The Inquisition: Legacy has an entirely custom, emote-based combat system that allows for players to represent their own personal style less through code and more through the flair with which they write their actions. Since this system is custom, there’s a lot to learn; the following guide should walk you through it, from creating a combat-ready character to understanding the ins-and-outs of strategic combat decisions.
Table of Contents
- An Introduction to Our System: General Principles
- I’m Brand New And I Wanna FIGHT! AKA: Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Fight: Combat Commands
- Tracking A Fight: Getting Familiar with the ‘Combat’ Command
- Range in Combat
- Ranged Combat
- Combat Versus NPCs: Coded Differences
- So How Does This All Work in Practice? Combat Logs
Advanced Guide: Less Necessary but Valuable Information
- Combat Etiquette: How to Get the Most out of Combat RP
- Known Issues and Unusual Functions in Combat Code
- Going Above and Beyond: Advanced Strategy Tips
An Introduction to Our System: General Principles
Before you start thinking about how to make a combat character, there are a few basic precepts that are important to understand about how The Inquisition: Legacy’s combat system works; without them, my advice on character creation won’t make much sense! We’ll go into the actual mechanics later, but to give you a general sense of game combat:
It’s turn-based: The system is designed so that everybody gets to act once per round, ensuring that fast typists won’t get an unfair advantage. That said, rounds do reset if they go five minutes without an emote, so don’t take too long!
It’s bloody: The system is strongly biased toward hitting, so that even an attacker who’s inferior has a good chance of hitting a defender – they just won’t hit as hard. Actually missing someone is rare, and even good fighters get bloodied in battle. Related to that, the advantage of numbers is considerable; two inferior fighters are likely to beat a superior fighter most times.
Skills AND stats matter: Skills matter more than stats, but stats are also important for success in combat. Your hit points (HP) are tied to your attacking ability, and your movement points (MV) to your defending ability – the higher your strength and con, the higher your HP and your attack value, and the higher your constitution and dexterity, the higher your MV and defense value. This means that as you take more damage, you hit less hard, and as you become more exhausted, you get hit harder.
It’s based on ‘margin of success’: When someone tries to attack someone else, the attacker’s attack value (mentioned in the previous section) is compared to the defender’s defense value. The margin between them is computed by subtraction, and the bigger the margin, the more severe/strong the hit. Hits range in severity from ‘scratches’ up to crippling hits – and the more severe the hit, the more damage it does. This means that, in TI combat, the ability to land a hit on someone isn’t really separate from how well you hit them: a skilled fighter will also do more damage.
Weapon vs. defense choice matters: Weapon choice and defensive skill choice are critical to success in combat; they modify the base attack and defense values. There are eight major melee weapons skills and four defensive skills. Every melee weapon is strong against one defensive skill, weak against another, and neutral against the other two; in turn, every defensive skill is strong against two weapons, weak against another two, and neutral versus the other four. Versatility is, therefore, a really important trait. You’ll want to master these combinations to be a maximally effective fighter; asking around in-character and/or testing via training can help you figure them out.
Armor and Hit Locations: Armor soaks a flat amount of damage based on its type – for example, wearing leather armor subtracts 10% of all damage taken. Armor has no downside in terms of defense, but will sap your MV while moving between rooms and can be damaged when hit with weapons.
Armor is based off hit location: You need armor on your head, body, arms, hands, legs and feet, the six different locations that can be targeted, to be fully protected. All hit locations have the same effects when targeted and have the same difficulty to hit; the only difference is that wounds to the legs can slow a target’s movement.
Range: Range is an important factor. Every weapon has its own range (which we’ll list below), and cannot attack when more than one step too far away for its range; attacking too close for the range of longer-ranged weapons is doable, but at stiff penalties. Hence, movement around the room (traceable via the “map” command) is often central to combat, if individuals are using weapons with mismatched ranges.
I’m Brand New And I Wanna FIGHT! AKA: Frequently Asked Questions
Okay, cool! Here’s what you should think about when getting started.
Who is my character and why do they fight? The Inquisition: Legacy is not a MUDs where combat is a major part of gameplay for everyone – many characters never fight. Instead, it’s more like real life, where only those with specific reasons to fight engage in combat. When you’re planning your combat character, it’s worth thinking about why he or she is a warrior.
