The following is a series of favorite player questions and their answers from the game designer. All have been reprinted from the Duelmasters Newsletters of 1984 and 1985.
Question -- Several references have been made in the rules and in the newsletter to experience, skills, expert status, etc. Can you explain more about how this works?
Answer -- Experience relates to the number of fights a warrior has been in. Whether a warrior becomes "skilled" or not, he can learn the lessons which experience teaches veterans. When to press an attack, when to run, when to accept a blow which you can not parry in time (not an easy thing to accept!), the little tricks which can save your life, and to use what skills the warrior may have with experienced brutality.
Skills are of six types, attack, parry, riposte, decisiveness, initiative, and defense. Each skill learned represents a new technique or series of actions your warrior has learned about. Learning a skill requires a warrior to discipline his reflexes as well as mentally understand a sequence of actions. Each skill learned improves a warriors performance in the indicated area. For example, a warrior who has learned many initiative skills will be very good at maintaining a combat advantage over his opponent.
Expert status comes in five types -- Expert, Advanced Expert, Master, Advanced Master, and Grandmaster. Your warrior can become an Advanced Expert in each of the six skill areas, but it will take quite a while, and it is not very likely. Being expert in attack when you are an Aimed Blow Specialist may be something quite different than being an attack expert and a Bashing Attack styled warrior. Generally, becoming an Expert allows you to surpass your foes more common parries, to parry his good but not great attacks, etc. Advanced experts have even more of this effect. Examples, a Lunging Attack styled warrior who is an Advanced Expert in Defensive Action can make his foe's blows look like inexperienced, clumsy, blundering, and novice attempts. An Advanced Expert attack in the Bashing style will seem to freeze an opponent's movement (while battering them about), in contrast an advanced attack expert in the Aimed Blow style will allow his foe considerable movement while occasionally executing a brilliant attack on a foe's less protected body locations and often making foes known for their parry or dodge ability seem unable to do either.
Warriors who accrue Expert or Advanced Expert status in several areas may be declared "Stylistic Masters," i.e., they have mastered their original fighting style. Stylistic Masters who have also proven themselves to be champions via gaining the Duelmastership, maintaining themselves in the Challenger Champion Class for a respectable period of time, or by being a Tournament Victor at one of the periodic Duelmasters Face-to-Face or Mail-In Tournaments, are eligible to participate in the Advanced Duelmasters games. Warriors of such caliber receive a personal notice of eligibility at such time as they have met the requirements for joining Advanced Duelmasters.
Question -- If a warrior always fights with the same weapon will he improve faster with that weapon?
Answer -- Not in Duelmasters; however, in Advanced Duelmasters training with individual weapons becomes very important.
Question -- Is there a benefit to trying a different weapon each turn?
Answer -- YES. Each warrior has a "favorite" weapon(s) with which he fights better. By paying close attention you can tell which weapon(s) your warrior seems to do better with. Vary your weapon selections in any case. Your opponents will no doubt begin wearing armour and using tactics specifically designed to defeat you if you use the same weapon fight after fight.
Question -- In gaining the first blow, which of the following is most important, second most important, etc., skills gained, attributes (like speed), weapons and armor used, offensive/defensive tactics, or fighting style?
Answer -- As in real life, the primary factors in Decisiveness (the ability to gain a combat advantage or strike the first blow) are SPEED, and (less so) WIT. After speed and wit, decisiveness skills, especially after having learned 10 or more. After Decisiveness skills it becomes more difficult to say. For some fighting styles, the lack of armor weight is very important, for other fighting styles, the decisiveness tactic is more important, in yet other fighting styles the weapon selection is vital, and in another fighting style the Activity level may play a part.
And don't forget that each warrior is one of a kind, while 90% of the warriors using a particular fighting style may think that the use of such and such weapon and using the Decisiveness tactic is very decisive, your warrior may not.
Example: I have a fast Lunger "Pokei" with 13 decisiveness skills learned, and I want to maximize my decisiveness to try hitting foes before they can even move. Well, I better keep my ACTIVITY LEVEL up (say 8). That could reduce my foe's chance to swing at me and besides, it comes natural to my ""Pokei" (don't mess with the magic, right?). ARMOR, well since I will jump around a lot, I think this is important. Better not wear a lot of it if I want to lunge quickly. Now, WEAPONS, the Long Spear could be my best choice, it gives me that extra couple of feet on my quick lunge, but there are lots of quick weapons we Lungers can use. My Pokei really seems to like the Longsword. I'll use it. TACTICS, Pokei seems to get off faster sometimes with the Lunge tactic, but not that much faster. I could use the Decisiveness tactic, even though it messes up my overall lunging fighting style somewhat. I would be quicker, but, naw, last time I used Decisiveness, Pokei seemed to go out of control, 6 wild attacks in 1 minute. I think Pokei hates the Decisiveness tactic. It's Lunging or no tactic at all. OFFENSIVE EFFORT, I've got some warriors in other fighting styles that get out of control at high levels of Offensive Effort. I've even seen some Lungers who do, but my Pokei seems to eat it up. So I'll go all out, 10. I lose my parry abilities at that level, but I figure, what I can't dodge can't hurt me, right? KILL DESIRE, better drop it some, if I want to be quick I won't have time to pick my shots. My endurance won't last long at 10 Offensive Effort, 8 Activity Level, but I'm trying to end this thing quick, right?
