COMBAT 101




One of the most difficult things to do in roleplay, outside of actually creating a three dimensional character, is engaging in combat. There are many nuances, pit falls, trials and frustrations revolving around this kind of RP, often to the point people will go out of their way to avoid it wholesale. Combat roleplay is two things - story driving and stressful as fuck, though with respectable players it can be wholly worthwhile!


In the following guide, the goal is to help keep the stress low and the story engaging and fun.


So lets start with some basic definitions.


 

Attempt, Not Succeed Rule: When a player writes their character's action, they do not automatically assume it was a successful blow. They allow the other player to decide if they take the hit or avoid it.


Auto Hit: In combat rp, the act of posting actions that affect another character with certainty. Used in tandem with Godmod and Powergame.


CQC: Close Quarters Combat


GodmodePlaying out that ones character has an answer to everything and anything. In terms of combat, a player that succeeds in blocking every attack, dodge and defense, rarely takes damage and overall seems overpowered in terms of abilities. Often used in tandem to powergaming and Mary Sue/ Gary Stu characters. Can also be used in reference to controlling another persons character, be it dialogue, actions or thoughts, without permission.


Group CombatCombat with three or more individuals.


Martial: Bare hand style combat, I.e. Karate, Wu Shu, Muy Tai, Etc..


Melee: Armed combat, typically with bladed weapons like swords or knives.


MetagameTo take ooc information and use it in game, often as a result of reading character bio's or sites. Used in tandem to Powergame and Godmod.


NPC (Non-Player Character)A plot device, often seen as a throw away character to help push an event or story forward.


PKPlayer Kill


Player CharacterA character designed and played by a single individual.


Pre-Determined Ending: When two or more players have already decided on a scenes outcome but they wish to rp the events leading up to it. Often frowned upon in freeform play as it requires the scene to be closed or time stopped.


PrepA 'unit of size' marker to denote the gathering of energy in order for an ability or spell to be used.


Post OrderIn freeform, post order is important. It helps players keep organized. In combat, it is a must have.


PowergameTo force an actions success on another player or force a player to accept a result unquestioningly. To assume ones character is always successful without giving another player an opportunity to let their character react.


The Three Strike RuleFor every three attacks made, a player allows their character to take one hit. Not a requirement, but a good rule of thumb.


1 V 1One on One combat. Otherwise known as 'single combat'.

 


Now that we have some general terms under our belts, we can move on to the next point in this lesson.

 


GENERAL RULES


1. Auto-hitting, powergaming, godmodding are all bad.

 

And this is rule number 1 for a reason. Every person works hard to create their characters. No one wants to see them beaten to a smear, everyone wants to be seen as a badass. But that's not how RP works. RP is about give and take. And if all you're doing is giving it to someone else, the only person having fun is you, and lets face it, your brand of fun sucks.


  • Do not dodge everything. If you are dodging everything, you are not hitting your opponent. This is a matter of common sense. If you are running away, jumping backwards, rolling, etc., you are not in range to strike your enemy.
  • Do not assume your attacks are always successful. You MUST give the other player an opportunity to react, even if you both know their character is trapped in a corner with little room to move. This is common courtesy and basic RP etiquette.
  • Do not take control of another person character. You do not know what that player had in mind to do, you do not know that characters nuances and quirks regardless of how often you've played against them. You control your character only. You only decide if your character jumps, talks, gets hit in the mouth or jumps out of range. It is not your right to decide the outcome of another person's character.
  • Do not do fifty million things in a single post. You can not draw a sword, jump ten feet in the air, throw a fireball, then land and cut your enemy into sushi. At most, three actions in a post, and even that is pushing it. Player Killing is frowned on, even in a non-consent community. If there is no 'gain' from killing a player character, no reason, no impact, don't do it.


2. Do not abuse OOC information.

 

Just because you OOCly know someone's character is weak against 'X' substance or magic does not give you recourse to have your character suddenly have an ability or item to wreck their kool-aid. Basic RP etiquette - If you do not want it done to you, do not do it to someone else.


