A sizable update for Torchlight 3 has gone live that reworks the way that relics (essentially, subclasses) function. Previously they were an item you could equip that would bestow additional skills, and they could be stored or swapped between characters via the Reliquary. Chris Livingston found them a bit interchangeable when he took a look at Torchlight 3 a couple of months ago, a sentiment that Torchlight 3 project lead Tyler Thompson agrees with in the latest patch notes:
"Being able to craft, change, share, and delete the relics tended to diminish their importance to a character. It felt like a system on the side—not something that truly provided build diversity and character identity."
As a result, relics are now fully-fledged subclasses, chosen during character creation, that come with a "full tab" of five active and five passive skills. You begin to build your character around this third skill tree from the very start of the game, and there's now no way to change relic after character creation. The four existing relics (focused around fire, cold, poison and electricity) remain in the game, while a new relic has been added as part of the update. Blood Drinker is essentially a vampire subclass that lets you slurp on enemies to heal yourself, cause bleeding damage, and exploit bleeding enemies by, among other things, exploding them.
Other changes in the update include the addition of "mini-dungeons" (these sound a lot like Diablo 3's small cellar areas), and the downgrading of the now-useless Reliquary to a decorative item. Owners of the early access version of Torchlight 3 will receive the item to remind them of "a bygone era".
It's an expansive update that has necessitated a total character and account wipe, so if you own the game in early access you'll need to start from scratch to judge how the new relic system works.