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All Rules in Verbal Duels

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An Example Duel

Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 181
Lem has discovered that Meligaster is manipulating a group of nobles, and he hopes to expose his brother’s evil schemes. He calls his brother out for a verbal duel in front of the nobles. Meligaster, who knows he has a significant advantage and knows the nobles well, eagerly accepts the duel, seeding the nobles’ positive biases toward wit and flattery. Because of his significant advantage, Meligaster starts with 12 determination to Lem’s 8 determination, and Meligaster also possesses 3 edges from his advantages, as well as edges to use in each of wit and flattery.

Lem starts the duel using logic, with a result of 20 on the associated skill check, starting the ante at 1. He rationally and factually explains some of the ways that Meligaster has been manipulating the nobles for his own devious profit.

Meligaster responds by making an emotional appeal to the nobles’ pride and honor, raising the ante to 2 and redirecting the conversation away from the facts successfully with a 28 (including the bonus from countering logic with an emotional appeal).

Lem decides to continue the exchange, raising the ante to 3. He tries to use rhetoric to expose Meligaster’s trick, with an initial result of 18 due to a low roll. He uses an edge he gained from his circlet of persuasion to reroll and manages 30, just enough to counter Meligaster.

Meligaster knows that 30 is going to be tough to beat. He decides to raise the ante to 4 and uses flattery as his tactic, obsequiously singing the nobles’ praises. The nobles are positively biased toward it, he seeded that bias for an edge, and he chose to associate flattery with Bluff, so he gained an additional edge from his consummate liar class feature. Meligaster has to use both edges to reroll twice, but his third roll is a natural 20, for a result of 36, so he counters Lem.

Lem realizes that he would be hard-pressed to beat that result, so he knows he’s about to lose the exchange. He has to choose how to lose it, though. Because Meligaster used flattery, when Lem loses, the ante will decrease by 2 and Meligaster will gain an edge. That means Lem has to decide whether to simply end the exchange, giving Meligaster a total of 2 edges and losing 2 determination, or raise the ante to 5 and try a skill check, losing 3 determination if he fails (thanks to his brother’s flattery). but allowing Meligaster to gain only 1 edge. In the end, since Lem only has 8 determination, he feels he can’t risk losing 3 all at once, so much to his dismay, he surrenders the exchange to Meligaster.

Now Lem has 6 determination left. He can open a new exchange against Meligaster and try again, and at least Meligaster suffers a –2 penalty on future uses of flattery, so Lem doesn’t have to worry about beating another 36.