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Everything You Wanted To Know About the CM Dueling System (and some stuff you didn't)

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  • Everything You Wanted To Know About the CM Dueling System (and some stuff you didn't)

    I've gotten quite a few questions from players lately about specifics and mechanics of the dueling system, what with the increased martial activity in the game of late (yay!). I've put together something that explains pretty well every question you might ever have that I can think of, on how the dueling code works. It's probably tl;dnr for some people, in which case you might want to skip to whatever you specifically wanted to know.

    Know Your Skills

    The list of 12 skills in the Castle Marrach duelling skillset can be a bit apprehensive to an unfamiliar player, however these skills actually work in a very simple manner.

    To start off, understand that we have three offensive skills - cut, thrust and feint, all of which are designed to harm our enemy, every other skill is a defensive stance that we can stand in. Know that every single defensive skill is equally effective at blocking an attack as another defensive stance of the same level, the only thing that changes is how often we use these stances and what skill level we have them at. In other words, getting swung at while in a level 5 guard stance is the same as getting swung at while in a level 5 dodge stance, or advance stance, or rest stance, etc. Granted this, the OOC art of "timing" with the duelling system revolves around switching your stances back and forth while fighting, such that the enemy's offensive abilities are always used when you are in a stance that you have a high skill level in, and your own attacks land when the enemy is in a stance that he has a low skill level in. Almost every character in CM follows the pattern of the Guard skill being their highest defensive stance, with Recover in the middle and Attacking as their lower skill - this is why "timing" largely involves counter attacking an enemy then raising your guard again quickly (more on that later). Before I get into this too deeply however, I will explain each stance and when it is used.


    Guard: The default stance you begin a duel in. You pretty much want to be in this stance as often as feasibly possible, as almost every character in CM has a higher skill level in guard than any of their other defensive skills, and it is also the only stance from which every offensive ability can be used.

    Recover: Recover is a stance meant to represent the swordsman recovering after just exchanging blows with his enemy. In terms of roleplay or how this would look in a real sword fight, it is the point after an enemy has attacked his opponent and is in the process of withdrawing his sword to defend himself again (in other words: recovering from his own attack, hence the name of the skill). We automatically fall into the Recover stance after the Attacking stance (see below). Most characters have a lower level Recover than their Guard, but a higher level Recover than their Attacking, so being hit while in Recover is still considered a "counter attack" by most, but not an optimal one. Recover can be manually activated (for whatever purpose) by typing "recover" while dueling, otherwise we're automatically placed in recover following the Attacking phase any time we use an attack.
    Note: this skill does not affect in any way how long it takes to use attacks. There is a belief by some that a high recover skill means your character moves faster and can use abilities more rapidly during a duel; that's simply not true. If someone seems like they're moving faster than you, it's not because of their recover skill or any coded advantage, it's because the player is skilled with "timing", they're using faster moves, or they're suffering less lag (VERY rarely the case on that last one, given how little bandwidth CM requires). Each offensive ability (covered below) has a set timer it takes to execute that maneuver, and there is absolutely no code in the CM dueling system to cause Recover or anything else to make these timers run faster.

    Attacking: The name of this skill is somewhat misleading initially, as this is not an offensive ability at all. Attacking is meant to represent the stance a swordsman is in while in the middle of making an attack. In terms of roleplay, if you hit an opponent in the Attacking stance, you are striking him while he is leaning forward and in the process of swinging his own weapon at you. Therefore our Attacking skill represents our ability to parry a counter-attack. From char gen, PCs begin with no Attacking skill whatsoever, and those who do have the skill, universally have a lower Attacking than their Recover or Guard, hence why Attacking is the opportune moment to strike an opponent when we speak of "timing". Attacking is activated for 2 seconds any time a character uses an offensive skill, after which the attacker is automatically put in recover.
    Note: When we hit an opponent in the Attacking stance, depending on our CM colour theme, it appears in a bright colored font (the same colour we see via the listening skill or when an MCombat monster dies). This is only shown in 3rd person to witnesses of the duel, however, not to the fighters themselves.

