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What is Roleplay (Specifically: Combat)?


Skull132

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DISCLAIMER

Please, keep in mind, I wish to have a civil discussion, without calling anyone out. I hope that people gain perspective from this, I hope that people will adjust in accordance with the perspective gained, and that people do not jump onto the preface with arguments I already outlined. Please read the entire thing, including replies, maybe twice, thrice, and post a constructive reply. Let me make this very clear: inflamitory replies will be issued a warning, and deleted, if not changed. An inflamitory reply is not a reply that disagrees with the opinion that I have displayed, but is instead something which calls out another player, a group of players by name, and does not serve the the constructive nature of the argument.


PREFACE

Please treat the following five paragraphs as a preface and introduction. The actual discussion starts after the "SUBJECT" tag.


I've been thinking. Those who know me and have managed to pick up, I am a fan of military culture. Last summer, I was given the chance to partake in an urban combat training camp with the EDL. The experience was amazing, got to learn about tactics, train and conduct raids in closed off areas, etcetera. A heck of a lot of fun was had with great folks. But let's take note of something: what I learned there was violent. It wasn't violent in the sense of, "There's blood, gore and guts everywhere!" It was violent in the sense that the actions on target were aggressive, fast, fluid.


Let's pick my very first blank-fire exercise as an example of what I'll be trying to get at. My troop was clearing an empty school house-type building. There was an elongated corridor, we were on one side, couldn't see the other side clearly due to ground clutter and lighting conditions. I was second or third man down the file as we were walking and clearing the hall, when an MG3 lights us up from the other end (blanks). We dart to the closest rooms, but obviously enough, most of us had been dealt with in that ambush. We reorganize, try to get security up, but the fact is that we were pinned and SOL. Had the opposing team pushed, they could have taken us out easily enough, barring us getting nifty with open windows and building structure. Soon enough, an instructor calls the exercise over and we go to debrief/analyze.


Why do I tell this tale? Because it illustrates a point: we were completely unaware of the fact that the enemy had set up the ambush, and we were given no chance to retort. The following days illustrated this point quite clearly: every leg up on the opposing side that you can get, you take. Now, those folks were real soldiers, we're playing 2D spess. But still, something irks me, something I sometimes wish we could carry over from that: let action serves as roleplay.


Basically, in my book, there should be situations where one side gets caught with their pants down. There should be situations where one side is clearly more powerful than the other. There should be situations where actions are placed above words, and those actions are carried out in a rapid, fluid manner. And that it apply to both sides. The question shouldn't be about the existence of these situations. But instead, how and why they were made.


As it stands, Security is given, by the majority and loud population of our community, free reign to escalate force as they seem fit in response to a situation. Antagonists are not. Yes, there are cases where the jump to lethal force was uncalled for (pointless changeling deathstings and fratricide among nuke ops), but those are dealt with by staff. I do not enjoy seeing this, and I enjoy even less having to deal with it.


SUBJECT

Let's get to the matter at hand, now. The above I'd rather serve as an introduction, dissecting it and seeing whether or not it can be applied to SS13 seems a little bit too silly for me. Obviously, the environments are largely different, but I hope it serves as a bit of a window into some things.


Point one, what constitutes as gank, and what not? Two examples:

  • Two openly hostile terrorists are stowed away on the Research Outpost. They have, by this point, engaged in combat with intent to wound and kill Security and Command on multiple occasions. After failed attempts at getting at them, the Security team manages to execute an assault plan that ends with one of the hostiles dead, the other captured. The plan involved running a sniper round through the first guy's head, and neutralizing the other guy with a barrage of stun rounds. They were unable to retort.
  • A nuke operative, lone one, infiltrates the station, and rigs three charges in Engineering, in preparation of action against him. He hides them, and sets two of them on proxy, planning to use them as anti-personnel mines. He is not detected. Once the ambush is set, he proceeds onto his main target. While conducting actions on target, he goads the Chief Engineer to go into Engineering. Unaware, the CE steps onto the first device, causing a detonation. The second device is set off in a similar fashion. The CE was not aware of their placement, and was caught in the blast. He died with no chance to retort. The third device was set off in the SMES room, with a welding fuel tank attached to increase yield, resulting in all of the SMES being knocked out of action, and thus, the station losing power.

