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Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture
Combat questions, problems and solutions
combat, core rules, house rules, dueling

I created another topic asking a few things about Parry and Risposte. I got my answers but I'm not entirely convinced so I decided to create a topic with a few things that a friend and I have noticed after toying a bit with the combat system. I don't know if a topic like this has alreday been created or if it was up to date. If it has been, you can all "booo" me and I will go cry somewhere :P

We are not players/GMs that like to min/max things but we found some flaws and I wanted to share them, offer a different solution (hence the house rules tag) and see if more people have doubts/problems/solutions. In short, make a topic about the combat system that people can easily find in case they need it.

I'll write an example for every problem we found. I hate using numbers to explain things as I get the feeling I'm not paying attention to the roleplaying part but I'm forced to use them in order to explain them for practical reasons. Characters that are not duelists are okay so in all the problems and examples I'm going to write about, all are considered to have the duelist advantage but I'm not taking into consideration any of the school skills.

Problem 1: First blood duel (this problem applies only to these kind of duels)

The main problem is that if you duel someone to first blood and you have the same level of skill and the same amount of raises, the character that goes first wins. How so? Lunge, period.

Let's see it with numbers: Each player has 3 raises and weapony 3. The first to hit uses Lunge and he does 3+3 damage but if the other character tries to Parry, he uses 1 raise to Parry 3 wounds and 2 raises to avoid 2 more wounds. The final numbers are 6 damage and 5 stopped. Unless I misunderstood and Lunge was actually something like(in this case) 3 damage from weaponry, 1 raise to use Lunge and then the 2 remaining raises to improve damage. There is no way, never, to fully stop someone from damaging you if (and if is the keyword here) characters have at least the same rank in weaponry and the same amount of raises. If someone has more raises or more pips in weaponry, the enemy is doomed but that's not the point.

Solution? Like I said... Unless I misunderstood how Lunge works (if I did, what I said above is pointless), I think that spending 1 raise to activate the manoeuvre and the rest to boost damage would give an opportunity to someone who has the same degree of skill, at least, to defend themselves.


Problem 2: Feint (Practical reasons only, but practical nonetheless)

Feint does 1 damage and the enemy receives 1 more damage next time they are wounded. It does not sound great at first glance but it truly shines if you have the upper hand and can hit 2 times before they can act. The main problem is that when you reach 4 ranks in weaponry, this manoeuvre is not as useful as before. Why? Weaponry does not improve feint, I can accept that but think the other way around. Weaponry 4 means that you will probably face enemies that will hit you hard because you are experienced and challenges are expected. Bash is better for practical reasons even if you do one less damage.

If you have at least 2 actions before the enemy can act, you can do something like this:

Feint + slash(3 weaponry) = 1+4 damage. With bash would be 1+3 damage = 4 damage, but you are preventing 3 damage. Weaponry will help you prevent more damage where feint does not change even if you where able to reach 10 in weaponry.

Solution? Feint is the only manoeuvre that does not improve when the character improves. Feint could be improved with something like: Feint does 1 damage and next time the enemy is hit, they receive 1 damage for every odd pip you have in weaponry (1-2 weaponry = 1 damage, 3-4 weaponry = 2 damage, 5 weaponry = 3 damage). Or another solution (because I thought 3 damage was way too much): Feint does 1 damage and next time the enemy is hit, they receive your rank in weaponry rounded down (minimum 1) as damage.


Problem 3: Parry and Risposte

A character can avoid damage outside their turn spending 1 raise to negate 1 damage. Ok, sounds good. Duelists cannot do that with their manoeuvres because they have to way until they can act. I'm sorry to say this but it does not make any sense(to me at least). My friend and I tried to emulate different combat situations where allowing Parry and Risposte as reactions would cause unbalance problems and we couldn't find any.

Let's see: If you are left with less raises because of your poor planning or bad luck, it means the enemy has a chance to literally destroy you... (poor planning and bad luck shouldn't be punished... well, maybe poor planning should... a bit... only... :P)

Using the same example I used on the other topic: you have 3 raises and the villain has 5. As written, if the villain uses raises to hit you, you can still spend 3 raises to negate 3 damage or, like Salamanca said, you can hope you can take the attacks and then retaliate. I'm good with that but not convinced. In this case, the villain would attack you 3 times (slash + feint + slash or slash + bash + slash) and by the time you can Parry or Risposte the last slash, you are already with 1-2 dramatic wounds depending on the strength of the Villain. Even if the Villain could attack 2 times only, he would hit you pretty hard (a duelist villain is supossed to be competent).

If you follow the rules, you won't spend those 3 raises to negate 3 damage... The villain is going to hurt you a lot so it is pointless to do it.

Solution? Unless there is a secret explanation behind that rule of using Parry and Risposte only on your action that I was unable to see (hey, it can happen), I really think one solution would be to allow Parry and Risposte to be used immediately after you receive damage. You can still decide if you want to spend raises or take the hits. There may be situations where you think you will be ok if you don't negate damage.

