6 added 32 characters in body
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Fate does, however, strongly advise against killing characters, so most of the time if a player is losing a duel they can simply Concede the Conflict/Contest and take a Complication. Characters are also considered competent, and in most cases will be fairly even in terms of the amount of physical/mental stress they can take. This, coupled with the typical flow of Fate combat (creating advantages, invoking them for bonuses) provides for a fairly strategic back-and-forth that most likely won't kill you.

Fate does, however, strongly advise against killing characters, so most of the time if a player is losing a duel they can simply Concede the Conflict/Contest and take a Complication. Characters are also considered competent, and in most cases will be fairly even in terms of the amount of physical/mental stress they can take. This, coupled with the typical flow of Fate combat (creating advantages, invoking them for bonuses) provides for a fairly strategic back-and-forth.

Fate does, however, strongly advise against killing characters, so most of the time if a player is losing a duel they can simply Concede the Conflict/Contest and take a Complication. Characters are also considered competent, and in most cases will be fairly even in terms of the amount of physical/mental stress they can take. This, coupled with the typical flow of Fate combat (creating advantages, invoking them for bonuses) provides for a fairly strategic back-and-forth that most likely won't kill you.

5 Revised recommendations based on some basic assumptions about dueling from past experience
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Generally speakingI'm basing these recommendations on the following assumptions, two of which I'm approaching your requests for tactical diversityassuming are implied from the point of view of eitherquestion and the rest based on my experiences running a large number of builtsystem specifically focused on one-in effects oron-one player combat (Street Fighter: the Storytelling Game, more favorablywhich was centered around group/singular martial arts combat).

Tactical Diversity

In order for there to be tactical diversity, you need a wealth of options, either in the ability offor the player to definecreate their own, and 'low handling' options or have a huge list of them to mean 'few, if any die rolls and other cumbersome mechanics'choose from.

AllLow Handling Time

I assume this is another way of saying "few die rolls" or otherwise streamlined combat mechanics. All of these systems haveuse either no die rolls, IMHOsingle die rolls, one important thing in common; universalor single attack-vs-defense rolls, resolving effects quickly. In addition, most importantly their mechanics are universal, meaning that it doesn't matter what the actual effect is; they're all resolved the same way. This is important because it's possible, especially important in a magic game, for two with a wide variety of powers tobecause it's only a matter of time before two spells interact in a way the designers never intended (witness D&D's endless "patches" to their spell descriptions) and with a universal mechanic, that simply does not happenyou have to stop the game to figure out what to do. Attack versus defense equals effect

Dueling stuff

I've found, regardless of whetherin my experience, that attack isdespite duels simply being one-on-one battles there are a raincouple of frogsimportant factors to consider. The two most relevant ones are system lethality and character balance. Lethality, because if duels are particularly deadly then players are discouraged from participating in them, and character balance because if characters are physically weak or a fireball against a wall of mirrorsotherwise unable to defend themselves, they risk being one-shotted or teleportationotherwise kicked out of the duel for reasons beyond their control, which is exacerbated by the system lethality; not only did you lose because someone was lucky enough to pick paper when you picked rock, but now you're dead. That's no fun.

The games;

The Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game by QED Games (out of print)

The MURPG system for magic wasis a resource-based and allowedRPG; players have energy pools and spend points from those pools to describe the effects ofactivate their energy expenditures; shooting a fireball was the same as shootingsuper powers. Although a lightning boltsuperhero game, in terms of system mechanics.

The system in general has 'low handling time' inany existing power can have the sense that there's no die rolling or complex charts; you allocate stones (points) of energy out of your pool tosource "Magical", which automatically makes it a specificmagic power (in this case, Masterand there are specific magic-based powers like Mastery of Magic, Sorcery, Magical Travel, etcSummoning, and Sorcery. All actions are stones (energy points) spent vs. opponent's defense, and then compare it to your enemy'sopponents can spend points on defense in addition to determine how muchtheir "always-on" defenses.

The magical powers, Sorcery especially, is only limited by what the player can describe, and there are a wealth of existing powers. Clever power use is the effect did whatever it was supposed to dobulk of your tactical ability, and since there is a single combat mechanic the system, in my experience, never bogged down. Since effects are described by Selecting your powers for the players' intentturn, it's almost entirely strategic; it's possible to simply sling fireballs or erect defensesbalancing your energy between attack and defense, summon creatures/invoke their abilitiesand figuring out exactly what to fight ondo with your behalfpowers provided a very flexible, etcopen-ended experience.

In addition to usingSince the flexible Magic-focused powers, as described in M&M below it's also possible to describeplayer could use any of the other powerspower to defend, and had passive defenses as having magical origins if you preferwell, it was pretty difficult to simply select fromsplatter someone out of existence with a list.

As for personal experiencesingle roll, a mage duel did occur ineven if one of my games;player vastly outclassed another. The one time one of my players went up againstdueled Dr. Strange (he was totally outclassed, unfortunately) but he did play intelligently, selecting clever effects/defenses to mitigate the power that was being flung atuse and defensive play allowed him to hold his own for quite a while despite Strange's greater skill.

A final, handy element of theThe system is the ability for duels or other conflicts to bealso fairly non-lethal; players can declare that they've been knocked out if they take morea player takes damage thanin excess of their remainingcurrent health, they can declare themselves to be knocked out instead.