Most fighting characters on The Inquisition: Legacy are either Reeves (law enforcement) or Knights (mage hunters for the Church). If you intend to be a fighter, it’s worth your while considering if either of those guilds is a good place for your character. Other concepts are 100% possible, of course, but these two guilds provide the biggest opportunity for combat roleplay.
Which stats do I need to prioritize in character generation? Strength, constitution, and dexterity are the most important stats for fighters. Stats have maximum ratings between 60-100 that are secretly rolled at the time of creation. The order of your stats in character generation determines their eventual maxes – if you come out of character generation with strength as your highest stat, strength will have the highest max. (Between equal stats, it rolls randomly.)
Even characters who don’t specialize in strength, constitution, and dexterity can be great fighters, since skill matters more, but those stats will be particularly helpful in combat. For the long term, if you want your character to be fully focused on combat, taking them as your highest three stats (in whatever order works for you) will pay off.
Note: Other stats help too, though! For example, those with high intelligence and wisdom can specialize in more skills – useful in a combat system that relies on versatility.
Which skills should I take in character generation? Players tend to recommend that serious fighting characters have at least two weapon skills and two defensive skills. Which two doesn’t matter a lot, since they’re all fairly well-balanced, but certain weapons are weaker or stronger against certain defensive skills. Having at least two of each allows a character to have a fallback if they’re facing someone whose choice of weapon/defensive skill is a bad match against theirs.
Many people suggest taking two weapons that function well at different ranges, since ranges are important in combat, but this is in no way necessary – it’s a question of personal choice., Additionally, it’s fine if you don’t take two weapons in character generation, even if it’s typically considered ideal; combat skills can always be learned in-game.
What about combat skills beyond just weapon skills or defenses? We don’t have many; there are other maneuvers you can take beyond attacking and defending, but they don’t rely on separate skills for the most part. There are two exceptions: backstabbing and blind fighting.
Backstabbing allows individuals to make a single extremely highly-damaging attack from a position of being hidden. Blind fighting helps a character mitigate penalties to successful attacks that are code-wise imposed in the dark. Both of these techniques represent advanced combative maneuvers that are rarely used at best, so we won’t talk about them here.
|Improvised||Close||Bash||Neutral vs. all||Y||N||Items break|
|Unarmed||Close||Bash||Neutral vs. all||N||N/A||Lower damage|
|Throwing||Variable||Variable||Neutral vs. all||Y||Y||Ranged|
- DamType: The type of damage the weapon inflicts. Important primarily for medicine, not for combat.
- Defenses: How the weapon reacts to defenses. “Normal” means it is weak to one defense, strong against one defense, and neutral against the other two defenses. Neutral to all means it is neutral against all four defensive skills.
- Thrown: Does this weapon have thrown items?
- Dual: Can this weapon ever be dual-wielded?
- Notes: Various comments on specific weapons.
Improvised: Only specific items of sturdy enough materials (wood, metals, etc.) and logical size can be used as improvised weapons. These weapons are destroyed in approx. two hits. To use an improvised weapon, use wear <item> wield.
Unarmed: Slightly lower damage than any other weapon, but requires no item to use. In fact, there are no weapon options compatible with unarmed (no brass knuckles, etc.) Unarmed styles are probably more Western in character, as opposed to Eastern martial arts, in TI’s world.
Sword: In TI’s world, there is a strong tradition of limiting swords only to nobles or Knights. Using a sword without fitting into one of those two categories may get your weapon confiscated. Additionally, sword is a guildskill to the Order and Court guilds, so it cannot be raised above 36 via practice by individuals outside of those guilds. As such, non-noble and non-Knight players may wish to avoid swords.
Whip/Polearm: Most weapons can be used at one range further than their specified range – i.e., daggers can be used at medium-close as well as close. Weapons that function at the far range cannot be used as extended, however, so these two weapons only function without penalty at their own range.
Throwing/Bows: These skills are ranged combat and function somewhat differently from regular combat; see the Ranged Combat section for more information.
