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Chapter 6: Duellist Combat System

6.1 Duellist Combat

The Duellist system makes use of essentially the same mechanics as the Abstract system (see
Chapter 5). The difference is that whilst the Abstract system uses a relatively basic manner of determining the order in which events occur, the Duellist system uses a considerably more detailed method of resolution. In general, except where specifically mentioned, all rules from the Abstract system apply to the Duellist system.

6.2 The Combat Process

The following is a step-by-step view of how Duellist combat is executed:

A. Declaration Phase

1. Combatant with lowest Actions declares intent:
The person with the least Actions, being the slowest combatant, chooses and declares what they intend to do, and whether they intend to move or not.
2. Next fastest declares intent:
This continues until everyone has declared what they plan to do. This allows the faster combatants to act on what their slower opponents will be attempting.
B. Initiative Phase
3. Initiative dice are rolled:
As explained in section 5.3, Initiative dice are rolled and the results modify the number of Actions available.
4. Strike Order is determined:
The GM determines in what order the combatants should act (see section 6.4).
C. Resolution Phase
5. First activity resolved:
The first activity is resolved by whatever method is appropriate.
6. Next activity resolved:
The next activity to be resolved is carried out, and so on until all declared activities have been carried out or aborted.
7. Remaining Actions halved and new declarations made:
If any combatants still have Actions left, the process returns to the Declaration phase with the number of remaining Actions halved (round values down). If not, a new round begins. All Actions are restored and the process returns to step one (with Initiative dice reduced as described in section 5.3).
In Declaration, ties on number of Actions should be broken by comparing the characters' Dexterity Attributes (lowest Dexterity declares first), whilst tied Strike Ranks should be resolved simultaneously. An example of this sequence is given in section 6.19.

One round of Duellist combat takes an unspecified amount of time, somewhere in the region of four to six seconds (about twice as long as an Abstract combat round). This assumes at least one `sub-round' within a round, that is, each time the remaining Actions are halved and a new Declaration Phase occurs.

6.3 Actions

In Abstract combat, actions merely determined the order in which people attacked. In Duellist combat they have a concrete meaning. Every activity in combat has a cost in actions, and hence throughout a combat round, their number of actions decreases.

In general, activities must be declared in the Declaration Phase before they are carried out. Exceptions to this are Parries and Dodges, which do not have to be declared in advance. It should be noted that if no-one declares any actions, the round is over and a new round begins.

Also, a combatant can declare activities which would use more than their normally allowed limit, and the Actions spent towards that task would be taken off the cost for next round. For example, someone with 2 Actions attempts to perform something which takes 3 Actions. They would spend the first round starting it, and complete it in their second round with one last Action. It is possible that a combatant will have more Actions than they expect because of Initiative dice.

6.4 Strike Rank and Strike Order

The Strike Order, determined and written down by the GM in the Initiative phase, is the order in which activities are resolved. This order is determined by the Strike Rank, which is equal to the number of Actions the combatant has left over at the time that the action is performed. For example a person with 8 Actions who attempts two moves which cost 3 and 2 Actions respectively would have a Strike Rank of 5 for the first action and 3 for the second.

It should be noted that the Strike Rank of an activity can decrease before it occurs. Certain actions, such as movement (see section 6.5, below), Parries and Dodges do not need to be fully declared in the Declaration phase and hence any Actions spent moving, Dodging or Parrying should be subtracted from the Strike Rank of activities yet to be resolved.

6.5 Movement

When declaring their activities for a round, all combatants must state whether they are moving or stationary. There are advantages and disadvantages to both:
Declared Moving:
If a character declares movement, they are forced to spend at least one Action moving in that turn - they have made to move, and hence will still move a little even if they change their mind. They do not need to declare where they are moving, or how many Actions they are spending moving, only that they intend to move.
Declared Stationary:
If a character declares that they are remaining stationary, they may not move in that turn, except by diving to the ground, or by Dodging. However, because they are better able to respond to any incoming attacks, a stationary character gains a +5 bonus to their Dodge, Parry and Armour block rolls in rounds where they are not moving.
Each Action spent moving equates to 1 metre of movement.

