I've been toying around with a one-on-one tactical RPG in Construct; I just finished the bare-bones character creation/combat engine. This is the most basic state in which it can be considered a game in its own right; with collaborators, I hope to use it as a basis for more fleshed-out projects. The mediafire link is for 3 MB .exe; all the instructions and details are included below. All feedback is appreciated.
Since the process is a bit overwhelming at first glance, here's a visual tutorial:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set= ... c029174cbe
In most RPGs, intelligence barely factors into melee combat. I never thought much of this until I joined a few friends for Dagorhir skirmishes (kind of like what they did at the end of Role Models, except less elves shooting fireballs and more linebackers hitting you in the chest with a breakfast table covered in a light layer of gymnastics padding, passing for a shield). I learned a lot of things, but above all else: you simply can't be stupid on a battlefield, or you're going to die really fast.
To be fair, a lot of people died really fast in battles. That's the idea of large-scale warfare. However, nobody wants to be that guy with a handaxe sticking out of him. You want to be the one pulling it out of him and moving on to your next victim. You want to be the hero of the story. That, as it so happens, requires intelligence.
By intelligence, I don't mean the ability to calculate the arc of an opponent's swing or the chemical formula for bronze; I'm talking about intuition. You can practice all you want, but if you don't pay attention to the details and make subtle adjustments, it's difficult to truly progress. By honing your intuition through keen observation of yourself and your enemy, as well as the ability to see patterns in the unfamiliar and anticipate rather than rely solely on past experience, you gain a priceless edge over the opponent who has merely swung his mace a thousand times the same way, without thinking twice about it.
This RPG engine strives to capture that. Battles are won with single, calculated killing blows as readily as they are won with overwhelmingly powerful barrages; they are just as much about manuevering and anticipation as they are about damage per second and overall survivability. Death comes fast, and it comes unexpectedly; the more you think things through, the less chaotic it will be, and the greater your chances will be of walking away.
If there's any single inspiration for this system, it's the D&D 3.5 assassin; the idea of observing a character, then striking with overwhelming precision, was the perfect alternative to the you-hit-me-I-hit-you mentality that most players brought to the table. This entire engine is designed to showcase the tactical skills that make a 3.5 assassin a god among men.
Players take turns attacking each other; in order to attack, your weapon's range must overlap your opponent's body.
When a character is attacked, it attempts to defend itself. This consumes stamina. Certain weapons deal more damage; this implies that they require significantly more effort to defend against.
When a character's stamina is reduced to or below zero, that character collapses from exhaustion and is, for all intents and purposes, dead.
Each weapon has a lethality rating; this is the weapon's chance of instantly killing an enemy. Lethality is expressed as a percentage. The 'kill' roll generates a number between 1 and 100; if this number is equal to or lower than your lethality, you score a kill...
...unless your opponent's armor blocks it. If you roll a killing blow, the 'null' roll generates another number between 1 and 100; if this number is equal to or less than your opponent's armor, it nullifies your kill and instead deals regular damage. Armor is measured as a percentage, just like lethality.
It is important to remember that armor does NOT protect against stamina damage, only lethality. In addition, armor lowers your movement range per turn by 1 step per 5 armor. Weapons likewise have a weight rating; each 'stone' of weight lowers speed by 1 step.
As an alternative to armor, characters may defend instead of attacking; this unconditionally nullifies lethality and reduces damage based on defense rating (the defense rating is subtracted directly from damage, so a 4-damage weapon attacking a defending opponent with a 3-defense weapon would only deal 1 damage). While this seems far superior to armor, keep in mind that a defending character can not attack on that turn.
It is possible to increase lethality, damage, speed, and defense in battle. First, we will look at damage and speed, and their governing stat, strength. A character can deal more damage than its weapon allows by exerting extra power; each extra point of damage costs 1 point of stamina. The character may gain a bonus to damage up to its strength stat, as long as it has the required stamina. In the same manner, a character can move further than its armor would normally allow, up to its strength stat, by paying 1 stamina per extra step.
