I don’t quite have it yet, but there’s something here. Spoilers for Indiana Jones movies follow.
During play, when Indiana Jones is in combat, he must keep moving. When he is fighting in an environment that he can use to his advantage—around a flying wing, in a speeding truck—this movement may wear out his foes or deal them actual damage. Or perhaps they must move and attack instead of being able to attack twice on their turn, diminishing the threat they pose to Indy. Conveyor belts, roving tanks, speeding cars—all these are preferable to standing around fighting, both for Indy and for us in the audience.
When he is outnumbered in a space without sufficient advantage—like when he’s chased by the Hovitos or the Thuggee—he flees to gain the advantage. He’s gaining resilience or stamina or hit points or whatever by staying in motion. He knows that his foes are most vulnerable while they’re moving so he stages rescues—of the Ark, of his father—when the enemy is on the move. If Indy is in or on a moving vehicle, that counts as him moving. Outnumbered? Turn a fist fight in a castle into a motorcycle chase to get the upper hand. Change the field of battle from static catwalks to out-of-control mine carts. Get out of those tight catacombs and into a speedboat. Hell, Indy can even subdue brutes temporarily by boarding a rocket-powered test vehicle and pitting his stamina against theirs—even while Indy’s hit points are depleted by the ride, he gains hit points back for being in motion.
Indy is most vulnerable when he is trapped in a fight and outnumbered. He can take out one brute or two thugs when trapped alone—say, in the midst of marching, angry ants—but that puts his back against the proverbial wall. (In fact, to get out of such situations, Indy’s player may opt to spend key resources to take out foes—like, say, hulking swordsmen—in one shot rather than risk a time-consuming or dangerous combat.)
It may even be that fights confined to a single area—like, say, a palace guest room—actually constitute traps, not combats. It may even be that the arrival of new enemies—like, say, goons who smash in a door and grab Indy from behind—are invoked by the player for the purpose of turning a duck-and-cover gunfight into a roving brawl. I’m just brainstorming here.
This is an old observation. When I was designing a pulpy d20 adventure setting called Deco Dragons, years ago, the schtick of the rogue class was that they not only moved constantly but that they could increase their defense (and maybe heal) by doing so. (When I played in my Deco Dragons setting with 4th-edition D&D, the joys of that game’s movement mechanics were their own reward.)
If I ever get the Indiana Jones game license, or the go-ahead to work on a game like it, don’t let me forget that Indy must keep moving to stay alive.
Also, remind me to incorporate an attribute called Backbone, like in the old TSR Indiana Jones RPG.