Is it against the spirit of a DOW for the winner to voluntarily void the obligation placed on the loser?
At the end of the day I feel that it is, after all if you aren’t willing to accept the loss why are you going through a DoW?
I am sorry I don’t have my books for page references but with a Duel of Wits before you start this “encounter” you set clear goals. so what this looks like is that by entering into the DOW you are agreeing to the terms. Granted there is a function at the end to the song of “Murder most Foul.” so if you failed so terribly that you don’t even get a minor compromise you can opt to just kill your verbal opponent.
If the winner doesn’t want what he gets by winning why is he arguing in the first place? Do you have a specific example, real or hypothetical, in mind?
In my view, the DoW outcomes aren’t a straightjacket, but they do represent serious commitment.
Therefore, I think you can totes change your mind later as long as it’s a one-sided obligation (as opposed to just backing out of a mutual deal). That’s just character development.
If you change your mind right now, before the scene is even over, then I think you’re better off choosing for a surprising compromise (as long as it doesn’t totally violate your original statement of intent) or forfeiting the DoW (at which point you’re kinda at your opponent’s mercy). You owe it to the group not to take away DoW’s “teeth,” though. If we were in a DoW conflict against each other and you beat me and then decided to back down afterward, I think I’d feel cheated as a player – I want that “You don’t necessarily want to do this, but you have to” outcome when I lose.
Basically, ask yourself honestly: Am I following where the fiction is taking us (which is away from this DoW compromise that happened earlier and towards some other, more interesting thing instead), or am I wussing out and trying to avoid something because it’s hard? If it’s the latter, don’t break the deal.
Sometimes, it’s easier to look at the 3rd person of your character. The finality of a DoW is not simply what you want as a player, but it is how your charcter will behave with the fiction. The loosing character does’nt even have to agree with the new situation but the player must stick to it…
A hypothetical example.
Two great warriors who hate each other both live is a small nation under attack by an overwhelming power. Warrior A is committed to defeating the invaders, Warrior B is concerned only with his grudge and insuring Warrior As downfall.
They begin a duel of wits. Warrior A argues “we must band together to defeat the invaders,” Warrior B counters with “I owe this country nothing, you should launch a suicidal attack by yourself.” They have a hardfought DoW and end with Warrior A winning but with a major compromise. They settle on “We will band together to defeat the invaders, but then we wil fight to the death to settle our grudge on the field of honor.” Over the course of a long campaign against the invaders the warriors earn each other’s respect and no longer really want to fight it out…
Warrior B can totally drop the grudge match requirement, assuming all parties agree. Just make sure it makes sense within the confines of the game. So Warrior B saying “you’ve proved yourself to me and my grudge is lifted” is cool, Warrior A saying “we did this awesome thing together, I totally paid off the grudge” isn’t. From the mechanics perspective, Warrior B is intentionally making the outcome of the Duel of Wits worse (by waiving the rightfully won Major Compromise). Again though, if Warrior A doesn’t agree to drop the fight, I believe they are still bound by the full resolution of the Duel.
All that aside, if there were witnesses to the DoW, they might not want to go along with it and if Warrior B drops the compromise it might be seen as cowardice, but that’ll drive the game forward. This is similar to the comment above with Warrior A not letting it go, though the the way it manifests in game is different because we’re talking about secondary characters.
I think the compromise in that example was really only the loser’s pledge to fight at a later date, because neither player has any control over what happens at the end of the campaign, so they can’t really promise anything. They might have both been lying bleeding in a ditch at that point.