might of the Nerazim: as soon as Zeratul uses an Ability, it gets replaced.

I'd like his conjured elements to be visible to everyone. I imagined them being small orbs, like Kael's Verdant Spheres, then looked up Invoker and it turns out he does exactly that.

Some details about the Abilities since I didn't give them numbers:

- Ray of Frost: no/low cooldown, stats start up low but grow significantly over time if it sticks to a target, can turn very slowly while channeling.
- Deep Freeze: massive slow, medium cooldown.
- Frozen Orb: large area, low damage, long cooldown. The orb itself moves from Khadgar to the targeted location at the same speed as Li-Ming's orb, affecting enemies it hits, then stops and sticks around for a while, affecting the area around it.

- Flameshift: not a teleport, takes like 0.5 second. Same range as Blaze's Jet Propulsion. Low impact damage, high DoT, medium/long cooldown.
- Fireball: low damage, very low cooldown, fast cast time, medium/long range.
- Phoenix Flames: high damage, small/medium area, low/medium cooldown, long range. Arcs in the air like Zarya's grenades. Has a minimum cast range (as in, it can't be cast too close to Khadgar).

- Nether Tempest: low damage, low cooldown, low/medium range for the initial target and chains.
- Arcane Shock: medium damage, medium cooldown, melee range, very small area in front of him.
- Prismatic Barrier: very small, long cooldown.

Balance considerations

As I said, this is a kit ripped straight from a completely different game, of a different genre altogether, so it's to be expected that not everything can work out the exact same way. I already nerfed the two most obvious ones: Merlin's freezing spell stuns all enemies hit for a few seconds, and his barrier makes everyone inside it invulnerable. Both of those effects would be Heroics in HotS, so I made Deep Freeze a potent slow, and Prismatic Barrier a damage reduction.

That said, there are other things that could be tweaked as necessary to adjust his balance, aside from just tuning numbers on the abilities, as discussed in the comments:

Global cooldowns

Certain actions could trigger global cooldowns. Could be when you successfully combine two elements, or after you cast a spell, or between conjuring two elements, and so on. Different placements for this global cooldown would change the way it feels.

For instance, adding it after combining two elements into a spell would set a limit on how fast Khadgar can react to things, requiring him to anticipate things a bit more, and provide more counterplay for enemies, as they would have more time to notice what he's about to cast. Sounds great, but delayed actions tend to be seen as frustrating (see Deathwing).

Adding it between conjuring two elements would give enemies a different reaction window. They'd have time to react to the first element, but not the second, so they'd have to guess which of the 3 spells that start with that element Khadgar's going to want. It still provides counterplay, but just in a different way. For Khadgar, however, it'd very likely feel clunkier.

Then there's the fact that it doesn't need to be "global", you can have them on either just the conjuring abilities or the actual spells. Giving the CD to just the spell makes it so Khadgar can't react as fast but can still fix his mistakes by conjuring a new spell. Giving it to just the conjures makes it so he can react almost instantly, but needs to commit to his spell choice for a bit longer before being able to switch.

There really are a ton of different ways of going about this, with their own up and down sides. Personally I find it a bit hard to pick what's best without being able to test it myself, but I think the best way might be having QWE go on a short cooldown after switching spells.


"Having to commit to your first conjured element" vs "being able to easily fix a misclicked conjuring" is a matter of "convenience for Khadgar's player" vs "punishment/reward for player skill" and can also be adjusted.

In Gauntlet, it's incredibly easy to fix a mistake of that kind, as there's no cooldown whatsoever to conjuring elements. If you use the wrong one, you can either wait a little less than a second for it to fade on its own, or you can complete the spell with literally anything and restart conjuring immediately.

For HotS, a lot of people would probably be frustrated if Khadgar could get away with mistakes that easily, so that could potentially be tweaked as well. The first conjured element could not have that fade timer at all, and one of those global cooldowns mentioned above could be added somewhere. That way, if you input a wrong element, you are forced to stick to one of its 3 possible spells for at least a short time. It's not terribly punishing, as you still have 3 options to try to salvage your situation, so it shouldn't feel too bad for the Khadgar player and sounds like a perfectly acceptable compromise to me.

