Conflict scenes are a huge part of what keeps a story moving, where our best "You remember that time?" tales come from; and really just a huge crux and part of roleplay in general. Our characters are designed naturally with our ability, or inability to succeed or even participate in combat in mind.
That being said, these scenes are also intense, competitive, and can destroy interplayer relationships if not handled maturely and with an eye for progressing each other’s story instead of progressing our own.
Keep an Open Communication with Your Scene Partner(s)
Before we get into the technical details. There are five points that help to keep things in perspective:
- Roleplay Combat is a lot like Mediation. There’s rarely an infallible victor and an infallible defeated.The winner always loses a little and the loser always wins a little. Whether it’s respect, reputation, honor, or something more tangible. Even if you win, give a little!
- There’s more than one way to end a fight. A conflict does not need to end in the death of another. If you mentally pull the kill option off the table, you’re left with a thousand alternatives, all of which continue story instead of killing it. A fight can be to the submission, the knock out, the escape. And leaving your opponent alive is rarely a bad thing. It opens up opportunities for more RP. Revenge, enmity, even truce and forgiveness. After all some of the best friendships are born in adversity.
- Keep your frustrations out of it. Almost any conflict RP is going to get clustered, mistakes will be made, rules might get broken or overlooked. Remember that there’s a person behind that screen. And their story is just as important to them as yours is to you. When the frustrations get the better of you, and you know when that is…when you start hunching over the keyboard, typing furiously, your cat looks at you funny because there’s a machine gun speed sound coming from your pounding the keys during tense irritation; it’s time to pause, sit back, close your eyes and count to ten and breathe slowly. Ask yourself if the mistake is a dealbreaker. Is it something you can correct and work around in your own post?
- Keep the lines of communication open. You’re staring down your arch nemesis. The posts are flying back and forth. You’ve ducked, spun, rolled, parried, cast and countercast for hours. But have you IMed them? Have you said thank you for the intense and engaging roleplay? Have you asked them what outcome they would like to see from this? Don’t let your IC enmity bleed over into OOC. They don’t want you to think that way either. So head off and kick them an IM.
- Settle on an outcome. A lot of times talking to your scene partner OOCly about how they might like to resolve a fight scene can have some surprisingly positive results. No one is saying plan out every single aspect of the scene. But having an idea of who is willing to lose what in order to win what, setting down the give and take, and communicating openly and respectfully with each other keeps up that dynamic of you being partners in a scene, while your characters can be adversaries.
Okay so now that you don’t hate your scene partner, your lines of communication are open, we can break down some of the factors in a combat scene.
It takes some small understanding about your character’s weapon and method of combat of choice to roleplay a physical combat scene.
Most weapons fit into one of four categories:
- Blunt Weapons: Hammers, Maces, cudgels, staves and clubs; blunt weapons do not have an edge, are typically rather heavy, and tend to do deep internal damage. A lot of armor in Medieval times are geared to defect weapons meant to cut the skin. Blunt weapons can almost bypass many types of armor because they’re not interested in breaking the skin.
- Slashing Weapons: Bladed Swords, Axes, bladed knives. Basically anything meant to slice through the skin. These weapons can do a great deal of damage with relatively little effort. And here, this is all about the blood.
- Piercing Weapons: Darts, Rapiers, Stilettos and other weapons meant to punch through the skin and damage internal organs. Less about the blood and more about the internal damage.
- Ranged Weapons: Arrows, thrown knives, darts. Any weapon you can hurl at a distance toward your intended target. These are usually piercing weapons, they’re about poking a hole and staying out of reach of your target. They usually do less damage than engaging in Melee; because the force behind them is often diminished over distance. All the same, more than one arrow to the knee has destroyed a career.
Most Armor fits into one of these categories:
- Cloth: Layers of fabric, often quilted are not only the base layer under various other types of armor, they act as a barrier themselves. Cloth can mitigate glancing or weak blows while allowing the wearer to maintain mobility and flexibility. Lightweight, inexpensive, and practical; but nowhere near as effective as leathers, mail or plate.
