This combat system was designed to simulate comic book combat. First, there is a random chance to hit your opponent, depending on your skill vs. their ability to dodge. Second, you have both Damage Points (real flesh) and Virtual Damage Points (no actual loss of flesh).
You still know how powerful the attack was. If you had 70 VP, and the attack took 65 away, your character knows that another attack like that will kill. It shows in your thought balloon.
When your opponent’s Attack Score is greater than or equal to your Defense Score, you have been hit. However, if no actual Damage Points were lost, the attack didn’t really hit. Your opponent’s fist just grazed your stomach, or the sword just barely sliced your costume, or the fire blast singed the hair on your finely shaved face, but missed actually hitting you.
In the same way, when you lose DP, the attack hit, and it hurt. Even if you have 30 DP, and you only lose 1 point, you feel that point. Your opponent’s fist has left a nasty welt, or the sword has sliced into your flesh, or the fire blast has left burns on your body.
When you go below 0 DP, you’re really hurt. You may very well have broken bones or damaged organs. You don’t care, though, because unless you’re a real masochist, you’re unconscious.
I didn’t write these laws. They have been posted many times to rec.games.frp.misc on usenet, and the Gamemasters Interest Group at GMAST-L@UTCVM. If you have access to usenet and/or the Internet, I recommend subscribing to these talk groups.
Murphy’s Laws of Combat
1. If the enemy is in range, so are you.
2. Don’t look conspicuous. It draws fire.
3. Try to look unimportant. They might be low on ammo.
4. The enemy invariable attacks on two occasions. When you’re ready for them. And when you’re not ready for them.
5. Teamwork is essential. It gives them someone else to shoot at.
6. A sucking chest wound is Nature’s way of telling you to slow down.
7. Never draw fire. It irritates everyone around you.
8. Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.
9. When you have secured an area, don’t forget to tell the enemy.
10. Never forget that your weapons are made by the lowest bidder.