Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Staring Contests


I walk around the ring, but I never take my eyes off my opponent.
I keep my eyes on him, 
even if he's ready and pumped and can't wait to get his hands on me as well.
I keep my eyes on him.
I keep my eyes on him.
I keep my eyes on him.
Then once I see a chink in his armor, 
boom.
One of his eyes may move, and then I know I have him.
Then when he comes to the center of the ring,
he still looks at me with his piercing look as if he's not afraid,
but he already made his mistake when he looked down for that one-tenth of a second.
I know I have him.
He'll fight hard for the first two or three rounds,
but I know I broke his spirit.

A staring contest is spiritual combat of a sort that any two individuals can engage in. Children sense this inherently and begin training their spirit in bouts against one another from a young age. It is only when other means of contest become available that staring contests become less common.

This is a grave mistake.

Defeats are not only dealt out via sword and spell, but with eyes and stiff upper lips. The heaviest armor may save you from the type of wounds which will heal anyway, but without practiced discipline of spirit you are vulnerable to wounds that may mar you forever.

Additionally, PCs may engange in a starting contest with indivuals that are not culturally appropriate to fight by other means. The wisened sage, the child, the prominent official do not take well to the sword, but a conflict with stakes can be engaged in by these means.

so, the rules.

Staring contests are invoked when two parties pass judgment on one another in an irreconcilable way. The traditional way to settle this is with combat, but here the staring contest is used instead. 

  1. One party passes judgment on the other
  2. The second party return judgment on the first
  3. A single roll to determine the will and spiritual fortitude of the participants, with the loser accepting the judgment of the other as true about themselves.

I recently goaded Phlox's sage NPC in his Ten Blade Demigod game into a staring contest. I botched my end, but here's how that would have panned out according to these rules.

PC, seeking wisdom and guidance: "what use is a sword?"

NPC: "A sword is a weapon of war. A sword-dancer dances to titillate butchers. A sword-brandishing hunter pursues illusory prey. Those who wreak the work of war inherit tools laid out before."

PC: "A last question before I depart, what did your tea leaves say about me?"

NPC: "That if you sin, you will sin defiantly."

at these remarks a rather comprehensive judgment has been passed on my PC. He is sword-forward and seeks to use it to do good, and by the second comment, both of these attributes are called into question by the sage. The utility of the sword and his goodness.

PC: "Hmph. I came seeking wisdom, but found only one who wishes the world to be different, but is not willing to take the sword into her hands to change it."

Eyes are locked. A stat representing spirit and will is tested. The loser accepts the judgment of the winner as true about themselves for the time being. My PC lost, calling into question his ability to work good and his goodness itself, thus far unchallenged in the game. Fun!

These contests can be arranged with different stakes, of course, when fighting is not an acceptable recourse similar to wrestling.

1 comment:

Staring Contests

I walk around the ring, but I never take my eyes off my opponent. I keep my eyes on him,  even if he's ready and pumped and can't wa...