Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

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Eden Parker
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Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Eden Parker » Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:02 pm

Hey everyone!

With a lot of new duelers joining our community, and following a couple interesting discussions in the green room and lobby, we thought it might be helpful to share a couple thoughts about roleplay and dueling.

FFRP & Dueling

Dueling is a fun game that provides a helpful structure for IC fights --- but that structure still exists within the world of FFRP --- free form role playing.

So what does that mean? It means that everything that happens during a duel still requires the consent of both players. Even if your character wins a point, your opponent is not obligated to accept whatever damage your character dishes out. Every move description is still technically just an attempt. Your opponent can accept as much or as little damage as they feel makes sense for their character.

But hey, just because you’re not obligated to accept damage, doesn’t mean your character should get off without a cut. FFRP only works when players give and take. Duels are decidedly more fun and interesting when damage is traded. Keep that in mind when you’re writing your duels!

Description & the Matrix

There is one concept that often gets missed from our Dueling Guide, way down in the last paragraph:
An important thing to remember: the game, its matrix and its list of moves are out-of-character constructs. That means your character has no knowledge of it—to them a duel is an intense sporting match. It also means that, just because you choose a High Cut, your character’s action isn’t limited to a plain old high cut—it can be much more, and can vary significantly in how it’s played with each time you use it, so be creative!

Different characters treat the duels differently --- some treat it as a sports league with regulation as friendly sparring; some treat it as a more rough-and-tumble bloody fighting venue. However your character approaches it, remember that whether you’re a spectator or participant, try to only react to what you see written in description. Matrix moves are not IC.

Ranking Up In-Character

If the matrix is an OOC construct, does that mean that ranks and titles are OOC too? No, not necessarily. Many players treat the ranks, including the standings, as in-character, such that your character may be aware that they are progressing up the standings.

There are many ways to interpret this in-character, such as improving in skill or knowledge like those who study martial arts and receive colored belts based on their progress, or others who see themselves participating in a sports league where the number of wins moves you from one bracket to another, like moving from minor to major league baseball. Others may not even acknowledge the ranking system at all!

However your character interprets it, remember that not all characters think of it in exactly the same way. So, like all things in FFRP, don’t assume how another player experiences the duels. Also, try to never force your character’s view of the duels onto another character’s. If you encounter a conflict, try to write around it as best you can.

Final Tips & Thoughts

Over the many years of dueling, some duelers have adhered to certain conventions when participating in duels. For example, some duelists always allow the player that scored the point to describe the round first. But these conventions are not rules, they’re just helpful ideas traded between players. Like with everything else in FFRP, as long as you approach the duels in a spirit of collaborative writing, you’ll do just fine!

Do you have your own experiences or what you consider best practices that you'd like to share? Feel free to share those here! There's no set way that'll work perfectly for everyone, but tell us what works for you.
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Delahada » Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:35 pm

Eden Parker wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:02 pm
For example, some duelists always allow the player that scored the point to describe the round first.
Oh hey. It's me! Yeah, this is generally how I tend to duel. If my opponent scores against me, I'll always wait to see what they write and send to screen then try to adapt to their line of thinking. Just seems right. After all, they're the one who scored.

Some of my duels are quick back and forth one-line affairs, which is perfectly acceptable. For others I might take the time to elaborate with more in depth narrative, for challenges especially. Depending on who, specifically, I'm dueling can determine how all out I'll go with the violence too.

For instance, everybody knows Mart Diluna is too cute for this world and even the most villainous of villains wouldn't dare hurt him. Sal dueled him recently and was very careful to use a wooden stick and not try to give him a concussion. On the other hand, if Sal's fighting, say, Anubis Karos, that's going to be extremely, gloriously bloody. But here's the kicker. We're always communicating OOCly in DMs and asking if something is okay. There are no actual called shots without player permission first.

In most other circumstances, I'm going to be vague about it. For a high cut I could say Sal rakes his sword toward someone's midsection or shoulder or aims for the neck, but I never say he severed anybody's head. There are any number of ways another person could write it to turn the damage in a completely different direction than slicing open an artery and bleeding to death in the ring. Or they could write that happened if they wanted to be ultra dramatic about it. Entirely up to them!

My two cents tl;dr: Be adaptable, be vague, but most of all be respectful.
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Regina Wellston » Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:52 pm

I love this!! Being one of those 'new to dueling players' I can say that starting was very intimidating especially when trying to follow by just having a character watch duels going along. I am all about learning the correct way or at least the way other people want to go about it so that way it's both a learning experience and fun!

