Another potential idea is to make dodging cost AP. The base cost could be 50 (stumbling out of the way of an attack), but as you get better, it drops (-5 per level of dodge skill, perhaps). This represents the personal growth from bumbling fool to smooth operator.
Adjacent impassable terrain beyond the first piece adds 10 to the speed cost, flanking enemies (any beyond 1) add another 5. Adjacent terrain that has a speed cost of over 150 (anything beyond a mutated poppy, essentially) also adds 5.
This makes mobs of enemies drastically more dangerous than before, as you can no longer attack and dodge with impunity. Each dodge is reflexive, but takes away from your AP to use on a counterattack. Terrain also has an impact, and fighting with your back to a wall is harder than you think, though it does deter flanking.
^Making a counter attack harder sounds kinda strange for me, if anything a counterattack should be easier due to the enemy going off balance after the failed attack (like when zombies lounge at you to bite you and miss, one would suppose them to fall squarely into the ground at worst or some heavy stumble at least)
That’s fair. Perhaps as you level up dodging, you become more able to throw your opponent off balance when you successfully dodge, giving them a penalty to AP. That could balance out the cost of dodging, but it drops off in effectiveness when you’re up against crowds. One on one, unbalancing a foe is an almost certain victory. One on six, unbalancing all of them just means that you have an extra half second to flee.
Dodging costing AP is reasonable as does chance to get counterattack. Chance for counterattack could depend on your relevant weapon/unarmed skill, weapon weight and certain martial arts that include weapons orientation. If you successfully roll for counterattack you will dodge enemy attack and do normal attack and only AP cost is the cost of counterattack swing, if you manage only to dodge then you pay dodge AP cost (reduced with skills/MA/whatever).
If you have performed attack and are on “swing cooldown” you would not counterattack but just dodge to avoid “flurry of blows” type of thing on multiple dodges.
Counterattack should ask if you want to do it or simply dodge, because sometimes you’d rather just dodge and run than fight and this could become dangerous with slow weapons because they have long swingtime.
If you dodge so many repeated enemy strikes your AP cost from dodges is more than your movement AP cost (and you dont perform any other action between dodges) then you could take free back/sidestep to any free empty square around you.