January 17, 2000
If you have ever ventured into one of the many NPK zones that Medievia offers, odds are you have experienced the fine art known as "Cherry Picking". This entails a player, usually of a high level (let's face it, people get bored), pking another player while resting after a fight or striking the second the mob that the unsuspecting victim was battling dies. I am going to do my best to give lower level, single class players the advice that they need to avoid becoming a victim of this ever-growing trend. For those interested in wreaking a little havoc of their own, I'll give you some tips to become the hunter instead of the hunted.
The most common brand of cherry pickers are those of thieves that are heroes or near-heroes. The reason thief is the most infamous cherry picking class is because many people will easily fall victim to the brawny backstab of a level 31 thief. A sneaking thief will be virtually invisible to you and can easily come upon you while you're fighting a mob and wait patiently to add another notch to their pk count. The second main cherry picking class is the mage with massive mana for malediction spells. Cherry picking with malediction does take more skill than a simple backstab, but can do just as much if not more damage than a backstab. A mage that finds their victim fighting a mob will often leave the room to cast the malediction spell as to not alert their victim of their impending doom.
Keep in mind multiclass players will retain skills from all previous classes so they could possible be sneaking as well. Another class to be aware of is that of multiclass warriors that have a thief background because they will retain the ability to backstab and sneak. Warriors can take a very large chuck of your life by a triple backstab vs. a thieves double. The rarest cherry pickers are clerics because they are lacking in ways to do massive damage in a short time and would instead have to rely on the victim not fleeing after the first spell they cast. But still be aware that clerics can blind their victim and slowly wear their opponents down until dead.
But enough of that, you're more interested in learning to avoid being killed and continue with your non-aggresive experience hunting. There are a couple of strategies that I have found effective when dealing with these tormentors. The first works well for warriors or thieves that deal enough damage in their melee combat rounds to finish off the mobs they are fighting. This strategy can also be effective for casters as long as they are sure not to have a single spell in lag when their mob dies.
If you know of someone in the zone that is a notorious cherry picker (check WHO -Z often to see who is in the zone and use WHO -N to determine their PK count) look to see if they are in the same room as you near the end of fighting your particular mob. If you see them standing there, you probably can guess what they are waiting for. Once you get your mob close to death, spam an exit a couple times so that when the mob dies you immediately leave the room and leave the perpetrator standing there without a target. For casters though, a single spell in lag after fighting a mob may give your foe the little bit of time they need to strike. This can back fire on you though if you go into a room with a nasty aggressive mob. If you are not prepared for the mob, you will probably have to flee immediately. This is where knowing the zone well enough to get to a LPK section quick will help you. I find that returning to make a strike of your own never helps anything. It will only motivate the Pker more and you will have blood on your hands which can lead to being killed even after you leave the NPK zone.
A mage with manashield and a massive amount of mana can hopefully withstand a backstab or malediction, but odds are your manashield will crumble and you'll be left almost defenseless as well offenseless because the mana you would be casting spells with be gone with the manashield, and you'll be killed fairly quickly. Manashield does have only a short time before it will crackle out, if your manashield was to fizzle out in the battle, just cross your fingers and hope there isn't a wasp swarm or hurricane outside. Hopefully though, you can survive enough to flee and get to a safe LPK section to tick up and head back hopefully avoiding your nemesis.
Clerics have few things to protect them from the cherry pickers except sanctuary, -100 AC, and at a high enough level, phantasmal images. Whether the cherry picker misses with their backstab because of your AC or images, you are in good shape. If you were fighting a mob your images will surely be gone and leave you with nothing but AC and sanctuary at your aid. You can quickly flee and get to a safe room. If you don't get lucky enough to avoid the backstab or face a mage with malediction, sanctuary and high hit points are all the stands between you and, [CLAN] XXXX has been NPK'd by YYYY!!! Once a cleric or mage gets hit with malediction or a backstab and is barely surviving the ordeal after fleeing, it is time to consider the risks of trying to get to a safe room if you're in a zone with aggressive mobs or submitting to your pursuer. Without sneak or invisibility you may get caught in a fight that you're unprepared to fight and could get mob-killed which is always far worse than being NPK'd.
If you manage to survive the initial PK attempt, whether it be a backstab or malediction, the Pker will have a certain amount of lag from their attempt. You can make the decision to flee immediately or to stay a bit and slow the pursuer down a bit with a few spells. I have always preferred to flee immediately to LPK, but if you wish for them to know that you are not a complete coward you can always throw a couple spells their way.
If you choose to pound your attacker with a few spells to hopefully slow them down once you survive their initial attempt, there are a few things to bear in mind. For the purpose of slowing them down while you run to safety, spells that do nothing but damage would not be the best choice. Instead, hit them with status spells that they will immediately try to remedy before going after you again. For mages, the obvious choice is colour spray. Not only will it cause some damage on your foe but they will be blinded if they fail their save against the spell. Another spell that will help you greatly is plague. Once your attacker is plagued, not only will they take a large amount of damage, but will also lose strength which will belittle the massive backstab they once had.
Clerics also have spells which will accomplish nearly the same thing. Casting blind on your attacker will slow them from chasing you for long as they take to cure their blindness. To somewhat match the effect of a mage's plague, is the often neglected spell poison. Once poisoned, they will lose strength just like plague will do to a person. Poison will also accumulate each time you cast it, although you cannot cast during a fight itself. This makes it easy to drop your opponent's strength down many points in a short while because few people wear equipment that will protect them from poison and instead opt for HR and DR equipment.
