One thing that sets AARPG apart from other RPGs is that I expect every player to have a calculator. Nothing fancy, just something to allow you to quickly and easily add, subtract, multiply and divide. You can probably get a solar powered calculator from the dollar store.
It seems a bit odd, granted, and I expect that there will be some who either feel it’s too onerous a requirement (to which I reply, how is being expected to have a calculator any different than being expected to have a set of dice?) or perhaps even unnecessary. To that last group, my reply would be, sure, you can add, subtract, divide and multiply 2-digit numbers in your head… But why bother? I could spend 5-10 seconds calculating 97/14 in my head, or I could just punch it into a calculator.
This brings me to the damage system I’m going to be using, consisting of vitality and toughness. A base, level 1 character will have a toughness of 10 and 10 vitality points, before other modifiers.
You can think of vitality points as your hit points, except one point of damage doesn’t equate to one point of vitality. Rather, you divide damage taken by your toughness, and that’s how many VP you lose (rounded down). As an example, if a character with 10 toughness takes 46 damage, that’s 4 VP lost.
Armor improves toughness, and characters may have a piercing rating which reduces their opponent’s toughness. For example, if a rogue with piercing 2 attacks an enemy with toughness 13, the enemy’s effective toughness would be reduced to 11 against the attack.
Magic frequently interacts with VP directly, completely bypassing toughness. Healing restores VP, and offensive magic takes away VP. Thus, magic is comparatively more effective against well-armored enemies, while physical attacks are better against ‘squishies.’
One of my design goals in AARPG is to abstract out movement in combat. I’ve flirted with using a system of abstract distance and groupings similar to what Warhammer FRP 3e uses, but even that is more… tactical than I want. I want to completely get rid of the notion of distance.
This leads to a problem of how to make ranged combat distinct from melee combat. It’s not a big problem in the case of magic, where enemies who are vulnerable to magic will likely not be as vulnerable to physical damage and vice versa, but in the case of ranged combat the differences in defense are going to be relatively minor.
My current thought is some kind of system of counterattacking. Whenever you make a melee attack, your opponent gets to make a melee attack back at you. This leads to some interesting consequences.
First, it means melee is very effective against casters and ranged attackers, since they will tend to have a weak melee attack if they have one at all.
Second, it implies that people who fight in melee must have formidable melee defenses. In the case of fighter-types, this would be heavier armor which mitigates damage. In the case of rogue-types, they would have some kind of mobility bonus, reducing their opponent’s chance to hit with a counterattack.
The third consideration is a matter of time and complexity; if every melee attack provokes a counterattack, that’s going to slow things down a bit.