The Sword, Duel of Wits, and multiple participants.

I have some hopefully super simple question I hope you guys can answer for me.

I was watching the youtube video of Luke running The Sword at Gencon as I am planning on running it a little later this week.

When Fidehean and Brechtanz get into the Duel of Wits the other two players had the option of joining in the duel or buggering off. Now if they decide not to help and essentially sit there and watch the duel unfold then they are not beholden to the outcome of the duel correct? I ask because it was a duel between the dwarf and the elf, BUT because the dwarf won then all 3 of the other players had to essentially give up their immediate claim and beliefs about getting the sword. Were they only beholden to the outcome because they participated?

What if all four players want to argue against each other their case for getting the sword? Are there any rules for a four way Duel?

Something has probably gone wrong if there is a Duel of Wits that two characters care about, the other two don’t, and in the end the resolution of the DoW doesn’t actually resolve the problem at hand. The basic problem is that this DoW probably doesn’t need to happen; there needs to be some way to draw in the other characters or the DoW just doesn’t affect anything.

Burning Empires has rules for multi-way DoW. In brief, Avoid and Obfuscate work against everything for the Volley. Point, Dismiss, and Feint must have a single target chosen when the script is revealed. Rebuttal rebuts a single incoming verbal attack. If two or more participants end up basically doing the same thing (for example, both making a Point against a third character) only one rolls and the other offers help. A Rebuttal against such a combined Point can only attack the character who actually rolled.

Ah that seems very much how I would imagine it would.

I don’t know if it was clear or not, but I was asking about that particular DoW in that gencon video which I assume most of the regulars around here have seen. Lets see if I can ask a better question maybe.

So during The Sword, if two of the characters want to have a DoW with the winner of it getting to take the sword home, what benefit is there for the other two players to help in the DoW? Lets say the Dwarf and the Elf specifically are having the DoW, if the elf wins he gets to show it to his dad and if the dwarf wins then he gets to take it to his clan. As the Roden how does it benefit me to participate? Sure I can knock down their arguments to some major concessions need to be made, but none of those concessions will be “The Roden gets the sword”. How do I, the Roden, get what I want at this point without it resorting to violence?

Technically they can’t be part of the scene if they don’t want to be bound by the result. So, they can’t just watch. But the other two characters in The Sword don’t really care if it’s a Dwarf sword or an Elf Sword, so why would they mind being bound by that DoW?

Because why would the Roden want to take the sword and travel to the Eleven lands and give the sword to the elfs dad? Or the Dwarfs clan? He wants it for himself to give to his Prophet.

So if the two people that didn’t initiate the DoW still HAVE to be part of it and have to abide by the result then that just doesn’t click with me. I’m clearly missing something obvious.

If they’re standing around in the scene but not participating, they’re implicitly saying, “We’re okay with however this turns out.” Or, they can offer helping dice to the people in the DoW, if they actually care which way it goes. If they leave the scene, they aren’t bound by the results because they’ve refused to take part in the conflict. They have the freedom to engage with the winner or loser as they see fit. In BE, conflicts like DoW are a limited resource, so it makes sense to have 3 or 4-way conflicts, but in BW, you don’t have a scene economy, so it’s more efficient to have a follow-up conflict rather than one large confusing conflict.

The Sword is a demo scenario, meant to teach extended mechanics like Duel of Wits, but I honestly don’t think in a real game the Duel of Wits would be the best mechanic to use.

I say this because each player has a Belief about claiming ownership of the Sword, which is a single prize, and therefore can’t be divided. Robard the thief is the only one who might accept a compromise in lieu of the Sword - namely, cash to pay his gambling debts.

So what I would do is have a four-way versus test to claim ownership of the Sword. Four-way versus tests, as opposed to four-way Duel of Wits, are allowed by the rules. Each player could test Oratory or Persuasion or something and the winner has claimed the Sword through force of personality or pontificating on the Sword’s progeny (FoRKs like Lost Treasure-wise apply). The losers could certainly try other means to get the Sword if the situation changes (especially under-handed types), but honorable characters should respect the decision.

An alternate strategy is to do a four-way versus test with the intent to compete in a Duel of Wits over the Sword. This could be a linked test where the two players with the highest number of successes then battle in a Duel of Wits, perhaps with the one with most successes getting +1D from the linked success. The losers of the versus test, who are bound to the Duel’s results because it’s linked, can then help or hinder the two main Duelers.

That isn’t being bound by the result. The result is that the sword belongs to the elf by rights and the dwarf agrees he will travel with him to the elven lands. The Roden’s travel plans weren’t discussed when the stakes were set. And, the Roden doesn’t care if the elf owns the sword as long as he gets paid. He’ll take an elf sword as payment just fine. And the criminal is happy to steal the sword from the elf or the dwarf, equally.

The Duel of Wits didn’t determine the future, it just settled the argument between the elf and the dwarf.

As for why you want to participate as the Roden, you may not, but you may want to push for a compromise and to drive wedges between the elf and dwarf. It’s not good for you if they get too chummy.