One more thing on this (another example I used on the other topic): You are left with 2 raises and the rest of the group have between 3 and 5 and the Villain has 5. Villain slashes you and then waits (someone that wants to mock you and every time he hits you, he waits for you to try something instead of hitting you again before you can defend or attack), does not use the rest of his raises until you can act, and the rest of the group are fighting other people. When you can act you Parry... From a roleplaying perspective, it does not make sense either... he hit you and waited but you can Parry a hit that already wounded you? If you say yes, then first blood duels are explained with: the one with more raises win. If not, then... time freezes until you can Parry but not if they hit you again? ... weird.


On a final note, all of these problems can be ignored from a roleplaying perspective too.

  • A duelist starting with a Lunge is not common. Unless you are desperate(that's the description for this manoeuvre), you will never use Lunge against other as it makes little sense to begin the duel, roar and jump, foaming, towards the enemy (it actually sounds hilarious now that I think about it.. I'll probably do it xd).
  • The Feint problem was practical only. I would probably use it too for drama and roleplaying regardless of what the manoeuvre does.
  • The Parry and Risposte problem may not be that big... Players are heroes and they can take a beating. They will be able to do the same and they still have raises to avoid damage as normal.

My group and I are all for roleplaying instead of numbers and we usually ignore things like these... still, practicality exists and everyone, unconsciously or not, are aware of it.

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BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Ok, first up I'm not reeeeeally sure Problems 1 and 2 are really problems.

First of all, I'm assuming a duel to the first blood is a duel to the first dramatic wound.  If you are dueling some inferior braggart, you should be able to take them out in one stroke.  Against a Villain, the manuever is ineffective.  A modest Villain could simply parry, take the excess wounds and now you are left with no Raises to defend yourself.  So we are talking about a very few instances and it really depends on how you decide to design your NPCs.  I suspect the only time the first Lunge is going to be an issue is if you are dueling a swordsman of equal skill.

Second, Feint.  This is only an issue if you view the manuever in isolation.  Feint is a set up, and works because duelists can't perform the same move more than once in succession.  So it doesn't really need to improve with weaponry, because your follow up does.  Also, note the language.  Every subsequent maneuver that injures your opponent this ROUND does +1 wound.  Boosting this is going to be problematic (especially with Lunge).

Parry and Riposte: again, this is all part of the "no repeat maneuvers in succession" pattern. You can't just Parry/Parry/Parry/Parry/Parry in a duel (except under special circumstances where you have GM permission — I can see a scenario where I would allow a player to do NOTHING BUT Parry in a duel).  Also, I think you are mistaking an Action Sequence for a literal blow for blow exchange.  I think it's meant to be more abstract than that, much like OD&D's combat rounds.  The duelists are circling each other, testing and prodding, and setting each other up for the big manuever.  Yes, you can immediately spend a raise to negate a single wound, but the duelist can wait for her next action and negate wounds equal to her Weaponry rank.

Now, I'm not saying the Parry/Riposte thing isn't an issue.  Or really any of these.  I haven't played the game yet.  I just think there are a couple of different scenarios that need to be tested before you start making blanket changes, especially because of the way Villains work.

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Regarding the first problem. I always assumed that first blood meant first wound... as being hit. I considered a dramatic wound a serious wound and not a flesh wound. If first blood duels are like you said then I'm mistaken and yeah, it is not as bad as I thought, even though I think someone with equal skill should be able to negate all damage but oh well...

About Feint.. yeah, my friend and I thought about it but it's just like you said, +1 damage, be that Lunge or not. It just feels as if this manoeuvre is missing something. You can Bash and prevent 5 damage AND Parry next turn and negate 5 more damage, you can slash for 5 damage, Risposte for 5 too, Lunge for 5 plus raises. All this in the long term of course and it seems as if Feint can't follow.

And about Parry and Risposte. I think I wasn't able to explain myself correctly. When I said I didn't understand why Parry and Risposte couldn't be used as reactions, I meant it including the "no same manoeuvre twice". The only difference is being able to use both outside of your turn but that does not mean ignoring the "can't perfom the same manoeuvre twice" rule. e.i: On your action you spend 1 raise and slash, on the villain's action he slashes back. you, as a reaction, choose to spend a raise a perform Parry to prevent wounds. The Villain decides to Lunge. On you action, you cannot perfom Parry because you already did. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough about this.

I agree that an Action Sequence is not a literal exchange of blows, but if your character spends a raise in order to inflict wounds and then he does something else before his foe can Parry or Risposte (meaning your character has 2 actions at least before the villain can act), you ARE hitting and he is NOT Parrying at the same time. That makes it weird from a roleplaying and time perspective... it's like you hit and you decide to jump from the second floor... ok, if the villain does not Parry it means you cause wounds and that hit wounded him before, but if he parries, from that very action sequence perspective, you are altering the initiative because he is Parrying before you jump, even if you jumped before he acted. I can understand that some people can have an abstract grasp of a lot of situations but for me this concrete case is too abstract... and if we add that you can avoid damage spending raises as normal then you end up wondering why a duelist has to wait. They can negate wounds equal to their Weaponry rank... ok, but that cost 5 points worth of Advantages.

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Dramatic wounds and first blood: that's the way we always did them in 1st edition. The language has changed in 2nd edition a bit, but I still feel the approach makes sense. Otherwise, yeah whoever goes first is an idiot not to lunge and spend an extra Raise.