Spell balance

I made it so Ray of Frost can't damage Structures because otherwise it would be free sieging. It's a long-ranged channel. Alternatively, it could have a cooldown and maximum channel time, but personally I prefer disabling its Siege damage, as he can already do that with Fireball (technically free sieging but the damage is low so it's not an issue) and it's ok for him to not be good at sieging structures, as he already has good PvP and waveclear. Another aspect of Ray of Frost that could be changed from the original is turning speed: Merlin can turn very slowly while channeling it, but we could have Khadgar be able to turn slightly faster (the original speed would be too terrible in HotS) or be unable to turn at all. Yet another balance knob could be adding a maximum channel time with a very short cooldown. The fact that it doesn't pierce and you need to maintain in on a target already means you'd very rarely be able to get the maximum benefits constantly, as any other unit could move in front of your intended target, or if they're running away they'll eventually outrun it (just don't run in a straight line, remember his limited turning speed); but if somehow it's problematic, a limited channel time would solve it. Yet another possibility, which I quite like, is giving it a minimum channel time, like many other channeled abilities, which makes the casts more deliberate, which is good for something like this. Think Deathwing's breath.

I made it so Ray of Frost and Fireball stop at walls because, other than that being how Gauntlet works, they are low cooldown / long range spells and would be incredibly annoying for channeled objectives. Other heroes like Chromie can already do that and everyone hates it. It also makes enemies consider terrain more, and in a beneficial way for once, as opposed to the likes of Diablo and Hanzo (and now even Lúcio with his new Push Off) that make you avoid it. It'd be a unique weak point for a hero this versatile.

Other aspects

Mana! There's no mana in Gauntlet. Khadgar could have mana in HotS. That could also allow some of his longer cooldowns to be a bit shorter but cost a lot of mana, adding another layer of resource management to the hero. It could also be that only some abilities would have mana costs, like Whitemane: she can use Inquisition and Searing Lash as much as she wants, if they're available, but mana is used as the limiting factor for Desperate Plea. I believe that, if he is to have Mana, that would be the best approach. I think a hero with this many abilities and cooldowns to keep track of should not need to also keep track of mana costs for all of them, but it could be a limiting factor for just a few.


In Gauntlet, the only ability icon you see on-screen is the icon of your current spell. That means you don't get to see the cooldowns of your other spells. I get how that might sound terrible, but it actually works out just fine, and I'd bet it would work out in HotS too. I believe that's also how Dota 2 handles it for Invoker, but I don't play that, so correct me if I'm wrong. While I prefer it that way, here are some ideas for displaying more information:

Spell previews

Let's say you have nothing conjured. Your action bar looks like this:
Q: Conjure Frost | W: Conjure Fire | E: Conjure Arcane

Then let's say you press Q to conjure a frost element. Now your action bar looks like this:
Q: Equip Ray of Frost | W: Equip Deep Freeze | E: Equip Frozen Orb

Then you press E. Now your Trait has been replaced by Frozen Orb, and your action bar is back to:
Q: Conjure Frost | W: Conjure Fire | E: Conjure Arcane

The idea is that once you have your first element conjured, the next element determines what the resulting spell will be, so they could be displayed in your action bar. I only added the word "equip" to make it clear it's just a preview and they would still be cast with D. This would only allow you to see 3 spells at a time, not all of them.

Hero-specific portrait icons

Some information could be put in that space next to his portrait. You know, where Zul'jin can see his stacks, D.Va can see the damage reduced by her Defense Matrix, and so on. I suppose you could even fit very small icons for all 9 spells there. Even the icons I used here are already distinct enough that you could probably tell them apart even if they were tiny, and an actual hero would have unique icons designed specifically for them. On top of that, they can be laid out in a logical 3x3 table, so you barely need the icons, you can tell which is which by their position.