    Rest: Rest is a stance we drop into to recover our fatigue points. The duration we remain in rest does not affect the amount of fatigue we recover, so unless (oddly) your rest skill is higher than your guard, there is no reason to ever sit around in the rest stance. Rest returns an amount of fatigue to us based on our rest skill, at a rate of 1 pt of fatigue per level in rest - this makes it essentially useless at much lower levels, but quite effective the higher it gets. Rest is an often underrated skill that can make a big difference in a duel, however this is dependant on you not getting hit while in this stance, as you will lose more fatigue than you've gained.
    Note: Like Attacking, when we use rest, it shows in a highlighted font colour, I believe it shares the same colour our OOC Pages do, but it may be the Who list colour. When someone is hit while resting, likewise it appears in bright font, the same colour as our assists. Again this is only for third person emits.


    There are three different offensive skills, all of which work almost identically save for a few differences regarding the amount of damage the attack does to the opponent's fatigue, and what stance the attack can be used from. Typing any of these attacks will automatically cause the system to roll and determine whether or not your attack hits the enemy and/or drains their fatigue, as well as how much to drain if it does. Simultaneously, using any attack will put you in the Attacking stance for a window of 2 seconds, regardless of the attack used.

    Thrust: Thrust is the 'fast' attack in the Castle Marrach duelling system, being the only attack the can be used without requiring the attacker to be in the guard stance. Immediately following a thrust, you will be placed in the Attacking stance for 2 seconds during which no other commands can be used, and you are vulnerable to attacks vs your Attacking skill as opposed to your Guard skill. Following those 2 seconds, the system will place you in the Recover stance and hand the reins back over to you.

    Cut: Cut, unlike thrust, requires us to be in the guard stance to use it (though there are some tricks around that for certain stances). Typing cut from any other stance will first put you in guard and hold you there for 1 second before performing the cut (this is bad timing-wise). Like thrust, cut will then put you in the Attacking stance for 2 full seconds, and then put you in recover. Unlike thrust, cut will then hold you in recover stance for 1 second, then put you in guard before giving you control of your character again. This means a cut leaves your Guard down for a total of 3 seconds before you can do anything else, versus thrust that only leaves your defenses down for 2 seconds. Cut, however, hits harder than thrust, more on that below.

    Feint: Works exactly the same as cut, does slightly higher damage per skill level.

    Damage Modifiers: Each of the three offensive skills has a damage modifier that determines how hard that ability typically hits in terms of the amount of fatigue it drains from our opponent. For thrust the modifier is 1, or 1x our normal damage, meaning there is no damage bonus for using thrust - we use thrust because it's fast not because it hits especially hard. For cut the modifier is 1.5, and for feint the modifier is 1.8.

    Keeping in mind the delays on how long each attack takes, this means cut and thrust theoretically have the same potential damage output. Before factoring in our dice rolls, thrust does 1.0 damage every 2 seconds (or 0.5 damage every second). Cut does 1.5 damage over 3 seconds (again, 0.5 damage every second). Feint does 1.8 damage over 3 seconds, giving it an average of 0.6 damage every second, making it slightly stronger than a thrust or cut of the same skill level. Keeping in mind, however, that part of our damage comes from our dice roll (which is in turn determined by skill level) it is very rare that a character has a feint skill high enough to make it more worth using than their cut, both in terms of the amount of damage it will do, and it's chance to do any damage at all. More on how this all works later.
    StoryHost Kurzon
    Castle Marrach Staff

    The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.

  • #2

    The remaining skills are what I dub "vanity" skills, because there's no advantage to ever using them in a real duel, other than to perhaps add some bravado to roleplayed duels. For the most part, these are simply stances that can be swapped into, just like guard or recover, but serve no real purpose other than to change the emit we give if attacked while in these stances. None of these stances allow us to perform any kind of attack or give us any special advantage, and in every case I've ever seen, PCs and even most VPs have much lower levels in these skills than their main defensive skills, and only serve to lessen their odds of winning a duel by using them.

    Dodge: Exactly what it sounds like. We move into dodge stance, if we get swung at, we emit sidestepping the attack. Probably the only vanity skill that sees much use because a lot of people enjoy using it in RP'd duels.

    Advance/Retire: The advance and retire skills are meant to simulate the stance we would be in while moving towards or away from our enemy. Using them will, likewise, move is into and out of our opponent's proximity (without needing consent), but our proximity in relation to our opponent has no effect on the duel. If we get attacked in these stances, we do an emit of parrying the attack while taking a step towards/away from our opponent.

