First, you should probably read my node on the subject of Freeform Online Role-Playing Games
Back yet? For a quick refresher, the two biggest rules to this game are No Zippy, and No Godmoding. That is to say, no controlling other players' characters, no creating invulnerable characters, and no changing your character mid-game. These rules are important, because they make battles possible.
For the sake of describing how the system works, let's create two characters to battle-- call them Ken and Ryu. Ken and Ryu are more or less identical in their capabilities, which we will derive from the popular game that they are well known from. The only difference between them will be the players controlling them.
As standard notation, it is ofen accepted that actions are contained within asterisks. This convention can be ignored, simply by following the standard rules of English prose, but many players prefer surrounding their actions in *s in order to distinguish it from spoken text, which is often assumed as default in chatrooms.
*Ken stands on the east side of the dojo in a ready stance. He eyes his opponent across the room.*
*Ryu walks up to the west side of the dojo, prepared to do battle. He listens carefully, and the announcer calls out the word both of us have been waiting for... FIGHT!*
*Ken leaps foreward the moment he hears the words, foot forewards and aimed for Ryu's face.*
*Ryu leaps to the floor, rolling underneath his opponant's high kick. Returning smoothly to a standing position, he runs after Ken and attempts a sweep kick to knock Ken down as soon as he lands, and is temporarily unbalanced.*
*Ken lands, but before he can even turn around, Ryu's foot connects with his ankles, and a moment later, Ken finds himself laying face down on the ground, humilliated, but not yet beaten...*
The first thing you may notice about this little exchange is that Ken had to admit he was hit before the hit counted. However, by the rules
of the game
, he had to admit to himself that in this situation, his character would not have been able to react in time, and also that being hit in the ankles would cause him to fall to the ground. It would have been possible to write himself out of the predicament he had placed himself in, but not without changing the concept of his character, and thus godmoding. Ken's character is of finite
capability, and he must respect that.
Of course, situations in which two characters are equal in capability are rare, and playing against someone who really wants to win can be very difficult. Difficult, but not impossible. The trick to fighting in a freeform enviornment such as this is setting up "traps" to confine the options of your opponent until your opponent has no choice but to do what you want... be that take a hit, die, become a prisoner, or whatever you had in mind.
In a way, this makes the game rather similar to a game of GO, where two players attempt to surround territory. Unlike GO however, the territory being surrounded is multi-dimensional, often has hidden freedoms, and isn't generally visible as territory anyway. An abstract thinking game for the english major.
Before I end this write-up, I should cover some of the extra rules on fighting I have seen in a few rooms.
Optional Rule: Any attack can be escaped as long as a similar amount of detail is put into the excaping post as was put into the attacking post.
Commentary: I don't like this rule. First of all, it allows for a certain amount of godmoding, or, if not godmoding, then at the very least it encourages Deus Ex Machina. If ANY attack can be excaped, then the entire strategy system of setting up traps and manipulating the narrative flow is removed entirely.
This rule probably originates from playerbases which frequently godmode, and in such a situation, I do suppose that this rule lessens the damage that having such a playerbase can create. They may still be godmoding, but at least they aren't responding to your five paragraph description of a detailed attack with *I dodge* anymore. When you put a certain amount of effort into a post, one likes to see a similar amount of effort put into the reply to that post.
On the other hand, in my experience, players who write one sentence posts don't tend to play with people who like to write a half dozen paragraphs per turn, for the very reason stated in the previous paragraph: when you put a lot of effort into something, it's nice to have the other person put a similar amount of effort into the reply. When an imbalance occures in this area, the players will tend to voluntarily not play with each other anymore. This is just the way I've witnessed things to work.
Optional Rule: Without OOC permission, Do not fight anyone who is incapable of defeating you.
Commentary: This rule, on the other hand, makes a certain amount of sense, and is an attempt to further clarify what godmoding means. If a man with a gun picks a fight with a small defensless child, the child doesn't have any chance of winning, and the man might as well be an omnipotent god as far as that battle is concerned. Good roleplayers tend to obey this rule whether or not it is stated... it's common courtesy. Indeed, good roleplayers tend to obey the stricter rule "Do not fight anyone without OOC permission" anyway, as that is also polite.
msg me if you know of additional optional rules that belong here.
Metagame rules to understand:
Please understand that although there are no dice, there is a system of probability.
In general, you will find that most people are more likely to accept hits that they deem to be inconsequential in the long run. From this, one can state that a low powered attack is more likely to land than a high powered attack. On the other hand, while your high powered attack may not actually land on your opponent, it will force him or her to react, moving out of the way or setting up some sort of barrier.
A sneaky trick that usually works against someone not expecting it (ie, someone you've never played with before) is to attempt a weak attack that you think the other person will accept, but have some sort of hidden added power to that attack. A blade covered in poison, for example.
Never forget about terrain advantages. Most role-playing chatrooms have set up maps and descriptions of locations that you can play in-- use them wherever possible. Even fighting in a tavern, one of the more common places you will see a battle occure in certain rooms, can utilize terrain. Backing an opponant against a wall, ducking under tables, and taking advantage of handy bottles or glasses laying around are all good examples of using the terrain in this situation.
Along these lines, pick your battles-- and make sure the setting is in your advantage if you can possibly manage it. If you are not in an advantageous position, lead your foe to a location where this situation is rectified. If they don't follow, the conflict has been resolved anyway. If they do follow, you have them where you want them. I have won battles against characters considerably more powerful than my own by setting up traps in the woods, and leading them into them.
To win, you must corner your opponant. Straight attacks rarely work towards your eventual goal. Limit your opponents options... but when limiting them, limit them in such a way as it leads them into a finishing move of your choice. Force them into a position they cannot escape from.
I need to end this discussion on a warning note, however. Battles are not the purpose of freeform role-playing, and in winning a fight, you may lose the game overall. But that's the subject for another node...