We get a lot of new users on this site asking about T1, how it works, what the rules are, etc. It's actually less common on this site than most people would assume, but it still comes in handy when you're doing a combat-focused RP, and can be immensely fun on its own. So here I'm posting a few rules and suggestions, to serve as a baseline for those who want to know what T1 is all about. This should hopefully make things clear enough for you to step into this kind of combat and enjoy yourself.
Before I start, I'd like to note is that not all fights are resolved through T1. Some people choose to cooperate and decide an outcome together, others will choose to use dice rolls to determine the results of combat. So it's worth checking with opponents whether a fight is actually going to go down using this system.
If it is, then here's what to expect:
Part one: the basics.
Where T1 differs from other ways of writing combat is that it is both competitive, and ruled by tactics rather than luck. The objective is to catch the opponent's character in a situation where the other writer concedes, usually because they can see no plausible way for their character to escape defeat. This might seem rather easy at first, but there are some major limitations:
- Players cannot write what happens to the opponent's character. For instance, you can't say, "Demon slashes at Angel, and cuts his head off." Instead, you could say, "Demon makes a horizontal slash at Angel, aimed for his neck. The strike carried enough power to easily shear through his neck, if it were to make contact." This way, the potential consequences of the attack are illustrated, but whether events actually proceed that way are determined by the opponent's reaction.
- Characters are limited in power. The precise limits vary from site to site, with some forums using 'tiers' of power to make sure fighters are evenly matched. Valucre has Mild Powers, which essentially restricts massive scale attacks (destroying a building with one huge attack is okay, destroying a city is usually not) and bans certain overpowered abilities (control of time, instant teleportation, suddenly creating a fireball right in front of the enemy's face from a mile away). There's still plenty of leeway as to what you can do, as long as you avoid characters with instant-win attacks or virtually unbreakable defenses, you should be okay. It's also permitted to fight without the Mild Power rules, so long as both sides consent to this.
- Finally, a character's actions must be plausible. If your opponent tries to, say, freeze your character with ice powers, you can't just step forwards and attack them afterwards without dealing with that somehow ('cause you'd be frozen). Likewise, you can't attack an enemy with a club if they're standing ten meters away (unless it's a damn big club). Any action beyond peak human capabilities requires justification, either based on your character's abilities, or their circumstances. Likewise, if your character knows something, they need to have a reason to know it (by default, characters' powers are unknown to each other at the start of a fight).
These are the basic rules, and are technically all you need. Here's a simplified example:
1. Demon shoots a fireball at Angel from six feet away, aiming to burn a massive hole in his face.
2. Angel leans forward and bends his knees, ducking under the flaming projectile. This accomplished, he lunges forwards, aiming to impale Demon on his longsword.
3. The grinning Demon steps forwards to meet Angel and blocks with one arm, sticking out his hand so that the tip of the sword pierces his palm. His fingers then grip the blade, holding it in place, even as he launches another fireball towards Angel.
In this case, both opponents were able to react to each other's attacks. Neither character used absurdly powerful abilities, and neither performed actions that were impossible or improbable (the fireball is technically beyond human capabilities, but in this case I'm assuming it's one of Demon's powers). Finally, the third move caught Angel in a tricky situation: since his sword is held still by his opponent, it will be difficult for him to dodge the fireball without letting go of the sword. So, as you can see, this format allows two combatants to fight evenly and creatively, while still allowing one to overcome the other through tactics.
Part two: a serious fight
Now, of course, that was a highly simplified version. There are other guidelines which, though not essential, can be very useful for having a satisfying T1 match against a creative and/or experienced opponent.
- All characters involved should have character sheets, or at the very least detailed lists of their abilities. Otherwise, someone can just make up powers as the situation demands! Making clear each character's powers and limitations helps ensure a fair fight.
- You should describe your attacks clearly. Try to make your attacks detailed, so that your opponent knows what is going on. You don't have let them know what your character is thinking, but you must make it clear what your character is doing physically, even if their character cannot see it. It is impossible to respond to an attack that is not described, after all. You cannot say you hit the opponent with something unless they knew it existed, and had a chance to respond (you're allowed to make stealth attacks on their characters, but to say that their character didn't see it coming would be controlling their character, they might have had a clever trick up their sleeve to detect it!)
- Differences in power are resolved through preparation. In some cases, it's obvious which action is stronger. A twelve-foot giant's punch will be stronger than an ordinary boxer's punch, and the boxer character will not try to claim he can just knock the giant's fist aside. However, in most cases it is unclear. If two super-strong characters go toe-to-toe and end up grappling, which is stronger? If two mages shoot beams at each other, which clash between them, which beams blasts through the other? You can't just say 'my character is stronger,' and even if you give numbers, your opponent can just give bigger numbers.
