Combat HOWTO

Revision History
Revision v119 August 2003Revised by:
User contributed documentation.

The RTFM Combat system of Icesus has been under development since 1996. During that time it has been rewritten twice, and it has also grown to be quite complex to offer lots of challanges for experienced players, but yet easy enough for newbies.

This document covers all the important areas of the battle. You should at least browse this document through, as the playing will be much easier when you know how to fight well.


Basic Terms

Hit Points

Hit points represent the vitality and constitution of the character. All hits cause damage, and reduce hit points. When hit point drop to zero, the character dies. If the hit points drop very low, the character will usually fall unconscious before bleeding to death. The larger races are naturally more resilient, and have generally more hit points than the smaller ones.

To get constant updates on your health, turn the HP monitor on by typing 'mon on'. You can also set the monitor to report your shape to all other members of your party, by typing 'mon party'. Also adjusting your prompt with the 'prompt' command can help you to know your shape.

Also knowing the shape of the opponent is very important, as it's difficult to use the 'look' command all the time, you can use the 'shape' command. There is a global alias for shape, just type 'x' while in combat. If you are fighting multiple opponents, you can check them all by 'shape all', and if you need to see also the shape of the players in the room, as well as non-combatants, try 'shape livings'


Endurance Points

Endurance points represents the determination and physical prowess of the character, and his resistance to exhaustion. They are used in combat, and especially for combat maneuvers. Hard hits will also somewhat reduce endurance points. If the endurance points drop to zero, the character is totally exhausted, and takes damage from moving. This is dangerous, and any character whose endurance points are below zero can get a heart-attack and die instantly if engaged in tiring activity.


Spell Points

Spell points represent the characters knowledge and control of magical forces. They are used to cast spells. If they drop very low, the character is mentally exhausted, and his endurance, strength, hit point and endurance point maximums are reduced, which can prove to be quite fatal.


Healing, Regenerating Lost Points

Regaining hitpoints, endurance points and spell points is easy, simply remain in one place and rest. Camp fires and sleeping greatly boost the regeneration process. The more hurt you are, the slower you heal. Therefore, it is generally a good idea to flee from combat before your hit points drop below one third of your maximum. Building a camp for resting enhances the effects of sleeping. Of course, a friendly air-priest is the fastest way to regain lost hp and ep. There is also a skill 'resist exhaustion', which increases ep-regeneration and increases endurance-point maximum.


Equipment in Icesus

The better material and quality, the better the item is. The materials differ quite much in weight and price, the more expensive materials being usually the better. Use the command 'help materials' to find out more about the effect of the different materials, but most should be quite easily deducted.


Weapons

Lighter and smaller weapons are faster , but heavier and larger weapons do much more damage. Heavier weapons hit harder but slower, so it is up to each player to decide whether to use large or small weapons; larger races tend to use larger weapons, the biggest ones even use greatswords one-handed. However, balance is usually the key here.

It is a good idea to use one weapon for offense and a shield for defense, or two offensive weapons if you think you can take a few hard hits and still fight effectively.


Armours

There are many kinds of armour in Icesus. Armours are divided into three different classes depending on their weight and encumbrance. These categories are light, medium and heavy armours.


Light Armour

Light armour is used by those who prefer ease of movement and speed over protection. Generally, the protection it offers is not very good, but even the lightest armour is better than no armour at all. The best material for light armours is chitinium silk, but it is very, very expensive.


Medium Armour

Medium armour is the most commonly used form of protection in Icesus. While it is somewhat heavier than light armour, it offers much better protection. It is still much cheaper than heavy armour, and quite much lighter. It is a good compromise between protection and offensive power.


Heavy Armour

Heavy armour is the ultimate form of protection in Icesus, usually made of metal plates. It is, however, very heavy, hot and cumbersome to wear, resulting penalties for attacking. Therefore, only the stronger and more experienced fighters usually use this kind of armour. It is also very expensive, and therefore quite rare.


Quality

The better material and quality, the better protection the armour offers. The most important hit locations/slots to be protected are head and neck, torso, and for the taller races the legs. Use the command 'slots' to find out how well protected your hit locations are. 'Help adjectives' gives you the order of the adjectives used to describe the protection value, as well as other statistics.


Damage to equipment

One of the newer additions to the system is eqdamage. If you are hit hard, regardless of the source of the damage, your equipment may get damaged. Only spells and area-effects can damage non-hit-slot equipment. Marking a piece of equipment for you greatly reduces the chances of eqdamage. Naturally, the better quality and material, the less likely the equipment is to get damaged - so a set of fine steel full plate armours should last years before getting damaged so much that it is no longer usable. Check out 'help eqdamage' for further details.


