Thursday, August 6, 2009

RR Tutorial : Struggling

Hi, this tutorial is about what is called "the struggling game"... in other words, how to get the hell out of these cuffs you inadvertantly locked on yourself without checking you had the key.

So you're stuck there, hands behind your back, keys far far away from you, you absolutely need to get out and you definitely don't want to cheat (or can't, if you're using the RLV). How to do this ? Well as with many restraints in real life, if you're nimble enough you can try to struggle out. It takes time and it is not guaranteed to work, but at least you have a slight chance.

To struggle out, you need to play a little game of logic and memory. The goal is to guess a sequence of moves, by trial and error. The more errors the longer it takes to get out. You have noticed that the menu changes when you're locked and you don't have the keys, or when you have them but a timer is running. This is what we called "reduced access". You have access to your restraint but can only do a few things. And you certainly can't unlock them. This "reduced menu" shows in particular "Tug", "Squirm", "Struggle" and "Examine" buttons. What are these ?

They are called "moves", or "tries", and are the necessary steps to take, in the right order, to achieve freedom. Let me try to explain how it works, internally. Imagine a random sequence of letters A, B and C, knowing that :

- There are always the same number of letters on this restraint (more than 20, but it depends on the restraint)
- There are always the same amount of A
- There are always the same amount of B
- There are always the same amount of C
- The amounts of A, B and C are always different (there are more C than B, and more B than A)

Now, imagine that A means "Tug", B means "Squirm" and C means "Struggle". The question is, what is the first letter of the sequence ? If you think it is A, press "Tug", if you think it is B, press "Squirm", and if you think it is C press "Struggle". Of course you may argue that you don't have a clue since it is random. Well not totally random, as I said there are more C than B, and more B than A, but that's all you know for the moment. Let's press "Struggle". If the first letter of the sequence is C, then it goes away, and the restraint says "blah blah feels s/he's making progress". Otherwise the letter stays there and the restraint says "blah blah struggles fiercely in his/her restraint, to no avail.", and you know the next move is either A or B, but not C.

For example, let's say the internal sequence is CBACBB. You don't know this, of course. You press "Struggle", and the first letter is C, so it matches, and the C goes away. The sequence becomes BACBB (one less, you get closer from freedom). Let's say you now press "Tug". As the first letter of the sequence is not A, you just waste your try and the sequence does not move. You now know that the next letter is either B or C, since A failed. You press "Squirm", betting on B. And you are right again, the first letter of the sequence is B indeed, and it goes away. The sequence becomes ACBB, and you're even closer from freedom. Once the sequence is entirely depleted, you're free !

As you keep "making progress" (in other words guessing the right letters and making them go away), you slowly proceed to getting loose, the restraint even shows it on its menu : "locked and very secure", "locked and secure", "locked", "locked but getting loose" and "locked but almost escaped". Sounds easy, right ? All you have to do is to try the moves randomly and eventually you'll get out ?

Wrong. You have only so many "tries" before running out of energy and deciding to give up for a moment, exhausted. Typically you have like 10 more tries than the number of moves to find (hence about 30 tries). When you run out of tries you're stuck, no matter how close to freedom you are. But you aren't stuck forever, you will slowly recover tries as time passes... When you recover a try your restraint says something like "blah blah gathers what's left of his/her energy to fight his/her restraint some more...".

The rate at which tries come back and allow you to struggle further depends on several factors :

- The closer from freedom you are, the faster they come
- The more failures you had in a row before running out of tries, the longer it takes
- You cannot recover more than 2 tries in succession before trying to struggle out again, to prevent you from just camp somewhere waiting for energy to come back; you have to participate to your own escape of course

Before you start wondering if you suck at this game because you have depleted all your tries and did not make much progress, just know that it is very hard to struggle out from your restraints without running out of tries first. Some people can do it sometimes, but they are very well trained at this game. 99 times out of 100 you will have to wait to recover, and it takes hours. Just like in real life !

But you know what ? We have only scratched the surface here. There is more to know about the struggling game ! Let me explain what "Examine" does...

When you press "Examine", the restraint will give you a clue about what is to come. It will tell you what one of the next three moves is, with a slightly more important chance that it will be the next move, or will plainly tell you nothing. If you "Examine" once, it does not cost you anything, provided that you try a move after that (not another "Examine", or it would cost you a try). And if you fail that move, it costs you 2 tries instead of one ! You cannot "Examine" over and over again, it just costs you tries for nothing because it just tells you nothing anymore, you have to actually struggle again first.

Wait, there is more ! Usual restraints like police handcuffs tend to be rather plain and predictable... In other words, a move has a good chance to be followed by the same one. Such a sequence would look like CCCBBACCBAAACC... Stronger restraints like shackles (designed to keep captives restrained for a long time) are much trickier and their sequence is fuzzier, like CBABCCABACCBCAB.

Want more info ? You already know that different kinds of restraints have different strengths. Some are tighter, some are stronger, some are easy to struggle out from, some are nightmares. For instance, it is much easier to push a ballgag out than to remove a collar ! Strength and tightness influence the rate at which you recover tries, how fuzzy the sequence is, the number of moves to make and the efficiency of the "Examine" button.

Complicated ? I know... You basically know everything there is to know, in theory. Now it is time to practice ! With all you've learnt, how long will it take to struggle out of your cuffs ? There is only one way to know, right ?

Have fun,