However, I have my own way of dueling. I duel for the RP of it. Yes there is a ranking system (which is fantastic by the way!) but I look at dueling as a way for my character to learn how to fight or how to cast a spell. So I might start one way and then observe the way the other character is reacting and change my way of fighting.

I am always open for messages during the duel though, just to make sure moves are understood and actions are approved. (do not EVER hesitate to send me a message I promise I don't bite!) I like the idea of whoever scores first posts first. It helps guide me into how my character reacts.

I completely appreciate everything everyone does to make the duels available to us and can't wait to get my characters up there with some of you higher ranked ones!

Okay hopping off my soapbox now!
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Kalamere » Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:39 pm

I've always appreciated people waiting for my send when Kal has scored in a duel. For him, DoS is just a way to keep his skills sharp while he's spending time in RhyDin, so he uses the duels for practice and control. To him it's a spar and as such he will never purposefully draw blood. A landed high cut might be a tap on the shoulder or touching the very tip of a dagger to his opponent's chest with a thrust. That gets awkward when his opponents describes the gash he just left in their bicep.

I think one thing to remember is that this can all move pretty fast at times and now and then someone might overstep. It happens and 90% of the time it was an innocent mistake, not someone trying to take liberties. You can correct them and move on. Re-describe the action that just took place to put it in terms of what is OK for you / your character.
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Bailey Raptis » Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:24 pm

I generally follow the convention of "Person who wins the round puts their send in first", but I do occasionally, depending on the move interactions, go first if it's a combo where it's hard for me to picture how the other person/character is going to act/react without having my character's move in first. But I generally try to leave those sorts of moves up in the air in a way that makes it clear that my move has failed and my opponent's move will succeed. And if somebody puts their send in before me when they've lost the round? Eh, I'm not going to sweat it. That's not to mention what to do if it's a null round, a round where everybody scores, or a round where everybody gets advantages. I'm not perfect, but I try to keep my duels as give-and-take things, and try my best not to call shots, though I've almost certainly failed at that in the past (and apologize to anybody I've done that to unfairly).
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Gloria Blaze » Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:58 pm

I've not been big into who posts first as long as the latitude exists for the other person to massage it to their liking. I prefer to use words like *attempts*, *strikes high*, *defends*.

However, I love the dueling strategy and am not a strong writer so always appreciate the understanding if someone likes to be more descriptive than I was. I may not say a lot but you can feel free to say as much or as little as you like. I just don't want my enjoyment of the strategy part of the duel to be crushed because of the roleplay expectations.
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by PrlUnicorn » Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:50 pm

I don't follow the practice of the one that scored goes first. Just makes more sense to me for someone that scored by defending to know what they were up against or getting away from. However, in regulation dueling, I wait until the other person has finished describing their move before sending my next one. Tournaments are often tight on time due to the number of participants.

Unless I'm in a duel against someone whose limits I know, I prefer to use terms like swings at, takes a poke at, etc., when describing moves. That shows where my character is aiming, but leaves the results to the person on the other end. In a high/low exchange for instance, I've used swings up for X's shoulder leaving her lower body open to the incoming attack. What I mean by limits is what I know the player will allow. I've been roleplaying dueling with Tass's player for about two decades at this point, so, I know what the limits are there. We, as a community, don't have that comfort level with everyone else here.

As a distraction, Maggie will sometimes use a Pillsbury Doughboy belly poke.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZSoicC_kC8

Dueling at rank is a term that doesn't compute for my characters. OOC, I know I'm being asked to limit my fancies to the same number the lower rank has. In the IC context, that phrase doesn't make sense to my characters. "Can you go easy on me (or can you cut me a break), I'm new here," that translates to something my characters can grasp. Unlike DoM, where specific spells are limited to Archmage, Mages, Mage Emeriti and Keepers, DoS doesn't have certain moves that are usable only by Overlord, Barons, and Warlords.
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Rachael Blackthorne » Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:02 am

Brace yourselves, Gentle Readers. This will be a long post.

PrlUnicorn wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:50 pm
I don't follow the practice of the one that scored goes first. Just makes more sense to me for someone that scored by defending to know what they were up against or getting away from. However, in regulation dueling, I wait until the other person has finished describing their move before sending my next one. Tournaments are often tight on time due to the number of participants.

It varies in my duels if I send my move's response first or not. There are times, notably in tournaments but sometimes in regulation duels, where two or more moves are resolved quickly in turn. Side note, Matt and I seem to do that a lot, both in regulation and in tournament duels. If there is more than one move in succession, I attempt to combine the actions into one send if possible. My sends are usually not excessively long or short, but I do try to at least indicate the general idea of my actions in them. I try also to keep my input of moves into the bot as fast as possible, even during regulation duels, out of respect for the other player's time.

