How do you prefer to handle roleplay combat?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Jorick, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. I've been thinking through some roleplay ideas and how combat should be handled in them, so that got me wondering how other people like to do it. Answer some or all of the following questions at your leisure. If there's a difference in how you like to do it as a GM and how you prefer to have things as a player, feel free to bring up the differences.

    How do you prefer to handle pacing in group fights? Do you like turn orders or are you okay with people each going at their own pace?

    How do you feel about player characters auto-hitting enemies? Is it always a bad thing, or is it fine against mooks that don't matter?

    How do you prefer to determine how much damage is done by successful hits? How do you decide when someone is too hurt to continue fighting or outright killed?

    Are you okay with there being different combat power levels among player characters, or do you prefer to have them all at least start off on equal footing?

    How do you feel about player versus player combat in a roleplay that isn't specifically meant to have it? Say the party of adventuring heroes is out doing things and two of them hate each other and decide to fight to see who is truly stronger. Are you fine with that happening, and if so would you use any special combat rules for PvP or would you just handle it the same as any other fight?

    And if you feel like discussing stuff about roleplay combat outside of the questions posed above, go for it.
  2. When I created the club in my signature on MAL, I made this Role play Combat write up. You do not have to read it all if you do not want to.

    This is my write up on how to perform in battles. Now I would like to preface this by saying, I am certainly not perfect at battles either. Every battle is different, and presents different challenges. I make mistakes and have issues as well. But, I try to follow these ideals and they seem to work out. Other would tend to agree. SO without further ado, a Battle guide. Hopefully the battle guide to end all battle guides.

    Section 1: What does a good battle post contain?
    Well a good battle post contains details. Lots and lots of details. I look at it this way. When I battle, I picture the move I am going to make my character perform, in my head first. I take that snapshot and then use it formulate my post. This is where details come in.
    The goal, is to provide enough details, that the snapshot I am seeing my character perform in my head, is very very similar to what my opponent pictures my character doing, when he reads the post. To accomplish this task, you need to use quite a bit of details. Descriptive adjectives are your best friend in this situation. Take for a example, a one line battle post such as:
    “Bob attacked and slashed with his sword.”
    Yes, you can vaguely understand what Bob did. But, when I picture bob attacking in my head, the chances are, what I am picturing is still at least moderately different than what my opponent was envisioning when he made the post. So when some adjectives and other devices are used to spruce up this post with details, the move I envision Bob doing, is much closer to what Bob’s original poster was also envisioning and therefore intending.
    “Bob lunged forward at his opponent. He raised his sword over his head and brought it slicing downwards in a vertical slash. Right at his opponent. He used all his strength and the sword moved with great speed.”
    See the Difference? They were both the same move. With the same outcome and same execution. But I would almost bet, that not everyone thought that bob was slashing like he did. Now the opponent has a much clearer idea of what your trying to have your character perform. This makes his response usually come quicker, because he doesn’t have to think about what you are trying to do. He can read it and basically know what your character performed. This also helps alleviate any other misinterpretations or misunderstanding, while in turn, helps alleviate disputes, annoyance, and will keep all the role-players in a generally better mood.

    Section 2: Godmodding

    There are many different forms of Godmodding. I will explain what all those forms are and then how to avoid Godmodding in a battle. I use the term Godmodding to describe all different forms.

    Form 1 - Godmoding
    Godmod (noun) - Godmoding specific to character creation, skills, and certain situations.

    Form 2 - Powerplaying​

    Powerplay (noun) - Godmoding by controlling another roleplayer’s character without permission.
    Powerplayer (noun) - A roleplayer who exerts powerplay.
    Powerplaying (verb) - The act of controlling another character in active roleplay.
    Bunnying (verb) - A synonym for powerplay, arising from Tumblr RPGs.

    Form 3 - Metagaming​

    Metagaming (verb) - The use of out of character knowledge in character.
    Metagamer (noun) - One who has metagamed or metagames.

    Form 4 - Retconning​

    Retcon (noun) - The rescinding of a plot or In Character occurrence; roleplayers acting as if a plot never occurred.
    Retconning (verb) - The act of rescinding of a plot, or otherwise acting as if it did not exist.
    Please Visit the following links for more information, examples, and advice on how to avoid each specific form of Godmodding. Since these links provide everything you need to know, you cannot say you did not know about it. We have given you every opportunity and plenty of resources to help you. You will have a few warnings, but ignorance is not a good excuse.
    The best way to avoid God modding in a battle is very simple. Any action your character makes, has a positive or negative consequence. Which means, your opponent must be allowed to react to EVERYTHING you do. So no hits can be landed by you in one post. Whether a hit is landed is up to the admins and your opponent. Other things though need to be addressed. Things that take time, such as closing a gap with an opponents character, Surrounding an opponent if you have more allies, are things that can be godmodding if done in one post. It takes time to surround someone. It cannot be done in one post. You opponent must be able to react to the movement of your allies in the attempt to surround you. Unless your allies were hidden on the flanks. Always keep in mind, that your opponent needs to have the opportunity to React to everything you do in a battle.