I personally don't think that any damage spells will be of a great help to you. Many people will ignore healing themselves and hunt you down. A backstab or malediction reliant player will wait until after you are dead to heal themselves because the more time that they wait, the more time you will have to escape.
Depending on the class of the attacker, you may decide not to try to fight back at all. All four different classes have different base saving spells. A warrior has the highest and would be more prone to being affected by spells. A mage, who would have lowest saving spell, would be much harder to hurt with status-affecting spells.
If you are attacked by a warrior you have good odds of having them fall to your spells unless they are wearing a lot of -SS eq, which they probably are not because a cherry picker relies on DR to kill players. When faced with a thief, be wary because they have better saving spell than warriors and may not fall to your spells the first time. If you continue to cast at them, their backstab lag may wear off and if you still have not had a successful spell, you give them chance to flee and strike with another backstab.
In the rare case you are up against a cleric cherry picker, you will have to be more cautious. A cleric will probably not try any kind of backstab or malediction. This makes your decision on what to do even harder, because if they fail their save and are affected by one of your spells, they can immediately flee and cure it instead of waiting for combat lag to catch up. A cleric also has a decent SS, so hurting them will be tough. I would advise on fleeing immediately in this situation. Trying to slow down a mage is the toughest of all because they have the best saving spell of any class. The time it may take you to successfully affect them with a spell may be just enough so that they can start casting again and probably kill you. This is the case that I would most recommend fleeing immediately and heading for a safe area.
After you have made your point to your opponent with a few annoying ailments, you should flee and try your best to make it to a safe area as soon as you can. Staying and actually trying for a kill is not a good idea because there is no doubt your attacker knows what they are doing and seeing you stay and defend yourself will only provoke them more. Another thing you should be aware of not to do is to flee and then engage your attacker in combat. This will give you blood, which new players should be very weary of getting. You could easily be blood hunted until your blood vanishes or the other party gets bored with you and leaves you alone.
For a low level thief or warrior that is unsuccessfully cherry picked and left there fighting a high level player, the choice of staying for any time at all is a foolish one. When you avoid a backstab, staying to try to do some damage is not a wise choice. The Pker that tried to kill you will almost always have higher hit points, higher HR/DR, and lower AC. There is no real way that you could slow your attacker down any because a trip or bash will put you in two rounds of lag while the target is only lagged for one. A thief that tries to flee and backstab their attacker will end up with blood on their hands and possibly be blood hunted until it wears off. A warrior would also have slim chances of surviving if they decide to stay for a few rounds due to the difference of statistics.
Both casting classes can make the cherry picker reconsider their actions a bit by having fireshield on. Most cherry pickers will always reconsider if you have fireshield on. A cleric with fireshield has almost no chance of surviving versus backstab even if they have sanctuary, but at least you can put a little hurt on the perpetrator. An experienced cherry picker will know if they have enough HP of their own to withstand fireshield, so it is not a guarantee you'll be left alone.
Yet another tactic for dealing with these ruthless killers involves forcing them to fight a mob. If you are fighting a particularly aggressive mob when you see the perpetrator waiting and watch, you can give them an unexpected gift to throw them off of their guard. When you see you have a cherry picker in the room waiting for you to kill you mob, you can flee. If your mob was one of the very aggressive ones, the mob will turn it's attack on the other player in the room, the one that was going to kill you. This is no guarantee that you won't be killed, the cherry picker can easily flee just as you did and track you down again and make you pay the price for your little "stunt". This is more to surprise your attacker than actually defend yourself. The other side of this tactic is that if the entire zone is full of these aggressive mobs, you may find yourself fleeing into a room with another and you'll be in the same situation as your would be attacker.
Now....on to wreaking havoc yourself. For most low level single class players, the only class that can effectively cherry pick is thieves with a decent backstab. Do not let this statement blind you though, all classes have some skills that are very effective in pk. A mage can throw a few colour sprays to make a much easier kill, clerics can accomplish this too with blind, not as effective (colour spray also does damage about equal to the lightning bolt spell) but will always make a much easier kill. A warrior can bash an opponent to prevent fleeing while they are slowly worn down with powerful melee attacks.
With Medievia's growing population of PK zones designed for lower levels, there is bound to be some form of cherry picking going on. Classes other than thief have no real way to inflict as much damage in a single blow as backstab, but still have ways to cause some chaos of their own. A fun strategy for thieves is to wait next to a room where someone is fighting a mob and wait for the blood curdling death cry to rush in for the kill. When going for a cleric, a low level backstab is probably not going to make it through a sanctuary to kill a person, but, instead, waiting next to the room and constantly scanning to see if the victim's protection has ran out yet. This is a very cruel, but fun way to kill people and will surely fill the shout channel with some rather colorful comments (hopefully not TOO colorful! !!). You may not gain many friends in this manner, but you will surely get one heck of a pk count (refer to Grimzon for evidence).
As for casting classes, the best strategy I have noticed is to blind your opponent with either colour spray or blind, and wear your opponent down with your most powerful spells. If they flee and you still have bloodlust, just follow them and persist. A warrior's best shot at pk is to have enough confidence in their melee attacks to bash their opponent to prevent them from fleeing and wear away at them.
I hope my advice has helped you with your journey to hero status as a pacifist or sadist, whichever path you choose.
Excrucior notes - Grimzon's permission was sought in regard to the use of his name in this article.