Saturday, May 4, 2013

Combat development

With the introduction of the different classes - soldier, priest, thief, barbarian and sorcerer - I've been working at incorporating the different parts of the rules from Dead Simple to make the classes stand out a bit. I've deviated from the rules a little bit and that's probably inevitable when you think that the system was worked out to be used as a group where it wouldn't matter too much if your own character was a casualty in battle because one of your group could finish the job for you.

In a single player game though, it's a fair bit riskier to allow that to happen and because of that I've moved a little bit from the basis rules set out in the system. The overall guts of the combat system is as follows:

  • Basic combat is the attacker making a roll against their fighting skill minus the defender's dexterity skill on a d20. If you roll less then the required 'to hit' score, then it's a successful attack. The amount by which the roll succeeded is the damage caused by the attack. That damage is reduced by the defender's armour and shield combination. And finally the defender then rolls a d20 against their toughness score minus the damage remaining after being soaked up by armour, and if they fail that roll then they are damaged in some way.

  • The Dead Simple rules allow for basically three states - uninjured (which is 'healthy' in my game because I didn't want the negative of a term to be used), wounded, and unconscious. There's also true death after that, but I'm not so interested in that for now. I've expanded on that by making creatures a bit more robust. It now goes: healthy -> injured -> wounded -> unconscious. So in effect, the average character can take three successful blows before being incapacitated. 

  • And after setting out the case for average characters, we have the example of barbarians and certain monsters who possess the 'berserk' trait. This trait means that when that creature is damaged beyond 'wounded', they enter a near-death frenzied state where they receive a -5 malus to most skills with the exception of fighting and toughness which receive a bonus of +3. The upshot of this is that barbarians are the damage-soaking tanks of the game and become very dangerous just when things look the bleakest for them.

  • Soldiers possess the 'swordsman' trait which means they automatically attack twice per round, which is a very powerful ability.

  • Thieves gain double the bonus for surrounding an enemy which every other character enjoys. It's a +1 bonus to fighting if you manage to gang up on an enemy (and of course this applies to enemies surrounding you as well) but thieves get +2. And a further deviation from Dead Simple is the introduction of a stealth d20 check when thieves attack in a group situation, with the amount by which a successful roll beats the score needed being added to the damage in a powerful backstab attack. The point of this approach was to make the thief a useful secondary fighter in group combat, but relatively weak and exposed on their own.

  • Priests will be the healers and support fighters, but are relatively capable on their own and sorcerers haven't received a whole lot of love yet so they're just weak fighters in nice looking robes with a wizard hat at the moment.

  • And finally, the last change I made to the Dead Simple rules was to include a speed d20 check for every character when they attack an enemy, which on a successful roll means an additional attack. The idea behind this was to encourage something more than just brute strength fighters - a dexterous speed-based fighter might give up damage dealing potential for the likelihood of attacking more often in combat. Currently, this stacks with the soldier's natural double attack, so a quick soldier might find themselves attacking three times every round, which is something I'm keeping an eye on for being unbalanced.

It probably needs a bit of tweaking as it stands with all of the above implemented. I'm finding that some enemies are completely ineffective in combat because their fighting score is too low to ever have a chance to damage a well-armoured opponent with a middle of the road dexterity, and even some of the stronger creatures in the game aren't the ultra-dangerous threats they should be. For instance, I want someone successfully defending against an ogre's attack to be a very rare and lucky event, not a matter of course.