Interrupting a Duel of Wits exchange with violence

Though this has undoubtedly been discussed before-- I did a bit of searching around, both on google and the forum-- I failed to find anything.

Pretty much what the thread title says. This came up during tonight’s game. It is my understanding that once a duel of wits has been started a participant cannot interrupt an exchange with violence (or by walking away). Once the duel of wits has been played out, or earlier while negotiating the statements everything is fair game. Is this interpretation correct or not?

Duel of Wits doesn’t attempt to simulate a conversation, but instead provides a narrative framework for exciting social scenes.


edit for clarity: Also no special traits or instincts were involved.

As far as walking away is concerned, I think p. 390 states that ‘A player can never be forced to engage in a duel. If he wishes, he may always walk away from the challenge - refusing to debate the point.’ This would basically mean that you can forfeit at any time, just by disengaging (like ending Fight! and R&C), the other side won (if it actally matters).
And apart from some agreed upon Code of Conduct, nothing is keeping you or your opponent from reducing the others BoA to zero by knocking them physically out. Might be especially viable if you use the ‘wrong’ kind of argueing, like insulting someone’s honor or trying their patience once too often. :wink:

But once you’re in the DoW you can’t just walk away like you can before the DoW. Knocking someone out doesn’t effect BoA. You’ve already forfeited the duel at that point.

In general I tend to agree with this thread from BWR:

I was the attacker here :stuck_out_tongue: (not that it matters in the argument)

But in this case before hand I made a note that if he publicly calls my brother a witch, I’ll beat him to a pulp to shut him up. Then when he did just that, it would feel very unnatural to continue the exchange, because my goal had completely changed. Also the character would be unwilling to continue

The duel ended in my character barely catching the other player and beating him into submission. (before getting dragged out)

James is correct. You may walk away from the challenge, but once the duel starts you must see it through to the end. Only an elf lord with the Song of Silence has the cheating power to stop a duel in its tracks.

Personally, I like a little violence in my DoWs. I think we don’t smack and shove each other enough. Physicality adds a lot of punch to a scene. Pun intended!

Such action doesn’t end the scene. It’s a great excuse to FoRK or even test Intimidation (for Dismiss or Incite). But the dice decide how effective it is. Acting like a ruffian in a DoW doesn’t auto win/lose. Think of all of the scenes in film and fiction in which speakers get rowdy, but the victim wipes the blood from his mouth and heaves himself from the ground only to continue berating the thug!

If you have no intention of finishing the Duel, as in OlavBB’s example, don’t start one. You’re wasting everyone’s time. Roleplay out the scene instead. OlavBB knew his Instinct would be triggered. That is, in fact, what he wanted to happen. Some high energy roleplay would serve better in that case since the Instinct is going to force the action in a particularly narrow direction. Though I can see how the Instinct could have triggered the use of Intimidation as I mentioned above, the moment is certainly open to interpretation.

But otherwise, what Thor said is correct. Just like in a Fight or Range and Cover, you can’t stand up and say, “Just kidding. We’re going to talk now!” and expect your opponent to put up his sword, neither in DoW can you bring in violence and expect that you without giving your opponent the day.

I think it’s easy to want to rush through a Dow as well. On the one hand, we know it’s poor play to go on and on with our speechifying. Otoh nothing says you have to wrap it up as fast as a real-time conversation.

Something I’ve been thinking about experimenting with is using Dow as a concurrent system. What I mean is that each exchange is a “beat” during which other stuff can be happening. So we begin, for example, with me throwing a punch while I make a Point. Then maybe you maneuver up into the rafters while you Incite. That would be the first exchange.I think under this idea you could set up linked tests, even, from beat to beat.

Obviously there are a million problems with it at first blush (mostly in that it is complicated, but also that doing damage or really derailing the fiction may invalidate the rest of the duel in a bad way) but I also like that it opens up the storytelling space a lot. Plenty of fiction has scenes like this, where the action shapes and informs the dialogue. Something I’m gonna keep poking at.

At times like this I think it’s helpful to take a story author’s view to some degree, rather than the character’s view. If you look at the mechanics as a way of resolving any intent your character could conceivably form at any moment, plenty of such questions arise. Why can’t I shoot him with my crossbow when I’m losing? Why can’t I change my intent halfway through an argument? Because we agreed not to!

@luke, good points. I wasn’t really thinking about violence per se, but engaging on fight! Or Bloody Versus mechanics in order to “win” the argument or not lose the stakes.

