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Seminar - Duels, Fights, Battles [Everyone is welcome!]

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Seminar - Duels, Fights, Battles [Everyone is welcome!]

Postby Alias » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:23 pm

<center>Duels, Fights, Battles
Let me preface this by saying that everyone, whether you are an instructor, a student, or someone NOT involved in the Academy, is welcome. This seminar is for me to share my thoughts on dueling with you all, and for you all to respond back to anything and everything to do with dueling. Agreements, disagreement, experiences, contrasting views, questions, post anything here. I have provided some example assignments, taken from the the old D-2 class by Pseudosyne. They are optional, but work great with the content below. If you want me to look over your answers to them, just PM them to me. Now go read (let me know if it is too Wall-of-Text!), and respond!</center>

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There are many different styles of internet dueling, many of which revolve around hit points or speed. On forums, however, the most applicable style of roleplay dueling is called Turn-Based Textual Combat, seemingly first described by Vøices øf Xenøn. The following is a breakdown of elements to consider when dueling.

Open Ended Prompting:
The real content of the turn-based duel post is an open ended prompt, what most refer to as just an "action". It is called a prompt because it requires for the next player to answer: swinging one's sword at another's torso requires for the opponent to react to the sword swing. It is termed open-ended because, as in this example, it is a swing, and not a connecting hit. The opponent, responding to the prompt, determines if the hit connects, is blocked, is dodged, or any of the in-between possibilities.

Advancing Action:
A duel post in which a prompt is not answered and a new prompt is not produced will break the flow of the roleplay. Every attack must be accounted for (answering the previous prompt), and then followed (in the "turn"-based theme) with an open-ended action as well. The consequences of not answering a prompt are dire: an attack is effectively ignored, and no one knows what its' effects were. Similarly, by not producing an action, there is no prompt that needs to be answered, and the duel can easily stagnate because neither player knows what to do. It is imperative that the cycle of prompting is maintained until the end of the duel.

Careful Reading and Consistency:
When responding to the previous post, a duelist MUST read and understand every detail before forming their reaction and action. Every bodily movement, strike, type of magic used, environmental aspect, etc, requires some sort of response, whether explicit or implicit. It is necessary that the setting and character of the duel are consistent with the initial state and all subsequent changes. Directions and orientations are incredibly important, especially because duelers often face each other and have converse orientations. If a branch falls on the ground, it cannot magically reappear back on the tree. If a quiver is ripped off of a character's back, they cannot nock an arrow until it is retrieved. Players must pay close attention to what facts have changed since their previous post before they attempt to reference them in their new post. Poor reading leads to contradictions, and when a character opens a gate despite the fact that the gate was destroyed three posts ago, neither player is ultimately satisfied.

Courtesy and Metagaming:
As all actions are open-ended, the receiving play determines their effectiveness. As such, in the spirit of dueling, the goal is to write beautiful combat, not to have one character necessarily win. So all attacks neither can nor should be blocked or dodged. In avoidance of Godmoding, no character should be impervious to damage or immensely powerful. Not only is this not fair, but it is not interesting to read or duel against. Most importantly, Metagaming should be avoided in duels. Such actions as matching a character's strengths against another's weaknesses, or inexplicably having a character another another character's plan of attack or motive for a particular move are considered poor etiquette on the part of the player.

Dueling is Roleplaying:
While dueling seems like it own separate concept, it should be treated as no more than roleplaying with the aforementioned guidelines imposed upon it. There is still a plot, a setting, characters. There are still personalities, motives, weaknesses. As such, dueling does not have to be its own separate venture, and can easily be tossed into a regular roleplay, so long as the flow is not interrupted.

Adaptation:
Adaptation is the act of accepting what another player has written, and working from the state of things that includes the other player's changes. Truly, roleplaying (and by extension, dueling) already involves adaptation. However, adaptation can be a conscious effort, especially in light of a contradiction. If the sky is described as sunny by one player, and cloudy immediately afterwards by the other player, the first player can adapt to this error, and explain by what circumstance the clouds so quickly appeared. Even discrepancies with the time of day can be explained through eclipse. The ability to adapt to contradictions often makes a duel only more interesting, and reduces the possibility of frustration that can arise due to contradiction. Players should still inform each other in the case of contradictions, and whether they are adapting to them or they want the errors fixed.

Perception:
There is a strong distinction between the facts of the setting and situation and the perceptions of characters of the setting and situation. Most duel posts are written from a limited third person point of view, following only on character, and thus only accounting for that one character's perceptions. So, empirical (and infallible) facts are often mentioned only through characters' perceptions, and perceptions can be wrong. In the case of some contradictions, a player can adapt by referencing the other character's perceptions as skewed, causing them to see and believe what the other player had erred. If a character determines that there are birds in the air, the very next post may refer to a volley of ribbed and winged projectiles that the first character perceived as birds, with neither player guilty of a contradiction.

