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design of an RPG sword combat game

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I was thinking about this. To have an RPG in which the main character can kill opponents with his sword. I'd like to confirm/infirm this idea before I start going further so here goes: the sword will be guided by the position of the mouse and we'll compute the speed with which it's travelling, he will also have a pretty big shield. The opponent will have the same. The problem is I want to make this look realistic so if he bangs his sword against his enemy I want to compute a real collision and see if it really hit him or his shield. I have the following situation:
  • the sword hits his body in which case I will probably have some blood effect(although I'm not sure how this is done)
  • the sword hits his shield in which case I'll have some sparks go off and what should happen to the blade after that ? I mean ... it shouldn't go through the shield and a collision needs to be detected. How do I have all the body parts fit together so that I can move the sword ? How do I detect the collision between the sword and the body ?
  • suppose the sword hits his sword, then I have sparks, the same problem as above, how do I find if the sword collides with his sword ? do I approximate the swords to 2 rectangles in space and just find if they collide by solving some linear system of equations ?
My questions are , how do I model the sword ? as some sort of polyhedron(let's suppose I use convex hull for a set of points in 3D, is it easier to check for collisions between 2 convex polyhedra, of course it will not be accurate but as I understand games are not simulations and they're made to be fun , I forgot where I read that) ? should I use a model ? .3DS or something ? How will I do the collision detection? Suppose their bodies are 3DS models , how do I check for collisions ? I got the idea from here that they are approximating body parts to spheres and checking collisions between spheres... this would amount in O(m*n) complexity if 2 objects had m and n such spheres. I don't know if this is a very good method... what do you think ? would you approach the problem in a different way ? There is also a gameplay part that I'd like to discuss. It would be nice if the player could block attacks from multiple sides, but then some sort of complexity of controlling the character might turn him off and the game might not be so interesting. For example if I allow the character to block attacks from:
  • front
  • left
  • right
  • above
and map these defenses to some keys say K,J,L,I , these would be pretty intuitive. but if I add to this the fact that I want to be able to control the movement of the character to left, I'll also have keys at least some directional keys W,A,S,D(the classical keyset). Now imagine a scenario where the player wants to attack the other player and then quickly run away, he will have to jump his fingers over lots of keys and also use the mouse to control the attack.. I think this may result in less fun playing the game which is of course not what I want.

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