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Writting fight scenes

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Oh, I suppose you want some examples along with the answer. X'D

Fine, fine. Here is a snippet from one of my Lessons Learned articles for my new site. This is never before seen stuff, so don't feint.



Ho-hum, just another Balor

Action speaks louder than words. Adventuring is supposed to be fun and exciting, otherwise what's the point? Put life into every scene as if you were watching a movie. You don't see the protagonists walking up to the villain's minions, waving their swords and wands saying you take five points of damage. No, you watch the magnificent swordplay as the characters duel across the screen, or the monsters fall to mysterious magic manipulated by the mage. Though you need to portray the damage or effects that occur with the characters, the descriptions can be said in an exciting manner.

Use colorful words to describe the characters, items and especially the action. A sword isn't just a sword. A sword can be glistening, rusty, blood-stained, or cracked. A character doesn't attack with the sword, he thrusts, parries, slashes, and maims. A wand can be spiraling, grainy, metallic, or warped. A fireball streaks through the air, singing the hairs of those it passes, before exploding in a fiery blaze that incinerated its victims, leaving their flesh as ash.


Example Play

The fight raged on with her dishing out more damage than she was taking. I went into great detail about the fight, because this portion of the game excited her the most. After each of her rounds, I described how the rest of the patrons were doing. Some were killed by other zombies. Other patrons worked together to bring a zombie down only to be slain themselves the next round. I glanced over the background characters, because the PC should be the main attraction.

DM: "The other patrons are hard pressed. Several of them have already fallen victim to the zombies. A pair of men have teamed up on one zombie and beat it to death, again I suppose, with broken chair legs used as makeshift clubs."

I had two NPCs that I described in more detail throughout the combat. The innkeeper tried to save his inn and all the patrons. He was rough and straightforward in his assault. A halfling rogue tumbled around the zombies using the pillars in the area, bar, and other features to give him circumstance bonuses to his attacks and AC.

DM: "The innkeeper grabs the warhammer, that you initially mistook as decoration, off the wall behind the bar. He raises the warhammer up high and bellows 'The zombies are before us and our family and friends are behind us my fellows. Remember, the only thing that stands between them is us!' The innkeeper swings his two handed warhammer square against the chest of the zombie before him. The patrons around him bray their own war cries."

DM: "Despite the innkeeper's best efforts, the zombies quickly spill around the cellar defenders and attack the innocents around the inn. A surly halfling still sitting amongst the chaos, places his mug on the bar unconcerned with the turn of events. A zombie steps forward knocking the mug over, irritating the halfling. 'Dammit. I can never finish a drink in this blasted town.' The halfling pushes off the bar tipping his stool over and narrowly dodging the zombies attack. Tumbling around to the back of the zombie, he trips the zombie over the fallen stool with a soft kick to the zombie's rump. He then jumps and stabs the zombie in the back with a dagger from his boot."

PC: "Cool! I'm going to keep an eye on that little fellow. I've got to learn those new moves."

This comment brought a smile to my face. I was really hoping she would get into the acrobatic attacks and especially the descriptions used to make her and these couple NPCs sound interesting. Once again, the PC was the highlight, so I had to make sure the descriptions of her actions were more extravagant. Reference the other lessons for examples of the PC.


You'll notice that I flipped back and forth between past tense for explanations and present tense for the narration. These lessons learned are meant to help people in roleplaying sessions live. If you're using the fight scene for a story, I'd suggest sticking with one tense, preferably past tense. Be careful in referencing my careless words, for I am an untrained professional. :)

Ok, that was most of the article, but it's unfinished so who knows what else may come of it. Does that help? If so, then you'll find plenty of other goodies at http://inkjar.net you know after I take the password protection that says "I'm still on the toilet, so kids get out of the bathroom." X'D

Understand this lad, fate is a fickle lady. Work with the hand you're dealt and you may just be able to run your flag up the pole. Don't, and well, you may just find your mast cut down.