Feint: if I was going to tweak feint at all, I would let it create an opportunity for an ally. After all, that's what a feint is, making your opponent think you are going to go left and then going right.

im personally of the school that there need to be a few more maneuvers in the mix. I really liked Tagging in concept and may figure out a way to get it back in there. Someone else posted a maneuver that let's you repeat your previous action in quick succession to push your opponent a bit. I liked that.

As a witch hunter player, I kinda like the idea of importing Stances from that game. Each round, the duelist chooses a Stance. A defensive stance, for instance, might allow you to use a free parry maneuver at any time during the round at the cost of 1 wound from any maneuver used. An aggressive stance might let you do extra damage that could not be avoided, at the cost of leaving you open to more wounds from your opponent. It would make things a bit more complicated, but not overly so. Would that solve any of your problems?

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Well, I was able to see different points of view which is what I was hoping :)

I remember the first 7th sea Adventure I played with the 1st Ed. The GM told us that 1 wound wins a first blood duel so that is what we used for our games too. Though a 1st ED character can do a few tricks to avoid being hit... The definition of first blood duels states that even if the wound is just a scratch, you lose but I don't know what to say about this xD. I'll leave it for now.

Feint granting an opportunity is a great idea but you should be able to exploit your own Feint. What about forcing the enemy to spend an extra raise on his next manoeuvre?

I guess they will implement new manoeuvres with sourcebooks because right now there is not a lot to do :/

Stances are great but I'm not really good at implementing them. What did you have in mind? Just what you said or do you have something already planned?

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

One problem that should be mentioned is that Lunge actually RAW can't be parried. In the text it states "These wounds cannot be avoid or prevented." This is supposed to be why lunge is more useful than a character spending additional raises to deal more wounds on their slash.

Unfortunately this really does mean that the First blood lunge problem needs some way to be rectified, because otherwise first blood becomes entirely based on who gets more raises to start with (and thus gets to go first.)

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Lunge absolutely can be paried. It's the additional raises spent for wounds that cannot be. When you lunge, you spend all your raises. You do your weaponry in wounds, plus 1 wound per additional raise. The wounds from the additional raises cannot be parried, but the core maneuver can. At least, that's how I read it.

Lunge is a risky maneuver. If you do it, you'd better think twice or you're likely to leave yourself vulnerable to a lot of maneuvers and opportunities from even an amateur duelist.

Antti Kautiainen
Antti Kautiainen's picture

Actually I would simply rule that all damage from lunge is Lunge abiltiy damage. This makes it more balanced. And you do get weapon damge from Lumge + additional Raise damge. Thus the 4 raises situation, you get weaponry 3 + 3 (extra raises) total of 6. I would allow this total be parried totally, as it makes lunge as hazardous move it should be. You lunge against more skillled enemy and you lost. He parries it and hits you off guard.

The opponent with 4 raises and same weaponry gets parry 3 daamge + 3 raises, and thus negates whole lunge,.

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

I'm not entirely sure of that, the wording is " You deal a number of Wounds equal to your Ranks in Weaponry plus the Raises you spend. These Wounds cannot be avoided or prevented."

I don't disagree with your houserule, but it doesn't seem like RAW.

Regardless though, it does present a problem for Duels to First blood. It's possible that the house rule could help prevent a duel to first dramatic wound from becoming rocket tag, but only if more than four raises are rolled in a round. Once you can spend four additional raises on a lunge, you have no reason not to use them immediately to end the fight then and there.


Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

I agree with Evan. That is the way I read it too... and I guess forcing Lunge to inflict those wounds at the end of the round instead of inflicting them immediatly won't work either, right?

Heng benjamin
Heng benjamin's picture

Or... create consequences and opportunities!

In addition to dueling to the first blood, add:

-the lady is must impressed by your courage and devellop an affection for you

-you cut the mustache of your opponent. His honor is officialy safe (if he win) but he will be mocked.

-the duel was unsanctionned and you are seen.

-the duel is on a treacherous ground (on a boat?) and you might very well be thrown overboard by a wave.


Who's gonna lunge on that?  What are you willing to sacrifice to win this duel?


edit: I did not overthink this, that was just random consequences tthrown from the top of my head. Some may be bad, some good, but the more we play, the better they'll get.

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Hmmm...yeah, it does look like i may have misread the maneuver. Won't be the first time, won't be the last, I'm sure.

> and I guess forcing Lunge to inflict those wounds at the end of the round instead of inflicting them immediatly won't work either, right?

Probably not, and that would really make the maneuver conviluted.

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

I just had something of an epiphany in regards to a duel to the first blood.  Excepting a battle with a Villain, this doesn't even need to be an Action sequence.  It can be a simple Risk.  Whoever can put the most raises towards the goal wins.  Or, play it out with consequences.  Yes, it assumes the hero is going to win, but in most cases that's alright.  And it solves the problem of the Lunge and win quite nicely.

A duel with a villain will be something else entirely.

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

I was reading the quickstart adventure with the rules they created back then. Even if they are outdated, a few things were quite good... What you said about raises is similar to what they wanted to do for speed (spending hero points or danger points).

