Unlike linear game scenarios or even most open-world games WoTMUD places very few arbitrary constraints on player actions and activity outside of being a MUD and being based in the Wheel of Time fantasy world. WoTMUD is on the extreme end of player freedom of action and there are almost no mechanical or coded rules which govern the way a player can interact with the world, its characters and other players. A high level player can massacre level 1 characters or their own innkeeper if they so desire, but the logic and in-game society tends to prevent absolute chaos from being a beneficial situation. Given this level of freedom almost any series of conscious actions which achieve a desired result can be considered "play." Most players, however, play WoTMUD out of a desire to do one of three things, usually in combination instead of isolation: player kill (PK), explore and build their character ("exp"), and roleplay. The first two of these play categories are similar and involve a direct reliance on the game's primary interactive logic (i.e. combat) and the last is effected through a mix of game logic, player-guided social constructs and memes, knowledge of Robert Jordan's story world, direct player and staff interaction, and personal imagination and creativity.
Styles of combat play can be cleanly divided into offensive and defensive categories, each with three major subdivisions.
Bashing is a playstyle which is favored by characters with high strength, carrying heavy weapons which usually do high damage in normal melee combat and enormous damage after a successful bash. The in-game command skill "bash" is used to knock another character off their feet into a sitting position, giving all engaged opponents and opportunity to deliver extra damageHow much? to the downed player for up to two rounds. While sitting a character's defense rating for "dodge bonus" (i.e. "db") is severely reduced, while "parry bonus" (i.e. "pb") is reduced to a lesser degree for avoidance of strikes. Avoiding a bash, however, is entirely dependent on db, and pb plays no part. The penalty for missing a bash, however, is the basher himself "stumbling" which results in him missing an attack for one round and assuming a sitting position which reduces his db and pb ratings by the same amount noted above. When bashed or sitting a character cannot kick, weave or execute any other offensive actions. The bash command has a slight execution delay, or timer, during which an alert opponent can execute the "kick" command and interrupt the incoming bash if the kick lands successfully.
Generally, the stronger the character, the heavier the weapon which can be wielded, the higher the damage a character will do with a given weapon, and the higher "offensive bonus" (i.e. "ob" -- similar to attack rating or chance-to-hit) a character will have with a given weapon at a given level of training.
Bashing tends to be the quintessential warrior-class combat technique and is heavily favored by this class by game mechanics and the training system, though any class can learn to perform a bash. Bashers tend to be absorption-style defensive players because of their high strength and ability to wear heavy armor without suffering too much encumbrance, though combo bashers and even dodgy bashers are not entirely unheard of.
Charging is another playstyle which favors strong characters but is not as reliant on physical strength as on high levels of training in skills such as ride, charge and spears. Spears and lances are the only weapons which can be used to charge and charging can only be performed from horseback. Charging, like bashing, also entails a slight delay but cannot be avoided in the same manner as a bash. The advantage of charging over normal attacks is that a charge delivers an enormous amount of damage in a single round in open combat. Whereas bashing first renders an opponent relatively helpless for a brief time to create a window of opportunity for allies to deliver massive damage, a charge is a massive strike all on its own. This tends to make bashers most effective with the support of a high-damage party and chargers more independent in their damage delivery ability. Bashers and chargers together can create a powerful combination. The charge command has a relatively short timer but cannot be initiated on a character that is already engaged in combat. The penalty for missing a charge is similar to the penalty for missing a bash, trading the chance at an extremely high damage blow for being made vulnerable for a round.
Charging tends to be favored by the hunter-class and is heavily favored by both game mechanics and the more independent playstyle easily available to that class due to their practice skill bonuses. Charging tends to be associated with the absorption or combo defensive play styles, but dodgy chargers are not unknown.
Backstabbing (i.e. "stabbing") and ambushing are skills favored by characters with high dexterity, regardless of strength. This skill allows a player to initiate an extremely powerful first strike against an unwary opponent from a hidden position. Stabbing is the most powerful physical strike in the game, but it is a difficult maneuver to accomplish and suffers from many limitations.
Stabbing can only be done with a weapon that delivers "pierce" or "stab" damage, which includes nearly all short blades (daggers and knives), javelins and fencing blades, though almost every non-short blade stabbing weapon delivers very low stab damage and are generally considered less than ideal. The chances to successfully stab another character are based on the levels of training in the sneak, hide and backstab skills, the character's dexterity rating, and the relative level of the attacking player to the target. The damage done by a successful backstab are based open the level of the attacking character, the weapon used, and the dexterity level of the attacking player. Stab damage completely bypasses armor and defensive ratings and is therefore one of the most important counters to a warrior-class character's immense advantages in open combat. The backstab command has a relatively long timer and cannot be initiated on a character that is already engaged in combat. The penalty for missing a stab (called "bricking" or "clumsying") is to be unable to attack or kick for two rounds but does not penalize a character's defensive ratings.
