Info and data for fans of the play-by-mail games Duel II, Forgotten Realms, and Hyborian War from Reality Simulations, Inc

The Hoser Report #10


The strategy newsletter for Duelmasters
&copy 1987 Eudaemonic Enterprises
#10 October 6, 1987



The Not-So Perfect Warrior
(Gee Honey, not Leftovers Again)

I think everyone is in agreement as to what makes the super warrior, the future
Duelmaster and Tower Guardian. However, that is like knowing (believing) that the
Jaguar XKE hs the ultimate car; most people end up driving $5,000 imports. What do we
do with the vast majority of the downright awful roll-ups?

The usual response is the DARK ARENA…. and for those “must win at all cost” types,
that is probably the only answer. But I started playing Duelmasters because I liked the
concept and for the brief amount of time I’m reading the fight results, I’m in a dark
smelly underground catacomb, sharpening my sword or gritting my teeth as a teammate
sets a broken bone. It goes against the feel of the game to DA every below average player!

When I recieved my first team roll-ups, I also got a “terrific” roil-up guide (golly TWO
whole pages!!) which offered such insights as “…. consider the type of character LARGE
and STRONG or SMALL and FAST….. attributes will affect your characters ability to
fight…..ability to carry weapons and armor….”, Blah-de-blah.

“Big help!”, I thought. But wait a minute, lets look at those statements in connection
with the statistics and the fighting styles. The first is ok if all you want is a basher or a
wall of steeler, and the second makes a great parry riposte or total parry (old rules).
But what about LARGE and FAST or STRONG and SMALL?

I think that all too often, we get into a “tunnel vision” mode of character roll-up. Just
got to get that wit/will combo or he’s no good syndrome. Why not look at the character
and see what can be enhanced rather than forcing a fit. Small ST? Only need a 5 for the
EP or SH. And if 12 is an average score (84/7) then you have 7 points to go elsewhere…
like WT or DF. And then pick the style that will take advantage of the low ST (PRP
maybe?). He won’t ever knock anyone down or bash through a shield, but he just might
be able to put his little sword into his opponents eye with the speed of a striking snake!

One final thought, an example of what I’ve been rambling about. My first Duelmaster,
was destined for the DA after his first fight (yep I’m one of those w-a-a-c types). Here
are his stats:

ST     CN     SZ     WT    WL    SP     DF         Basher 16-6-0
11     7(I)   14     17    9     17(1)  12(1)

He won 14 of the 16 fights in the first minute, the other two in the second minute. He
lost two of the 6 fights in the first minute, the other 4 in anywhere from 2-7 minutes.
Gave him just enough ST to handle a decent weapon and the rest to WT so he’d out-learn
his opponents fight for fight.

I hope this has stirred the old feelings of excitement and challenge in character design.
The arenas need more unusual character types out there. Send any comments to: Mark
LaPlante, 2969 Delaware crossing, Virginia Beach, VA, 23456.


Questions and Answers

Q: You mention, in #6, about a luck number (0, or 5, or 10, or 15)
being part of character generation. I wasn’t sure if you meant that
the number was computer generated, or assigned by the operator.
Also, do you know if it can be changed later?

A: The number is computer generated. I do not know if it changes,
my guess would be that it doesn’t. If my guess that it adds 0,1, 2, or
3 skills to each skill area is correct, then a change in this number
could be detected. If it decreased, you may notice a character
achieve the same expert (or adv. exp.) status twice.

Q: Do certain styles tend to learn at different rates (all else being

A: All else being equal, there is no difference in learning rates
between styles. Note the key phrase “all else being equal”. As you
know, some styles tend to have longer fights than others. Fight
length is the most important factor in learning that the manager can
(usually) control.

Q: Is a 9 SP lunger who lust recieved his expert rating in initiative
just as fast as a SP 11 lunger recieving the same (all other relative
attributes being identical)? What I’m asking is this: Does an
attribute such as SP really make a warrior faster, or does it make
related skills such as riposte and inltiatlve easier to learn, and thus
being able to get more skills in those areas or getting to advance
expert faster?

A: What?! I think you may be comparing apples to oranges. Starting
at the top I assume you’re defining “fast” in terms of initiative since
we’re talking lungers. Yes, the SP 9 lunger is currently as fast as
the SP 11 lunger since they both reached the same level at the same
time (the maximum potential of each may be different).
Remember, SP is just one factor that influences initiative. Suppose
the SP 9 lunger next turn learns another initiative skill, while the SP
11 gets no skills. They are no longer equally fast, SP 9 lunger is
faster (by one skill).

SP will make a warrior faster, but so will SZ, WT, and style. The only
thing that make skills easier to learn is WT (and maybe WL).

Q: You mentioned that WL should be increased to an even number.

A: Because, if you increase to an odd number. you may hit a break
point. Gladiators can learn up to 20 skills in each area (used to be
more before the program was fixed), unless the gladiator in question
has been raising attributes. If you have a very experienced fighter
in AD, you probably have already noticed this. The more attributes
you raise, the less skills are possible.

