Thursday, March 13, 2014

Combat Like Dark Souls

The Fundamental Tension in Dark Souls Combat

The thing in Dark Souls is pushing your luck. Sure, you could be incredibly careful, but that would take a long time; and so sometimes you gamble.

You gamble by doing extra damage but possibly subjecting yourself to extra damage yourself. 

If you're not gambling, you're rolling away or putting your guard back up.
Let's emulate that.

Whether you hit or miss, and after you resolve it, you have a choice: stay engaged and follow the normal procedures, or take a risk and press.

  • If you press, make another attack roll. 
    • If you hit, do damage again. If you miss, you take the monster's normal damage. 
    • If you don't press, proceed as normal. 
  • If you successfully pressed, you can press again!
    • If you do, repeat the above.
    • However, if you miss this time, the monsters does twice its normal damage, or uses its special attack. 
  • Repeat, keeping track of each time you press; and, on a miss, taking at least [press] times the monster's damage expression. You can substitute 2 presses for a special attack instead (petrify, poison, dominate, whatever). 
  • When a monster misses, it gives you a free chance to press. If it misses by 5 or more, you cannot miss on the first press.  
  • (Optional): when you press, you can choose to switch targets or charge to a target within range of your charge. If you drop your original target, the new one still gets to do its press damage on a miss if you miss; so the common "Cleave"-type feat still has something going for it: it doesn't expose you to retribution on a miss.

What This Does
  • Makes combat go by faster
  • Lets you burn down mobs
  • Lets you get one-shotted from full health, even in 4E
  • Adds optional complexity to the game, that makes things go faster, not slower
  • Lets overpowered fights burn more quickly, while still giving them the possibility of significant resource drain (from possibly catastrophic hp loss)
  • Adds some light fictional texturing: after each hit or miss, you're moving/rolling back and guarding, unless you press

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