6.6 Action cost of Attacks

In the Duellist system, a character has many of the same choices as in the Abstract system. However, each of these now has a cost in Actions. The number of Actions a certain attack costs is dependent on the Speed of the weapon (see
section 5.8) plus the base for the move, as follows:

Thrust: 1 Action + Speed
Swing: 2 Actions + Speed
Blow: 3 Actions + Speed
Riposte: As thrust
Feint: +1 Action
Parry: 1 Action

There is no penalty to Dodge or Parry rolls for performing a swing or blow in Duellist combat. However, since these moves use up more of a character's Actions, the number of Parries and Dodges they can perform is effectively reduced.

Some weapons have a Speed which is negative, thus lowering the apparent cost in Actions for some moves to 0 or less. These moves are rated 0 for Action costs. Moves which are rated 0 cost 1 Action to perform, in general, with the single exception of when two weapons are used at the same time.

When using two weapons in combat (see section 5.8), it is possible to use both simultaneously. The cost in Actions for any such double move is considered to be the same as whichever of the two moves has the greater Action cost, plus one additional Action. However, if one of the moves is rated 0, the additional Action does not need to be paid. This allows a fast weapon like a knife, with a negative Speed, to carry out `free' Attacks or Parries.

When declaring multiple attacks with the same weapon, there is a penalty of +1 Action for the second attack. Third and subsequent attacks have the same cost as the second. For example, a falchion takes 1 Action to carry out a thrust attack. Three thrust attacks would take 5 Actions, 1 for the first and 2 each for the next two.

Note that even if a move is rated 0 for Action costs it still normally takes one Action to perform, hence any second or subsequent occurrence in the same round would cost two Actions, and not one Action.

6.7 Ripostes and Feints

The riposte works exactly the same as in Abstract combat; that is, a character can riposte if they Parry their opponent by 20 or more. Since a riposte is effectively an extra thrust attack, it has exactly the same Action costs as a thrust.

One additional move which can be used in Duellist combat is the feint, which is a faked attack. Feinting increases the cost of an attack by one Action, but increases its chance of success by adding +5 to the actual attack.

6.8 Dodges, Parries, Blocks and Combat Dodges

As with Abstract combat, there is a cumulative -5 penalty for each dodge or parry carried out earlier in a round. A dodge or parry takes one Action. If a dodge Overpowers (see section 5.5), the person dodging can move to their attacker's rear (see section 6.16). However, characters can also opt to perform a combat dodge, which takes no Actions to perform, but is made on half the character's Dodge Skill. An armour block (see section 5.11) also takes no Actions.

Successfully dodging a blow or a swing can cost the attacker Actions, as they are put off balance. For one handed weapons, a dodged blow costs the attacker one Action, and for two handed weapons, a dodged swing costs the attacker one Action, and a dodged blow costs the attacker two Actions.

6.9 Shields

All shields require 1 Action to Parry with, and 2 if the STR limit is not reached. However, the Small and Large shield only need to use one Action per round to attempt to Parry all the attacks of the one or two opponents the shield is being used against in that round. See section 5.13 for more on shields. Characters who do not have enough Strength to wield a shield can still use it, but with a +1 Action penalty (provided their Strength is no more than 4 under the Strength limit).

6.10 Missile and Thrown weapons

Table 32 and Table 35, respectively, give the Action costs for firing and reloading missile weapons, and for throwing weapons. See section 5.16 and section 5.17 for further information.

6.11 Unarmed Combat

This remains as described in
section 5.18, with the Action costs as given in Table 36.

6.12 Animals in Combat

This is as described in
section 5.26. A Trample attack requires that the attacking animal spends enough Actions in movement to pass over its target.