    Section 3: Posting Order

    The posting order is a very important section. I’m guilty of sometimes breaking this rule, though it is a very important rule. During a battle, all occupants have the right to post once per cycle. Now to define a cycle. A Cycle, is the process of which all players in the battle on both sides post once. So all players on both sides post once = 1 cycle.
    If no posting order is established, then the players can post in any order during the cycle. If a posting order is established, then the players must post in that said order. Sometimes the posting order will allow a player to post more than once. That is the only time it is acceptable.
    If a cycle is coming to an end and you want to post near the beginning of the next cycle you can always try to reserve your place to post. Most clubs will allow it, and they should allow it. Especially since Everyone’s posts can be of varying length. So it may take you longer to form your post. So Reserving can be a good thing.
    If you see people posting more than once per cycle, and it is giving them an advantage, it is god modding and not allowed. Inform an admin and they should take care it.

    Section 4: Sportsmanship

    Be mature and courteous to your opponent, even in defeat. You might get mad at first, that's pretty normal, but getting upset about it serves no one. Instead, if you feel the defeat to be questionable, present your feelings on the matter in a calm and open manner. Showing any aggression can cause a very heated argument and that is not at all encouraged. No one likes being yelled at.
    Try looking at it from their point of view: They might not be able to see what you see, as you might not be able to see what they see. This is why discussion is key, as both parties can see from their rping partners point of view. I guarantee that the vast majority of the time, they are not being malicious. If they truly ARE being malicious, report it to an admin.
    Admins are here to help you and guide you. We can usually tell when Godmodding is intentional and unintentional. Please, don’t take it personally if we point out godmodding. We are trying to help and keep things as fair as possible. We will work with you, to help you understand how it is godmodding and how to avoid it in the future. Again, they more than likely don't mean any harm and a quick and polite heads up will usually create a favorable outcome. Sometimes it doesn't, as some people are lacking in maturity. Continuing to show them courtesy may however be exactly what they need. If someone shows you respect and courtesy, then showing them the same courtesy and respect will go a long way.
    We will not think less of you if you lose once in a while. It won’t make you look bad unless you throw a fit. Especially if you can take the loss gracefully. Hell, you might find it more fun than you think it is! We're all here for roleplay and nothing creates more opportunity for a character to grow than failure.
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  3. I was raised by freeform roleplaying in an environment where "GM" alluded to that other kind of roleplaying where combat is the only thing that matters. I was just a kiddo back then, all right?

    But I've noticed that a lot of tabletoppers really do see combat as something different from what I understand it as. I see it as a competition, just like when you're executing a particularly complex task, or attempting to persuade somebody. Success and failure is pretty black and white, but the consequences are a sliding scale. When I'm in a tabletop setting, a lot of this gets flipped on its head.

    I have yet to play a tabletop where combat didn't have its own special set of rules, which are distinct from social competition or challenges of skill in that they combine the intuitive roleplaying aspect of the former and the raw mechanical nature of the latter. And to me it's rather off-putting that combat is elevated to such a degree that we tolerate multiple-session slugfests but two hours of social time bores everybody.

    Not as much seen in forums, I think, as storytellers take the lead without mechanically driving everything. Combat becomes much more fluid and completely typical; it's no longer treated as a special type of scene. It's just another facet to a complex and undulating machine, and I enjoy that style. But let me be more detailed as to why.

    In my book, combat isn't special. It shouldn't slow the game down or require extra careful detail or special considerations for metagame mechanics to smooth things over. If these things are happening, it feels artificial to me. In an ideal world, this would mean we all just coast along as usual, roleplaying characters being faced with a variety of challenges, one of which just so happens to be direct conflict with other characters. This isn't an ideal world.

    I find things grind, no matter how hard a group tries, if you throw in somebody whose character isn't independent of the player's ego. You get combat Sues and no-sell Sams, one-hit Sans, and instances of Monty Python's Black Knight who for some reason don't seem to think four missing limbs is a significant enough loss to consider surrender. Preventative care is the only solution I've ever seen, but combat has never been a big deal in anything I've ever enjoyed for long, so maybe veterans of more challenging roleplays could provide a more wise opinion on the matter.

