Monday, January 09, 2006

"The" Combat System

(shhh....this was totally posted on Monday...)

I've been working on a combat system like this in a couple nascent designs, and it keeps on sucking. Basically, I want something where there's an element of tactics that come into who strikes first and such, which propogates through the rest of the combat. In the past I've toyed with something along these lines:

Stats are measured by die size. Each character has a Tactics stat. They can choose any dice up to the Tactics stat size (so, if you have a d8, you can choose a d4, d6 or d8). Each player in the combat does this behind their hand, secretly.

You reveal at the same time. The highest die size strikes first, but those with lower get to add their dice to whatever their roll is, and adding another dice will probably mean you win, if the initial strike doesn't kill ya. So, the trick is to get the largest die you can while still "losing" the reveal.

In practice (yes, I did playtest this), it was just...awkward. And the guys I was playing with, who are pretty sharp in general, didn't internalize it by the end of the session, so I had to explain it each time. Maybe it's just wierd that way.

But I like the basic idea, that you get rewarded for not doing the basic/easiest thing (go with your highest die, all the time), and the way that it balances out uneven opponents (a guy with a low stat will almost always get the bonus against a guy with a high stat). But thats also a problem, because it means that there's little reason to have a high fighting stat.

Some thoughts: Attach it to a dice pool system w/target numbers and sucesses. Your rating is the maximum number of die you roll in your pool, and you choose any number up to that number. If you choose lower than your opponent, you're target number is lowered by 1. If you're number is higher than your opponents and you choose lower, than your number is lowered by 2 (so thats part of the advantage of having a better Tactics skill). An easy way to visually do this: set out a number of dice equal to your full score, put your hand in front, remove down to your number choice, unreveal.

Also, part of your effectiveness can be temporarily lowering your opponents Tactics score for the duration of the combat, so if you're being stomped, you can work on that instead of trying to injure them, or whatever, to level the playing field.

A big sticking point: multiple opponents. I see something Dogs-like (and Tunnels & Trolls like, from what I understand) where a group of opponents just means bigger or different stats, not more rolls. Damage goes into reducing stats, all that good stuff.

Comments:
What if you reverse it?

Roll your die in secret.
Whoever uses the lowest die goes first.
The die result gives you a bonus throughout the round.

Then you can go 'fast and agile little hits' or 'big lumbering smashy'.
 
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