CC:Fist Fighting

A bar room brawl breaks out with a Nord.

Fist Fighting

There's many reasons why a character is going to get into a fist fight. The players might need help from a sell sword who's only willing to assist if one of the party members can prove their might. Or perhaps a guildmate wants to settle a disagreement, or maybe they're just looking to make some quick gold on a bet.

When you start the fist fight, it is assumed that both fighters are on equal ground. If the fist fight becomes a full on brawl, the mechanics are going to have to change to suit a more organized battle. I'm making the assumption that there are just two participants and the fight is organized in the style of a duel.

First up, we need a resource to look after. Something that can indicate when a fight is over and a victor, or more likely, a loser, is determined. The first thing that comes to mind for the Elder Scrolls is Fatigue. So how much fist-fighting fatigue should a character have? My gut tells me 2 is a good starting point for 1st level characters, with an addition of your Endurance modifier, minimum of 0. More than that might make a fight take too long, and any less will make the fight seem potentially non-existent. For example, a Ranger with 13 Endurance would have 3 Fatigue for this fight at 1st level.

Next, we need a way to determine who attacks when. Obviously, this is solved with initiative. Since it's a duel, surprise is most likely not a consideration, so each character involved will roll for initiative, adding their Agility modifier, as normal. Based on the result of the initiative roll, you perform one of two options of actions: Attack or Defend. If a character defends, they don't attack this round.

Unlike normal combat encounters, during a fist fight, initiative is re-rolled at the start of each round. As it's a duel, both combatants are ready to make attack at any time, carefully watching and calculating any opportunities. The high roller gets to take an action, and the other tries to avoid being hit.

When an attack makes contact, the recipient loses 1 fatigue. When a character runs out of fatigue, the fight is over. Either the character is knocked unconscious or submits. The GM or the player can decide the final outcome, usually based on the circumstance of the fight. If you're trying to get information, a knocked out traitor isn't going to do you much good.

Putting It All Together

When the fight begins, start by determining the fatigue for each character involved.

Determining Fatigue. Your fatigue points are equal to your proficiency bonus + your Endurance modifier (minimum of 0).

At the start of the fight, each character involved rolls initiative (higher roll wins). The character who wins the initiative roll attacks, while the loser of the roll defends. Both participates are actively engaged and embroiled in a fist fight, and as such, the rules for Attacking have been tweaked. For the sake of simplicity, consider these fist fighting rules like contested checks in the Basic Rules.


When attacking, the character finds an opportunity to strike their foe. Roll a d20, adding your Agility or Strength modifier to the roll (player choice), and add your proficiency bonus. Instead of measuring against the target's AC, the attack is contested against the target's ability to dodge or block the attack.


When a character defends, they also roll a d20 to defend, adding their Agility modifier plus their proficiency bonus to the check. If the attack roll is higher than the total for your defend roll, the attack connects, otherwise the attack misses. Once the attack is resolved, the round is over and a new round begins.

New Rounds

At the beginning of each round, each contestant rolls again for initiative.

Determining Damage and Resolution

On a successful hit, the target loses 1 fatigue point.

When one character's fatigue reaches 0, the fight is over. A character can choose to end a fight at any time.

Special D20 Rolls

Much like the rules for rolling a 1 or 20 on an attack roll on the d20, the following rules are included in these brawling duels.

Rolling a 20 on an Attack Roll. If a character rolls a 20 on their attack roll against a defending character, the attack automatically hits and the target loses 2 fatigue point instead of 1.

Rolling a 1 on an Attack Roll. If a character rolls a 1 on their attack roll, they automatically miss, leaving themselves exposed. The defending character can take a special Attack of Opportunity as a reaction using the above attacking rules.

Rolling a 20 on a Defend Roll. If a character rolls a 20 on their defense roll against an attacking character, the attack automatically misses (unless the attacker rolls a 20 on their attack).

Rolling a 1 on a Defend Roll. If a character rolls a 1 on their defense roll against an attacking character, the attack automatically hits (unless the attacker rolls a 1 on their attack).