Simplified Duels

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Simplified Duels

Postby Kath » Thu May 27, 2010 7:28 am

I'm about to start running a short Houses of the Blooded campaign at home, and while I really like most of the rules, I've got several issues wit the duelling system. The most important one is the training times and pre-requisites required for maneuvures, which mean that a starting character (even one with Prowess 5, a suitable aspect, a Blood Sword etc. etc.) has to spend a lot of time learning maneuvers before she'll be able to stand up against a true master. I don't like that only Duellists have this issue (e.g. a courtier doesn't need to spend Seasons training), and it means that any Duels I do run will be very light on the cool maneuvers (as none of the PCs will have them, it seems a tad unfair to throw an NPC in who can do cool and powerful stuff).

This is what I've come up with instead, but given that I've not had a chance to see it in play, I'd love feedback, especially from anyone who's got actual experience with the game!

My Duelling Houserules

The core of a Duel works just like in the book, but I've included it here for clarity.
A duel:
0) Both sides declare Intent,
1) Gather Dice,
2) Strike Bid.
A Beat, with the winner of the strike bid as the Attacker:
a) Intent,
b) Risk,
c) Consquences,
The Attacker now becomes the Defender, and a new Beat commences (steps a to c).

The big change is to Maneuvers:
* Maneuvers require no Training to use (and therefore ignore pre-requisites based off of knowing other Maneuvers; note that Characteristic pre-requisities still apply),
* Maneurvers have no Ranks,
* Maneuvers have no limit on the number of time they may be used in a Duel,
* All Maneuver costs have been erratered as per the official errata,
* Maneuvers otherwise work as written.

The aim here is have a more cinematic, exciting Duel, with Parries, Ripostes, Lunges and other interesting things happening all the time. Removing the training requirements means that a starting character can be a match for a skilled duellist, and that duels between non-specialised characters will be interesting mechanically. Removing the Ranks goes naturally with removing the training requirements, but it does lower the damage given out in duels by skilled duellists - I'm quite happy with this though, as I'm not a fan of high character death rates. My biggest quibble is with removing the usage limits from Maneuvers, as some of them are just better than others. On the other hand, it seems silly that you can only Step once per Duel from an IC point of view, but this is the area of the rule I expect to have to change the most. One obvious fix would be to only limit certain maneuvers, but having not played the game, I don't know which ones to limit and how to do so.

Thoughts?
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Re: Simplified Duels

Postby Lriot » Thu May 27, 2010 10:29 am

This will certainly help you with having more cinematic duels.
Unfortunately I can't help you with your dilemmas because I don't use maneuvers.

I adopted for HotB the draft rules for duels for Blood & Honor (from John Wick's facebook): http://wickedthought.livejournal.com/998494.html.
I must say that it simplifies duels and can make it as cinematic as you like - if you are using wagers to describe how the duel was fought and what happened in it - and the most important thing for me it allows me to go through the whole duel in only one Risk (as opposed to 1 Risk per Beat which takes longer and requires much more Style for refreshing Aspects than normal Risks, e.g.: Romance, Insult, Persuasion etc., which are as important as duels).
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Re: Simplified Duels

Postby wunderworks » Thu May 27, 2010 12:26 pm

The next time I run HotB I'm going to go with the Blood & Honor rules for duels, as well.
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Re: Simplified Duels

Postby Kath » Fri May 28, 2010 3:20 am

Hmm, I hadn't seen those rules before - thanks very much for the heads up. Something else to think about now!
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Re: Simplified Duels

Postby Saint&Sinner » Fri May 28, 2010 5:28 am

Kath wrote:The big change is to Maneuvers:
* Maneuvers require no Training to use (and therefore ignore pre-requisites based off of knowing other Maneuvers; note that Characteristic pre-requisities still apply),
* Maneurvers have no Ranks,
* Maneuvers have no limit on the number of time they may be used in a Duel,
* All Maneuver costs have been erratered as per the official errata,
* Maneuvers otherwise work as written.


I tried giving a number of manuevers equal to their prowess. Worked very well.
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Re: Simplified Duels

Postby Aban the White Stag » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:21 pm

I've run a few sessions of Blood & Honor, and it seems that the dueling system is much simpler, therefore giving you more time to make a more cinematic and exciting duel, though I believe the manuever training for Season actions gives you a way to make an even better swordsman.

For "pure" HotB, I've found allowing a single wager for a single trained manuever during a duel is a fair price, while untrained manuevers cost two wagers (or more). Certain manuevers have really cool effects, so as long as the participants agree, the manuevers allow for awesome awesomeness.
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Re: Simplified Duels

Postby Bazzalisk » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:16 am

I'd be inclined to dump the duelling rules entirely and use the Duel of Insults rules instead, but causing injuries instead of Insults.

Would there be a mechanical problem with doing it this way?
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Re: Simplified Duels

Postby Keith Fyans » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:41 pm

How do you kill someone? Insults rarely reach level 6. That said, I like the thought... please expand :)
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Re: Simplified Duels

Postby wastevens » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:44 pm

Well, I suspect that a Duel, unlike the Insult Game, continues until either A) the fight is broken up by external force (IE, the seconds, observers, etc), B) one side surrenders and the other side accepts, or C) one side is no longer able to fight.

Since each pass in a Duel means getting potentially Injured, if you don't get up, eventually the weight of those Injury tags is going to bring you down.

(I'm contemplating a similiar thing for my game, possibly also stealing the Sword Schools from B&H)
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Re: Simplified Duels

Postby Peregrine » Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:01 pm

I've considered importing the conflict rules from Mouse Guard; every beat each duelist chooses intention from Manoeuvre, Feint, Attack, and Defend. The combination of intentions determines the method of resolution. An Attack against a Defend is resolved with on opposed roll, a Feint automatically succeeds over a Defend to give an advantage on the subsequent beat, opposing Manoeuvres are resolved independently, and so forth.

The handy trick to this is to have two sets of cards printed up for each intention, and how resolution is done against other intentions printed on the card. Each duelist reveals the card for their intention and compares the cards to see how the beat is resolved.
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