6.13 Action Penalty for Insufficient Strength

If a character hasn't enough Strength to use a weapon, and hence is suffering the -2 Damage modifier, they also suffer a +1 Action cost penalty. All moves carried out with that weapon are one Action higher, including parries which will take two Actions.

6.14 Simultaneous Attacks

If two people attack each other with the same Strike Rank, neither may Parry with the weapon with which they are attacking. They may only dodge, combat dodge, armour block or parry with a weapon in their other hand.

6.15 Aborting Attacks

If a declared attack is aborted, the Actions invested in that attack are regained, minus one. However, they cannot be used until the next Declaration Phase, when the number available will also have been halved as well (as explained in
section 6.2). Note that if the attack took two Actions or less, no Actions will effectively be regained by aborting the attack.

6.16 Attacks from different Facings

If facings are relevant (usually if miniatures are being used to represent the relative position of the combatants), changing facing is 1 Action. Attacks from the rear automatically hit unless the defender succeeds in an Awareness Task of 20, in which case they can dodge or armour block at half Skill. Flank attacks can be parried at a -5 penalty, and can be dodged or armour blocked without penalty.

6.17 Blood Loss

After each round of combat, characters with Unstabilised wounds (see
section 8.2) may suffer additional wounds from blood loss. Have the character make a Passive Task Resolution on their Endurance (do not use half Endurance if they are at their wounded state). The Difficulty of this Task is worked out from the number of wounds suffered that have not been Stabilised. The base Difficulty depends on the highest Unstabilised wound as follows:

Highest wound L: Base Difficulty 2.
Highest wound S: Base Difficulty 5.
Highest wound M: Base Difficulty 10.

For each additional Unstabilised wound add:

Light wound: +1
Serious wound: +2
Major wound: +5

Treat all wounds greater than Rank M as multiple M's. If they fail the blood loss Task, they suffer an additional Flesh wound due to blood loss.

6.18 Other Actions

Table 41, below, lists the suggested cost of a number of activities that could occur in combat.

Table 41: Action Costs
Activity Actions Difficulty
Thrust 1 + Speed Combat
Swing 2 + Speed Combat
Blow 3 + Speed Combat
Riposte 1 + Speed Combat
Extra attacks after first +1 Combat
Feint +1 None (+5 Bonus)
Parry 1 Combat + Bonus
Dodge 1 Dodge
Combat dodge 0 Half Dodge
Armour block 0 Combat -10a
Movement 1 per m None
Changing facing 1 None
Running jump 1 per mb Jump (10 per m)
Standing jump 1 per m Jump (20 per m)
Diving jump 3 per mc Jump (30 per m)
Vertical running jump 2 per mb Jump (20 per m)
Vertical standing jump 3 per m Jump (30 per m)
Drawing weapon 2 per md None
Picking up handy object 1 None
Dropping object 0 None
Jumping onto low object 2e Jump 20e
Mounting a horse 4 Ride 20
Dismounting from horse 4 Ride 10
Jumping from horse 2 Ride 20 / Jump 20
Throwing self to ground 1 None
Standing up 2 Agility 20
a Knights and Gladiators do not suffer the -10 penalty.
b Requires run up of several metres prior to jump.
c Assumes throwing self to ground.
d Costs 1 Action per half metre of weapon length.
e Assumes object is roughly two thirds of a metre tall.

The Difficulty column gives a brief summary of what is required to successfully perform the action. For example a Running Jump has a Task Difficulty of 10 per metre being jumped. Entries in italics refer to activities which use Active Task Resolution.

Note that if jumping onto a low object gives a character a significant height advantage, opponents are at -5 to their combat Skills against that character, whilst that advantage is maintained.

6.19 Example of Duellist Combat

The following is an example of how to administrate Duellist combat. Consider the following three combatants:

7 Actions Initiative 2 END 12 (MSL)
Swashbuckler 21 Dodge 18 STR 12
Armed with a scimitar.
Armoured with chainmail jerkin (Armour Index 2) and metal helm (Armour Index 3-1). Required STR 4, Dodge penalty -3.

