I'm about to start running a short Houses of the Blooded campaign at home, and while I really like most of the rules, I've got several issues wit the duelling system. The most important one is the training times and pre-requisites required for maneuvures, which mean that a starting character (even one with Prowess 5, a suitable aspect, a Blood Sword etc. etc.) has to spend a lot of time learning maneuvers before she'll be able to stand up against a true master. I don't like that only Duellists have this issue (e.g. a courtier doesn't need to spend Seasons training), and it means that any Duels I do run will be very light on the cool maneuvers (as none of the PCs will have them, it seems a tad unfair to throw an NPC in who can do cool and powerful stuff).
This is what I've come up with instead, but given that I've not had a chance to see it in play, I'd love feedback, especially from anyone who's got actual experience with the game!
My Duelling Houserules
The core of a Duel works just like in the book, but I've included it here for clarity.
0) Both sides declare Intent,
1) Gather Dice,
2) Strike Bid.
A Beat, with the winner of the strike bid as the Attacker:
The Attacker now becomes the Defender, and a new Beat commences (steps a to c).
The big change is to Maneuvers:
* Maneuvers require no Training to use (and therefore ignore pre-requisites based off of knowing other Maneuvers; note that Characteristic pre-requisities still apply),
* Maneurvers have no Ranks,
* Maneuvers have no limit on the number of time they may be used in a Duel,
* All Maneuver costs have been erratered as per the official errata,
* Maneuvers otherwise work as written.
The aim here is have a more cinematic, exciting Duel, with Parries, Ripostes, Lunges and other interesting things happening all the time. Removing the training requirements means that a starting character can be a match for a skilled duellist, and that duels between non-specialised characters will be interesting mechanically. Removing the Ranks goes naturally with removing the training requirements, but it does lower the damage given out in duels by skilled duellists - I'm quite happy with this though, as I'm not a fan of high character death rates. My biggest quibble is with removing the usage limits from Maneuvers, as some of them are just better than others. On the other hand, it seems silly that you can only Step once per Duel from an IC point of view, but this is the area of the rule I expect to have to change the most. One obvious fix would be to only limit certain maneuvers, but having not played the game, I don't know which ones to limit and how to do so.