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Author Topic: PvP Combat in Freeform RP  (Read 2081 times)

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Offline ChrystalTopic starter

PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« on: June 25, 2013, 09:12:20 AM »
P.v.P

If this is old hat to you, then please indulge me, but I know some players I write with have little or no experience of Player versus Player role playing in a free form environment. I was thinking about this, and after a brief discussion in the GM lounge, I decided to post this new thread to give some hints and tips regarding PvP play.

This post originally appeared as a GM Info post in the OOC thread of a group game I'm running. I will try and remove any game-specific references, but if I miss any, please point them out.

This topic is open to people to discuss the "dos-and-donts" of freeform PvP, give examples both good and bad, and to offer suggestions that might be better than my own.

Please note: This thread is NOT for the discussion of SYSTEM PvP combat. This is an entirely different subject and is touched on purely to highlight the differences.



First of all, let's define exactly what PvP means:

Basically any situation in a game where one player controlled character (PC) is in competition or conflict with another player controlled character. This is in contrast with PvE, Player versus Environment, where you are all on the same side and fighting against the GM.

Note that Competition or conflict can involve combat or it can mean a sporting event, or it can simply mean two characters rubbing each other up the wrong way! It can also, in the context of this web site, refer to sexual encounters!

PvP in a freeform game differs markedly from PvP in a system game.

In a system game, the system itself is used to determine the results of any PvP encounters. The outcome is often decided on the roll of a dice (or random number generator serving in that capacity). In a freeform game, the players themselves must decide the outcome.

Now, this can obviously lead to an IC conflict spilling over into OOC. I'm always reminded of the wargames that I used to take part in at school when I was about 8. (I was always a tomboy...) Basically you pointed your toy gun at another kid and yelled "BANG, your dead!" And they would say "No I'm not, you missed!" "No I didn't", "Yes you did", "Didn't", "Did", etc....

Now we are all adults here. None of us are eight years old. (I hope? If anyone is, then the approval process has failed dramatically!) The whole point being that if you are going to cheat, you should be in politics, not playing games! PvP in a freeform game requires everyone to behave like adults.

Now, I have two rules for PvP in MY games:

1) All PvP must be at the consent of ALL players involved. This relates directly to my Golden Rule of non-consensual role play, that non-consent applies to the character, and not the player.

2) All PvP (except sexual encounters) MUST be cleared in advance with the GM. I will most likely allow them but I will require to know the justification for the conflict/contest, the method of execution and the intended result before I allow it. The reason, obviously, is to avoid disrupting the game. Sexual encounters need not be cleared with me in advance, but should be at times and places appropriate to the game in question.

I have left that bit in, rewording it slightly, because other GMs may wish to adopt the same rules.



How to go about it:

Having a fight in a freeform roleplay is actually a lot more difficult than it sounds, if you want to make it believable. there are a number of possible routes that such an encounter can take, only one of which actually works:

1) Player A beats the crap out of player B. This can also describe a certain type of sexual encounter. *snigger*

2) Player A and Player B trade blows indefinitely, neither successfully landing a blow on the other, or ignoring the blows the other inflicts. This is basically twinkish or noobish behaviour, and is most closely related to the eight-year-old wargame.

3) Both players dance around each other and nothing happens - most likely because they have in the past experienced 1) and 2) and are over-compensating.

4) players trade blows realistically, and the blows that land have a realistic effect. This is the ideal. This is the one that works, but as you can probably tell, it requires a measure of cooperation.

So, getting down to cases, how does one go about the actual fight scene?

Well for starter, a fight scene requires players to post short posts. (This is another reason why I like people to clear them with me in advance, as a fight can disrupt the flow of the game, and might be better placed in it's own thread).

There are two ways to throw a punch in freeform PvP: A right way and a wrong way.

Wrong: Jack swung his fist at Bill's jaw, smashing into it and breaking it in three places, making Bill fall to the ground crying like a baby...

That is, basically, God-Moding.

Wrong: Jack punched Bill in the jaw.

