It is possible to add complexity to RPS. Try best out of 5 rules. Or even best out of 10. That is what we wan't to accomplish here. Pikemen beat cavalry, unless the cavalry have bows, but then the pikeman have heavy armour and shields, then the cavalry ambush them, but the ground is trapped. See what I mean?
There are counters and counter-counters and counters to counter-counters. The point is, one side loses because the other guy beat him. NOT because he lost a simple abstracted game of dice.
Just to start off, an engineer could explain this much better than I could (and in fewer words), but unfortunatly I am not an engineer so bear with me. (if you didn't notice already I am not an english major either, heh)
So we left off at crushing weapons. Unlike the other kinds, crushing attacks are hard to define. A hammer and a flanged mace are both considered crushing weapons but the flanged mace can cut weak materials where the hammer would flatten them. Technically speaking any weapon attack that hits armour it can't penetrate is transformed into a crushing attack.
What sets crushing weapons apart is the intention behind thier design. One very important factor of any weapon is its balance. You often hear people describe swords as well balanced. What this means is that the swords center of balance is inside the grip of the sword, or close to it.
To demonstrate this concept try this simple experiment. Find an object in your house about 3 feet long and thin enough to hold in your hands. A piece of wood or a length of pipe works well. Pick it up and hold it at the very end with both hands. Wave this object around in front of your face so that the tip moves in a figure 8 shape. Even if you find a relatively light object this will take considerable effort because you constantly have to prevent the far end of the object from dropping towards the ground. Now balance the object on your palm to find its center of gravity. Hold the object at that spot but this time use one hand. Now wave the object around in the same figure 8 pattern. If the object you selected is too light then this won't work as well. Try more advanced movements such as stopping suddenly during the figure 8 and reversing direction or writing words in midair.
Even though the weight of the object has not changed, holding it near the center changes its performance dramatically. Having the object well balanced in your hand will make it much easier to move and manipulate the orientation of the object. This attribute is very important for weapons like swords. The balance of crushing weapons is always near the very tip of the weapon. By holding it far from the center of balance we require much more energy to accelerate the weapon. This effort is not wasted however, because when we hit something with the weapon it applies this energy en mass.
Where other weapons like swords multiply the force of your attacks by concentrating them over a small area. Crushing weapons multiply the force of you attacks by greatly increasing the amount of energy you can apply with them. Even if the weapon in question is designed to concentrate its damage into other forms such as a spiked flail. The design of the weapon is still based on mass energy transfer and this is the defining trait of all crushing weapons.
So now you all have a good grounding on the mechanics behind damage in its different forms. Its quite possible that you now understand the meaning of point #1, damage is not just a number. So far we have only talked about applied force, the other half of the equation is recieved force, but well get to that when we talk about armour.
The challenge now is point #2. Something quantified can be simplified. All of this is far too complicated to put into a computer game (as you guys have repeatedly commented), unless said computer game had a science textbook as part of its content. Therefore the challenge is to simplify this information into a form that the player can understand and is useful to him.
The key here is that this is not simple information. This is information that has been simplified. Its okay now to categorize swords as "slashing weapons". At the same time as we make that statement, we recognize that most swords are used in a cutting fashion, and a heavy pommel can enable crushing attacks. What matters is that swords are effective at slashing attacks and all swords are capable of them. The little details are known and can be accessed when and if they become relevant.
How much information how fast is a question that you can only answer when people try to use your system. Since we don't have one I will simply have to make one up. This is an example of how we can pare down what a unit is against what you need to know about it and at what times.
So lets imagine that a mock battle is going on between me and an enemy. The enemy is a channeler who focuses on summoning spells, his force is a large group orcs armed with hammers and throwing axes. On my side of the board is a single unit of greatsword armed infantry. You the observer have played the game but have never encountered these units before so you don't know anything about them. Suddenly I cede control to you and you are now responsible for leading my soldiers.
