Dueling

or, What to Do when Negotiations Stall. Or, you know, Honor Demands.


Dueling is a socially acceptable, if not strictly legal, way of settling disputes between gentlemen. The winner receives satisfaction for his honour and the status accorded a victor. The loser receives humiliation, grievous wounds, and ofttimes death.


Cause for duels

When two characters are in the same place (that is, performing the same activity), a duel may take place. There must, however, be cause. Unless permitted to by the rules, any character who has cause and an opportunity to fight and does not will lose Status Points equal in number to half his current Social Level.

Judgement of whether or not there was cause is up to all the players who do not belong to the same Regiments as the two estranged parties. At any time a vote may be called for, a unanimous vote of all players not involved being required to decide that there is no cause.

Examples of sufficient cause for a duel are:

  • Two characters of two unfriendly Regiments meeting (Regimental friends and enemies are listed in Regimental Table C).
  • Committing an indiscretion with another player's mistress.
  • Insulting a regimental friend of a character.
  • Two characters courting the same mistress.
  • If a noble meets a non-noble who is four or more Social Levels above him.

Abilities

When creating a character, each player must determine his abilities. There are four abilities pertaining to duelling, each determined by random die rolls: Strength, Expertise, Constitution and Endurance.

Strength represents the ability of the character to inflict damage on his opponent. Expertise represents the character's skill and experience at fencing. Constitution represents the character's general health. Endurance represents the character's ability to absorb punishment.

The first three of the above abilities are found by rolling three dice for each. Endurance is determined by multiplying Constitution by Strength.


Terminology

Several terms are used in the rules, precise understanding of which is necessary to comprehension of the duelling procedure. These are:

  1. Turn A duel is composed of an indefinite number of turns. In each turn, both antagonists will simultaneously perform a single action.
  2. Action Each action represents a single discrete movement by a dueller. Each action takes exactly one turn. All possible actions are listed on Duelling Table A.
  3. Routine A routine is a grouping of individual actions into a coherent pattern. All possible routines are listed on Duelling Table A. For example, a Lunge routine would take three turns to perform. Players must perform routines in the exact sequence shown. At the conclusion of any routine, a player is in a position to begin any other routine.
  4. Sequence A sequence is a convenient, arbitrary division of time into manageable blocks. A sequence is twelve turns long.

Recording Actions

Each turn, both players will simultaneously perform an action. To enable simultaneity of actions, players will record their actions ahead of time. A player records an entire sequence (12 turns) of actions and then performs them one per turn. One action must be recorded for each turn of the sequence. Each action recorded must be part of a routine as listed on Dueling Table A. All actions in a routine must be performed in the exact order given on the table, and no routine may be begun before the previous routine is completed.


Dueling Table A: Actions and Routines
Code
Action
X
Rest/Guard/Recover (called Rest for simplicity)
L
Lunge
S
Slash
C
Cut
K
Kick
JB
Jump Back
CL
Close
R
Riposte
T
Throw
P
Parry
B
Block
Sur
Surrender
OP1
Optional Parry 1
OP2
Optional Parry 2
OB1
Optional Block 1
OB2
Optional Block 2

However, the slash routine may take either of two forms. The first, shown on Duelling Table A, is X-X-S. If the previous routine ended in a rest (X), the slash routine may be abbreviated to X-S. Thus a lunge followed by a slash would be X-L-X-X-S. This does not apply if the previous routine was a mandatory rest (see Swordsmanship).


Routines

Rest -X-
Lunge -X-L-X-
Slash1 -(X)-X-S-
Furious Slash -X-S-X-C-X-X-X-
Furious Lunge -L-X-X-C-X-X-X-
Kick -CL-K-X-X-X-
Jump Back -JB-X-
Throw -JB-X-T-
Parry2 -P-(R)-
Block -B-
Close -CL-
Optional Block -OB1-OB2-
Optional Parry -OP1-OP2-
Optional Surrender -Sur-
1 See Recording Actions rule
2 See Optional Routines rule

Each turn in the sample sequence (below) has one and only one action recorded for it. Turns 1-3 comprise a lunge routine, turns 4-8 comprise a kick routine, turns 9-10 comprise a slash routine, turn 11 is a parry and turn 12 is the first action of a jump back routine. It is not necessary that a routine be completed within the limits of a twelve turn sequence. Thus, only the first action of the jump back routine is recorded in this sequence. Once the routine has been started, however, it must be completed (exception: See Optional Routines). Therefore in the example, a parenthetical reminder is also shown that the first action of the next sequence must be a rest, the completion of the jump back routine.