Still God-Moding, just less descriptively. Why? Because the punch landed.

Right: Jack snarled with rage and drew back his clenched fist, then launched a mighty punch at Bill's jaw.

Note: he launched the punch at bill, he didn't say it connected.

Technically okay but frowned upon: Jack launched a punch at Bill's jaw. If it connected, it would break it in three places and cause Bill to fall to the ground crying like a baby.

The result has not been dictated, but the consequences of the punch landing have been. This is frowned upon simply because a player could use it to dictate all possible outcomes to his/her advantage.

The correct way to engage in a PvP conflict of any sort is to end your action just before it begins to dictate what the other player must do. Now, there is an obvious exception to this: If the situation and PC A's actions leave Player B with only one course of action or one possible result,then that result may be dictated by Player A.

For example, PC A puts a gun to PC B's head and says "On your knees or I will shoot you"; Assuming Player B wants to continue playing, and as long as the action comes within the agreed course of play, Player A may actually post as follows:

Jack put his gun against Bill's head and pulled the hammer back. "On your knees, or die, Bill". He smirked as Bill sank to his knees.

Obviously that is an extreme example, but you get the picture?

So, if I am not allowed to say whether my blows/shots/attacks hit, what is to stop my opponent avoiding them all?

An obvious question, and the answer, sadly, is "Nothing". That is the thing about freeform RP, you are entirely at the mercy of your writing partner(s). If you partner simply avoids every blow you swing at him, what you have is a Route 2) from the above list. My advice would be to drop the game if it is a one-on-one or appeal to the GM if it is a group.

Good freeform PvP requires a great deal of player co-operation. The fight or contest needs to be carefully choreographed. Not to the extent that every single blow is mapped out in advance, but you need to know, at the outset, who will win and how; how long the contest will last; and what, if any, damage will be inflicted on the characters.

With that in mind, you may then proceed to trade attacks, knowing that at some point, as agreed, one of you will loose the fight.

Communication Is Key!

Keep talking all the while. If you don't understand the other player's post, ask them to explain and/or change it. If you don't agree with their post, do the same. The eventual winner probably shouldn't come out unscathed, but reversals of fortune need to be agreed by both players, not necessarily in advance, but it would help.

Finally, here is a little example, that AurelieCatena and I did a while ago that I think works particularly well.

The Mud Pit is an extreme one-shot about a mud-wrestling match.

Enjoy.

Offline steelsmiter

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Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2013, 09:17:40 PM »
Even still I think it's wrong to say "as Bill sank to his knees" if Iwere Bill, I'd take the advantage to hop back up and ram my head into Jack's Solar Plexus and have Jack pass out because dictating my actions is worthy of recompense. I'd go so far as to tell Jack that his gloating over Bill's seeming loss of hope prevented him from seeing through this tactic.

Offline ChrystalTopic starter

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2013, 03:09:06 AM »
Mmhmm... It was not a good example..

A better one might be as follows:



Player A: "Okay, so we have the fight started, lets make it entertaining. If you aim a kick at my belly, I'm going to go down, and then when you come in to finish me off i'll catch you in a scissor move, how does that sound?"
Player B: "Sounds good, and I go down from the Scissor, right?"
Player A: "Right...."

Player B posts: Belinda aimed a mighty kick and Andrea's midriff. She felt the shock as it connected and Andrea went down. Drawing her dagger, she moved in to finish the fight.

Player A posts: The boot landing in her gut knocked all the fight out of Andrea for a moment. She flew backwards and landed on her back in the dust. She lay, panting for a moment, watching the other woman approach. Belinda made a rare error and stepped between Andrea's spread legs. Instantly, Andrea twisted herself over, catching Belinda in a scissor move and slamming the other woman to the ground. She scrambled to her feet and backed away.



The point being, if it is agreed in advance it is not god-moding, and it makes for a much better read and a much more realistic fight.

I'm not saying choreograph every move, but agree reversals of fortune with the other player(s).

