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The Dolorous Stroke
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The Dolorous Stroke

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"And when Balyn saw the spear, he gat it in his hand, and turned him to King Pellam, and smote him passingly sore with that spear, that King Pellam fell down in a swoon; and therewith the castle rove and the walls brake, and fell to the earth, and Balyn fell down, so that he might not stir hand nor foot"

-Thomas Mallory


The Dolorous Stroke - named after the fateful blow that sets in motion much of the Grail Quest  - is a narrative wargame that deals with medieval romances, and the knights they depict. Players take control of a knight errant and his retinue, and play through the various adventures that they experience on their quest.

The game is designed for teams of 1-5 characters on each side. It deliberately moves away from competetive play, and instead is focussed on an ongoing campaign where the cast of characters encounter new challenges each game.Character creation is completely open-ended and freeform, with each character tailored to match their miniature and concept. Likewise, scenarios are intended to have objectives that can change as the characters meet, fight, negotiate and explore. Rather than list-building and point-scoring, the game is instead meant to encourage creativity and picaresque storytelling.

As well as using dice rolls to resolve actions, each character uses a deck of playing cards to track injuries suffered, blood loss, degredation of virtue and expendature of willpower. Whilst using a simple framework, the mechanics have room to be customised so that a wide variety of characters can all play in different and interesting ways.

Gameplay tends towards fairly low lethality; killing enemy characters is difficult, but combat is useful as it allows you to injure (and so weaken) enemies, and lets you control the tempo of the game. This control of the tempo of the game so you can react to your opponent's moves or preempt their strategy is key to success; by the time blows are exchanged there's probably been a great deal of maneuvering and negotiation. 

The book contains:

  • Basic rules for movement, shooting, fighting, magic, and other actions.
  • Special rules for duels, jousts, taking prisoners and so on.
  • Guidelines for character creation, including various character archetypes.
  • A medieval armoury to equip characters with, ranging from simple weapons and armour, legendary weapons, different mounts, and stranger equipment.
  • Various example special abilities for characters, such as fighting styles, the authority of noblewomen, and supernatural gifts. Likewise, a selection of example spells from schools such as enchantment, necromancy, vivimancy, shamanism, theurgy, infernalism and alchemy.
  • 14 sample characters and 15 example monsters.
  • Guides to scenario design.
  • Various sidebars spotlighting different aspects of the setting, such as woodwoses, knightly orders, marquesses and hermits.
 
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Discussions (1)
Customer avatar
James H September 08, 2018 4:51 pm UTC
PURCHASER
What are the weapon damage ratings for? Each weapon has a single digit numerical damage rating associated with it but I could not find these ratings referenced ANYWHERE else in the game. Are they artifacts from an earlier draft that were meant to be deleted?

Also, the insect injury substitutions list has a duplicate result of "7". Based on the text, I assume that the second result of "7" should be an 8, as that is the number of the entry on the standard injury table that it is meant to replace.
Customer avatar
Raoul H September 09, 2018 8:18 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I take it the weapon damage rating simply refers to the amount of injury cards relevant to the weapon. A mace/hammer with damage 8 can use eight different injury cards.

Btw, this game is awesome!
Customer avatar
James H September 09, 2018 10:17 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Re: damage ratings, I did consider that but it doesn't jibe with the rules for injuries, which pretty clearly indicate drawing only one card per hit scored (a take that the injury lists seem to further support).
Customer avatar
Raoul H September 10, 2018 9:27 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Ah well, a misunderstanding, good sir. You clearly draw only one card from your injury deck, but the damage rating shows the amount of potentially matching injuries. Say you strike a blow with a mace, so your foe draws one injury card and compares it to the 8 different types of injury a mace can deal (listed in the weapon entry). If the drawn card matches one of those possible injuries, the foe has to suffer said injury; if not, the drawn card gets shuffled back into the deck. So the mace relates to 8 potential injuries, therefore the damage rating of a mace is 8. A torch can deal only 6 different injuries with 6 different cards, so its damage rating is 6.
Customer avatar
James H September 11, 2018 10:16 pm UTC
PURCHASER
That makes sense. It should really be explained in the rules, though. Maybe it'll make it into a future revision (along with the correction to the insect injury tables).
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Copper seller
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Pages
101
File Size:
31.87 MB
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File Last Updated:
August 20, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on August 20, 2018.
Publisher Info
Dying Stylishly Games
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