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you should check out some of the fight scenes from lady's stories, friggin amazing. When I read her One Piece and Naruto fights scenes, I could picture the entire fight in my head. her fanfiction link is on her profile page. maybe she'll jump in this topic at some point with some advice.


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The concept of fight scenes for roleplaying and stories are the same.

Apply the five parts of a story to your fight scene.



1. exposition (the introduction of setting, situation and main characters);

2. complication (the event of the story that introduces the conflict);

3. rising action, crisis (the decisive moment for the protagonist and their commitment to a course of action);

4. climax (the point of highest interest in terms of the conflict and the point of the story with the most action);

5. resolution (the point of the story when the conflict is resolved); and moral.

1. Exposition

Introduce the characters and establish who is fighting, whether it's the main characters, supporting cast, or extras. Describe their parts in appropriate detail, such as the main character has two paragraphs, supporting cast has one paragraph, and extras have one sentence. Not exact, but you get the idea.

1. Example

"So which one of you is the assassin sent by the debt collectors? Am I fighting you or him?" asked the handsome, blond haired Duke Morrow in his shining chainmail armor.

The two comely guards standing on the balcony put their hands up defensively. The first guard in his dull red tunic responded. "Debt collectors, sir? I thought this was just another Torrel plot to take over our kingdom. Sorry sir, we're just extras who fight in the background."

The duke looked puzzled for a moment, his chin wrinkling as a result. "Then why did you speak with me? You're not supposed to have any lines. Hell, you two don't even have names."

"I'm sorry sir, I forgot my place." Responded the nameless guard who lowered his unadorned head in shame.

"Now that's better." The duke nodded in satisfaction, his helmet glittering off the setting sun.

"Hey now, don't I get a say in this?" The other guard, who Duke Morrow had already forgotten about, asked indignantly.

"No!" Shouted the duke and the black-clad assassin sneaking up on the duke from behind. The all too ordinary common guard in a dull red tunic was quickly hushed by the noble and the mysterious assailant.

2. Complication

Is everything as it seems? Why did this fight start in the first place? There has to be reason for everything that can be justified in the eyes of the reader. If they can't justify the fight, why are they going to even care. The complication is usually the start of the fight, or the leading cause of it. If you're forcing the fight where their shouldn't be one, the reader will pick up on this and grow bored or annoyed.

The complication, though this may sound contrary, should not be complicated. Keep it simple stupid, or the reader won't be able to or possibly care to continue. Of course, you can't stop reading this article, because you've already fallen under my spell. Your interested in what will happen next.

2. Example

The guard nodded his head, motioning to the midnight black assassin crouching silently as he closed the gap to the duke. "Perhaps you should look for someone with a bit more color, or at least has a better description than us." The first guard opined.

"Now what did I just finish telling what's his name over there? Weren't you listening?" The guard made to speak again, but the man's throat suddenly exploded in a burst of crimson. The second guard fell shortly after. He too had a dagger now lodged in his neck.

The assassin walked up to stand next to Duke Morrow. "Seriously, do you let all of your extras get this much attention in your stories?" The assassin folded his midnight leather gloved arms across his chest in frustration. "If so, I'm outta here now."

"Actually, only the second guard was an extra. The first guard was more like a supporting character with his contribution to the story, " The first guard managed to mouth a silent "thank you, sir," before passing out. "but ... hey, aren't we supposed to be fighting?"

"I suppose we should, I've been paid an awful lot to be here, so I might as well do the deed. En guarde, il Duke."

3. Rising Action

Any good fight isn't over in a single round. Sorry Tyson. Most fights are not one sided. If they were, people would get bored. Describe the scene with vigor and importance. Use the environment to add complication and creativity.

Pump up the importance, details, and creativity as you edge towards the climax of the fight. The fight is about to go one way or another, but what caused it? Was it the cut over the eye that has disadvantaged the opponent, or the kick in the ribs that knocked the air out of him. The fight is raging harder and faster, and though the action is moving faster, you can't skim over the details just because you are eager to reach the climax. Describe the anticipation of the next stroke, the surprise in his eyes, the fear of the inevitable.

