Characters in Stick Ranger refer to the four stickmen that the player controls in the game. Characters have identical structures: a beige outlined square head, two hands, two legs and a body. While there doesn't appear to be a neck, the head is indeed connected to the body.
When starting a new game, the player's first task is to assign each of the four characters a class. After being assigned a class the character has that title (eg. Boxer). However, when the weapon is unequipped the title becomes 'Stickman'. Each character will have their own statistics, which can be viewed by rolling the cursor over the characters. Two important stats, namely LP and MP, are displayed as bars on top of the characters in the menu. The LP bar is red; the MP bar is blue.
Movement in the game is done with the drag-and-drop mechanic. The player may grab any one of the character's five body parts (left leg, right leg, left hand, right hand and head) by clicking on it. As long as the mouse is held down, the character will follow the mouse. Moving the mouse quickly will fling the character with high velocity. Upon mouse release, the character will retain the velocity it had prior to the mouse release. Characters are elastic, meaning that they can be stretched if traveling at a high acceleration, but will eventually return to their original form.
Gravity is present in the game. If a character is dragged in mid-air and the mouse is released, the character will plummet to the ground.
Characters are able to exit the game screen if flung upwards with a high velocity. Once the character is out of the game screen, it will soar and fall as normal, but will be immune to attacks. This is particularly useful when dueling against some bosses like the Castle Boss.
Characters have artifical intelligence (abbreviated to AI, also known as Auto move) programmed into them. This enables them to walk towards the nearest enemy without any dragging by the player. As soon as the enemy is within their attack range, the characters stop walking and start to attack. It is also possible for characters to swim, if they are located in an underwater stage and are under water. This allows them to control both horizontal and vertical movement. In this case, the characters will swim towards the nearest enemy until an enemy is within attack range.
AI will only work if all of the following requirements are fulfilled:
- The Auto move option is turned on for the character
- There is an enemy within a certain range of the character, called Range of Sight
- The character has at least 20% of its maximum LP (unless if Move of Dying(Move Dying before ver13.1) option is turned on)
- The character has a weapon equipped
For the artificial intelligence the "nearest enemy" is always the one which has the smallest horizontal distance to the character. Therefore a flying enemy directly high above a character and outside of his attack range is closer for the AI than an enemy on the ground which is standing right next to the character. Also because of this, if the character can not reach the closest enemy, it will attempt to vertically align itself with this enemy and ignore all other enemies around itself. If the character is on a higher platform and the enemies are below, it does not have the intelligence to fall off the platform if there are any enemies directly below the platform. Instead, it will wander about on the platform. Moreover, if the character is ranged, it will attempt to attack the enemy from above, only to have its projectiles blocked by the platform below (unless it is an Angel, whose projectiles pass through terrain). This can be partially/fully alleviated with Pierce's Card.
As said in the game, fighting is "fully automatic" - as long as an enemy is within range of the character, the character will automatically attack it. If a character is damaged, its body (not the head) will blink red shortly. If a character is poisoned, its body will turn green until the poison stops. And if the character is slowed or frozen, they will turn blue until the effect expires. The attack speed is influenced by the AGI statistic and the attack power by the AT statistic.
Like fighting, collecting items is also automatic. As long as a character is in contact with an item, the item will subsequently proceed to the inventory. If the item in question is gold, the total amount of gold the player has will increase. If the item in question is onigiri, the character that collects it will have an increase in LP. There are cases in which an item will not be picked up despite contact:
- If the inventory is full, weapons and compo items may not be picked up.
- If the character has full LP, it will not consume onigiri.
LP is one of the most important stats of the character - when a character is reduced to 0 LP, the character is considered "dead" and will break into six pieces: the head, the four limbs, and the body.
In the dead state, a character loses many of its abilities, including the ability to automatically move, the ability to fight and the ability to collect items. The body parts of a dead character can be dragged around with the mouse, though this usually serves no purpose at all. Only in the Cavern stages the head can be used as a light or torch. In ver17.2 a new option was added to disable or enable the ability of dragging dead characters. A dead character does not lose the weapon it was equipped with and it can still exchange weapons with the inventory or other characters. Also, upon mouse rollover, the character's stats will no longer be visible, except for LP as well as an option to revive the character.
- Main article: LP
A dead character has to be revived to regain functionality. There are two ways of doing this: clicking on "Revive" on the menu after selecting the character, or to visit the Inn. A direct revival in the middle of a stage will either cost 10% of the player's current amount of gold or $10*LV, whichever is higher. When a character is revived, it will restore 25% of his maximum LP and appear on top of his head. This ability can be used to control where the character will be revived, avoiding unnecessary cash loss when the enemies near the character kill him the second he is revived.
When all four characters are dead, the game is over. A red sign saying "GAME OVER" will appear. Upon clicking, the player will be transported back to the main screen. There is no penalty for a game over - the savefile is retained, and all characters will be revived, but with only 1 LP each.
Sometimes all the characters may die, yet the game will not end as shown in the screenshot. This can happen in scenarios where the last surviving character is poisoned and touches the next sign when the character's LP turns zero because of the constant poison damage inflicted. All character will then remain dead until they are revived, healed at the Inn when they enter the Town, Village or Resort, or when they enter any other screen which will trigger the Game Over message.