I have been thinking about some ways to make combat a little more interesting than just back and forth "Yout attack the foo. The foo attacks you.". Inspired by KaViR's GodWars 2, but not totally convinced that everyone is willing to abandon automated combat (manual combat can be tedious at times) I came up with a hybrid. Players may opt to toggle automated (simplified combat) on or off. Automated combat utilizes player set stances, but does not allow for individualized moves.
A character may be in a high, medium, or low stance. A high stance is the most offensive, and tends to strike at the head and chest. However, it is vulnerable defensively, so is not well suited to battles of attrition and is better used to strike decisive blows. A medium stance is a balanced stance and the default stance. Attacks launched from a medium stance tend to target whatever are is open. A low stance is the strongest defensively as it minimizes exposed areas and keeps a low center of gravity, but requires extra effort to exploit openings and so may be inferior offensively. Attacks launched from a low stance tend towards an opponent's body and legs.
Additionally, a character may be set to emphasize Offense, Defense, or neither, which may exaggerate or mitigate a stance's traits.
In automatic combat, a character will simply attack repeatedly with its main hand and not utilize any advanced maneuvers.
Manual combat is very different. A character will not launch any attacks unless directed. Characters may attack by specifying the attack type. Attacks may be strung together to attempt combinations and follow ups. A character in manual combat must be careful to watch its balance and fatigue carefully, however.
The following are attack forms an average combatant may employ:
R- Right hand. Utilizes any object held or worn on the hand.
L- Left hand. Utilizes any object held or worn on the hand.
H- Head. Attempts to butt or strike the opponent with a head attack. Risky without a helmet.
F- Feet. Attempts to kick the target.
G- Attempts to grapple the target, taking combat in closer (and making most weapons useless). If the combat is already a grappling match, G will attempt to disengage by moving out, throwing the opponent, etc. depending on skill.
Moves may be chained. So RRL would attempt to attack twice with the right hand followed by the left. If the attacker was unarmed, this would be a series of punches. If attacker held a sword in his right hand and a shield in the left, it would be two slashes followed by a shield bash. The upside of chains is that they can be devastating and can even unlock new maneuvers. However, they are also draining, very dependent on combat skill and poor combos can leave a fighter dangerously open or off-balance.
I am still working on how to satisfactorily incorporate special maneuvers like disarming, pinning, sweeping/takedowns, etc.
One idea is to get away from the auto combos and let players enter moves individually with a secondary argument that specifies an advanced components. So R would simply launch an attack from the right hand while R L D would launch a Low attack from the Right attempting to Disarm. Which probably wouldn't work very well on someone in a High stance.