Offline steelsmiter

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Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2013, 03:56:52 AM »
Yes that's generally the kind of thing that I see with people who like freeform. The one thing that I hate I will admit is Godgames. They all say Don't mess with another god's domain, and invariably some joker does just that, and worse, they often have a GM defending them that doesn't know what the rule even means (or at least appears to).

Heck I've seen super powered free forms where a character wrote down how his powers interacted with all the others.

Offline seffer

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2013, 04:03:40 AM »
I've been RPing in a freeform wrestling site for a while. What most of the people do when writing their attacks is slipping the word "try" or something similar once in a while.

Example: Character A lunged towards Character B to try tackling him to the ground.


When writing combos, it's probably a bit more tricky. There are people who write "if X happens, then Y follows".

Example: Character A lowered himself and tried to wrap his arms around Character B's waists. If A managed to do that, he'll try to lift B up to attempt a Suplex.

Not everyone likes that kind of "If X then Y" thing, though. Usually I tried to rephrase it a bit to something like this:

Character A lowered himself to try wrapping his arms around Character B's waists. A's plan was to lift B up so he could attempt a Suplex on him.

Offline steelsmiter

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Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2013, 04:16:15 AM »
I see people trying to do that in system games and it actively makes me angry. COME ON! If ya know your roll, and you know what you have to hit, you should be able to have some narrative freedom about the perameters of the hit! That's what I like about system. I'm not totally against freeform though, or against Blind System play (where the GM makes all the rolls). There are "freeform habits" that I just want to beat out of people though.

Offline ChrystalTopic starter

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2013, 05:13:17 AM »
Ah, but this trhread is about freeform not system games.

In a system game you have the dice to determine what happens.

In freeform you don't.

Character A lowered himself to try wrapping his arms around Character B's waists. A's plan was to lift B up so he could attempt a Suplex on him.

I like that, actually. The wording used is not dictating what will happen if the attack succeeds, but revealing what the player character is planning to do should it succeed. It still give the option of:

B felt A's arms go around his waist, and felt himself lifted off the floor. Realising A was going to attempt a Suplex [pause while I look that up], B raised his arms above his head and attempted to bring his forearms down as hard as he could on A's shoulders to try and break the hold...

in other words, part 1 of the attack succeeds but the second player gets a chance to prevent part 2...

Please note I'm not really into wrestling so i have no idea how realistic that was. If there is no way anything like that could happen, then please substitute something that could?

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Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2013, 07:27:50 AM »
Writing the 'if X then Y happens' format would also give the other player a lead to follow, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If I explain in my post what should happen if a sequence works correctly, the other player has the option of writing that sequence up to the point they want to change it. If they're not experienced with fighting, it gives them a path to follow, and an idea of how to construct their own response.

Inigo Montoya vs Dread Pirate Roberts.wmv

This scene makes me think of how a well narrated fight could be handled, with the two characters actually discussing the fencing techniques while they do it.

Offline ChrystalTopic starter

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2013, 08:36:58 AM »
The problem with the "If Then" technique comes when it is extended logically to the "If Then Else" construct. (Any programers out there should know what I mean?)

In most programming languages you have some variant of the following:

IF A > 0 THEN
    C = B/A
ELSE
    C=0
ENDIF

That's a bit of a mishmash, it's years since I did any programming, but you get the picture?

In a PvP situation in roleplay, it is possible to do the same thing.

A throws a punch at B's jaw. If it lands, A will follow it up with another punch this time at B's gut. If it doesn't land, A will skip lightly out of B's range and wait for another opportunity to attack.

This is not exactly god-moding, but equally it is not fighting fair. It gives B the choice of being hit twice or not being able to do anything.

I dislike this sort of thing.

On the other hand, if (say) your "opponent" is tied up and helpless, and you need them to acknowledge the fact before the story can move on, I consider the following construct to be acceptable:

A raised the flogger and struck B on his naked behind. "Say I am your mistress", she told him. She kept up the beating for as long as it took, until B's resistance was worn down and he said the words she wanted to hear.

And yes, I do regard some types of sexual encounter as being a kind of PvP, especially the non-consensual ones.