Assignments:
Please PM your responses to any of these assignments to me. Do NOT post your answers publicly, as it will spoil the assignment for those reading after you. Assignments are of course optional, and are meant to help you practice and gauge your skills.
  1. Pseudosyne's careful reading and contradiction identification challenge.[spoiler]Not one of Player2's three responses is consistent with Player1's introduction. The mistakes are not in a grammatical sense, but rather they are contradictions of one detail. Read and reread these responses and the initial introduction, until you have identified the inconsistency within each of Player2's responses.

    Player 1 wrote:Dugan threw his thick vine-like hair out of his face and brandished his weapon before him in preparation. It was a scythe constructed out of organic materials, with a naturally sharp and rigid leaf as the cutting blade, a weapon properly befitting a dryad.

    As far as dryads went, however, he was at the bottom of the pack in many areas. Dugan was short and muscular, in direct contrast to the slender and graceful form of many of his brethren. It was almost as if he had some dwarf blood in him...

    He stood dead in the middle of the forest clearing, ready to battle amidst his own setting. The ground was dry and leaf-free, perfect for his style of dueling. Let the games begin, he thought.
    Player2 wrote:
    Erd stretched his arms wide and snapped his arm forward, bringing the end of his whip in contact with the ground with a sharp crack. It wasn't every day that he would be able to fight in the forest; most of his action came from the Arena. This was new to him, but he embraced the challenge. Grunting in anticipation, he entered the clearing from the far side.

    He stepped in one of the nearby puddles to wash off the bloodstains from his boots, and turned to face his opponent. The dryad looked poised for murder, but Erd was wary of this, assuming his taming stance. I'm ready when you are, he thought.
    Voltria stepped cautiously into the clearing, absentmindedly running her hand up and down her bow. The time had come to prove herself to her mentor. The ranger did not believe that Voltria had what it took to patrol the forests, and Voltria was determined to show her otherwise. She nocked an arrow and fired it into a nearby tree, checking her aim. A perfect shot. She was ready.

    The muscular dryad stood across from her in the clearing. Voltria smiled. The sunlight reflecting off of his head would provide an excellent target. She moved forward slowly, keeping her eyes on the dryad and a finger on her quiver.

    She took up residence a few feet away from where she had entered the clearing and knelt to the ground. There was nothing more important than the first shot.
    Yhird strode in grandly, mouth flapping.

    "You'll be sorry, you stupid forest folk. I've been known to crush a few heads."

    He planted the warhammer into the ground and placed one foot upon it. He marveled at the little dryad ahead of him, who was swinging his oversized natural sword around like an angry baby. Yhird chuckled. This would be simple.

    He wrenched the weapon out of the dirt and flew at the dryad, screaming like a demon.
    [/spoiler]
  2. Alias's careful reading and contradiction identification challenge.[spoiler]Not one of Player2's three responses is consistent with Player1's introduction. The mistakes are not in a grammatical sense, but rather they are contradictions of several details. Read and reread these responses and the initial introduction, until you have identified the inconsistencies within each of Player2's responses. Determine which are adaptable, and provide ways in which the adaptation would occur.

    Player1 wrote:Kera twirled the point of her dagger between a few loose strands of straight, blonde hair. The blade wasn't nearly sharp enough to cut them without tension, but she cared to keep the point away from her temple: she wasn't planning on getting stabbed today, especially by her own hand.

    "Come out you coward!"

    Same story every time. Every village she came to, everyone just seemed to flee. Each time they left a champion. This day it would be her fourth. Would it be a man, like the others? And where did she want to kill him? Here on the cobbles by the fountain, and leave his bloody mess in the water? Or maybe drag him to the steps of the church... Though, these heathens didn't seem to even have a church. So much for an afterlife for this one then!

    She tucked the knife away, and picked up the halberd she had earlier rested by the rippling water. Droplets that had splashed onto the axe-like headpiece reflected the bright summer sun.

    "If you don't get out in the open, I will hunt you down and kill you. A fight is a fight, and you're the one they picked. So man up!"
    Player2 wrote:
    Jad reluctantly came out of his house. He had just searched it for food, as none of his family were present. No food. He yawned, and looked at the street.

    Where is everyone?

    Just then someone yelled, calling him out. He was forced to respond.

    "I'm no coward! I'm just hungry!"

    And then Jad realized what was going on: The redhead at the fountain was the Menace, known well throughout the lands, a killer of champions, a grand looter of villages. In a bewildered frenzy Jad spun around, hoping to see someone else, someone designated as champion. He was disappointed.

    "Look, can't we settle this some other way? Maybe after I get something to eat?"

    As dire as the circumstances were, he was still hungry. And thirsty. Bastards even shut off and drained the fountain before they all ditched me! But, as the situation commanded, he picked up a wooden staff that had been haphazardly left in the gutter, and stood at ready.
    Indigo had shed his sword the night before, leaving it in a stand at the door to the church. He was unshaven, dirty, and was recovering from a hangover. His wife had kicked him out for good, but the father of the church had been a good friend, and had allowed him to sleep in the house of God, to be blessed upon awakening.

