User:Kimo/unarmed notes

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welcome to unarmed, arguably (see misc) the weirdest and most neglected and maligned but secretly most dynamic spec on the disc! ready to stay behind the damage curve but in a fun and rewarding if slightly punishing way?

read me

  • tl;dr you don't do as much damage as weapon-wielders but you're very fast. hitting stuff hurts your hands but there are ways to mitigate that. you don't have many unarmed toy/aid options! and that's kind of a shame but you may find you like one of them anyway or opt for none at all. you might not be able to solo things other players can at similar low or mid levels, but you'll be able to get loot just fine and grouping can supply all the ridiculous xp you might want.
  • read other newbie material first this is not a substitute for the basics. you're still going to need those. i've live linked a lot of stuff- read all of it. see:
  • use at your own risk: this is currently a jumble of advice for squishies (low-level alts and newbies) and midbies, but i can't honestly call it a newbie guide- just my own observations. some of the things covered here may not be feasible at very low levels (tentacle, focused attacks, insane mode etc are not recommended right out of pumpkintown), or may become redundant at very high levels (???), or may turn out to be completely wrong- i'm not actually that good a researcher, and i have not done any pvp testing so have no specific damage info. i do have 400+ bonuses on striking, dodge and tactics, so remember that things i mention working on or trying right now may be things i'm only just getting comfortable enough with my skills to try, and not safe or useful at lower levels. i am hoping at some point to play with level caps to determine what's easy at what bonus. i'm not sure i would actually recommend diving straight into unarmed as a real actual new newbie- i played a bunch of alts before i created kimo.
  • ask more questions when in doubt, try the igame talker channel. they know everything over there and if they don't they might still be able to help.

tentacle stuff

up at the top so nobody has to hunt for the juicy stuff: people ask me about the tentacle a lot! it is a pretty good conversation piece if not the best combat item in game. it's pretty gross but i enjoy it. the wiki page for it is pretty complete but for the record:

  • it is a symbiote and thus can't be fumbled or stolen when equipped (but can when it is unequipped so keep an eye on it) nor does it add burden (low upkeep). it turns some of my punches into tentacle slaps and bashes (slimy ones!), doesn't require a permit cause it isn't a weapon (low upkeep!), and transmits unarmed damage to me automagically (high upkeep). it comes with a secret grappling bonus boost (low upkeep!) and no secret specials that we know of. it falls off and you have to rehold it (high upkeep but tolerable with triggers). if you cut it off or die holding it it has to be soaked a while (high upkeep). you can't equip it over or under gloves or hand armour and you can't use two :( :( :( rip kimo's dual tentacle wielding dreams. one gets jealous and slaps the other one out of your hand onto the floor... high upkeep. i also do not actually have the skills yet to take full advantage of it, hence:
  • i do not recommend it to actual new-to-the-disc newbies besides the fact that it's a high-skill item, if you're not a seasoned alt-maker, it's really expensive! i was semi-newbish when i got mine but i had been playing kimo for some months and knew that this alt was committed to unarmed. the value of sailing items and ambergris has stabilised, but the tentacle is a low demand item and you may or may not be able to resell it without at least some loss, which may be up to a k or so in any currency.
    • so it's not very accessible, and it's also undeniably extremely weird. and you will get gently or not-so-gently trolled for using one. all that said, if it seems cool or fun for you, with the assumption you've already gotten to a point where you feel kinda committed to unarmed, or you just really want one? definitely save up and get it (or get oldbies to help you fund one but don't tell them i told you that). i can confirm that it is indeed cool and fun. and expensive and weird. all true things.
  • if you do have one, a way to keep track of it is setting up a trigger highlighting the drop phrase "The black flesh withdraws rapidly down your arm and contracts back into a squirming black tentacle", also sending "hold your damn tentacle!" to command. i also have a highlight on its deluded name, so i can spot it easily in my inventory when that's where it is.
  • also also also: DO NOT try to use a tentacle with anything other than the normal humanoid number of two (2) arms! use while missing an arm or using magic wizzie arms is buggy :( :( :( rip kimo's 3 or 4 tentacle wielding dreams.
  • further post post post script, it can be deluded but the deluded name will not appear when equipped. it also "charges up" the first 10 (?) kills after equipping, but effects of charging are basically unknown.


