A single duel requires two players. One player is assigned the role of "attacker," and the other the role of "defender." Both players start with zero points. Another person must take on the role of "referee." The game then proceeds a cycle at a time.
In each cycle:
- The attacker insults the defender.
- The attacker claims points for his insult through the points structure for insults (see below), producing a total score for that insult. He may also wish to explain why he is claiming particular attributes.
- The defender then has the opportunity to challenge parts or the whole of that point claim (see below). He may only challenge once (though he may challenge multiple aspects of the insult); if he does not wish to challenge, he must state that.
- The defender makes a comeback to the insult.
- The defender claims points for his comeback through the points structure for comebacks (see below), producing a total score for that comeback. He may also wish to explain why he is claiming certain attributes.
- The attacker then has the opportunity to challenge parts of the whole of that point claim. He may only challenge once (though he may challenge multiple aspects of the comeback); if he does not wish to challenge, he must state that.
- The outcome of the cycle is then applied. The comeback's score is subtracted from the insults's score; the resulting number is then added to the attacker's score and subtracted from the defender's score.
- If the comeback's score was greater than the insult's score, the attacker and defender switch roles.
- The next cycle begins.
A number of categories and attributes are defined for both insults and comebacks. Players claim points for their insult/comeback by stating the categories/insults they feel apply to their play, totalling up the points for each attribute as described in the point scheme.
For example, the insult "Yer hand's as steady as yer feet are smelly!" could be scored like so:
[COMP COMP:SelfPart ASRT FamilyFriendly Pirate] 9 pts
signifying that the attacker is claiming the "Comparison" category (worth 2 points), the "Comparing to other aspects of the defender" subattribute (worth 1 point), the "Assertion" cateogry (worth 1 point) and the "Family Friendly" (3 pts) and "Piratical language" (2 pts) global attributes.
Available points for insults:
Insults can claim any combination of the following categories, and also the subattributes within those categories. An insult cannot claim a subattribute if it does not claim the category.
Comparison (COMP) category, +2pts: comparing something to something else. Subattributes are:
- SelfPart (+1): comparing some aspect of an entity (such as the defender) to another aspect of the same entity.
- Invert (+1): a positive-as-negative or vice-versa comparision, e.g. "You're as clever as I'm not funny."
Intention (INTT) category, +2pts: expressing the attacker's intention to do something. For example, "I'm going to run you through!" Subattributes:
- Question (+2): phrasing the insult as a proper question (a statement with ", yes?" or ", hmm?" tacked on the end doesn't qualify).
- IndirectionX (+X): expressing intent through levels of indirection; the attribute is written as "IndirectionX" where X is the number of levels claimed. If successfully claimed, scores X points. Examples: "I'm going to run you through" does not qualify, "I'm going to leave you with a draft through your belly" gets Indirection1, "They'll call you Gusty Guts Gregory when I'm through with you" gets Indirection2.
Hypothetical (HYPO) category, +2pts: Making suppositions, hypothesis, inferring some hidden logic on the part of the attacker. For example, "When your father first saw you, he must have been mortified!" or "If you were a piglet, you'd be the runt of the litter!" Subattributes:
- Positive (+2): making a statement that can be reasonably tested and shown to be true or false.
- Past (+1): supposing something about the past.
Assertions (ASRT) category, +1 pt: Making simple assertions about the nature of your opponent. For example, "You're the ugliest monster ever created!" or "You can't match my witty repartee!" Subattributes:
- Immutable (+2): an assertion about something which cannot be reasonably altered.
- Boast (+2): an assertion which, while not necessarily an insult, serves to extol the superior nature of the attacker.
General insult attributes: these can apply to any insult, regardless of category.
- NotAnInsult (-5): Insult is not actually insulting.
- ShotInTheFoot (-3): Insult is aimed at the defender but affects the attacker as well.
- Relative (-1): Insult is not aimed at the defender but at some relation of his.
- FamilyFriendly (+3): Insult does not use any modern-day swearwords or outright drug/sex references. (PG-13 is the limit).
- Pirate (+2): Insult has a piratey feel to the language, makes pirate references, etc.
- Multiple: If the insult is really just multiple insults stitched together, this attribute causes them to be assessed seperately, and all but the highest-scoring individual insult is ignored.
- Thesaurus (+1): Insult uses a suspiciously large number of obscure words.
- Cumbersome (-2): Insult is excessively long and stodgy.
- Pun (+2): Insult contains one or more puns or plays on words.
Available points for comebacks:
Comebacks can fall into only one of the following categories:
- BLOCK (+2): Comeback successfully negates the logic and/or effect of the insult.
- REDIRECT (+4): Comeback turns insult around and effectively causes it to attack the attacker.
- RIPOSTE (+6): Comeback not only REDIRECTs the insult, but also tacks on an insult of the defender's own.
Subattributes for the BLOCK category:
- Fallacy (+1): Comeback illustrates some flaw in the insult's logic or assumptions. "I'm going to kill you!" "You will not be able to!" would be an example.