    Blessed with and empty church. He dipped his head into the basin of holy water, and shook it like a wet dog. It was cold, uncomfortable, and most likely an affront to God. Indigo reclaimed his sword and stepped outside to a cool autumn breeze. The clouds were gray, but didn't look like rain.

    And then he saw her: Kera, that bitch who had heartlessly slain his father in Aussen. He knew by her description, by what his mother, who still lived in his birth town, had told him, by the fact that Kera carried a halberd, and that no one else was out by the fountain.

    And she had just called him a coward.

    With an angry yell, Indigo closed the distance between them, and unsheathed his sword.

    "My name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die."
    The stable was quiet. All of the horses had been taken. So that I wouldn't be able to run from my duty, I bet. Christie found the predicament unfortunate, but then, hadn't she volunteered to be champion?

    Finally he heard a voice. A call to the champion. She grabbed up the spear and shield that had been her weapons of choice, and came outside.

    "I'll fight you, sir Kaer the Ass. Raider of hamlets, killer of champions. I'll fight you, and you'll die at the point of my spear."

    Christie's face was stern, but she was on the other side of the small pond from her opponent, and thus took a chance to survey her surroundings. The houses were all closed, the windows barred, and aside from the pool of water between them, the obstacles were absent. The ground was flat, hard enough to stay firm, but soft to the step. Nothing to trip on, at the least. Unfortunately, the sun was shining, and right in her eyes. So, as she rounded the pool, she approached the shadow cast by a house, and readied her spear and shield there.

    "Now fight me, and die!"
    [/spoiler]
  3. Pseudosyne's advancement of courteous action self-challenge.[spoiler]
    Player1 wrote:Maxus locked eyes with his opponent. Things were about to get serious. As quick as a cat, he leapt to the left, planted his feet, and whipped one of his small iron throwing axes at the figure on the other side of the clearing. It whizzed through the air, straight for his opponent's lower abdomen.


    Write 4 different replies to this post to demonstrate the advancement of action as well as the presence of courtesy.
    1. A reply where you don't advance action and are discourteous.
    2. A reply where you advance action but are discourteous.
    3. A reply where you don't advance action but are courteous.
    4. A reply where you advance action and are courteous.
    Obviously, reply 4, in some form or another, is the one that good duelers consistently produce. However: being 'courteous' DOES NOT mean you must let every attack hit your character. You must use your judgment when deciding what connects and what doesn't. A duel in which both characters are writhing masses of torn flesh and bared bone is as bad as when they are both at full health for the entire duel.[/spoiler]
  4. Pseudosyne and Alias's detail tracking though a duel challenge.[spoiler]If a branch falls off a tree, it cannot be suddenly on the tree in the next post; if you loose your last arrow, there cannot be one in your quiver in the next post. In great duels (as opposed to good duels) elements brought up in one post don't just fade away; they are remembered by both duelists and constantly factored into their posts, creating a dynamic duel. Things that your opponent mentions about the surroundings, their weapons, etc. can be used to your advantage.

    This exercise is designed to test your ability to recognize consistency in dueling. The text linked is a mock duel between two characters named Travers and Quara. There is much more detail in this duel than you will most likely ever see from two duelists, as it was written by a single writer. Both characters advance action, are courteous, and use what the opponent has presented. This assignment requires intensive reading and comprehension, so do not expect that a quick skim of the text will give you the answers to these questions. It is INTENTIONALLY convoluted and difficult to understand.

    Quara and Travers, written by Alias

    Please answer these questions about the duel and BE SPECIFIC:
    1. Who was the rugged stranger and how did he affect the duel (directly and/or indirectly)?
    2. List all the weapons mentioned and describe their "lives" (who handled them, when and how they were used, etc.)
    3. What was the weather during the duel like (details, please, not just one or two words)?
    4. Describe the injuries to both combatants by the end of the duel.
    5. How did the ground affect the duel?
    [/spoiler]
Last edited by Alias on Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Alias » Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:12 am

While the above is thick, I think it's more legible than what it could have been, or what Voices of Xenon's text is like. Anyway:

The above describes dueling, which refers only to one-on-one fights. But what about group fights? Battle reenactments? I've no experience with anything more than a one-on-one on forums, so any insight on multi-person fights is really appreciated!
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Postby Narshe » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:15 am

Great Alias!!! I think it's the best dueling seminar I've ever read. and the only one... But still.

I can't be on for much longer, so I'll try to make this short and sweet. As you mentioned before, Someone has to answer the prompt. As we say in theatre, to every action there is a reaction. Whoever is prompted answers the prompt. Another player/or the same player answers with a prompt. The "turn" swaps off from team to team. It's easiest if you communicate with your teammate for a battle plan. Example:

Players 1 and 3 are teamed.
Players 2 and 4 are teamed.

Player 1 from team 1 prompts.
Player 2 or 4 answers, and can either take the prompt for themselves or give it to their teammate.
Player 1 or 3 answers, and can either... etc.

Just apply everything mentioned earlier. Nothing that complicated to it, the duels just take a gargantuan amount of commitment.
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