Tuesday, 22 April 2014


I have always fancied writing rules for games. I enjoy tweaking scenarios and making campaigns etc. The problem I have is that there are already so many different games that cover different things that I don't feel there is any gap that needs to be covered. Regardless, I enjoy doing it, so every so often I type up some ideas that have been running around my head. Rather than have them simply take up space on my hard drive, I thought I could 'publish' them here so people can have a go if they fancy it. I don't have the time or the opponents to play test these games, so they will all require work, but if someone somewhere enjoys them it will be better than nothing.

I have not done much proofreading because I am feeling awful and ill, apologies.

Anyway, here goes...


Designer’s notes: I designed DUEL with a few basic concepts in mind. Firstly, comparing statistics and then adding a randomly generated number for a combat mechanic does not get the players involved to a sufficient depth, in my opinion, in a skirmish level engagement. Statistics are often created for characters based on rank, race, experience etc. which I believe does not 1. Represent people’s lack of knowledge in combat situations and 2. Does not represent the level of variation that one can find in almost any category in the universe. Lastly, the system is based on stories and other things that suggest that sword play and the like is based on successfully predicting and interpreting the move of your opponent.
 It is a game intended for multiple players, where each player has a single character. I hope it works and proves enjoyable.


DUEL characters are all made in the same way. Each character is made up of 13 different cards. Each of these cards will represent a statistic. There are four statistics: Strength, Speed, Endurance and Dexterity. If you have not got access to a pack of cards with these stats on them, you can use normal playing cards using clubs as strength, diamonds as speed, hearts as endurance and spades as dexterity. A character, before the game, is built by choosing between one and ten cards from each statistic (if you are using playing cards, the number has no purpose) into a ‘deck’ of a maximum of 13 cards. The total number of cards a character has in a statistic is known as its exhaustion limit, the limits of their capacity. Though the mechanics of the game will be explained in more detail later, an overview will be provided here to give you some how idea how these statistics are used in the game.
·         Strength: As one might imagine, the physical prowess of the combatant. Strength is used to work out whether a character can interact with weapons found upon the field of battle and how much power they can unleash with their attacks and withstand with their defence.
·         Speed: A representation of athleticism, speed is used to represent how fast a character can move upon the field of battle and also the capacity of the warrior to unleash an unending tirade of blows upon the enemy.
·         Endurance: Either through tenacity, adrenaline or being ‘made of sterner stuff’ many warriors can withstand a number of minor blows, or assaults upon their senses, before they are laid incapacitated and this in DUEL is represented by Endurance.
·         Dexterity: Skill with a weapon is not gifted to you, it is learnt and the level of knowledge in these arts is represented by dexterity. Warriors which have more skill will be able to predict attacks. It is also used to represent balance and thus impacts falling, climbing, jumping and other things.
Your ‘deck’ of cards that is used to make up your character is kept secret to begin with, making up your hand, apart from one of each stat which is revealed at the start of the game. At certain points during the game you will be told to reveal cards from a chosen statistic, to do this simply place the cards of that stat in a pile in front of you. These cards are not put back into your deck once revealed and are left for all to see. All revealed cards should be organised into piles so that it is clear to your opponents how many of each stat you have revealed.

The Turn

The game of DUEL is organised into a series of turns, representing seconds in real time, which itself is organised into a number of phases as follows.
1.       Reveal Phase
Players take it in turns, starting with the player with the lowest speed, to reveal any number of their stats.
2.       Motion Phase
Players now take it in turns to move their characters, starting with the player with the highest speed, in one of the following ways:
·         Run: the character may move in any direction a number of inches equal to their speed on level ground
·         Climb: the character may move in an direction a number of inches equal to their dexterity on uneven ground
3.       Melee Phase
Any character involved in a fight will now resolve that fight. If a character is not involved in a fight they may interact with terrain.

Dual reveal

In the first phase of the game, and likely many others after that, it is likely that players will be told to reveal things in order of lowest to highest speed and they will have the same speed. In this case players will need to secretly select which cards to reveal and then reveal them at the same time. One way of doing this is selecting cards under the table, putting them in the palm of your hand and then place your palm on top of the table.


Battlefields for DUAL look the best when they are plastered in bits and pieces of model ‘terrain’ as it is known, representing the environment in which it takes part. These will have an impact on the game in a number of ways, listed as follows, and their impact should be agreed by players before the game begins.
Motion Terrain
Terrain, as one might imagine, can impact on the way that combatants traverse them. To simplify matters, DUEL, organises terrain into three categories.
Level ground: Level ground is stuff such as hills and fields. Things that will not prove too much of a challenge to athletic warriors. Characters move across level ground with a ‘run’ action.
Uneven Ground: such as steep rocks or cliffs, trees, walls, rivers and the like. To put things simply, if it requires you to go up or down, it’s uneven, and must be travelled using climb. This also include things such as gaps inbetween cliffs that you would need to jump across.
Blocking: Blocking terrain represents things such as the sea, lava etc. Characters may not traverse this terrain.
If you have sufficient move, with run or climb, to reach the other side of the type of terrain you were travelling then the character is placed so the back edge of their bases touches the edge of the terrain. They may not proceed any further this turn.
Melee Terrain
Terrain is also used by combatants to destroy or surprise their opponents. Models that are not involved in a fight may interact with terrain if it defined as either ‘destructible’ or ‘projectile’ in the melee phase if their base is touching it. A piece of terrain that is defined in either of these ways should also be given a ‘weight’ value. If a piece of terrain is ‘destructible’ then it is removed if a model with a strength equal to or more than the weight of the terrain interacts with it. If terrain is projectile then a character in base contact may launch it a number of inches equal to their strength minus the weight at another character. This character must reveal a number of endurance equal to the strength of their enemy, added to the weight of the projectile, minus their dexterity or be removed from the game. If the target was able to reveal enough endurance cards to not be removed from the game, then the projectile is removed, if not then place the projectile where the target character once stood.