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Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2013, 09:33:38 AM »
It depends on how far you extend the sequence.

I might try a feint and strike in one description, faking a kick to the head, and instead aiming for the knee.

Alternately I might throw a sequence of kicks or punches. There's no guarantee any of them will land, but it does give the fight life. Where the fighters are relatively evenly matched, I'd prefer to see the momentum of a fight flow back and forth, most strikes being blocked or dodged, but as it wears on, more and more getting through til someone lands the blow that really shifts the balance of the fight.

If you look at any of Jackie Chans earlier work, mostly the stuff he did before hitting it big in the US, the boss fights there will show you what I mean.

But that's just my style. Others probably prefer different things.


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Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2013, 02:11:40 PM »
I like for if thens to be in spoilers myself. That way the story still flows for people who aren't actively collaborating in the fight.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2013, 05:41:11 AM »
I see people trying to do that in system games and it actively makes me angry. COME ON! If ya know your roll, and you know what you have to hit, you should be able to have some narrative freedom about the perameters of the hit! That's what I like about system. I'm not totally against freeform though, or against Blind System play (where the GM makes all the rolls). There are "freeform habits" that I just want to beat out of people though.
On the opposite, I'd say it's a good habit for system games as well. It's not a given that you know what the result of your roll is.
Sure, you know the number you got, but do you also know the target number you need to achieve for it to be a success?

That aside, I'd agree with Hairy Heretic here. To use Chrystal's example, you might be able to write "if you get hit, A will try another strike", but that doesn't mean that second strike has to land as well. Similarly, if it doesn't land, it doesn't mean the retreat is successful.

Offline Ember Star

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2013, 03:53:57 PM »
H'm... I should peak in this corner more often.

This thread is old but as somebody who was never exposed to system fights before I came to this site, and has fought multiple PvP battles (winning most, heh), and spent years RPing with people whose joy in RP was PvP battles and have even taught people how to PvP battle, I feel I can contribute.

Let me state one thing that is wrong with your assessment. Players DO NOT have to agree on who wins before hand. The only time that should be done is when one character needs to win for story sake. I start with this because I know a bunch of people who would troll you for that statement.

The other that is wrong is that fight combat posts are inherently short without being God-modding. Some people I know make their combat posts much longer than regular posts. Why? DETAILS! Details are key in PvP *Bill swung his fist in a attempt to punch him in the jaw* isn't enough. Isn't fun. However, *Bill shifted his body weight and rocked back upon his heels as he began to swing his right fists towards his jaw. As his right arm swung forward, his left arm curved back as his body twisted in force to attempt to land the hit* is better. Though honestly, you know how long my posts can get? Combat posts can be just as long. Described your character's every movement. Even then things can get confusing, so as you said COMMUNICATION! A: "Is Bill doing that?" B: "No, he's doing this." A: "Okay, thanks. Glad I asked."

As for God-modding. Well you actually put several different things under that. The three fundamentals to remember. God-modding, Auto-hitting, Auto-dodging. What's the difference?

AH: Saying you made the hit without giving the other player a chance to dodge, block, or take the hit. *Bill punched him in the jaw*

AD: Repeatedly dodging every attack and/or dodging without saying how you dodged (DETAILS) *He avoids the punch*

GM: Controlling another players character's actions/thoughts/ect *He falls to his knees from the punch which I threw* Can also apply to having a invincible character.

Then there's Meta-gaming which is your character having information they shouldn't. *Bill thinks he's going to punch him in a second* *he knows Bill is going to punch him even though Bill made no sign of it*

Those four should never be done unless expressly agreed upon by both players.

I could perhaps go a bit deeper. But I'm letting it stand there. Though if more is wished, I'll be happy to talk.

Offline ChrystalTopic starter

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2013, 05:57:23 PM »
H'm... I should peak in this corner more often.

Yes you should!

Quote
This thread is old but as somebody who was never exposed to system fights before I came to this site, and has fought multiple PvP battles (winning most, heh), and spent years RPing with people whose joy in RP was PvP battles and have even taught people how to PvP battle, I feel I can contribute.