Dual-Wielding: Yes, you can wield two weapons at once in TI. However, it penalizes your skill with both weapons, and you can only attack with one weapon per turn. Mostly, dual wielding is useful for wielding weapons that are strong against different defensive skills. If your two weapons are strong against different defensive skills, you have twice the chance of hitting your opponent in their weak spot. Alternatively, dual wielding can also help with covering different ranges. By dual wielding weapons of different ranges, a character can ensure that they’re still able to fight without being penalized even if the fight moves out of their main weapon’s ideal range.
Note: This means there is never a benefit to wielding two of the same weapon, such as two daggers. It may look cool, but it provides you no advantages in either range or different defensive capability. You’ll always do better to mix and match, like sword/dagger, sword/axe, mace/dagger, etc.
Only some weapons can be dual wielded together, however – see the skill chart below to figure out which. Note that some weapon combinations work differently in different orders, primarily those involving the axe. For example, you can’t wield an axe in your primary hand and a mace in your secondary, but you CAN wield a mace in your primary and an axe in your secondary hand.
The Inquisition: Legacy has four defensive skills: block, parry, dodge, and footwork. Defense choice is simpler than weapon choice: every defense is arguably well-balanced, and most of them work in the same general way. To reiterate: When an attack is resolved, the attacker’s attack value (a function of HP and weapon skill) is compared to the defender’s defense value (a function of MV and defense skill.)
The major difference between defense skills, in practice, is which specific weapons a defense is strong or weak against. Any defense can be used while wielding any weapon – i.e., it’s just as easy to parry with a dagger as it is with a sword. Also, any defense can be used without any penalty whether you are heavily armored or not.
Still, there’s some information specific to each defense that you should know, including guiding principles to guess which weapons each defense is strong against. Note that specifics must be obtained ICly!
Block: Block, on TI, is shield blocking. Blocking is useful in slightly more circumstances than the other defenses, but also requires a shield object to be equipped – the other defenses do not. Block serves well against weapons that have direct, easily-deflected strikes. On the other hand, blocking is largely ineffectual when confronted with weapons that can attack from unusual angles to get around the shield. Note: Shields don’t function as armor on TI; they only matter for using block.
Parry: Parrying is the defensive art of deflecting incoming blows with one’s own weapon before they can do any harm. As such, someone using parries to defend themselves will have little trouble knocking aside lightweight blows, as they are easily unbalanced. However, parry doesn’t hold up so well against heavier weapons, whose strike trajectories are difficult to disrupt.
Dodge: Dodge is the skill of moving your body out of the way of blows. People who
dodge rely on small adjustments of their position to move out of the way of an attack, rather than larger shifts as you might see in footwork. This has the advantage that weapons with a small strike area (whose impact depends on precision) are easily avoided, but the disadvantage that weapons with a large strike area are not.
Footwork: Footwork is the skill of evading blows through careful positioning of the entire body. Masters of footwork evade blows by hastily retreating from them entirely, rather than through small precision motions such as used in dodging. As such, footwork is vulnerable to quick attacks that can move more swiftly than a retreating defender. However, it’s good at avoiding the slower blows of larger weapons.
Once You’re In Game:
So now you’ve picked your starting stats, purchased your weapon and defensive skills and are all ready to get started! What next?
Where do I get a weapon? Practice weapons for sparring PCs can be bought from PC woodworkers or from NPCs at the Carpentry shop. Lethal weapons for real combat or for training with the NPC trainers can be bought either from NPC shops such as Morgan’s Smithy (at lower quality) or from blacksmith PCs (at higher quality). Mailing the Grand Magnate in-game is usually a good way to figure out who to ask; you can find the Grand Magnate’s name with the guildleader command.
How can I train my combat skills? You can work with the NPC trainers at Park Street Training Hall, if you have a lethal weapon and are willing to pay 25 silver a session. PC sparring partners, on the other hand, can be found for free – and you get roleplay alongside your training session! Joining a combat-heavy guild such as the Reeves or Knights helps with finding PCs to spar, but traveling to the Training Hall’s Auditorium and making sure your whereRP is on will often attract training partners as well.
Alternatively, you can fight animals in the wilderness, but 1) animals will only teach you skill if you are close to their skill level and 2) they may hurt you very badly, so watch out!
How to Fight: Combat Commands
All right, now you know how the system generally works and are in game, but how do you actually start a fight? Let’s go through all of the commands used in combat.