Question -- If a fighter can carry a good amount in weapons and armor, and normally does, would his ability to initiate and respond to attacks increase if he went to light armor and weapons?
Answer -- YES! Very much so. Especially for the Lunging, Parry-Lunge, Striking, Parry-Riposte, and Parry-Strike styles or for any warrior who is quick on his feet.
Question -- When attacking an opponent, how detailed is the damage to each individual location?
Answer -- Very detailed. Some examples, a leg wound can reduce your movement, a head wound increases your chances to make mistakes, an abdomen wound can cause your foe's arms to fall below his at guard position, a critical chest wound has a higher chance to stun the warrior than other locations, a blow to an arm can cause the arm to go numb, etc. Sometimes the effects of a blow will remain with the warrior throughout the fight; but often if a warrior can just hang on a minute or two he can become unstunned, or clear headed, or regain the use of his limb, etc. Sometimes, rarely, a warrior will carry that result with him permanently (one of the better warriors in arena 1 has an off- hand which occasionally goes numb on him; he quit using off-hand weapons. Another warrior in arena 3 has a trick knee, which can give out during a fight, causing him to slow down (or fall down!) I have listed only a very partial list of the possible effects of damage to the various body locations.
Question -- My warriors always have a 10 kill desire down every minute of every turn, and most have very high wills. However, whenever I am trying to kill an opponent, either it just says he can't fight anymore, or the Arenamaster intervenes. How can I have a better chance of getting some kills?
Answer -- You can triple your chance to kill by using larger and more powerful "killing" weapons (i.e. greatsword, etc.), by attacking either the head or the chest or the abdomen throughout the fight (don't vary your target), and by figuring out how your warrior likes to fight and fighting that way when you have a 10 kill desire. Please remember, those who kill by the sword tend to die by the sword.
Question -- Is there a relationship between shield size and it's ability to parry, stop damage, and inflict damage? Should a fighter's size influence his choice of shields?
Answer -- The medium shield will parry best, the large shield can take bigger blows and take more damage, the large shield can deliver a much larger blow, and the small shield can be used by a wider range of fighting styles to good effect. Generally one should not use a large shield unless one is both large and strong. If one is small, you should use a small shield.
Question -- In the Roll-up Rules you mention that odd numbers in attributes are generally better than even ones due to round-ups. In what parts of the system do these make a difference and when is a 10 better than a 9, etc.?
Answer -- A 10 is always better than a 9. Examples, a warrior with a 10 Will might continue to fight a little longer, and try a little harder than one with a 9; a warrior with a 10 Wit might avoid a mistake, not be fooled by a feint, conserve his endurance more wisely, etc., than a warrior with a 9 wit. However, as a general rule of thumb, odd attribute increases gain a warrior about twice as much as do even attribute increases. As a general rule constitution is the attribute least affected by being even rather than odd.
Question -- What makes a warrior popular or unpopular?
Answer -- When a warrior makes aggressive, brilliant, or "flashy" (leaping high
into the air, leaping over his foe, a series of breathtaking feints, etc.)
actions he will become more likely noted as an exciting, popular fighter.
Making dull (standing around), clumsy, routine, or wild actions will mark him
as a dull, foolish warrior. During the fight a warrior's popularity will
affect what the crowds say (or scream). Crowds tend to sway one way or the
other during a fight, but not always. The Arenamaster's judgment can be
swayed by a lot of positive or negative crowd responses regarding a warrior's
performance, causing him to stop a fight a little earlier, or allow it to
continue longer than he would have (the Arenamaster's' judgment is rarely
swayed by the crowd, but it happens). Warriors who talk a lot tend to be crowd
pleasers (it is in your character's data file to be talkative or not.) As a
rule, Slashers, Lungers, and Parry-Lungers tend to be among the most popular,
Total Parry and Parry-Strike among the least popular, that is a very general
rule only. Winning slightly increases your popularity, losing slightly
decreases your popularity.