All contributions welcome, so long as they are relevant.

Quote
Let me state one thing that is wrong with your assessment. Players DO NOT have to agree on who wins before hand. The only time that should be done is when one character needs to win for story sake. I start with this because I know a bunch of people who would troll you for that statement.

lol. I guess it depends on the context. Personally, I would never sart writing a freeform fight scene without knowing ther outcome in advance. Although, having said that, I did deliberately loose a fight that I had arranged to win because I preferred the IC consequences of loosing to the OOC consequences of winning! (It's complicated. Ask my by PM if you want to know, Ember). But normally, I think I prefer to know the outcome in advance.

Quote
The other that is wrong is that fight combat posts are inherently short without being God-modding. Some people I know make their combat posts much longer than regular posts. Why? DETAILS! Details are key in PvP *Bill swung his fist in a attempt to punch him in the jaw* isn't enough. Isn't fun. However, *Bill shifted his body weight and rocked back upon his heels as he began to swing his right fists towards his jaw. As his right arm swung forward, his left arm curved back as his body twisted in force to attempt to land the hit* is better. Though honestly, you know how long my posts can get? Combat posts can be just as long. Described your character's every movement. Even then things can get confusing, so as you said COMMUNICATION! A: "Is Bill doing that?" B: "No, he's doing this." A: "Okay, thanks. Glad I asked."

Long and short are relative.

For someone like myself who habitually posts an average of 500-1000 words at a time, the requirement to end a post at the next blow, thus limiting it to around 200 words, that is a short post. For someone who habitually posts what I would call "one-liners", 200 words is a long post! Other than that I agree with what you say.

Quote
As for God-modding. Well you actually put several different things under that. The three fundamentals to remember. God-modding, Auto-hitting, Auto-dodging. What's the difference?

AH: Saying you made the hit without giving the other player a chance to dodge, block, or take the hit. *Bill punched him in the jaw*

AD: Repeatedly dodging every attack and/or dodging without saying how you dodged (DETAILS) *He avoids the punch*

GM: Controlling another players character's actions/thoughts/ect *He falls to his knees from the punch which I threw* Can also apply to having a invincible character.

Then there's Meta-gaming which is your character having information they shouldn't. *Bill thinks he's going to punch him in a second* *he knows Bill is going to punch him even though Bill made no sign of it*

Those four should never be done unless expressly agreed upon by both players.

I've not heard of Auto-Hitting nor Auto-Dodging before - that is to say, I've not heard those terms. Meta-gaming I have heard of.

Actually, a better example of the latter might be:

Player A posts: Andrew ran into the room, having used his last bullet to shoot the guard outside. I took in the scene at a glance. His boyfriend Chris was tied up on his knees while Belinda stood nearby, casually sharpening the knife she had been using to torture Chris with. Andrew levelled his empty automatic and, confidently, told belinda, "Let him go or I will shoot you".

Player B posts: Belinda smirked. Andrew's gun was empty, and there was no way he could shoot her. "Go ahead", she told him. "Shoot me, if you can". saying this she strode back to where Chris was kneeling and drew her knife down his chest, opening a thin wound.

Belonda could not possibly have known that Andrew's gun was empty, so calling his bluff like that was illogical.

Quote
I could perhaps go a bit deeper. But I'm letting it stand there. Though if more is wished, I'll be happy to talk.

Please feel free.

Offline Ember Star

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2013, 12:48:21 AM »
Yes you should!
I generally forget it exists
Quote


All contributions welcome, so long as they are relevant.
Good
Quote

lol. I guess it depends on the context. Personally, I would never sart writing a freeform fight scene without knowing ther outcome in advance. Although, having said that, I did deliberately loose a fight that I had arranged to win because I preferred the IC consequences of loosing to the OOC consequences of winning! (It's complicated. Ask my by PM if you want to know, Ember). But normally, I think I prefer to know the outcome in advance.
It does ultimately depend on the context. I've done it all ways but the norm of what I was trained in was that battling was a test of skill. Not of character skill but of player skill. Winning a non fixed PvP takes wit, description, and imagination. Whoever ultimately wins the fight has to have more of all three. We would run tournaments to see who would come up on top. Like swordmen dueling to see who is best, we would RP duel and even teach noobs how to better their game. Some RPers even consider this the ultimate test of RP skill. That's not a opinion I share. But that is the way I prefer to fight unless it needs to go one way or the other for story.
Quote


Long and short are relative.

