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PK Survivalist's Handbook, Part 1
Let's face it, everyone has encounters with playerkilling in Avendar. Someone always wants to kill someone, be it for revenge, for greed, or because you said something ill to a friend of a friend of a friend of a hot ch'taren. Winning a playerkill is typically everyone's desire (or fantasy), but before one can truly begin to win consistently at playerkills, you really have to know how to SURVIVE the playerkill.
Playerkilling can be separated into a number of scenarios. But there's usually always a general rule that most people will adhere to: The person on the offense will usually be the victor. There are exceptions of course, as is the case with every rule, but this one is fairly hard to botch. If someone is attacking you, they likely know what they're doing, and have taken the necessary steps to facilitate your demise.
If you're ranking, travelling, just standing around, and someone attacks? Start running. Do whatever it takes to get away and hide for a bit. Getting away can be difficult if your opponent has set up the proper traps, but you should always be aware of what's around you, the terrain, and the options of retreat that are available to you, regardless of what traps you think your ambusher has setup.
You should also be aware of the commands that are available to you to assist you in avoiding ambushes. As well as little bits of knowledge that will help you high. There are certain strategies to apply when running and hiding, that depend on any number of things; class, race, areas, alignment, and so on.
You'll also realize that surviving PK (or just outright avoiding it) in the lower level ranges is much more different than the upper level ranges. Lower level ranges have to respect the guards of every city, and has to be aware of the aggro-level-cap (some mobs will only aggro on PCs BELOW a certain level), etc. While high level ranges don't have to worry AS MUCH about these circumstances.
Eventually, you'll come to the realization that there actually are a lot of things you can do to avoid dying. Once you begin to figure out how to avoid death, you'll find things start to go easier as you level higher. Most people actually don't want to put forth the effort to finding people who are adept at hiding. The longer you live, the better equipment you'll eventually get, which ups your chances of survival in the hero range.
Scenarios of Playerkilling
Whenever a playerkill is initiated, most players will immediately classify the attempt in a certain way and react according to that classification. Am I about to get ambushed? Am I about to get ganged? Is my group mate about to backstab me? So, and so forth.
Scenario I: The Center Square Ambush
This one is labeled aptly because it actually does happen a lot in center square when the Guardians aren't around. Essentially, if someone is looking at more than two times in under a minute, you're likely about to get attacked. Basically, someone is sizing you up; looking at your equipment, thinking if they like anything you're wearing, then they look at you again and begin pondering, THEN they probably look at you again to gauge their chances. Then, they attack. This is a basic guideline that almost EVERYONE follows: If someone starts looking at you multiple times, it's time to jet to some friendlies.
Scenario II: Incoming Ambush
It happens, and it's a popular and VERY effective way to kill people. In this case, the WHERE command is your friend. Most every vet checks where probably every 5-10 seconds. It may sound menial and corny, but honestly, it's a low-budget command (all you have to do is scan the PK flags in your area) in survival. I can't stress enough how important it is to use the where command, as both defense in seeing what's coming, and offense in tracking. As soon as you start seeing foreign PK flags in your area, note their location (you DO know the area you're in, right?). See if they're getting closer (If you're already sure they're hostile, just skip ahead then) and if they start getting relatively close to you, begin emergency procedures. Typically, most people run. I would suggest recalling, and following either normal procedures for low range or high range escape (later section).
Scenario III: Static Ambush
These can sometimes be upsetting. A static ambush is someone (or a group) attacking you while you're just standing around a town. You may not be prepared, as in having your protection spells up, or whatever. So, you're already at a disadvantage, and trust me, a static ambush is planned in a way that you're lagged to all heaven and STAY lagged so you never have a chance to flee. The BEST way to avoid dying to a static ambush is to ALWAYS be prepared. Keep it in your mind that being in town doesn't gurantee absolute safety! So, keep protection shield up if you're a scholar. Keep flight going if there are people in the city that you know are hostile towards you. If you're unsure of hostility, stay near a guard, at least a guard can buy you some time with intervention so you can follow the proper escape procedures. Every class has its own way of being prepared, the trick is to just STAY prepared at all times.
While we're on the subject of staying prepared. A lot of warrior classes seem to have problems with this, because of the money factor in potions. I can't really suggest an alternative to potions. People who have invisibility will use it to their advantage, if you can't detect invisibility, then you can't see the threat coming. At best, you can stand by some guards and hope for some intervention. But really, you should have a scholar ally and stick with them if you're truly paranoid about invisible people, otherwise, buy the detection potions first. Flight isn't so much a concern, because the chances of low level people having trip fully mastered is slim, so you should always have an opening to flee from one person tripping you. Guards are your friend in almost every scenario as a lowbie, remember.
Scenario IV: Roaming Ambush
These are the WORST. You're ranking or travelling, grabbing some equipment, and suddenly you're attacked before you could check the where command. You may be at half life, you may have been sleeping at no life. Either way, you were caught, and you're under attack. The procedure is simple; quaff a potion of recall and start running. Note that I said QUAFF A POTION. Don't rely on word of recall. Potions are lagless, word of recall is one round of lag, which may cause you to get tripped up if someone setup an interceptor at your altar. Note that if you were cursed in some way, recalling is out of the question. At this point, it's run run run. You simply have to run and get away.
These are pretty much the four types of ambush, they're similar in most ways, but obviously differ on your state of readiness. The lesson you should gleam from this is usage of the where command, and being prepared.
How to avoid PK
You can split this topic up into a few categories: Low range (30 and below), middle range (30-43), and hero range (43-51).