Sample Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 (1)
X L X CL K X X X X S P JB (X)
 

Revealing Actions

In a turn, both players simultaneously reveal their actions, consult the duelling tables, and record damage inflicted. Because in certain cases optional, previously unwritten routines are allowed (see Optional Routines), the following procedure is recommended.

  1. Either player, when he feels ready to call out his action for the turn, calls out only the turn number.
  2. His opponent then considers his written move and the possibilities of an optional move, decides, and calls out his move.
  3. The first player then calls out his written move, and the result of the clash of blades is determined, as explained later.

Alternatively, a player may decide to use an optional routine, write it in as his move, and then call out the turn number to indicate his readiness to duel.

 

Optional Routines

Under some conditions a player may, at the beginning of a turn, substitute an optional routine for the one previously recorded. This must be done before any action other than “rest” has been performed in the current routine. The remaining portion of the written routine is cancelled; if the optional routine is shorter than the remaining portion of the cancelled routine, the excess turns of the cancelled routine must be filled with rests; if the optional routine is longer than the routine it has replaced, all subsequent routines must be displaced the number of turns necessary to accommodate the longer routine. Only one optional routine may replace one cancelled routine.

There are four optional routines, as listed on Duelling Table A. The riposte may only be used if the riposting player parried his opponent's lunge in the previous turn. A riposte is not allowed after an optional parry.

The surrender routine may be performed at any time. After the current turn, the duel is over; naturally, the surrendering player has lost.

 

Inflicting Damage

If, in a turn, either player makes an attack (a lunge, slash, cut, kick, throw or riposte) his opponent may sustain damage. To determine damage, cross-index the attacker's action with the defender's on Duelling Table B. Multiply the result by the attacker's Strength and subtract it from the defender's Endurance. Note that both players may be attacker and defender in the same turn; i.e. if both make an attack. Damage is sustained by both players simultaneously.

 
Duelling Table B
Defender
X L S C K JB CL T P B OB1 OB2 OP1 OP2
L 2 2 1 1 2 0 3 2 0 2 2 2 1 0
S 1 1 1 1 1 0 2 1 1 0 1 0 1 1
C 2 2 2 2 2 0 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
K 3 2 2 2 1 0 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
T* 4 4 4 4 3 4 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
R 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - -

* When a weapon is thrown, roll a die. On a 1 or 2, the throw is successful and the opponent takes damage. Any other result and the thrower has missed while the opponent is unharmed. In either case the thrower is now unarmed. When daggers are thrown, they hit on a roll of 1, 2 or 3. Two-handed swords and cutlasses may be thrown, but are somewhat different. Roll two dice: on a roll of 2 the opponent has been hit and is immediately killed. Any other result and the thrower is unarmed with no effect on his opponent.

If a player's Endurance goes below half its original level, he must add one mandatory rest routine into every sequence. If a player's Endurance reaches zero or below, he is dead.

 

Optional Weapons

Although the rapier is the common weapon used for duelling, players may choose to arm themselves otherwise. Duelling Table C lists the optional weapons and their different characteristics in attack. Opponents in a duel do not have to use the same type of weapon.

When determining damage from an attack using an optional weapon, follow the usual procedure, but multiply the result by the number on Duelling Table C which corresponds to the weapon and type of attack used. For example, Porthos lunges with a sabre while Cyrano rests. Porthos's Strength is 10; Duelling Table B gives a multiplier of two and Table C gives a multiplier of ½; therefore, Cyrano must subtract 10 from his Endurance (10 x 2 x ½ = 10).