For someone like myself who habitually posts an average of 500-1000 words at a time, the requirement to end a post at the next blow, thus limiting it to around 200 words, that is a short post. For someone who habitually posts what I would call "one-liners", 200 words is a long post! Other than that I agree with what you say.
This I think is partly explained by the above. I will say that in the niche I RPd in for so long, there were generally said to be 4 levels of RP skill. Low (or Noob), Moderate, Good, Advanced. What is consider to be each level generally changes by who is judging and what sort of format you're RPing on. But I would say length wise with good or fair grammar and spelling. For elliquiy, I'd judge Low is in the 100 word and less area, moderate is in the 200-300 word area, good is in the 300-500 word area, and advanced is 500 words and up. But this changes per site as some sites I've been on have a word cap or other issues. However, regardless of length, grammar, spelling, descriptive skill, and style all come into play with judging a level. Though not for everybody. The reason I say this is that if a group of advanced RPers is running a tournament, then low RPers are unlikely to be in the group. Much less competing. THAT being said, most advanced RP will fight and teach those would wish to learn.

Reason I bring that up is your mention of ending at the next blow and it only being around 200 words usually. I can't say that's wrong, but I also must contest that serious free form fighters can take it far beyond that count.
Quote

I've not heard of Auto-Hitting nor Auto-Dodging before - that is to say, I've not heard those terms. Meta-gaming I have heard of.
They're terms I learned early in my RP days and have seen quite a bit discussion about with my RP buddies.
Quote

Actually, a better example of the latter might be:

Player A posts: Andrew ran into the room, having used his last bullet to shoot the guard outside. I took in the scene at a glance. His boyfriend Chris was tied up on his knees while Belinda stood nearby, casually sharpening the knife she had been using to torture Chris with. Andrew levelled his empty automatic and, confidently, told belinda, "Let him go or I will shoot you".

Player B posts: Belinda smirked. Andrew's gun was empty, and there was no way he could shoot her. "Go ahead", she told him. "Shoot me, if you can". saying this she strode back to where Chris was kneeling and drew her knife down his chest, opening a thin wound.

Belonda could not possibly have known that Andrew's gun was empty, so calling his bluff like that was illogical.
Yes. That's a good example, yes.

Quote
Please feel free.
I'm sleepy z.z

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2013, 05:53:22 PM »
That's just lovely ;D! The very discussion confirms a lot of my more unusual views.
Let's leave it at that.

That said, an issue I'd like to warn against is equating details with quality. They're not the same by a long shot and you can lose a lot by adding any details not required.
Why?
Verisimilitude and momentum.
Read more at your own risk, and be warned what I wrote in the spoilerblock isn't kind to sacred cows >:). That's why it's in a spoler block, of course.
Verisimilitude and momentum
Regarding verisimilitude, a long description is much more likely to contain details that people equate with "hasn't done the research". Let's just say this doesn't add to the quality, quite the opposite.
You can write a 1000 words post chock full of details. And if you don't describe "mundane"details, you're probably golden. An Exalted-style stunt isn't usually an issue. I have little previous experience with running on the sounds of a song that has been used to attack, to give an example.
Meanwhile, describe an ultra-detailed strike... and unless you're a pro, odds are you'd set my teeth on edge. That's precisely the reason I'm used to skipping combat description even in many supposedly professional books. Granted, if you can describe a good fight, I'd love it!
Still, many writers would do well to take a note in their descriptions from REHoward, Cristian Cameron, RZelazny, JLondon, Poul Anderson, BEisler, GLOldie, EHemingway, HRHaggard, ASapkowski and sometimes, DGemmell.
Not a single one of them writes long-winded descriptions (Eisler, Cameron and Zelazny get the closest to that). And they manage to avoid setting my teeth on edge, too. Of course, many of them have more than just a bit of personal proficiency and/or experience.
And since we mentioned Hemingway, remember his half-a-dozen-words short story. Go ahead, write a short story that matches the emotional impact of that.

