Late last week, cookiemonger brought me in on an RPG Maker project she’s been wanting to work on for a while – I’ll be building the maps and coding the more frustrating parts of the game, while she writes the dialogue and story. I forget if the combat system was a natural extension of my part, but that’s what I’m doing now.

One of the things you want to have in mind when you work on a game with a leveling / advancement system, is this idea of “power doubling,” which is how often a player character effectively doubles in power. Which is to say (based on the problem I’m working on right now) “how many levels does it take to double your hit points?”

Hit points are a good measure for this, because a total loss of hit points on the part of the player results in a setback of some kind, whether that’s a “Game Over” brick wall, or some loss of experience points, treasure, or another resource they’ve been gathering through gameplay. Damage is based on hit points, for instance.

English: A scene from a generic fighting game....

Whether you’re drawing or designing a spreadsheet, it all comes back to this.

“Assuming that a monster and a player character have the same number of hit points and otherwise equal statistics, how many hits should a kill require?”

I answered the above question with, “about four.” If that sounds like a lot, please bear in mind that many players are very slow to notice they’re losing a battle. I wanted to go with 2-3 hits, but I figured lots of players would lose fights more often with such a narrow window of time. If it sounds too low, I have to point out that it’s turn-based.

So, to start with any old number, let’s say players and monsters have about 50 hit points apiece. If their attacks are to kill the other in approximately four hits, then each attack needs to deal about 13 damage. Now isn’t that fancy!

One of the problems of monsters and player characters dealing the same amount of damage (and having the same number of hit points) especially with the repetitive nature of turn-based roleplaying games, is that it’s easy to mistake your numbers for the monsters’ – thankfully there’s an easy way to fix this problem.

Slightly increase the amount of damage your player characters deal. Slightly decrease the amount of damage your monsters do, and increase the monsters’ hit points relative to the number of extra attacks it will take for them to kill the player character.

The first thing you’ll notice is that combat is slightly longer, rounds-wise. Feel free to tweak that to your liking, but you may not have to – see, one curious effect of having the player characters deal more damage is that watching the numbers scroll by is easier to parse, and easy to, for lack of a better word, endure.

At some point I’ll post some actual numbers, but this concept here is one of the building blocks to creating a successful spreadsheet-based roleplaying game.

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