At this point, I think it is worth pointing out that there are no rules in DUEL that stop a player measuring any distances on the battlefield.


DUEL is primarily a game of melee combat, so the main focus of the rules are found here. Firstly characters are only considered engaged in melee when they are within 2” of each other. Once engaged, characters may not voluntarily leave the melee unless they have used an action to allow them to do so, as will be explained below. Fights are resolved in the following order:
1.       Acting player reveals speed
The acting player, i.e. the player whose turn it is, may reveal any number of their speed cards now. Revealed cards are placed in front of the player and represent their character’s current speed statistic, which is abbreviated simply to speed.

2.       Starting with the character with the lowest speed proceeding to the highest, players may take it in turns to reveal speed.
Now all other players, that is excluding the acting player, may choose to reveal any number of speed cards. The player who has the lowest speed must reveal first, then the next lowest and so on until all players have had a single opportunity to reveal their speed cards.

3.       Collect dice equal to speed and select actions secretly.
Characters must now select a number of dice equal to their revealed speed. In the case of a fight containing more than 2 characters, each character will be allocated a colour and characters must take a number of dice of each colour, apart from their own, equal to their speed. Then, secretly, players must place their dice so that the number corresponding to their chosen action is showing upwards, actions to be explained below, in the order which they would like them to be performed. In a fight containing multiple characters, players must also select the target of their action with the relevant coloured die.

4.       Reveal actions
Once everyone has selected their actions, all players reveal their actions simultaneously.

5.       Starting with the character with the lowest speed proceeding to the highest, players may take it in turns to reveal speed.
Players now have another opportunity to reveal scheme cards, starting with the player with the lowest speed again. This determines the order in which actions are carried out.

6.       Each player may now reveal any number of dexterity cards, starting from lowest to highest. The player with the highest dexterity may cancel one action this fight.
When an action is removed, it is simply taken from the dice it is with. A character does not ‘do nothing’ when It would have come for that action to be performed, but simply moves onto the next action. For example: I have three actions, representing 1, 2,3 and my opponent has 3, representing 3,5,3. I reveal the highest dexterity so I am allowed to remove my opponent’s first action (3). This would mean that, assuming my opponent goes first, their first action would be 5, then I would go next with 1, then they 3, then I would do 2 followed by 3.

7.       Starting with the player with the highest speed, each player resolves their first action.
In the case of a draw, the last player to reveal their speed is the person who goes first.

8.       Repeat step 7 until all actions are complete.  


A fight in DUEL is made up of actions. Each action has a corresponding number, which relates to the number on a die as explained above. The actions are as follows:
1.       Swing High:
The character launches an attack on the upper body, neck or head of their opponent. The acting character, i.e. the character making the swing, must now reveal any amount of strength cards. Their target must reveal any number of endurance cards equal to their opponent’s strength, if they reach their exhaustion limit they are killed and removed from the game. If their opponent’s last action in this fight was the ‘block’ action, they may reveal any amount of strength cards before revealing endurance and after they have done so, reduce the number of endurance cards that need to be revealed by one per their strength.
2.       Swing Low: Aiming to maim, the character attacks the legs of their opponent. The acting character, i.e. the character making the swing, must now reveal any amount of strength cards. Their target must reveal any number of endurance cards equal to their opponent’s strength, if they reach their exhaustion limit they are killed and removed from the game. If their opponent’s last action in this fight was the ‘evade’ action, they may reveal any amount of dexterity cards before revealing endurance and after they have done so, reduce the number of endurance cards that need to be revealed by one per their dexterity.
3.       Block.
Details of the effects of Block are found in ‘swing high’ but suffice to say the action protects the user, somewhat, from upper body shots until their next action.

4.       Grapple.
A term used to represent the number of weaponless attacks a character can make during a fight, such as choking, the character used brute force instead of a blade. The attacking character must reveal any number of strength cards, followed by the defender. The defending player must reveal a number of endurance cards until they reach their endurance exhaustion point and are removed from the game, or the difference between each player’s strength is met.

5.       Evade
Details of the effect of evade are found in ‘swing low’ but simply put a character will reduce damage from subsequent swing low attacks by their dexterity until their next action.

6.       Retreat
The character is placed 2.5” directly away from their closest opponent when it would be their next action. The character is ignored for the rest of the purpose of this fight. See targetless actions for more information.


 Almost all of the elements of a fight in DUEL revolve around revealing cards and the game is designed to show the more cloak-and-dagger angle to combat. However, experienced Brawlers would be able to recognise when their opponents are at their limits. This is represented by exhaustion.  When a character has revealed all of their cards from a certain characteristic, they are said to have exhausted that stat. When a stat is exhausted you must demonstrate this to your opponent, the easiest way of doing so it turning your pile of revealed cards for the stat ninety degrees. The only exception to this is endurance, when you have exhausted your endurance your character has been defeated and is removed from the game immediately.

Targetless Actions

There are two ways in DUEL to end up with ‘targetless actions’. The first is if your opponent has been removed from the game and the second are if the intended target has retreated. When an action has no target the action is wasted and the character’s action skipped.

 Obviously as you can see the game is quite basic. Depending on how well the system worked I thought I could expand, for example by having each number on the playing card unlock a certain move. Without playtesting, though, there is no real likely hood of expansion.

That's enough for me today, if you do play some games please do let me know. I would love to know what people thought of the game. Until then.

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