Monday, October 5, 2009

Anima Gets Tabled

And so, we come to the next big task in Anima: getting rid of that giant combat table! This will be a bit convoluted, as its gone through a few different stages, but bear with me.

Now, the Combat table works on something approaching a formula, but as we will see later, 'almost' doesn't cut it. On a basic level, the Combat Table works thus: The attacker rolls his attack ability, and the defender rolls his defense ability. These rolls are then compared, and the defender's roll is subtracted from the attackers roll. For each 10 points that the attacker wins by, the defender takes 10% of the attacker's base damage, -10% per AT (armor type) of the defender. So if I hit you by 60, and you have AT 3, I do 30% damage. If the defender wins, then he may spend his action to make an immediate counter-attack with a +5 bonus for every 10 points that he wins by. So if I attack you, and you beat my roll by 30, you would get a +15 on your counter-attack.

One solution that I have seen is to convert the game to use d10's, and divide all base damage by 10. What you can do then is compare the attack roll and defense roll, and then if the attacker wins, simply subtract the defenders AT from the margin of success, and then multiply whats left by your base damage. Effectively, instead of saying "I hit by 60, so I do 60% of my 100 damage", you would say "I hit by 6, so I multiply my base damage of 10 by 6". The end result is the same.

Now, this system works pretty well, and can even be done with d20's (simply divide all damage by 20 instead of 10) but there are a few small problems. You lose a lot of resolution and distinction between weapons and stats when you divide everthing by 10 or 20, since everything is in increments of 5. Also the Combat Table doesn't actually work that way.

While it follows a formula for the most part, it has its own little quirks that are pretty much impossible to model with a formula that anyone can do without a graphing calculator.

For example, If you hit by less than 30, you don't actually do any damage at all, regardless of the target's AT. It still has downsides for the defender, but no damage. Seems easy at first right? Just make it to where our d20 rolling friends have to win by at least 6 to do damage! Easy right?
Unfortunately, no. Because if you hit by 40 against AT 0, you do 30% damage, and if you hit by 50, you do 50% damage. It follows the formula after that. Also, according to our formula, and taking the 'hitting by 30' threshold into account, hitting someone with AT 1 by 30 should do no damage, right? Alas, no. It still does 10%. Same for AT 2. All together, the table doesn't start making any kind of sense until you are hitting by 50, or attacking a target of AT 3 or more.

Regardless, I soldiered on! I ditched the combat table and divided all damage by 20... Except, dividing all damage by 20 sucked. All weapons did 2-5 damage, and were very similar. Also I had to worry about things like "how do I handle what was previously a +5 strength bonus? Does it add 1 to damage? I mean, that would essentially quadruple its effect!" So as a solution, I divided all damage by 5, and multiplied all life points by 4! This solved the problem, in that it kept the damage and HP in proportion, but created the new problem that everyone has like, a billion LP. (a first level character could easily have 400-500 LP under that system) Either way, I was ready for a quick playtest.

Three things became clear as I pitted my level 6 Warrior against a horde of trained soldiers.

  1. Characters with no supernatural abilities SUCK.
  2. The quadrupled HP and damage numbers were clunky, and difficult to use.
  3. By just cutting 30% off of every hit, to take the 'hit by 30' threshold, no one could do any damage.
So, I pondered how to fix this. I don't want to just get rid of the 30 point threshold, as its important to the game's balance, and a great many things in the game work around it, specifically, many effects that don't do damage, but instead inflict some kind of effect, require that you hit by at least enough to do 10% damage. To remove that 30 point gap would increase the power of these abilities by a lot. In addition, taking out the weirdness of 'glancing hits' against weak armor would likely make those lighter armors better than they really should be.

So I pondered and thought, and ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I would have to leave the Combat Table in. Now, that does kinda suck, and you will still have to find percentages, but, there is good news.

The primary thing that this lets me do is instead of drastically inflating damage and LP, I can actually shrink those numbers! In fact, both can be divided by 5, reducing the work required in keeping track of them and calculating them significantly.

So while you still have to calculate a percentage, it wont actually be that difficult, because you will likely be taking a percentage of a number between 10 and 20, and that's not so bad. Not ideal, but workable.

So, in conclusion:
  1. The Combat Table stays
  2. All damage values and life point totals will be divided by 5.
That's it for now! Next time we will take a closer look at what can be done for critical hits!