    Salute: Again, our defensive ability while saluting, in case we attacked while in salute.

    Idle: Idle is a skill that no longer functions in the CM dueling system, typing idle will have no effect in a duel. There have been some preposterously silly rumours that if you go idle on the who list or afk too long during a duel, you drop into this stance, but that's simply not the case. Based on the dueling emotes still written into the code, it appears idle was meant to be a stance you could drop into when you wanted to simulate your character not paying attention. IE: your character is bored/distracted/whatever and gets swung at, you will do an emit of quickly turning your attention back you your opponent and parrying the attack.
    Trivia: When the CM dueling system was first introduced, you used to start a duel in the idle stance, and had to manually go to guard. This was changed, I suspect, due to the problem that presented when people would immediately attack at the start of a duel to try to hit someone while still in idle, often resulting in a "crit" that would end and win the duel for the attacker due to a universally low Idle skill amongst characters.

    Fumble: Fumble, like idle, does not function. In fact it never fully did, the ability was never coded far enough to even make it show up in your skills list so it could be taught. The emits for the ability were written however, and based on the emits shown in the code, fumble was meant to be a roleplay ability to simulate your character parrying an attack while fumbling/staggering/tripping. IE: your opponent elbows you in the face, you would enter the fumble stance and roleplay staggering back, and the opponent would take a swing at you while fumbling. In most cases in my experience, good dueling roleplayers use the Retire skill to achieve that same effect presently.

    The Engagement

    We know our abilities and what they do, so what actually happens in a duel when we use an attack on our enemy?

    The formula for the engagement looks like this:

    {[(offensiveskill + roll) - (defensive skill + roll)] + attackerstrength} x skillbonus
    offensiveskill = skill level of the attack being used
    defensive skill = skill level of the stance the defender is currently in
    roll = a randomly generated dice roll, returning a number from 0 - 9
    attackerstrength = the strength stat of the attacker, typically 10 for all PCs, but higher in some VPs or special PC cases.
    skillbonus = the damage bonus modifier depending on the offensive skill being used, we talked about this earlier:
    Feint: 1.8
    Cut: 1.5
    Thrust: 1.0

    The way this formula works is actually very simple, let's go over it one bit at a time. Let us take someone with the skill "Cut: Artisan (level 6)" who is swinging their weapon at an opponent standing in the guard stance, with "Guard: Master (level 8)". First we take offensive skill, in this case a level 6 attack, so we give the attacker a default of 6 points to his attack roll. We then take a 10 sided dice with the numbers 0 through 9 on it, and give it a roll. We then take that number from our dice and add it to the level of the offensive skill we're using, so lets say out of 0-9 we rolled an average 5, our number is now 11 (6+5=11). We now repeat this process for the defender; in this case the defender gets 8 from his skill, but rolled a terrible 1 in his 0-9 roll, the defender's final number is 9 (8+1=9).

    With me so far? We have attacker's final roll is 11 and defender's final roll is 9, once we added our dice to our skill levels.

    Now we take the attacker's roll of 11 and subtract from it the defender's roll of 9. We end up with a final roll of 11-9=2. So 2 is our final hit number. Because this number is at least 1 or higher, this means we're going to drain some fatigue from our enemy. If the final result of our attack had been 0 or lower, we wouldn't have done any damage at all.

    But before the code does anything else, it first takes our hitroll (current: 2) and determines whether or not a critical was landed. If the final hitroll is +10 or higher, this is called a critical hit - in the case of a critical hit, the attacker automatically wins the fight even the opponent still has his full fatigue remaining. If the final roll is -10 or lower, the opposite occurs, in which the defender automatically defeats the attacker without even having to enter their own attack. This is sometimes referred to as a "reverse crit" or "critting yourself". It would appear it is not possible to crit yourself on the opponent's Attacking stance, but all other defensive stances are fair game.

    Anyway, our hitroll is 2, so let's continue with the example and determine how much fatigue we're going to drain. We know we're taking away at least 2 pts of fatigue, because our hitroll is 2, but now it's time to start adding our other damage modifiers. For starters, all characters in the game have a strength stat of 10 (in some cases VPs have a higher strength than this), so we're going to add a damage modifier of +10 for a total of 12 damage.