The only issue I have with your idea is that sometimes if the hero loses it adds a lot of drama to his story, like when the character is trying to avenge his father and the murderer is too strong for him at the moment, but instead of killing the hero, the villain gives him a scar.

However, with your idea, this will be no problem as the villain would probably win anyway. If you want to keep it simple and fast, your idea is the best. If you want to play it out like you said, it will be a bit more complex.

By the way, page 97 of the pdf, on the "The duel" it says first blood is just one wound and not a dramatic one... that confirms that the one with more raises wins or if it is against a Villain he wins when tied on raises.

pd: I just realized your idea works the same way the system works right now... whoever has the most raises wins(Lunges).

Mike McCall
Mike McCall's picture

Losing when it would be cool and dramatic to lose is what the "I fail" rule is for, though.

Sean Butler
Sean Butler's picture

I noticed a lot of issues with the dueling system, too, including some of what you point out.  I actually proposed a wholesale replacement of the system (http://www.7thsea2e.com/port/comment/1727#comment-1727), but since that would be introducing a sort of mini-game set of mechanics, a simpler change would be to just allow someone with fewer raises to optionally act after their opponent does in a duel.  You still need to spend a raise to act (and I wouldn't limit it to Parry), but you choose on which raise timing steps you act instead of automatically waiting until the end.  That way, you don't have situations where one combatant with substantially more raises (particularly if it's the villain) to just throttle their opponent with impunity until the number of raises equalizes.  This doesn't fix first blood lunge issues, though my more complex system does.

Salamanca's picture
First Blood has always meant getting dealt a Dramatic Wound. That has not changed. I also strongly urge everyone to use this as written in actual play for a bit before changing stuff. There are nuances that creep into view after you get the mechanics of sequences down.
Sean Butler
Sean Butler's picture

It's not that hard to deal a dramatic wound without the opponent being able to respond, under RAW, particularly for the villain, since s/he goes first on ties.  The villain just needs one more raise than you to Slash, then Lunge (with its unpreventable damage based on raises spent).  Your character can do the same thing, but needs +2 raises.  So a duel to first blood is only at all interesting if the player gets equal or +1 raises, and then only if the first attacker isn't Aldana, Boucher, or Sabat (or has the Victorious virtue).

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Just out of curiosity, why would you be having a duel to the first blood with a villain?

Why would you expect to win such a contest...against a VILLAIN? (Unless the Villain wants you to win as part of his evil plan.)

And even if you are better than the villain in a straight up fight, why are you expecting a similiar curtesy from a VILLAIN?

Sorry, but I'm still seeing a standard risk being the best way to handle a duel to the first blood in 90% of cases.

Sean Butler
Sean Butler's picture

Well, it's kind of beside the point, because *somebody* has to go first on ties and basically auto-win a duel to first blood under RAW if they get +1 raise than the opponent, without a chance for response, but to answer your question, maybe because you're in a public situation where the villain has challenged you to such a duel, perhaps to embarrass you?

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Why slash when you can Lunge immediately? 5 wounds equal 1 dramatic wound... A strength 4 villain needs 3 raises to inflict 1 dramatic wound (as they are seen as having half their strength in weaponry when using duelist manoeuvres if i'm not mistaken) and that is a low level villain... So an average duelist villain needs 2 raises more or less to inflict 1 dramatic wound. No need to slash here because Lunge cannot be prevented or avoided. Moreover, any hero with weaponry 3 needs 2 raises in order to inflict 1 dramatic wound.

What we said about whoever goes first winds still applies, unless we are talking about duelists with 1 in weaponry or 2 and low traits.

Salamanca, I was just using the definition and what we have been doing (my group I mean) all these years. Even if we change it to a dramatic wound, the problem is still there.

Sean Butler
Sean Butler's picture

Just using the conservative/generous interpretation of the rules, reading it to mean that the additional wounds from raises are the only ones that are unpreventable.  Wanted to illustrate that it would still be a problem even in that case.

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Sorry! I was in a rush and missed the first line where you said it wasn't that hard to deal damage :/

I'm sure they will come up with something eventually... but that idea of using a first strike method like legend of the five rings(it's a bit rough around the edges) seemed appealling enough to me the other day

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Actually I had an idea and talked about it with my friend regarding first blood duels and I came with the following thing:

It is a mixture of the quickstart adventure rules for duels, something from legend of the five rings and 7th sea 2nd edition...

I decided this method will be only for the first strike and after it, if no one has landed a hit, the combat begins as a normal combat.

1) Both sides throw dice for raises but no one says how many raises they have.

2) You "bet" raises for speed(just like the quickstart rules but instead of hero/danger points you use raises. Of course you have to leave some to attack, if you bet them all, you can't perform the action and fail).

3) The duelist that has bet less raises goes first (like legend of the five rings) and decides if he wants to attack or taunt. If he decides to attack, then, the one with the most speed attacks, spends 1 raise and hits. If he decides to taunt, then all actions cost now 2 raises instead of 1 and the turn goes to the other duelist.

4) Same as 3). Now, the other duelist decides if he wants to attack or taunt.


