Friday, July 1, 2016

Wizard Duels, or Scan Me If You Dare

Here's some of my inspiration for this idea:

I wrote this with Lamentations of the Flame Princess in mind, but I don't see why it couldn't work for most D&D or related OSR games.
Sometimes, when two Magic-Users hate each other very much, they decide to settle their differences with a Wizard's Duel.

A Wizard's Duel does not require a memorized spell. It just requires two Magic-Users who agree to unleash their hatred on each other. It's just a thing that wizards can do. Even the lowliest Magic-User, with only Read Magic and some random starting spells to their name, can do it, although a novice is likely to bite off more than they can chew by engaging in such a dangerous feat of supernatural violence.

Both Magic-Users must agree to duel in order for the process to begin, at which point they start to glow with eldritch energy, become rooted to their spots, and begin to fully concentrate on overpowering each other through sheer arcane willpower. The agreement does not have to be verbal - Magic-Users just know when they've both agreed to duel. Coercion, magical and otherwise, can be used to get a Magic-User to agree to a duel, but a Wizard Duel cannot happen unless it is begun mutually.

In combat, if one Magic-User challenges another to a Wizard Duel, the Magic-User being challenged does not have to wait until their turn to accept; the process can begin immediately. The Magic-Users must also be within each other's lines of sight (or what would normally be their line of sight if one or both duelists are blind) and be within range of each other (see below).

No more than two Magic-Users can duel with each other at the same time. It is a very intimate act.

When a Wizard Duel begins, both duelists roll initiative. If the initial challenger wins, they can make the first magical "attack." Otherwise, the initial challenger's action that round is used up in mental preparation for the duel, and the other duelist makes the first "attack" on their turn in combat.

During a Wizard's Duel, any outside party must roll a d6 twice on the Results table below if they attack (even with a ranged weapon, unless it is from beyond the range of the duel), physically touch (with a body part or a held object), or cast a spell on either duelist. It's dangerous to interrupt a Wizard's Duel, due to both the massive magical forces conjured by the battle and the instinctual, involuntary rage any Magic-User feels at being directly interfered with during a Wizard's Duel, a rage which automatically directs those forces toward the interloper. The only exception is that you can (non-violently) touch, cast a spell on, throw a bucket of water on, toss an object to, etc. a willing duelist as long as the action only takes one round, it does not do any damage (healing spells are okay), and the willing duelist makes a successful Saving Throw vs. Magic so that the helpful interloper does not have to suffer the normal consequences of interference.

A duelist's turn occurs when their turn would normally happen in the initiative sequence. Other people can still participate in combat or other activities around the Magic-Users during the duel - this isn't meant to interrupt the whole game.

On a duelist's turn, they can either declare an magic attack or attempt to end the duel, either of which also ends their turn. They can also make a minor movement (pick up or drop an object, make a gesture, pull a nearby lever, etc.) beforehand without using up their turn, but they cannot move from their spot or physically attack anyone without paying the price: rolling a d4 twice on the Results table and using up their turn.

When a duelist declares a magic attack, the defender must make a Saving Throw vs. Magic (add the defender's INT bonus and subtract the attacker's INT bonus). Success means nothing happens, and the attacker's turn is over. Failure means the defender must roll once on the Results table, and the attacker's turn is over. Which die the defender must roll depends on the defender's level (see below).

If a duelist attempts to end the duel, they must make a successful Saving Throw vs. Magic (add the defender's INT bonus and subtract the attacker's INT bonus) on two consecutive rounds in order to succeed. Failing one of these Saving Throws inflicts 1 point of damage on that duelist per Level they possess or Level their opponent possesses (50% chance of either possibility).

The Wizard's Duel continues until one or both duelists are dead or unconscious, one of the duelists successfully ends the duel willingly, or a result of 8 or 12 is rolled on the Results table.

