How It Works
- The two magi agree on a Technique and a Form (traditionally the aggressor in the duel chooses the Technique and the defender chooses the Form).
- Both magi enter a trance.
- Each magi adds their Certámen score, their score in the Technique chosen, their score in the Form chosen and the result of a roll of the dice. If there were previous rounds in the duel, the magus with advantage adds that to the roll as well, this spends those advantage points.
- The magus with the highest total wins the round and gains advantage points in the amount of the difference between the totals.
- Advantage points are either saved, to spend on the roll in the next round of the duel, or spent to do mental stress to the opponent.
- To spend advantage on damaging the opponent, the magus with advantage adds his advantage, his Certámen score, and a roll of the dice. The defender adds his, Conviction, Certámen, and a roll of the dice. If the defenders total is higher, the defender takes no stress levels. Otherwise the defender takes a number of stress levels equal to the diffrence between the two rolls.
- Repeat Steps 3 through 5 until someone gives up or passes out.
Certámen (Care-TAH-men, Latin for “duel”) is the ceremony by which two magi conduct a magical duel. It serves as a nonlethal way for one magus to establish dominance and precedence over another, and has formal restrictions to keep it from disrupting the unity of the Order. One need not accept a challenge to certámen, but the social cost may be no less than that of accepting and losing. You may challenge anyone to certámen once, but the Code prohibits you from challenging the same person again unless he challenges you in the meantime. Thus, you cannot hound an unwilling opponent into certámen. Certámen is solely an institution of the Order of Hermes; non-Hermetic wizards do not have the ability to participate in the ceremony.
To engage in certámen, you and the other magus must agree on one Form and Technique combination you will both use. If you do not agree on the Form and Technique, the duel cannot take place. By tradition, the aggressor in the duel chooses the Technique and the defender chooses the Form, but this system is purely artificial. The rules of certámen permit the use of any system for determining the Arts used as long as it is acceptable to both magi.
Once the Technique and Form are chosen, you and your opponent concentrate for a moment, both entering trances. While entranced, competing magi have no defense against physical attacks. Each becomes attuned to the magical forces surrounding them, shaping them into phantasms representing the Technique and Form of the duel. If the Technique and Form are Muto and Animál, the phantasms might be two animals, one controlled by each magi. During the course of the duel, each animal changes into various other animals in an effort to defeat the other. A Creo Ignem contest could consist of two fiery beings fighting. In an Intéllego Aquam contest it might appear that the combatants are in hazy water, each trying to reach some goal. The illusionary battle is a representation of the more subtle magical battle which affects the minds of the combatants.
During the contest, each opponent rolls the dice and adds their score in the chosen Technique + Form + their Certámen score + any advantage points they have built up during the duel. The magus with the highest total wins the round and gains a number of advantage points equal to the difference between the two scores. The magus with advantage points may choose to use them immediately or to save them into the next round.
Advantage points saved are added to the next round’s roll in hopes of building a bigger advantage and overwhelming your opponent. This is risky though as you may lose total advantage or even all of it if you opponent has a good round.
To use advantage gained in Certámen, the magus who won the exchange rolls the dice and adds his Certámen score plus the advantage points he has on hand. The magus does this total in mental stress to his opponent. The opponent resists this damage with a roll of the dice plus his Conviction score + Certámen score. If the opponent’s roll is greater than or equal to the stress dealt, the opponent takes no stress. Otherwise, the opponents takes mental stress equal to the difference between the two rolls. Naturally the aggressor will have a free tag of any consequences incurred in the next round of the duel.
Relevant Affinities can be applied as bonuses in Certámen rolls.
There are two ways to win certámen. The first involves wearing your opponent down until he falls unconscious. When this happens, the victor is entitled to cast a single spell at the loser. This spell, which must be of the same Technique and Form of the contest, circumvents the loser’s Parma Magica (though the loser still gets a magic resistance roll based on the Form of the spell). In most certámen contests, this “free” spell is unnecessary, because your opponent’s collapse already designates your victory. However, some duelists use it anyway to intimidate and embarrass those who fight them. This free spell can be used to harm your fallen opponent, but remember, certámen is intended to be a harmless way to resolve disputes.
The second way to win certámen is by surrender. If your opponent realizes he is outmatched, or wants to walk away from the duel, he can concede the contest. Such a submission means that loser is still capable of defending himself, so he has full Parma Magica and Magic Resistance against any final spell cast at him.
You can use raw vis at any time during certámen, even if your opponent doesn’t use it or doesn’t expect its use. For every pawn you expend, add 1 to a single contest roll. This bonus applies to your rolls that involve Form and Technique, not to rolls that determine mental stress taken by your opponent. Raw vis used must be attuned to one of the Arts used in the duel, either Form or Technique. The number of pawns you can use in one round is limited to your score in the Form or Technique the vis is attuned to or your certámen score, whichever is lower.