 
Duelling Table C

Rapier (1) Dagger (1) Foil (1) Sabre (2) Cutlass (3) Two-Handed Sword (4)
L 1 1 1 ½ 0 0
S 1 ½ 0 2 4 3
C 1 ½ 0 2 0 2
K 1 1 1 1 ½ ½
T 1 2 1 ½ * *
R 1 1 1 ½ 0 0

* See note to Duelling Table B.

Daggers: When a character is duelling with a dagger as a weapon, he must precede all attacks (except throw) with a close routine. If duelling against a two-handed sword, he must precede all attacks with two close routines.

Cutlass: The slash routine for a cutlass is -X-S-X-X-X-, not -(X)-X-S-.

 

Weapons Breakage

Each time a player completely stops the attack of another player (a result of 0 hits on Duelling Table B an attack action), there is a chance of the defender's blade breaking. Refer to Duelling Table C and find the number in brackets beside the name of the weapon used. Subtract the defender's weapon number from the attacker's. If the defender parried, subtract one more. If the defender rolls this number or less on one die, the weapon is broken. This rule does not apply if the defender has just executed a jump back action.

A broken weapon is treated as a dagger in all respects except for throwing. If thrown, it is treated as a sabre. A character with a broken dagger is disarmed.

 

Swordsmanship

The player with the higher Expertise in a duel has the advantage (see Sequencing). In addition, if the difference in Expertise is 3 or 4, the player with lower Expertise must add one mandatory rest routine into every sequence; if the difference is 5 or 6, he must add two rests, and if the difference is 7 or more, he must add 3 rests.

If a player fails to comply with this, and is caught, he is at the mercy of the other players. The common practice is death by stoning.

 

Sequencing

Both players secretly write their actions for several turns in advance. At the start of the duel, the player with the advantage writes his actions for a short sequence of 6 turns, while his opponent writes a full sequence of 12 turns. After turn 6, the player with the advantage writes a full 12 turn sequence, and after turn 12, his opponent writes another full sequence. The players continue writing overlapping sequences in this manner until one of them surrenders or is killed.

 

Recovery

In the event of a non mutually fatal duel, one or both players may be wounded. Players recover from wounds at the following rate:

  • One half of the Endurance points lost in a duel may be recovered the first week after the duel.
  • Each week thereafter, Endurance points equal to the character's Constitution may be recovered.

A player with less than 50% of his Endurance may decline a duel, regardless of cause, without loss of status (see below). If, however, a character in such a condition accepts a duel, he will gain 3 Status Points immediately, regardless of the outcome of the duel.

 

Status

Characters may gain or lose Status Points as the result of a duel. Duelling Table D lists Status Point changes after a duel.

 
Duelling Table D: Status Point Gains and Losses from Duels
 
If a player:

Fights a member of a friendly Regiment and wins -1 Status Point
Fights a member of a neutral Regiment and wins +2 Status Points
Fights a member of an enemy Regiment and wins +5 Status Points
Fights a member of an enemy Regiment and loses +2 Status Points
Refuses a challenge that has cause loss of Status Points equal to half his Social Level
Challenges with insufficient cause -2 Status Points
Meets an opponent who refuses a challenge (with cause) +2 Status Points
Kills his opponent +2 Status Points

The winner of a duel increases his Expertise by one.

 

Practice

Characters may practice to improve their fencing ability. For every four weeks of practice (not necessarily consecutive) a player raises his Expertise characteristic by one. At any time, a character may subtract five from his Expertise to add one to his Strength characteristic. No other trades may be made, and all the above are irreversible.

Characters may practice with any weapon, but must note on their calendars which weapon is used for each practice session. If a character becomes proficient with one weapon, then switches to another, he returns to his original Expertise for that weapon. He retains, however, whatever Expertise he may have gained with his former weapon.

Characters who do not belong to a Regiment must pay crowns equal to their Expertise for each week of practice. Characters in a Regiment may practice free with that Regiment's weapon, but must pay for practice with any other weapon, as outlined above.

Regimental Table C lists the weapons of each Regiment.


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