3. Follow posting order.

 

In combat scenarios, especially if there are a lot of people involved, things can get messy and frustrating. If people are posting willy nilly, it gets ten times worse. Establish a post order and follow it as best you can. If people agree to break for any reason, either for a player to respond to something that another players action hinges on, then that is one thing, and can be addressed via whispers, group chat, or OOC posts with brackets. Otherwise, always follow the post order - This makes it so everyone involved doesn't have to struggle so hard in what can be an already tense and frustrating situation. In the same throw, be patient. While realistically, combat occurs in seconds, not minutes, some people need a little time to visualize what the characters are doing. Some people need to double check if they understand a move that had been made in whispers and this causes a delay on the main screen. If it is a mass combat scene, give the GM/DM time to respond to everything going on. Combat RP is fun, but it is also stressful for people that are uncomfortable with it. Be respectful and don't make things worse by getting snippy, short tempered, or by deliberately hopping post order.


4. Quality is better than Quantity with Post Length.

 

When it comes to general RP, posts can vary in length from multiple paragraphs to a few small sentences (though you really want to try and give people something to react to/ interact with so let's remember not to do one liners). You want to paint a scene, give the other players something to imagine when they read, help them envision the sights, smells, sounds. In combat RP, you want to do the same; however, you want to do it in a concise manner. Too much detail can cause confusion for others involved. To little detail and what you intended for your character to do can be left for too much interpretation, and therefor be confusing still. In combat RP, a post should be short, simple, and to the point. It is unnecessary to molest the thesaurus, and there is no need to be flashy. Combat RP is about writing an action packed scene, not about waving your e-penis about. Read more about how to write a quality post here.


5. Physics.

 

Any world a writer creates has its own brand of physics, its own natural laws. These are things that make the world believable, more three dimensional and easier to understand. Regardless of what your character can do, whether it can fly, breathe under water or dig through the earth like moleman on crack, there are simple things that are always in effect. Like gravity, how pressure increases the deeper one goes and the basic principles of momentum. An object in motion stays in motion, and object at rest stays at rest, etc.. These are irrefutable facts of real life and in the game world. Understanding basic physics, body mechanics, etc. are important in combat RP. Are you being asked to have a doctorate in medicine or engineering? No. But you are being asked to think. You are being asked to visualize what you want your character to do and consider, given the worlds physics and how they effect your character, if it would be possible for your toon to do it. It's a lot like trying to choreograph a fight scene for a movie. If you can visualize the movement without breaking physics, bones, or joints, likely it's plausible. If you can't see how the movements connect, like a dot-to-dot, then something is amiss.


6. Go with the Flow.

 

Combat RP is intended to be fluid, dynamic, unexpected. Characters with different skills or trains of thought can and often do come up with ingenious things in the course of RP that will throw a monkey wrench into your plan. Even your own character can surprise you. Let the scene take life on its own and don't try to force things. Yes, this means even if injury and death rear their ugly heads. It sucks to see your character get hurt. It hurts even more to see the creation of your imagination fall and never get up. But in good story, there will be casualties. And if you are the kind of player mature enough to 'be the leaf' and go with the flow, people will respect you. However, this does not mean if it's apparent there is powergaming, metagaming, etc. occurring, you continue to let it happen. If you think something is off, question it! Don't assume the other person is in the right, and most of all, don't do it and later say 'Well, so-n-so was doing it so I thought it was ok.'


7. Humility.

 

Combat RP is not about who wins and who loses. It is about writing dynamic, action filled story. It is about character development and growth. Just because someone wins all the fights does not mean they are a great player, and just because someone loses all the fights does not mean that player is a failure. Sure, it might feel that way. It might suck when your character, that you've worked hard to create, that you've invested all that time into, gets their ass handed to them left, right and center, and it feels good to win every now and then. But if your entire reason for RPing is to get another tally on your belt of honor, then you are roleplaying for the wrong reason. Be the better player. If you lose, do it with grace, don't pitch a fit. If you win, don't brag and showboat. Now, ICly, that's one thing. If its in your character to complain or strut around like a barnyard rooster, have at it. But OOCly, have grace with how the RP ends. You'll be seen as a far better player in the long run for it, and people will be more apt to want to play with you.