3. Example

"You know, you don't have to kill me." Duke Morrow announced with trepidation after parrying another dagger thrust. The onslaught of slashes and thrusts kept the duke on defense. Though the assassin only wielded a dagger, the ferocity of his own attacks had left him open to the agile man who already scored several wounds on him. He heard his guards now banging on the barred door. All he had to do now was buy some time for them to break in.

"Why's that?" The assassin asked, not really caring for an answer. His mind was focused on the battle as he looked for possible attacks of opportunity.

"I'll pay you double what you're getting for you not kill me. See, now you don't have to do it." The duke was bluffing of course. His magistrate had already stolen away his money and estate. He assumed his attacker was hired by one of the many debt collectors he now could not afford to pay.

"Sure I do, you see that's how things work in the real world. People work for money. I have kids to feed and a lovely wife to care for." The assassin stepped back briefly, wiping away what the duke could only assume was a tear.

"Truly?" The duke let his guard down momentarily, his longsword held loosely at his hip.

"Na, I'm just pullin' your leg guvner, so you'd make a mistake." A dagger seemingly appeared in the assassin's left hand. Moments later the green-tinged blade sprouted from the duke's abdomen. "Just like that."

The duke fell backwards a few steps before collapsing to one knee. He was stunned by the stomach wound, but more so to his pride in falling for such an obvious ploy. "Damn you! Have you no honor?"


4. Climax

It finally happens. This is the turning point in the fight where everything has been decided. You may have lead the audience to a false climax, only to have the defeated turn the loss into a victory at the last moment. This scene should have the most action and intensity. Don't hold back. Keep the reader's in suspense and on their tippy toes. Describe the flare of emotions as the inevitable smacks them across the face in pure shock. Remember, adjectives are a writer's best friend.

4. Example

"Ah ha, I have defeated you monsieur." The assassin turned his back to the duke and walked to the outside balcony with arrogant confidence, stepping over the fallen guards in the process. He turned around briefly to offer a slight bow with an elegant flourish of his cape. "The Torrels bid you farewell, oh great duke. They have grand plans for your people."

"The Torrels?" Duke Morrow coughed up blood, but more importantly at the moment he pondered the implications. The Torrels were no simple debt collectors. They were nobles of their neighboring nation the magistrate reportedly escaped to. "It all makes sense now."

"Oh does it now? Do you want to take a stab at it?" The assassin crossed his arms again, curious to see if the duke figured it out.

"Yes, the Torrels wanted my land, so they bribed my magistrate to transfer my money to their coffers." The duke struggled to stand on both legs.

"The merchant's of my fine town found that my debts couldn't be paid. The Torrels just happened to have cash on hand, and in exchange for compensation they would support a secession of this kingdom to the Torrels." The duke wobbled slowly towards the assassin who backed up to the edge of the balcony.

"Finally, the only one who could stop it all from happening was the ruler of the kingdom, Duke Morrow, me." The duke stopped five feet away from the man.

The assassin clapped heartily, unabashed in his praise. "Well done Duke Morrow, ruler of this fine kingdom. Sadly, your brilliant mind has solved the puzzle too late. You see, the poison on that dagger there," he pointed to the duke's abdomen, "will soon run its course. When that happens your heart will fail and all shall come to pass as you have surmised. Your precious guards will break down the door just in time to find you dead." He laughed haughtily.

The duke wiped the blood from his lips and pulled the dagger out of his abdomen with a painful jerk. The assassin readied himself to jump over the balcony. "There is one thing you have forgotten."

"What is that, your lordship?" The assassin sneered.

"The first guard was actually a supporting character." The assassin's face blanched as he found that the first guard was not quite dead. The seemingly dead man's grip was sound enough to hold the assassin in place. The guard smiled defiantly.

"You can't kill me, I'm a main character." The assassin pleaded.

