Was preparing for a larp last friday. ’twas great. Anyway, how does combat handle itself mechanically in Star?
There is a relic in modern games from the times when pen and paper were the most used gaming platform: Hit points. When wielded by a fast-thinking, flesh and blood human they are a potent tool, summarising an individual’s fighting capability in just a number. When an orc deals damage to you with an axe, he scrapes your thigh, forces you to strain yourself by dodging, or hits your shield hard, numbing your arm.
But in a computer game, the same orc usually connects with the axe, which whooshes through your body, tossing liters of blood around and eliciting a grunt of pain. And you keep fighting, despite having just taken a 5-kilogram axe to your face. Same thing with firearms. As long as you have that one hitpoint left, it does not matter whether you have been shot with a bullet, rocket or stone-melting plasma bolt. It does not impair your ability to fight, and once you have gotten used to the red flashes and a slight toss in your aim, you can take machinegun rounds while carefully aiming at the enemy who is peering out of cover. “Someone is shooting at me? No matter, I’ve still got over half my HP left.”
No. Getting hit hurts. As I understand it, modern guns are already too efficient for any body armor to handle. And in the future, they get more powerful still. When a person gets hit, he is going down. X-Com Enemy Unknown had this in the start: When an alien hits your man, he is going to die. In extremely rare cases, the hit will not kill him immidiately, but after a few turns. With body armor, the chances to die immidiately were reduced to about 50-50. But even then being hit was sufficient to knock the unit’s stats down enough for him to be useless in the fight. And healing from damage took ages.
But since we do not have the ability to hire faceless mooks, we need something else. Let’s imagine that a character is hit. If the hit was not instantly fatal, the shock and pain would probably knock the person down. The guy wouldn’t probably rise up immidiately, but attempt to crawl somewhere safe first. Assuming that he is capable of coherent thoughts. But in combat situations, he wouldn’t be a threat for a few moments. And even if he could grab a weapon and shoot back, undoubtedly his efficiency would be questionable. In the game, we shall simulate this by checking where the shot hit by checking which body parts are visible. Then we calculate the effect from weapon damage and hit location: Knockback, physical damage and pain. Knockback is checked against the Fortitude of the target, which consists of Willpower and the weight of the character. If the check succeeds, the character falls down and drops any held objects. Physical damage reduces the stats of the character. This damage is semi-permanent; It can only be cured in the main hub. Armor reduces physical damage by small percentages. Pain is an accumulating value, which drains from the characters slowly. Depending on the Willpower of the character, Pain might reduce his stats, force him to skip turns, moaning, or even drop the character unconcious. Too much physical damage will kill the character.
So now we have a system for handling damage. A common result of being hit would be being knocked over and thrashing on the ground in agony. This is effectively a kill and will reduce the combat efficiency of one side by a significant amount. The lesson is not to get hit.
Next time I’ll see how shooting works.