  • You can only taunt as much as the trait you are using (finesse for fencing weapons or brawn for 2 handed weapons for example). I mean, if you have finesse 3 and the actions cost 3 raises, you cannot taunt again to make them cost 4, unless you had finesse 4.
  • If you can't pay the amount of raises when you attack, you fail.
  • If you decide to attack, the other acts first but if he cannot pay either, he fails. If he can pay, you can still pay for "Parry" the attack as long as you can pay the cost.
  • If both spend the same amount of raises for speed, they can spend more or if they decide not too, the one with the highest trait or skill goes first(In case of Villains, strength/2 is the same as weaponry, like the corebook stated)
  • When you hit, you hit and that's it. No Lunge, no slash, no special manoeuvre of 3 or 5 damage. You hit and you win. If people say first blood is a dramatic wound then the character that loses receives 1 dramatic wound. In my case I still think first blood is minimum 1 normal wound so I thought about doing weaponry damage.

I'll write an example just to clarify some points:

Step 1

Carlo throws finesse+weaponry and gets 3 raises. The Villain throws his rank and gets 4 raises.

Step 2

Carlo bets 1 raise for speed. The Villain bets 2 raises.

Step 3

Since the Villain would attack first, Carlo has to decide if he will attack or taunt. If Carlo attacks, the Villain(he goes first) will spend 1 raise and hit Carlo before. Carlo can still pay 1 raise to parry that attack and if he does, then this first strike ends and a normal combat begins. If Carlo taunts, then all actions cost 2 raises now. Carlo taunts.

Step 4

The Villain can either attack or taunt. If he attacks, he has to spend 2 raises (Carlo taunted). If the Villain taunts then all actions will cost 3 raises. The Villain decides to taunt and actions cost now 3 raises(he thinks Carlo has more than 1 raise left).

Step 5

Now is Carlo's turn. He has 2 raises left and cannot pay 3 raises to attack. He cannot taunt either (Carlo has finesse 3 so he cannot taunt to raise the cost of the actions to 4). He is left with no choice but to attack.

Step 6

The Villain cannot pay 3 raises either and Carlo decided to attack so he has to attack too. In this case, both duelists cannot pay and they miss each other. Then next round begins as a normal combat.


It is more complex that some other ideas but it was something I thought a few hours ago and wanted to share it. I'll probably be using this after testing it a bit unless we see special rules for duelling in the future.


Wolfflin Huyghen
Wolfflin Huyghen's picture

I like your way of thinking about first blood. Much more the idea of bet.

And, what if you can bet in A) Speed B) Defense C) Damage? 

A) Who go first. B) How many damage you evade. C) How many damage you deliver.

+1 to all for each fencing School that you have.

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Well... I thought about it but given that players/villains don't get a lot of raises until they have a bit of experience under their belts, betting them in all three may be a bit too much. I wanted to use hero points for speed instead but they changed the manoeuvres and they don't award hero points anymore so it would have been expensive. I practise long sword every saturday but the guys before us train the olympic-fencing style with rapiers and whenever I see them dueling each other, it seemed to me that the speed and offensive they put on the first strike was more important than defence (I may be wrong) and when they failed to hit, they usually lose. That is why I wrote my idea that way.

Your idea is not bad either but I haven't tested it so I don't know if works better. Have you tested it?

Darl Loh
Darl Loh's picture

I would offer that this whole debate may be missing the forest for the trees. Building on what Heng said...opportunities and consequences. They don't just have to be about the surrounding situation, they can be about the actual swordsmanship. Nobody starts a duel in lunging range, one has to get there, and a smart opponent is going to use footwork to manuever away from a fight-ending lunge. Of course a single decisive blow wins a duel to first blood. If the drama doesn't care about the "how" and only the "who" of a first blood duel, than whoever rolls more raises is a fine way to decide that. Go ahead and lunge for the win. If the winner is less important, and the how is what you care about, set up opportunities that need to be taken, and consequences that need to be avoided, before getting into position to lunge (or otherwise strike). 

As for the other issues:

2) You are right that feint isn't as good mechanically. But, I don't know that the system benefits from balancing feint. And, I think you would get more bang from your buck by thinking about the fictional implications of feint. For instance, the GM could present a villain who is incredibly good at reading opponents. Maybe opposing duelists can't use their other offensive maneuvers against him unless they use feint before using that maneuver. Maybe in order to defeat this opponent the PC needs to think outside the "dueling maneuvers box" and come up with a way to throw the villain off their game, whether that be through a mental or physical means.  

3) For this -it's like you hit and you decide to jump from the second floor... ok, if the villain does not Parry it means you cause wounds and that hit wounded him before, but if he parries, from that very action sequence perspective, you are altering the initiative because he is Parrying before you jump, even if you jumped before he acted.-I think maybe you are misreading. The parry text says, "You can only activate Parry on your Action, immediately following the Maneuver that caused your Wounds." In your example, you spend a raise to hit, and then a raise to jump. He can't activate Parry. He can only do if he acts right after the maneuver that caused him wounds.