Longest range at which a Wizard Duel can be fought (based on the highest level of the two combatants)
Level 0 = 20 feet
Level 1 = 30 feet
Level 2 = 40 feet
Level 3 = 50 feet
Level 4 = 60 feet
Level 5 = 80 feet
Level 6 = 100 feet
Level 7 = 150 feet
Level 8 = 200 feet
Level 9 and up = 300 feet

What die should the defender roll on the Results table?
Level 0-1 = d4
Level 2-4 = d6
Level 5-8 = d8
Level 9-12 = d10
Level 13 and Up = d12

  1. Your Head A Splode. What a mess. I hope you had a backup character.
  2. Full Body Meltdown - Lose 50% of Max HP. If Max HP is already at 1, die from massive and messy organ failure.
  3. Body Swap/Brain Drain - The attacker can choose to either switch bodies with the loser* or drain 1d20 x 100 XP (gained by the attacker). If this happens to an interloper instead of one of the duelists, the latter (Brain Drain) must occur.
  4. Blow Out - Take damage as if from a Magic Missile spell cast by the attacker.
  5. Burn for It! - Your body catches on fire as if it were doused in flaming oil. Hopefully you brought a friend with a big bucket of water.
  6. Rapid Aging - Lose 1d10 x 100 XP, 1d4 points from a random ability score, and 1 Max HP.
  7. Curse - For 1d8 days, any time dice must be rolled, roll twice and take the worst number. The only way this curse can be lifted early (short of a miracle) is if four people cast Remove Curse on the defender at the same time.
  8. Baleful Transformation - Loser morphs into the (mundane, non-magical) animal of the attacker's choice for 1d8 rounds. The animal must be mobile in its natural environment - no coral or clams. If that animal cannot survive in the current environment (like a deep-sea fish on dry land), the defender can make a Saving Throw vs. Magic to force the attacker to turn them into something that can survive in that environment instead, although it can still be something slow, puny, etc. Wizard duel automatically ends, although it can be reengaged after the defender turns back into their original form if both parties so wish.
  9. Steal Spell - Lose one of your memorized spells. The winner now has it memorized instead, even if they normally could not memorize it. If you don't have any memorized spells left, take 1d8 damage from an energy backlash.
  10. Psychic Tear - Take damage proportional to the level of the winner, determined by the table above (Level 0-1 = d4 damage, Level 2-4 = d6 damage, etc.).
  11. Steal Sense - The loser is deprived of the sense (sight, hearing, etc.) of the winner's choice for 1d8 days. The only way this curse can be lifted early (short of a miracle) is if four people cast Remove Curse on the defender at the same time.
  12. Unintended Transformation - Defender morphs into the (mundane, non-magical) animal of their choice (not the attacker's choice!) for 1d6 rounds. Wizard duel automatically ends, although it can be reengaged after the defender turns back into their original form if both parties so wish.
*Just swap stats, with the following exceptions:
  • Your new INT, WIS, and CHA are your original scores, except that you can choose one of those ability scores to increase by 2, and your opponent decreases the same ability score by 2.
  • If available, you gain one new language that your opponent knew but you did not (winner's choice), but your known languages and those of your opponent otherwise stay the same.
  • If your opponent had any spells memorized, you can choose one to steal - now you have it memorized, and they do not. Otherwise, your currently memorized spells stay the same.
  • Your opponent loses 1/10 of their XP, and you gain it. Otherwise, swap Levels, but not XP - If you now lack the minimum XP for your new level (from swapping into a higher-level body), that just means you need a higher amount of XP to reach the next level. If you now have enough XP to gain one or more levels (from swapping into a lower-level body), you will advance one level per night of rest until you are at the level that matches your XP.
  • You and your opponent keep your original skills/skill points (not counting whatever is derived from your new ability scores).
  • If one of you had a curse or other magical effect, it stays with the body, not the traveling mind. (Generally speaking; this is up to the DM's discretion, but for the most part, body swapping should probably benefit the winner and leave the loser stuck with any crappy downsides of the winner's old body.)

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