I’ve been so busy the last week that I’ve failed to update you on much of the game design stuff I’ve been stewing over — well, I’ve also failed to stew much. It’s been sitting on the back burner, gathering dust. Huzzah for mixed metaphors!

Mostly I’ve been thinking about the combat system, and the order of operations in battle. This morning I posted a bit about reactions replacing individual turns (player and monster alike). The idea is that players act as a single unit, attacking in unison, and monsters act together as well. Individuals react accordingly.

My system uses three types of “actions” — Standard, Sudden, and Swift — and three types of interrupts or “reactions” — Readied, Quick, and Instant — to form a hierarchy. “Larger” actions can be interrupted by “smaller” reactions. Readied actions occur before Standard actions, Quick before Sudden, and Instant before Swift.

Similarly, smaller reactions occur before larger ones, so Quick beats Readied, and Instant beats Quick. Also, a smaller reaction will occur before any larger action, though most times it’s overkill. To illustrate, an Instant is the fastest action in the game, and can certainly be used to interrupt a Standard action.

The balancing factor in all of this it that actions can be shut down, much as they can in most games, through status effects like stun. While any action in the game is faster than a Standard action, all reactions can be shut down with a single status effect (Dazed), and if you’re Stunned, you can’t use Sudden or Swift actions.

The Standard action stands as the only action that can’t be denied. Interrupted, Blocked, Countered, Absorbed, Canceled, or Evaded, but not denied.

“…They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”
William Wallace, Braveheart

In fact, there’s no way to deny a character their Standard action short of rendering them Helpless. Status Effects are designed to stack, so you may literally be Bloodied and Battered, Dazed and Confused, Stunned, Staggered, and Harried, Weakened, Crippled, and Disabled, not to mention Wounded, and still be able to fight.

So, most of the defensive powers that I devised for the different tactical roles are designed to occur just before the act of intercepting an attack. Absorb a hit, take less damage from a miss, block an attack headed for an ally — all that good stuff. Once that plays out, interception occurs, and attacks hit or miss, and deal damage.