 

In my opinion, the opinion that humbly belongs to me, myself, and none other, neither is gank. Both had roleplay preceding the incident. For example one, it was the escalation of force as the situation developed. The Security team found a way to gain an upper hand, and used it. Due to the fact that a lethal gunfight had preceded this attack, ROE was adjusted to match and trump. Simple as that. Second example, the roleplay preceding is the successful infiltration of the station by the Nuke Operative, and the setup for the ambush. It did not involve the Chief Engineer in the slightest, no. But it was used to serve the higher purpose of roleplay, in the sense that it occupied the station with a larger disaster, allowing the Operative to complete his own task with less hindering him. The Chief Engineer is marked as acceptable collateral damage, and the world carries on. Yeah, sucks for the player, but they can wait 30 minutes and join as a new character.


Remember, roleplay is not about winning. It is not about surviving. No one should be guaranteed their safety, their survival. If you end up in a well crafted ambush, and it ends with you dead, but serving a purpose higher than to just kill you, then I would urge you not to take issue with it. Instead, look at the setting and atmosphere that the opposing side was trying to generate, and see how it worked out. And please do so by distancing yourself from what happened. It's a game, after all.



Point two. What I described above comes with a very large disclaimer attached: if the actions conducted serve the higher purpose of roleplay. What the fuck does that mean? Big ass words, these: "If," "serve," "higher purpose." Simple-stupid version: if it's about more than just the kill. My opinion, is that if you're after a singular kill, and nothing more, then you do need to make it interesting for the other party. Whereas if you're planning something more, something that involves more than just a singular target, you are allowed to touch more souls. In fact, it's better if you do!


Killing people can be both a tool, and a goal. Instance two, it was used as a tool. It was used correctly in the manner that it mobilized an entire station towards something. This something happened to be playing straight into the antag's hand, but that's how the cookie crumbles. You cannot win every time. When using it as a tool, serving the higher purpose of roleplay would mean that killing is used to enable you, and your actions, so that you may involve more and more people in the scenario you are creating/hosting/participating in. Instance one, it's also used as a tool. It was a tool used by Security to gain control over a situation, and the actions of the opposing team allowed them to succeed at it. Fair game.


When using killing as a goal, that's when you should make an effort of making the game interesting for the targeted party. I'm not a fan of handicapping yourself for the sake of roleplay (personally,), but even then, you should make it interesting. Even hitman style, clean and professional style raids can be made fun and interesting. In keeping with the personal opinion outlined a sentence ago, the receiving party should keep an understanding mindset about the situation. Again, if you get outplayed, then so be it. It should be perfectly fine to engineer a situation where retorting is difficult, if not impossible. But the key is: these situations take time to create, and usually have moving pieces. Each minute you spend on it, and each moving piece you incorporate, your threat of detection rises. So, make it interesting, but also try to make it believable (both in the sense of the antagonist character's capabilities, and the victim's expectations in mind).



But now, point three. What is gank, then? "You clearly outlined that ambushes and set up situations aren't gank. Buuut I just got deathstung by a ling I didn't know shit about. How's that different from being quickly and quietly subdued, taken away, tortured and killed?" Very simple.


Did the deathstinging serve a purpose? Was the antagonist using murder to escape? Was he trying to achieve anything beyond just killing a random person, because he could? Nope? Gank. Were you the Captain, engaged in a firefight with another ling, and he just kinda crept up on you? Shady, but I'd call it not gank. You were involved in a confrontation already, and the dude was covering his wingman, an action most likely coordinated between the two lings, definitely.


How about the being subdued and gagged bit? Were you a singular target? And just kinda, taken away with stungloves, bagged and tagged, after which the antag went onto normal life again? Making sure he won't be discovered? Gank. Actions did not serve any purpose of roleplay, what so ever, and the antagonist failed his duty to create an atmosphere and conflict. Were you toyed around with, and did character development take place? Better. Hopefully you enjoyed it, as a participating player.


DISCLAIMER

Please, keep in mind, I wish to have a civil discussion, without calling anyone out. I hope that people gain perspective from this, I hope that people will adjust in accordance with the perspective gained, and that people do not jump onto the preface with arguments I already outlined. Please read the entire thing, maybe twice, thrice, and post a constructive reply. Let me make this very clear: inflamitory replies will be issued a warning, and deleted, if not changed. An inflamitory reply is not a reply that disagrees with the opinion that I have displayed, but is instead something which calls out another player, a group of players by name, and does not serve the the constructive nature of the argument.

