Microsoft Zone Archive/Asheron's Call Handbook/Trying Out the Player-Killer Lifestyle

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Trying Out the Player-Killer Lifestyle

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The ability to harm and be harmed by other players implies assassinations, ambushes, vendettas, and player battles large and small, but it also makes altruism and cooperation more meaningful, and allows for the possibility of player-organized law enforcement. You may have heard that the Player Killer world is a chaotic free-for-all where players get ambushed at every turn, but those who've had this initial experience likely blundered into a bad situation, or even created one by not observing etiquette. If you learn some basic survival tactics and observe the unwritten codes of conduct, you'll find that you can have the same experiences as on an NPK server, while leaving open the possibility of much deeper intrigues and friendships.

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Train Your Character for Long-Term Success
When creating your character on the Player Killer world, keep in mind that you will want a high Quickness attribute and Run skill, and, eventually, a ranged attack, and a healing skill of some sort. Archery, Life Magic, and War Magic are especially popular Player Killer skills. Missile Defense and Magic Defense will be more important than Melee Defense in most encounters with hostile players. If you've got to choose between training in Missile Defense and Melee Defense, go for Missile Defense.

Concentrate on developing your getaway and defensive skills for several levels; many players do not even consider going on the offensive until they've attained 20th level. Low-level players will gain power most quickly by hunting monsters, carefully training their experience, and building relationships with other people. Later, when they have become powerful warriors and have a large number of solid allies, they can attempt to take over territory and impose their own brand of justice.

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Respect People's Personal Space
Anecdote from reliable source: When our hero first entered the world of Darktide, she set out over the countryside and soon encountered a small knot of characters chatting peacefully, weapons sheathed. Encouraged by their friendly attitude, she ran up and stopped about five yards away, waved, and noticed too late that they'd gone into a combat crouch. One unleashed a fireball that took down half her health. She'd gotten about three strides away before being smacked with a lightning bolt that sent her to the lifestone. A moment later, she received a couple of telepathic greetings: "Sorry." "Sorry. You just ran up on us and we thought you were going to attack."

(When she caught up with them later, they gave her peace offerings of armor and pyreals to prove that it had indeed been a misunderstanding.)

Player Killers are paranoid. If you're not trying to pick a fight, announce your peaceful intentions before you've gotten too close.

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Find Someone You Can Trust
If you're a starting a new character on the PK server, you'll probably want to seek the company of an allegiance as soon as possible. Even if you don't end up joining them, they will probably treat you civilly to maintain the good name of their group, and if you do join, they will likely offer you protection and take revenge on those who dare to attack you unprovoked. Here are some pointers for seeking an allegiance:

  • Start your search in the wilderness or in a backwater town. The major towns are often tense battle zones rather than recruitment centers. The first people to acknowledge your arrival will likely be predatory thugs.
  • Seek players who have a powerful monarch. The rank and name of the monarch appears at the bottom of a character's information panel if you successfully examine him or her. The higher the rank of a player's monarch, the more likely that the allegiance will be trying to recruit members and less likely that it will be victimizing people at random. If you aren't sure what rank a monarch's title corresponds to, see the Allegiance Primer.

If the vassal of a high-ranking monarch does assault you, try complaining to the monarch directly, either through an "/tell" or by e-mail through his or her site listed in the Allegiance Hall (if any). Chances are, the monarch will be sympathetic and may even reimburse you for damages.

Be sure that any allegiance you join has a good reputation and enough power to hold its own. The enemies of the allegiance will become your enemies, and you might not want to be affiliated with a group that's constantly being harassed.

Whenever you adventure with strangers, try to secure some token of goodwill. If a character is much more powerful than you, he or she demonstrates some goodwill just by leaving you alone. Don't trust anyone who's eligible to join you in a fellowship but refuses to do so in favor of just tagging along. Our hero made this mistake once. The person she went adventuring with pretended not to understand her fellowship request, then led her to the lowest level of a dungeon. While she fought the monsters there, her "partner" hung back until she'd been seriously weakened. He then struck her from behind. "Sorry," he said as she began to run. "I targeted you by mistake. Here, let me heal you." When she let down her guard to accept his badly needed help, he whacked her again, and then pursued as she fled, yelling, "Die, &*#@%! Die!" -- at which point she finally got the hint.

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Don't Run Away in a Straight Line

When you're a Player Killer, there's no question that you'll have to run away on occasion. The question is how. Run and side step, and change direction every few seconds. If there's a portal nearby, use it, unless you suspect your opponent has help waiting on the other side. If the portal takes you to a dungeon with the exit portal right behind your entry point, get behind the exit portal and watch for your opponent to appear in front of you. You may be able to gain some lead-time by exiting while he or she is getting oriented or still trying to materialize.

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Consider the Tactical Situation

As stated before, you shouldn't go on the offensive until you're highly experienced, but in every new encounter with people, you should still consider the tactical situation as if preparing for a fight. What skills has the potential enemy demonstrated and what would be the best counters to them? Does the character have any nearby friends? Do you have friends who will cooperate to ambush the character, and if so, is there a nearby room or cul-de-sac where you can trap him or her? If you were going to attack this person, would you follow him, or try to lure him into an ambush? Which might he do to you?

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Seeking Mastery
Learning to become a good politician and warrior on the Player Killer world is a long process. Study all the different skills and attributes, apprentice yourself to a high-level character, and ask a lot of questions. If you're playing a warrior merely to avoid the complexities of spellcasting, you won't get very far before a mage loots your smoldering corpse.

Becoming a Player Killer opens you up to a whole new realm of social possibilities. Don't give up if you blunder into a few frustrating encounters. You'll eventually find people who'll help you toward the kind of playing experience you want. As a Player Killer, you're sure to have many interesting interactions and make truer friends and more serious enemies than possible in any other role-playing situation. Watch your back, and good luck!