- Leathers: These are armors made from leather. From loose and supple to stiff and reinforced; leather is a common practical and cost-effective material for armor. It’s tougher than cloth, but allows flexibility and speed that mail and plate do not. They are reasonably effective at turning aside slashing attacks; and arrows will have difficulty punching through; but a piercing weapon with force behind it can poke through one skin as well as another. But there are reasons for Mail and Plate.
- Mail: Armor made from overlapping rings of scales of metal. They’re pricey, but not obscenely so. They’re flexible, but they’re heavy. Though, especially when combined with a cloth or leather undercoat, they can be quite effective at turning aside most slashing weapons and snarling arrows before making it to the skin.
- Plate: The Big daddy of armors; Plate Armor is sheets of metal shaped to fit the body in various places. It always has to be worn with cloth (Metal on bare skin chaffs)and often chainmail as well. Plate armor is usually used to cover vital areas, but not so much the joints or other areas that required mobility. Fantastic for defeating most weapons, it’s also exceedingly heavy, uncomfortable, and comparatively you’ve just put your body inside a bunch of metal cans. You’re not going to move around that well at all. Not to say you can’t fight; but this is definitely armor that better for those prepared to take punishment rather than dish it out.
So keep those things in mind during your combat emotes. No armor is completely invulnerable; and no weapon is completely lethal.
Limit Your Actions Per Post
Also, an important thing to keep in mind during your combat emotes is to avoid doing too much in one post. The guy who dodges ten attacks, runs across the room, and then dropkicks the ten attackers over his knee is doing too much. Though that’s an extreme example.
Try to think of what your character would reasonably be capable of in that instant that his post takes place. If he’s facing several opponents at once, he can’t reasonably deflect every single blow and then come back and attack each person. He may not even be able to get a counterattack in at all, and some of the blows are likely to slip through. That’s why you wear armor in the first place.
Likewise, is it really plausible your character is going to be able to target their attack into that 1/4 inch gap of someone’s armor while they’re twisting, turning, and trying to defend themselves from you and/or others? Not normally, no.
So keep an eye on trying to do too much in a single post; and always make sure you keep the Option of Response open.
Option of Response
The Option of Response is a vital and integral part of Mysts of Eyr’s roleplay. So vital, that it’s actually in the rules. It’s part of the consent system; it’s part of making good story, and it’s just plain good manners.
Option of Response means that you do not dictate your character’s impact on another character. You phrase things in attempts; you use multiple posts to carry out an action, you give them every reasonable opportunity to respond.
One of the ways to preserve the option of response is to use Dice. The use of Dice in any scene is always a matter of consent. If all parties to a scene don’t agree on the use of dice, then they simply aren’t used. The only dice used in Mysts of Eyr, in any situation, are the Mysts of Eyr RP Dice, and those can be found at either Welcome Center or by asking any Admin.
If everyone agrees to use dice, then everyone must also agree on HOW to use dice. There’s a couple of ways to go about this, and we’re including a couple of examples of very simple basic systems here as a guideline.
Option 1 - Action/Reaction rolls for each post
In this case, the initiating player, Character A, posts her Action Post, and then rolls her dice. Her target, Character B, then rolls her reaction. The highest roll wins this interaction. Then, Character B makes her action post, which includes a reaction to the previous interaction's outcome and, if plausible, a counter-attack. Then Character B rolls, and Character A rolls her reaction. Below is an example of an attack and a counter-attack.
Character A initiates the attack, and Character B responds:
Character A throws an apple at Character B!
Character A [Player A] has rolled a (43) with Mystara's Roleplaying Dice.
Your Mystara Authenticator: Your roll has been verified.
Character B [Player B] has rolled a (52) with Mystara's Roleplaying Dice.
Your Mystara Authenticator: Player B's roll verified.
