Hey folks! Today's community article comes from Dyna and is a creative exploration of combat RP. Again please remember these are the views of the community member, and we expect everyone to show one another respect. 

"Scanning the forums, I came across a fantastic thread (http://www.teso-rp.com/forum/m/9324623/viewthread/8484998-fights-rp-feedback-please) created by Jaonath, who wants to create dialogue with the community about combat in role play. I have a lot of thoughts on RP combat, and you are, of course, welcome to disagree!"

Read on for more!

Imagine the following:

The dashing anti-hero, his eyes alight with mischief, goes a little too far in one of his many shenanigans, as the battle-weary combat veteran’s mug of beer crashes to the floor in pieces.

The veteran snaps, and his heavy, gauntleted fist flies for the anti-hero’s chiseled jaw.

Let’s pause, now, and examine this from both perspectives:

Clearly, the anti-hero has the advantage in this scenario, since his is a thief archetype, relying on his agility and wit. After all, he’s used to fist fights, seeing as his plucky attitude tends to arouse violence fairly often. He’s street-wise, and his opponent is heavily armored, slow and cumbersome. This fight gives the anti-hero the edge, right?

But the veteran is, as we pointed out, heavily armored; not only that, he has years of battle experience and training on the skinny rogue. He’s been in countless bar brawls, certainly more than that pup could possibly have seen! And it just seems silly that the preening popinjay would have the necessary foresight to effectively counter a straight-up punch to the face, especially not with the sheer amount of liquor he has emoted imbibing!

Both players feel comfortably assured that their characters have the advantage and deserve to win; both characters have a solid potential edge over the other; this is a disaster waiting to happen, because neither happens to be willing to give in to the other’s desire to win this fight.

What typically follows is a sight many of us have witnessed, and no one particularly enjoys: a series of increasingly peevish and over-the-top emotes which insist upon the superiority of one character’s advantages over the others. Usually, this is followed by angry out of character commentary, passive aggressive roleplay emotes – ‘Thief is much faster than veteran, and only super human speed could have allowed Veteran to dodge his fantastic punch-kick combo’ – or, in the best case, long silence as the pair take it to angry whispers.

This doesn’t end well; common results are rage-logging, a ret-con of the whole scene, or one party feeling cheated when they eventually accept defeat.

So how can we prevent this lamentable situation from occurring in the first place? Do we compromise our characters, to prevent them from instigating situations that could result in combat? Do we rely on the player vs player mechanics of the game to tell us who is superior? Do we use a /roll system?

The true answer is this: roleplay combat depends on open out of character communication, and must be negotiated between the players in question. There is no one true ‘right answer’ as to which character ‘would’ win in any given circumstance; sometimes, David beats Goliath. There is only probability, and the rest depends on us.

A quick tell to the player can establish how you wish to proceed – the most common methods being a quick roll of the dice to establish who ‘wins’ the scenario, or written combat. Some advocate for player vs. player, but most RPers seem to agree that game mechanics do not equate to role play ones, and the leveling process usually has very little in common with the characters’ actual experience, as well as the players’ skill or gear for PVP not equating to the character’s ability to kick or not kick ass.

For a player you have not interacted with before, the safest bet is doing a quick /roll in party with them, to determine who has the higher number, and thus who ‘wins’ the round, or the entirety of the match. The mechanics of this are simple; both players type out a combat move, and then you roll. You are essentially assigning one character the win – the severity of the loser’s loss in typically up to them, but it is poor form to take a loss as an opportunity to put down the winner. ‘Badass Veteran gets punched in the eye by the scrawny wimpy weakling, and barely feels it. He guffaws with laughter at how puny the Thief is, and orders another beer.’ The roll method can be per round, or for the entire fight, if you don’t wish to roleplay a drawn out fight scene.

Roll fights can be expanded upon and made more complicated, with modifiers and the like, but that is up to the discretion of the individuals RPing, however, a system more complicated than the basic one should never be imposed on a stranger.

For a player who you know and trust, a roll fight is fine, but I find that if I’m RPing with someone who takes a hit (and am willing to do so myself, of course!) I’m more inclined to simply RP it out, with OOC communication if there’s any point of misunderstanding or conflict of ideas. This is especially useful for when you’ve already planned who is supposed to win!

Some people choose to avoid roleplay combat entirely, citing it as ‘pointless’; however, it is this roleplayer’s belief that combat can be negotiated in such a way that the experience is enjoyable for both involved parties. Combat typically plays an integral role in our characters’ lives; they are shaped by the violence of the world around them, and cutting out violence in roleplayed scenes seems like a waste of good potential material.

The example scenario could add depth and interest to the roleplay; perhaps the veteran proves too cumbersome to overtake the thief, and ends up with a black eye and the mocking laughter of his compatriots… often times, defeat is far more poignant and character-building than victory; perhaps our veteran feels himself cheated and disrespected. Perhaps the next battle he’s in, he is especially hard with the civilian prisoners. Perhaps that one little incident in the bar proves the spark that sets the fire of his villainy – or the ray of light that illuminates the need for more kindness in the world. If our thief proves no match for the armored behemoth, maybe this knocks him down a peg, maybe it shakes his confidence in himself, or maybe it makes him more defensive than he was before.

Victory, while nice, often doesn’t provide the same level of character development defeat is capable of; without adversity, how can one appreciate success?