your unofficial primaries:

tldr of this section; can't really neglect any of the above skills except maybe health at any level because you don't have access to a variety of increasingly fancy weapons like with nearly every other spec! the weapon is you.

the rule of thumb as was explained to me is advance defensive skills first. this holds mostly true with unarmed except for parry damage. you will take damage through your hands straight through magical and faith shielding from punching trolls, armour, and being parried against with weapons. hitting a troll seems to give me 2 rounds of 1-10 damage each, specials can be more painful, being parried and blocked can be 10-50 depending? one round isn't much but it will whittle you down faster than you thought possible, esp when herding- that plus a few specials will take your head off really fast. with unarmed all your skills are defensive. defensive moves obviously will save your life but so will accurate strikes. you should still lead with advancing dodge or whatever (and health! just at least get your health up over 2k asap and then you can forget about again for a while) but advancing striking (a lot, like 400+ bonus) will reduce the moment to moment damage you take. for this reason you may consider hand armour rather than combat aids altogether.

at lower levels i alternated between focusing on dodge and tactics and haven't regretted it. i recently discovered that i was neglecting fighting.special.unarmed and (see specials below) have found since investing xp that it makes a substantial difference to prep, accuracy, and force of specials. which should go without saying but there are rumours of a low-level fi.sp sweet spot

note as of may 12 2021: after some recent experiences- going into medina in a smaller-than-usual group and seeing kimo dodge a ton of specials, then heading to ephebe and not dodging a ton of specials by hoplites- i think am finally ready to grind dodge again.

moved from somwhere irrelevant: using unarmed with shields or unarmed parrying are also viable options but i have not tried them yet so can't comment personally but can generalise a quote by i believe iblis- if you are using unarmed parry and you're noticing substantial damage thereby, whatever you're fighting can kill you by other means anyway. frankly this is also true of normal parry damage, so ??? edit: a good example of me being totally wrong- i was under the impression that one takes damage using unarmed parry. apparently you don't! i've added a section to elaborate on that as of August 2021. knowing that, your choice of defense depends on your guild and/or faith as well as your personal preferences, and sufficient bonuses will compensate for most things.

ap soak/fi.sp.ta

tactics (the skill, not the setting) affects how much ap it takes you to do things. ap, or action points, is the big unknowable mystery number that determines your attack and reaction speed- basically the number of moves you can fit into a turn. if you've been grinding tactics, you can dodge a pretty high number of attacks and still get your 2ish hits per round in. it's rough on the knuckles, but a puncher is a good meat shield- see:


since your damage per hit is fairly low specials count for a lot more. like unarmed aids, you won't get a wide variety of specials. you have two categories: the ap-absorbing specials trip shove and feint, and the attack specials kick and punch. use trip against bashy opponents and shove against dodgy ones. grapple contributes to trip and shove, as well as making snatching from you more difficult, and feint is tactics. attack specials are of course the relevant combat skill plus its special category. you also get command exp even on a failed special so it's worth getting and rotating them all. targeted specials are more difficult to complete but more powerful. combining an ap-draining special with a combat special can increase the chances of the combat special landing.

one of the many handy benefits of grinding sp ta is better feinting. feinting is incredibly useful and will often turn the fight around if you or your group run into an aggro imp or something and nobody's landing any hits. aside from the obvious ap-absorbing benefits, fully successful shoving or tripping combined with a successful targeted kick will result in a stomp, which is of course deeply satisfying. your grappling bonus will give you the added benefit of being difficult to rob and may save you from certain djelian crocodilian doom should you come face to face with it.

do note that targeted specials are more difficult to complete and zones vary in difficulty. from kick, in order of difficulty and damage, lowest first:

  • unfocused, shins, feet, knees, chest, stomach, face, back of the head [warriors only]

from punch, ditto:

  • unfocused, arms, kidneys, stomach, solar plexus, face

note as of may 12 2021: i mention in the next section about gp drain- do note that there are combat penalties to running on low gp, and depending on where you are it can be best to keep your hands to yourself to conserve gp. to be totally honest i tend to special fairly indiscriminately- currently doing more experimenting with/practicing at a bit more discernment. a well-placed feint will go farther than one just for the heck of it or from itchy fingers, especially if it leaves you combat impaired.


options combat tactics (the setting, not the skill) is a mixed bag- again because of parry damage. defensive and wimp modes may improve your dodge but i find my strikes may be less accurate (not tested, just a feeling), drawing more parry damage. for that reason these days i rarely go off insane mode , but if you are soloing or group leading i definitely recommend some micromanaging by way of aliases. attack large groups on wimp, recover gp using neutral, and feel free to switch up when the rest of the group joins the fight and you're no longer the only person taking all the hits. it took me a while to get up the courage to attempt insane mode but find it pretty effective. note that insane mode in conjunction with specials costs extra gp and my current playstyle means i am running at seriously suboptimal gp basically all the time, a situation likely to be intolerable to a lot of players as there's a pretty substantial combat penalty to running without enough gp. i don't have very high guild gp (co.po in my case) or fi.po though- i recently dumped a bit of xp into both and sense a bit of improvement, will do more and update later.

you can also use options combat tactics focus to change the focus area of your strikes- you may want to try focusing on upper body until you've done the equivalent of mostly guildmaxing your unofficial primaries. i've just begun to experiment with focus = head, and am finding it really effective against npcs that aren't imps/guards so far, and so have made aliases to switch between fousing on upper body and head. focusing on the head i miss a slightly higher percentage of strikes overall and my attack speed is slightly reduced but the hits i land seem distinctly more destructive. there's an additional benefit because faces/heads are rarely armoured, making at least armour-punching less of a problem.

note: since switching focus to head, i seem to be more effective while on neutral than i used to be.


to elaborate a bit more some things i touched on in the skills section and tying in with the tactics settings section, and more reasons to ask people who aren't me about things: i'm currently slowly levelling parry and starting to try and test it. i was already starting to try to edit these notes to be less dodge-centric so it seemed like a good time. the thing is that with dodge the tactics settings are simple- you attack with both hands, and you dodge. but from what i understand there is a penalty from attacking and parrying with the same hand. then there's the unarmed parry option, and then there's.... prayer beads, with which it turns out you can parry as well. a lot of this is common knowledge to priests! i have nothing to say in defense of my ignorance, no pun intended, but will update this section as i find out more.

updates: dodge/parry with prayer beads. beads don't weigh much compared to most weaponry, putting them at a parry disadvantage and resulting in fairly rare use; definite penalty to speed (hard for me to tell as i'm always in the tentacle, which is also a bit sloggy); and on a personal level my dodge is drastically higher, probably having some kind of effect on results. depending on your base wisdom, the bonus bump may still be juicy enough to consider using them off and on. and the beads are just fine for parrying unarmed and probably most daggers.

dodge/parry without prayer beads: unarmed parry registers on cowbar as block because words. anyway i stashed the beads away to experiment. on the one hand my accuracy went down (likely the loss of the 13 point boost to unarmed, which is pretty substantial), but on the other hand my parry rate shot way up (you are parrying with the weight of your entire body instead of the weight of x holdable thing) and my overall defense rose a bit. and as for my personal case, with the beads and at 513 bonus striking and 506 bonus dodge i feel pretty comfortable on neutral tactics (finally!), as in i don't feel i'm being parried to death. dropping the beads leaves me at 500 and 500, and thus i'm being parried against more often = pain. offensive feels safer, but pick your targets carefully or run with a group and shields. which, supernatural shield interaction: unarmed parry will destroy a CCC unless you're also TPA'd. so i'm actually hanging onto the beads for when somebody's shelled out for a rubdown for kimo while grouping and i don't want to waste it while soloing. i don't know the interactions (if any) with faith shields yet. --Kimo (talk) 01:12, 26 September 2022 (EDT)