8. Communicate.

 

The worst thing that can happen in any RP is to have it devolve into an OOC bitch fest. If something doesn't make sense, don't immediately jump the gun and assume it was done on purpose or the other player is trying to screw you. Talk. Ask questions, get clarification. If that attack didn't make sense, tell that person and ask if they could reword it for you. It might have been a misunderstanding as a result of your post or maybe they just didn't word something well enough. If it is a legitimate issue (Like the player is clearly powergaming), don't be confrontational. Get an admin to help clear things up. The minute you start going after someone, even if they are the guilty party, it makes you into the bad guy and turns you into the problem. Do not make the issue a public matter unless you are stating to those involved you are getting clarification. Keep it to whispers/group chat as best you can.


9. Establish abilities.

 

Let's be quite frank. Pulling a surprise on an opponent can result in some awesome shock factor IC. But it can also be seen as a form of powergaming if there's no valid reason for a character to have that ability or suddenly have the perfect weapon for a situation. Reduce the risk of OOC confrontation by have a place set up to store your characters skills, weaknesses and belongings (RPR is great for this, and SilverSouls also offers personal webspace for your characters). This also means research fighting styles, get to know how weapons, armor and tools are used, moved in, swung. No one is asking for you to be an expert, but you are asked to have a basic understanding on how your character fights. You are the one posting your characters actions, you are the one describing the swing of a sword or thrust of a lance. If you don't know how that weapon is supposed to be used, you will have an issue.


10. No One is a Perfect Combatant.

 

A knight in shining armor is a man who has never had his metal truly tested. Great warriors do not get through life without being stabbed, cut or having the piss beaten out of them. They are bloodied, broken, and reforged into a mighty force, and they bear the scars upon their bodies as testament to the trials they've endured. What does this mean, exactly? It means in a fight, you don't always get out unscathed. Your character will get hurt, will get knocked out, be drained of energy, stamina, be pushed to their physical limits. It is up to you, the player, to decide when to take a hit. But realize that if you don't take them, even if its every once in a while, people will start thinking you don't play fair. Conversely, if you take too many all the time, people might think you're being overly dramatic by letting your toon get hurt all the time. It is good to find a balance, but rolling with the flow of the scene takes precedence.


11. Timestop/ Closed Scene.

 

A Timestop/Closed Scene is used in two situations, and is not designed for abuse so you can pick and choose your allies and keep out the enemies. Timestops are for when a party of the combat has to leave due to IRL reasons, and has not consented the scene to continue without them. This closes the scene to be continued later, and if it is continued later it will be in timestop where none may enter it until the combat is resolved. The other reason a timestop will be called is due to the fact of how time slows down for combat scenes. In these scenes, every detail is addressed, described, and contended. A battle that is six rounds in might really only have taken about one minute of real time for the characters. This is not enough time for others to 'rush to the rescue' from the other side of the map! Timestops are for time logic, and to keep a scene from getting overcrowded. Some people love 'getting in on the action' and will join any and all combat scenes. Once a timestop is in place, no others may join the combat scene without explicit permission from all current parties. Those 'on the way' must be noted to be 'on the way' in OOC before the timestop, and time factors need to be considered. Once a timestop is in place, you can no longer pick and choose who gets to enter and who doesn't. It's all or nothing, not 'just your friends'.


EXAMPLE POSTS




Concise Posts

Post example here.



Physics and Damage

Post example here.



Abilities and Preps

Post example here.



The Three Strike Rule

Post example here.



The Attempt, Not Succeed Rule

Post example here.

 

 

SSC, RP gone wild!