For the rest of your objection, I think your argument is missing some basic probabilities. You are saying, "Wow look what happens when the Villain has only a 2 raise advantage." But, the probability curve means that a 2 raise advantage is quite big. If you assume a Strength 6 villain vs. a PC duelist with trait 3 + weaponry 3, each of them has about a 50% chance to roll exactly 3 raises (ignoring the rank 3 re-roll), but the villain has less than a 1% chance to roll exactly 5 raises. If you shift it to 2 and 4 raises, the probabilites become 30% and 17% respectively. But, that requires the PC to roll 2, at the exact time the villain rolls 4. As the PCs and villains get stronger, this chance of the villain's having a 2 raise advantage becomes even less likely, since the PCs add in 15 = 2 raises and exploding 10s as their weaponry rank increases. Point being, a 2 raise advantage in any particular round is statistically, a big, big advantage. So, I don't see any particular issue with the game effects reflecting that.

Also, what I have said about conseuqences and opportunities holds true here as well. Simply having a hero and villain in the same AS together and having the villain with 5 raises, doesn't necessarily mean the villain can just slash-bash-slash to hearts content. The fiction needs to support that, and if the PC used opportunities to set up a position where the villain can't just come straigtht at him/her, then a lucky roll won't be so devastating. All the PC needs is to set up a single raise opportunity (defensive stance, high ground, etc) that the villain has to get past to avoid the doomsday scenario you are painting. After all, a single raise advantage is nowhere near as strong as 2 raise advantage.


Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Like I said at the beginning, most of the problems were written with a more practical than abstract point of view in mind. Your are making your points mostly from an abstract roleplaying perspective, which is entirely fine by me, but a lot of new GM may use the rules more than others because they need something that can guide them on how to do it. Moreover, being abstract sometimes may lead to players feeling the GM is making all the ideas as they go and they might feel restricted or that they are being cheated.

There is something I don't like about all this and that is not allowing a player to use anything to save himself from something. We can argue that this is a game that favours players and they can use opportunities, consequences, distances, etcetera but normally, when we are looking at the duel, first strike is just that, the first strike. If you duel someone in the middle of the street surrounded by people who are cheering or booing you, you are not going to have a lot of opportunities(You cannot use them for yourself either) and consequences will hinder you more than anything else.

What I wanted to prove is that if the villain lunges then it's over for the player. It is a rule. Of course it can be said "then ignore that rule" but then again, we would be doing the same I trying to do here, change the rules. Furthermore, it seems too simple, no flavour and no emotion, you just hit and be done with it. That's why I improvised something else that seemed good to me. I remember from first edition that you could Parry after someone hit your passive defence if your action was on the same stage or you could burn 2 actions to do so. You were given tools to avoid anything, more or less. 

2) About feint... I'm still unsure. I wanted to know what other people thought about it. I agree that feint affects the next damaging manoeuvre and only once if it is done that very same round but I still get the feeling something is missing.

3) The third point... I forgot that it's only the next damaging manoeuvre. Then it is worse than I thought. See, I wanted Parry and Risposte as retroactive because if the player/villain gets more raises than his adversary then it made no sense for me that they couldn't use a manoeuvre they mastered to avoid damage, but if they spend raises as normal 1:1 then yes. Why one but not the other? It felt like... because you can't, and like I said, it made no sense to me even if it did for others. Now, with what you said, if a player gets less raises than the villain then he is punished twice. First someone with more raises is going to beat him up real good and, secondly, if that someone uses different manoeuvres mixing damaging and non-damaging movements, then he cannot Parry even when he gets to act and the player may get hit once or twice without him being able to do anything. The player is unable to act until he gets to act so no using raises to created opportunities or consequences for the villain. When this happens to the villain everyone is happy but when it happens to the player then the player gets no chance of defending himself. Like above, I'm all against not giving a player a chance to defend himself from any action even if that chance is almost 0.

Lastly, regarding raises... I wanted to make a point but I deleted what I wrote twice because I was not even convinced of what I wanted to write so.... If we also take advantages into consideration, villains being able to throw up to 20 dice, exploding dice and so on 2 more raises may be 4 or 5 more. Luck is and inherent part of this and I agree so I've got nothing to say about probabilities. Every game has them.

The only problem I see with your reasoning is about consequences and opportunities. Not all players/GMs are great at taking advantage of those or giving detailed explanations. Sometimes they need time or they are just like that. I'm sure every seasoned(or not) GM/player on these forums will find a way of dealing with all these situations but what I wrote at the beginning of this thread was with new players/GMs and mechanics-only in mind. Using fiction and being abstract is good but you need rules behind all that.


Darl Loh
Darl Loh's picture

I would counter that I am being no more abstract than you are. I am saying, if two characters are 20 feet apart, neither one can lunge at the other until they get closer. Swords and arms and legs aren't that long. We all know that. There isn't any "raise-math" involved, but that does't mean its abstract. We are playing a roleplaying game. We readily accept many "real" things within the game's fiction that don't have specific rules. There is no rule that says you can't shoot down a castle wall with a pistol, because we don't need one. I would offer that 7th Sea is built with a "fiction-first" style of play in mind. This excerpt from John Harper's Blades in the Dark gives a good overview of the concept:

"Fiction-First Gaming 

Fiction-first is a bit of jargon to describe the process of a roleplaying game, as opposed to other sorts of games you might be used to. 

