RPing Combat

At some point ICly, you may have to “put up your dukes“. This primarily happens in more scripted RP, but it’s always possible your character might get in a fight ICly with another character if neither backs down in freeform RP.

Combat example
In MMORPGs, most role-playing combat is done using Emotes to state actions, counters, defenses, etc. Using the Emotes to state intended actions and damage taken. A good way of doing this is visualizing the fight similar to one from a movie or tv show. Watch some classic fight scenes… anything to get a feel of the combat sequence and what you want to convey.

Here’s an example of a brief combat (emotes are in italics):

    Otis: “I’ll tech you to mind you’re own business!”
    Otis grabs his staff from the bar.
    Jarl: “Eh? Do tell?”
    Jarl steps back to prepare.

    Otis takes a wild swing at Jarl, trying to knock him off balance.
    Jarl jumps back a little, but backs up against a table.

    Otis rushes Jarl with his staff, to pin him down to the table.
    Jarl raises up to take a strike at Otis, but gets pinned to the table – unable to move.

    Otis: “Now… leave this tavern before I plant a knot in your head.”
    Jarl reluctantly nods and tries to get back up.
    Otis lifts his staff slowly up, allowing him to leave.

Combat confusion
Some players toss abilities in, gear and/or character level as factors in RPing combat. Te theory is that a “Level 1″ character would not have good odds fighting a “Level 85″ character, which has a valid point, unless the Level 85 was drunk off his tail or heavily weakened/stripped of gear. Some ignore level completely. Tossing spellcasting and other abilities adds more complexities as well. Some “flag-up” and go at it PvP style if the zone allows it.

This makes for a confusing task of resolving combat, since there’s a good chance no one is on the same page. Personally, I don’t mind scripted or just avoiding the “fight” altogether.

It also depends each other’s backstory or situation. Some characters ICly can be looking to bust some heads, others get into a scuffle or a disagreement turn violent.

Note: Depending on the people involved, especially if it’s a “to the death” freeform RP thing – it sometimes turns into a Godmode situation, where someone’s character just “walks away” or counters/defends every blow and never gets hurt. Essentially, “Bang! You’re dead!” vs “Nah, you missed me!” – Godmode combat only gets frustrating and makes for bad RP and unneeded drama.

Addressing RP combat, death and other factors

The ideal types of RP combat

  • Fighting “trustworthy” RPers
  • Using scripted RP
  • OOCly whispering/coordinating freeform combat and pre-determining the winner before the fight and just “winging” it

Some combat situation are meant to cause embarrassment, knockouts and damage – even to the “death” if need be. “To the death” fights should be rare. It all goes back to the IC intent of the attacker vs the “victim” or defender. Express the combat and any injury through the use of emotes and /say, similar to writing a scene. If freeform, the other party should “play along” and help.

Normally, you have a winner and a loser in a fight. Sometimes there’s a draw. This goes back to OOCly agreeing on a winner or similar resolution to the fight, ideally before the fight even happens ICly.

In some MMORPGs, death can be “fixed” by resurrection spells or other magics, so the “sting” of death is lessened. In certain RP situations, “permadeath” (permanent death of a character) can be agreed on. It’s up to the RPers, the situations ICly and personal preference.

Parley, not melee
You can -try-to a fight avoid it by talking it out and negotiating. That works with more intelligent adversaries. Sometimes. But most times, if someone wants a fight, they will find it.

Feets, don’t fail me now!
You can run. Fast. Express this in emotes to give the other person a chance to counter.

Jarl runs from the challenge, screaming like a schoolgirl.

The “Feint”
Taking yourself out of the picture via accident can work. One time I was “jumped” by ICly by a player just wanting a fight. I exchanged a couple blows, then since I was near the city’s canals – I “accidently” lost my balance and fell in. Since I was not pursued, the combat was over and I “drifted” to the nearest dock.