In most cases, combat works as written in Fate Core.
Climactic moments, such as when a PC faces off against the Big Bad Evil Guy, it's much more dramatic to employ Dueling rules. While any combat can be concluded using the standard Fate Core ruleset, it's often more satisfying to play out a conflict that's as much a battle of wits and tactics as it is a contest to see who rolls better.
Duels, especially with sabers, are a fundamental part of the setting. Anytime dark force users cross paths with light force users, a conflict may erupt! These events should always be dramatic when the principals involved are close to evenly matched (each of the two would-be duelists having a peak skill within a point of the other).
When Not to Declare a Duel
When the opposition doesn't include anyone of importance, no one should be able to initiate a duel. Supporting NPCs and nameless NPCs just aren't important enough to risk a duel.
Also, if the opposition is 2 or more steps higher (or lower) than the challenger, no duel should take place. For example, if a hero of Great (+4) peak skill confronts an opponent with a Fantastic (+6) peak skill and requests a duel, it should not be granted. Conflict with an NPC 2 steps or more higher than PCs needs to be handled as a group. NPCs two steps or more lower than PCs are not enough of a threat to make a duel interesting.
(Super secret GM strategy: Of course, the GM can raise or lower the skills of NPCs challenged by a PC to within 1 point of the PC's peak skill in order to create a more interesting and dramatic fight.)
Declaring a Duel
Since duels are implicitly part of the setting, it can be treated as an aspect and compelled. Most often, it will be a GM offering a compel, but a player can do so as well. This works like a normal compel on a scene. If accepted, a Fate point is doled out to the character accepting the duel. In addition, PCs not involved in the scene can get a Fate point, too. If they decline, they must do so with a Fate point of their own, as they would for any compel they do not wish to accept.
If the players and the GM all agree, the duel will take place.
If someone declines, they must pay a Fate point. The duel does not happen and the compel goes away -- as does the Fate point offered to each person!
When the Duel Is On
Stress boxes are not used in a duel. Instead, you use only Consequences. However, tough characters get a bonus of +1 mild consequence for having a 3rd stress box, and +1 mild consequence for having a 4th stress box.
For example, if your character has four Physical stress boxes, you can absorb up to 2 extra mild physical consequences in a duel.
When the duel begins, only the two characters involved are involved in the conflict. Other PCs and NPCs can still battle around the duelists, but may not interfere with the duel itself.
The rules are simple. You may not take an attack action, nor use Fight or Shoot until you gain the upper hand. To do so, you need to succeed with style over your opponent with any other skill roll. Most often this will be create an advantage actions, but it can also happen from overcome or defend actions. Once you have the Upper Hand, you keep it until your opponent manages to win it from you, and vice versa.
- ) Roll initiative, typically using Notice. The high roll goes first, and if success with style is achieved even here, the upper hand goes to the winner.
- ) Take an overcome or create an advantage action. If you have the upper hand, you can make an attack action or otherwise use Fight or Shoot skills.
- ) On your opponents turn, you can defend if they make an attack action. Succeeding with style on defense will win you the upper hand.
- ) The duel continues until someone is taken out or offers a concession that is accepted.
To keep track more easily, whoever has the upper hand should get a card, coin, or other symbol that reflects who has the upper hand.
After a Duel
Any mild consequences stick around if used and must be healed normally. Also, characters regain the use of stress boxes.
These rules are based on Swashbuckling Duels from the Fate System Toolkit. They've been expanded and enhanced to suit Galactic Core.