update: have been running without the beads as parry gets better and picks up the slack. defense is still up slightly, and accuracy gradually balancing back out. now that i'm not constantly slightly dying, suddenly the other tactics settings become useful for solo hunting. 500 dodge bonus, 430ish parry, 450 tactics. --Kimo (talk) 22:51, 1 November 2022 (EDT)

special abilities

i have been using the knee attack for a while now and kind of forget it's there although the attack messages are pretty enjoyable. i'm sure somebody somewhere has quantified knee strike damage but i haven't tracked them down or asked them about it to date. i do intend to exchange it for the genua statue (better targeted specials) at some point soon. sto lat statue require 250 lvls of striking and the genua statue requires 150 lvls of perception and the sacrifice of a fancy sword- a colichemarde or something of equivalent value.

update: switched- looks like a moderate bonus bump to specials.unarmed and .weapons? not sure since skills raw doesn't reflect it.

update: no real updates. never did figure out the actual difference, but have been targeting face basically ever since the above updates and have not looked back in the slightest. --Kimo (talk) 01:14, 26 September 2022 (EDT)

rearranging, stats, and stat items

i uh don't think i could comment on rearranging- it's a pretty personal choice. i've done lots of rearranges on lots of alts and can honestly say i've learned very little. best i can advise is plug everything into the bonus computer (plug straight 100s or 500s into all the fighting categories and look at bonuses) and the regen calculator until something clicks. i will say that someone once told me that str is the only thing you can't compensate for with masses of xp, and i've found that true. striking uses dex 2, str 1, and wis 2, for what that's worth.

i find the slight bonus boost from carrying charged prayer beads beneficial at the cost of a free hand (there is a slight combat penalty for this but you may find that your bonuses balance that out), and don't love the gp cost of gauntlets though i do love the burden reduction.

note on my own rearrange and more thoughts: i put it on my userpage instead of here because it's a bit odd (all rearranges are odd). i had a moment of genuine horror when i saw it listed on the newbie sswot guide- not so much its inclusion as the use of "kimo" and "optimize" in the same sentence. i tend to go for high strength for a very simple reason: i like wearing lots of stuff. obviously the benefit of low burden is the boost to unarmed- but i don't actually know the functional difference between that boost and the bonus bump that might come from a higher-dex and/or -wis build, not having tried it yet. there are also major benefits to pursing 4 gp regen, although that depends on your guild, and while i have 8 con there's similarly obvious benefits to a higher hp regen than ...three. every stat adjustment is a trade-off.

that thing i said i haven't tried yet- i am trying it, having run a crap ton of numbers (ongoing). the above is stricken rather than removed for posterity and my own reference/embarrassment. things that are quite true: do use the bonus computer, striking is indeed DDSWW, i do like wearing lots of stuff, my build was indeed suboptimal, 4 gp or hp would be nice, charged prayer beads are good, strength cannot be fixed later with xp and every stat adjustment is a trade-off.

to get to the point, i will be gradually (because retrophrenology is painful and slow and/or expensive) working my way away from a str-heavy build towards wis/dex, grudgingly and with reservations. striking is unruly to rearrange for, and players of many specs will often sacrifice wis for dex or int- this would be a mistake for unarmed, as an even or nearly even balance of dex and wis will net a much higher bonus than a traditional covert dex minmax. the question as always is how much of your dump stats you're willing to sacrifice- int is of course not a dump stat, thanks to fighting.special.tactics. a high wis build will compensate somewhat, but a 3-2 stat weight (tactics being IIIWW) will always be very, very painful if the dominant stat is too low. this is the other reason i may be prioritizing wis very slightly over dex.

i am... kind of bummed about going down in strength. low burden is a substantial unarmed aid, and clothes are heavy. it remains to be seen how much of it i'm willing to give up. --Kimo (talk) 01:01, 8 August 2022 (EDT) who should be dating her revisions more often.

