[project1dev] Combat and Character Mechanics

  • From: eric drewes <figarus@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: project1dev@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 13 May 2009 00:15:29 -0400

Now that we are finishing the first milestone and getting ready to begin on
the second one (character creation), it is time to discuss the core
mechanics of the game.  This document doesn't include specific skillsets,
perks, curses or magic abilities, but gives a general overview to the way
each system will work mechanically.  With this stuff also comes the
opportunity for everyone to chip in ideas for perks, skillsets, etc. as well
as their thoughts on balancing certain aspects of the systems. A lot of the
ideas we have discussed have been incorporated into these things, but I am
sure I have missed some stuff and there are certain systems I haven't
addressed here yet that we will continue to develop. Special thanks to Nick
(Rorac) for his helping in putting all of this together.

The goal of the Character and Combat systems is to provide an engaging and
fun process with incredible depth that is intuitive, easy to learn yet hard
to master.  Highlights of the system are customizable classes, skill-tree
based leveling, and combat mechanics based on tactics and strategy.  This is
meant to serve as the fundamentals of our game.  From here we can tweak,
edit and add to establish game balance and make the game fun!  Please note:
 in the process of designing the combat engine, it has gone through some
radical changes since last discussed, wield the spade, raise the blade,
sacrifices must be made.  There is much less emphasis on twitchy timing and
more on strategy and adjusting tactics on the fly, although there will still
be plenty of skill involved in winning fights.


One of the goals of our statistic design was to have stats that made sense
to the player so they weren’t left guessing what their stats do.  We also
wanted to be able to create NPC’s and recruitable party members that
mechanically matched how they are portrayed in the story.

All statistics have a soft cap of 100 (i.e. no player or recruitable
character can go above 100 via normal leveling). Stats often have associated
perks that are unlocked when certain marks are surpassed.

Strength – Establishes extra damage on physical attacks, allows for the use
of heavier weapons and armor.
Agility – Establishes dodge and overworld walking/running speed and jumping
Toughness – Establishes health, influences resistance to stuns, establishes
Current Health (CH) recovery rate
Willpower – Influences resistance to stuns, establishes strength of magic
and resistance to magic
Resourcefulness – Gives random bonuses like learning new spells, skills and
finding things, opens new dialogue options, etc. Our version of “Luck” (I
believe luck is often when resourcefulness meets opportunity).  Also effects
engineering and mechanical abilities
Perception – Reveals things in the world, such as facts about characters,
location of treasure, and weaknesses of enemies, establishes ability to aim
Charisma – Effects certain spells and skills, also effects party chemistry
and ability to recruit party members


Attack Ability – Establishes ability to hit the enemy with a physical attack
and do damage
Magic Ability – Establishes ability to hit the enemy with magic and do
Block/Parry – Establishes ability of the character to block or parry an
Dodge – Establishes ability of the character to dodge an attack


Potential defines how many character points (CP’s) a character gets per
level.  The purpose of potential is to give each player a different
experience as far as character development goes as well as a way for us to
make characters work mechanically as they are created.  For an example, an
old swordsman would be already good but would have low potential because he
already knows quite a bit. There are two methods of expressing potential,
constant (color) and random (random).

How Potential Works:

Every character’s potential will be represented by a color and in some cases
a star. The existence or lack thereof of a star is revealed through a perk
unlocked by perception.

Black – 3 CP’s
Purple - 4
Blue – 5 CP’s
Green – 6 CP’s
Orange – 7 CP’s
Red – 8 CP’s

Bronze Star – 1-3 Extra CP’s
Silver Star – 1-5 Extra CP’s
Gold Star – 1-7 Extra CP’s

For Example: So someone who had black with a gold star would get between
4-10 CP’s, someone with green potential and no star gets a flat 6


Health in this game will be limited, rather than go off an attrition system
like most games have where you must spam healing potions or magic to stay
alive, the goal of our system will to avoid damage altogether.  Tentatively,
health will have a softcap of 200.  On top of health being limited, healing
outside of towns or special nodes will only be achieved via the application
of first aid which adds a small amount of health (dependant on the skill of
the medic) and can only be applied 3 times in between visits to nodes/towns.
 However, as previously discussed, the health system will have a self
restorative factor as well to help players survive.

How it works:

There are 3 health stats.  Max health (MH), Max Current Health (MCH), and
Current Health (CH).  Max Health is your characters maximum health.  When a
character is injured, the full amount of the damage done to the player is
subtracted from Current Health, but only half of that is subtracted from the
Max Current Health.  Current health Restores itself at a rate dependant on
the toughness statistic up to but not exceeding the max current health.