Character B has the higher roll, therefore she has the opportunity to dodge the attack:
Character B watches an apple fly by her head, and she turns around to face the attacker. She then throws a rock at Character A!
Character B [Player B] has rolled a (79) with Mystara's Roleplaying Dice.
Your Mystara Authenticator: Player B's roll verified.
Character A [Player A] has rolled a (83) with Mystara's Roleplaying Dice.
Your Mystara Authenticator: Your roll has been verified.
Character A ducks, avoiding the rock. She then runs away!
At this point, Character B has the lower roll of the two, so while she successfully dodged Charactar A's attack, her counterattack did not succeed. And so on…
Please note the following:
Multiple people can be involved in a scene. If Character A attacks Characters B and C, then Characters B and C need to roll in response. Character A must respond with a roll to each counter-attack of Characters B and C.
Please make sure that you note if the rolls are verified! After each roll, your HUD will post a statement that your roll or your partner's roll has been verified. This is to ensure that no one is cheating.
Option 2 - The Graded System
The graded method is not ideal for most fast-paced combat scenes involving more than two people. Why? It takes much longer to play out a scene using the graded method because it is not as black and white as “higher roller wins”. The graded method determines HOW successful each attempted action will be based on a graded scale. So if you attempt to swing your club at Bilbo’s leg, rolling an 85 would be far more successful than rolling a 25. On a spectrum of success, one can be barely successful, moderately successful, highly successful, etc. You get the idea. We use the graded method for the special round of dice roleplay we call the Death Roll. You can find the article on that Here.
You can find more information on suggested uses of dice in Combat, including the “Gradient” approach by Clicking Here!
Try to keep the use of dice simple and easy to follow, your actions reflective and plausible of the dice rolls, and try to keep the rules in mind.
Just like the use of dice, and how they’re used is a matter of consent; any “adjustments” to dice rolls must also be a matter of consent. Sometimes players may be willing to add to or subtract from dice rolls to account for strengths, weaknesses, advantages, or injuries their character may have. These too, are completely a matter of consent of every involved in the scene; and please do be careful about this to avoid things becoming too complicated. Remember this is about the story, not the numbers and math.
We do this for good story, and to prevent godmodding and power playing.
Godmodding, Powergaming and How to Avoid Them
Godmodding is the removal of the Option of Response. It’s not that you attempt to hit someone with your sword, it’s when you just declare you hit someone with your sword; giving them no choice in the matter. All of your cool abilities, powers, status, and station end where your fellow player’s nose begins. And the inverse is true as well. Keeping this very basic principle in mind goes miles toward avoiding OOC conflict.
Powergaming or Power Playing is role playing your character as invincible. No swings ever hit and break her tender delicate flesh. She dodges them all and casts a fireball to explode her scene partner’s head to boot. In other words; where godmodding is removing the Option of Response; Powergaming is Abusing it.
Respecting Consent in Roleplay
Consent can only be held in importance if it’s not abused. Mutual respect with an eye toward plausible reasonable IC actions and behaviour not only protects you as a player, but it protects every other player in the roleplay community.
So while consent protects your right to roleplay with whom you choose, and to decline roleplay; it’s expected that you do not abuse consent by using it to evade reasonable IC consequences of your character’s actions.
Taking this to an extreme example. If you prefer not to roleplay combat scenes at all; you probably shouldn’t make a character that boasts that he is the greatest swordsman in existence. Because ICly that invites combat challenges for your character to prove their boasting. It’s hardly fair to declare yourself “Undefeated” if you refuse to accept any challenges.
To some more reasonable examples; it could be considered an abuse of consent if your thief character gets caught in the act and then refuses to roleplay through a reasonable arrest. Or if your wicked witch puts a hex on someone and refuses to consent to someone putting a hex on them in revenge.
Stories, great stories, are about interaction and give and take. So give your licks, but take your lumps, and everyone can come out a winner.