In a standard board game, for example, when you take your turn, you choose a move from one of the mechanics of the game, and then use that game system to resolve what happens. You might say, "I'm going to pay two wood to build a second fort on my home tile." We could call this process "mechanic-first". What you do on your turn is pick a mechanic to engage, then resolve that mechanic. Your choices are constrained by the mechanics of the game. You might color it in with some fictional trappings, like, "The brave citizens of Baronia heed the call to war and build a stout wooden fort!" but the fiction is secondary; it's flavor added on. In other words, the fiction is brought in after the mechanics, to describe what happened. 

In a roleplaying game, it's different. When it's your turn, you say what your character does within the ongoing fictional narrative. You don't pick a mechanic first, you say something about the fiction first. Your choices in a roleplaying game aren't immediately constrained by the mechanics, they're constrained by the established fictional situation. In other words, the mechanics are brought in after the fictional action, which determines which mechanics we need to use. 

For example, in Blades in the Dark, there are several different mechanics that might be used if a character tries to pick the lock on a safe. It's essentially meaningless to play mechanics-first. "I pick a lock" isn't a mechanical choice in the game. To understand which mechanic to use, we have to first establish the fiction. 

If your character is at their liberty back at the crew's lair, with plenty of time to dedicate to opening the lock on the safe, then we would use one of the downtime mechanics—namely "Work on a long-term project." You might do very well and open it quickly, or it might prove more challenging, requiring several attempts over a longer period of time. 

If your character is in a burning building, trying desperately to open the safe while flaming roof-beams are raining down around them, then the action mechanic would come in to play. You might do very well and avoid harm from the fire and debris while you work on the lock or you might have to abandon your work to keep from being crushed and burned."

If your character knows nothing about safe-cracking, you might pay someone to open it for you. In which case, we'd use the mechanic to acquire an asset—a master locksmith in this case. You might arrange a good deal and get a skilled worker, or you might have to pay more to get the quality you need. 

And so on and so forth. There are an infinite number of approaches you might take, constrained by the fictional circumstances."

I would offer, your attempt to parse out the dueling rules is misguided. The dueling maneuvers are not there to emulate swordfighting. They are there to make duelist characters special in sword fights. If you try to chunk them out and play them as some sort of sword fighting minigame, yes, you will find all kinds of flaws with them. They will suck at doing that. But, that's because the dueling maneuvers are not designed to function as a stand alone sword fighting minigame. They are designed to integrate into the overarching game constructs...which include opportunities and consequences.

Some specifics. You said, "first strike is just that, the first strike. If you duel someone in the middle of the street surrounded by people who are cheering or booing you, you are not going to have a lot of opportunities(You cannot use them for yourself either) and consequences will hinder you more than anything else."

Yes, the person with 4 raises acts before the person with 3 raises. That's not equivalent to first strike. Simply being in the same action sequence as someone else doesn't mean you have carte blanche to lunge at them. You are taking the duel out of its context, and placing it in an arbitrary setting that's akin to the dream world from Inception. Your proposed PC seems to be standing with his sword drawn and the tip of villain's sword leveled at his chest wondering "How did I get here?" That never happens in game. Something led up to the situation where the PC could be lunged at by the first raise. Those events leading up to that are where the opportunities would have come into play. 

This game is not meant to be played like D&D where we are all playing along and then at some point the GM says, "Roll initiative" and we get a JRPG style transport off the world map and onto the combat map, where we stand in predefined locations and play out a combat minigame. This game is meant to flow a little more seamlessly than that. A key point here...not every fight requires the same level of detail. A dramatically important duel to first blood between a PC and a major rival might find us focusing down on individual strokes of the sword and bits of footwork. We will zoom out for a duel against the same opponent amidst a furious melee on a sinking ship with dozens of enemies and allies interspersed. 

For instance, here is how I would run a first blood duel (this assumes we care about the "how", i.e. the details of the duel, not just the outcome):

Scenario: Antonio (PC, played by Martin) has just gotten in an argument with Olivio, his rival for the hand of Valentina. The argument resulted in a challenge, and both men prefer to settle it here and now in the street.

GM: Olivio stalks away while cracking his knuckles. He shouts insults about your manhood into the crowd and waves his hands, beckoning those nearby to come watch the "show." Antonio, what do you do?

Martin: I start limbering up too, but I am also checking the area out. I want a lot of room to maneuver. Olivio is aggressive, and I don't want to get backed into obstacles or people. I mark out the dueling circle, making sure the gathering crowd doesn't close in too tightly. (Notice, this is not abstract roleplaying or fluff description. This is tactics. A tight vs. wide dueling circle is a "real" consideration)

GM: Ok, the crowd complies with you, and you guys end up with a decent-sized dueling circle despite the improvised setting. Olivio goes to the far side, and draws his rapier and dagger. He fights with the same weapons you do, so neither of you have any relative advantage there. These duels are to first blood. For our purposes that means the first to suffer a dramatic wound loses. You have a moment just before the duel begins to prep yourself, size up Olivio, or rile up the crowd. What do you do?

Martin: Hmm, well, I watch Olivio closely, trying to get an idea of how he will play this, and see if I can set things up to counter his initial play. 