How to Prepare for Combat

The first thing to do is acquire weapons and armour. Most characters begin with some cheap equipment, and have a meager sum of money to purchase more. In order to actually benefit from the equipment, it must be worn or wielded. The command 'wear <item>' is used to wear any sort of armour, and the command 'wield <item>' is used to wield weapons. If you have many pieces of armour, the quickest way to wear them all is, quite logically, the command 'wear all'.

Weapons can be wielded in one or two hands, and two weapons can be wielded simultaneously if both are wielded one-handed. Of course, if your character has more than two hands, even more weapons can be used. Using a weapon two-handed makes the grip much stronger, preventing fumbles and therefore the weapon will not be dropped as often as usual. Wielding large weapons in two hands makes them also slightly more manageable, and enables smaller characters to use large weapons more efficiently.

The use of these commands is simple, for example in order to wear a helmet, simply type 'wear helmet'; it is automatically worn in the correct hit location. If you wish to wield a weapon in two hands, type 'wield <item> in right hand,left hand.


Starting Combat

Combat is very easy to start, simply type 'kill <monster>. Some monsters are already aggressive towards you and will attack anyone they encounter, starting combat immediately. Generally, it is a good idea to start a combat maneuver immediately in the beginning of the combat, unless you lack the required endurance points, or expect the battle to last for a long time.


Fleeing

Fleeing from combat is not that easy. You should consider getting away from battle before your shape drops to bad, or even earlier if your opponent uses large, hard hitting weapons, or casts spells.

The speed of fleeing depends on the skill controlled retreat, and simply on your luck. However, if you are in party, the leader's skill and leadership ability, if the leader is human, replace your own skills. Rangers, being masters of the wilds, get skill 'wilderness retreat' to help them in the outworld.

While fleeing from combat, the character stops concentrating on all skills and combat maneuvers, and forgets about attacking. Meanwhile, the enemy continues with its combat normally, usually scoring a few well-placed hits before you can get away. Therefore, it is usually a good idea to switch your combat points toward defensive actions as much as possible while fleeing. The use of combat points is explained later.


Wimpy

Wimpy is the measure of the amount of danger you wish to encounter. The lower this is set, the longer the character will stay in combat before trying to flee automatically, regardless of the controlling player's actions and wishes. For beginning characters, wimpy should be set quite high, unless you wish to experience death quite often. The command is simple to use, just type 'wimpy <level>', where level is one of:

offvery very lowvery lowlow
normalhighvery high 

Setting wimpy is also a very good insurance if your connection is not perfect.


Combat Points

Icesus uses a combat system called RTFM, meaning Realistic Time Fragment Management. Each character starts with about 80 combat points. Combat points are divided between attack, defense and spellcasting. The points are assigned using the command 'battle -a <offense>,<defense>,<casting>', where offense, defense and casting are numbers up to the personal maximum. Simply typing battle shows you your current spread of combat points, the maximums that can be assigned to each category, as well as your current combat style, explained later. With experience, and as your mental statistics rise, you gain more and more combat points.

The more you assign points to attacking, the faster and the more you have chances to attack. The more you assign points to defense, the better is your chance to avoid blows, because without sufficient amount of combat points in defense, you cannot react fast enough to defend against all attacks. Even with full defense combat points, not all attacks can be avoided if they occur very close to each other. And finally, the more points you assign to spellcasting, the faster is your casting rate.

You can increase the number of combat points you can assign to the different actions by training in certain skills and raising your wisdom and intelligence. These skills are concentrated attack, concentrated defence and concentrated spellcasting.

TipHint
 

To quickly change your battle assignments, use the following commands:

'battle -a offence'
'battle -a defence'
'battle -a casting'
		

See also: 'help combat', 'battle help assign', 'help points'


Basic Melee Skills

Offensive Skills

Melee is, as the name implies, the basic melee combat skill. It is the base for all combat, and should be trained as much as possible. The higher the skill, the more proficient the character is in melee combat.

The next stage of weapon skills are the weapon group skills, representing the different construction of weapons, and their different way of dealing out destruction. There are three different weapon group skills, bludgeoning weapons, piercing weapons and slashing weapons.

Bludgeoning weapons are blunt and crush the enemies, while piercing weapons have sharp points to pierce enemies. Naturally, slashing weapons have sharp edges that cut the enemy into small pieces. These skills represent more refined knowledge of combat than the basic melee skill. Bludgeoning weapons are easy to use and because shields are also bludgeoning, this skill is quite valuable for newly created inexperienced characters.

