You don't need to know a lot about combat to start. You can expect from combat that it may be gritty and consequential. Wound recovery can be an ordeal. The city guard might try to arrest you for instigating a fight. You may become permanently handicapped or suffer complications due to improper care of your injuries. However, combat can also be a great story tool and a lot of fun!
When you want to fight someone, you can enter FIGHT <person>. If you'd like to be more specific, you can select a specific move, a body part to target, and even write an emote that will go with the attack.
An example is:
>punch <person> in the face emote screams, "You killed Fenny, you bastards!" and launches a fist towards $person's face.
Checking COMBAT MOVES in the game will show you what moves might be available to you. Wielding a sword will give you basic SLASH moves, while a hammer will give you BASH. You can WHACK with anything you might have wielded, such as a frying pan or a book. Learning more skills and having abilities will give you more moves that you can do in combat.
Dealing with roundtime is different in a fight, as even actions that don't take balance outside of a fight will now need to wait or be delayed. Outside of a fight, it doesn't matter that you want to go sit at the bar, so you can go and do that without any concern. However, if you are in a fight, the bar might be a strategic location. So it will take roundtime to go from where you are to the bar.
When you attempt to do something, it will cost roundtime, and that is often dependent on your stats and skills. You will be unable to complete another action until your roundtime ends. The command will inform you that you will do that thing "next time you get the chance". If you change your mind, you can always input a different command and that will be done next time you get a chance, instead.
A great deal of combat strategy comes in the preparation for a fight. If you're planning to ambush your nemesis, there's a lot you can do beforehand to sway things in your favor. When it comes to the environment of an altercation, there are many things to be considered. But once you're already in a fight, there's still plenty to think about.
Your combat situation includes various vital factors such as fatigue, blood loss, and willpower, as well as your position in the room. You can see these, in or out of a fight, by typing COMBAT or HEALTH.
------------------- COMBAT SITUATION ---------------------- You are empty-handed, standing beside the general area. You are not involved currently in any physical altercation. Pulse: normal |++++++++++++--------| (safe) Blood: normal |++++++++++++++++++++| (safe) Breath: fine |++++++++++++++++++++| (safe) Willpower: good |++++++++++++++++++++| (safe) Poise: perfect |++++++++++++++++++++| (safe) Fatigue: fresh |--------------------| (fine) Trauma: top shape |--------------------| (fine) You are: conscious. You have no wounds. -----------------------------------------------------------
Different moves during a fight will have different effects on these vital factors. Getting hit or hitting others will increase your pulse, and different combat stances or move choices will help you manage your status. Sustaining injuries will affect your trauma level, and losing blood volume can eventually lead to unconsciousness. Your proximity to an opponent will help determine some of the moves you can do, as well as modifying their efficacy. You can attempt to move an opponent around, between places in a room, or between rooms themselves, in order to adjust your advantage, utilize ranged skillsets, or function as a team with your friends.
If you don't really want to think about all of this, you don't have to. You can set your combat tendency to handle many of your combat actions for you. Although the default tendency is "measured," which means that no action is undertaken automatically in a battle, you have the option of changing the setting to automate the moves you make in combat.
|Measured||All combat moves are entered by the player; no moves are made automatically. This is the default combat tendency for players.|
|Fight||You will automatically attack your opponent, and pursue them across short tactical distances (between places in a room or within immediate line of sight).|
|Flee||You will automatically do your best to break out of combat and run away.|
|Freeze||You will automatically go stock-still, neither attacking nor defending.|
The stance you're in is very impactful in terms of modifying your attack speed, poise, damage, and accuracy. While a weapon impacts these things as well, a defensive stance can mean the difference between getting struck a fatal blow by the aforementioned axeman or evading axe-strikes until the axeman tires, stumbles, and falls.
|Balanced||The default stance, with equally balanced combat factors.||0||0||0||0||0|
|Pacifist||A non-violent stance that strongly favors defense and attempts to minimize harm to others.||+ + + +||+ + +||+ +||- -||0|
|Defensive||Increases defenses at the expense of speed and strength, while also slightly boosting accuracy.||+||+||-||-||+|
|Aggressive||An offensive stance that increases attack speed and strength at the expense of defense.||- -||-||+||+||0|
|Frantic||Sacrifices dodge and parry for substantially increased strength. Can hit twice as hard if an attack lands, but is slightly less accurate overall.||- - - -||- - - -||+ + +||+ + + +||-|
|Stoic||Entirely gives up dodging and parrying, greatly increasing strength and accuracy instead. Ideal for heavily armored individuals.||N/A||N/A||0||+ + + +||+ + + +|
Combat ends if everyone involved either elects to STOP, FLEE, or is rendered unconscious. When you are choosing moves automatically due to your combat tendency being fixed to something other than the "measured" setting, you will try to stop when you no longer have any moves available. This could be because your axe-wielding arm has been damaged, or because your target has fled and nobody else is attacking you, or because you were knocked down with a broken leg and can't get back up, or for a variety of other reasons.
Remember that this is a game with the principal goal of story. Whenever something momentous happens in combat, a pause will ensue that allows players to write thoughtful roleplay emotes or consider what their characters' next move might be. This pause is not time for a monologue, and you should emote as if the fight is in progress. It's only to give you time to process and contribute to the story of the fight, because that's what we hold as important.