When Gladiators became Duelmasters (getting back to ancient history
now) it was Ed’s (the game designer) intention that a gladiator could
overcome his 20 skill “maximum” by raising attributes after
reaching 20. However, raise before 20 and it just counts as normal
skill value
(which is why raises sometimes trigger expert ratings).
When I was working at RSI I asked Chuck Kraver about this on many
occasions, and the learning program was to be programmed to do

Example: Two identical lungers, 11 WT. Lunger A never raises
attributes. Eventually lunger A tops out at 20 attack skills. and is
100% better than originally (20 * 5). Lunger B raises WT to 13. then.
tops out at 19 skills. Since raising to 13 is equivalent to 1 attack
skill, lunger B is 100% better (19 * 5 + 1 attribute increase). What is.
the difference? Lunger A can still go to 13, and will be 105% better.
Lunger B has already “wasted” that increase. Note that B may be
able to get to WT 15, or raise ST, WL, or DF. But so can A. And A will
always be 5% better in attack.

I don’t know if this actually got programmed, we’ve all heard about
enhancements that never came about. Keep in mind you can go for
years in real time before a gladiator can accumulate 20 skills in a
single area. Is being “perfect” worth the wait?


Since the beginning I have written about the learning system and
character design. I could probably deal with the fine points of skills
for another 10 issues, and still have more to say. A well designed
character with a good number of skills can get by with almost
anything on the strategy sheet. Yet the ability to read fights and
the strategy sheet have been neglected. Next issue we’ll shift gears
and take a closer look at these factors.

Lets start at the very beginning, with the replacement roll-up. How
exactly are the initial skill levels determined?

First, we must have a place to begin. Lets assume for now that the
character is a total zero. Zero attack %, riposte %, everything. How
does the roll-up program transform this into a new gladiator?
Consider the following:

0 + (style modifications) + (attribute modifications) = new gladiator

Zero is our arbitrary starting point. We may wish to go back and
change it to fit observed facts, but it does seem a logical place to

Style modifications. As you may have guessed, each style has
certain bonuses and penalties. For example, the PRP gets a
substantial boost to riposte %. The TPs gets a parry boost. While
much of this is intuitive, we do not know for certain what declaring a
particular style does to a roll-up. However, by setting it up in terms
of an equation, we can solve for it when we know the other values.

Attribute modifications. This we have the ability to learn by using
the Golden Rule of 4 so thoughtfully provided by RSI (see HR #7).
Imagine having a table for each attribute. Essentially, this is what
the roll-up program has. It looks at each attribute, determines the
effect on each skill area, and presto. By using the Golden Rule of 4
we can reproduce the information the roll-up program has. Consider
the following hypothetical tables for WT:

      3     5    7    9    11   13    15   17    19   21 
ATh   +5%   +5%  +5%  +5%  +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
DEC   +5%   +5%  +5%                       +5%   +5%  +5%
DEF   +5%   +5%  +5%  +5%       +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  45%
INI   +5%   +5%  +5%  +5%       +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
PAR   +5%   +5%  +5%  +5%             +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
RIP                        +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
      3     5    7    9    11   13    15   17    19   21 
ATK   -10%  -5%  -5%  -5%  +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5% +10%
DEC   -5%   -5%  -5%                  +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
DEF   -5%   -5%       -5%       +5%   +5%        +5%  +5%
INI   -5%   -5%  -5%  -5%  +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
PAR   -5%   -5%  -5%  -5%             +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%
RIP                        +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%   +5%  +5%

Which do you think is more workable? Lets suppose that we are
interested in maximizing the attack percentage of a new basher. The
natural WT is 9. Using the first table, the contribution of a 9 WT
would be 20% (4 skills). Now, assume we dump 6 attribute points to
WT. The contribution would rise to 35%. For WT alone. Don’t forget
that ST, WL, and DF will add to attack (because everything is a plus
in this model!). And, the fact that he is a basher should give him
another attack bonus. So, using the upper table it is quite possible to
have even an average basher with an initial attack percentage of
say, 150%. Sounds a tad high to me.

That brings us to a minor obstacle, that of knowing “how much”
percent is right. I think the computer would have a difficult time
dealing with negative or zero percentages. Also, we see rookies
obviously proficient at certain skills (indeed, some are rated expert
before their first combat), and therefore greater than zero. But given
a value of 5% per skill, with the potential of learning 20 skills this
means we will be dealing with percentages of greater than 100%.
This sounds like nonsense, but there are a number of schemes that
would allow such a thing.

Suppose the most perfect character concievable could have a parry
percentage of 300%. A given PST could have a numerical percent of
150%. But this would be only half of potential, each time the
program went to check if a parry was successful, he would have to
roll a 150 on a d300. In otherwords, only a 50/50 chance. This
explanation has problems, I’ll let the reader think it through.

Another possibility draws from the idea that certain offensive tactics
cancel defensive tactics (and vice versa). Imagine that certain skill
areas cancel other areas (like parry and dodge cancel attack). Any
percentage “over” 100 would subtract from one or more
corresponding percentages of your opponent. A close reading of the
red rulebook supports this, as did some of the old “Ed’s Ramblings”
columns that used to be in the arena newsletter.

