[MUD-Dev] A new combat system

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Thu Jul 13 15:35:11 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

On Thu, 13 Jul 2000 08:49:42 -0700 
Brian 'Psychochild' Green <brian at psychochild.org> wrote:

> J C Lawrence wrote:
>> Providing explicit and dramatic support for slowtime/fastime just
>> seems one route to provide this.  It just has problems.

> I had an idea to facilitate round-based combat in a faster-paced
> world.  When someone engaged in combat, they go to round based
> actions.  (I'll conveniently ignore any problems with "indirect"
> attacks for now.)

I had a fairly detailed round based combat system (discussed here as
always) with dynamically scripted rounds (combat packages, ad hoc
attacks and defenses, and dynamic resolution of what actually
happened at the end of a round.  ("combat package" is probably a
good search string) I ended up abandoning it as I found that the
vast majority of my combat related activities were now no longer
combat-type actions (consider the business of Mana Wars such as
UggUgg's mana fight oft quoted here).  It just got too hairy to
consider what was and was not combat related when the really most
effective actions (largest effect on the other character) were
indirect and had nothing to do with combat (dropping certain
objects, casting spells that by side-effect (what they consumed)
manipulated the particle economy in a fashion detrimental to his
state, etc (eee UggUgg).  

Heck, in the later days, almost every fight I staged never actually
descended to actually directly trying to harm the other fellow.
That was just too iniefficient and far too likely to backfire
disasterously.  If was much more effective, and far more difficult
to defend against, to attack by indirect means.

I also didn't like the removal of surprise that enforced rounds
created, so I gave up rounds.

> Now, anyone entering the "area of combat" is treated specially.
> "Area of combat" is defined as the area a player from which they
> can affect combat (depends on MUD's implementation).  The player
> is notified when they enter such a place ("You hear the din of
> combat to the north.")  If a player is only entering movement
> commands, then they don't drop to round based actions.  However,
> as soon as they do any other actions, then they move to round
> based actions, including subsequent movement.

Yup, did all this.  Perhaps I should quote UggUgg's fight (sorry to
all of yuo that have seen it fifty times):

  UggUgg slashes at you with his Sword of Instant Beheading 
  and minor discomfort!
  > cast soakhole on uggugg
  You cast the dreaded mana eater soakhole on UggUgg!
  UggUgg sneezes and buries you in green snot!
  Your armour suddenly dissappears!  
  Your spell of magical summon protection fails!
  Your spell of magical sight fails!
  UggUgg's Nose Ring of Killer Snot dissappears!
  UggUgg's Belt of Gas Containment dissappears!  Phew!
  UggUgg's dagger of wart removal dissappears!
  > cast create mana
  You create 5,000 units of mana!
  Your mana stores are now empty.
  You are now magically potected from summons.
  You can now see all magically hidden objects.
  UggUgg thows a blade of painful castration at you!
  > jump!
  You leap mightily.
  The blade misses!  You are still a baritone.
  > attack uggugg with spear
  You ram UggUgg through with the spear of Icy Death!
  UggUgg now has the flu and looks a bit watery about the eyes.
  UggUgg picks up a rock.
  UggUgg bashs you with a rock!  Ouch!  That hurt!
  > throw TC at uggugg
  You throw the charmed trash collector at UggUgg.
  The TC englobes UggUgg!
  UggUgg gives you the Sword of Instant Beheading and minor
  UggUgg gives you the Boots of Mighty Chilblains,
  UggUgg gives you the Goggles of Big Farts.
  UggUgg gives you Super Nose Hair Puller.
  The TC has eaten everything UggUgg was carrying!  Yech!
  UggUgg is naked!
  Your spell of magical summon protection fails!
  Your spell of magical sight fails!
  Your spell of magical tummy tuck fails!
  Your spell of power voice fails!
  Your spell of land control fails!
  Your spell of bowel control fails!  
  Your spell of toe cheese protection fails!
  > stat spells
  You have no spells.
  > stat mana
  There is no mana here.
  > strangle uggugg
  You wrap your hands about UggUgg's neck and begin to squeeze!
  UggUgg prays to the Great God GooGoo!
  GooGoo mana blesses the area!  
  There is a LOT of mana here!  You skin prickles!
  > i
  You have a mana shielding sack
  > l in sack
  There are 5,000,000 TC spores in the sack.
  >empty sack on UggUgg
  The spores eat all the mana!
  There are 5,000,000 TC's here!  Wow.
  All the mana is gone!  

Ignoring the several errors in the above (such as giving objects and
automatically having them accepted) the above is really a fight for
control over the mana resources.  All the object and spell decays
are due to there (then) not being enough local mana to sustain them
(magic decays unless continually fed mana).  Ergo, the big fight is
to gain some arbitrage over the mana resources so you can then deal
from a position of strength (which creates a rather pleasing
two-stage combat model).

While there's a modicum of physical combat, it really is
insignificant and very very secondary to the main mode of combat:
control of the mana resources from your opponent so you can then use
that to disable his defences while maintaining your own.

The joke of course is that they're so tied up in the second order
effects that Bubba could walk in at any time and poke either with a
slightly pointed coconut and win the day and neither of them can
afford to either DO that (and thus render themselves defenceless to
the other) or defend against it.

Note: Combat is intended to be vicious, bloody, highly unpredictable
in both outcome and development, actively rewarding of imagination
and crafty tricks, and short.

> This allows someone to move through a combat without problems, but
> if they do anything that could affect it, they are bound by the
> rules of the combat.  Not a "perfect" solution (there's still a
> lot of problems to work around), but it helps smooth some problems
> over.

My problem is that motion itself can be a combat action.  Example:

  Move so that you intercept the main mana stream entering the area.
Pre-arrange to be carrying a number of objects that will consume
mana in vast quantity but which don't need much mana to continue

  Voila.  You walk three steps and all his magical protections and
spells fail, yours are all maintained by the mana sinking into you,
and he is easier to pick off than a whale in a 5 gallon barrel.

Not everybody has such a fluid world.  While it has problems in
approachability (mostly in chaos levels and thus in perceived event
rates (cf slowtime/fasttime) I'm pretty addicted to the idea of
building over-bubbling primordial soups.

Some other messages that may be of interest (I found a little before
I gave up fighting the search engine (lotsa UggUgg quotes)):


Note to self: I must install the MessageID->archive page CGI that
Dominic Eidson wrote up.  Useful stuff.

J C Lawrence                                 Home: claw at kanga.nu
---------(*)                               Other: coder at kanga.nu
http://www.kanga/nu/~claw/        Keys etc: finger claw at kanga.nu
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

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