Talent ideas

Here are some ideas for different kinds of talents Khadgar could have. I would also like him to have something similar to Li-Ming's [Tal Rasha's Elements] that incentivizes switching spells a lot, but I'm not sure how to best do that one.

Talents that incentivize certain combos:

Hitting 2 enemy Heroes with Flameshift resets the cooldown of Deep Freeze.

Enemies ignited by Flameshift take X% more damage from Fireball and Phoenix Flames.

Rain of Fire
Casting Flameshift increases the damage of your next Phoenix Flames within 2 seconds by X%.

Talents that affect multiple spells without being combo-oriented:

Lingering Magic
Deep Freeze, Phoenix Flames and Prismatic Barrier leave a pool of energy on their area of affect for X seconds. While standing inside it, allies gain X% Spell Power and enemies lose X% Spell Power.

Ray of Frost and Fireball can pierce 1 target. Increase the amount of times Nether Tempest can chain to Heroes by X, and to non-Heroes by X.

Talents that affect schools of spells:

Burning Reach
Increase the range of your Fire spells by X%.

Ice Barrier
Gain X Armor for each enemy Hero Slowed by your Frost spells.

Talents that alter Abilities, reallocating their power budget and changing the way they're used:

Frostfire Orb
Reduce Frozen Orb's Slow by X% and increase its damage by X%.

Harsh Winter
Ray of Frost doesn't need to ramp up anymore, but can only be Channeled for X seconds.

Sleet Storm
Ray of Frost creates a swirling storm around you instead of a beam.

Arcane Radiance
Arcane Shock Blinds enemies for X seconds instead of knocking them back.

Static Shock
Arcane Shock deals X additional damage instead of knocking enemies back.

Guardian's Aegis
Prismatic Barrier grants 100 Spell Armor, but only Khadgar is affected.

Shared Power
Prismatic Barrier's area is increased by X%, but it no longer affects Khadgar.

Standard talents:

Bone Chill
Keeping Ray of Frost on an enemy for X seconds Roots them for X second. This can only occur once every X seconds.

Nether Currents
Whenever Nether Tempest chains through a Hero, its damage is increased by X%.

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Sort Comments By
matrix123mko (7) | March 10, 2020 11:20pm
I like it. It fits Khadgar and is interesting.

But how do the cooldowns work? Do they block your D or are they spell specific? How would it be visible to player?
zeeaall | March 11, 2020 12:45pm
A short global cooldown could be necessary for balance reasons. He doesn't have any particularly crazy combos on his own, but maybe someone with high enough APM could be a monster if there were no cooldowns whatsoever to switching spells.

Cooldown display is interesting to think about in this case! I pretty much just imagined picking Merlin straight from Gauntlet and dropping him in HotS exactly as he is, as I found his design there to work incredibly well, but I see why it could be divisive for HotS: there, each spell has its own cooldown (with no global cd), but there's only one icon which always displays what your current spell is (and whether its available or not), so you pretty much have to keep track on your own. I must say, it actually works pretty well, you get used to them very quickly, especially since 3 of them have basically no cooldown and one is like 1.5 second.

It'd be hard to show all 9 on-screen at all times, but I guess there are some possible compromises. After you conjure one element, the Q W E buttons could transform into the respective spells they'll result in with your next press. So for instance, if your first conjured element is Frost, Q would display Ray of Frost, W would be Deep Freeze, and E would be Frozen Orb; and so on.

Technically you could just display all of them on the 6 extra buttons except for Ray of Frost, Fireball and Nether Tempest, since they're too low for it too matter anyway. It'd look a bit weird but I do think people prefer having the information available even if the presentation isn't the best (look at all the ways people suggest showing Abathur's cooldowns). It would limit design space for his talents a bit though, as it would limit him to 1 active talent at most (his R is still free) and none of the talents could increase those short cooldowns as a tradeoff for something.
FidgetingFly | March 11, 2020 1:44pm
You could have two little globes by the portrait which display a colour based on which elements you choose, or grey for nothing yet.
Also, if you use a spell would it reset both elements to nothing? If not, how would you reset it if you wanted to get a new spell?
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