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Ary the Grey

A Guide to Duels

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So you've had a bit of a look around, and have seen some of the flashy fights between characters in the main role play forum, or maybe even one of the fights in the darknet forum. Heck, you may have already tried your hand at one or two, and you're looking to improve or figure out the finer points of our system. You might ask yourself things like "What are the limits of what I can do in these fights? What do the Mods look for when determining a winner? How can I improve what I'm doing? How do I win?"

Well, the short answer is it's complicated, but at the same time very simple. That might be a little confusing, but then again that's what this guide is here for. We, the Mod team, are here to teach you what it means to think like a duelist. It is far more finesse than just a specific set of attacks or defenses (we refer to that as the meta - more on that later), and while there is a more solid list of things that will likely lose you the duel, the first critical misstep that a lot of people make is approaching things from the perspective of that last question: how do I win? The Mods want to see respect between opponents, because out of character we're still all friends here, and sometimes these fights can cause tense emotions that spill over to the community outside of the role play forum. This causes emotional friction, grudges, and all kinds of toxicity to build up. Believe us, we've seen it time and time again, and we're putting this guide out in part to help prevent these situations from developing in the future.

With all that in mind, the very first thing you should always focus on is respecting your opponent. However, when we say that, it goes deeper than just respecting them on the surface level, suppressing emotional tension, and good sportsmanship. The Mods want to also see this inside of the duel. "What does this look like?" you say, and we're glad you asked. It means being respectful of and acknowledging your opponents actions inside of your duel posts. When your opponent attacks or otherwise makes an action, acknowledge it in your post. Most of the time, if it's an attack, it's prudent to acknowledge it by taking damage from it. Keep in mind, nobody can post any attack hitting (which is known as a closed attack, and is illegal per the rules), which means it's on the person who is on the receiving end of the attack to concede a hit and deal with it as they feel appropriate. At the same time, you shouldn't be significantly crippled or incapacitated at any point during the duel, as that would likely predicate a win. It's the grey area between completely ignoring an attack or brushing off everything an opponent throws at you and basically tossing yourself on the sacrificial altar that we're really concerned with. 

Let's dive deeper into attacks and defending a bit so we can clarify a few things. Let's say Jeb the Jedi and Sam the Sith are fighting in a duel. Sam finished his last post by bringing his lightsaber down in an overhead arc that was aimed at Jeb's shoulder. Would it be prudent for Jeb to lose his arm at the shoulder? Well, probably not. But neither is it okay for him to ignore the attack and move forward with his own actions as if it never happened. There's a few ways that Jeb can approach handling this attack. Firstly, he can use his lightsaber to block or deflect Sam's strike. This is probably the best course of action. But oops, Jeb lost his lightsaber in his last post, and he doesn't currently have it in his hands. He could try to use the Force to pull it to him and block, but that might be a bit of a stretch if Jeb is still a padawan, complex movement incorporated with Force use isn't usually in a padawan's wheelhouse, but let's put that on the back burner because as a last ditch move it might still hold up if he has no other option. 

What if Jeb dodges Sam's strike? Not being in the way when your opponent swings is a very viable tactic, but remember, your opponent isn't a slouch, and from Jeb's perspective Sam likely wouldn't have made that strike if it didn't have a purpose. So in dodging, maybe Jeb could say that instead of it cutting off his arm, it grazes his shoulder, a nasty burn that could affect its use for the rest of the battle but doesn't necessarily take it out of commission. Of course, a lightsaber blow is an easy simple example to handle, there's other more deadly things an opponent can throw at you, for instance if Ned the Non-Force User fires a rocket-propelled grenade at Jeb, obviously if Jeb lets himself get hit by that it's not going to be pretty. 

At the end of the day, try to match your actions to how your opponent makes theirs. If they go grandiose with their attacks, it is generally okay to let loose a bit and respond in kind. Unfortunately this doesn't apply equally when there's a disparity in the ranks of the opponents, i.e. a master is likely to overwhelm a padawan/apprentice, and the duelists are expected to play any disparity out realistically. Ideally we should never really be seeing a duel between a padawan/apprentice and a master, but between a padawan/apprentice and a Knight/Lord or a Knight/Lord and a master happens relatively frequently. The higher ranked character will have a slight advantage, and guaranteed if the players don't acknowledge that respectfully, the Mod making the ruling will. Also beware of power creep, you shouldn't ever be trying to overwhelm an opponent, so when you respond to grandiose maneuvers don't assume you can go full throttle because they opened the can of worms. That's not respect. A good rule of thumb when you type out an attack is if you can't think of a reasonable way to defend against it, it's probably not a good attack. Unorthodox and outside of the box thinking is preferred and often rewarded when it comes to attacking, but indefensible attacks will lose you the duel. If the Mod sees your attack as indefensible or pigeonholing, it could cost you.

We briefly mentioned weaponry, but let's explore that a bit as well. Our site and pvp system allows for a wide range of offensive and defensive options. All kinds of weaponry and Force techniques can be at your fingertips, and the same goes for armor and similar technology. A lot of people think that the best route to go is to use these available elements to get the best edge they can on their opponent before they even walk into the arena. And while these options can certainly add style and value to a story and narrative, simply assuming that weapons or armor is what wins duels is the wrong way to approach duels. We call this the meta - a gaming acronym that means most effective tactics available. Making this assumption is easy and can come from a number of legitimate thoughts and concerns, chief among them is fear of loss, or more explicitly fear of a character dying.

