This section is for those wishing to engage in the combat related areas of the Disc. It will describe covert combat, and also the more widely used overt combat. It will also attempt to educate the reader rather than instruct.
Combat for beginners
Combat on Discworld is the most efficient form of Xp farming, there are other ways to gain smaller amounts of Xp, such as writing for the newspapers, or executing several commands for extended periods of time. But if you want lots of Xps, the only way is to farm. Now, by farming I (we) mean going around areas on the Disc killing and maiming the locals. Oldbies call it farming, the rest of the disc seems to call it harvesting or hunting, generally because of the large numbers of casualties. I'm not going to reveal too many secrets of combat in this section, but below are the covert and overt fighting type commands we have. I'd prefer that you experimented yourself to find things out, because being spoonfed information doesn't exercise the brain...;)
When beginning combat, it's a good idea to "consider" the NPC you're about to attack, it'll give you a rough idea how good the NPC. But remember that consider only takes weapons and armour, plus some combat skills into account. Not other things like covert, magic or faith, so you still need to use your eyes and intuition to see if it's safe. On Discworld, we also have something called "wimpy", which is a very useful command. It allows you to set your character to run away at a given amount of Hit Points. So for example, you have 1000 Hps, you've set your wimpy to 20%, this means if an NPC hits you down to 200hps, you'll run away. This is there to help with lag and link deaths, but also remember that some NPCs follow you, even if you wimpy. You will wimpy back into the room you originally came from, and there is a limit of 30% to wimpy to stop its abuse in combat. Please also note that being heavily injured in combat can reduce your movement speed by upto 50%.
When you want to try out your first NPCs, try to stay within the area of either your guild, or the point at which you entered the Disc. Generally the NPCs there will be quite easy, although this is not true of Counter-Weight Continent (CWC) and many rural areas. Ankh-Morpork (AM) offers the easiest NPCs for the newbie, with CWC coming close behind. AM is a nice area to begin in also, since it's been the starting area for newbies since the game began, and the ability to start in other cities is new, so they're still catching up. If you use the consider command, and combine it with a little common sense, you should remain safe. I.e., if an Imperial Guard is there, he's probably quite a tough guy, so don't try it on him, likewise with giant spiders and shades NPCs (if you've read the books you should know them).
Some other minor information would be to look at your stats, then check your burden. If you look in your score you'll see something like "You are unburdened (13%) and feeling quite comfortable." This means the weight you're carrying isn't affecting your abilities, once this gets to 50% you'll notice your dexterity will drop and so shall your skills, the more burden over 50% you go, the more you lose. The quite comfortable part is referring to how you "feel" in your environment. The Discworld uses a temperature system on it to simulate the weather effects, such as rain making you wet and cold, searing sunlight makes you hot and sweaty etc. If you sway too much from the norm, you'll find yourself losing stats, passing out or even the rumours of possible death by heatstroke or hypothermia. This is affected by the clothes or armour you wear mainly, so if you're in a desert, it makes sense to not wear tons of heavy woollen clothing, but something thin and lightweight.
Lets begin with commands that you can open combat with. You can open combat normally with the 'kill' command. This command represents you preparing for combat and then after a couple of seconds engaging the enemy. This is the simplest form.
Next you can move onto the more aggressive and damaging opening attacks. These would be backstab and ambush. Backstab involves you sneaking up on the enemy and attacking them covertly, thus with the element of suprise you can inflict some severe damage in a single opening round of combat. With some good high skills you can achieve 2500hps of damage with the correct setup (see advanced combat). There are various rumours floating around of the skills used, but the most common seems to be intially a co.st.** check against the targets' ot.pe, which will then enable you to move to the next series of checks. To hit the opponent, this again is rumoured, to be melee with a small component of co.it.we to hit, judged against the fi.de.** of the enemy. There are other factors involved in this process (see advanced combat). There is also a 'shock' aspect to backstab, this is a random stat drop for the enemy depending on the difference in your co.it.we and their ot.pe. Moving onto ambush. This command works in a similar manner, with similar checks and variances in the environment. The main differences are you need to setup the ambush with the target needing to walk into your room, and there is no shock effect. With a good setup, people have been known to achieve 4000hp ambushes.
