01 March, 2013

Epic Combat with Minimal Rules

If there's one thing I love about the movie "Suckerpunch", it's the epic combat sequences. One girl against a giant biomechanical demonic samurai, a team of physically adept specialists rnning through treches against hordes of undead steam-powered nazis...forget the story, if the story is good then that's a bonus, you don't sit down to watch a movie like this for it's engrossing plot (there have been plenty of critiques about the storyline of Suckerpunch scattered across the web...I really don't want to get into them here).

It's really anime in its style. Epic sword fights, epic gunplay, over the top action. It is what I'd love to see in Voidstone Chronicles. I think the combatcrcle described in the last post is a good step in that direction, it allows combat to become a fluid thing, not divided into discreet rounds.

I want this combat system to tell stories, like the conflicts in Suckerpunch, or in anime, or the duel between Inigo Montoya and Westley in "The Princess Bride". Not a simple back and forth of die rolls or cards, but away that exposes the world through the actions of the participants.

But what else does it need?

I'm not sure if hit points are the right direction, but they certainly match the "Final Fantasy" feel. At early levels, as an inexperienced hero, you might deal 5 to 10 hit points of damage with a sword...but when you get to the end of thecampaign,you might wield an enchanted blade that simply smears lesser opponents into splatters of blood as you deal thousands of damage points with a strike (while the most epic badness in the setting might have thousands of hit points to resist the effects).

What about armour?

To keep the system simple, I'll be linking degree of damage straight into the degree of success with the hit. If you just hit, you do a little damage, if you really overpower your target, then a lot of damage is dealt....it's logical and straight forward.

Here's where we could start dealing with multipliers and exponential systems, the kinds of mechanism that a computer handles virtually instantaneously. An unarmed strike by a novice might deal damage equal to the difference in attack roll and defence roll, a simple sword might multiply this result by 3...a "legendary blood-blade from the sixth dynasty" might multiply it by a hundred. Then armour might divided the final damage, leather armour might halve it, plate armour might reduce it to a tenth, and "sacred plating of the celestial court" might reduce it to one percent (always rounding fractions up so that a successful strike will always deal at least one point of damage).

It really fits the theme, and if I was writing a computer game that might be the way I'd handle it. But maths like this really slows down a table top conflict.

Lots more thought required.
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