Yet another Duel replacement

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Yet another Duel replacement

Postby wastevens » Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:04 am

So, stealing the idea of sword schools from B&H-

Duel Order of Operations
1. Gather Dice (Virtue + Aspect + Free Aspects + School)
2. Declare Techniques
3. Set aside Injury and Defend Wagers.
4. Roll dice; determine Privilege.
5. Resolve Techniques
6. Resolve Injuries


Wagers are divided (before rolling) into Injure and Defend. A Defend Wager cancels an Injure Wager. You may inflict any Injury of up to (your Injure Wagers - the defender's Defend Wagers). Whomever wins Privilege also gets a free Injure Wager.


Schools, much like in B&H, are each associated with a Virtue (other than Prowess). You can add up to your Rank in the School, not exceeding the School's Virtue. Each School is also weak against another Virtue's Schools, and may be tagged for +2d.

Additionally, every School is associated with a Technique, learned automatically when you reach Rank 3 in that School.

Brainstormed Schools, Weaknesses and Techniques:

Swift Arrow School (Courage)
Technique: Lunge. You may not set aside any Defend Wagers if you declare a Lunge, but you double your Injure wagers, adding no more than the lesser of your Courage or Rank in the School.
Weakness: Cunning

Twin Horn School (Cunning)
Technique: Subtle Hand. You gain an automatic Injure and Defend Wager for free when you gain the Privilege, as long as you have a tool or weapon in both hands.
Weakness: Strength

Overpowering Demand School (Strength)
Technique: Overpower. You may reduce your gathered dice by up to the lesser of your Strength or Rank in the School, forcing your opponent to set aside a similar number of dice.
Weakness: Beauty

Effortless Grace School (Beauty)
Technique: Disarm. You may decide to disarm your opponent instead of dealing an Injury. Disarmed opponents can fight bare handed (but see the Bear Hands School). You gain 1 Style for every level of Injury you would have inflicted.
Weakness: Wisdom

Slow Blade School (Wisdom)
Technique: Parry. You may declare that you will be Parrying, raising your TN to 15. (This does not change who gets the Privilege, only what TN you are rolling against). If Parrying, you do not have to declare your declare how your Wagers are divided between Injure and Defend until after the roll.
Weakness: Courage
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Re: Yet another Duel replacement

Postby wastevens » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:50 pm


After a bit of a playtest, I'm revising Overpower:

Immediately make a contested Strength bid when this Technique is declared. The loser is knocked off balance, and loses 3 dice for the beat.
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Re: Yet another Duel replacement

Postby Aban the White Stag » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:09 pm

Awesome! The only thing I wonder about is why the change in TN? It seems a little harsh on whoever picks that style to (let's face it) sacrifice two or more dice to succeed in their Intention. Or perhaps that was your goal all along?
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Re: Yet another Duel replacement

Postby wastevens » Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:20 am

Mmm. After some additional playtesting, and focusing on what was most troublesome about the current duel system, my group's decided not to go for this, but something more like a simple contested Prowess roll.

Presently just trying to figure out how to bring in more options than 'attack' and 'defend'.
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Re: Yet another Duel replacement

Postby wastevens » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:10 pm

So, here was the basic system tried out-

(For the purposes of this test, our test Ven have Prowess 3, a Senvu Aspect, are armed with steel Swords and begin with 5 Style)

Step 1: Gather dice
Step 2: Secretly set aside wagers
Step 3: Roll dice
Step 4: Reveal wagers, determine Privilege
Step 5: Whomever has the Privilege may act
Step 6: Action moves to the other ven.

For your Action, you may either push forward one or more wagers to injure, or you may hold. The beat ends with all remaining wagers converting at 2:1 to Style if both Ven hold in a row.

* Test 1
Result: Holy *crap* the death spiral is fast. The winner of the first privilege built a sufficent lead in short order as to make subsequent rolls boring. The fight took, I think, 4 beats.

Sidenote: Free Aspects. Do they cost Style to tag?

So, my wife (and co-Narrator) and I decided to try tinkering with the way Injuries work.

* Test 2: Rule modification- you may only tag the highest Rank of Injury your opponent has suffered.

Result: Infinite loop of infinite sadness. It soon got to the point that one of us had a solid lead, but the other could prevent them from dealing anything more than a Rank 2 injury. Forever.