"To hell with that, you pompous ass. I've demoted you to Mid-Boss." The duke tossed the dagger at the assassin, hitting him squarely on the forehead with the blunt of the handle. The guard loosened his grip at the point of impact. Though the dagger didn't kill him out right, the fall from the balcony should have done a pretty good job of that.

5. Resolution

Bring the fight to a close, toning down the adjectives in the process. The fight is pretty much over at this point, or coming to an end. Though the fight may be over, our job isn't. Everybody wants to know what happens afterward. Whether they all live happily ever after, or in this more limited fashion, what happens after the fight.

5. Example

The barred doors burst open as a multitude of guards rush in to secure the room. The duke falls to the ground, spent from his last endeavor. A female cleric rushed to his aid. "Don't worry, my Duke Morrow. I'll take care of you." He heard her say as his eyes darkened.

"Poison." Duke Morrow whispered before the world went dark.

The next day, the duke was ushered back into the light. "What happened?" He said as he tried to sit up. His head immediately started to swim without his permission.

The nurse gently laid him back down. "You have been healed sire. It is a good thing you mentioned the poison, or I might have noticed it too late. You will be up on your feet in no time."

"What about the assassin?" The duke asked, taking comfort in the nurse's care.

"He must have escaped, because the guards couldn't find him." A familiar voice answered, though it sounded strained and came with no little effort.

"Dammit. They always seem to get away, don't they?" The duke regaled. He paused for what seemed like minutes. "Who said that, do I know you?" The duke questioned.

"I'm the guard from last night sir." The guard replied.

"Oh yes. It was Ronny, right?" The duke assumed.

"Ronny what?" The bewildered guard, Ronny, asked.

"Your name, good man." Duke Morrow reaffirmed.

"Actually, it's Serral, sir." Ronny corrected.

"What happened to the other guy?" The duke wondered.

"The other guard in the red shirt. That was..." Ronny started to say when he was interrupted by the duke.

"Yeah, yeah, him. What happened?"

"Oh, he died, sir."

The duke looked over at the guard, now wearing the bright blue and gold garments of the medical ward. "You know Ronny, you look better in blue."

"Thank you, but my names Serral, sir." Ronny pleaded.

"Whatever, Ronny." Duke Morrow waved him off before drifting off to sleep. "Whatever."

Understand this lad, fate is a fickle lady. Work with the hand you're dealt and you may just be able to run your flag up the pole. Don't, and well, you may just find your mast cut down.

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I usually write them like comic book scenes. Picture by picture, describe every punch, the expressions, and usually the fights can immerse the reader without breaking a sweat. Of course, this would depend on whether or not you read comic books.



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I usually write them like comic book scenes. Picture by picture, describe every punch, the expressions, and usually the fights can immerse the reader without breaking a sweat. Of course, this would depend on whether or not you read comic books.

That I do. For the most part anyways. I might try that. Thanks for the advice.

Life tastes like kittens. I like kittens!

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my fight scenes are pirate/ninja stuff :look:

Rain in the Desert had outstanding fight scenes (Chapter 9 for example)It helps me to watch a lot of action sequences prior to writing the scenes. as I'm watching I'm memorizing the moves. also put on some kick ass music (the first few Naruto ost's are good for that) in the background not too loud to mess up yer thinking but enough to launch ya into the fight.


                                               Look at the flowers

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I try to write fight scenes like R.A. Salvatore, though mine are lacking in comparison. Read the Drizzt books to get a since of his fighting style. He doesn't detail every single motion, just enough for your mind to fill in the gaps which works wonders.

Understand this lad, fate is a fickle lady. Work with the hand you're dealt and you may just be able to run your flag up the pole. Don't, and well, you may just find your mast cut down.

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I'm not too good on writing fight scenes yet. I just picture in my mind what is going to happen. I don't write down every move, it would take way too long to do that. I just summarize what happens in my mind. I leave it to the reader to let their imaginations show them the fight scenes.

I don't know if that will help any for you... but it helps me.

Good luck in finding a way that works for you. :)


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