A dueling system that leverages player skill

Hey folks,

I’ve made a dueling system that relies on player skill (instead of avatar strength) and stopwatches.

There is also a follow-up about how games with player skill (see also: every single game except Candyland) are good, even if (perhaps “especially if”) players are “unbalanced.”

Some fun theory-reading for the lot of you! :slight_smile:


This is a cool idea. It kind of reminds me of the poker dueling mechanics in Deadlands or the combat system in the Sorcery! adventure book videogames


I love dueling systems. One of my most frequent grievances with RPGs is that, even when they make combat right, they usually get duels wrong. I think that this system would work flawlessly for samurai- and cowboy-styled duels, or even for more traditional pistol duels (the ones where you walk ten paces and then shoot), but might not represent the intricacies of the more long-drawn classical European sword duels. Not that it’s a problem: they involve different skills and mindset, a “one size fits all” system would probably botch some other elements.

Also, I love the fact that it’s totally unrelated to the PC’s combat skills: dueling and fighting on the battlefield are different skills.


Very elegant, very simple.

It feels like a great additional tool to add to the Player Skill side of the Player Skill/Character Skill distinction. It allows for the game to take a step away from the numbers on the character sheet for a moment and enter a different kind of game-space where the outcome rests on a whole different set of conditions.

It gets me thinking about other ways to incorporate these kinds of “real-world contests” into a game.

Is any one else incorporating things like this?

Is any one doing so with real-world contests that are not so…oppositional? E.g., have all the players play a game of “telephone” to determine the outcome of a situation–if the sentence successfully makes its way around all the players, then they party succeeds.

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I cannot for the life of me remember where I found this, but there’s a neat lockpicking minigame. You need a single playing card, and anywhere between 1 and 5 dice (3 is probably average).

Take the playing card and stack dice on top. More dice make this more difficult. For the player that wants to pick a lock, they must remove the card from underneath the dice without touching the dice or knocking the dice tower over.

Of course, this does not resemble lockpicking at all. It is, however, a fun test of dexterity and patience.