There is a solution more elegant yet, if you are working on your own
man-on-man combat game, give me a call. The thing to remember is
that this game has random number generation (probability) at the
core. Now, getting back on track…

For lack of a better place to start, lets look at the Duelmasters
It puts the value of an expert rating at 80%, with the
advanced expert being 100%. One could make an arguement for an
expert being 100% (it is such a nice even number, more appealing
than 80). But we’ll use 80 and 100, which can be changed later if
need be. Therefore. most roll-ups should not begin above 80%
because most fighters do not have expert ratings before the first
fight. Also, when we hit expert we can subtract from 80 to get the
initial percentage.

Looking at the second table, we see important differences. First,
there are negative bonuses for WT below 11. This is an arbitrary
line drawn by the editor, it seems to be the minimum WT, ST, WL,
and DF of a workable character (check roll-up sheets if you don’t
agree). As you can see 9 is a penalty, but less of a penalty than 7
This means raising to 9 is a bonus by virtue of being a smaller
penalty (got that?). Another thing to notice is the inclusion of “dead
spots” in the table, where hitting the next odd number does nothing
to some skills (it takes extreme WT, SZ, or whatever to affect certain
skills). The last difference is that the progression of penalties and
bonuses isn’t necessarily 1 skill per breakpoint.

The basher using this table would have an attack% of -5% at a 9 WT.
Things look better by allocating the maximum 6 points, the WT
contribution becomes +15%. Add bonuses for ST, WL, DF, and style
and I think we’re in the ballpark.

To summarize. these tables can be constructed using the Golden Rule
of 4 and making a few assumptions. Of course, a single manager
could play for a lifetime before compiling this information. A good
size coalition could do it in a few years. Subscribers to this
publication could do it in a few months (hint hint).

Once you have a table, and using NEX statistics you’ve seen in the
HOSER REPORT, the style modifications can be determined. If the luck
factor does exist it could complicate this somewhat. This in turn
allows you to design the best possible character from a given
replacement. PRP with maximum riposte. TPS with maximum parry.
BAS with maximum attack. Whatever you need in the competitive
environment. Having done this, its time to consider how to read
your fights, and the finer points of the strategy sheet. Next issue.


If you plead guilty to the above, now is the time to banish the guilt
forever by ordering your own subscription!

* Think of the CONVENIENCE of having the HOSER REPORT sent to you
without delay!

* Think of the PRESTIGE of telling your friends that you have your
own subscription!

* Think of the EDITOR. By expanded support of this publication you
can rest easy knowing that the HOSER REPORT will continue to grow in
quantity and quality.

* Think the OLD DAYS when the moderator was your only source
of information.

Isn’t it worth it?


Ok, quite a few of you wanted to have a few roll-up characters to
hone your sklls on. The following are actual replacements which I
have recieved recently. Pick any, pick all. Design your best
character, and if you wish tell us how you would outfit and manage
him in his early outings. Try to keep the length of your brilliance to
under one page,. If there is a good response we can do it again.

     ST   CN   SZ   WT   WL   SP   DF  
#1   7    13   11   9    12   9    9
#2   16   12   13   4    9    7    9
#3   6    9    10   11   9    11   14
#4   12   9    11   21   4    4    9

It has been brought to my attention, by several people, that there
are more bootleg copies of the HOSER REPORT than medium shields in a
total parry locker room. I am glad to know that so many more
people read the HR than I thought. On the other hand, it is not really
fair to the readers who actually pay for their copy, and somewhat of
an insult. If this newsletter isn’t worth the cover price to you, then
don’t read it. Now I can certainly understand the situations where
you have a roommate, brother, etc. who plays the game and you
share a copy. But people are making multiple copies, and copies of
copies. A line must be drawn.

Unless you are color blind, you have noticed my new twist: the HOSER
REPORT in living color. While it certainly is pretty, that is not my
primary motivation for introducing color. The color HOSER REPORT will
be very difficult to photo-copy, which should scuttle the pirates in
short order. Rest assured by next issue I will have the time to
perfect the non-copyable issue. Enough said.

Another change you may have noticed is on the front page. I will
have more to say about this next issue, and an announcement will be
coming soon after that will be of great interest to readers.

The Grand Tourney is now history. I participated in the mail-in
(which is somewhat embarrassing after all of the shameless hyping I
did about the face-to-face tourney), it seems to have gone very
smoothly and RSI deserves praise for a job of enormous proportions
well done.

Don’t feel bad if you came out of the Tourney with a poor W/L.
Given the format, you have to make it to round 6 just to reach .500.
RSI distributed a Tourney newsletter to all players, if you keep a
database on opponents it would be a good idea to make note of how
they did.

I had promised excerpts from the Duelmasters Handbook, but the
latest revision arrived (too late for deadline), making the old one
obsolete. I have given it a quick read, it looks excellent, much new
information (thanks largely to HR subscribers). Rumor has it that the
author will be making use of the same new printing techniques as

Jeff Morgan

«« Previous post
The Hoser Report #9
Next post »»
Duelmasters Official Battle Rules

Comment on The Hoser Report #10?