Lethality and defense, tied to the intellect stat, function somewhat differently. Each turn, the character gains a cumulative 5% bonus to lethality, up to its intellect stat. For example, a character with 15 intellect would gain 5 lethality per turn for 3 turns, topping out at an additional 15% lethality. Every time an opponent attacks, the character gains its entire intellect stat as a bonus to lethality, potentially exceeding the cap. For example, the character with 15 intellect, which has stopped gaining 5 lethality per turn because it has already reached its 15% lethality bonus, would gain another 15% every time it was attacked. This quickly builds up; after sustaining just two attacks, the character is capable of formidable 45%-lethal attacks. Defense works much the same way, except that it does not increase passively, only when attacked.
Initiative is determined by rolling dice equal to the characters' speeds. The character that rolls the highest goes first. The intellect stat is automatically added as a bonus to the dice roll, and an additional bonus can be added based on strength by expending 1 stamina per point added, in the same manner as damage and movement.
Click on the P1 or P2 icons, in the top left and right of the screen. You will see an arrow appear next to the icon you have selected. You have two sections to focus on; on the left hand, you can increase your character's stats and skills, and on the right, equip the character with gear.
You can select weapons to view their stats; damage, lethality, and defense appear below your character's stats, while the weapon's classification, reach, and weight appear below the equipment section. When selected, the weapon's weight will subtract from your speed, its reach will alter your character's battlefield icon (P1 is in the bottom left, P2 in the top right), and the skill text below the stat/skill buttons will go from lower-case to upper-case depending on the weapon's classifications. Armor, unlike weapons, can be selected multiple times; each click adds 5% to your armor, and lowers your speed accordingly.
It is important to make your final equipment selection before clicking the other icon; otherwise, the system counts the last weapon you selected as your final selection and thinks you're choosing another weapon to carry when you click back, adding to weight and reducing your speed further. Yes, it's a technical issue that could have been addressed. Alas, I am but a man. I'll get around to it. Also, you can not dual-wield gear at this point; regardless of whether it is a one-handed or two-handed weapon, all characters can wield only 1 weapon (this includes the shield). Inevitably, I'm going to get complaints about the shield not being a legitimate weapon, to which I say, "you've obviously never been hit in the chest by a linebacker wielding a breakfast table covered in a light layer of gymnastics padding...or stabbed in the face with a spiked targe...or punched with the edge of a bronze disc". The list goes on and on. Trust me, shields do some damage.
You have 20 experience points to spend on stats and skills; stats cost 1 point each, while skills cost 5 points each. A skill, once selected, will permanently grant you a bonus to weapons within its category, increasing their damage, lethality, and defense by 1 rank each (1 damage, 5% lethality, 1 defense). Skills you possess will have their buttons faded out. You can click the Level Up button indefinitely to gain 5 points of experience at a time, if you're in the mood to build more powerful characters.
Please be sure to make your selections in this order: weapon, armor, stats. If you select the weapon after the armor or stats, the game sometimes goes crazy and adds far too much weight; I'm not sure why. Obviously, I did something wrong, but now you're paying for it by having to build your character in that particular order. Worse fates can befall a man.
Once you've got both characters built, take note of their speed and intellect stats; these will combine to determine initiative. If you feel that yours is lacking, you can click the + button below the Initiative text on your character's side (at the top of the screen, near your character icon) to add a bonus at the expense of stamina, as discussed in the System section. Don't worry about your skills being applied to your weapon's stats; once you click the combat icon, the changes will automatically be applied. You'll notice that when you select combat, one of the characters is selected randomly. Both initiatives are rolled, and the character with the higher initiative (or a random character, if both initiatives are equal) is chosen. Click on that character's icon to begin combat.
