In particular, I want dueling to be something unique, not just regular combat, and I like the idea of simultaneous resolution, and the idea of rock-paper-scissors, semi-deterministic outcome over dice-roll probabilistic outcome.
There needs to be a balance, where it's more sophisticated than literally just rock-paper-scissors, but not so complicated as to be mired in minutia.
These rules are meant to be an abstraction that can be applied to sword duels, western stand-offs, samurai showdowns, etc., and not in any way a "realistic" version of any specific kind of dueling. My intention is for duels to be short and sweet, but playtesting would be needed to see how long they go on. It wouldn't be the end of the world if they were a bit longer, as long as they're fun...
Finally, before getting into the mechanics, I'm designing this minigame with TNT in mind, but my intention is for it to be something that could be relatively straightforwardly be ported to other systems.
- For each round of combat, pick a number between 1 and 6 without revealing it
- Both participants write down their numbers and reveal them simultaneously
- Start with 10 stamina as the default maximum
- Actions 2-6 cost that much in stamina
- Defend (action 1) recovers as much stamina as the opponent's action (up to maximum).
- Unless otherwise noted, damage is the number of damage dice of the dueling weapon multiplied by the difference between the two sides' chosen values (for the winning side).
- In another system such as OSR, it may simply be the product of the average damage for the dueling weapon by the multiplier.
- For STR, DEX, SPD, and LK, add +1 max stamina for each attribute >= 20, +2 for >= 30, etc.
- Certain action sequences can trigger special abilities (suggested list below).
- Each character only has one special ability by default.
- For each level of talent in dueling, gain +3 max stamina or a special ability.
Example: If each character wields a 2d6 dueling sword, and Player One makes a Heavy attack (5) and Player Two makes a Lunge attack (3), then Player One deals 2 (damage dice) * 3 (Heavy (5) - Lunge (3)) = 6 damage to Player Two.
Dueling Attack Actions
- Defend: Take only half the number of opponent's damage dice, rounded up to a minimum of 1.
- Jab: A low-cost attack.
- Lunge: Reach into opponent's space.
- Forward: Attempt to take ground from opponent.
- Heavy: Go in for a strong hit.
- Assault: All in power-attack!
Special Abilities List (Suggestions)
Special abilities can only be used once per duel unless otherwise noted.
For any special ability requiring an SR, unless otherwise noted, the SR level is the difference between the two actions, except for defense, which is always 1. Whether to take high-low or low-high will depend on if the trigger is for losing a round vs. winning a round.
- Lucky Dodge: If you would be defeated in the round, you can make a LK SR to dodge. On a success, you avoid all damage.
- Parry: If you take damage in a round and the opponent made a Lunge (3) or lower, you can make a DEX SR. On a success, you take only half damage rounded down (if you defended, you take 0 damage).
- Riposte: If you take damage in a round and the opponent made a Forward (4) or greater, you can make a SPEED SR. On a success, your next action counts as +1 in power without triggering higher-number abilities (e.g. a defend is still a defend, but against another defend it would deal 1 damage to the opponent).
- Blitz: If you made a Forward (4) or higher-level action and succeeded, add 1 to your damage multiplier. If the opponent defended, instead deal 2x damage dice in damage.
- Suicide-Run: Before the actions for the round are revealed but after they are chosen, you can declare a suicide-run. Make a CON SR (take whichever difference would be positive for the SR level). Both duelists deal number of damage dice times multiplier damage to each other. If either player defended, the suicide-run is voided (and the special ability cannot be reused).
- Feint: Before the actions for the round are revealed but after they are chosen, you can declare a feint. Make a CHA SR (in whichever direction would be a positive level). On a success, if you would have taken damage or both duelists defended, your action counts as one level higher than your opponent's and they take damage instead. If you would have won anyway, your action is one level higher. This may trigger special abilities.
- Tactical: You've simulated events in your head and don't like the results. Make an IQ SR to re-do the round. You and your opponent both may choose new numbers. If you would have won the round, the SR is 1 and your new action counts as +1 without triggering higher-number abilities (e.g. a defend is still a defend, but against another defend it would deal 1 damage to the opponent). If your opponent had declared a special ability before you activated tactical, they recover the use of that special ability.
- Force of Will: If you would be defeated in the round, make a WIZ SR. On a success, you can last one more round, possibly taking your opponent down with you. Your next action counts as +SR level in power without triggering higher-number abilities (e.g. a defend is still a defend, but against another defend it would deal SR level damage to the opponent).