PrlUnicorn wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:50 pm
Unless I'm in a duel against someone whose limits I know, I prefer to use terms like swings at, takes a poke at, etc., when describing moves. That shows where my character is aiming, but leaves the results to the person on the other end. In a high/low exchange for instance, I've used swings up for X's shoulder leaving her lower body open to the incoming attack. What I mean by limits is what I know the player will allow. I've been roleplaying dueling with Tass's player for about two decades at this point, so, I know what the limits are there. We, as a community, don't have that comfort level with everyone else here.

I am firmly in the camp of phrasing moves in the duels as attempts or with the intent to before the action. There are times when I flub and accidentally call actions on the other dueler without using attempts. However, I still make a very strong effort not to call the results of the actions in terms of damages. I also read what the other dueler sends and if there is something in their action that will cause an effect on mine, I will try to amend my original send with another send to acknowledge said effect in some way.

If a dueler, without behind the scenes permission, calls excessive damage on my character, I will do my best to clarify what truly happened in my next send. If the damage calling continues, I will continue to do my best to clarify what truly happened each and every time that it happens. I will also try to contact the player in DMs and ask them politely not to call damage on my character. If that fails to work, I will do my best to avoid dueling with that player in the future.

Along those lines, I will DM the player if they repeatedly call damage from my actions that clearly would not occur, for example a player stating in their actions that Rachael's clearly worded attempted strike with the flat of her blade makes a deep bloody wound, or other edged weapon damage. For the record, Rachael does not normally draw blood or do other damage with her bladed attacks in swords or magic. If there is an exception to the rule, I will warn the other player in DMs that there is a possibility of it happening. Even with that warning, I still do my best to word the attack as attempts to draw blood, because the other player still has the power to call the amount of damage inflicted on their own character.

PrlUnicorn wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:50 pm
Dueling at rank is a term that doesn't compute for my characters. OOC, I know I'm being asked to limit my fancies to the same number the lower rank has. In the IC context, that phrase doesn't make sense to my characters. "Can you go easy on me (or can you cut me a break), I'm new here," that translates to something my characters can grasp. Unlike DoM, where specific spells are limited to Archmage, Mages, Mage Emeriti and Keepers, DoS doesn't have certain moves that are usable only by Overlord, Barons, and Warlords.

Let me preface this section with a phrase that I do my best to live by, in terms of not only roleplay in general, but dueling especially.

Just because I can do something it does not automatically follow that I should do that thing.

I will also be honest. Seeing the phrase "Duel me at rank." or similar phrases in play sets my teeth on edge for a few reasons.

First, when I started dueling, I never asked my opponents to limit their abilities in our matches. I soon learned by hard experience which duelers liked to fancy bomb and/or otherwise use all the proverbial tools in their toolbox against their opponents to ensure an easy win. As a result, I did my best to avoid facing that kind of dueler when possible. When I was ranking up in Fists, I was advised to only fight those duelers who had my rank or at most one rank above if my Mentor was not present. That is a valid strategy to rank up with, keeping to your rank in terms of dueling, especially back in the days of losses counting. However, I never asked any opponent to "duel at my rank" if only high ranked duelers were around. I merely did not duel that night if that situation occurred.

Secondly, I am not the kind of dueler that normally brings out the full toolbox including the kitchen sink of moves against a new and/or inexperienced dueler to get the quick win at all costs. I remember how I felt when it happened to me (it frankly sucked), and I do not want anyone else to feel that way. However, I do not like effectively having my hands tied if that new and/or inexperienced dueler puts my character in the corner points wise. I will do my best not to fancy/focus/spell bomb the new dueler, but I want to have the option to use what I feel will work in that cornered position. That is why I will not agree either in open play or in DMs to "duel at rank". When recent public complaints have been made about some duelers having other duelers use everything in the toolbox against them, I have made it a point to privately ask those duelers if I have done that to them. I have been told privately each time that no, I had not dumped the toolbox on them.

The third reason is the one why that phrase really sets my teeth on edge. There was a trend some years back where "Duel me at rank." was more commonly used than it is these days. If duelers like me declined openly to fight at rank, other duelers were told in open play to avoid dueling us, not always with those exact words, but that idea was strongly implied, nonetheless. I am very glad that this specific trend has disappeared, but it still left a very sour taste in my mouth.

Teal Deer: I try to keep my sends concise and my move sends to the bot as quick as possible during matches. I do my best to phrase my moves as attempts rather than called actions. I will do my best not to dump the toolbox on a new and/or inexperienced dueler but I reserve the right to use any and/or all of the tools that are available to me if I feel the need to do so in a match.
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Eden Parker » Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:33 pm

It's interesting to me that a couple people pointed out that sometimes taking too much damage can be a called shot. That never really occurred to me as a dueler, so I'll have to pay more attention to it. These conversations are super helpful!

