06 February 2011

Mind Games: Magic and Interruptions

One of the key points about yomi, I think, and about mind-games in general is that there isn't any sort of feinting and counter-feinting unless you have an opportunity to do something about it. In other words, your actions aren't a sure thing anymore. When roleplaying online, or "RPing" (a term which I've always hated, but which seems to be the accepted term these days), it's considered common courtesy to only state that which your character is trying to do.

In other words, it's not "I kick you in the face and knock you over," but "I attempt to kick you in the face to knock you over" and then the other person agrees or disagrees, depending on their personal preference. Of course, in that case, there's a lot of dodging and blocking and negating going on, because it's a freeform system and there's no reason for anybody's avatar (usually riddled with overly masculine or feminine "cool" traits like being half-demon or having angel wings or unusually colored hair or some silly such, but that's neither here nor there) to get injured or killed or whatever.

But I digress. The important thing is that actions become interruptable, somewhere between where they start and where they end. And that's why I said in my last post that yomi and mind games have been in D&D all along.

Most people have had experience with magic-casting, and the way it's somewhat balanced by having the magic-user declare their spellcasting in the beginning of the round, and then having it occur sometime near the end of the round, after the guys with swords and arrows and the guys running across the drawbridge or wherever the hell they're going, then the wizard gets to throw his mighty fireball across the temple, or whatever it is that he's doing. If somebody even tries to put a sword in his guts, the spellcaster probably fumbles his spell.

So what you have is a sort of simplistic mind-game, where the wizard is trying to hide and the warrior is trying to skewer him with his sword, except that the wizard doesn't have a counter to the sword-stabbing. He can only run for his life, and the warrior can follow. The wizard needs something of an outside force to stop the warrior, whether it's a trap or mechanism or even something as simple as other people to stand in between him.

(Which brings me to an interesting parenthetical notation: maybe D&D's as popular as it is among Americans because of its fairly clear-cut class roles that are very similar to football; the wizard's the most important member and needs to be protected like the quarterback- the dwarfs and fighters are the linebackers. I dunno what the theifs are, but they can be the wide receivers. I dunno.)

The point is that there should be something the wizard can do to counter the warrior's rushing onwards other than "have other people deal with him." Wizards, both in movies and in literature, often have quick-spells to throw at a warrior, often with illusion or summoning of henchmen or something. Sometimes it's lightning bolts or gusts of fire that startle the warrior and make him back off, right? Then the wizard runs up his tower, and he's got a head start already. In game-terms, maybe the wizard's quick spell could force a saving throw of some sort, and if the warrior fails it, he's got to waste a round (6 seconds or so, I understand) doing nothing, or maybe it's just that the wizard gets a head-start on the chase.

Of course, the warrior hasn't got a counter other than maybe he could choose to either run him down or steel himself against the magic, and that'd be a pretty decent yomi styled decision to make, too. As the warrior, you're probably not alone. If you run the wizard down, you have a good chance of catching him if he decides to run. But he's probably going to shoot a fireball or something at you and even if you know it's going to be fake, it's gonna be bright and loud and you won't be able to see. That's if he doesn't do something dastardly like rearrange the room so that it's unrecognizeable. But anyways, you could alternately hang back and wait until he casts and then squinch your eyes closed, and then you tackle him since he wasted his time wiggling his fingers and stuff and now you've got him.

As the wizard, of course, you have three options. If the warrior runs you down, you throw a quick distraction spell at him. Of course you had one ready- you forsaw this occasion as an emergency you might want to prepare for. You have to weigh your options. If he runs you down, you can throw the proverbial wool over his eyes and try and flee. If he stands there and knows what you're up to, you can take advantage of his hesitation to take off and get a head-start in the footrace.

Or, you could say "screw it" and throw a real spell on his head. That'll show him.

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