5 Actions Initiative 3 END 16 (MML)
Gladiator 18 Dodge 20 STR 14
Armed with morning star.
Armoured in brigandine covering torso and arm (Armour Index 5-2). Required STR 7, Dodge penalty -4.

6 Actions Initiative 1 END 19 (MMS)
Berserker 26 Dodge 12 STR 20
Armed with great axe (Strength 20, hence +1 to damage).
Armoured everywhere in furs (Armour Index 3-1). Required STR 0, No Dodge penalty.

Fairn and Eremith are shopping for supplies in a city market when Raq, a barbarian clad entirely in tiger furs, approaches the stall at which they are browsing. Raq, without a word, strikes at the stallholder with his great axe, killing him instantly. Taken aback by this, Fairn and Eremith try to restrain the villain, who is intent on stealing the wares of the deceased stallholder. Fairn and Raq are right next to each other, and Eremith is roughly a metre from Raq. Both Raq and Fairn have their weapons drawn already.

Round 1

Phase A - Declaration: The combatants make their declarations in order of increasing action totals. Eremith has the lowest number of Actions, and so declares first. He decides to ready his morning star by unslinging it and setting it in motion. Unslinging the weapon takes 2 Actions, as does setting it in motion. He declares himself Stationary.

Raq must declare next. He reacts to the challenge of the pair by attacking Fairn with a Blow from his great axe. The cost of this is 5 Actions. He declares himself Stationary.

Fairn, upon hearing that Raq intends to strike him, judges that the Blow will be slow and declares two swings at Raq. The first swing will take 2 Actions, and the second will take three (due to the extra action penalty for a second attack). Fairn need not declare that he intends to Dodge, but leaves himself some Actions with which to do so. He declares himself Stationary.

Phase B - Initiative: The three combatants roll their Initiative dice. Eremith rolls 5, 2 and 1. The 5 gives him 1 extra action. Raq rolls 6, for 2 extra Actions. Fairn rolls 1 and 3, gaining no extra Actions.

Strike order is now determined. Fairn's Swing will act in Strike Rank 5 (7 Actions, plus no extra Actions, minus the Swing cost of 2). Eremith will finish unslinging his morning star in Strike Rank 4 (5 + 1 - 2). Raq will complete his Blow on Strike Rank 3 (6 + 2 - 5). Fairn's second Swing finishes on Strike Rank 2 (7 - 2 - 3). At the same time, Eremith finishes setting his weapon into motion (5 + 1 - 2 - 2).

Phase C - Resolution: Fairn attempts to hit Raq with a Swing of his scimitar. He rolls 1d20, and adds this to his Swashbuckler skill. The roll produces a 13, giving his attack a total of 39 (13 roll + 21 Skill + 5 for using a Solo Fighting style against a single opponent). Raq declares a Parry against this Swing. Note that this will reduce the Strike Rank of Raq's blow by the Action cost of the Parry, which is 1. His Blow will now culminate on Strike Rank 2. Raq rolls an 11 for a Parry total of 47 (11 roll + 26 base Berserker Skill -5 for Parrying with a Berserker skill +10 since he is Parrying with his great axe and +5 for declaring himself Stationary) which Parries Fairn's Swing.

Eremith, on Strike Rank 4, unslings his weapon.

All three combatants resolve activities at Strike Rank 2. Eremith has got his morning star swinging, whilst Fairn and Raq are resolving attacks simultaneously. This means that neither can Parry, though either may Dodge if they have the Actions left with which to do so. Fairn, knowing that he would be severely hurt if Raq's Blow lands, decides to Dodge. Raq, not wishing to be hit, also declares a Dodge. The Dodges cause these two attacks to be performed one Action later, on Strike Rank 1.

