2.1 -- Duel Arcane

Please note that some details in how this actually works differs slightly from how the Duels Arcane appear in the books. This is to make this system playable, without requiring a lot more from the players than is necessary. While in the books, there are written poem stanzas for each spell and counterspell, I am not about to require that every player (and GM) make these up just to play a game. Plus, doing the Duels that way doesn't take into account the actual skill levels of the characters and punishes the player who isn't as creative, fast thinking, or just plain more tired than the others. Some of you may disagree, but I really feel this is best, even if it changes the feel and application of Duels Arcane from canon rules.

Before the Duel

You will need to have handy the levels of your character's Power, Shield Skill, and Duel Arcane Skill, modified by injury or environment if appropriate. If a Deryni has no Power Fatigue left, he may not participate due to fatigue.

Calculating Option Points

Option Points are a pool that represent your character's knowledge of Dueling as well as his or her internal reserve. You need these to do spells and counterspells within the Duel Arcane circle.

You get Two Option Points per level of your Duel Arcane score, starting with Terrible (Thus, a Fair gives you 8, a Good gives you 10, etc).

Modify this number based on your Power Attribute:

A zero or negative score means your character can perform no actions, and is unable to Duel with any effect.

Shield Points

You get two Shield points per level of skill with Shields, starting with Terrible. Shield points represent your actual resistance to taking damage from Spells. Once you run out, you have no defense, and any Spells that do damage will end the Duel.

Casting the Circle

The circle is created by both opponents usually, although in rare cases by choice the circle may be raised by one. To do so, at least a Terrible is required in Duel Arcane Skill. Each half of the circle is colored by the creator's aura.

The circle exists mostly to keep in the energies raised by the Duel. Without it, the energies fly out and cause effects beyond what they were raised to do. One other main function of the circle is to define the conditions for victory. A Duel Arcane is either to clear victory or to death, and these are stipulated at the Closing of the Circle, often with a poeticly phrased spell. Once Closed, the circle cannot be opened, breached, or passed through without the condition being met. Once the condition is met, the victor does a simple dispell, and the circle disperses.

There are no real rules at this point. Add flavor and detail if you like, reciting a bit of poetry as the Circle is cast, but it is not required (although it is considered more impressive).

Testing Spells

The Duel begins with a few volleys of testing spells, that are aimed at feeling out your opponent. None of these are really to do any harm. To simulate this, roll an Opposed action on Duel Arcane. The opponent who has a higher score adds the Relative Degree to his Option Point total and has right of first strike throughout the next section of the Duel.

The Challenged Opponent makes the first strike in the Duel, although a man is expected (but not required) to yield that right to a woman.

The Duel Itself

Once the testing spells are over, now come the spells aimed at defeating one's opponent. This is where the Option Points come in. You may use no more than one OP per level of Duel Arcane that you have per round, and you may make no more than one action per round per level of Duel Arcane. In most instances, the number of actions limits your options the most.

A Duel Arcane round is a group of ritualized exchanges of Spells and Counterspells. The right of first strike, determined in the testing rounds, continues to apply for simplicity's sake.

Take a FUDGE die per number of actions you wish to perform per round. You may have one per level of Duel Arcane (Fair can have 4, Good has 5, etc). Keeping them hidden, assign the following values to each die:

The Use of Option Points
    OPs are spent when dice are revealed. Do so in the following order:
  1. Spells: All Spells must be paid for as soon as dice are revealed.
  2. Counterspells: Each opponent decides how many of their Counterspells they are going to fund. They can pay for any, all, or none. Any not paid for have no further effect.
  3. Rests: A Rest costs nothing, and gives you back one OP. It has no other effect and it does not block Spells. You may do a Rest in any round, but keep in mind that you gain back OPs after Spells and Counterspells are paid for and resolved. There is no maximum to the OPs you may accumulate through Resting, although Resting does prevent you from defending or attacking.
Resolving Spells and Counterspells

The opponent with right of first strike calculates his damage value. This is done by comparing number of Spells to number of Counterspells. Once this value is had, roll 2dF and adjust the damage accordingly. A zero or negative result has no effect. A positive effect becomes Arcane Damage, and that value is subtracted from the defender's Shield Points.

Repeat this step for the other opponent.

Winning the Duel

The end of the Duel is determined in part by whether or not it was a lethal or non-lethal bout. In a non-lethal Duel Arcane, there is always the possibility that an opponent yields, thus ending the Duel just as surely as if it followed all the way through. A lethal Duel, however, requires that only one side still be alive or the Duel cannot end. The warding circle in that case will remain in place until such time as only one side remains alive.

In both lethal and non-lethal situations, the Duel is won by the last man standing. This is determined by the Shield Points. Once all your Shield Points are gone, your mind has no defense from the effects of the opponent's Spells. Any Arcane Damage done at this point finishes the Duel. If the Duel is non-lethal, the loser is rendered unconscious. If the Duel was to the death, than the loser is killed at that point.

FUDGE Points in Duels Arcane

FUDGE points, as usual, bend the rules a little bit. No other use of FUDGE Points is allowed in a Duel Arcane except the following: During the Duel Arcane, there is a limit of using 2 FPs at any time for any one thing. (Thus you can buy 2 extra dice, and 2 extra OPs, but not 4 dice). Damage reduction is, as always, an exception to this rule and has no limit.

Fatigue and Duel Arcane

Duels Arcane are very tiring, but there is no tracking of Fatigue within the Duel itself. However, completing a Duel leaves the participants, winning or losing, exhausted. A Duel Arcane drains all of a character's Power Fatigue, no matter how much or how little. A character who has no Power Fatigue may not enter into a Duel Arcane circle.