I thought it might be interesting to write something about the combat mechanics in the (unimaginatively named) BattleBytes system, which is being developed for Pirates and Traders 2.
Disclaimer: Since this is still very much in development, the design here may change before it goes public.
BattleBytes is a scaleable combat system; i.e., it is intended to scale for battles of 1v1, all the way up to battles involving thousands of men. The number of units in any given battle will always be fairly low, though (the aim is 20-25 units in total); big battles are modeled by having each unit represent up to several thousand men, while skirmishes may have one unit representing just a single person. The plan is to implement three different “modes” of combat: Single combat (one unit = one character), Squad combat (one unit = 4-16 troops), and Company combat (everything above). The core combat mechanics will remain the same, though adjusted to account for the differences in scale.
Adjustments will be in various facets of the battle game, such as:
- Maneuverability: In single and squad combat, units will be able to maneuver more easily than the massed formations of companies.
- Formations: In company combat, units can adopts formations that affect their combat abilities (skirmish order, squares, etc).
- Weaponry: Weapons will have different effects, depending on the scale; e.g., a pike unit in massed combat has a different utility than a single person holding a pike. Individuals will be able to switch weapons in combat – squads and companies are “stuck” to the weapons they started the game with.
- Effect of hits will differ, of course. An individual may suffer injuries (and keep on fighting), while on the squad and company level, each hit might inflict multiple casualties.
The core stats of the combat game are (naturally) derived from the role-playing stats that we use in the game. The core stats of the units are the following:
Melee Factor: The attack rating of the unit in close combat. This is typically the melee factor of the weapon + the associated skill of the unit (in P&T2: blades, brawling, or pole arms). This can be very variable in individual combat, whereas it is more likely to average out in squad and company combat.
Ranged Factor: The attack rating of the unit in ranged combat. Similar to the above, it is the ranged factor of the weapon + the associated skill (firearms or archery).
Resolve/Will: The willingness of the unit to stand and take hits/losses. This combines as both “hit points” and morale of the system. It starts at a certain level (for individuals, a base fact0r + resolve skill), and gets reduced by enemy hits. If it reaches zero, the resolve of the unit is shattered; i.e., it flees from the battlefield. It is also used to test against whenever a morale shock occurs in the battle (such as, e.g., one of your other units fleeing or an individual receiving a wound); a failed resolve test in such a situation may result in your unit fleeing, even if it’s resolve has not fallen to zero yet.
This is a central stat, because the Resolve of the unit also determines how well units follow your orders. Units will lower resolve (or who have had their resolve lowered by hits), will generally follow orders more poorly, and accumulate more fatigue/stress.
Damage Resistance: This is a bit complicated, as it will differ depending on the scale. The damage resistance is essentially the unit’s ability to resist hits from enemy attacks. While a units damage resistance remains higher than the hits inflicted, it’s resolve will hold out. Repeated hits, however, will gradually wear down a unit’s damage resistance, until it reaches zero, so even the most well-armored unit will eventually be worn down if hit by enough opponents.
Damage resistance represents different things depending on scale. At individual and squad level, it primarily represents a mix of the toughness/agility of the defending unit (i.e., ability to shrug off or “turn” away hits) + the armor of the unit in question. At company level, it represents the formation and cohesion of the unit, combined with the armor bonus of the units equipment. Note that these elements are handled distinctly; for instance, some weapons (e.g., most fireams) will ignore armor completely when inflicting damage. A unit’s cohesion may change if the unit changes formation.
Fatigue: Representing both mental and physical fatigue. As battle drags on, units may accumulate fatigue – to the detriment of their resolve and combat performance. As I will explain in a later post, the intended game system is one where you can “push” your units to extraordinary efforts – the fatigue system is there to keep that in check. Fatigue also accumulates anytime you ask your units to do anything extra strenous, such as marching through difficult terrain.
Movement Rate: All units have a base movement rate. This will be essentially the same for all foot units, and a different rate for mounted units. Very simple and straightforward.
In addition to the core stats, units may have different traits that give them special abilities, advantages and disadvantages. So a unit may have “Quick Reactions”, “Eager”, “Brave”, etc. Some of these will come from the existing character traits in the role-playing system; others will be inherent in the game system. For the former, I’m considering adding a “perks” system to the role-playing game, that will allow the player to pick a limited number of perks while the character levels up, in addition to building up skills.
That’s pretty much it for the character stats in the combat system. In the next post about this, I’ll dig a bit more into the game mechanics that I’m working on implementing.