Some sites resolve things with stats, by giving each character specific STR, DEX, CON, and INT levels. Most, however, including Valucre, use preps. An action that is prepared in some way is always 'better' than a 'quickdraw' action. This does not mean prepared attacks are unavoidable, but it means you can't brute-force your way past them without your own preparations. Here's an example:
1. Angel clasps his hands in prayer, summoning the power of Light to him.
2. Demon roars, and flings a fireball at Angel, a raging flame that will melt its way through his chest if it meets its target.
3. Angel opens his eyes, and casts forth a sphere of blazing light, calling on the power he had gathered to give his spell strength. The sphere smashes into the fireball, dispersing it with ease, and carries on towards Demon, its bright power capable of purifying his foul flesh upon contact.
In this case, Demon cannot claim that his attack can blast through Angel's, because Angel had prepared his attack beforehand to enhance its power. If two actions directly clash, then whichever has more preparation behind it wins. Preps can take any form: you can charge magic, steel your will, focus on a specific movement, divert power to weapon systems, etc: they can be used to improve any kind of action, offensive or defensive (though there are limitations: charging your tesla cannon won't help you dodge an arrow). However preps do not guarantee success, because they can't enhance everything at once. There was one fight I was in where an opponent used a prep to make a devastatingly powerful attack, and I simply dodged it, because the power she gave the attack didn't make it fast. Generally, you want to save your preps for when you have your opponent cornered, or need to escape a difficult situation. Valucre rules: one prep can be made per turn, five preps is the maximum you can have at once. Also, a prep cannot be used the same turn it is generated.
- You can't do a million things at once. There's no official limit to how many actions you can take in a turn: many times, I've defended, attacked, and prepared for a future attack within the space of a single post! However, while three or four complex actions are plausible, ten or twelve are not. Nobody can do that many things at once, and doing them all in sequence is basically inviting your opponent to interrupt you early on and nullify your later actions. This is not to say you can't do devious and convoluted things, just that you have to do them over the course of several posts, while also fending off your opponent.
- Finally, and arguably most importantly, be ready to resolve disputes. If you do a lot of T1 (this site is fairly quiet in that regard, but there's still the occasional bouts and tournaments), then you're going to run into people who break/ignore the rules, and people who don't agree with what you think is going on. If you want a fair fight, you'll need to argue with them, without turning the whole thing into a horrible shouting match. You can:
1. Use a judge. It often helps to have an impartial user or an admin on hand to read the fight, and decide if anyone is being unfair or misunderstanding what is written.
2. Try to establish rules beforehand. If you're worried about rule violations, agree on some basics, like whether you're going to use Mild Powers only, whether you will have a time limit for replying, etc. Many of the rules I explained above can be broken in a good fight, as long as both sides are okay with this. It helps to pick the rules you want, and suggest them to your opponent... but try not to be too strict. There was one guy I saw who made a list twenty rules long, and would only fight people who stuck within those exact boundaries. Of course, nobody fought him.
If the basic rules are established beforehand, and someone still breaks them, then just quote what they agreed to at them. This should shut them up.
3. If someone is doing something that seems impossible given their character's abilities, explain that to them (private messaging works best). Be friendly if you can, and tell them you're confused. Someone is far more likely to admit a mistake if you say you're trying to understand their actions, rather than if you accuse them of cheating. Often, they will simply have misinterpreted something, and have a different understanding of what is going on between your characters.
4. Be ready to admit that you're wrong. Maybe your opponent fucked up and misread something, but it's just as likely you did. Stay civil, and be ready to consider that you've made a mistake and might have to take a hit for it.
Part three: winning.
This is the shortest part, because I'm tired after writing all that and I don't want to give away all my tricks Anyways, here is how you win:
- Keep posting. A surprising number of fights are won when one player drops out. If you can commit to a fight, you already have a good chance of coming out on top.
- Exploit mistakes. Don't be mean about it... but if your opponent's character does something that plays right into your hands, pounce on them! Make it clear in your writing how the situation favors your actions, and hit them hard while they're in a difficult position.
- Plan ahead. Try and predict what your opponent might do, and how you might respond to it. Most of the time you'll predict wrong, but when you get it right, you'll have a counter ready to deploy!
- Make sure your character has a good fighting style. You don't want to exceed Mild Powers, or give them dozens of different powers (few people have the patience for overpowered characters)... but make sure they have abilities you can get creative with. Recommended: ranged attacks, stealth abilities, abilities that can affect terrain. (NOTE: these are useful, but definitely not essential. I won a tournament here using a lizardman with no powers other than being big and tough, armed only with a pair of ordinary rocks).
- Be smart. If you make your actions consistently clever, you'll not only make your attacks more powerful, but also impress your opponent. If they consider you worthy of defeating them, they are more likely to give in when you catch them in a tricky spot.
- Remember it's just a game! At some point, you may run into that spot where your opponent pulls something you didn't expect, and shatters your devious tactics, and it's just AAAARRRRGH! But it's okay, you're just throwing magic and swords and stuff at each other via text. Keeping a cool head about things not only helps you have fun, it makes you more fun to fight with, and helps you think clearly and stay in the game. Be ready to lose, sometimes... but never go down without a fight.
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