Alternate headline: Use the Forces, Luke.
Last time I described my idea for an MMO where all the core gameplay premises of an MMORPG were built into the story setting. You can check that out here. Now I'm going to present an idea I had for combat classes. There's no real connection between the setting of Meteor Fortress and the combat classes presented here, so feel free to imagine them as separate games or as parts of the same game.
As most of you probably don't know, I have a PhD in physics. Much of the way I think about things is influenced in some way by physics. So when I was thinking about what kind of combat Meteor Fortress might have, one of the first things that came to mind was a division based on the four fundamental forces.
If you know what those are, feel free to move to the next paragraph. For those of you still here, our current best understanding of the Universe is that there are just four fundamental interactions that can happen between two bits of stuff: Gravity, Electromagnetism, the Weak Nuclear Force, and the Strong Nuclear Force. Aside from gravity, every force you have ever personally felt is electromagnetism. The strong nuclear force is what's holding the protons and neutrons together inside the nuclei of atoms. The weak nuclear force plays a critical role in nuclear reactions that involve particles becoming other particles; it's responsible for most radioactive decay.
Before I proceed further, a disclaimer. What follows is not intended to be a complete or balanced combat system. It's not even a full list of skills and abilities. What this is is a starting point, an interesting (to me, anyway) concept that's fun to think about. So have fun with it! I want to see what ideas you all have.
Down to brass tacks, then. There are four 'schools', one for each force, and two classes per force.
The first class uses precision control of gravitational fields to move objects, enemies, and themselves around. This is basically telekinesis, but see also "gravy" in the Schlock Mercenary webcomic. So your basic attacks would be small projectiles, large projectiles, sharpened projectiles, etc (for extra fun, include destructible environments). Lots of opportunities for crowd control abilities: knockbacks, holding enemies in place, and of course picking them up and slamming them down again. The super-duper special skill would be, what else, a "black hole" ability.
The second gravity class is based on GRAVITATIONAL WAVES, which are super cool. Gravitational waves literally distort the spacetime they pass through, bending and stretching any matter in the way.
So our g-wave class would have essentially ranged beam attacks that directly damage opponents by bending and stretching them. Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, but are relatively weak (pun intended). So this class should have un-dodgeable, rapid-fire, low-damage attacks that will hit from very long range. One possible ultra mega skill is a mass heal, as the g-waves bend all allies back into shape.
There are a million ways to give someone superpowers based on electromagnetism. After all, it's basically every natural phenomenon we personally know aside from gravity. We already have characters with some of the obvious ideas - Static Shock, Magneto, and Storm come to mind. Go nuts imagining your character with lightning powers, that's always fun. For the sake of variety, though, I've tried to come up with something off the beaten path.
Light Control: This class is based on the fact that photons (aka light rays) are composed of and produced by electromagnetic fields. This character would have powerful and precise control of lasers for damage, polarized light for blinding, infrared for heat (also damage), bending light rays - cloaking - for stealth. Higher order abilities would be gamma ray bursts and obviously something called Nova, a mix of blinding and damaging radiation hitting everything in sight. (Of course, even this has already been done: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Ra… ).
Ion control: Now, technically, weather powers are ion control. But ions can do a lot more. Fire is ions, plasma is ions. Extremely potent and damaging chemical reactions are ions. So I'm imagining an ion control class that dabbles in all of these to create a crowd-control class that can also do its fair share of DPS and condition damage. Beneficial chemical reactions are also ions, so this class would have some hefty healing abilities. Jumbo massive monster skill could get back into weather control for a wind and lightning storm.
Weak Nuclear Force
The Weak Nuclear classes are going to specialize in moving fast and striking from point-blank to mid-range. Think rogue or thief, except with more radioactivity. The first class is all about inducing radioactivity with beta decay. Beta decay in reality is when a radioactive isotope changes one of its protons to a neutron (or vice versa) and emits radiation. The primary attacks of the beta decay class will be creating radioactive sources inside the enemies. Defensive abilities could be something like "neutrino mode" where you temporarily aren't affected by enemy attacks. The ZOMGhyper mega skill would be creating a critical mass of radioactive nuclei — a fission explosion.
Another thing beta decay does is create antimatter particles, specifically positrons. So the second Weak Nuclear class would be all about positron production and annihilation. In other words, antimatter explosions. Now, antimatter is hard to produce in any significant quantity, so the basic attacks would be small explosions. Larger explosions would be on longer cooldowns. Defensive ability could be a "positron wall" shield. Ultimate skill would probably just be a really, really BIG antimatter explosion.
Strong Nuclear Force
The classes here would be strong on defense, and have high-damage attacks with long cooldowns. These are your tanky, short range classes. Both classes would have large passive defense boosts and strong shielding abilities. Not much gets past the density of atomic nuclei.
Remember how the strong force holds the nucleus together? The first class would have attacks based on stopping that from happening. Gluon interruption, if you like. Enemies would simply start to disintegrate. (This is not quite the same as fission, and also not a realistic thing that can happen [as far as we know].)
The other class would have 'particle jet' attacks - powerful short range, well, jets of energetic particles. (In real life you get these jets when you try to separate quarks from each other.) Think high damage, high knockback. Of course, for both of these classes, the hyper ultra skill would be a nuclear fusion explosion. Or, alternatively, strong-nuclear-level defense shielding for all allies.
NEXT TIME: The Wii U Gamepad Dungeon Master