Combat--the fine art of killing things--is the most common way to gain experience, items, and money on the Discworld. In its most basic form, combat is pretty simple--you pick up a weapon, find an NPC, and hit them with it. Unfortunately, this "basic system" is likely to get you killed.
The first thing a new player should know about fighting is that you Pick On Things Your Own Size. A new character can find decent weapons and armour, but still has practically zero skills. He's not going to be able to fight even a child with a guarantee of success; larger things will likely squash him outright.
This is where the consider command comes in. It measures your strength-- based on your held weapons, worn armour, and hit points--and compares it to your target. A new player will find that he is roughly as strong as squirrels, rats and cockroaches.
Advancing your fighting skills will let you fight tougher foes successfully. For melee-friendly classes, like warriors, assassins, and, to a lesser extent, thieves, can be done relatively easily; you simply find an NPC trainer and advance your combat-related skills, as explained in Introduction to Skills. It's important to advance the skills you actually use; fighting.melee.dagger only helps when you're holding a dagger.
To start fighting something, there are two syntaxes you can use:
kill <living> attack <living>
You can use either one with multiple targets; e.g., "kill bodyguards", "kill all" (not recommended), "kill all except pets", etc.
To stop fighting something, you can "stop fighting". This has somewhat limited use, since it does not stop things from fighting you (they will still attack you if you go back into the room with them).
The command "score fighting" will tell you whether you are currently in combat with anything.
More HP for Me
You start off with 500 hp, or hit points. That's dangerously low.
You lose hp when successfully attacked and you will die when you lose all of your hp. Attacks that do hundreds of hit points in one hit are VERY common.
Once you join a guild, you can advance adventuring.health to 25 in the guild. This will boost your maximum hp to roughly 1300. You'll want more hp later but, for now, the extra 800 hit points will provide you a much needed safety buffer.
While some players opt to engage in physical combat with their hands and feet, the vast majority prefer the use of martial (or, occasionally, marital) weapons.
Lighter weapons tend to be faster, but do less damage; the opposite is also true for their heavy counterparts. The real factor affecting a weapon's effectiveness, though, is the player holding it. A warrior with a 500 bonus in fighting.melee.dagger will be more effective with a dull butterknife than a brand-new player struggling to hold a Holy Blade of Soyin. Don't try to find the BESTEST WEAPON EVARR until you're more experienced; for now, choose a weapon you seem comfortable with.
Armour, unlike weapons, does not rely on a player's skill to perform its function. A level 300 warrior wearing a steel breastplate is just as protected as a newbie wearing the same equipment.
The most important things to remember about armour, as a newbie, are:
- Protect your vitals. On Discworld, this means primarily your neck, head, and chest (in that order).
- Watch your burden. Some armour is good; too much, however, can be disastrous. Acceptable burden for a dodge user is roughly 10-15 percent; a parry-based player can often get away with as much as 35% burden. In any case, don't let your burden climb past 50%; at that point, your abilities will start to be crippled by the weight.
- This isn't Dungeons and Dragons. All guilds are allowed to wear armour, so feel free to put on a breastplate, even if you're a wizard.
Magic and Faith
The magic and faith-based classes may also advance their combat skills at their trainers, though to a much more limited extent. Their real strength lies, of course, in their own Guild's areas of expertise. For example:
Priests have, depending on their chosen god, access to a variety of helpful rituals. All Gods grant the Totem ritual, which summons a small supernatural being to the Priest's side. This being will throw itself in the way of most oncoming attacks, until it dies. While the Totem creature will attack foes, its offensive ability is severely limited. The totem's strength may be increased, however, by advancing the skill, faith.rituals.miscellaneous.target.
Rituals like these do not (usually) change a Priest's physical strength; nor will Spells normally alter the physical power of a Wizard or Witch. Nevertheless, these powers will greatly increase an arcane player's ability to defend him (or her) self and inflict mortal injury upon those foolish enough to harass them.
Like more direct combat-based methods, spells and rituals may be strengthened by advancing the relevant skills.
AP or R.I.P.
Everyone in combat needs action points to make attacks or defend against attacks. The MUD will never display the action points but you can see the results.
For a newbie, the most important parts are:
- Every time you do an action in combat: attack, dodge, parry, stand up after being tripped, etc., you spend Action Points.
- If you are too busy defending, you will rarely, if ever attack. When greatly outnumbered, you won't even be able to try to defend against all of the attacks. This can make fighting multiple opponents a fatal situation.
- Don't "kill all" as a newbie. You don't want to be outnumbered.
- Be careful when an NPC is in a room with potential allies. One little old lady may seem killable. She'll be a much tougher foe once her friends join the fight.
- Overwhelming a foe with attacks can work in your advantage.
- Group with friends and you can outnumber the NPCs.
- Some spells and rituals create NPCs that fight with you. A priest can outnumber foes using summoned allies.
- Picking a faster weapon, like daggers, can reduce the number of attacks a weak target makes--they'll be busy dodging your attacks.
- You can increase your speed in combat by advancing
- the relevant fighting.defense.* skill(s)
- the relevant fighting.melee.* skill(s)
Know when to run
If you're in a fight and taking the worst of it, run. The more hurt you are, the worse you are at combat--so get out of there before you die!
Many NPCs will try to follow you somewhat. Moving two rooms has a decent chance of losing them. More distance is better, as NPCs may wander around. If they wander into your room while they're still upset with you, they'll attack you on sight.
(Some NPCs are much more aggressive at chasing and can use pursue. These NPCs tend to be much too tough for newbies to fight.)