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Okay, I'm posting this as a player and not a staff member. Also, I'm tired, so this is probably incoherent.


I'm fine with losing. I don't like it and I don't want it to happen, but I'm not going to throw a fit because someone happened to outgun/outsword/outtoolbox me. I'm also fine with being more or less taken out via surprise attack after having engaged an opponent, as outlined in the changeling death sting scenario up there. What I'm /not/ fine with is being taken out of the round abruptly without any sort of roleplay or chance to retaliate, "higher purpose" be damned. Yes, sure, it might be realistic and it might be interesting for others, but I'm not keen on being used as a sacrificial lamb to better everyone else's roleplay while I personally get nothing out of it. Selfish? Maybe, but reasonable.


TL;DR: If escalation of force took place and both sides are aware of it, then a surprise sniper round to the head is perfectly fine by me. Bullet/bomb with no prior contact isn't, though.

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I will ask you something, Doomberg. How many of these scenarios, where the taking of a life is used as a method of distraction or scapegoating, are avoidable? They are, more often than not, situations that force you to place yourself into a direct confrontation with the antagonist, or to play by their strings.


The thing is, using scapegoats is a proxy tactic. And more often than not, because of it, more easily avoidable than being an outright target. An example of this is managing an antag as a warden/security officer. If they kill you, and then escape, then you're basically an escape goat, a distraction.

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If you're in a position where you're preventing the antag from escaping, for example, it seems perfectly legitimate for them to at least attempt to kill you, yes. If they're picking a random bystander to ice as a distraction for security with little to no previous contact/roleplay, though, it's kind of shitty. That's my opinion, at least.

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Does the murder further roleplay, in that scene? Probably, but you could achieve the same exact result by doing something else. Say, spreading lies and deceit. So, that could probably be argued towards gank, as better alternatives with the same endstate exist.


Probably a point I should have addressed, but I guess not all walls of text are created equal.

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Pain roleplay actually contributes so much. Being shot, shrugging it off, and robusting the antagonist doesn't further roleplay. However, if you roleplay the pain of being shot, and have the antagonist able put tonnes of pressure on the station it's awesome. Let's say we take scenario one, the captain runs over and robusts the antagonist, he's arrested, permabrigged, and that's then end of the scenario. Take scenario two, the captain is on the floor screaming, security surrounds him. He's trying to keep the captain alive, keep them out, and somehow get the hell out alive. Maybe this situation is grey, the captain tried murdering several crewmembers on orders of Nanotrasen. People are panicking, there's negotiations and it's all going to hell. This was all started by someone roleplaying the impact of being shot with a lethal firearm.

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As I can define it, combat arpee stems if a character has the skills for combat. Allow me to use two of my characters: my roboticist Karima Mo'Taki and my officer Aji'rah Tamaku. Both of them are trained in firearms.


Now, Karima's knowledge is strictly for research. She construct weapons, test them, and toggle lethals. However, that is within the confines of a lab environment, or testing range. In a combat situation, she misfires her weapon due to panic.


Aji'rah Tamaku is a bonafide guardian. She adheres to the philosophy of 'nothingness'. She walks softly, speaks quietly, and wants to be viewed as a mystery and engima. A huntress, if you will. Her favorite tactic is luring her targets in state of security and trust, then screwing them over. When I played her, I was met with rebuke that there was no RP involved.


I argue that Aji'rah is trained to act quickly. Karima is not. Karima has been stunbatoned by antags and taken hostage, because she's confused about what was going on. Aji'rah would have immediately disarmed someone if they were suspicious and carrying a stunbaton close enough to her.


Rambo is if a civilian with no experience, manages to defeat an opponent when CLEARLY outmatched. Aji'rah will retreat if she is outmanned/outgunned. That ain't rambo, that's playing smart for self-preservation. If anything, Karima is more likely to try and play hero. (try, and probably fail)


If given reason, Aji'rah will move against her enemy in ways that appear rambo. Someone acting suspicious during a time of crisis? Too bad. Captain gave orders to use lethal? Also, too bad.

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Hi.


Just curious, I got two situations for you all.


