Odd Duel

Two games I have been obsessed with for a very long time are old school D&Ds and Burning Wheel.

I was super pumped when I initially read Torchbearer, and while it is an awesome game on its own terms, it wasn’t quite the mix of old school dungeon crawling and Burning Wheel-styled detailed systems I was looking for.

I have wanted for a long time for there to be a system similar to Burning Wheel’s Fight system, although a bit simpler, paired to D&D’s tactical hand-wavy rulings over rules.

This is my attempt at hacking Into the Odd to facilitate this kind of system.

Thisgoes against a lot of the assumptions of that game – it introduces an attack roll, for example, but its extremely light weight base is a perfect fit for me to try to build on. This system also mostly assumes combat will be melee, but I will consider how to adapt it to include ranged combat later.

New Mechanics

Contested Saves

Many of the actions in this hack involves both participants making contested saves. This means both sides make a specific save, and the winner is whoever rolls rolls highest while still rolling equal-to or under their appropriate ability score.

Joanna and Marcus are making contested strength saves. 

Joanna has a Strength of 12, and Marcus has a Strength or 14. Joanna rolls a 12, and Marcus rolls a 10.

Both Joanna and Marcus have rolled under their relevant attribute, but Joanna has rolled higher and thus is the winner.

Advantage & Disadvantage

When a character has advantage on a save that means the player rolls 2d20 and takes the better result.

Disadvantage means the player rolls 2d20 keeps the worse result.

Advantage and disadvantage cancel each other out.


Being engaged with an enemy means your character is squared off with them, intending to fight. If you are engaged with an opponent you cannot retreat or freely move around the battlefield until you disengage.

To disengage from an enemy means you are free to retreat, move away, etc.

New Combat Actions

When your character is engaged with an opponent you both make simultaneous combat actions. You do this by taking an index card with the name of your action on it, hold it face down, and then simultaneously reveal it with your opponent. You then resolve the outcome based on what the two chosen actions are.

The new actions are:

  • Attack: Attempt to strike your opponent.
  • Parry/Block: Block an opponents attack.
  • Dodge/Maneuver: Move out of the way of an opponent’s attack, or try to disengage from them.
  • Feint: Try to trick your opponent into blocking to create an opening.
  • Misc action: Anything not on the list – using an item, pulling something off of your belt, etc.

Attack vs. Attack

Both characters strike each other – each side rolls damage as per usual.

Attack vs. Parry/Block

Both the attacker and the blocker rolls strength saves.

If the attacker wins the roll they deal damage as per usual to the blocker.

If the blocker wins the roll, they suffer no damage and gain advantage against the opponent for their next immediate save.

Attack vs. Feint

The attacker deals damage to the feinter.

Attack vs. Dodge/Maneuver

The attacker makes a strength save, and the dodger makes a dexterity save.

If the attacker wins they deal damage as per usual.

If the dodger wins they get to select one of two options:

  1. They gain advantage on the next save vs. the attacker.
  2. They disengage with the opponent and can freely move away from them.

Attack vs. Misc Action

The misc actor makes a dexterity save to see if they perform their action before they are struck by the opponent. If they succeed – handle the action before the attacker deals damage.

Otherwise the attacker deals damage first, then handle the action.

Feint vs. Parry/Block

The blocker suffers disadvantage on their next saves within the same round. Into the Odd doesn’t really have rounds, but the blocker has had their parry drawn out and anyone taking immediate advantage of that should benefit.

Dodge/Maneuver vs. Dodge/Maneuver

Both sides make a dexterity save, and the winner gets to pick from the following options:

  1. They gain advantage on the next save vs. the attacker.
  2. They disengage with the opponent and can freely move away from them.

Other Action Combinations

Unless it would make sense otherwise – most other action combinations would result in nothing happening.


Obviously this increases the number of rolls you are making in a combat round, and you also have to track who you have advantage against, but I hope it gives some tactical rock-paper-scissors to combat for those that want it.

Also this requires all enemies have their attributes rolled up, which may take a bit of prep for a referee as most OSR adventures usually do not have monster/enemy attributes.

There is also a lack of many cases – stunts, ranged attacks, magic, etc. Right now I want to have simple interactions to test out, and figure out what needs rules, and what can be left for rulings.

If you don’t like the auto-hit of some of the attack combinations (in Attack vs. Feint, for example) you can always have the non-attacker make a will save  (maybe at disadvantage) to see if they notice the attack and try to block it. This may beef up the use of will in Into the Odd, which may be a benefit depending on your rulings.

Final Thoughts

I’ll try play-testing this with some of my players to see how it goes. If anyone has any thoughts or gives this a try, please feel free to comment how it goes!

Thank you for reading!

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