Development Credit: Basilisk
"Tactics" is a term most people associate with military efforts. While this is certainly true, tactics are applied to all types of contention or competition, not just battle. Tactics may be involved in a merchant convincing his rival to invest in a product that has little commercial value; or a criminal tricking a guard into checking a misleading sound, when he was right on the verge of catching the criminal red-handed. Some tactics are meant to have immediate reactions and/or results, where others are intended to work in the long-term, the fact of no apparent immediate effect being a part of the tactic.
As far as military applications go, a great tactician is a the most dangerous member of any martial force, his ingenuity defeating more enemies than the most skilled warrior, the most accurate archer, or the most lethal assassin. The tactician is the mind behind any significant military maneuvering done by the forces he works with and is responsible for ensuring not just victory, but the survival of as many people under their command as possible, and the disabling or destruction of the greatest number of enemy personnel.
The tactician can learn much of their trade on the practice field and in the training room and library, and it is in fact generally recommended that they do so for much of their early training and career, as an inexperienced tactician is a threat only to his own forces. That being said, for a tactician to truly master their craft, they must spend time leading warriors in actual combat, for there is no substitute for genuine battle experience. In social, political and commercial spheres, this also holds true, where a friend will volunteer to be a foil for the prospective tactician to try techniques against, with the friend being most useful by trying just as hard to deceive the student, for the best possible learning experience. But beware, as this "friend" may actually be an enemy, using this tactic to truly deceive the vulnerable student.
Intelligence, experience, knowledge of the opponent, military or otherwise, and the wisdom to apply these effectively are the most basic of the tactician's tools. For one to truly succeed in this field, they must possess daring, cunning, the ability to gauge their opponent's plans, assets and level of willingness; and the ironclad resolve to do whatever is required to ensure success at low enough costs to make any necessary sacrifice worthwhile.
Tactics can also refer to single combat techniques, as opposed to that of an entire force. Warriors who can wield effective tactics in single combat are truly fearsome, for they will frequently be one step ahead of those who lack a similar ability. Often, the very opening that an enemy tries to exploit is the tactic to get him into a position that backfires fatally on him.
Before he begins learning tactics, a man can't hope to lead their side to victory against any but the most poorly led forces. And even this type of victory will be largely luck. If this person wants to aid anyone but themselves, they had best stick to the practice field and the library. Single warriors can use only the most basic of strategies and plans for their fights. In non-combat situations, the prospective tactician had best be risking very little, for he is certain to be out-maneuvered. The best he can realistically hope for is to learn from his mistake.
A novice tactician is just beginning to understand the potential ramifications of what they do and has perhaps a faint glimmer of the potential they possess. However, a novice tactician is still best left to leading units in training and should seek the aid of a more practiced tactician at every opportunity. Those who use this skill for single combat can begin to truly plan their own attacks in advance, making them more dangerous than those who merely attack without attempting foresight. In non-combat situations, it is still surprising for the novice to gain much from a success, as his deceptions are not truly convincing. But he may have learned to hedge his strategies, and be able to salvage a failed ploy enough to break even.
At this point a tactician can lead troops in battle, but should still spend as much time as they can in the practice field and library when learning and trying out new strategies and tactics, less they lead those who rely on them to their deaths. Those who use this skill for single combat can plan most their own techniques in advance and are beginning to be able to read the movements of their enemies to see how they will move. The social tactician can pretty much always succeed against gullible targets. The question is whether he recognizes situations where using "reverse psychology", regarding their known gullibility, by being truthful with them, might be the better ploy against those others that consider themselves more clever.
Expert tacticians will find that they have little to learn from the library and will spend the majority of their time on the battlefield, though new tactics should, as always, be tested on the practice field whenever possible. An expert tactician will rarely lead their own forces to their doom unless there is no other alternative. Warriors who use this in single combat are capable of reading the opponents movements to a decent degree, able to react and alter their plans with little delay. Social tacticians are able to read others' level of honesty from their reactions to ploys with little error. This does not always mean that they can always determine their intent, or what follow-up ploy will work best against them.
Master tacticians are sought out to lead the armies of those Immortals who are not themselves tacticians, and will find that there is very little in this field left for them to learn, as they can take out forces possessing both superior numbers and superior soldiers while commanding a raw unit. Those who seek this skill for single combat can not only plan their own moves for seemingly the entire fight, but can react to their opponents almost instantly. Social tacticians at this level can read people like a book. Whether political, commercial or just a simple social sphere, the master tactician maneuvers all the pieces to be right where he needs them to be for whatever end serves his interest. For the most part, any realization of the manipulation that has taken place is part of the ploy; and has been made to misplace suspicion and blame away from him. Only a player with equal level in some similar or counter ability can see what has occurred. But the tactician has probably made it so nothing will be gained by speaking up.