Rules Index


Chapter 3: Subsystems

Duels

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 166
Sometimes conflicts become personal. It’s not the entire group against a challenge, but one character struggling against the skills of a single adversary. In many societies, duels are considered a reasonable way to resolve individual differences, though others consider such practices—especially the more deadly varieties—to be a savage affront to law and order. Duels can come in several forms, and this section gives you rules to run them.

Setting Up a Duel

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 166
Participants must willingly agree to the duel and to abide by its rules. If one of the duelists breaks the duel’s rules (and, more importantly, is caught doing so), that duelist loses, taking any penalties agreed upon when the challenge was accepted. Here are some sample dueling rules.

Compete Alone

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 166
It’s customary that each participant must compete alone and may receive no help from outside sources. However, some duels pit pairs of combatants against one another (either all together or as tag teams).

Limited Tools

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 166
The participants agree to the tools, including weapons and magic items, before the duel starts. Most combat duels that don’t involve magic limit participants to melee weapons and prohibit the use of poison. Some duels forbid the use of polearms and other reach weapons. A spellcasting duel might agree upon a roughly equal number of magic items, and a cap on the power (in game terms, the level) of the items. Some spellcasting duels might prohibit certain types of spells, such as summoning or necromancy.

Duration

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 166
Combat duels typically last either until first blood (hitting and dealing damage) or until one of the duelists is knocked out. Most duels allow a participant to yield, which means they concede victory to their opponent, though sometimes this could diminish their social standing. Duels of talent usually involve several equal turns in which the duelists display their ability.

Adjudication

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 166
Most duels are overseen by a third party who ensures the duelists don’t break the duel’s rules—inadvertently or by cheating. Where duels are legal, this is typically a constable or magistrate. In other places, a cleric or other respected figure serves as judge. Typically the GM plays the judge.

Combat Duels

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 166
Unlike the other subsystems in this chapter, a combat duel works almost the same as a normal combat encounter, with a few exceptions. These rules require exceptional focus between two duelists and a third-party arbiter, and thus are not available in a normal combat.

Initiative and Dueling Actions

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
Unlike in typical combat, the duelists roll initiative checks at the beginning of each round of combat. Each round the combatant can choose to use Deception, Intimidation, or Perception when they roll initiative. Because a duelist might act twice in a row, durations that last until the beginning of a duelist’s next turn might function oddly. A duelist acting second can choose to avoid such abilities that turn, or can choose to act second if they win initiative on the next round.

If the duelist is at least trained in whichever initiative choice they pick, they gain the corresponding dueling reaction that round: Bullying Press for Intimidation, Deceptive Sidestep for Deception, or Sense Weakness for Perception. Neither duelist is aware of what type of roll the other used for initiative—surprise and the use of dueling actions are a part of dueling strategies. Familiars and companions, even when allowed in the duel, can’t use these actions, nor can bystanders.

Bullying Press Reaction

Flourish
Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
Trigger You attempt a melee Strike against your opponent, but haven’t rolled yet.
Requirements You’re in a duel, you’re trained in Intimidation, and you rolled an Intimidation check for initiative this round.
If you hit, your opponent becomes frightened 1. If your opponent is using Perception for initiative when this ability is used, they become frightened 2 instead.

Deceptive Sidestep Reaction

Misfortune
Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
Trigger An opponent hits, but does not critically hit you, with a melee Strike.
Requirements You’re in a duel, you’re trained in Deception, and you rolled a Deception check for initiative this round.
You draw your enemy in and pull away at the last moment. The triggering opponent must roll again and take the second result. If your opponent is using Intimidation for initiative when this ability is used, they also take a –2 circumstance penalty to the second attack roll.

Sense Weakness Reaction

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
Trigger You attempt a melee Strike against your opponent, but haven’t rolled yet.
Requirements You’re in a duel, you’re trained in Perception, and you rolled a Perception check for initiative this round.
You pick a precise moment to attack, giving you an edge. Your opponent is flat-footed against the attack. If your opponent is using Deception for initiative when this ability is used, they are instead flat-footed until the start of their next turn.

Ending the Duel

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
The duel ends when the duel’s judge confirms the victory condition, when the judge determines one of the duelists has cheated, or when one of the duelists yields. Note that if either of the combatants attempts to continue the duel after its end, the combatants should roll initiative and proceed with normal combat.

Spellcasting Duels

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
Like combat duels, spellcasting duels take place in encounter mode, but their rules are not available during normal combat. They are typically more organized affairs than combat duels. Many spellcasting duels prohibit any sort of combat but spellcasting. They typically have the duelists take turns casting a turn’s worth of spells, giving their rivals a chance to counter the spells if they can.

Initiative and Dueling Actions

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
In most cases, each duelist rolls initiative normally and proceeds in that initiative order throughout the duel, unlike in a combat duel. Each duelist can roll an Arcana, Nature, Occultism, or Religion check instead of Perception. If they are trained at that skill, they gain the tradition focus of that skill, which allows them to hone in on a certain magical school corresponding to the check they made for their initiative roll. They also gain the Dueling Counter reaction, which enables a duelist to counter their opponent’s spell if their tradition focus matches the tradition of that spell. They also gain the Change Tradition Focus action, which changes the duelist’s tradition focus to a different tradition. Familiars and companions, even when allowed in the duel, can’t use these actions, nor can bystanders.

When mixing a spellcasting duel and a combat duel, use the initiative rules for combat dueling, but allow the duelist to roll Arcana, Nature, Occultism, or Religion for their initiative checks. They still gain the Dueling Counter reaction and Change Tradition Focus action, though Change Tradition Focus is less useful in combat duels.

Dueling Counter Reaction

Potion
Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
Trigger Your opponent Casts a Spell from the same tradition as your tradition focus.
Requirements You are in a duel and have a tradition focus.
Expend a prepared spell or spell slot. You then attempt to counteract the triggering spell with the expended spell.

Change Tradition Focus Single Action

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
Requirements You are in a duel and are trained in the skill for the tradition you’re changing your focus to (Arcana for arcane, Occultism for occult, Nature for primal, or Religion for divine).
You change your tradition focus to another magical tradition.

Ending the Duel

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 167
Just like a combat duel, a spellcasting duel ends when the duel’s judge confirms the victory condition, when the judge determines one of the duelists has cheated, or when one of the duelists yields. As with a combat duel, if either of the combatants attempts to continue the duel after its end, the combatants should roll initiative and proceed with normal combat.