Not an "Action RPG" per-say, but the game will have action elements. Over all, we want the encounters to be fairly fast-paced. A well-built character should not need to spend several minutes beating down a trash mob in order to advance. This is where the use of combo and effect-kills comes in; stronger enemies(bosses) will be immune to these, but weaker mobs should be relatively easy to deal with.
All characters have a Toughness rating a Constitution rating.
- Toughness acts as a buffer against actual injury; your pool of Toughness Points regenerates quickly and absorbs most types of damage assuming you are properly protected against them.
- Constitution is your actual physical health. Having had damage to your Constitution means you have a physical injury. Unless magic is at play, Con does not regenerate automatically and must be "healed" using medicine(sutcher kits, bandages, etc) or magic(potions, spells, items, etc). It will be possible to find and equip items that automatically regenerate Constitution.
There is also a third function called Fatigue, which determines how quickly your Toughness regenerates. Under normal situations, the character will never become Fatigued; basic actions do not bring the fatigue bar down. Damage, however, does. Also some special abilities will eat into the fatigue bar.
As covered under hit points, there are a few different types of hit points, and different damage types affect them. Your basic damage types are:
Unless a target is armored, slashing and piercing damage hit points directly. Bludgeoning damages toughness first but deals more damage once it has been removed. Magic has a target and will deal according to the spell or effect.
Where possible, attempts should be made to keep interacting with the game simple enough that people can play with a console controller if they want. We are not designing around that demographic, but we don't want it to be impossible for them. This, I believe, will also ease the transition to virtual reality.
Combat should be real-time but relatively slow. It should not require cutting-edge reflexes to play this game. I personally dislike any sort of parry/active blocking system and prefer a good old fashioned "aim at monster, hit attack button". That said, some kind of grapple/boss climbing feature should be at least attempted. Active blocking for defensive purposes should also be a thing, but the design is situational rather than reactionary(EG "I'm blocking because I know I need to be defensive, not because I saw an incoming attack and had to scramble to react to it). Also shield bashes, because who doesn't love a shield-bash?
A good old-fashioned FPS-style interface with hotbars. It's not in vogue but who cares? It's solid and simple. Hot keys are tied to special abilities, special attacks, etc. Keep the basic tab to target, left-mouse click to basic-attack. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this tried and true system.
To-Hit and Damage Calculations
The basic to-hit is a percentage roll. For every type of combat there are multiple ways of attacking, each with an underlying skill and a separate percentage.
- Basic Attack - 50% chance to hit
- Feint Attack - 20% chance to hit
- Overhand Strike - 10% chance to hit
All of these to-hit chances are improved based on your score in the appropriate Skill. So for example the 'Feint Attack' is based on your Weapon Finesse skill, which in turn improves slowly by making feint attacks.
For all of combat, whether melee, ranged, or magic, there is a cycle of 3 attack types. The player has the ability to configure these, and nothing stops them from setting the same type for each point in the cycle(E.G. "I can have basic attack 3 times in a row"). Your cycle is set by stance, and players may have any number of stances and switch between them at will.
The idea here is to let them use different stances to respond to different threats, or use them to help train up different skills. For example, a player wishing to level up Weapon Finesse might make a cycle that's just Feint 3 times, and use that while out grinding mobs in the wilderness. Or they might have Basic Attack 3 times just for max sustained DPS. Exactly how they use this is going to be up to the player.
Criticals are calculated differently from normal hits. Every time an attack is successful, the engines checks to see if it is also a crit. Crit is based on weapon percentages and bonuses from class/perk etc. So for example a basic sword might have a 2% chance to crit and a Warrior might get +8 to crit.
Crits also happen automatically if:
- The attack cycle has 3 different components
- All three hit successfully
So, if a player has configured their cycle using the three example attack styles above and hits all 3 times, they automatically score a critical hit.
Crits are kind of the "heart and soul" of DPS. Normally a hit only gets damage calculated according to the stats on the weapon. Now, weapons can have a good amount of base damage, but that's still all base. Base damage will usually be a variable set according to weapon type. So a longsword might deal 11-14 points of slashing damage. This will be improved based on the quality of the item.
In addition to it's base damage, each weapon has a crit chance and crit multiplier. Crucially: the multiplier does not apply to the base damage, but rather damage based on the weapon skill.
- A player has 50 points trained in Longswords
- The longsword they are holding has a 1x crit multiplier
On a critical hit, the sword deals an additional 50 points of slashing damage.
In normal combat, an enemy dies when it's hit points reach zero. An "effect kill" is the exception. A mob could be at full HP and still succumb to immediate death from this. It could be an injury that becomes fatal(see Injuries bellow) or the coupe-de-gras of a combo. Spells can also have kill-effects.
The idea is to keep the game moving. When it comes to clearing "trash", players should not have to spend a ton of time beating things down. Game difficulty should never be decided by "the number of hit points" a trash mob has.
There needs to be some system to determine whether or not the kill is successful. This could be as simple as a ranking system(EG enemies in group "A" are vulnerable, those in group "B" are not) or we could make some kind of variable.
Personally, I like the notion of dividing mobs into three categories: Captains, Lieutenants, and trash. Trash mobs are always vulnerable to effect-kills, lieutenants call for some kind of check, and captains are immune.
Armor provides enormous bonuses to toughness, and makes it so that slashing and piercing damage has to go through toughness before impacting actual HP. However, not all classes can inherently wear armor. Mages, in particular, have to jump through quite a few "hoops" in order to become armored spellcasters.
Injuries are funny things. They don't always happen, but any time damage is dealt directly to the hit points, there's a chance of inflicting an injury. This is where Fatigue comes into play, as injured characters suffer more damage when they exceed a certain fatigue threshold.
We will further divide the body into four areas that can be injured: head, torso, arms, and legs. An injury to the legs reduces movement speed, an injury to the arm reduces attack speed, and an injury to the head reduces both. Injury to the torso has the possibility of causing an instant fatality.
Whenever an attack is landed, the game will determine which area it hits. Blunt injury to the head, piercing/slashing damage to the torso have the chance(which can be improved) to be instantly fatal(this goes for both mobs and players). Magic cannot inherently cause injury or death, but some spells will have that effect.
You have three basic ways of defending yourself: armor/toughness, evasion/avoiding attacks, and simply not being a target at all. The third one is the hardest, as it doesn't help with AOE, but hey. Obviously, each class has it's innate specialties. Warriors rely on armor, thieves rely on evasiveness, and mages cower in a corner and hope no one sees them. Each class further has an Expertise tree that helps it overcome it's deficiencies in that regard. So warriors can chose to sacrifice offense to gain better defense, and mages can learn defensive spells at the cost of damage-dealing abilities.