Yes, there are a plethora of them running around here. But the simple fact is I think the Dueling section of the combat rules is needlessly complicated. Which at least discourages combat, which is a trademark of Wicked playstyle, but I just think it's more complicated than necessary.
So this is a streamlined, shorter system that eliminates the Beats as a "half-round" and the odd Strike Bid. What do you think?
Each exchange of blows in a duel is a Beat (this also applies to Mass Murder). So, from to Step 0 to Step 3 is a full Beat.
All proper duels contain just two Ven. Two opponents. Not all duels are proper. Any combat between more than two Ven is Mass Murder. This has to be a kind of direct combat. If three Ven challenge three other Ven to duels, and each of these duels is happening concurrently, use the Dueling rules. Each combat is an individual exercise, even if you handle them all at the same time. If a combatant interferes with a Duel between two other Ven, the Duel has ended and Mass Murder ensues. If the three Ven skirmish against the other three Ven with nor respect for individual combat, no respect for ritual, use Mass Murder. Even if it's only two against one, use Mass Murder. Nasty business, this killing.
Orks never Duel. Orks don't give a damn about Ven ritual and proper society. Orks use Mass Murder. Always.
Pity the Ven who insists on facing an ork alone, like a Swordsman. Pity the Ven, and give them loads of Style.
Step 0: Announce Intention.
Like all risks, announce your intention. Your intention may be to attack or defend, or even to run. And yes, both sides can fully intend to attack each other. They could both choose to be defending, circling each other for opportunity or staring one another down. They could both choose to flee, even. Bad form, unless you do with extreme flair.
If you've caught someone unawares (a contested Cunning Risk), then you've surprised them and the opponent gets no intention, therefore no Risk, therefore no dice in this Beat. Nasty.
Step 1: Gather Dice
Each duelist gathers whatever dice they can, from their Virtues, invoking or tagging Aspects, Names, etc. If wielding a proper weapon, a Sword, the virtue will be Prowess. If not, other Virtues may be involved such as Strength for tools or unarmed combat, Cunning for underhanded techniques and tools (like knives and daggers), etc. Creative Ven may even find Beauty, Wisdom, or Courage useful (and some Ven may have already been required to use a Courage Risk just to enter the fight).
Step 2: Risk & Wagers
This is a contested Risk, with all the rules inherent to it. Both duelists secretly make their Wagers. Then each rolls their remaining dice.
The target number is 10, as usual. If either fails to roll a 10, the Ven fails at their intention. Complete failure, meaning you can't use any of your Wagers.
If both duelists succeed in rolling at least 10, see which rolled higher. The duelist who rolled higher succeeds in his intent and has Privilege. He can keep all his Wagers. The one who rolled lower can only keep half his Wagers (round up).
Step 3: Consequences & Injuries
Time to bleed.
If the duelist had the intention to attack, he does so and scores. He can either cause an Injury or use a Maneuver.
If he causes an Injury, he should describe the attack in lurid detail. Where he attacked and what the wound is like. “I stab him the shoulder, slicing it open to the stinging air.” Or: “I slash across her thigh to the bone.” This should correspond to the amount of Injury done. Each Injury has a Rank according to the Wagers spent on it. Thus, if the duelist wins Privilege and strikes, he could spend 3 Wagers to inflict an Injury of Rank 3. Each Injury should have a Rank and a description, such as “swelling eye” or “slash across the chest.” Note a strike can land and cause an Injury of Rank 0, useful in Duels to the Touch or even attempts to only touch an opponent (to, say, deliver contact poison).
Or the duelist can spend Wagers to perform an Attack Maneuver, such as Bash or Lunge. A Ven with Prowess as a Weakness (or Strength as a Weakness, if it involves Grappling Maneuvers) cannot use a Maneuver. He just knows the pointy end goes in the other Ven.
You only get one chance to spend Wagers on a particular Maneuver or Injury, however. If you spend 3 Wagers on an Injury, and the defender responds by spending 2 Wagers to reduce it to a Rank 1 Injury, you cannot suddenly raise that Injury again with more Wagers. You must inflict a new Injury later in the Beat or in the next Beat entirely. You can respond to a Maneuver with another Maneuver to cancel it, though.
Thus, a Ven could inflict a Rank 4 Injury, the opponent could respond with a Parry, and the attacker could respond again with a Press to cancel the Parry, assuming the Ven still had Wagers. And then the next opportunity to spend Wagers normally passes to the previously defending Ven.
The Ven on the other end can respond, however, by spending Wagers to reduce the Injury Ranks received or perform a Defense Maneuver. This is a reaction to the attack, and not part of the normal alternating spending of Wagers.
Once the Ven with Privilege has spent narrated an action and spent Wagers, the other Ven, if he got at least a 10 on the Risk, can execute his intention and spend any Wagers. If the intention was to attack, then the Ven attacks, spending Wagers for Injury or Maneuvers as previously described. The foe can react with Wagers as appropriate, if he has kept any in reserve.
Continue alternating the spending of Wagers, attacking and defending or whatnot, until all Wagers are spent. A Ven can always narrate, of course, that his attack or defense fails and how, or even narrate occurrences and matters outside of direct attacking and defending as normal with Wagers. And should probably get Style for doing so.
