So I've been on this site since October and while some of you know me or have written with me, some of you haven't. I was a transfer account, starting on this specific site as a Lord. I originally wrote on to which I have moved on from for a number of reasons (overall started writing Reverance in 2007). Of all the differences from this site and that one, the biggest is the focus on dueling and dueling etiquette. To give an example: We had an entire section of the site, separate from the universe, that was strictly for dueling. Just like role play judges and codex judges, we also had Galactic Battle Arena judges. Picked from the very best, every duel was given a proper judgment based on a number of things: tempo, writing quality, realistic understanding of spatial awareness, proper use of force, calling hits, and honor in the duel. We even had a ranking system for the duelists on the site. As a residing High Councilor for the section of the site, much like the Codex, I was allowed to assist in dueling rulings should a conclusion not be possible (house split). It gave me years of insight on how to objectively look at fighting in the written form, to discern where improvements can be made. Should I have a ruling on match, I would declare victor, give reasons, and then also tell them where I thought they could improve. So, in the easiest way I can discern, I am going to write a couple of lines that highlight some of the biggest issues I see on the site in an effort to help people realize that there are better ways; methods to improve on. And please take note, I am by no means saying that I am perfect. I'm not, I'm a life long learner, constantly trying to improve both as a writer and as a person. This write up helps me more than anyone else, me thinks.

Gabriel smirked as he lunged forward, his speed unmatched and undetectable, unseen. He had expected such defense. He proceeded to bludgeon his opponent with a flurry of attacks, an impossible thing to deflect. He had studied his foe from afar and while the opponent was a master, he was hardly a match for this sort of rage.

We will start with this and work piecemeal through the post:
  • "Gabriel smirked...he had expected such defense." This is great, if you do it once, maybe twice. But the last thing someone wants to do is duel an omnipotent individual who is constantly discerning the attack before hand. Now, this can work if your previous post had included your characters predictions of your opponents next move. I have been known to do this in an effort to give reason for Gabriel's ability in combat. He's calculating, he's angry, but he sees things beyond the moments before him. However, I take the time to describe this in great detail, if I choose to do it, in the post before "expecting such defense". If you can't take the time to do this, then you really shouldn't be foreseeing your opponent's movement.
  • "...his speed unmatched and impossible thing to detect." No, just stop. Go back to your post, reread it, and take this out. This is calling a hit on the opponent and is disguised in the description of your character (from now call subversive hit calling). Sure, Gabriel is fast and sure, I do my best to relay that in my writing. But his detection, whether he is matched, is entirely under the provisions of your opponent. By saying this, I am essentially telling the person that my character is faster than theirs. That's not my call, it's theirs. Anything else, and I'm dictating their characters response and thus falling into the grey zone of godmoding/calling hits. Remember to look at your post, read over, and view it as if it was your opponents post. Would you think it fair? We must learn to work together in such situations and trust that people can properly determine characteristics. After all, trust begets trust. And "He had studied his foe from afar and while the opponent was a master, he was hardly a match for this sort of rage" is akin to watching someone play football and thinking you could beat them cause you've watched them, never interacting, never hitting against them on the gridiron. You can do this if it's not reflected in your characters actions. But otherwise...just don't do it, don't sell your opponent short and don't sell your writing short.
  • "...He proceeded to bludgeon his opponent with a flurry of attacks." Yeah? What hand is holding the saber? What zone are your striking? Description description description! I've encountered a number of people (not on this site), who were purposely vague in their fighting format as it allows them to do things in their next post that would otherwise be seemingly impossible. We have to remember that writing is a give and take, not a video game. We provide each other the premise to which the response is formed, the foundation of forum based writing is sharing in the responsibility of the narrative. If I don't know what area of my body you are striking, which hands are holding the saber, and what sort of form you are taking with your swing, then I can't imagine, in my mind, how that is occurring. If I can't imagine it, how can I adequately defend against it in a way that yields a legitimate and realistic duel? The above line, would work much better, as suited. "Gabriel proceeded first with his right hand held saber, swinging from outside in, looking to strike the opponent across the left side of their waist and cut them in two. The left saber, held in reverse hand grip, would swipe across Gabriel's body, left to right as he rotated his core, looking to effectively slash the opponent across the face. Such an attack would seem a flurry of strikes, happening in quick unison." Anything more than this, and you are getting into the area where you are wasting your time. Mostly because the opponent has every right to post cut you (interrupt your attack with their own), which will cause the fight to veer off in a direction that you hadn't written towards. And suddenly, that extra kick that you wrote in after the left hand face cut, wouldn't even be probable, as you are now being forced to spin in the opposite direction to block their counter. I realize this site is very much Force based and not saber-centric, but these are very easy skills to learn. All you need to do is this: Grab a pvc pipe, go out into your yard, and act out the fight. If you can't stretch in a certain way or move your body without hitting yourself with the pipe, then perhaps your character couldn't either. As an aside, I have seen people do this: "Gabriel attempted to slash at the opponent." While I don't condone the lack of description (as this is an entirely made up line and I'm feeling rather lazy), I fully support the use of the word 'attempt.' It's considerate and it's understanding that the world doesn't stand still while your character attacks something.
  • "..." Huh, that's weird. What are those ellipses doing there? Oh, yeah. What else are you doing at the end of the post? Are you thinking about your next move, are you focusing on your footwork, are you wondering whether you are currently dealing with a heart attack or is it just a wicked spot of angina? Maybe you shouldn't have eaten that chicken parmigiana, after all. I typically take this specific part, the point at the end of the post, to highlight Gabriel's expectations of the opponents next move. I focus on his posture, where he is putting his weight, and what is he currently doing with the force. I hail from a site where in order to use certain force powers, you were required to do a build up (a certain number of posts concentrating on your force aura). This isn't required here, but I think it's considerate. If you have a free hand, what is that free handing doing: Is it floating out in the emptiness, or is it latched to the waist? Is it preparing to be the vehicle for your force utilization? Just ideas, fill the space with what you want, but don't take the easy way out. Description description description! It's not about winning, it's about writing.
And now for the fun part...December tips for making an awesome fight...more awesomer:
  • Makashi duelists, lend me your ears! If you are fighting an opponent who is either A.) physically stronger than you, B.) uses a two handed weapon, C.) strikes from the overhead (using the upper shoulder muscles to strike), or D.) uses a solid weapon like a sword: Do not block the attack! Because of the nature of lightsabers, they are essentially weightless and thus provide no support for the human skeletal system. It treats your wrist as the point of rotation. As such, you must instead parry. If you do not, you risk the chance of fracturing the wrist from the force of the attack. Unless, of course, you wear some sort of bracer that extends into a solid glove. Then, by all means, block away!
  • Samurai sword users! I like you peeps. When blocking a strike, block not with the edge but with the flat of the blade. Don't want to dull it. Good attention to detail! Also, if you feel so inclined, your weapon should be carried, when sheathed, so that the edge of the blade is facing towards the sky. There are cultural reasons for this, but it also keeps it from wearing the edge out on the saya, or scabbard.
  • The unignited! If I'm attacking you, don't put away one weapon away and replace it with another. I will literally cut you...cause I'm definitely not going to let you fasthands me.
  • Dem Deflection! If you are looking to deflect a shot from a slugthrower with a lightsaber, step out of the way as well. Seeing as though metal is being compressed and sent at you at high velocities, your lightsaber is just going to splatter it, forming around the beam and still coming at you in molten metal form. Cool opportunity for description though :).
I think I might try one of these every month, see how my schedule pans out. For those going off site for the holidays, I wish you the happiest of Holidays. For those of you who aren't, get back to writing you keyboard junkies!