Example: wield dagger
This equips a weapon for your character’s use in combat. Straightforward enough! Without a weapon equipped, you can only attack with unarmed combat.
These commands allow you to draw a weapon your character is wielding. Most of the time, weapons are kept sheathed, so draw readies them for use. If you are wielding a weapon but have it sheathed, attacking will cause you to attack with unarmed instead – so make sure you’ve drawn before you start a fight!
This command shows your character’s combat stats, like attack and defense value, and can be checked both outside of combat and within it. The next section of the tutorial will go over its output in depth.
Attack/throw/fire <target> <hitloc> <emote>
Examples: attack Kinaed head swings her sword at /Kinaed’s head!
throw Kinaed head chucks a knife at /Kinaed’s head!
fire Kinaed head looses an arrow at /Kinaed’s head!
This is how you actually attack other individuals in serious situations when you intend to do potentially lethal harm. Attack uses unarmed or melee weapons; throw works for throwing weapons; fire works for shooting a bow. (For spars, replace “attack” with “safe.”)
When you attack, your attack value will be tested against your opponent’s defense, creating a margin of success or failure. This margin of success or failure is compared to a table, resulting in one of the following outcomes (from worst to best for the attacker):
- Lightly Hits
- Glancingly Hits
- Solidly Hits
- Powerfully Hits
- Critically Hits
The actual damage done is a function of your weapon’s damage and these outcomes: “critically hits,” for example, means you inflict the damage of a random roll of your weapon’s damage dice multiplied by two.
Dual/safedual are identical to attack/safe; but they attack with an offhand weapon.
Example: defend falls back to catch her breath.
This takes a turn to bolster your defense values. As you fight, your mv is used up and you take penalties to your defense for the hits you’ve taken. Taking a turn to defend resets these penalties, allowing you to improve your defense back to its maximum level – but it’s a critical issue of timing, as any turn you’re defending is a turn you can’t attack.
Combat defense <skill>
Example: combat defense parry
This allows you switch which skill you’re using to defend with: dodge, parry, footwork, or block. Defense choice is very important for strategic combat because every defense is weak against two weapons and strong against two others, as noted earlier; you should always try to use a defense that’s strong against your opponent’s weapon if you want a better chance of victory.
Flee <direction> <emote>
Example: flee south turns tail and runs!
If you want to escape a fight, use flee. Note you can only flee toward an open exit, not through a closed door. The higher your dex, the higher the chance of successful flight; fleeing is also made more difficult when you’re fighting more enemies simultaneously.
Example: disengage steps back from the fight.
This allows you to end a fight when both combatants agree to do so – both must in order to actually end the fight. With NPCs, such as trainers, you will want to make sure to type disengage first in the round before the NPC acts – otherwise, the NPC will not disengage as well. (Multiple tries may be needed, either way.)
Charge <person> <new range> <emote>
Example: charge Kinaed close runs in close to /Kinaed!
This allows you to change your range within a fight. Charge works for both getting closer and for running away. The ranges are close, medium-close, medium, medium-far, and extended – we’ll talk more about range later.
Protect <person> <emote>
Example: protect kinaed steps in between /Kinaed and her opponent.
Sometimes you want your PC to take hits for someone else. In that case, protect allows you to step in when they’re targeted. The attack will be resolved as if it was aimed at you, instead of them. Warning: this can lead to a very quick death if it means you’re taking fire from multiple enemies!
Tracking a Fight: Getting Familiar with the ‘Combat’ Command
You’ll want to generally know your character’s status during a fight. Some information, such as your hp and mv, can be seen in your prompt and with score. If you really want more combat-specific information, however, the combat command is your major source. When you type combat outside of a fight, you’ll see something similar to:
SubHP : Perfect Attack : Peerless Defense: Mighty (parry) Weapon : Wicked mace Armor : None
Let’s go through each field in detail.
SubHP: Your subdual HP. This represents your safe HP, or the damage you take from safe attacks. This damage never gives you more than very mild wounds that heal without treatment, and doesn’t touch your regular HP. When you get down to 0 subdual HP, you are knocked out of a spar, unable to continue.