The other way of keeping your party members fresh and healthy is the tagteam
system.  Your party will have up to 6 total members at a time, with 3
available for use in combat and hotswappable with the 3 sideline characters.
 Using this, injured characters can tag in for fresh characters so the
injured characters can be safe and heal.  Swapping characters will also help
combat strategy because you can match up the characters with the enemies
you’re facing.

Death occurs when someone’s CH is <1.  When a character dies, they can only
be regained by jailbreaking them at a node.

Hardcore – every character has the option to go “hardcore” – this means,
once they die, they are DEAD forever.  Once you set a character to hardcore,
it becomes locked.  The plus side to going hardcore is the character
automatically gets a gold star in their potential.  Some recruitable
characters will be hardcore by default.


Stuns occur when an opponent does an amount of damage as dictated by
(Willpower + Toughness)/40.  When stunned, a player/enemy has their ability
to dodge and block reduced by 50% and an amount of RT dependant on the
willpower/toughness statistics.


These can affect both player characters and monsters and have various causes
and cures.
Maimed – Halves Attack, Dodge and Block ability – Heals after battle is over
or via medic
Berserk – Unable to use magic or special attacks, resistant to stuns, 1.5x
damage on attacks
Bound – Replaces all abilities with a “break free” command that has a random
chance to break free.
Blind – Major penalties to Attack ability, aim ability, block and dodge.
Inspired – In various degrees adds to dodge, block and AA
Poisoned – drains life overtime
Controled – Character is under mental control of an opponent’s magic user


Each character has 0-3 skillsets.  Skillsets are represented in the combat
menu by commands that are along with the standard FIGHT, ITEM and RUN that
everyone has.  Examples of Skillsets are Cyan’s “Swordtech” in final fantasy
3, Kain’s “Jump” in FF2, etc.

There are three types of skillsets:

Nested Skills – These are skills that are like folders that contain
additional skills.  When you train in physical/magical skills you gain
Attack/magic Ability as well as new commands that are nested in the
skillset.  An example of this is Sabin’s Blitz skill in FF3, Blitz would be
the nested skill, training in blitz would unlock the individual attack
skills such as pummel, aurabolt, etc.
Straight Skills – These are skills that are just the skill, no additional
skills are learned when training in the straight skill, instead you just get
better and more effective at the skill.  Steal would be an example of a
straight skill.
Passive Skills – Passive skills range from skills that provide straight
boosts to certain statistics like Attack ability or Dodge, to skills like
“Counter” that allows you to automatically counterstrike enemies.  Passive
skills do not give additional commands to the fight menu.

Skillsets can be learned in many ways, via trainers met in the game, books
found in the game, rewards for quests, etc.  Skills can be swapped at the
trainer at any time for the main player character but some skills will be
static for recruited players.  For example, a recruited Bard character may
have 2 Bard related skills, these are locked, but his third slot will be
open and thus swappable at will at the trainer if the player desires.

We will make default names for many combinations of skills, such as Warrior
for a combination of physical skills, Bard, etc.  These default names can be
swapped and changed by the player so classes are totally fluid and


There are 4 stats that go into combat - attack ability, critical%, block,

Attack’s AA + Block + Dodge create the number range, a random number is
picked inside the range and that number will dictate whether the attack
hits, or is blocked or dodged.  The number will also dictate the damage on a
hit (the closer to the total AA the better, with critical % being which
number range also produces a critical hit.)

Damage is dictated by how high the random number is as well as the damage
defined by the weapon (a flat rate) and strength (a multiplier).

for example:

30-attacker’s AA
10-defender’s Block
10-defender’s Dodge

The sum is 50, then you do a random number between 0 and their combined
number. if the number is 0-30, it’s a hit (with the critical percentage of
AA being a critical hit. so if critical is 10% then a critical hit would be
if the number was between 27-30) if it’s between 30-40 it’s a dodge and
41-50 it’s a block.

This is just for the basic core combat, many maneuvers and skills will
replace the random number with a timing based bar which picks the number
dependant on when you press the key when a line is going back and forth from
one end of the bar to the next or an assortment of other engaging methods we
will develop as the skillsets are chosen and worked through.

PERKS and CURSES (please suggest alternate names!)

Perks are special case bonuses (or negatives) that affect your character.
 Because perks are unique, there’s no blanket explanation. There will
probably be no limit to how many you can have. Here are some examples of
some perks that will exist to help give a general idea of how they work:

Insight – lets you see if a character has a star potential
Madness – Occasionally lose control of the character’s commands.
Avarice – makes treasure glow on the overworld map
Trap Finder – Makes traps glow on the overworld map
Blind – Permanent Major penalties to Attack ability, aim ability, block and
Die Hard – If the character loses all CH but still have MCH left, they will
“get their second wind” and have their health restored all the way to their

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