The final stage of weapon mastery are the individual weapon type skills. These skills, for example swords skill, enable the character to use the weapons even more efficiently and increase hit chances and damage. Most characters should concentrate on a few weapons to master, for these skills are quite expensive.


Combat and Hit Styles

Combat styles are the finer things in battle. They represent a more sophisticated approach to combat, enabling a character to concentrate on more essential parts of battle while sacrificing others. 'Help combat styles' lists all the available combat styles, but you must have the skill for a particular combat style for it to be of any use. All offensive combat styles increase some offensive capabilities, while defensive styles enhance defense. Most combat styles have certain hit styles that are used specifically with them, further enhancing the combat prowess of the character by allowing them to make extra attacks.

Use the command 'help combat styles' to list combat styles and correct hit styles to use with them. You don't have to remember the combinations to use them, but the list gives you an idea of what skills might be important to you.


Battle Strategies

Battle strategies are the final group of skills a character must master in order to achieve the full competence in battle. The strategies greatly enhance the appropriate combat styles, increasing effectiveness of melee skills and increase damage. A character who knows battle strategies has great knowledge of battle, and is a very dangerous opponent.


Defensive Skills

There are far fewer defensive skills available than offensive skills. The most important and effective ones are dodge, avoid hits, shield parry and weapon parry. Elite infantry and other higher level characters can train other, more effective methods of defense, but dodge and avoid hits are available to most characters, and can easily save your life.

The difference between parrying and dodging is naturally the fact that in order to parry, you need to wield a weapon. Parrying hits completely is hard, and depends on your weapon/shield parry skill. Even with low skill it is possible to parry many hits, but only partially. Avoid hits, on the other hand, always affects the enemies' chances to hit you, and sometimes you can wholly avoid the the hits with dodge. Note, that the amount of carried weight and your combat points greatly affect these skills.

Some more advanced defensive skills include block, which is a last minute effort to reduce the damage that you receive by putting a weapon in the path of the attack. This, however does not stop the attack, but simply reduces the damage the hit causes. The skill avoid hits is quite similar to dodge, gut it requires more wisdom than physical capabilities, and makes you a harder target overall.

Other fairly important defensive skills are determination and contact reflexes. Determination lets you ignore the pain of those really hard hits cause, preventing you from getting stunned. Contact reflexes enable you to reduce the actual damage from those hits by bending with them. Finally, Combat Sense affects all aspects of combat, including your defense.


Important Melee Skill List

Here is a short list of the most important melee skills:

  • The basic skill: Melee

  • Weapon Groups: Bludgeoning weapons, Piercing weapons, Slashing weapons

  • Weapons: Axes, Hammers, Shields, Swords, Spears

  • Basic Combat Styles: Defensive, Offensive

  • Basic hit Styles: Swing, Cleave, Thrust, Pierce, Flail

  • Battle Strategies: Offensive battle strategy, Defensive battle strategy

  • Defensive Skills: Dodge , Avoid Hits, Weapon Parry, Shield Parry, Block, Determination, Contact Reflexes, Combat Sense


Combat Maneuvers

These skills represent the finer details of combat skills. With experience the characters learn new ways of killing and maiming their opponents. The maneuvers range from simple kicks to the highly dangerous 'blow of justice' and 'strike'. Different guilds offer different choices. All combat maneuvers are used with the command 'use <maneuver> <at target>', for example 'use kick at dragon'.

Using the maneuvers takes Endurance points. Once the points drop below the cost of the maneuver, it can no longer be used, for the character is far too tired.


Effects of Load

As can realistically assumed, the more and the heavier equipment you carry around, the more it restricts your combat potential. Also, carrying hundreds of kilograms of weight around tires even the strongest person quite fast. Therefore, it is advised that the less weight you carry, the better. Heavy load has quite drastic effects on the effectiveness of dodge and other valuable skills, and causes severe fatigue in combat. The fatigue reduces endurance points quite fast if your load is heavy.


Effects of Statistics (stats)

The higher the statistics are, the more effective the skills are. Some skills have also minimum statistic requirements for higher levels of the skill. So, even if you have reached the maximum level for a skill, you can still be more effective if you train the stats that affect it.

The physical statistics are very important in both melee and missile combat. Increased constitution gives better resistance to stunning and more hit points, higher strength means greater damage, faster and more accurate hits with big weapons and affects the size of the weapons you can effectively wield. Dexterity affects greatly the effectiveness of your defence, as well as the speed and accuracy of your attacks.

Use 'help stats' to find out more about statistics, and 'help skill <skill>' to find out which statistics influence which skills.


