How would you handle a duel to first blood/honor?

How would you handle a duel to first blood/honor?

How would you handle a duel to first blood/honor?

On the one hand, HP is just a number to show how much fighting potential you still go in you. Taking damage doesn’t necessarily mean your character is getting bloodied. So a samurai themed character who has never been touched can still keep his narrative theme of avoiding all attacks, even when he takes 8 damage.

On the other though, typically a fight to first blood doesn’t involve both parties fighting to the absolute limit. And it certainly doesn’t take a day of rest to recover from a cut to the shoulder or leg.

8 thoughts on “How would you handle a duel to first blood/honor?”

  1. Assuming it is a duel between a player character and NPC, based on the paradigm above? I would use normal hack and slash. 10+? The character clearly won and the narrative should show it; I would ask its player to describe how the fight went to the rest of us with damage not even rolled. 7-9? The character won first blood but damage would be rolled, both given and received and I would describe how the fight went to the group. 6-? The NPC wins the duel and the player only rolls the damage they received and I would describe how the fight went to the group and then ask the defeated character what they do.

  2. When you attack you and an enemy engage in melee combat while showing restraint, roll+ STR or DEX, your choice.

    On a 10+, Hold 5 and your opponent holds 3.

    On a 7-9, Hold 3 and your opponent holds 4.

    On a 6-, You hold 2 and your opponent holds 5.

    You may spend Hold, 1-for-1, to…

    … deal 1d4 damage to your opponent, and their armor applies.

    … open a chink in their defenses, reducing their armor by 1, but they immediately deal 1d4-2 damage to you.

    … take a defensive position and get +1 armor forward.

    You may spend 2 Hold at any time to completely avoid their attack

    As long as you have 3 or more Hold, you may lose all of your hold to go all-out, rolling your regular damage die twice and dealing the better result.

    This move allows the character multiple options to still feel like they’re engaging in a tricky battle. Even though, technically, they could just roll Hack&Slash since the fictional trigger still applies, it wouldn’t feel like they’re doing anything more than “I swing my sword and win” with one roll.

    Yes, i am aware that Hack&Slash doesn’t necessarily mean that there was only one swing involved, and yes, many players are aware of that, but to have such a fictionally-rich situation be represented with one roll seems to undersell it to everyone at the table.

    However, if you wanted to go the one-roll route, i would recommend rolling Hack&Slash until the player either gets a 10+, winning, or a 6-, losing.

  3. LA Stuart That’s rather anti-climatic. especially if the player has a +3, where they’ll only lose on the two lowest rolls possible making it extremely skewered in favor of the player to the point of not even bothering; even if they only have a +2. It also just completely disregards the skill of the opponent, which again defeats the point of having an epic duel if you win with a single roll with almost no risk of failure.

  4. For two equally skilled opponents and a feeling of epic? Then I’d toss out all +modifiers so a custom move would be required. The rule would make it clear that in this specific case? Your strength and/or dexterity aren’t giving you a better chance at success because every advantage you have is compensated by something your opponent possess. I liked the idea mentioned by Mark Weis in rolling Hack&Slash until either party gets either a +10 or a 6-. The narrative description could take place between rolls then. It might not boil down to a single die roll then.

  5. LA Stuart I would argue against losing the modifiers to gain a sense of an even playing field. The players feel that their actions are epic because of their modifiers. They roll+2 and can practically feel their axe split the goblin’s skull open as the dice clatter to a stop on the table. They roll-1 and you can watch the hope drain from their face before they even toss the dice.

    Their character’s dexterity defines a core part of their roleplaying. Are they quick and agile in their fighting or are they slow and lumbering? Are they slow and lumbering, but seemingly in their element in this particular fight after rolling well?

    The modifiers represent everything that the characters are good at. If their opponent has tricks up their sleeve, that is to counteract the characters’ advantages, not the other way around.

    Also, i regret suggesting that because then it just becomes a “Roll H&S. 7? Roll H&S. 7? Roll H&S. 10? You win.”

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