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Dueling competition

So earlier I talked with my friend Victor Thorn (whom I met through another friend) about the magical dueling competition in my second Ravenstone book, because he's a lot older than me and has the kind of life experiences where he might know about competitions. Also he's a fellow author. So yeah, we talked about that, and along with explaining how bracket competitions work in a way I could understand, he also pointed out a step I skipped: that I didn't have any idea yet how the competition was scored/judged. All I had to go on was an exhibition duel in the first book, which wasn't being scored for obvious reasons.

So I just spent the last several hours working on categories and rules for the dueling competition. I'm not done, there remain a few simpler things undecided and a lot of details on others to fill in. It's gonna involve charts and stuff, but essentially boils down to the following:

1. A checklist of types/categories of spells and/or specific spells that are level-dependant, similar to karate or Tae Kwan Do. Each adequately completed spell category receives no more than a single point, and only gets said point upon the first successful completion of that category. (IE, you can cast 20 of the same spell in a match and only get one point in the Category markings for that match, that point being for the first successful cast of that spell; the rest of those spells only getting points for other things like power, accuracy, etc.)

2. Points are awarded for details of spells such as power, effectiveness, accuracy, and others that depend on the kind of spell in question. (Special wards detect and record spell type, composition, power, and the spell's caster, with the entire match recorded for judges to go over later. {This detail subject to the potential for change.})

3. Points can also be subtracted if the spell's performance in a certain judging category is especially horrible (such as a strike spell that misses the opponent by a mile despite the fact both duelists involved were standing still, resulting in -1 or -2 accuracy points, or a shield spell that couldn't be maintained long enough to take the hit it was meant to block being docked a point in the Duration category).

4. Casting the same spell too rapidly and/or too many times during a match with the intent of racking up lots of points from any category that can be judged with such short-lived spells (mainly just Power, in the case of shield spell flickering, but Power and Effectiveness if you're bombarding opponent with mass quantities of spells) is a foul. More broadly, if the ref or judges think you're trying to game the system for points, or being mercilessly cruel to an opponent, those are fouls.

5. Serious or life-threatening injuries are not permitted (including injuries that would render someone disabled), possibly even resulting in instant disqualification from the match.

One of the simpler things yet to be decided is whether drawing blood is permitted, and what role drawing blood has in the match. (For instance, does first to draw blood win the match? I'm leaning strongly against that one, though. Magical dueling is about learning self defense, not about learning how to hurt other people, even though there are a fair number of legal spells that do hurt the other person, that's unavoidable.)

I'm also still not sure at what point matches should end. In Harry Potter, a duel ends when you lose your wand, get knocked out, or otherwise can't move or cast magic anymore. But wands in the Ravenstone 'verse aren't necessary; they're useful focusing tools, and they can change your magic in some ways (including a slight boost in power if you use wood from a witch tree1), but you can use a finger as a wand, and skilled enough witches can cast spells with a glance (though that is pretty high up on the skill level chart, so it isn't seen often).

Obviously getting knocked out or having your hands bound or temporarily disabled would mean you lose. A spell causing persistent confusion or other debilitating effect that eventually wears off or gets reversed can also decide the match.

But beyond that, where's the line? Do the two duelists just keep battling it out until one of them forfeits or collapses from exhaustion? And what about pairs, triples, or melee battles? How is it decided when those are over and who wins?

I mean, I have some possibilities. Like, maybe that checklist mentioned earlier might have something to do with it; like, "first person to finish their checklist wins"? Or would that be too simple? I can see someone coming in, shooting off all the spells on the checklist quickly, and the match is over in a minute but the other person is standing there like "WTF just happened? Why is the match over already?"

Or maybe that's just one factor, somehow? But I don't know how that would work.

Maybe I'm overthinking this. Maybe "incapacitate your opponent without disqualifying yourself" is enough? Eventually, one or the other is either going to go "this isn't worth it" and forfeit, or collapse from exhaustion or magical burn-out (channeling too much magic through your body is dangerous and can in extreme instances be fatal). So that might well be enough.

Anyway yeah, not done yet on the whole "magical duels, how do they work?" deal, but progress is being made.

Endnotes:

1 = Witch trees are trees that are witches. IE, they're old enough and intelligent enough that they've learned how to wield magic. Witch trees are not terribly common on Earth anymore, and were never very common here even in the olden days for some reason. But in faery realms like Tirffiniol, witch trees are extremely common. Their wood, when given willingly for a wand or staff or other enchanted item, works very well and are still magically alive and connected to the tree in question, letting them boost your magic in exchange for them getting to experience mobility. If the wood is taken against their will, however, the wood is useless to witches unless special spells are done on the wood to cut the wood off from its source. In which case you might as well take wood from a normal tree, it's far easier.

This was cross-posted from https://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1413063.html
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