I’ve been looking around for a system to base combat on for BotLG. My natural instinct is to go to tabletop RPGs, where I’ve considered Dungeons & Dragons (Advanced, 4th Edition, and the Labyrinth Lord retroclone), Maze Rats, Knave, Risus… None of them really fit, though I was excited about Knave and 4e for a while.
The problem with tabletop RPGs (for my current purposes) is that they’re balanced around a party of players, or not much balanced at all, depending on the era. I need a single player character to be able to hold their own, and not have to fight lowly mooks for hours on end.
Of course, I could tweak the maths. Smooth out some bonuses here, pump up the players stats a little, make the monsters a bit less threatening… but by the time I’ve done that, I may as well have written my own system. Which is what I’m leaning towards, but which I really don’t want to have to do, because balancing it will be a right pain. Ah, well.
Just in a whim, I looked up how the mechanics of Final Fantasy I work, and found this extensive document. The answer is, of course, that Final Fantasy I barely works. Even the later re-releases don’t even patch it up that well, leaving hilarious bugs like one of the main stats having no purpose, weapons that don’t do what they say they do, monsters who cast the wrong spells, and useless status effects that dont… affect your status.
Perhaps when I’m writing my own terribly unbalanced and buggy games, I can take some comfort from that.