At Strike Rank 1, the two attacks are resolved simultaneously. Raq rolls to hit. He gets a 15, for a total of 41 (15 + 26). Fairn rolls for his Dodge, getting 16 for a total of 36 (16 +18 +5 for being Stationary and -3 because of his armour). This is not enough, and Raq's blow lands. Raq must now roll for damage and location of the hit. Raq has a damage bonus of +6 (+1 for strength, +5 for a Blow with a great axe) and rolls 6 on 2d6 on the Wound Matrix. This is modified to 12, which is a Major wound (M). Raq rolls for hit Location, getting 4 on the roll, which hits Fairn's torso. Fairn is armoured there, and rolls for protection. His chainmail has an Armour Index of 2. He rolls and gets 1 and 4, no protection. His Wound Code is M S S. The M he has taken equals his first wound state, so he is Wounded. This means that all Fairn's skills will be halved, and he must be Stabilised or he will fall unconscious due to loss of blood.

Fairn's attack occurs simultaneously, so he does not suffer the Wounded penalty for his attack. He rolls 9, for a total of 30 (9 + 21). Raq is attempting to Dodge this and rolls a 7, for a total of 19 (7 + 12 - 5 for the Berserker Fighting style +5 for being Stationary). He fails to Dodge. Fairn has a Damage modifier of +1 (for a Swing with a scimitar). He rolls a 2, modified to give a Light wound (L), and gets 10 for Hit location (head). Raq is protected here by his furs (Armour Index 3-1), and rolls 2, 3 and 5, giving no protection. Raq goes Berserk.

This is the last action in the Strike order. Any Actions left are halved and rounded down, leaving only Eremith with any Actions (1 Action). He declares no attacks, and declares himself Moving, using his Action to get closer to the conflict (moving one metre).

At the end of the round, Fairn has to roll for Blood loss. He has suffered one M, so the Difficulty is only 10. His Endurance is 12 and he rolls a 7 on 1d20, giving a total of 19. This is more than the Task Difficulty, and hence he does not suffer any additional wounds from Blood loss.

Round 2

Phase A - Declaration: Once again, we begin with declarations. Fairn has only 3 Actions because he is now Wounded (Actions are halved, then rounded down) and so must declare first. He intends to drop his weapon and move away from Raq, looking for anything to throw. He declares no attacks, and declares himself Moving.

Eremith has 5 Actions, he declares a Swing with his spinning morning star which will occur at Strike Rank 3 (5 - 2 Actions for a Swing with a morning star). He declares himself Stationary.

Raq, seeing his previous opponent backing off, turns on Eremith and declares a Blow, this will fall on Strike Rank 1 (6 - 5). He declares himself Stationary.

Phase B - Initiative: Eremith rolled a 5 on one of his Initiative dice last round, and so has an Effective Initiative index of 1. Raq got a 6, and so also has an Effective Initiaitve index of 1. Fairn, who rolled no 5's or 6's, has no Initiative dice this round. Eremith rolls a 4 and Raq a 1, meaning neither gain any additional Actions this round, and none of the combatants will get to roll for Initiative Actions next round.

Phase C - Resolution: Eremith Swings his morning star. He rolls to hit. He gets a 12, for a total of 35 (12 + 18 + 5 for Solo fighting), and Raq attempts an Armour block (at -20, because he is Berserk). He rolls 20, a critical, and then a 15, for a total of 46 (20 + 15 + 26 - 20 +5 for being Stationary), and so this succeeds, at no Action cost. Eremith rolls a 6 for damage, giving a Serious wound (including his + 2 modifier), and Raq rolls 5, 5 and 1 for his armour protection, rerolling the 1 to give another 5. Therefore, his wound is lowered by 2 Ranks (3 - 1) to become only a Flesh, which he opts to take in his torso. Raq is still not at his first Wound state (M), and so can continue to fight normally.

