I spend time in this blog talking about “actual” role-playing games vs. combat systems. I think I may have stumbled on one of the easiest ways to segregate the two: Does your game talk about how to attack or how to accomplish a task? In Legend Quest, attacking is one action you can take, but the skill system works basically the same way for combat/attacking as it does for any other action: carousing, foraging, tracking, or brewing.
I know - The gold farmers have already clicked out to go look at something that will add another 0.2 points of damage per second, so I can go on without offending them. My biggest complaint about games that only let you attack is that they only let you attack in one way. It’s like you and your character are a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot. For those of you too young to understand, that was a toy where you controlled the plastic robots in a ring and they punched each other. They could only move around a little and could only punch forward in an upper cut. Hey, when I’m attacking a guy, I want some variety.
What do I mean? Well, when I played other games, this actually came up: The character wanted to use his grapnel hook, catch it on the chandelier, swing across the room, snatch the crown off the bad guy’s head (it was a magical crown in his defense), and land on the window sill on the other side of the room. Guess what? The chandelier did not have an armor class. Neither did the crown. Neither did the window sill. This is stuff right out of an Errol Flynn Robin Hood movie, and the game really did not allow us to do it. Oh I made some crap up and we pretended to try it. (He missed by the way.) But if I didn’t know it before that, I knew then that that game was just a combat system and it simply could not handle actual role-play.
It doesn’t have to be this silly. I know a lot of FRPGs have tried to move towards being a paper MMO. Therefore they have all manner of “special” attacks. But do they really let you act and react? Do they let you play offense, defense or a mix of the two? Or do they tell you that hitting with a sword and hitting with a sword with a special fiery boost is different?
You owe it to yourself and your characters to give them more to do than just upper cut the other robot, and I’m not talking about shooting a bow. Find yourself a better game - one that lets you defeat your enemies socially, magically or physically. Legend Quest works!