Attack: Your attack value with the weapon you currently have equipped, taking HP and skill into account. This is what will be contrasted against the defender’s defense value to see how hard you hit them. It ranges from Pathetic (bad, as you might guess) to Peerless, for PCs; NPCs can have higher values.
Defense: Your defense value with the defense skill you currently have set, taking MV and skill into account. (The defense skill you have set is shown in parentheses.) This is what gets contrasted against attack values to see how hard you’re hit. It ranges from Pathetic – Peerless.
Weapon: The weapon you’re using. The adjective before the weapon’s name refers to its quality (Substandard, Poor, Typical, or Wicked) and hence its damage. If you’re unarmed, unarmed damage depends simply on skill.
Armor: What kind of armor you’re using (leather, chain, or plate) and the material it’s made from (leather, iron, or steel.)
When in a fight, combat will look more like:
SubHP : Scratched Target : Steven (unarmed, dodge, Range: 1) Acted : None Waiting: Steven (medium-close), Bofaha Attack : Mighty Defense: Average (parry) Weapon : Substandard dagger (range: 1) Armor : None
The new fields:
Target: Who are you fighting, what weapon they’re using, what defense they’re using, and their range from you.
Acted: Who has already acted this turn. In this example, the turn has just changed and neither fighter has attacked yet.
Waiting: Who hasn’t acted this turn? In this case, both fighters.
Weapon adds a notice about how close or far you are from your ideal range for your specific weapon; if it’s at 0, you’re at ideal range. 1 = 1 step too far for ideal range, -1 = 1 step too close, etc.
Range in Combat
In the principles section, I suggested range was an important part of combat, but didn’t explain the details. In general, range limits what weapons can be used in which fights; we’ll discuss how below.
In many games, a ‘room’ is a single unit of space, with distances inside a room being abstracted. All rooms in TI contain meaningful space within them; the locations of players within a room can be seen by typing map. A sample map for an indoor room:
The range command can be used to translate this visible distance into ranges, so if Niamh wants to see how far she is from Maker:
They are approximately 3 paces away.
She is medium-far (3) for combat purposes.
The possible ranges and the weapons that occupy them are, to reiterate:
- Close (0 paces away) – PCs occupy the same square on map; dagger, improvised, unarmed
- Medium-close (1 pace away) – axe and mace
- Medium (2 paces away) – sword and flail
- Medium-far (3 paces away) – staff
- Far (4 paces away) – whip and polearm
- Extended (5 or more paces away) – bows
All melee weapons can be used one range further than their normal range without penalty – e.g., a dagger (close range) can be used at medium-close or close. The only exception to this rule is whip and polearm, which cannot be used at extended range. Why? Previous ranges are all one step, but extended is simply ‘any range further apart than four paces.’
All weapons can be used closer than their normal range at any number of ranges, but will be penalized more heavily the further they are from their desired range. I.e., a polearm (far) can be used at medium-far with a slight penalty, medium with a serious penalty, medium-close with a larger penalty, etc.
What do you do if your range from your intended target doesn’t fit your weapon’s range? As mentioned earlier, charge can be used to get to a new range both in and out of combat: charge <person> <new range> <emote>. The success of a charge depends on 1) the amount of distance charged and 2) the charger’s defensive skill. Charges will always move the charger at least one range in the desired direction, even if they don’t succeed at moving the full distance; when this happens, the charge will state that it was interrupted.
Melee combat functions only at ranges shorter than extended, the max range. Ranged combat, on the other hand, can be used more easily at a wide array of different ranges. TI has two basic two forms of ranged combat: archery and throwing.
Archery: Archery (the Bows skill) uses a bow and arrows, which must be placed inside a quiver-type object worn on the person. Every shot uses the fire command, which functions identically to attack in terms of syntax. (fire <person> <hit location> <emote>). Archery works best at the extended, far, medium-far, and medium ranges; at medium-close it takes a penalty, and at close, it cannot function
Using fire will deduct one arrow from the quiver and automatically reload the bow; there’s no command needed to do so. However, when your quiver is empty, filling it with arrows requires the special command reload (no arguments) and takes a full combat turn. Arrows used can be retrieved from a corpse/the inventory of the target, or off the ground if they missed.
