Idea for a combat system

I just had a thought of something that could make combat in a text-based game a little more interesting.

Rather than "attack goblin" or whatever, each turn you'd have a couple of options pop up. Not every option is available in every situation, it depends on you and the monster moving around the room. Sometimes you can give the goblin a huge roundhouse punch, sometimes the arrangement of the room prevents it. Sometimes you can duck inside his reach to stab him in the gut, sometimes you can't.

So there's a list of moderately descriptive attacks, like "Duck under the {enemy.alias}'s {enemy.weapon} and knock him off-balance with a vicious sucker punch". As your combat skill or attack power levels up, you get more options. Some options might do more damage than others, or might knock an enemy down, stun them, or blind them.

There's also some less successful options. "Duck under the {enemy.alias}'s blade, but don't see his off-hand coming up to knock your teeth out with a vicious sucker punch"
Those two options share a few words, and look pretty similar.

Each turn, the game would pop up 3-6 options chosen at random. So you don't always have exactly the same options to choose from in the flow of battle. If there's more than one enemy, the function that picks the options would favour ones targeting an enemy who's not already mentioned, but beyond that it's random. So in the brawl, you might not always have a clear shot at the enemy you want to hit. So you might get to choose between getting a fleshwound on the mage who's preparing to fireball you, or getting lucky and decapitating a minion right off.

You get 3-6 options in a menu to choose from. And you'd be using a modified ShowMenu with some added JS (assuming Quest is the engine) that automatically selects an option after 5-10 seconds. If the enemy is faster than you, you get less thinking time. I'm thinking that against an enemy that's supposed to be a medium challenge, you'd get just barely enough time to read all the options. Against tough enemies, you need to know the options well enough to distinguish between the good and bad ones in an instant, because you won't have the thinking time anymore.

What do you think? Kind of inspired by Radical Dreamers; and by an acrobatic platform-jumping sequence for my easter egg game this year. But I think as a combat thing, it could be pretty interesting.

After writing this, I just thought about the addition of magic to a system like this.

Magic Option 1
The spells you can cast are limited my the colours of mana in the air around you, so they show up in the list of options just like physical attacks. You don't know when a specific spell will be available. But spellcasting takes time. It would show up in the menu as "Spellcasting (target goblin): F-I-R-E-B-A-L-L". But the letters of the spell appear one at a time, at a speed determined by the character's magic stat. So you might have to wait a second before clicking to make sure the spell name isn't misspelled (which would fail to cast). If there isn't enough time for all the letters to appear, you wouldn't be given that option because the spell is beyond you; but if you wait for the whole word it might be a pretty tight window.

For magic, it might actually be possible to click on the enemy name, so there'd be a list of targets to choose from. Or maybe magic hits multiple enemies. I do like the idea of spells giving you a choice of who to cast them at, to offset the risk of injury if you click on an enemy name before the spell has finished casting.

Magic Option 2
Remember your spells: To use magic, you actually have to type the name of the spell, rather than just clicking an option. Obviously this is a harder option, but the spells can do enough damage to be worth the effort in some circumstances.

Maybe if you've started typing when the turn timer expires, it triggers a kind of 'cancel' event, so instead of picking one at random, the enemy gets a free hit on you. But this doesn't interrupt your typing, so you can carry on typing the same spell for next turn. This could be really useful if you're using high-level insta-kill magic like Yancy Urglefloggah's Cantrip of Expedient Exsanguination.

(filler for getting my edited post, updated/posted)

some various thoughts/mechanics for combat, that I'm brainstorming for my own rpg game, that might give you ideas or are free to use any of these for your own rpg combat library:

combat actions:

1. attack: normal weapon/unarmed strike
2. defend: 1/2 damage done to you until next turn, and if you attack next turn, you do 'x1.5/x2' damage to target (from 7th Saga SNES game)
3. ability: steal/plant, sneak/stealth, combo attack, special attack, charged-up attack, verbal tactics/attacks (taunt, enrage, etc), etc special/role/class/character/etc abilities
4. magic: casting spells
5. item: using items
6. flee: trying to escape battle

combat modifers:

1. strength: physical/weapon damage bonus
2. endurance: physical defense/resistance/armor_class, resistance to conditions/status_effects
3. dexterity: accuracy, parry ability, block ability, steal/plant ability, 
4. agility: evasion (physical/weapon and magical/spell) ability, steal/plant ability, flee ability,
5. speed: initiative (who goes first), extra turns bonus, flee ability, movement points (if you want/got/using distance in combat), 
6. piety: unholy/evil/dark, neutral, holy/good/light
7. intelligence: offense/damage and defense/resistance of fire, water, air, earth, and dark damage/elemental types
8. spirituality: offense/damage and defense/resistance of light, holy, summoning, and etc special damage/elemental types
9. mentality:
10. personality: verbal attacks
11. leadership:
12. charisma: party/team member quantity
12. alignment: chaos, neutral, order
13. perception:
14. luck: critical damage bonus, 


spell casting:

ST/MT (single target/multiple target): if MT, damage to each target is divided by quantity of targets (along with further any other factors/modifers for each target too)

any target (can MT: entire team or enemies) can be selected (unless specifically restricted): enemies or team members or self

direct damage, duration (damage or effect),


item usage:

1. normal consumable items (on self, party members, and/or enemies)
2. battle items
3. flee item


damage/elemental types:

1. fire
2. water
3. air
4. earth
5. light
6. dark
7. holy
8. unholy
9. sun
10. moon
11. physical
12. magical
13. nature/plant
14. creature/beast
15. mental/psychological
16. gravitational
17. spacial
18. temporal
19. dimensional

I was coming up with an idea that avoids the monotony of just increasing stats to get better in combat; turning a numbers-based system to something more descriptive. Stats that give the player assistance, rather than being the direct resolution mechanic. Higher agility gives you more thinking time to pick your action each turn; higher weapon skill or magical skill increases the number of options open to you, or focuses the options more on a specific type of combat.

A timer to limit reading and reaction time may not be the best way to go...
Some people are slow readers and will get stomped in a game like this...
Others are fast readers and touch typist (120wpm or more) and will stomp any and everything you throw at them, including the ancient red dragon, Elsisp'less Kordorn.
The only way that could make this fair would be to assign different attacks to single keys, then just capture the keypresses with out needing to hit enter after each one.
Like: using the number pad:
7- shield high
4- shield med level
1- shield low
9- sword attack high
6- sword med level
3- sword low
8- advancing attack
5- hold your ground
2- retreating attack (Still attacking, but backing up)

Or, to add color to the combat, you could enhance the descriptions for the battle...
(Player types: hit orc or attack orc or kill orc...)
"You raise your sword and swing in a mighty arc aiming to separate it's head from the rest of it's body.
Well, it would have been a spectacular killing swing, but you missed it entirely when it stepped back out of your reach.
You watch in horror as it swings it's axe at your now exposed back, and you know there is little you can do to block it's swing..."
(Then add the description for it's attack...)

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