I’ve started playtesting my aforementioned Dodge, Block & Parry system! I’ve tied it into the Weapon system as well, and it’s working quite good, so far!
Fight back makes combat even more lethal, by allowing for essentially a double attack (attacking in response to the enemy => attacking on your subsequent turn). It also synergizes with the Spear’s Reach, especially in groups: If multiple opponents group up on you, we assume that only the highest-rolling enemy manages to strike a blow. Reach allows you to do damage before the enemy does, essentially countering the whole group (if you’re lucky).
Dodge and Block rely on whether the enemy attacks fast, normal or strong. I’ve decided to link this to the size of the enemy’s damage die: 1d6 weapons are fast (as they tend to be daggers and such), 1d8 weapons are normal (longswords, axes – not particularly fast or strong) and 1d10 weapons are heavy/slow. The damage die used is always communicated to the player, so they can make an informed decision.
In a 1-on-1, this means the player can always reliable find a way to Impair an incoming attack (since they know the defense to pick).
In larger match-ups, this becomes more tricky, and I feel like this is where informed risk management truly shines: Say you want to defend against two assailants with daggers, and one with a greatsword – do you bet on Dodge to Impair the 2d6 (keep highest) dagger strikes and risk the 1d10 blow, or do you Impair the 1d10, because the daggers can deal a maximum of 6 damage?
Parry really shines as a high-risk, high-reward showstopper: If you think your odds are good for outdamaging your opponent, you can skip all the foreplay and go straight to dealing damage to each other’s STR.
Players have free choice of all four options.
I think enemies will mostly not use any of these options, to keep combat fast. I might give Dodge and Block to veteran enemies (i.e., enemies that are explicitly pretty good at fighting), and the full range of options to champion enemies (i.e. enemies that are renowned for their skill with the blade). No enemy will have more than 18 HP, and no enemy will have more than 18 STR, so even the mighty can still fall with a single Parry or a series of bad decisions – as they should!