Archery is strong against one defense, weak against another, and neutral against the other two – these choices are logically based on the strengths and weaknesses of a bow. When defending, however, an archer must beware: archers find it difficult to evade attacks given the size of their unwieldy weapon, and take a penalty to ALL defensive actions.
Practicing archery can be done with a target and the shoot command: shoot <target’s keyword> <emote> will launch an arrow and display a numerical score to allow for competitive practice shooting. Note that target shooting can and will break arrows!
Throwing: Throwing can be used with specific throwing weapons (such as axes or daggers) or with any item your character is able to throw. (This is based off character strength, distance to the target, and size/weight of the item.) The damage done with an improvised throwing weapon depends on the PC’s improvised skill and the item’s size/weight – so if your character can throw a large item and hit their target, it’s bound to hurt!
To throw an item, one simply wields it and then types throw <target> <hit location> <emote> or throwdual <target> <hit location> <emote> for an offhand thrown weapon. This will be resolved like any other attack, with the thrown weapon ending up on the ground next to the target afterward. However, if a thrown attack is low in skill, the target has a chance to 1) catch the thrown weapon (keeping it in their inventory) and 2) actually avoid taking damage by doing so.
If a character is wearing a quiver-type object loaded with other throwing ammunition, it will be automatically re-drawn into the hand that threw the initial attack. This lets a thrower repeatedly throw weapons without having to pause to re-wield or gather their weapons… that is, until their supplies run out!
Practicing throwing can be done with a target and the toss command: toss <target’s keyword> <emote> will launch a thrown weapon drawn in the main hand and display a numerical score to allow for competitive practice shooting. Target throwing will NOT break thrown weapons.
Note: Throwing is neutral against all defenses, like unarmed.
Combat Versus NPCs: Coded Differences
So far, everything we’ve discussed has been true for PC vs. PC fights. There are actually a few differences (e.g., simplifications) that hold true for PC vs. NPC fights.
- In PC vs. NPC fights, range does not matter. To prevent NPCs from having to use very sophisticated pathing algorithms around rooms, NPCs can attack and be attacked at any range.
- To avoid giving any weapon type an advantage in PC vs. NPC combat, NPCs’ defenses always act neutral against PC attacks – that is to say, a PC’s weapon is never strong or weak versus an NPC’s defense. Note that PC defenses still matter against NPC attacks, though, so watch out if an NPC’s wielding a weapon you’re weak against!
- NPCs use sets of pre-generated combat emotes to fight, mixing defenses and attacks more equally than you typically see in PC fights. NPCs (especially animals) may also be more likely to try and flee. Expect short combat emotes that trigger quickly when facing an NPC enemy, compared to fighting PCs.
- If you want to kill a PC enemy, you must use the ‘finish’ command after you’ve reduced them to an unconscious state. The same holds true for NPC humans, but NOT for other NPCs – so be aware that you will kill non-human NPCs as soon as you reduce them to 0 hp or below.
- If you’re fighting the NPC trainers, you’ll have to make sure you wield a lethal, NOT safe weapon. They will safe attack you in return, however. Also, note that an NPC trainer will ‘kick you out’ if you reduce them below 35% of their hp.
You can stop reading at this point if all you needed to know was the basics of how combat works. From here on out, we’ll cover a lot of additional optional information that’s valuable to a serious combatant but not typically required to start using the combat system.
Combat Etiquette: How to Get the Most out of Combat RP
Every game has different rules and cultural standards about how to be a good player, and TI is no different. Now that you know how to fight in a coded sense, let’s talk about how to fight in a roleplay sense!
Observe turn order in combat. There is a strong social norm on TI about observing turn order in combat. To some extent, the combat system reinforces this: you can only attack one a round. However, it is possible to game the system by attacking last in a round, then first in the next round. This gives you a chance to hit your opponent twice in a row, which gives you an advantage; taking prior damage will worsen your opponent’s ability to hit you back. While this does not violate policy, it’s not considered appropriate by most players, and is usually behavior best avoided.
In tense scenes, give everyone a chance to act. Adrenaline often takes over when we’re in tense, player-versus-player scenarios. It’s tempting to try and avoid combat by running away before your enemies have a chance to attack you, or otherwise skipping proper turn order to initiate something coded. It’s best to ensure that you always give everyone a fair chance to react to your actions, even when a PC’s life is on the line.