 

In many other RPGs, this is a legitimate concern, but in our RP we allow characters to self-resurrect with a few stipulations, mostly negating these fears. We don't want people to worry about losing their character, we'd rather they focus on the awesome story and journey that character experiences, and we also want them to be able to enjoy and have fun in the pvp system. This was the best compromise we came up with: to put loss on the writer, to give them the responsibility of adding depth to their character in what they choose to sacrifice. It is on the writer to determine how deep or shallow a character is, how loss and major events affect them, and how a character changes over time. There is nothing that says a person can't try to play a character that never has to deal with loss or setbacks, but others likely won't be inclined to want to role play with that kind of character.

 

Something that can be a bit of a blind spot for more established (or unorthodox) characters is that their character sheets are often overloaded with every technique they've ever learned or every weapon or piece of armor they've laid their hands on ever (as long as it wasn't outright destroyed). This makes it confusing for other players and Mods to really hone in on what your character is all about in a combat setting. While any player is certainly free to be creative in their style and borrow a bit here and there and hybridize a combat style that they like, the goal shouldn't be min/maxing the best attributes from several areas to cover all weaknesses, the goal should be to have a well defined combat style that is recognizable on the character sheet that your character prefers.

 

This helps people understand the themes of what they can reasonably expect when facing your character rather than getting completely blindsided because that was the intended tactic. That's generally a bad faith approach to dueling, and isn't appreciated. If you find yourself with one of these kinds of overloaded character sheets, consider removing old equipment or force techniques from a character's sheet that might not be relevant to anything the character has done lately or intends to do in the future. If you don't delete it off the sheet, then consider notating gear that isn't in the character's typical loadout or skills the character might be a bit rusty with. It's okay to be realistic with these kinds of things, and it makes your character far more believable.


So what are the Mods looking for when they judge the duel posts? The major emphasis of any well-fought duel should be in the narrative. We want to read a good story, but deeper than the surface level flash of blasters and lightsabers is the more subtle tactics that go into the fight. Get creative, use your terrain, think about how your opponent may have left themselves open (or better yet, set them up in your own movements/actions to where they make themselves unknowingly open to an attack), think outside the box of simply trading lightsaber attacks or blaster fire. Sometimes that can be done with beauty and grace, but most of the time it doesn't make for a compelling read.

Primarily what a Mod will do is look through the duel posts first to see if there are any major disqualifying events. Breaking the rules is a surefire way to catch a loss in a duel. Taking far too much damage to really have a believable chance of surviving isn't going to look good either. Ignoring an attack is another way to easily lose, though most often this should be the result of a simple mistake rather than a viable tactic someone uses to try to veil their attacks in the hopes an opponent makes a misstep. It's reprehensible to approach the duel in bad faith, and more often than not this can lose you the duel because it confuses the Mod as well. It's actually good sportsmanship and encouraged to point out if your opponent missed something to allow them to edit before you respond, but it's not required. In fact, it is a good idea to explicitly telegraph your intended moves/actions/attacks to your opponent, either in the main body of a duel post or maybe in a spoiler at the end of your post with a tl;dr summary. This helps avoid confusion from both your opponent and the Mod reviewing the duel.

 

At the end of the day, you should finish the last post of a duel with the satisfaction of having written an excellent story with a partner, not tense over who might win versus an opponent who is despised. This is the simplicity of dueling, but as you can now see, it can also be fairly complex. Hopefully with all of this knowledge at your side, you now know at a basic level how to think like a duelist. It's the first step in a long journey of mastering the finesse of dueling with skill. Much of the rest comes with experience, but more advanced guides may be put out in the future, or more information may be added into future versions of this guide. We hope you find tranquility among the chaos of the battlefield, friend, and as always, may the Force be with you.

Edited by Ary the Grey
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Immediately reachable by  charlesjhall@gmail.com

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The above guide too bulky to read through? Well, while you're encouraged to read through it in its entirety to really wrap your head around what it means to properly duel here, here's a quick listing of dos and don'ts to help you reference the best practices.

Do:

  • Always treat your opponent with respect and good faith
  • Take character rank into consideration
  • Match your opponent's intensity (or rather, don't bring a Star Destroyer to a blaster fight)
  • Strategize your movement and actions, plan ahead
  • Use the terrain to your advantage
  • Try to be unorthodox in your tactics, but not to the point that the defense against them necessitates godmoding
  • Identify possible openings in your opponent's actions and make use of them 
  • Focus on the story and having fun
  • Maintain cordial open lines of communication with your opponent
  • If needed, assist your opponent in understanding what's going on in your post
  • Evolve your character in game to suit your unique well-defined style and feel free to draw inspiration from different traditions
  • Keep your character sheet updated

Don't:

  • Worry about winning, we all win and lose
  • Assume gear can win or lose you the match before it starts
  • Try to lock your opponent down in an inescapable situation
  • Post any attack hitting or damage dealt to your opponent
  • Pretend your character is exceptional beyond what their rank would typically allow for
  • Approach dueling in bad faith or use subversive tactics meant to bypass the rules
  • Post so much damage to your character that it would be unreasonable for them to continue
  • Use tactics that are meant to significantly or totally shut down an opponent's combat capability
  • Let your character become excessively elaborate - prune or note things that haven't been used in a bit, both items and force powers
Edited by Ary the Grey
  • Like 1

Immediately reachable by  charlesjhall@gmail.com

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