One thought, if both players in the DoW are cool with transitioning to a fist fight, they should both be able to forfeit. The DoW remains undecided of course, but that may or may not matter at that point.

I was the provoker/attackee :stuck_out_tongue: (and my nose is complaining that it matters) :stuck_out_tongue:

No, then we don’t need a DoW, we need a opposed test on who wins the right to be attacked first or something like that.

Last night was difficult, and we were very interested in the DoW as it would produce the much-needed compromise.

My BoA-statement was: “[character A] must see that I did everyone a favour by shooting his brother.”

…the compromise would/could have been: “that it was neccersary” / “that it was understandable” / “that some punishment is due” … etc

As I’ve seen it, (and this is our first time with BWG): You might forfeit the DoW but start with a hefty advantage in Fight! … but then you come around and see the case differently later. The winner of the DoW may gloat, but quite possibly from 6’ below.
Oh, I had an instinct that triggered the incitement of the arrogant noble. Come to think of it, our major problem was that we tryed to RP the moves out organically, without the meta-viewpoint. I was thinking that the DoW would be played through, then I would
be killed/attacked - but hopefully a juicy compromose had been chosen. Maybe the noble didn’t want to kill his bondsman?

I suggested we return to the DoW later, after all - I think it’s kind of cool to have the DoW as a tandem action to the trying to hire killers against eachother. That everyone is basically on the same side, but setting events have made the characters believe they
are not doesn’t help, since there’s also frustration with us lacking the helping dice 3LP characters so sorely need. Oh, well, yes - none of the other characters are very happy about me killing their best friend/brother, though his father and coming father-in-law
doesn’t seem to mind (so much).

I think it’s important that the pen/tongue is as mighty as the sword given that the swordsman allows himself to listen and be open-minded before the eventual stabbing. All to many games have the PCs gear up to be combat-monkeys, and just use talking as a
first solution (to bring colour, style or gloom).

Well, if you are still in a DoW and he forfeits, you win your stakes. You got the deal you bargained for. A complete win, no compromise required. So, if you want to win the argument, you just don’t forfeit. Of course, you’re both now free to make with the stabbing if that’s where you want to take it.

I suppose you could both end the DoW by forfeit and it doesn’t seem any different than if both your BoA’s were reduced to 0 at the same time. The DoW has ended, but neither of you really got what you wanted out of it. But in general, you’re in a DoW because there’s something important at stake. Otherwise, you would just have resolved things with a versus roll. So, why is everyone forfeiting all of the sudden? I’ve never seen it happen.

And of course, there’s always that necessity for things to make sense in the fiction.

Once the DoW is over, you’re both free to try to stab each other. If you want to stab first, sounds like a speed test.

Edit: Similarly, in a Fight! I could decide to give up and just let you wail on me until I’m incapacitated. So could you. If we simultaneously decided not to hit each other, fight’s over.

Hi Michael,
I appreciate your view point here, but I think it’s important for you to leave rules arbitration up to the GM in your games. I also suggest you read the Honor Besmirched and Murder Most Foul headings on page 401.

If you don’t want to engage in the social resolution rules, by all means, draw steel. But once you’re using the rules, play the game. I have a strong suspicion that it’ll lead you down an interesting path.


@Luke: Sorry that my lack of command over the english language, combined with a rather lengthy debate beforehand and the late hour made me completely fail to get my point across.

I do want to use the system! In fact, the thing I love most about the system after Let it Ride is how the Social skills/Duel of Wits make characters that talk first, run second a viable option!

I was really dissatisfied with the failed DoW in this case, as I thought the Player knew the rules for the Duel of Wits - and the DoW played to conclusion would have made us a trio - or at least two-and-a-half men*, as the bastard would still be miffed about me getting a knighthood and killing his best friend. As it came to be, I wasted artha for nothing, unless we can revive it in Volley 3.

What I love about the DoW is how one can win another character over, but only get to gloat 6’ below. :stuck_out_tongue: “Violence do trumph talking”, as OlavBB said it, but it trumphs it either before words are traded or post-agreement.

*) even I realize that this might be considered a pun, it’s not.

Now I’m sure we’ll get good DoWs and probably a bit of violence as well next session. I wanted BW when I played V:tM - I even tried to implement simliar ideas when I finally decided the GM/ST myself, but failed horribly on a few issues.