Avoid closed emotes in combat. This is a more general TI rule, but is particularly applicable to combat. Don’t emote that you punched somebody else in the face so hard they cried; this robs your RP partner of their own chance to determine their PC’s reaction, and also won’t make a lot of sense if you miss them!
Be reactive. It enriches roleplay when people allow their characters to be human. Taking big blows should hurt! Bleed, groan, whimper and whine – but feel free to play up your character’s reaction to taking damage. It only adds to the drama of a good combat scene, and you’ll probably find that you get a lot more character development out of roleplaying weakness as well as strength.
Don’t rush too much; it’s about the RP. It’s easy to give in to the temptation of hammering out your combat pose as fast as possible, especially in a group combat scene. You get better RP, though, out of taking your time to craft an attack that really represents your character’s style and state of mind in the situation. Five-minute turn timers do provide some limits on creativity, but sometimes it’s worth taking at least four of those minutes for a finely-written pose!
Writing Combat Emotes:
Many players have difficulty writing combat emotes, as most of us are not fighters in real life. I have a few helpful tips here for those who would like to write better combat prose but don’t know where to begin.
Remember who your character is. When writing your combat emotes, think about your character’s level of skill, past training, and life experience. Did your character learn to fight on the streets, or in a pristine academy? Someone with only a few ranks of combative skill will probably not attack with precision, but instead throw blows that could be described as wild, desperate, or weak. Use your character’s backstory and skills to inform the way you describe your attacks!
Develop a personal combat style. If you want to go beyond that first point, developing a style for your emotes can both make the process of writing easier and increase the quality of your writing. A bard-turned-combatant might use a graceful footwork-heavy style inspired by dancing; a long-time career Knight might have a strength-based style that focuses on holding your ground.
When developing a style, focus first on your weapon and defense. Dagger/footwork looks very different from sword/parry. Within those subcategories, a rapier fighter would look very different from a broadsword. What weapon fits your backstory and your character’s talents the best? Strong fighters might use the broadsword, while dexterous ones might focus on the rapier.
With a style, you can develop a few signature attacks changing the details based on the individual circumstances. For example, my fighting character has dexterity as his best combat stat. Because his dexterity is so high, he is good with his hands and precision movements, and uses a dagger/dodge/footwork style of fighting. This means I have a very easy time writing combative emotes: I can use attacks that focus on specific weak spots with precision accuracy and defenses that focus on mobility (and a few oft-repeated maneuvers like circling around opponents).
Always try to react to the previous turn. Make sure you incorporate something about what your opponents have just done to you! This is both good for the sake of etiquette and for making a scene seem real.
Keeping all of these notes in mind… to some extent, you can follow a formula while writing your emotes, especially in a scene that’s heavy on both sides attacking.
- (If attacked last round): Pose your attempt to defend against the last attack, based on how hard it hit you;
- (If attacked last round): Pose your character’s reaction to the damage they took after the success/failure of their defense
- Think about your character’s mindset, and optionally include some signs of their overall strategy (are they second-guessing the fight? Planning an offensive? Trying to figure out how to escape?)
- Throw out your own attack or defense that makes sense for the position your PC was left in after the last turn. Think about your character’s personal style, their physical state at the moment (i.e., healthy vs. wrecked?), and their mental state. For an attack, additionally think about where your PC would target their opponent and limitations of the range/weapon. Do they lunge forward, laughing, as they stab for their opponent’s heart? Do they backpedal, crying and shaking in fear, and try to protect themselves with raised arms?
Known Issues and Unusual Functions in Combat Code
Any complex, custom system on a game is going to have a few known issues. Just to avoid confusion, we’ll detail a few of them here.
There are occasionally bugs observed with incapacitating players. Dipping below 0 health can cause unpredictable issues such as being stuck in a ‘stunned’ state. If this occurs, contact a staff member to help you out!
If you are engaged in multiple combats within a room, (e.g., 10 PCs are fighting 3 or 4 different enemies), your combat may end when your enemy goes down, but other combats are still going on. You may also occasionally find yourself ‘stuck’ where the timer says everybody has acted, but it isn’t advancing to the next round. Contact a staffer; they can end all the combats and allow you to re-engage.