    What works for me and those peers of mine I occasionally roleplay combat scenes with is to leave the call to the defender. You may have pulled the trigger, but you never know what your victim has up their sleeve. Or maybe they don't, in which case they will describe to you just how brutal that shot was. This is based off the logic of consent; if I don't consent to being shot at, I just no-sell. If I have no problem, but don't want to be dead, I take a hit to a limb. If I have a deathwish, you've just popped some brain. Of course, details might change how I flavor things, but the degree of harm is always under the defender's control.

    It's all about consent and reward. Consent keeps the defender happy and reward keeps the attacker happy. I've seen both unhittable characters and seemingly indestructible tanks who never once earned a complaint from anybody. There are ways to never be hit and still give the attacker a foot in the door; there are ways to shrug off blows like they were nothing and still convince an attacker their efforts are not in vain. I think it has to do with the buildup of consequences, allowance for the occasional failure, even if it's your "thing" that your character is too good to get hit or too tough for pain.

    To give my opinions as to the actual questions in a more direct manner:

    Turns are helpful as a rule, but I find a lot of the golden moments happen when somebody finds a nice moment to slip in.
    NPCs aren't special, but they're people, too. If somebody has any claim to the NPCs, they are the consenting defender.
    The damage dealt and the significance of injuries are both up to the defender to decide. It is also their responsibility to ensure they aren't being unfun.
    Optimally, characters are on roughly equal footing at all times; but sometimes the greatest characters are exceptions in either sense.
    While PC combat can sometimes be used inappropriately, it's not so much that the players are infighting as it is that they're potentially derailing.
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  4. Turn orders, sometimes interrupting them with reactions before other players get to post (as a GM) is a bit of a compromise I like for more structured battles. However that is just one kind of RP and it only works if the RP is structured to begin with. This kind of turn-based combat abslutely wrecks your roleplay if it makes players play the waiting game in their post cycles. A good way to counter-act this is @Brovo his posting schedule (having ~2 weeks between GM posts, no exceptions). A far less effective counter, but one I've used, was to prod people in the OOC and then use my GM-powers to wound or kill their characters depending on the response or lack thereof.

    Different players are motivated by different things. I mean I love some rule of cool showoff-ing, as much as the next guy. It's really about what you want. A lot of roleplay is escapism and power-fantasy. Nothing is wrong with this. However, when you allow people to auto-hit, that means you're loosening the reigns on the sense of danger and stress as a GM. Most players will not inflict wounds upon their own characters or have them fail in their own posts. When players actually do, there's different severities to the degrees they do it. Does the bear maul all the muscles out of your shoulder and upper arm in one bite? Or do you animu-dodge that katana swung at you and only have a slight scratch on your face?

    It's a tricky business. If you want a sense of equal danger and stress, probably best to leave everyone hands-off. If you want a rule of cool; go wild! There's times and places for everything.

    As for mooks, depends on how powerful you want the players to be. Player-controlled mooks are pretty much always going to be less of a threat than GM-controlled ones.

    Short answer; See above and switch some words around.

    Long answer; Players have varying tendencies when it comes to treating the severity of wounds. Bear vs. katana situation all over again. Rule of thumb, though, severity and frequency of self-inflicted damage for players is far lower than that of a GM. So, if you want an equal playing field on danger and stress; have the GM determine it as they see fit. If you want to avoid players getting really pissed at you for this, dice-based systems allow you to re-direct some of that blame. Otherwise there's occasions in which you might need to stock up on some reasoning and 'I'm the GM I'm essentially god"-cards. This can be stressful depending on the player and well, your confidence.

    Personally I like a mix. I write an attack, the player writes a response. If they fail to fail on many if not all occasions (having characters with stats helps tremendously when explaining this) I'll be the one doing the auto-hitting instead. So if you can't handle the responsibility as a player, that's okay. Just remember my judgement tends to be a little harsher.

    Here's a golden standard. You can be weaker, not stronger. Have fun.

    Player versus player is kind of a huge risk. I am technically fine with this, under very simple conditions; either the players determine the outcome beforehand, be it by dice, GM or conversation (preferably not conversation because that tends to move the PvP battle to the OOC), or if they get stuck or play unfairly, I'm going to have a lot of fun with writing my own ending to the battle and fuck your feelings and shit, stop being petty and stalling everyone's progression.

    Oh yeah that's another thing. PvP fights take up time, so either finish them quickly or don't do them at all or let the GM decide everything.
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