Now, once you're in combat you have a whole plethora of commands at your disposal. Depending on the weapon and skill you use, you can use commands to execute special more damaging attacks. These range from hack and chop for axe weapons, stab and pierce for stabbing weapons, bash and smash for blunt weapons, and slice and slash for slashing type weapons. They're all basically the same commands, just some are tuned for lighter weapons, and some for heavier. They all use the same gp cost, but only certain weapons have certain commands. You can see how good a weapon is and what commands you can use with it by using the judge command on them. Commands are basically measured on your chosen melee against the enemies fi.de.** and require some fi.sp.we to use. A good special can reach 1500hp damage. Specials are more easily avoided than normal hits however. There are additional commands out there designed to hinder or distract your opponent. These are trip, shove, beat and feint. Trip and shove will enable you to do just that, trip and shove your opponent onto the floor, thus giving you time to get stuck in and give them a quick special if you time it right. The strength of trip and shove is based on your grappling against the defence skill, and takes fi.sp.un to use. Feint is meant to make your opponent think you're about to perform a move, but are not, thus distracting him or her from combat. Beat knocks a weapon aside so you can step in and make another attack. Beat and feint both use fi.sp.we.
Now we come to the more specialised commands. These are abscond, Iai and riposte. Abscond is a covert form of retreating, you'll dodge (not parry) by an opponents attack and roll out of a preselected exit. You can abscond straight into hiding, ambush or just into the open. This is a very handy command for nipping away on low Hps to setup an ambush if you know you can't fight toe to toe with someone. Iai is an opening attack with a sheathed bladed weapon. You need one hand free and you'll whip out the weapon and lunge straight at the target.
First off before combat, you may need to disable the enemy first how. This can be easily achieved by removing their weapons or some components of spells or rituals. To this end, you have steal, snatch and filch at your disposal. Steal is the most basic of the commands and enables you to steal from the carried inventory and purse only. Snatch lets you snatch anything not worn but isn't a covert command as you're blatantly pulling a snatch and grab job. Filch is a more in depth command and this is your real power. It allows you to steal anything you can see, plus anything you can see in a container. So I can covertly steal someone's weapon, their carried tea bottle, and backup weapons in their backpack before they knew what was happening. You can 'rifle' containers to see what's in them. Steal and filch both use co.ma.stealing against ot.pe with various external effects (see advanced combat) and snatch uses co.ma.st against the targets fi.un.grappling skill with the same modifiers.
Obviously to a thief, staying hidden is a must, and for this you have the hide and sneak commands. Hide will make you invisible to anyone with less ot.pe than your co.hi.pe, with a few modifiers for light around you. Obviously carrying a light source on you will make you obvious to anyone nearby so do try and avoid this. Sneak allows you to move stealthily from place to place, this is based on your co.st.** skill, depending on where you are sneaking. The same checks apply to sneaking as with hide. Do be aware even if you can sneak into a room undetected, once you stop moving you're hiding. So if your co.hi.pe is lower than your co.st.** they may not see you enter, but if they type 'look' they may be able to see you. You also have unhide, which is a stealthy way to come out of hiding based on your co.st.**. Or you can simple 'hide stop'
You have commands to keep your visible inventory in concealed too, cunningly this command is called conceal, and the command to stop concealing items is unconceal. This uses your co.hi.ob against the viewers' ot.pe. A heavier item is harder to conceal. This command is handy for carrying items you'll need in a hurry or don't want someone to see.
You also have commands to covertly give things to people, these are named slip and plant. The former is covert, but not particularly so while the latter is totally covert. You can use this to filch someone's healing tea bottle and replace it with a bottle of poison, or something. ;)
Finally we have peek. I always use peek, and haven't used look in years. This allows you to look at someone covertly and to look at objects within them covertly too. Combine this with rifle and you can pretty much scan through a lot of someone's inventory without them knowing at all.
These are the basics to beginners combat and how to use commands intially. There are helpfiles in the helpfile link with syntaxes to the commands and more about required skills and such, while the commands link tells you the skills needed to get the commands.