You'll notice once you click on a character that its lethality goes up; as described in the System section, it will do so at the start of every turn, up to the character's intellect stat. When selected, your relevant stats will be transferred to the combat stats section in the top middle of the screen, below the Attack and Defend buttons. You will notice that your damage and speed can be boosted; the number between them is your total available bonus, based on your strength and available stamina. However, you can not attack yet; you must first make contact with the opponent. To do so, right-click anywhere on the battlefield and your character will move to that spot; if you come up a bit short, feel free to boost movement (at the expense of stamina, of course) as necessary. Once you make contact, you may attack. Note that it is not necessary to be in range when you actually click the attack button; you can simply overlap the opponent to activate attack, then finish your movement and perform the attack. Alternately, you may defend at any time during your turn, regardless of whether or not you have made contact with the opponent. You are not obligated to attack your opponent; you may end the turn at any time by clicking on your opponent's icon.
It is possible to overlap the enemy, attack, then retreat and advance to re-enable the attack button. This allows for some rather unforgiving one-turn kills, so it is not recommended until you are skilled/bored with the regular one-attack-per-turn method. While it certainly does a better job of representing speed by allowing it to govern both movement range and rate of attack, it makes berserkers and assassins (more on this below, in Builds) terrifyingly effective. If you're a big fan of ninjas and Gothic barbarians over samurai and legionnaires, feel free to try it out.
There are 4 text boxes to the right of the combat stats: KO, Kill, Null, and Hit. These light up depending on the result of your attack, so you don't have to wade through the sea of numbers to make sense of what happened. KO implies that your HP was reduced to or below zero by sheer damage. Kill implies that your HP was reduced to zero by a lethal blow. Null implies that you rolled a lethal blow, but your opponent's armor blocked it, thus dealing normal damage (but not enough damage to KO the opponent). Finally, Hit means you dealt damage, but did not roll a lethal blow.
Two fighting styles predominantly arise: the duelist and the berserker. The duelist utilizes high stamina and intellect to defend and learn its enemy, building up lethality and defense per attack and retaliating with, ideally, one incredibly lethal finishing blow. By defending, the duelist is protected against lethality, but will require some stamina to take the initial blows necessary to build up the power of its own attack. The berserker is the opposite; instead of relying on lethality, it focuses on overwhelming power to utterly crush its opponent in a few swift attacks. The berserker focuses almost solely on speed and strength, using its ample reserves of stamina to gain large boosts to both damage and movement range. Its goal is to close the gap and incapacitate the opponent in as few attacks as possible.
Two alternate fighting styles, more challenging than the duelist and berserker, also share the battlefield: the assassin and linefighter. The assassin is similar to the berserker; highly mobile, and focused on offense. However, the assassin focuses on lethality instead of damage, using a high intellect to passively gain lethality and a high speed to evade the enemy until it has built up enough to rush in for the killing blow. The linefighter functions more like the duelist, but strives to finish its enemies with knockouts. Instead of expending a great deal of stamina to deliver higher damage, the linefighter constantly defends and uses high-defense weapons coupled with superb stamina to effortlessly mitigate enemy damage. Its goal is to goad the enemy into exhausting itself with powered-up attacks, then finishing the winded opponent with a series of damaging blows.
YOU READ ALL THAT?!
So that's pretty much it. Keep going until someone dies. There's no reset button, so if you screw something up during character creation, or when you're ready to restart, you will have to restart the application. Sorry; I'll get around to it.
Anyway, let me know what you think; I'm looking for help turning this into a skirmish (roughly 5-on-5 or thereabouts), which requires programming I am not readily capable of. I'm also looking for artists to help overlay an isometric 3/4 top-down interface. For now, this is just a fun sandbox; eventually, it will become an RPG with a storyline, kick off a 10-sequel series with a dozen spin-offs, and I'll be swimming through pools of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck. Until then, thanks for your time; enjoy.
edit: changed the file to an updated version that addresses a minor issue with multiple attacks per turn.