Low rangers can safely rely on city guards to protect you. The only thing you have to watch out for with this tactic is archers, and distance attackers. Typically, I utilize the lag of archery to just run to another city. Note that the city guards do differ in strength: Var Bandor's are the weakest (exception: Bromrin), Earendam's are the next strongest (The gate guards are actually fairly meaty) while Fortress Krilin's guards surpass anything around (You suffer though by not having much of an escape plan). I leave it up to the reader to discover which mobs are city guard flagged, but it's pretty obvious in the former two cities. Almost all of the normal mobs in Krilin serve as a city guard (NORMAL mobs, not Baron, etc.).
To avoid future PK, it's probably in your BEST interest not to insult/irritate higher rangers. Heroes have a knack for gaining lowbie "fans", who usually trade services for equipment and information, and so on. Usually these services include killing someone who's way outside the hero's range. So, if you want to avoid this, don't punch higher level people in the face unless you want enemies.
Group backstabbing is fairly prevalent in the lowbie ranges, due to the lack of hitpoints that most people have. These group backstabs are typically done by physical classes, moreso by thieves and warriors since they typically have a solid offense skill of some sort early on. The only way to avoid this is to get to know who you're travelling with; RP with them a little bit first hand, and then move on. The situation differs on who's what class, but typically, don't let yourself get knocked down to 20 hps while the person in question has full hps. You're practically asking for it.
"Equipment bulls-eye" If you're wearing a slew of awesome equipment, expect your PK target value to shoot through the roof. People love to kill lowbies with awesome equipment, just because it's typically "easier" then hunting it down themselves. My lowbies typically sell high level equipment to high level people, where the equipment SHOULD be. Just don't charge insane prices, or you may run afoul with the punching high level people in the face clause.
As a low-level, you may also have an economical advantage over other lowbies, depending on your class. If you have invisibility, your safety value just went up a number of levels. Most people can barely afford to have a pair of detection potions just for emergencies sake, let alone for constant awareness. Use the invisibility spell, it is your friend. It's an even better friend if you know which aggro mobs can detect invisibility, and which can't. If such a mob can't, feel free to move past them and let your non-invisibility-able person deal with it. Popular areas for this strategy are the swamps and Nordath. But nevertheless, these are still dangerous areas, so be careful.
Mid-level ranges can still rely on guards for some protection, but not completely. At these levels, most people can handle most guards fairly well. However, most of them can't handle a guard and a PC at the same time. Now, this brings up some issues of actually using guards as an offensive move, but we'll leave that for another story.
Essentially, you can rely on a guard to defend you while you return fire (assuming they target YOU). If someone targets the guard specifically, it's time for you to book it to another place.
Economics at this point become more evened out, most people can afford potions at this point, so you can't always rely on staying invisible for stealth's sake. However, the aggro mobs/detect invis trick still applies. There really isn't a popular way to gain invisibility in the game, so you can still cash in on this strategy (in fact, hero ranges use this strategy as well).
For all intents and purposes, all of the lowbie clauses mentioned before still apply to mid-rangers, with the exceptions of the ones discussed above.
At hero level, you should know what you're doing, and you should definitly know who your enemies are when you're going into the hero ranges. At this point, alignment and faction allegiance pretty much dictate who's most likely to attack you. Be prepared for everything, and above all us, make friends with those who believe in the same things you do.
You're going to have to run, and you're going to have to learn how to do it well. Nothing can replace practice however, the more exposure you get to running, the better you will get. But, there's a lot of small things you can do to make your job easier, and to make the job of the chaser more difficult.
Know your terrain: I can't stress how important this is. Know where the area exits are. Know the room types for hiding purposes. Know the movement costs for moving through these areas. Know which mobs are aggro. Know the funny quirks. Basically, the more you know, the better your character (and future characters) are off.
It pays to know these things because you can use them against your opponent as well. If you're in the low ranges, then movement points can be precious for non-fliers (fliers are pretty much good to go, however). I've been in situations where someone in my group couldn't keep up with a PK because she kept running out of movement points. It happens.
Funny quirks exist in some areas in the form of no-where rooms. These are rooms that actually hide you from the "where" command. Sometimes it works one-way (where you can still use the where command to see out), and sometimes it works both ways where you can't see out and people can't see in (climb a tree in Nendor for an example). These rooms are very useful, especially the one-way rooms. Although be warned, a good many of these are known across the vet population, and they're generally the first places checked when people get away.
Running itself is more about choosing your route and shaking your would-be killer. Run through areas as fast as possible, and as MANY areas as possible. The more frequent you shake yourself from the where list, the better. Use areas with a lot of area-exits to your advantage; a lot of people lose their prey in the arien plains cause there's a lot of routes to go. But watch out for the choke points in the world; these are usually the roads connecting the northern hemisphere with the southern hemisphere (imagine Var Bandor as the equator).
And above all else, use the where command when running. And never stop! Stay on the move until you find a good hiding spot, and then start spamming the where command until you recollect your thoughts. From there, it's a matter of figuring out what to do in return, if you want to return, or where you should hide next if you're found.
There's so much you can do in the world of survival, it's practically an artform at this point in Avendar's evolution. To write a guide to cover every possible point is almost impossible, but I hope I've written something that at least provides a few pointers, insights, and possible avenues of research.
It should be noted that the opinions of the author do not necessarily reflect those of the Avendar staff. The author hopes that the reader has gleamed some form of lesson from this article, or at the very least has found some brief entertainment. One should also note that this information may not be necessarily correct (unlikely, but possible) as it is all conclusions and opinions drawn by the author.