Joey wanted this; "Contest rules for a bare-knuckled Warlords of Vornheim variant (ie NO EQUIPMENT) that makes level differences less of an advantage for higher level pc's without ignoring level completely. Rules can be either diegetic (set by an in game authority), a B/X or LotFP hack, a mix of the two, or whatever you think is best.?"
So it has to be fast, because it’s a fistfight. And it has to be rigorous enough. But, it can't have a list of actual moves like that one Jeff was using a while ago, because that means looking things up and looking things up takes time.
So how about this;
Two people only.
Human standard limbs only, no spikes etc.
No armour, no equipment, no magic equipment. Tattoos and whatever disabled for the duration of the fight.
Thieves get climb, backstab bonus and damage if opponent can't see the limb they are striking with. Plus all other skills if they can find a way to use them.
Magic-Users and Clerics get spells but if a spell does any HP damage they are disqualified. Summoning living things is also out.
Killing other PC gets you nothing. (Except with exceptionally evil crowd, see below.)
DM may have optional concussion and limb-breakage chart for zero HP.
THE CORE IDEA
One round is ONE SECOND.
Each round both players roll a d20 at the same time.
This is the ONLY die they will roll this round, no others may be rolled, this counts for everything that happens in that second.
The player with the lowest d20 roll chooses their action first.
If they try to do damage in any way the roll counts as an attack roll against AC.
A standard blow against AC does d4 damage.
In special circumstances (ie lying in floor, woozy, head unguarded) the DM may raise this to a d6 or allow it to explode, possibly more than once. This should be RARE.
If they try to do anything that is not directly damaging then it’s a roll-under stat.
Almost anything can be allowed if it makes sense and can be done in one second with their exact body positions.
You have around ten words to describe what you are doing so if someone* bangs on like an idiot about physics or some kung-fu film they saw once then the DM may award fee extra actions to the other guy.
So if you are a weaker player and roll low you can shout BLOCK and, if you roll under the right stat, deflect damage. You may be pushed back or suffer non-harm effects if the attack roll exceeds your AC by 5 or more, or is a crit. But you will not take HP damage.
Get you kung-fu bullshit and bonuses to damage like in a normal game but still cannot inflict HP damage through a normal block.
So much stuff you can do with stats, just remember exactly what the bodies are doing in 3d space. That, and the one-second round should narrow the options enough to tell you what to roll.
Nothing I can come up with here is going to be better than what you come up with on your own.
IF THEY DISAGREE ABOUT WHAT IS POSSIBLE
Whoever can give the most reasonable, most coherent, least bullshitty and shortest explanation of what their body and limbs are doing in 3d space will be favoured by the DM in case of a dispute.
Zero hp is knocked out. Anyone can pull a Rocky and come back with a successful CON roll. They get hp = the amount they rolled under.
(If they do it in a dramatic and cool enough way.)
The other fighter can stop this if they have a move free and if they are a dick.
If there is a damage and concussion table then every knockout is a roll on that.
This all happens in a FLAILSNAILS game world and it has consequences. Nothing happens in some bullshit 'fightspace'. It is a specific place and a specific time.
The World-owner is the ref and DM.
Weaker player can request home turf or special environment if challenged.
3d environments will favour thieves.
DM has final say over setting, should be like Street Fighter, anywhere in game world. Big crowd. Possible scenery at thier discretion.
Non-fighting PC's in the crowd can try shennanigans but see below, they get one action every six rounds of fighting.
AND THE CROWD WILL NOT BE HAPPY
WINNING AND LOSING
Winner gets XP = (opponent level x 100)
If a lower level character wins they can time this again by the diff between levels.
So if Lvl7 Malice beats Lvl7 Nack, Malice gets 700xp.
If Lvl1 Diraq beats Lvl7 Malice he gets 700 x 6. 4200 xp.
DM plays the bookie or NPC to set odds in-game.
You can bet ANYTHING the NPC in question thinks is reasonable. A million in gold, hand of a princess, your left hand, your child's life, anything.
Monks keep all their extra kung-fu shit.
Monks fighting non-monks will be carefully watched by their temples and their behaviour monitored. They are expected to behave extra-honourably if good and win super-easily if bad. Like, without taking a mark.
The DM will tell you what your temple expects and if you fuck it up you may get nothing even inf you win.
Street Fights are watched much more closely than normal D&D fights and the reputation you earn in them spreads fast and sticks hard.
If you show flair and elan, even if you lose, you can win the crowds respect. Of course this depends on the crowd and the culture.
Generally if some skinny little nerd goes toe to toe with a tough fighter and takes their licks without being a baby about it then they can get a name in the crowd culture, respect and pats on the back in bars and a bonus to rolls in the future.
If some scumbag plays the heel, throws sand in their opponents face, doesn't give them a chance to get back up, or behaves in a way not respected by the crowd, they quickly get a reputation as a shitbag.
Unless the crowd is evil like in the chaos wastes or somewhere, in which case they may respect cruelty.
Most 'savage' races are more honourable than sadistic but some are not, and some are just crazy.
*Naming no names Zach Marx Weber and Joey Lindsey