I definitely try to be an attempts sort of person, especially in the physical combat sports: aims at or swings for or reaches towards. With magic, if I win the point, I usually say what my character did and let my opponent react to it in any way they like. That's a little tricky with Eden since her magic is illusory, meaning that she plays with light rather than can affect anything with a physical impact. So I have to try to emphasize that, for example, if she creates her pink sparklies they're going to fade or dissipate in just a few minutes (though I try to leave room if someone wants to be sparkle-covered for an extended period of time).

I'm always open to DMing, especially if you want the outcome to be clear. I feel like sometimes I've been DMed with "Can my character do X?" and I sometimes want to reply, "Your character can try absolutely!" Because I never want to say what your character can and can't do. But I pretty much just assume that if you're DMing me to ask, what you mean is "Will you accept the hit if my character does X?" Which I think is slightly different. I hope that makes sense! Regardless, my DMs are always open.

One thing I don't think hasn't been touched on is that I always try to use present-tense when I describe dueling. I just feel that present-tense lends itself better to attempting things and making necessary adjustments as you go along. Attempt language can still be used in past tense, of course. But somehow it just feels more of the moment to me if I write the duel in present tense. Easier to make mid-duel adjustments.
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Delahada » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:08 pm

re: "Duel At Rank"

Never have I ever asked anyone to duel me at rank, either in character or out of character. And personally, I felt a little offended when people would go ahead and decide for me that they were going to fight me at rank. Meaning: not using their fancies against me, or at least no more than I was capable of using myself. In fact, I always enjoyed the challenge of dueling against someone with more fancies than myself. I felt as if I learned more from that experience. Opened up worlds of possibilities and made me think harder about my own move choices, which made me a better duelist in turn.

Eleven years later I'm finally a Warlord and an Emerald, but I think a lot of that has to do, too, with losses no longer punishing me and making me drop ranks that I had earned. Boy was it a struggle, but I'm happy to be where I am now, and am grateful to everyone who fought me at their own ranks over those years.

That said, I agree with Collie. Any time I see a character, in character, asking mine to "duel me at rank," I roll my eyes. Like Maggie, my character is going to look at yours funny and not know what that means. "Go easy on me" is something my Sal understands, and even without being asked to not use all my fancies I play him as not going full throttle throat-slashing on people he hasn't dueled before anyway. With a few exceptions. Sorry, Conner. >_>

But yes. If you do want me to duel at rank, please do not hesitate to ask. Hit me in those DMs. I don't mind.
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by Jaycy Ashleana » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:59 pm

Delahada wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:08 pm
re: "Duel At Rank"

Never have I ever asked anyone to duel me at rank, either in character or out of character. And personally, I felt a little offended when people would go ahead and decide for me that they were going to fight me at rank. Meaning: not using their fancies against me, or at least no more than I was capable of using myself. In fact, I always enjoyed the challenge of dueling against someone with more fancies than myself. I felt as if I learned more from that experience. Opened up worlds of possibilities and made me think harder about my own move choices, which made me a better duelist in turn.
My memory may be faulty (which is very possible), but I think I vaguely remember that at one point titleholders were required to basically duel at rank (they could only use one more fancy than their opponent). For better or worse, that's a mentality I still generally have today... with a few exceptions. If say, Anubis were a commoner and Jaycy were WL, I'd use them because Jaycy would want to pound him into the dust. If Evil Jaycy duels a commoner, I might be more likely to use 2 fancies above rank but ... the thought of doing it makes me slightly uncomfortable.
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Re: Dueling & You: A Guide to FFRP in the Dueling Format

Post by PrlUnicorn » Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:38 pm

Jaycy Ashleana wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:59 pm

My memory may be faulty (which is very possible), but I think I vaguely remember that at one point titleholders were required to basically duel at rank (they could only use one more fancy than their opponent). For better or worse, that's a mentality I still generally have today... with a few exceptions. If say, Anubis were a commoner and Jaycy were WL, I'd use them because Jaycy would want to pound him into the dust. If Evil Jaycy duels a commoner, I might be more likely to use 2 fancies above rank but ... the thought of doing it makes me slightly uncomfortable.
I don't think your memory is faulty. I remember a point in time when that was a practice. However, I don't remember if it was something written in the rules or if it was something that was an accepted convention. It was sometime after having a couple of Baron characters that I was reading the rules and learned that, in regulation dueling with Warlords, other Barons and the Overlord, a Baron can use all 5 of their fancies.
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