Imagine for a moment that you're at a bar. A stranger has taken offense to your presence, and has seen fit to show his displeasure by punching you in the face. In doing so, he has left himself open to a kick to the family jewels. Do you A: let him break your face, or B: punt his balls up between his ears?
That is, in a nutshell, the essence of a post cut. Your opponent has left themselves vulnerable to a counterattack at some point in their post, and rather than let them carry out what they had in mind, you cut in and take advantage of their opening, cutting off the rest of their post in the process.
Pretty simple, right?
In theory, yes. In practice, not so much.
Though nearly any forum with a competitive dueling scene acknowledges the validity and utility of the post cut, it is often considered unsporting, especially by the person who finds the body of their post rendered useless. Because of this, one would do well to remember some basic etiquette where post cuts are concerned.
First and foremost, remember that your post cut, if executed properly, is a perfectly legitimate move. If your opponent takes offense, be polite, but do not let them pressure you into rewriting your post to accommodate their feelings. They may cry that it's not fair, or accuse you of simply writing for the win, rather than the story. In both instances, remind them that the duel is inherently a competitive situation, one they entered in of their own accord. Though it is possible to work story into a duel, unless that was the agreed upon intention from the start, to insist halfway through that you cater to their whims for the sake of story is not only petty, it's a sure sign that they see themselves at a disadvantage, and want to manipulate you OOCly into giving ground. So again, be polite, but be firm.
With that in mind, try to preserve as much of their post as possible. After all, they worked hard on their post, and it is impolite to invalidate the whole thing in one fell swoop. If that's what the situation calls for then go for it, but in most instances, a scalpel will work as well as a broadsword. By being precise and exercising restraint, you can go a long way towards minimizing hurt feelings.
If you are going to post cut, make sure your move is completely 100% legitimate before you make it, and be as precise as possible. If you cut into their post, there is a very real chance that they'll seek outside mediation, especially if you refuse to yield. This isn't as much a problem elsewhere, but on Chaos, duels tend to be high tension affairs, especially in invasions. Therefore, if you know there's a chance they'll raise hell, it would behoove you to give them as little ammunition as possible.
By being precise, you not only reduce the potential for confusion, you also limit your opponent's chances of creatively interpreting your counter. On top of that, intentionally vague posts are discourteous to the extreme, and are also an excellent way to tip off that you don't actually know what you're doing. Instead, you should be as precise as possible with the angle of your strike, your stance, how hard you're swinging, so on and so forth. You don't have to be a master swordsman in real life to write a post in a duel. What I often find helpful is to grab a stick or a broom handle or something to approximate your blade and walk through what you're trying to do in real life, in slow motion. If you find the motion awkward, or it places you in a bad position, or requires bending at an unnatural angle, chances are your character will find that same motion to be just as problematic, space wizard or not. Find something that works for you and works for your character, and describe it in as much detail as you can manage.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of a post cut, don't panic. Don't lose your temper. Remember: you left yourself open, and your opponent was clever enough to find a way to exploit it. The only person you need to be angry at is yourself, though I wouldn't really advise that either. Remember that half the fun of a duel is matching wits with someone who can keep you on your toes. Keep your wits about you, and give them as good as you get. If a move is legitimately crappy, contact them and let them know, but be as polite and courteous as possible. You have nothing to gain by throwing a fit, and everything to lose.
You'll notice I've not gone into a great level of detail on how to actually execute a post cut. Well, there's a reason for that: there is no one right way. Every situation is different, and should be treated as such. However, if you remember the basics of etiquette, you can probably make it through without undo heartache. As always, if you have any questions, my inbox is open, and of course the comments section is as well. I'll also be more than happy to assist anyone that asks where ongoing duels are concerned, so please don't hesitate to shoot me a PM for that as well.
I hope you all have enjoyed this blog post, and stay tuned, because more are on the way.