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RESOURCE Shadow's Protips to Freeform PvP

Discussion in 'Roleplaying Discussion' started by Shadow, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. I've stated many times before that conveying PvP experience is very, very difficult due to the dynamic nature of roleplaying. That's why instead of trying to do that, I'm going to list a series of protips that address very common problems or fallacies in freeform combat. None of them are strictly practical in the sense that they teach you how to effectively implement them--the realm of "git gud" is something that you alone have to reach--but hopefully they'll serve as powerful pieces of advice. Let's begin.

    1. It literally doesn't matter who attacks first. No character, skillset or ability has an inherent advantage of going first. "Turn order" or more precisely "posting order" is irrelevant when it comes to initiative--initiative is gained through momentum, but it isn't magically granted to the person who acts first. A well-placed intercept can and will destroy the confident and the unwary, placing all of their trust in the first turn meme. Don't force yourself to act first.

    2. Except when it does. All of the above is complete and utter bullshit when we speak of strategies rather than the raw abilities of the characters. You can dramatically increase your own momentum if you know how to manipulate turn order to your advantage, or how to manipulate the expectation of gaining initiative to your advantage. Just as much as you can be baited straight into an intercept if you attack first, you can be baited into an extremely unfavorable position by letting the opponent build their momentum very, very quickly. Don't force yourself to act first.

    3. But Shadow, what the fuck is momentum? Momentum can be roughly compared to the "tide" of battle. A character with strong momentum is usually the one who is dominating the battlefield, using their every turn to attack the enemy in some way. In contrast, a character with low momentum is usually one who has been reduced to defending position, with actions primarily focusing on defending against attacks. Momentum is usually, but NOT ALWAYS an indicator of whether someone is winning or losing. A battle is, more so than a glorified exchange of attacks, a tug-of-war with momentum at the stake. You want momentum because it allows you to act more freely.

    4. Getting hit does not equal to losing. Moreover, getting hit does not necessarily equal to losing your momentum. Never be afraid of receiving hits you can take--overdodging is actually A Thing, and it is simultaneously an exploitable that can (and will) lead to often-fatal intercepts or attacks that capitalize on one's dependence on evasion. You don't necessarily have to force yourself to avoid every single attack that comes at you, either: in some cases, blocking or mitigating the attack is a much better alternative. And sometimes, allowing a hit is necessary as a form of baiting to reducing the opponent's options, which can instantly decide the outcome of a battle if done correctly.

    5. Combos. No. Don't. Simply, don't. The reason for this is simple: consecutive actions always have more openings for intercepts. The more attacks you stack sequentially on a single post, the greater the chance there is for a competent enemy to exploit every single one of them. Restrict your actions to bare minimum while still conforming to what you want to accomplish in your post. Unless you're very sure that the opponent has limited responsive options, elaborate combos will most likely result in failure, an intercept, and the causal cancellation of all attacks beyond the interception point. Never act beyond what's strictly necessary.

    6. Tells. Just because an attack is faster than your character can move or react does not mean it is unavoidable. This fallacy is one of the deadly sins that have spawned the absolutely infamous "Speed Meta", which we will address shortly. More often than not, players focus entirely on the speed of the actors involved rather than the cause-effect relation between the character and the action. Let's exemplify: suppose that Character A quickly points his palm and fires a magical beam of destruction at the speed of light, towards Character B. However, because Character B doesn't actually suck, he dashes to the side and out of the beam's firing path just before it is actually fired, and closes in to spear Character A in the face. How? Tells, that's how. Tells are preemptive actions or events that anticipate another action from a character. In this case, Character B blatantly exploited the tell from Character A by anticipating the line of fire of the beam as he raised his palm, then moved in for an intercept. Tells are everywhere: they are how your characters can identify actions before they actually happen, they are how you can plausibly counter firearms, and they are how you can win against a faster opponent. Use them.

    7. Speed Meta. Fuck you and fuck Speed Meta.

    8. Flashiness does not contribute to anything. This is more often than not a result of watching too much shounen garbage. Concise actions are important in freeform combat, but poorly-thought-out flashiness negatively impacts this. But let's backtrack a bit and define what flashiness means in this context. This does not mean that all actions have to be dull and precise: flashiness is often a means of conveying impressive, vivid, or awe-inspiring visuals, which is perfectly fine. However, flashiness for the sake of flashiness is only a bland means to introduce an unnecessary, and often completely unneeded level of flair to an action. Not every action has to be especially flashy or impressive: more often than not, the simplest actions are the most effective; a player should concern themselves with visuals after conceptualizing the action, not craft actions for the purpose of visuals. At best, you'll look very silly, and at worst, you'll lose the fight just because you created exploitables that should have never been there in the first place.

    9. Know your place. Or "don't try to outmatch the opponent's specialty". The second deadly sin that at one point announced the coming of the antichrist of freeform PvP meta. It is more than likely that your character's skillset is geared towards a strategy, or a series of subjective parameters that he or she excel at, relatively speaking. And that is the natural law of the world--characters have no business straying from their "core" strategies to attempt to outmatch other characters in their own, specialized strengths. You will not outspeed the lightning rogue. You will not overpower the faithfully-built warrior. You will not out-magic the genius spellcaster. This is fine. Fight opponents with your own strategies and strengths, but never presume that the mentality of "fighting fire with fire" will work--they are called specialties for a reason. Adapt playstyles and strategies to counter opponents, but never thoughtlessly adopt them without first considering how truly cohesive they are to the character as a whole. Having a well-developed playstyle that capitalizes on the character's own strengths is much more important than attempting to "1up" the opponent.

    10. Speed Meta: Revisited. We were nowhere near to seven deadly sins, but that's fine. It should be pretty evident by now that many of my points were building up to this: speed is not infallible. This cannot be stressed enough. Speed is a fairly difficult parameter to handle: overreliance on it can easily spawn a monstrosity we know as Speed Meta, but it is very powerful if well-executed. And that is how EVERY SINGLE parameter works. The precept of speed being the only viable counter to speed is probably the dankest of memes at this point: not only it is utterly false, but it brainwashes the players into fueling the vicious cycle. Fuck that shit. You can counter speed with literally anything: use tells, use intercepts, use your own strategies. If you are relying on speed as a crutch to increase the "powerlevel" or "threat" of a character, then you are doing something wrong. In truth, you should be looking at how to logically and viably counter a speed-based character without using their own strengths (we just addressed this): developing counterplay is all part of becoming a better fighter.

    I'll add more if/when I think of something else.

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