Sometimes, people have what might be described as ‘irreconcilable differences’. When that happens, often the only way to keep things civil, rather than a spiral of PKs drawing in friends and allies on both sides and just keeping the hate going, is to have a formal, system-approved duel.
There were two levels of official duels in Age of Anarchy Online. The first was basically the same as fighting in the rest of the world or the arena. You fought until someone’s HP dropped below half, they surrendered, or they died, depending on the settings of the duel. There was no death penalty for dying in a normal duel, unlike when you died in the rest of the world.
The second level was the ‘Demon’s Duel’, and it was a holdover from WoD. Even there, not many people used it, because of the, frankly, insane risks involved. First, win or lose, the person issuing a challenge to a Demon’s Duel had to pay 1000 GP immediately upon issuing the challenge. But that wasn’t much, especially when you got to high levels. The real kicker of the Demon’s Duel was the fact that the death penalty if you lost was decided by your opponent. And yeah, all Demon’s Duels were to the death. Upon the challenge being laid, and the challenger paying the fee, both players wrote down their desired death penalty for their opponent, and sealed them. If you won, you’d never know what your opponent wrote down, unless they told you later. If you lost, the duel announced your fate in a global announcement.
Now, obviously, this had the potential for massive abuse. Because of that, there were restrictions on who you could challenge. First, you could only issue one Demon’s Duel challenge per RL month. Second, you could only challenge the same character once per RL year. Third, your character had to be within 10 levels of the character you challenged. Fourth, all death penalties were checked by the admins (unlike most of what happened in AAO), so anyone trying to, say, use a Demon’s Duel to get someone’s RL address would be permanently banned, whether they won or lost the duel. In the sixteen in-game years I’d played World of Destiny, there were only seven Demon’s Duels performed. I’d fought in two of them, one as the challenger.
As soon as the 100 PP deleted itself from my purse, the challenge screen appeared before me.
Zayn Darkmore has challenged Kali Dorna to the Demon’s Duel! As Challenger Zayn has paid 1000 GP as required by the terms and conditions of the EULA, this challenge may not be refused. Both players may decide on the death penalty for their opponent should they prove victorious. The death penalty may be anything, up to and including character deletion. Death penalties may not affect your opponent’s Struggle.net account or reveal any financial or personal information about the player. Attempts to do so will result in a permanent ban from all Icestorm products.
Enter your opponent’s death penalty now:
Smiling, I typed in what I wanted to happen to Kali if she lost. While sputtering with obvious rage, Kali did the same. Once she was finished, another screen popped up in front of the two of us.
Processing death penalties…
Both players have selected allowable death penalties, as per the EULA.
That was quickly followed by a screen that showed up to everyone in the room.
A Demon’s Duel has been declared by Zayn Darkmore, challenging Kali Dorna. This duel will be to the death. There is no restriction on spells or abilities. No other creatures may participate in this duel unless summoned via magic. The contestants will be summoned to the Duel Arena in 3… 2… 1…
There was a bright light, and suddenly I was in the familiar Duel Arena. When you fought an official duel, you and your opponent were transported to this open Coliseum made of weathered stone and with a sand floor, with a few stone columns and broken walls here and there, and no innocent bystanders to get in the way. The reason was simple. This gave all (well, most) classes the best chance to shine. Wizards often couldn’t unleash their most powerful attacks indoors, because massive fireballs tend to cook everyone indiscriminately. Warriors didn’t like having people who could be used as shields by their enemies. Rogues and Rangers enjoyed the places to hide and prepare a sneak attack or snipe with arrows. The ‘sunlight’ in the arena didn’t even hurt Drow, vampires, and other types that disliked sunlight. Really, the only people who didn’t have some benefit in this field were ‘face’ classes, like Bards. And they sucked at duels, anyways.
Of course, there WERE people who got put at a big disadvantage due to the terms of the duel. Kali was already cursing because her undead were still back in the room we just got transported from. Sure, I didn’t have my pets or Hrozne with me, but then, I was a jack-of-all-trades character. I could still fight without support. Kali, being both a necromancer and priestess, was focused on using her minions rather than fighting herself. And she knew it.
“I am going to rip you to shreds.”
“Aw, is that any way to greet old friends, Ravenna?”
Her eyes sharpened at that name. “Who are you, and why do you know that name?”
I laughed, and said, “You haven’t changed after all this time. Still a sick little girl playing at torture for kicks. I kicked your ass a couple times, back in WoD, back when I was a ‘good guy’. Remember the name Torgan? Well, I might not be him any longer, but that just means your spanking is going to be a lot more personal this time.”
She sputtered, and then launched into a string of very creative curses in four languages (including Russian, for some reason). I said nothing in response to her, though I did note some of the curses for future use. I couldn’t bother with her words now. Instead, I concentrated as the system counted down to the start of the duel. We were twenty feet apart, and Kali was armed with her dagger, and only the barest of robes. I was in my full armor, wielding my two blades. But I knew better than to get complacent. Kali was higher level than I was, and had a twisted cunning to her. I had no intention of underestimating her.