The next action to occur is Fairn's, as he scrabbles across the cobbles to the relative safety of the upturned stall and grab the nearest possible weapon. The GM judges that it takes him 2 Actions for the movement and another 1 to get his hands on anything useful, by which time Raq's next Blow is already falling. Rolling to hit, Raq gets a 17, giving a total attack of 43, which Eremith attempts to Dodge (since he cannot Parry unless his weapon is already spinning). He rolls a 12, to give a total Dodge of 42 (12 +20 +5 +5), which is not quite enough to avoid Raq's crushing Blow. Raq rolls a 12 for damage, modified to 18 by weapon and Strength bonuses, and the resulting MMM code is then raised to MMMM, due to his Beserk state. Rolling for location, he gets a 7, hitting Eremith's left arm. Eremith prays to whatever decadent deity he worships, and rolls for Armour protection (5-2 for brigandine). He rolls 2, 5, 6, 3 and 5, lowering the wound to MM. This is a Limb Destroyed result, and also takes Eremith to his Unconscious wound state, so he falls to the street, his arm a mangled mess. Fairn reaches the wreckage of the stall and glances around, finding only an under-ripe melon for his trouble.

All the declared movements and attacks having been completed, remaining Actions are halved, rounding down. This leaves none of the combatants with any choice but to start a new round.

Both Fairn and Eremith have a chance of suffering wounds due to blood loss. Fairn still only needs 10 or better, and Eremith needs 15 or better (MM is treated as two separate M's, hence +10 base and +5 for an additional M). Fairn rolls a 3 for a total of 15 (no additional wounds) but Eremith rolls a 1 - a fumble. The Task Difficulty is raised to 25 and he rolls again, getting a 7, for a total of 23. Eremith suffers a Flesh wound from blood loss. Three more and he will die.

Round 3

Phase A - Declaration: Fairn (with 3 Actions) opts to do nothing but defend himself as best he can. He declares himself Stationary, resigning himself to almost certain doom. Leaving Eremith for dead, Raq looks around for his other assailant, eager for another kill. Fairn is easily seen and so Raq, blood-streaked and grinning, declares himself Moving (it will take 2 Actions for him to reach Fairn) and uses the remainder of his Actions for a frenzied Swing (4 Actions).

Phase C - Resolution: Raq reaches Fairn at Strike Rank 4 and slowly brings his great axe up and round in the Swing that both believe will end the latter's life. Fairn declares that he will Dodge, using 1 of his Actions. Raq rolls to hit, getting a 4, for a total of 30 (4 +26), and Fairn rolls (on half his skill) for his Dodge, getting a 20 - a Critical - followed by a 17 for a total of 56 (20 +17 +18/2 +5 +5). Since this evasive manoeuvre succeeded by over 20, Fairn has Overpowered his opponent, and uses this opportunity to get around behind him. Meanwhile, Raq's axe embeds itself into the remains of the fruit stall.

All Actions are now halved, leaving only Fairn able to act (with 1 Action). While Raq screams with rage at his trapped weapon, Fairn uses his Action and all his strength to bring the melon crashing down on the barbarian's head. To notice this, and so be able to defend himself from it, Raq must make an Awareness task of 20. His Awareness is 10 and he rolls a 9, giving a total of 19, just short of his target. Fairn's attack automatically succeeds. The GM rules that the melon is a Concussive improvised weapon of Wound code S and Damage modifier -6. Fairn rolls for damage. He gets a 12, just what was needed! This is modified to 6, a Serious wound (S), and then dice are rolled for Raq's armour protection. He rolls 4, 5 and 2, resulting in no Ranks of protection, causing him to receive the whole S. The melon also takes an S, which is the maximum damage it can withstand - it shatters. Raq is still not at his first wound state (M) yet. However, for Concussive purposes, this is increased by 2 ranks to MM, which would take him to Unconscious. So Raq is knocked out, and crumples to the ground, blood and melon juice mingling on his brow.

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Last Updated: April 16th, 1999