GMing Fights


This page is advice for people who want to run fighting scenes. It covers points that everyone should think about, and that you might want to talk about OOCly. It is designed to be useful for players as well as people running scenes.


GMs, player or staff-ish, allow a situation where a player gets to display their cool against the same backdrop as other people. Cool isn't just assigned by the people who already know a PC's whole story. The GM is there to ensure that the whole world acknowledges Coolness.

See Player GMs for the MUSH overview, preferably before reading on, if you have not seen it already.


A number of the people who play warrior-type characters do not enjoy in-depth mechanical fights. A number of them do. In this case, pleasing all of the people all of the time is a recipe for GM insanity1.

It is useful to establish beforehand what people will really enjoy playing - for some groups, that will be specific detailed fights, with +challenge and +compare and so on. And for other groups, it will be gloss poses, big epic sweeping narrative, with less individual detail. Between extremes, there are many camps, some with big pointy swords.

If you have the confidence to tailor your GM style to either kind of group, try to take the time to do so. If not, build it anyway, and people will come.

Conversely, if you are a player who wants one particular style, do ask people who want to run scenes. If they are happier with one style, nothing is lost. However, those who are running scenes cannot tailor them if they do not know what you want. The goal of RPing on this or any MUSH is to have fun. Try to maximise your chances of that, by speaking out. You are not complaining or causing a fuss, you are asking to show off your cool2.


Yes, there is a place for people who want to play fighters, but do not know how to. It is in the forefront of the Cool, with the rest of us. Conversely, someone who is playing or creating a fighter character should remember that word in there. Fighter is something that will define you, and as such, carrying a weapon, like in real life, is a promise that at least sometime you will use it. See below, IC vs OOC.


Just as we need to recognize players cool, players have to be prepared to recognize each others cool. This is partly an issue of play generosity, and partly an issue of sheets backing up actions. Glossy is good. But glossy divorced of sheet backing is problematic, as it removes cool from people who actually invested.

+challenges can deal with this problem. It lets people state, ''look, I totally have invested in cool appropriate to this situation'. +declare does the same, but with more spam. Again, these things can be play-group tailored.

Examine +help challenge, whether GM or player. One or maybe two +challenges per person per scene is a soft maximum, however. Keeping spam to a minimum is more of an art than a science, but it does help with the flow of a scene. Lose or win, a challenge should be used for Cool. In many cases, a scene does not need a challenge at all - story triumphs over code.

Benedict Fails is an example of +challenge directing a scene. It would have been glorious to defeat the road, and to give hope to others. Shame, Benny!

Scening and Joining

When someone joins mid-scene, it is helpful to give them a brief synopsis, so they can choose to pose in, or merely watch, if nobody objects. This is as per MUSH Etiquette. They should not be assumed to be present until they indicate they intend to be. Not forcing poses on somebody includes not spotting someone who may be IC lost, hidden, passing through, or arriving in the area OOCly. People should not be forced into play, especially play that may not be in their style. +help setting is your friend: you can use it to alter the setting so that anyone who is unsure what is happening can read it without being forced to scroll back, and it stays until cleared.


As noted, above, GMs are here to make players look cool. Assure them they can trust you to do that. Consider +help trust

Players take note: We are not here to run military simulations. But we do want you to be -active- in scenes which align with your particular cool. This is not a test, and there are no bad answers. Remember, your +sheet represents knowledge that you have as a PC, and potential cool.

Right vs Wrong?

Players again: Don't worry that the specific action you're taking isn't tactically right. If you want it to be tactically correct, it will be. If you want it to be tactically incorrect, it will be that instead. Characters who have not got an RL background as a soldier are not penalised by not knowing what a soldier might do in the appropriate situation. Instead, this depends on the conflict system, and GM decision.

IC Information

Make sure that characters have enough information to play. This will generally be by way of an IC+OOC briefing, which can be short, but should contain certain items.

  • The overall situation
  • Who is in charge, ICly
  • What PCs are expected to do, ICly
  • What resources the PCs have, such as NPCs or the details of tokens if necessary

So an IC briefing might go as follows:

Corwin, Benedict and Eric are here: Benedict briefs as follows. "We will be attacking the Castle through the breach that has already been made. Corwin will be taking two hundred men into the breach, and holding it until Eric can bring up the secret weapon. Eric will bring it up on the cart, haul it into the breach, and deploy it. I will be holding the reserves. You are both following my orders. Any questions?"

And the OOC part afterwards:

<OOC> Benedict says, Corwin is in charge of his NPC brigade, Eric is in charge of the weapon, which he has brought. Any questions?

Wrapping Up

As well as wrapping up in-character, if there is more than one scene, or people are offline, remember to send a +mail to tell people, it is over, you can go home. Include a round-up of the big things that happened.


As well as The Mush Overview, there is a page of helpful hints by a player GM here.

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