Item System Overview

by Dale M.A. Johnson


created Oct 28, '07


Item systems are an element of gameplay that are common to strategy RPGs and are a core part of Tactics Heroes. Items are anything that a unit can hold and use: weapons, armor, healing balms, etc. Units hold items in their inventory. A character's inventory is made up by a fixed number of item slots. One item can be held in each slot, and the number of slots can be set per class.


You can view any unit's inventory by viewing their status screen.


Inventory Management


To manage a unit's inventory, you bring up their inventory screen by clicking on them and selecting "inventory" from the orders menu. Their inventory will be displayed, showing every item slot available to them. Mousing over an item will display that item's properties on the screen.


To move an item, simply click on it to "pick it up". It will be removed from its slot and will hover next to the mouse pointer. If you select another item slot while "holding" it, the item will be placed there. If there is already an item in that slot, then the item formerly in that slot will now be held. You can also throw out an item by picking it up and clicking the "trash can" button. (Note that items can be marked as important, meaning they can not be discarded.)


To exit out of a unit's inventory, click the "back" button on the screen when not "holding" an item. Moving items around within a unit's does not use up their turn. The inventory option is available on the orders menu until that unit has been ordered to "wait".


Usable Items


Some items, like healing balms and stat-boosting crests, can be used by a unit to achieve a specific effect. To use an item, click on the item to pick it up, then click on the unit's portrait above the inventory list. If the unit is able to use the item, they will.


Item Type


Each item has an item type that defines what kind of item it is and who can use it. For example, a rapier might be a "sword" type that infantry units can use, but healers cannot. Each class has a list of item types they can use. Any unit can hold any item, but they can only use items that their class has access to.


Item Uses


Many items, including weapons, have a set number of uses. This number will be listed on the inventory screen next to the item. Once uses drops to zero, one of two things will happen depending on the item:


  1. If the item is consumable, then the item will cease to be once used up.
  2. If the item is repairable, then the item will only be broken once used up. Repairable items are different from consumables because, once broken, they are still stored in your inventory. The broken item can be taken to a shop and then fixed for a fee, returning its uses back to the maximum.


There is also a third type of item, unbreakable. These items have no set use limit, and can either be used indefinitely, or are not used at all and meant to only meant to be held (for example, armor).


Active and Inactive Items


There are two states that an item can be in when in a unit's inventory: active or inactive. Not all items can be made active: healing balms, for example, are consumed by giving them to the character to use and don't need to be "equipped". Items that a unit's class cannot use can also not be activated.


If an item can be activated, an icon will appear next to that item's slot in the unit's inventory. By clicking the slot, the icon will brighten, and the item will become highlighted. In this mode, it is "active". To change an item to inactive, click on the brightened icon and it will dim. Activating items has several purposes, which are explained below.




Units attack using weapons held in their inventory. Without a weapon, a unit cannot attack or counterattack another unit! A unit will attack with the highest activated weapon in their inventory that can be used against their opponent. For example, if the enemy is two spaces away, and you have a one-tile-range sword at the top of your inventory that is active, you will use the two-tile-range bow that is active in the second slot of your inventory (the arrangement of your inventory is not changed). Inactive weapons are never used in combat, so remember to activate the ones you want.


When you choose to fight another unit, both unit's inventories will open up. While the enemy unit cannot alter their inventory outside their turn, you can arrange your own and see how the changes will affect the battle. Use this to your advantage.


Armor and Accessories


Armor and accessories can be activated just like weapons. However, unlike weapons that can all be activated at once, a unit can only have a specific amount of armor activated at a time. In short: for some item types, only one item of that type may be active at a time in a given unit's inventory. For example, you cannot wear two "helmet" type items at the same time to get the defensive bonuses of both!


Campaign and rule set creators have a bit of creative freedom in this area: item types may be linked. That is, item types can be associated with each other. If you choose to link a "helmet" type with a "hat" type item, then you cannot have both a hat and a helmet equipped at the same time.


Trading Items


Units may trade items in their inventory with any unit that is part of their faction, as well as any allied unit on their team. To do so, the units must be within a specific range of each other (this range is known as their throw distance and can be set per class). "Trade" must be selected from the orders menu, and then the unit to trade with must be selected.


When trading, both unit's inventories will be opened up and you can take items from the first unit and give them to the second. If the other unit is also on your faction, items can be traded both ways. However, if the unit is not under your direct command, then you can only give them items, not take. Note that some items cannot be traded.


Trading items burns a unit's turn. (However, items can always be used and activeated or deactivated from the trade screen.)