Effects of Hits and Damage

Normal hits cause damage, reducing hit points and sometimes endurance points. Heavier and critical hits can cause stuns, making the character much less effective in combat, and bleeding wounds that cause damage a long time. Being in bad shape also lowers your combat efficiency. Stunned characters also wander around aimlessly, movement while stunned is random. Therefore, if possible, try to stay in one place so that you do not get hopelessly lost. Training Determination helps you to avoid stuns.

It is possible to treat bleeding wounds with the first aid talent. By using it with a bandage (or cloth armour) can end the bleeding before it causes more damage. Because you do not regenerate while wounded, it is generally a good idea to carry around a few sets of bandages, just in case.

Finally, if you fall unconscious in combat, you are as good as dead unless you are in party and your comrades drag you away from the battlefield before you are slaughtered. This happens when your hit points are very near zero; this can happen even if you are not in combat due to bleeding wounds. Helping unconscious players is done with the revive talent, which can be only used on other players. Therefore, do not hesitate to flee; it is far easier to return to kill your enemies later if you live. The command 'drag <player>' is used to drag someone or something you cannot carry.


Ranged Combat

Missile weapons

Melee is not the only way to kill enemies, also missile weapons can be used. However, since the system is quite complicated and takes time to learn, and no starting character can be even a decent archer, this part of the combat system is not discussed here.


Throwing

You can throw objects at your opponents, trying to cause damage. Only skilled characters, who have specialized in throwing can do this effectively, though. To throw items, use the 'throw <item>' command. The skill throwing naturally helps you in scoring hits.


Spells

Various guilds teach spells, that can be used to harm the opponent. Mages are known to posses the most destructive powers of all.


Parties

Parties are an extremely important part of Icesus. A single player character simply cannot hope to survive alone. Parties give even the most newbie players a chance to safely explore the world, and gain some experience and valuable equipment. If you need or want to join a party, simply ask for party on the channel wanted. You can also try using the command 'tell' to tell some specific individual that you would like to join the forces. Anyone can create and lead a party, but more experienced players usually do a much better job than the newbies.

TipHint
 

'help party' command gives you the general party commands.


The Advantages of Partying

For the beginning characters, partying offers an easy way to survive and get experience. However, the main advantage a party has over a single adventurer, is the fact that a single enemy cannot hope to defend against all attacks from two or more opponents. Therefore, a party has much better chances of killing dangerous creatures than the a single character. The enemy must divide its actions between all the members of the party, and therefore the individual damage the characters receive is quite a bit less than if each of the characters fought the enemy alone. Also, the enemy can only attack a certain number of times per combat round, therefore it is not as difficult to defend against them.

Finally, because the enemy can only attack members of the front row of the party, unless it can cast spell or has special attacks, the spell-casters and healers are usually fairly safe from the physical damage of the enemy.


Formation of Parties

Each party can have up to nine members, three in each row. Most parties have one or more combat-orientated characters, known as tanks, to soak up damage and make physical attacks against enemies. They make up the front row of most, if not all, parties. All characters not wishing to be attacked directly by the enemy better stay behind the tanks.

The second row is usually reserved for healers, or priests of air, who try to heal the first row and keep the tanks alive. If there is room, archers, throwers and blasters, meaning mages, fill up the second row. Usually they stay in the third row, just to be on the safe side.


Party Shares

Not everyone is equal in Icesus, and the experience the party acquires is not divided equally amount the members. The more experienced characters take the majority, but even the most inexperienced characters do get some, even if partying with the most experienced characters. Also the charisma affects party share.


Leadership

The more skilled and charismatic the party leader is, the more effectively he leads the parties. The leader gets extra experience for his troubles, and if he is good enough, all others can also gain some bonus experience. Also, the leader is the one who decides when and how to flee from combat, and his skills therefore replace all other characters' skills and abilities while partying.


Help Documents

If this basic document is not enough to satisfy your lust for knowledge, just log in to Icesus and use the help documents: 'help battle', 'help combat', 'help skill <skill>'. That way you can gain all the knowledge that is available. Of course, most of those documents are available online. And if you have any trouble starting, just use 'help newbie'. Hope you enjoy Icesus!


List of Useful Commands

This is only a short list of the most common combat-orientated commands:

  • kill <monster>

  • wear <armour>

  • wield <weapon>

  • mon <on|off>

  • shape (x)

  • battle

  • slots

  • battle -a

  • battle -c

  • battle -m <maneuver> (use <maneuver>)

  • help topics

  • help newbie

  • help adjectives

  • help points

  • help stats

  • help commands

  • help <command>

  • help skills

  • help skill <skillname>

  • battle help <topic>

Final tip; it might be useful to use the 'alias' command for some of the combat maneuvers and to ease the switch between different battle settings.


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Last modified: 2005-12-22 13:12:23