In a real-time combat system, all participants in combat can deal damage simultaneously; this model is built to more closely resemble reality. It is generally easier to implement in video games than board or table-top games that are typically turn based. In general, when combat is simultaneous, damage is dealt to the enemy at a rate determined by the equipment and skills of the participating combatants (eg. a short sword in a real-time RPG may swing faster than a long sword causing less damage but the attack lands twice as fast/often assuming a close to 100% accuracy stat, the weapons are often measured in "damage per minute" or "per 10 seconds" for relative effectiveness).
The alternative to this is Turn-Based Movement and Combat. These systems are typically fairer and more practical for board games and such as there is typically no impartial moderator ensuring correctness of the players actions; there may also be confusion as to what is happening with several players and the physical size of the game could also cause a scrum for the game pieces if they are to be used simultaneously. In this type of system, the participants each receive a turn in which to attack, move, use an item, etc., the order can be determined using a concept of "initiative" (e.g. the character's speed/dexterity plus a die roll) or can just be completely arbitrary. In these systems, if the player having their turn attacks another character, the attacked character enters a "defence" mode. Depending on the system, the attacker deals damage to the defender, assuming the defender fails their "block" (if any) and the attacker doesn't fail their "hit or miss" (if any), some systems may also give the defender the opportunity of a counter-attack under some circumstances (e.g. attack of opportunity); the damage is then inflicted on the enemy and pieces removed. Once the first player runs out of turn (uses up their "action power" or just ends turn), the next player in the initiative sequence takes their actions. Some systems may hold off applying the damage until every participant has taken their turn then apply the damage all at once to all the characters at the end of the rotation.
Hybrid combinations of these are also possible, such as using Turn-Based movement to move pieces around a strategic perspective and real-time combat once a group of attacking pieces enter a hostile tile [This seems to be the model used in Erfworld].
Examples of Real-Time Combat Systems
- Warcraft and Starcraft series
- Star Fleet Battles
- Command & Conquer series
Examples of Turn-Based Combat Systems
- Masters of Orion series
- Dungeons and Dragons