Ambushing (or "bushing") is reliant upon the same skills and equipment as stabbing, but functions in a very different way. The ambush command can be used by a hidden player who is lying in wait in a room for the enemy to pass by. This effectively allows "stabby" players to set traps for unwary or quickly moving enemies who are otherwise difficult to catch. Ambush damage can be significantly lower than normal stab damage (they were originally the same; ambush has been slightly nerfed from its original version), but is still an incredibly strong strike which bypasses armor and defense ratings and is often enough to finish off an escaping enemy with a single blow. Ambush suffers the same mechanical limitations as backstab in addition to the chance for "misbushing" which can either refer to bricking the backstab or ambushing the wrong player by accident (usually a friend).
Generally speaking the practice points required to train backstab and associated skills to a high level of reliability preclude the training of an alternate weapon skill to a high level, which means that most stabby players tend to use their stabbing weapon as their main weapon. Most weapons with high stab damage have relatively low melee attack damage, and most weapons with high melee damage have relatively low stab damage. Stabby players tend almost always to be dodgy defensive players because the light weight of most good stabbing weapons, the dependence on high dexterity to land solid stabs and the lack of dependence on high strength tend to favor the same traits that make an excellent dodger.
- Main article: Abs
Absorption (commonly called "abs") is a defensive play style which favors characters with high constitution and low dexterity. The main idea behind the abs style is to cover the character in heavy armor to absorb the highest percentage of damage possible because players with low dexterity are generally certain of being hit almost every round. A player with high constitution, however, will generally have a high number of hit points and can survive a long time despite receiving punishing blows from the enemy because higher-level armor can absorb in the neighborhood of 80% of damage delivered. As high absorption gear is heavy and very encumbering dodge and parry bonuses suffer enormously under this setup. For this reason players with high dexterity will almost always avoid this style because it negates one of their primary defensive traits and effectively wastes a core character attribute.
Abs is generally associated with the bash and charge offensive styles because the weapons involved in those attacking styles require high strength but do not depend much on dexterity so abs is an easy choice for any character which turned out to have high strength and constitution but low dexterity. The armor involved is also very heavy which limits the character's ability to carry much additional weight in the event he needs to place items in inventory for a trip back home.
- Main article: Dodge (Playstyle)
Dodge is a defensive play style generally associated with stabby characters and relies more on high dexterity to make up for a low constitution, though high strength can contribute to the effectiveness of a dodge player's overall defense rating by adding to the parry bonus granted by weapons. The basic idea behind dodge is to make up for a low constitution rating or a capitalize on a very high dexterity rating by trying to avoid being hit at all. Whereas absorption is very gear-reliant, dodge is very skill reliant with a focus on practicing skills such as dodge and shield parry (or two-handed weapons with high parry bonuses in the case of high-strength non-shield wearers) to very high levels to maximize the benefit of having high dexterity. High strength is a bonus but not a necessity for a good dodger.
All dodgy characters will be hit at some point in a fight, but a high dodge bonus can prevent chargers or bashers from landing hits very often and the low offensive bonus given to extremely heavy-hitting weapons such as clubs tends to decrease the odds a dodger faces of taking much damage. The bane of the dodger is a basher with a very high offensive bonus capable of landing a bash or two in a fight. As many dodgy characters do not have a high constitution and have a low hitpoint max a single bash-charge combination by two heavy hitting characters can spell the end for such a dodge-reliant character. Conversely, however, a stabby dodger can easily finish off a wounded abser with a successful ambush or stab. This tends to make dodgy, stabby characters rely more on fleeing, mobility and strategic play versus abs bashers and chargers who rely more on tactical in-fight combat skills.
Dodgy characters often lack a high strength rating and even when one is present do not wish to carry much weight as high weight encumbers the character and can severely reduce dodge and parry bonuses. This can make transporting heavy loot a challenge and is one of the many complications built in to the game balance to challenge the effectiveness of skilled dodgers.
- Main article: Combo
Combo tries to strike a balance between a high overall defensive rating and a high armor absorption percentage. Generally regarded as the most powerful equipment choice in the game, a combo setup is often able to trade a small reduction in armor compared to a pure Abs setup in exchange for a substantial increase in defensive bonuses.