Regarding momentum, long descriptions tend to lose the quality that Ron Edwards calls "forward-moving" actions or "kinetic imagery". It's important throughout the whole story, but even more so in a fight.
Most importantly, they include responses and physical consequences. If one gives no leeway to the other players in describing this for your character?
Well, in that case, you should totally describe the outcomes of their actions. In reading it, however, it comes as disjointed. So, maybe sometimes it pays to take a note from narrative systems and remember that in a story, just how much punishment you're described as taking doesn't actually make a whole lot of difference as to the outcome?

Sometimes, less is more.
Let me just add, whether you read the spoilerblock or skip it like a reasonable person, that this doesn't mean going all the time for "I strike, he dodges". Far from it, in fact! FWIW, I just checked my last combat-related post. It clocks on almost 200 words, according to my word processor, but I wasn't feeling terribly inspired. And I had to stop it mid-action, so the other player could describe what she's doing next.
Still, my point is that I didn't write a long post because I expected anyone to judge me by the quantity. It just felt right for the tone of the game. The point is, I didn't add any details I could have skipped, either :P!
The longest combat post I've seen is, coincidentally, from a game I ran a few years ago. It's a bit over four thousand words for a single action >:).
Yes, that was the winning action!

Online Orange Marmalade

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2013, 06:17:05 PM »
To build on what Thufir has said, something to keep in mind is Purple Prose (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_prose) - and building on that, overly excessive, extravagant, needless descriptions.

Offline Ember Star

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2013, 06:29:23 PM »
To build on what Thufir has said, something to keep in mind is Purple Prose (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_prose) - and building on that, overly excessive, extravagant, needless descriptions.
Yuck. Yeah, purple prose can get very annoying. I only ever known one person who writes in a purple prose like fashion and does it well. Otherwise, 90% it comes off as noobish. However what one views as purple prose can change by who's viewing it.

Offline Ember Star

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2013, 06:42:26 PM »
Quote
I'm used to skipping combat description even in many supposedly professional books.
I do this too. I often find combat in book incredibly boring. To be honest, I'm not even a big RP fighter. Only had like one or two dozen fights in over four years. But I'm friends with people who have had hundreds and hundreds. So I learn a lot in observation.

It's all about finding the happy medium. Not too much, not too little, to quote Goldielocks "just right"

The just right is different for everybody. I've known good one paragraph fighters, and I've known good seven paragraph fighters, and I've known bad of both. Ultimately depends on personal style and what sort of setting your character is in I've found.

I'm the kind of writer who often gives length equal to that which I am given. So I do think it can be done well under or over 200 words as long as grammar and spelling checks out. I just felt the need to say that they can go longer and be appropriate.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2013, 07:04:55 PM »
I do this too. I often find combat in book incredibly boring. To be honest, I'm not even a big RP fighter. Only had like one or two dozen fights in over four years. But I'm friends with people who have had hundreds and hundreds. So I learn a lot in observation.

It's all about finding the happy medium. Not too much, not too little, to quote Goldielocks "just right"

The just right is different for everybody. I've known good one paragraph fighters, and I've known good seven paragraph fighters, and I've known bad of both. Ultimately depends on personal style and what sort of setting your character is in I've found.

I'm the kind of writer who often gives length equal to that which I am given. So I do think it can be done well under or over 200 words as long as grammar and spelling checks out. I just felt the need to say that they can go longer and be appropriate.
I should clarify, I guess, that I don't skip combat by the authors I mentioned :P.
And yes, I've known a lot of both, too. I should add that I tend to play fighting characters, myself. So I've earned quite a bit of experience writing fights myself.
However, it's also my experience that it's extremely rare that anyone manages to pull off a good description that's on the lengthy side. In fact, I can't think of one outside of very specific genres, like wuxia or the like, where details on the moves are kinda the point.
And even then the masters prefer shorter descriptions, so maybe we should take a note from them ;D?