    12 points of fatigue (keeping in mind we only start a duel with 100 points unless we have a fatigue boost) is actually a reasonably decent hit in the CM dueling system considering the defender's guard was 2 levels higher than the attacker's cut, but we're not done yet. The final step is to take this number and multiply it by the damage modifier for the attack (we talked about the damage multiplier earlier). If this had been a thrust, our multiplier would only be 1, so no change, but this was a cut, meaning we get a damage multiplier of 1.5, so our final damage dealt is 12x1.5=18.

    And that's the end of the engagement. The system removes 18 points of fatigue from the victim of this attack. The duel will continue until one of the two fighters has been reduced to 0 points of fatigue, or until one of them rolls a critical. Note that 18 points of fatigue is a pretty high hit for an attacker with level 6 cut versus level 8 guard, but also keep in mind that this scenario is improbable. Things turned out the way they did in this example because the attacker rolled a much higher number than the defender, but had their rolls been more even, the defender would've incurred no damage.
    StoryHost Kurzon
    Castle Marrach Staff

    The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.


    • #3
      Fatigue and Strength

      Fatigue and Strength are a pair of hidden properties in our bodies that we cannot see with the @skills command, and cannot be taught with the teaching code.

      The fatigue stat increases the maximum amount of fatigue we have when entering a duel. In the case of most PCs, this stat is set to "1", which gives us 100 points of fatigue for our duel. Certain start memories can give us a fatigue stat of 1.1 or 1.2, giving us up to 120 fatigue points to work with. Certain activities in-game, such as attaining certain IC accolades, participating in certain events or using certain magical items may further boost this stat. However the amount you can raise this stat by is often very minor when we look at it in perspective: our last example showed 18 pts of fatigue removed from a single attack, so that extra 10 or 20 points given by the start memories makes a rather insignificant difference in the long run. It might save you from a single attack or be just the edge you need to win a duel that otherwise would've been a coin flip, but it's not a huge major deal until you start seeing very high numbers.

      Strength, as we just saw, increases the damage we do - by a good deal actually. At default our strength is 10, and no starting memory or accolade can change this. There are some magic items in-game that give small boosts to strength, and currently that is the only way to raise it. Note strength should not be confused for the property that alters our inventory space. It is often rumoured that carpenters have their "strength increased" to move furniture; this is a misnomer, the property we increase is to achieve this is actually "inventory capacity" not "strength".


      The 'health' command is an ability that lets the combatant check his remaining fatigue during a fight. Note important that this command checks for the percentage of the combatant's total fatigue, not a specific number. This means that characters with a different maximum fatigue number will get a different emit even if they have the same total amount of fatigue remaining, as the emit you given is based on a percentage of the maximum. Example to follow.

      100% You are fully rested and ready.
      91% - 99% You are slightly winded and at a disadvantage.
      81% - 90% You are winded and hard-pressed.
      71% - 80% You are quite winded and weakening.
      61% - 70% You are tired.
      51% - 60% You are tired and losing heart.
      41% - 50% You are out of breath and fatigued.
      31% - 40% You are exhausted and failing.
      1% - 30% You are very exhausted and desperate.

      So let us say COMBATANT1 is at 45/100 fatigue - he would get the response "You are out of breath and fatigued" when checking his health. COMBATANT2 is at 60/200 fatigue, thus he would get the response "You are exhausted and failing." While it appears that COMBATANT1 is better off based on the emit returned to him, COMBATANT2 actually has the higher remaining fatigue points in this fight, but has a lower percentage remaining of his maximum.

      Personally I find the emits returned by the health command to be misleading. "You are tired" seems less significiant to me that "You are winded and hard pressed". It may be due for an update, but we'll see.

      And that's a wrap.
      StoryHost Kurzon
      Castle Marrach Staff

      The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.


      • #4

        Can we get this and some other useful posts on a sticky perhaps a sticky with links of helpful advice for new players as I have noticed we have had some coming in?


        • #5
          While this is bumped, an update about the amazing and sexy changes made to rest would be similarly amazing and sexy.

          [OOC Page] from Juliee: "I dreamed about Aratan last night. It was the most dull dream ever"


          • #6
            My god I just mentioned that to a new player that needs to have a update



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