also note: while there are a wide variety of bonus-adjusting items there aren't many actual stat items. strap gloves and clompy boots are not stat items and you should be able to use them with charged prayer beads without the numbers getting complicated, unlike gauntlets or dex gloves, see:

unarmed aids and stuff on hands in general

according to research, knuckle-dusters do increase unarmed damage. not my research, i don't have any numbers on hand; the one thing i do know as confirmed is they decrease your other combat skills- fairly substantial bonus drop in both melee and ranged, though not bow. unarmed, defence, special, and points were unaffected). dusters are of course easily replaceable and require no babysitting, unlike certain other options. there may also be an overall benefit because the character has a duster on each hand, effectively raising damage on all punches, as opposed to tentacles which are only boosted on tentacle strikes, and paws where not all strikes are boosted.

i have been revisiting the leather-strap gloves and it's difficult to tell a difference aside from the added hand armour- supposedly they may not increase damage but may aid in specials. they do decrease melee bonus along the same lines as the dusters.

i had slightly more fun with iron gauntlets even though they have no direct effect on damage as kimo already has fairly high strength and again, hand armour. as for the clompy boots i really have no idea. i'm not sure anybody has come up with proven effects from those things. they're heavy too i think? i personally prefer armour boots or lighter-weight sheathe boots. again, there is a possibility that rather than damage they affect specials, but nobody's sure how. note that there are a lot of things with secret effects, and there's always a chance that you can take long descriptions at their word. the strap gloves and clompy boots say they do something, so they very well might.

as of this writing kimo is around guild level 240 so i haven't gone for the lion paws yet. paws have an edge on the squirming black tentacle in terms of damage while the latter is better than the paws against armour and trolls, because paws with claws out do intermittent sharp damage whereas tentacle is always blunt (there's a joke there somewhere, i'm sure). tentacle use may require high-ish fi.sp.ta. (edit as of gl 334, got the paws ages ago now but still haven't really used them oops)

the bottom line on unarmed aids and their efficacy continues to shift but here's the tldr; dusters and strap gloves are easy to acquire, the paws are a process due to the guild level and quest restriction, and the tentacle is prohibitively expensive for a noob. not many options! soz. it is what it is. you aren't here for toys, you're here to punch stuff. (full disclosure: i am not not here for toys.) (ps, the tentacle is not as expensive as it was when i wrote this! still pricey, but nowhere near as bad.)

i also have not covered obbk here because i have no magic but understand it's pretty sweet and possibly the highest and most consistently damage-boosting option. it is on the to do list.

healing stuff

tea is of course a staple (ask your local ninja if you need a new blackened canteen, or check pshops) but in the long run i personally recommend whatever combination of bandage, cure light wounds, and healing roses is appropriate for your spec/faith. the xp investment for decent bandaging and rose plucking is lowish. up to 5 roses can be braided into hair with no additional burden and can be smelled in combat when unbraided, though you may fumble them if you try to rebraid while fighting. bandages can of course be produced on the go though may add some burden, bandaging is easy to TM at low levels and you can TM covert on the go when you combine it with abscond and hide. you can get special bandage containers or you can identify your bag of choice as "medicine bag" and automatically pull bandages from it when using the bandage command.

other stuff mostly relating to low burden

my personal favourite low-burden-spec bag is the ephebe thieves' black velvet bag. doesn't carry a metric ton, but it does carry a lot while keeping burden manageable, so long as you don't mind delooting a bit more frequently (bearing in mind you'll have to ask a thief to buy it for you or get it from a pshop). check the ratios on back containers for more details, as well as other roomier options. i put coins and important things in a deluded black lacquer box in the bag- coins will weigh you down a lot and leave you a target for pickpockets, it's best to contain them somehow anyway. while high burden unarmed is definitely possible, it's not really recommended (though of course as a tentacle user i say whatever floats your boat, in the long run- as a wise witch once told me, you can even go with suboptimal). i admit to getting a mostly useless thrill whenever i manage to shed an item that gets my burden under 5%, but loaded down with loot and coin can run up to the 20s. according to options combat monitor state = on (do use this), <5% is a sweet spot. i rarely hit this burden goal during winter or when i'm feeling outfit-y. 6-11% is more normal for me.

