How decisive should each round of combat be in terms of HP loss/regaining?

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Hello everyone! Another question regarding the design of games in order to help me make my own system better: How decisive should each round of combat be in terms of HP loss/regaining? As in, for each round of combat, how much damage should be dealt by any given character, or, for healers, how much HP should be healed per round?

I ask this because I'm designing my own system for a Pen and Paper RPG. During playtesting, I've noticed that each round of combat is very "decisive" in terms of damage and healing. The players who have played more damage-oriented characters usually one-hit-kill the average enemy on a normal hit, and of course crits (usually double damage, sometimes even more) just get ridiculous. The same goes in the opposite direction, too, though to a lesser degree; most players have found themselves in desperate need of healing after being hit once by a similarly damage-oriented enemy. And, of course, the characters who were optimized toward healing were capable of (usually) completely healing the wounded characters with a single check, except of course for situations with bad rolls, and even then, they didn't do too badly.

Perhaps it's just because I'm accustomed to DnD, but this seems a bit... ridiculous. Before I try to make any changes or explain the system, however, I just want to explain that the purpose of this thread is simply to try to get an idea of how decisive each round of combat should ideally be; if and when that is determined, only then will the discussion move on to the actual changes, if any, that need to be made.
Well that's ultimately up to you as the game designer, fast paced combat is generally considered desirable, but you want combat to have enough depth that tactics and strategy can come into play, otherwise it gets dull.

If you're dissatisfied with how swingy combat can be then by all means mod it a bit it's your system.

As a personal preference I like games that have enough combat depth that my decisions actually matter, but I like to be able to handle my turn in 5 minutes or less.
Well that's ultimately up to you as the game designer, fast paced combat is generally considered desirable, but you want combat to have enough depth that tactics and strategy can come into play, otherwise it gets dull.

If you're dissatisfied with how swingy combat can be then by all means mod it a bit it's your system.



Given that I hope to sell this game eventually, even though how it works is ultimately up to me, I still have to be sure that the game's mechanics will appeal to a significant amount of players.

As a personal preference I like games that have enough combat depth that my decisions actually matter, but I like to be able to handle my turn in 5 minutes or less.



Well, I of course would want decisions in combat to matter, but at the moment I'm worried that character optimization will focus purely on damage, whether in the form of damage output, taking damage, or healing damage. As in, I'm a bit afraid of the possibility that "control" type options will be completely ignored if damage and healing remain so great per round. I mean, think of the control options in most Final Fantasy games. Most enemies you'll be fighting are too easily disposed of with raw damage to justify any extra effort being wasted on debuffs and whatnot, and the only enemies that aren't so easily disposed of (the bosses) are usually immue to debuffs anyway. Granted, my pen and paper RPG will not have the boss immunity thing going on to nearly as bad a degree, but the point about the viability of control options remains valid: Why would you waste any character options on control (and even if you did, why would you waste the time and whatever other resource to actually apply those options) if it would be that much easier to just obliterate your enemies with damage?

I think, personally, I would want to decrease the "swingyness" of damage per round, but I need input on how much is too much for any changes that I make, and whether or not any given changes would appeal to the eventual players of the game.

Just so you know, the way damage works in my game so far is that each ability (attack, spell, maneuver, etc.) that does damage has a damage die determined by the weapon used (for attacks) or the ability itself (for spells and other things), much like in DnD. But the difference is that, rather than have an attribute modifier add a static bonus to the damage (like in DnD), the attribute modifier actually multiplies the damage die, and after that static bonuses from other sources would be added.

For example, in my game, if you have a Strength of 30 (easily achievable at 1st level), your regular Strength modifier is 6, and half of that, 3, would be your damage modifier on attacks that rely on Strength. If you attack with a longsword (damage die 1d6), assuming you hit, you'd deal 3d6 damage to your target. Certain other sources would add static damage afterward, so you could easily be dealing 3d6 +5 damage per hit. Also, certain weapons have a static bonus per die, which means that the static damage attached to the die would also get multiplied. Wielding a two-handed weapon gives you an additional die of damage, whereas wielding an exceptionally light weapon subtracts one damage die. I basically did it this way so that one's weapon choice would have a bigger impact on how one fights, and one's stats would have a bigger impact on which weapon would be a better choice, compared to DnD.

In lower levels, the usual amount of HP for melee fighters is in the range of about 28-40, and for other characters, the usual amount is around 18-24, with 12 being the absolute minimum you can have for total HP under normal rules. Since higher levels of play have yet to be tested, I can't really say much about how much HP could be expected. What I will say, however, is that I had a friend try to make the most absolutely brokenly overpowered character he could in my system at level 3 (the equivalent of upper heroic tier in DnD 4e), and that character had a test fight against a level 8 NPC (the equivalent of low-to-mid epic tier). While I certainly intend to make it possible, albeit not likely, for a low-level character to kill a high-level character in my game, I was very much surprised to find out that my friend's character could easily kill the higher-leveled NPC in just one round of lucky rolling. The specific options which made the character so broken have since been nerfed, but I'm still worried about how it seems that raw damage will be the most important deciding factor in combat.
Then you either need to make your conditions more wicked, reduce the damage output, or up the HP.

Control favors longer fights it has more turns to sink in and be a problem, lowering damage means that more hits are taken and it takes more turns to kill people giving control more time to be annoying.

What you face is partly due to your multiplicative damage system, consider putting some more teeth in your defense as well, the other multiplicative systems I've worked with (tephra, cthulhutech) both use active multiplicative damage reduction systems to help deal with the issue. It can still be kinda swingy, but it goes from "OMG I JUST GOT SPLATTED BY A HOUSECAT" to "watch out for the sniper on the left his dice are hot tonight".