Going Above and Beyond: Advanced Strategy Tips
So far, we’ve spent all this time talking about what you can do in combat – not what you should do. Here, I’m going to get into some of the strategic advice for serious combatants.
- Study combat. Nothing is going to be as useful as knowledge – knowledge of how the defenses and weapon choices interplay, knowledge of what weapons and defenses are most common on the grid, knowledge of when armor makes sense to use and when it doesn’t. There are IC ways to learn all of these things!
- Use the combat command frequently, both in and out of combat. There’s so much useful info in combat! Knowing your opponent’s defense will help you plan your strategy, and some players will be canny enough to change defense mid-fight as they see you change your style too. Additionally, as your character takes damage and deals it, your attack and defense values will change frequently. Know what your base, full-HP and full-MV values are; if your defense drops too low, it’s worth using a defend command to bring it back up.
- Keep your mv high outside of combat. You never know when you’ll get in a fight. Having even 50 mv missing is enough to significantly impact you, putting you at a serious disadvantage. If you intend to wear armor, either carry a lot of food or (ideally) buy a horse to maintain high MV.
- Know when to defend and when to attack. Of course, knowing when your defense is ‘too low’ is highly variable across situations. If your opponent is missing you or swinging wildly, there’s absolutely nothing to be gained from upping your defense value; they’re already barely hitting you at all. Additionally, if the fight is very close, you may want to play more aggressive, since almost every attack does end in some form of hit. That said, if the fight looks to be lengthy and your opponent is hitting you solidly… you’ll probably want to incorporate defensive actions into your plan.
- Try to be the person who starts the fight. This is particularly true in any PC vs. PC fighting, where range matters. Many fights are reasonably short, 3-6 rounds or so – the person who attacks first has a distinct advantage both in terms of doing damage first, and in terms of getting to choose the range of the fight. The more unusual the range of your weapon is, the more important the initiative is: if you’re using a weapon best at far ranges and you get attacked at close, you may not even be able to get to your ideal range before you’re too hurt to win the fight. Note: most fights really do start at close or medium-close, because people rarely move through rooms unless they’re specifically maneuvering for combat.
- Always prioritize versatility, especially in defense. A fighter who doesn’t have the best stats but has the defenses to weaken any weapon they’re fighting against will have a huge advantage. It’s easier to change defenses than weapons, so focusing your versatility in that direction makes a lot of sense.
- If you intend to play an assassin, consider backstab. Backstab allows a fighter to do a tremendous amount of damage with a bladed weapon if they can position themselves hidden before attacking a person. This is a very useful skill for people who plan on premeditated PC conflict, but is difficult to use. To make the most of it, try to get yourself in position hiding somewhere and get a friend to lure your target into the room with you…
- Learn some form of ranged combat. Your character’s versatility across different circumstances increases tremendously if they have capability with either throwing or bows. In many cases, you may not want to use them as your primary method (bows are not useful at the close range most fights begin and they penalize defense; throwing is lower damage and dependent on highly expensive ammo), but having them accessible can be very useful across many scenarios.
- In large multi-person fights, use protect. Whenever multiple people are fighting a very tough enemy, strategically planning protects so that no one goes unconscious but everyone shares the damage can keep a lot more hits in the game.
- Always bring a friend, and use them strategically. Having numbers on your side is perhaps the single easiest way to win a fight. The game’s single best fighter is likely to lose to two fairly practiced but not expert fighters, and will definitely lose to three fighters. In addition, you can game the timing of rounds: TI includes what are called iterative penalties. The more attacks someone has already taken in a round, the lower their defense will be. Someone who might miss if they were the first attack in a round may well hit, and hit strongly, as the third attack in the round.
- Gang up on your opponents. If you’ve got multiple people fighting multiple people, you want to try and take a single individual out as quickly as possible. Why? Well, even a weak person can cause a lot of damage. The ideal strategy for multiple on multiple fights is to target the weakest link of the other team and wipe them out as fast as possible, then move on to the next weakest standing player. This is the quickest way to reduce the damage your team is taking. Never engage multiple enemy members at the same time if you can help it – it just splits your strength.Go out and enjoy your battles!