Offline Ember Star

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2013, 07:24:42 PM »
I would like to note however that the RP fighting I was around and did never consisted of just shooting guns and throwing punches. Those would be shorter posts anyway. Most of the characters had some sort of hand to hand training, a weapon or two, and a power like manipulating a element. Factor all that into a post and describe those elemental attacks, and you generally have longer posts.

So, again, style and the setting the character is in.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2013, 02:07:19 PM »
I would like to note however that the RP fighting I was around and did never consisted of just shooting guns and throwing punches. Those would be shorter posts anyway. Most of the characters had some sort of hand to hand training, a weapon or two, and a power like manipulating a element. Factor all that into a post and describe those elemental attacks, and you generally have longer posts.

So, again, style and the setting the character is in.
I admit I'm not clear how throwing punches isn't assumed to be part of hand to hand skills :P.
But yes, when you've got element benders, that's the kind of playstyle that might femand longer posts - sometimes. But some of the most interesting posts I've read consisted of what people did with no formal training, only improvised weapons, and no applicable powers.
And even highly trained individuals don't need lots of verbiage to describe what they do, including with powers. Want an example? Look at Gu Long and Jin Yong fights. I'm reading one of Gu Long's novels and just read a fight. It was a fight to avenge a protagonist's father.
It didn't get a whole page of description from taking the decision to actually fight to one of them being dead ;D!
So yeah, there isn't anything that says a good fight needs to be a long one. And even quite long fights can be described without unnecessary details.

Offline ChrystalTopic starter

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2013, 02:25:51 PM »
There's fights and fights, though.

If the whole purpose of the RP is to have a fight, (like in the one-shot example I linked in my opener), then every aspect of the fight should be described in detail, but if the fight is just something that happens in  passing, then it is hardly worth a paragraph.

The same applies to sex scenes. I mean, how many sex scenes are writen like this:

Jenny took cath into the bedroom and fucked her senseless for three hours. Afterwards, as they lay in bed together, Jenny considered asking Cath to move in with her...


Well, if truth be known I have written sex scenes like that. but most of them are at least six posts long and many are much longer.

So with a fight scene:

Joe drew his gun and shot Mike in the leg, then walked off.

Shortest fight scene going.

Or if you prefer: http://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=177161.msg9011672#msg9011672 An actual example of a one-line fight scene. (Caution: the RP is exreme). Please note, I would only do that with the agreement of the other player.

But my point is that any scene can be condensed into two words: "They fought", "They fucked", "They sang", "They raced".

Equally any scene can be expanded until it takes up the entire RP. The whole thing is dependent upon the context.

Offline Ember Star

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2013, 02:58:11 PM »
Exactly. The kind of fights I'm talking about are often tournaments or two people dueling to compare skills. Just like two swordsmen or two karate experts would duel. The fight RP equivalent to a sexual one-shot where two people play out a specific sex scene only without knowing who's gonna end up on top. Often they put a cap on how long the fight is gonna last, either number of posts or duration of time in real life, this keeps them from taking two months to complete. If there's no clear winner then if it's a private thing it's often decided who was logically the winner between the two, if it's a tournament in a group then often the GM and sometimes a couple of other elected judges will decide the winner. Then if there's respect of the no auto, modding, or meta between the fighters, both will take damage and not take damage in respect to their character's logical abilities and limits and the player's wit for coming up with things is. Also, you're not only attacking but also attempting to avoid whatever the other character is doing.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: PvP Combat in Freeform RP
« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2013, 05:35:52 PM »
Exactly. The kind of fights I'm talking about are often tournaments or two people dueling to compare skills. Just like two swordsmen or two karate experts would duel.
Yeah, these don't need being long, either.