The battle takes place in the middle of a lake frozen solid (by magic of course). Apart from a light dusting of snow the ice is completetly flat and clear, you can see all the way to the bottom of the lake. Both groups of soldiers are about 100 feet off from each other and converging at a walking pace.
Its obvious that combat is about to take place so the first thing you need to know is what you are dealing with and against. You mouse over the unit of greatsword armed infantry and a tooltip displays the name "Tamren's Honour Guard". "Tamren" in this case refers to me the channeler, instead of being a spellcaster I am more of a general who spends his magic on elite troops. My avatar is not in attendance at this time so my honour guard is fighting alone. Clicking on the group displays more info on the UI. A picture details one soldier from the group, beside his foot is the #7 indicating that there are 7 swordsmen in this unit. The highly decorated (and glowing!) border around the unit portrait makes it very clear that this is an elite unit, legendary in fact which is the maximum rank. The name of the unit is again displayed but under it is the subtext "human infantry". Listed on the UI is a little sword icon with the number 100 beside it. This is the abstracted attack strength of the unit. A little icon of a breastplate and shoulderpads has the number 60 and the word (heavy), this represents armour rating, again heavily abstracted.
Mousing over to the group of orcs the tooltip reads "Lev's Marauders" (orc infantry). The border around thier unit portrait is not complete and takes the shape of a single bronze chevron on the top. This means that the unit is rather unexperienced. Not much of a danger to our guard although the orc do outnumber them about 10 to one at 67 members in the unit. The orcs have an attack strength of 40 (the icon is a hammer instead a sword) which is nothing to laugh at, and they also have throwing axes with a strength of 10. The armour rating is listed at "light 10-20". Unlike my guard the orcs have crude mismatched armour, thus the variance in armour ratings.
Convinced that your soldiers are strong enough you tell them to attack the orcs. Your troops break into a jogging run and the orc respond by doing the same. You try to order your troops to charge instead but the order doesn't work and the button is blanked out. A bit of floating text pops up above your soldiers which reads "the ground is too dangerous sire". Going into your "army general" spellbook you find a spell called "sure footing". Casting this on your soldiers results in them breaking into a full run and thier feet glow momentarily. Upon close examination you see that they are now wearing cleats.
Both units are getting close to each other, the orcs are in a disorganized mob and the guard are running in a precise delta formation. The orcs let fly with throwing axes as soon as they get in range. The first 10 or so fall short but the orcs soon find the correct range and axes rain down on the guard. The delta formation breaks apart as the guard spread out to form a bigger target and dodge the missiles. The orcs aren't very good shots and only score 3 glancing hits, several axes are actualy parried out of the air by the guard (they are that badass). One lucky shot hits the knee of the soldier on the far left and trips him. Since the ground is made of ice he skids on his knee for a few paces before getting up and doesn't fall behind too much. The shower of axes seemed to be innefective but it did break up the guard formation. Unfortunatly the weight of experience is heavily in the guards favour. Without getting into too much detail the orcs get thier clocks cleaned and the 20 or so survivors retreat at a jog.
During the melee your soldiers got scattered a bit and take the moment to consolidate into a group again. They didn't escape unscathed as one of them now has a limp and all of them lost thier cloaks. (red of course). The orcs are now some distance away, about 100 feet. The enemy channeler suddenly makes his presence knows as lightning rains from the sky. The orcs are obscured by clouds of steam and when the steam clears you see that they are now riding wolves! Uh oh!
Now at this point the info you have accessed has been sufficient. You know that your guards are very experienced, and are equipped with powerful weapons and armour. You know that the orcs are inexperienced, weaker and armed with melee weapons and ranged throwing weapons. Combat doesn't require much more thought then "I need to tell my guys to go beat on the other guys". The terrain is flat and has no exceptional features other than being slippery.
At the same time your imput has been limited to move commands. The guards were smart enough to adopt a mob-breaking delta formation automatically. After the fight they consolidated automatically instead of chasing the orcs because they were not much of a threat. (not to mention that running on ice is dangerous even with cleats)
Combat so far has been pretty basic, but that will soon change. Stay tuned for part 3.