Okay, first situation. Nuke op is in virology. A doctor unwittingly walks into virology and gets a gun pointed at them. The nuke op, having accidentally released a mild virus, sneezes, dropping their gun. The doctor picks the gun up, and holds the op hostage until security can pick them up. The op and the doc have a extended conversation about /why the heck are you blowing shit up and intruding here bro/ in between.


Second situation, Nuke op is in maintenance, attempting to coordinate their team without being in the open. While their player is typing, suddenly a security officer comes barreling out of nowhere and throws a live stun baton at them, cuffs them while the op is down, and then strips off their gear and throws them into the brig without a word.


Which is acceptable, and which is not?

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I'd say first situation is mildly acceptable, most docs probably wouldn't be able to know how to use a gun anyways.

 

I'm not a mod, but I'd consider it acceptable. Knowing how to properly fire the weapon, and just pointing it at the op are two different things. And maybe he chose for the 'Lets not make him fire that thing in here' route. Plus in that first situation, they're talking, RPing and such. The op disarming the doctor and taking back the gun would be perfectly fine in my book too.


The second one? That sounds more like just barging in, bashing someone, and dragging them off without any chance of response of any sort.

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Hi.


Just curious, I got two situations for you all.


Okay, first situation. Nuke op is in virology. A doctor unwittingly walks into virology and gets a gun pointed at them. The nuke op, having accidentally released a mild virus, sneezes, dropping their gun. The doctor picks the gun up, and holds the op hostage until security can pick them up. The op and the doc have a extended conversation about /why the heck are you blowing shit up and intruding here bro/ in between.


Second situation, Nuke op is in maintenance, attempting to coordinate their team without being in the open. While their player is typing, suddenly a security officer comes barreling out of nowhere and throws a live stun baton at them, cuffs them while the op is down, and then strips off their gear and throws them into the brig without a word.


Which is acceptable, and which is not?

 

First is acceptable, second is not. First one is a doctor taking advantage of a situation - I think any person can bolt to the opportunity to 'fight or flight'.


The second one, varies. Did the security officer have ANY knowledge there were dangerous people in the maintenence tunnels? If not, then it's a definite no. If yes, GG on the lucky stunbaton - overly risky in my opinion, and noooot too clever of a tactic. Actually...it is still uncalled for. Rational fear should be a part of the action. The smart thing to do is get backup. Stripping them of all their gear? Unnecessary if they are on cuffs - borderline powergaming. Throwing them in the brig without any arpee - that kills other people's fun.

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Initially, both situations are acceptable.


Let's expand, though, because just a "yes" answer would be shitty in this thread. Situation one, I would expect the nuke operative to have the capacity to overpower the virologist. Let's say, instead of complying with the virologist, the nuke operative arms himself with an alternate weapon and overpowers the virologist. This would, in my honest opinion, be a legitimate move in that situation as well. Here is the why: The virologist is expected to be untrained in weaponry, ergo, the amount of control he has over the situation is minimal. Further more, virology itself is a very confined space, any actions taken with a firearm there can be very easily countered with melee. So, was the nuke operative to lose distance and disarm, I would also count it as legit. Wins he who does, but I would not take any action against either side. Acknowledge the following fact: the virologist in that situation became a combatant knowingly, and willingly. He could have opted to leave the weapon, and run. He did not. He picked up the weapon. He equipped it. Raised it on another, hostile combatant. He is now a combatant, and as such, he may be killed as a combatant.


Situation two. Initial encounter: if the Security Officer is in possession of equipment, intelligence or otherwise means that land him an advantage in that situation, or at the very least, permit him to engage the nuke operative on equal terms, he is in the right to take the opportunity. Alternative one: call for backup, and assault then. Would still be a surprise attack, however, and would still catch the nuke operative "unaware." Now, here is why I don't take issue with the initial arrest: the nuke operative broke one of the foremost rules of combat: you always have security up. His inability to ensure in his own safety should not cause trouble for other players, they do not have to be "fair" to him, they can use any holes he leaves for them. Well, guess what. He left a massive fucking hole in his own personal security. Well done, never play nuke op again learn and avoid making the same mistake again. Actions following the arrest, however, they're shitty. Once secured, hold for backup, ensure that they are restrained and have no armaments on them. This does mean you strip them to an extent, because you are not forced to be dumb enough to give someone a chance like that. If you do, that's on you, but you won't be forced to.

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