most armour is pretty heavy. i have heard the padded monk's robe is supposed to be good lightweight armour- an obvious but pricey option is the sea serpent scale which is lightweight, durable, and repairable by needle and thread but by no means the most protective option. steel-toed leather boots are a decently-weighted foot armour, though i tend to go for boots with sheathes- if you need to carry around a cutting edge the scalpel weighs the least- stompyboots from the AM cobbler (link later) containing one scalpel weigh 4/9lb- less in total than the sasswot graduate black ankle boots + a blade, and definitely less than the ninja purple ankle boots. will double check on the soft-soled boots with sheathes. white ankle boots weigh the same as cobbled boots.

more strikethroughs! things that are still very good: the black lacquered box (2/9lb); the scalpel (2/9lb); the sea serpent scale (4 4/9lb) (and failing that the monk's robe at the same weight); the black ankle boots (2/9lb). the black velvet bag, while highly aesthetic, is on the heavy side weighing in at 1 4/9lb (you were right, egon!)

but... i'm going down in strength so i'm experimenting with a rather drastic paring-down. i've tracked down, purchased, stolen, or murdered for the following items weighing exceptionally little with good cooling or warming as necessary (list in progress):

  • dark over-robe 1/9lb a lot of warmth, found on bp hags (not newbie-friendly). no pockets
  • checked over-robe, a reskin from the above much less warmth than the above (a bit of warmth) but more easily accessible at the colourful shop on rhinu road in bp
  • black chequered kimono 1/9lb quite a lot of warmth, found on bp noh actors. no pockets
  • black spiral kimono, cosmetic clone of the above, found on scribes in bp.
  • purple thigh-high stockings 1/9lb some warmth, from ninja shop
  • ninja mask 1/9lb some warmth, also from ninja shop and not to be confused with the sto latatian black ninja mask.
  • hip-length silk shorts 1/9lb quite a lot of cooling, from nicolette. pockets optional
  • low-cut silk chemise 1/9lb quite a lot of cooling, from nicolette. pockets optional. this and the above option i am fairly certain were under AM$100 apiece. also- weight data was pulled from the clothing with pockets page, which provides a few equally-light but gender neutral or masculine styles of shirt and undershirt. note that light weight clothing is much easier to achieve with cooling silk- minimal weight warm clothing is much trickier.
  • swag bag 5/9lb, capacity of 22lb or 60 items. which means that two of these will weigh less together than a singular velvet bag and offer more storage space overall. they're not very ninjaly though so i'm currently compromising with one velvet bag and one swag bag which gets stashed when i'm not looting.

i have also stashed my sea serpent scale without which i feel naked. clothing needs to be repaired much more often without it (obvious in retrospect). to some extent my clothes were getting the largest benefit from the scale- if i was fighting something capable of hitting me with any kind of substantial damage, then the opponent was perfectly capable of killing me no matter how much armour i had on. --Kimo (talk) 01:33, 8 August 2022 (EDT)

yeah, i'm not ready to drop the scale yet. the armour will continue until defense improves. --Kimo (talk) 00:35, 9 August 2022 (EDT)

now what?

this is why you need to read the other newbie guides! what does any noob hunt when they can't even hit a roach straight out of pumpkintown? i honestly don't really remember. i think i blocked it out. do some quests, do some job missions. certain smaller towns and cities in the sto plains have exceptionally easy-to-kill npcs, or npcs that murder each other in cold blood and leave their stuff all over the place- collect it and sell it. ask nicely and find out if any of the groups running consider themselves newbie/new alt-safe- they do exist! get your health and perception up enough to a. join fights and b. not be immediately specialled into smithereens. if you feel like you can't hit anything you need more striking; if it feels like it takes forever to strike you need more tactics. actually whatever it is you probably need more tactics.

bless me, this can no longer pretend to be a newbie guide. the above is all true but those days are long gone: now what? now you grind striking, tactics, and defense forever, with the reward of gnarlier and gnarlier punching (late edit to add: and less dying of parry).

in reality, though, few people want to grind forever if at all- at least not every day. i alternate numberchasing with side trips, exploring, collecting, missions, crafts, foolish deaths, item idea'ing, frivolous use of gufnork's deity pool, and copious amounts of looting. --Kimo (talk) 01:44, 8 August 2022 (EDT) who may have to edit for voice and clarity later