If the duel is to continue, repeat Steps 0 through 3.
All Maneuvers are either Attack or Defense Maneuvers, and labeled accordingly. Some Maneuvers are considered Grappling Maneuvers, as well, and require Strength Risks to use, not Prowess. Almost all other Maneuvers require Prowess Risks, although a clever Ven could substitute other Virtues. The Ven could Lunge with a dagger, using Cunning, or Dodge acrobatically with Beauty.
All Maneuvers cost a certain amount of Wagers to activate; there are no other costs. You do not have to spend Style, nor do you have to train in a particular Maneuver. Maneuvers do not have Ranks or function like Blessings. Any competent Swordsman should be able to Lunge, Parry, Bash, etc. A Ven with sufficient Strength is assumed to have Thrown quite a few other Ven around in his Spring.
The only restriction is that a Ven cannot have Weakness in the Virtue being used when performing a Maneuver. If the Ven has a Weakness in Prowess, she cannot Parry with a Sword. If he has a Weakness in Strength, he cannot effectively Grab someone.
You may have noticed that although a Ven can intend to defend in the Beat, the Defense Maneuvers are inherently reactionary. You cannot Parry, Dodge, Disarm, or Riposte or if not responding to an attack. That does not mean one cannot still devote attention to defense beyond simple Maneuvers. Use those Wagers creatively.
Bash (Attack Maneuver: 2 Wagers)
Throwing your weight behind your Sword, you hope to throw your foe off balance. Both of you make a contested Strength Risk. Failure leaves the Ven prone on the ground. Wagers on the Strength Risk can inflict or reduce Injuries as appropriate. Also, Bash can cancel a Bind.
Bind (Attack/Defense Maneuver: 2 Wagers)
You attempt to lock your Weapon with that of your opponent, rendering both useless. The Beat ends immediately, transforming any unused Wagers into Style for the respective Ven. You can end the Bind only by stepping back at the next opportunity, releasing your Weapon, or executing a Bash.
Disarm (Defense Maneuver: 3 Wagers)
You slide your Weapon across the other Ven's Weapon, trying to remove it from his grasp and risking your own. You both make a contested Beauty Risk. Wagers can be spent to describe where the Weapons land, and even if they cause Injury or reduce it, as appropriate. This Maneuver can be used to cancel any attack or defense made with the Weapon.
Dodge (Defense Maneuver: 4 Wagers)
Completely cancels a Maneuver or Injury. Can be used in a Beat with a Virtue other than Prowess, but doing so in a proper Duel will cause Ven to lose Style.
Feint (Attack Maneuver: 3 Wagers)
You use misdirection to mislead your opponent's guard. You inflict an Injury with Rank equal to your Cunning and gain Style points to match.
Grab (Grappling Attack Maneuver: 1 Wager)
You grab your opponent. Once grabbed, the foe is immobilized and cannot take any Risk that does not involve dealing with you. This could be escaping from your grasp, or even slipping a knife into your gut. You only own what you hold if you can keep it. A Ven can release a Grab at any time or attempt to escape from a Grab with a contested Strength Risk. Once in a Grab, the Ven can cause Injury by spending Wagers as normal. But so can the opponent. In a Grab, no Ven can bring a weapon bigger than a small blade to bear, although they could Bash with the hilt of a Weapon or tool.
Lunge (Attack Maneuver: 3 Wagers)
You commit yourself to a full thrust. you inflict an Injury equal to your Courage. This Injury cannot have its Rank reduced. However, you lose all other Wagers for the rest of the Beat.
Parry (Defense Maneuver: 2 Wagers)
The Ven must be using a Sword or dagger to Parry. A Parry can cancel an Injury, Lunge, Press, or Riposte. Add an additional Wager to the cost if Parrying anything other than a Sword or dagger. Yes, this means you can attempt to Parry an arrow. But what Ven archer isn't going to surprise you?
Press (Attack Maneuver: 3 Wagers)
You press forward viciously, making another attack after your first and pushing through defenses. This cancels a Parry or Recover Maneuver. You also inflict an Injury equal to your Prowess.
Recover (Defense Maneuver: 3 Wagers)
You step back to better defend yourself. This Maneuver cancels any Attack Maneuver.
Riposte (Defense Maneuver: 4 Wagers)
This is a quick parry followed by the thrust of your Sword. While a Defense Maneuver, it also counts as an Attack Maneuver once used. Thus it can itself be Parried, Riposted, etc. You inflict an Injury equal to your Prowess.
Sap (Attack Maneuver: 2 Wagers)
If you can strike an opponent who is unaware of you (they must be surprised), you can knock them out.
Throw (Grappling Attack Maneuver: 3 Wagers)
You can attempt to throw your opponent, and can spend Wagers to cause an Injury or affect the effect of the throw. Such as throwing someone through a window. Or off a cliff. You can only use a Throw after successfully Grabbing an opponent. Which means a Ven could attack with a Grab, succeed, and the defender proceed to throw the offending Ven. If they had made a Strength Risk themselves, of course. And you can throw yourself, taking an enemy with you. Down to the ground. Through a window. Off a cliff.