So, I've been thinking about death lately. Brooding about it, mulling it over.
GC is turn-based, but it's far less elaborate than some turn-based systems I've been hearing about. (Here, I have to admit to a shortcoming. For a guy who's making a turn-based rpg, I've only played a very few. By far, the majority of tb games I've played have been roguelikes, which comprise a different playstyle than what I am attempting.) In GC, people/mobs take turns. There is an initiative system to determine turn order (it's a straight random roll at the moment, no weighting for any kind of skill or attribute bonuses) then after that, everyone goes in their turn. Each unit gets 10 movement points per turn to use as they see fit. Once those are used up, or once the unit decides it doesn't want to do anything else, the turn ends and the next unit in line gets to go.
In this system, the way I handle death is that if a unit is killed during a round and it has not yet taken its turn, then it remains "alive". That is, it gets to take its turn. If the unit has already taken its turn for that round, then if it dies it dies. I am kind of uneasy about this.
My reasoning in the first place for doing it this way is that if, for example, GC goes first and he casts a Ultra Mega Super Duper Ball of Fiery Doom upon the head of his poor enemy, and it takes him 8 movement points to do so, then logic says that if the turns in a round are assumed to happen concurrently (that is, while they are executed one after another, the time-slice they are modeling is concurrent) then that means that while GC is locked up for 8 points casting a fireball, the unit he is casting upon should be able to do something during that time. Maybe he doesn't know what GC is doing, maybe he does, but still he should be able to pull a trick or two out, maybe get in a swing while GC casts. The fireball is going to obliterate him, though, so he will be dead by the end of the turn. But he can still get his licks in.
The same holds for GC if he gets finished off during a round; if he hasn't taken his turn yet, he still gets to go. At the end of his turn, if he hasn't managed to heal himself, then he goes poof.
Now, in my head, this seems like a logical thing to do. But I do have an alternative that I am considering. You see, it seems a little iffy to me that if a unit has already moved and gets one-shotted, it's insta-dead, but if it hasn't already moved and gets one-shotted it has a chance to heal itself and avoid being dead. Just because it happened to roll lower on the initiative roll. But since the turn is supposed to represent a slice of time, does it really matter?
My alternative is that if a unit is killed, it gets to take its next turn regardless of whether or not that turn happens in this round or in the next. Now, this breaks the abstraction that what happens during a round represents a concurrent model; that is, if GC lands his Super Duper thingy on a mob in one round, then by god that mob should be cooked to well done by the time the next round begins, and yet this abstraction would give that mob a chance to heal up before the reaper harvests his soul into the great beyond, regardless of the timing.
I dunno. I kind of think I should just keep it the way I have it. I mean, I used to have it so that if you were killed, you were killed. When that Super Duper Fire Ball landed, it whacked you right out of the initiative list, dropped a treasure chest where your scorched feet used to be, and sent you off to be garbage collected without so much as a second thought. At least this way, you just might have a fighting chance.
Now, I did bring this up in chat last night and had a chat with Dragonsoulj and AllEightUp about it, and got some other points of view. One idea I am considering is to let the killed unit do its next turn, but allow it only half the usual quota of movement points to use. This strikes a decent balance, I think, between figuring out exactly how much time the unit should have been able to act if it were a real-time system, and ignoring altogether the fact that the unit should have been able to at least do something. Eat a Tasty Goblin Flank, fire off one last fire ball. Something.
I would love to hear other thoughts. Ideally, I would like to avoid cluttering up the basic loop. I have heard about other systems that involve mixing movement and actions in different ways, systems with reactions that let you act on targets of opportunity even if you have already taken your turn etc... I'd like to avoid all that. Right now, it plays with the same kind of orderly cadence as a rather rapid game of chess, and I like that. It seems obvious to me that I ought to be able to pack enough complexity and opportunity into 10 movement points per turn to flesh out a solid game, without complicating up the core loop. But if anyone has some input on this, I'd love to hear it.