GM: That's a good idea, but its also risky. You might misread him, or inadvertently telegraph something. This is a simple risk with a Wits+Notice approach. If you succeed, you read him enough to prevent him from bum rushing you. He won't be able to use offensive duelist maneuvers against you unless he gains a tempo and line opportunity, meaning he needs to set himself up where your blade isn't isn't opposing his, and where he can attack without being stabbed in return. However, he is also trying to read you. So, that is a 3 raise consequence. If you don't get rid of it, the same applies to you. There is also a 2 raise opportunity to pick out one of Olivio's weaknesses.

Martin: (rolls) Ok, 3 raises. Not bad. I will spend one to succeed, he can't just lunge me, haha. I would have liked to get rid of that consequence, but not enough raises. I will pick out one of his weaknesses. 

GM: You notice Olivio's stance is a bit short and narrow. He is going to be vulnerable to anything that would throw him off balance. Your Bashes against him will negate one extra wound. Also, any time you try to exploit his balance, we will take this weakness into consideration. Ok, we are starting an action sequence. Either side can take a 1 raise opportunity to gain advantage in tempo, and/or a 1 raise opportunity to gain advantage in line. Remember, unless you or Olivio have both, and they can be stolen back and forth, neither of you can use Slash, Lunge or Bash. There is also a 1 raise "Crowd Favor" opportunity that grants you +2 dice at the start of any round where you hold it. That can also be stolen back and forth. Ready? Let's fight!

From your post, I guess you would contend the above description constitutes changing the rules. I would counter, absolutely not. This is explicitly how the rules are supposed to work. Opportunities and consequences are at the core of the system, not the dueling mechanics. Trying to chunk out the dueling mechanics is like trying to pull individual pieces out of D&D combat and play them in isolation. It would be like complaining that the full attack rules don't work because the fighter will always win since it has the best full attack...while completely ignoring the movement and magic rules, because, well, they are complicated and require more savvy GM and players to take advantage of them.

Sarcasm aside, I do agree that new or inexperienced folks might have trouble making everything work together. However, to be fair, 1st level D&D combat (3E and above) is more complicated than what I described above, and far more complicated than just using the dueling maneuvers. Regardless, their difficulty grasping the "fiction first" thing is not a reason to "fix" the mechanics. That's a reason for them to play with it so they get the hang of making the system do what its designed to do. And, I would argue, folks coming from a D&D/d20/Pathfinder background will have a lot more trouble grasping this fiction-first thing than people new to RPGs in general. Coming from that D&D background, this Dungeon World Players Guide was very helpful for me when I was trying to figure out the whole "fiction first" thing. A lot of the specifics apply to Dungeon World, but the conceptual pieces are very helpful as well. 

Regarding point 3), maybe I can make my points more concise.

A) The statistical curve of the game means that having a 2 raise advantage is a big advantage. Its like rolling "20." In general terms, I am fine with a really good dice roll, having really good results. If you disagree, I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

B) Your counter scenarios rely on one side having a substantial probability advantage going into a roll. That equates to one side being almost hopelessly outmatched. Again, ok with the hero being in a bad way in this situation. After all, they are outmatched. Also, my understanding of the "20 dice villain" is not that we should expect the villain to ever roll all 20 dice. Instead, those 20 dice are supposed to spur the heroes to eat away at the villain's influence so they never have to see all 20 dice hit the table. So, I don't think that's a great measuring stick for actual play. Moreover, if your issue is mainly with combat, remember that not all of the villain's influence dice should come into play her. Count Eduardo's business connections with the Archduke of Milan aren't going to add much strength and speed to his sword arm.  

C) You are concerned because the PC just has to sit there while the villain with the two raise advantage wails on him/her. And, I am saying, more context. Your doomsday scenario could certainly occur. However, it only actually occurs in a very specific situation...the PC and Villain end an action sequence round in striking distance of each other and the villain rolls a statistically unlikely 2 raise advantage and there are no opportunities/consequences active from the previous/surrounding fictional situation that would stave off doomsday (for instance a defensive stance opportunity that allows the PC to parry/riposte outside of the normal raise intitiative). See above for further examples.


Doctor's picture

Late to the party here...

Problem 2: Feint (Practical reasons only, but practical nonetheless)

This can be solved in what I believe is a more balanced (and slightly smother) way. The language of the rule neither limits the +1 Wound to the next attack or even your attack. As the Feint carries through to every attack, it increases in value as Weaponry (and thus pool for Raises) improves. If you really feel it is underpowered (and I don't think anything about the Duelist is underpowered), allow Feints to stack. So a Weaponry 4, Finesse 4 Duelist damage output could go like this: Feint (1), Slash (5), Feint (2), Lunge (6). Granted, that's not as good as Slash (4), Feint (1), Slash (5), Lunge (5) in a one on one, but if Feints stack, you've made the rest of the party +2 Wounds stronger per attack.

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

When I wrote this I thought feint was underpowered compared to the rest of the duelist's skills but before testing them. Right now I feel the rest of the duelist's skills are really overpowered and feint works perfectly. If we reach a solution about damage like we are trying to do on the other thread then feint would feel "right".

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