Without the death spiral, you could be paper cut forever, with no ill effect save it'll take longer to recover.

* Test 3: Same limited deathspiral, but asymetric opponents; one knows the Tag of the other's Senvu Aspect.

Result: A gruelling, drawn out attrition war- the Tag-ing fighter was able to get a Rank 2 injury in the first pass, and after that decided to play very conservatively, holding and building Style while bleeding off Style from the opponent. It took something like 10 beats before the Tag-ed opponent conceded, and worse- it was a boring ten beats, which is a fatal sin.

An idea that presented itself last night after that fight was to change how injuries work, to something moderately inspired by Nobilis.
You have (Strength + 1) boxes of each Rank of Injury. If you take an Injury of that rank after the (Strength + 1), you instead take an Injury of the next Rank up.

Haven't had a chance to test this one yet; the hope is to have something between the utter deadliness of the basic death spiral, and the gruelling infinite papercuts of the mitigated spiral.
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Re: Yet another Duel replacement

Postby wastevens » Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:24 pm

The brainstormed idea of how to deal with Techniques is to come up with a couple of Free Aspects (Off-Balance, Disarmed, On the Ground, Blinded), and let the Acting player make offers to the defender (Hey, I could deal you a Rank 1 Injury- but I'll burn two of my Wagers if you'll accept the Disarmed Aspect for the next beat, so you won't get harmed).

Those Free Aspects would basically be worth a fixed number of bonus dice, but only temporarily. So, there's a tactical question in wither suffering a short term penalty is worth not getting a wound.

But, we haven't tried it out, yet.
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Re: Yet another Duel replacement

Postby wastevens » Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:59 pm

... Also, as has been pointed out to me, tagging Injuries requires burning Style after the first tag.

So, the death spiral isn't actually as bad as it seemed at first.
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Re: Yet another Duel replacement

Postby wunderworks » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:57 am

Cool. I'm saving this so that the next time I run a duel I'll try this system out.
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Re: Yet another Duel replacement

Postby wastevens » Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:38 am

Hm. Having continued playtesting...

A) At very low dicepools (<5) with both combatants, combat starts to take an extremely long time.
B) It's possible to get 'Style starved', where the cost of refreshing a relevant Aspect and tagging the most serious of your opponent's injuries causes you to crash out at Style 0. Which exasperates point A, as it becomes impossible to get a large dicepool.
C) Because of A and B together, it can become mathematically impossible to actually *end* a fight to the death (or serious injury).

OTOH, these issues seem like they should exist in the system as written- granted, you're getting more Style, so Style starvation is less likely, but if you're Injure rank is too low, it just becomes impossible to deal a telling wound.

One solution I've bounced around is that, in a fight, you can call on one of your other Virtues (possibly capped by your Prowess). OTOH, that's downplaying Prowess, when I'm really looking to make it more important.

Another solution is to just give a flat number of bonus dice (probally 4 or 6) to both sides in a duel.

A third solution is to either change how Injuries accumulate (present idea: after sustaining (Strength + 1) of a given Rank of Injuries, any Injuries of that Rank become an Injury one Rank higher, or to change how Tagging injuries works (spend 1 Style to tag all of the opponent's Injuries, instead of 1 Style for each).

Progress continues!
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Re: Yet another Duel replacement

Postby Thark » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:46 am

Well, I use a completely different system, but maybe you could crib a part of it for your style problems. Myself, I give temporary style for decent description of actions. Anything above and beyond "I use maneuver X" gets you a temporary style, anything that tends to interact with the scenery gives two temporary style (which can be useful to create scene aspects and get the style right back, but you don't HAVE to create a scene aspect), anything that's frankly undoubtebly awesome gets three. You keep the temporary style until the end of the fight.

The system's different from yours, but basically you start building up more and more style during the fight until you go full nova, reaching the climax of the fight and tagging each other with ridiculous amounts of style, going into a style ping-pong of sorts. When you reach that point, the fight usually ends very soon. Creating scene aspects as opposed to tagging injuries is also always interesting because the style doesn't go to your opponent. In the end, it makes for some pretty cinematic fights.

But yeah, it's the solution I found to style starvation. I don't know if it would work as well in your system as mine, but I'm throwing the idea out there.
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