When the signal to begin came, we both started moving. Kali was clearly still just as practiced at PvP as Ravenna had been in WoD, and knew that a mage couldn’t stand up to a swordsman in close combat, so she began launching spells at me as she ran for cover. Of course, I wasn’t idle either. I snapped off Euphoria as soon as the duel started, and was rewarded to see Kali stumble slightly as she dived towards a wall where she could take cover and launch her spells. Not a bad plan, against most people.
I was not most people. Her spells were hastily cast, and I didn’t even need to bother dodging more than one of them. That wasn’t a bad idea, trying to keep my head down while she got to cover. It was a tried and true tactic in games and real life. But I’d had sixteen years of game-time to master the physics of virtual worlds. Including the bonuses from my gear, my STR was 141 and my DEX was 152. While that was nothing compared to my 412 CHA, it was still impressive enough that I could break from ‘real’ physics in small ways.
I didn’t bother diving for cover of my own, or going around the wall to attack Kali, who was getting more distracted by the Euphoria spell by the second. No, I ran straight for the six-foot high wall, and jumped, landing on the wall with a grace I’d never have in real life, before doing a forward flip over the wall, my blades slashing out. Kali screamed, but this time in pain as her dagger fell to the sand, still clutched in her severed hand.
With a feral look, Kali backed away from me, using a priestess spell to stop the bleeding. With her remaining hand, she tried to pull out a black book that was clearly a grimoire from her inventory, but with a flick of the eyes my Dark Tentacles were upon her, knocking the book away, and grasping for Kali. But Kali still had a few tricks up her sleeve, it seemed. As she scrambled away from the tentacles, she pulled out a small paper charm, and tore it with her teeth.
It was a Summon Token, apparently, because with a flash of light, Zaor, the zombie fighter, appeared on the sand, summoned by magic, and therefore not breaking the rules. Clever bitch, to have summon tokens for her undead. While normally used to summon items like legendary weapons from the vaults they were safekept in, or summoning an animal companion who had been allowed to roam free while you entered a dungeon, they could be used on players. Most didn’t like giving another person that much control over them, however. But if they were already your pawns…
I put such thoughts aside, and yelled, “Crescent Moon Slash!” With a slash of Munsuraisa, I unleashed a blue-white wave of energy at my two foes, catching both of them unprepared. Kali wasn’t the only one with hidden trump cards. Still, Zaor didn’t look too badly off, having taken the attack mainly across the chain shirt he wore, and his crossed sword and shield. He was damaged, but undead felt no pain, and didn’t suffer from bleed effects. Kali, on the other hand, screamed in pain as the light blade caught her in the chest, and Munsuraisa’s chance to ignore armor kicked in, causing blood to go flying as the blade of light tore her open.
At my direction, the tentacles rose up and threw Zaor against the wall and pin him there while he was stunned from the sudden attack, and I darted forward, blades shining in the light. Kali brought up her good arm to try and defend herself, but that only caused her to lose that arm, as well, just above the elbow, as my blades touched her flesh again. I whirled, and my blades of the Moon and Sun slashed out, removing Kali’s legs, and she fell, a wailing mess, to the sand.
But she was still not dead. I had crippled her, and grievously wounded her, but she still had HP left, which meant she could still fight, according to the system. Sheathing my swords, I kicked the bitch hard, forcing her onto her back. She squirmed, but was like a tortoise on her back now that she’d lost her limbs. And I still hadn’t released her from Euphoria.
But that was enough playing with my food. I didn’t want her fighting through the pain to attempt some sort of reversal. I pulled out my trusty Sacrificial Dagger, and plunged it down into Kali’s heart, ending the match.
For sacrificing your foe, you gain +5 INT.
There was a flash of light, and then I was back in the room I’d left, as were Zaor and Kali’s body, her dropped dagger and book next to her. Though the result of the duel was obvious, a window popped up, just to make things clear.
The Demon’s Duel has been concluded. Zayn Darkmore has triumphed over Kali Dorna on the sands of the arena. Kali Dorna shall suffer the following death penalty for her loss:
· All undead under the control of Kali Dorna (including Deathsworn Travelers) will be immediately freed from her control, and upon their destruction may return to life as members of their former races.
· All other property and funds belonging to Kali Dorna are henceforth ceded to Zayn Darkmore.
· Prior to logoff, Kali Dorna must suffer the pain of all the tortures she’s inflicted on others in this world, condensed into one minute’s time.
· Afterwards, the character Kali Dorna will be deleted completely, with the loss of all reincarnation bonuses.
As soon as the box appeared, Kali’s lifeless corpse began screaming in what was surely unbearable agony. After a minute’s time, she fell silent again, and I received a long report of her items and properties, as well as a healthy sum of just over 400 PP, before her body disintegrated into nothingness.
Then the cheering started.