D20ishD20 superheroes, but given the fact that any power can have source of "magical" with extremely simple mechanics; by third edition all rolls used a single d20 versus either a defensive save or flat defensive score. Similar to MURPG, it's easypossible to build sorcerers; they're just regular characters. And there's no Vancian casting; characters can use theircreate a magical character purely by selecting/building powers as much as they wantand then saying "My character's powers are magical." The power-building system, especially inby third edition, is one of the most comprehensiveflexible I've ever seen.

To expand on that last bit, it's possibleallowing you to create powers that can switch effects on the fly, and those effects have all sortscome up with a wealth of... effects different abilities. Powers can cause

All damage, drain ability scores, nullify/negate other powers, summon minions, change things into other things, affect the forces of nature in M&M is considered non-lethal by default, and allthere are no "character classes" in the sense that good stuff. Youit's possible to build a power by selecting what it can do, how hard it can do it, and how far away it can do it from.

The system is extremely light on mechanics; all die rolls are handledmage character with similar defenses to a single d20 vs. an opponent's relevant defensemore physically-oriented character, as well as use their powers to defend as well as attack. I I've played a mage in second edition that made heavy use of alternate power sets to mimicM&M; once your powers over the elements and it was pretty easy.

If, as I understand it, you're familiar with D&D but preferare built it's a similar system with far lessbit more rigid than MURPG but battles against non-minion opponents could be outright slugfests, requiring numerous good rolls to handledefeat. (3rd edition, M&M may bespecifically, requires you to "wear down" your best bet. M&M also has a similar bent towards non-lethality as MURPG doesopponents, assuming any and all damage is non-lethal unlessstacking penalties on them until they fail a character declares it to besave.)

I've only played Ascension, which is like, old, n' stuff. There's a newer edition out now. Honestly though, I liked Mage's system of using ranks in various Spheres to construct effects. Just throw out the Paradox system if you're using a magic I home-heavy fantasy world; it's meant to be a limiting factor inbrewed a modern-day gamecampaign setting using its magic system based on the mythology ofMagic: the settingGathering, though; it benefitted from a tweak or two but otherwise worked just fine.

Combat in Mage can be fairly lethal; one good roll with the right effect can pretty much flatten an opponentMage's magic system is freeform, so you're goingwhich allows players to be doing a lotdescribe their own effects, all of jockeyingwhich are as strong as the number of successes you roll to setactivate them up for that roll. The ten Spheres of influence cover everything from distance (Correspondence) to blowing stuff up (Matter) In order to probabilitypull off an effect, though, you need enough dots in the proper Sphere (Entropythere are ten Spheres) so you can go to town on how you want to do combat. I was Using Spheres on their own, for a whileor combining them with other Spheres, designingprovided an infinite number of effects, but again, they were all resolved with a system based on Magic: the Gathering basic attack/activation vs. soak/defense check.

In addition to free- Mage has rotes ("spells") which are suggestedforming it, there are Rotes - pre-defined effects that give you suggestions onspell out what each Sphere can do sohappens and how many dots in the proper spheres it required. (For example, "Fireball: Forces 3"). To keep the "Magic" flavor I madesimply created a huge listton of them based on the spells fromrotes patterned after various Magic cards. In order to keep duels

All Mage characters are equally "squishy" - they're normal humans, which means one good roll from being lethal I simulated the "life points" of Magic viaright effect can flatten one. To counter this, I created a Prime ("energy") rote called Dueling Barrier that mimicked the life points from Magic; invoking this rote at the start of the duel gave a player an extra 20 points of armor. Reducing that armor to 0 exposed the playerbarrier than had to damagebe broken down by attacks/effects, at which point they'd probably call off the duelplayer would be quite inclined to forfeit.

Fate Core doesn't have a magic system in and of itself, but the Fate Core Toolkit has a bunch, and you can roll your own quite easily. Dresden Files does have a magic system, but I haven't personally used it. The Contest mechanics use disrupting an enemy's magic ritual in the example text. Although my experience with Fate doesn't extend to using it for magical dueling, the fact that it's both rules-and-rolls-light, that magic would be no different than any other conflict, and the open-ended nature of both the system and the narrative power of the players would make it a good choice if you needed to create your own system, since the magic rules would be whatever you needed them to be.

Fate does, however, strongly advise against killing characters, so most of the time if a player is losing a duel they can simply Concede the Conflict/Contest and take a Complication. Characters are also considered competent, and in most cases will be fairly even in terms of the amount of physical/mental stress they can take. This, coupled with the typical flow of Fate combat (creating advantages, invoking them for bonuses) provides for a fairly strategic back-and-forth.

Generally speaking, I'm approaching your requests for tactical diversity from the point of view of either a large number of built-in effects or, more favorably, the ability of the player to define their own, and 'low handling' to mean 'few, if any die rolls and other cumbersome mechanics'.

All of these systems have, IMHO, one important thing in common; universal mechanics. This is important because it's possible, especially in a magic game, for two powers to interact in a way designers never intended (witness D&D's endless "patches" to their spell descriptions) and with a universal mechanic, that simply does not happen. Attack versus defense equals effect, regardless of whether that attack is a rain of frogs or a fireball against a wall of mirrors or teleportation.

The Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game by QED Games (out of print)

The MURPG system for magic was resource-based and allowed players to describe the effects of their energy expenditures; shooting a fireball was the same as shooting a lightning bolt, in terms of system mechanics.

The system in general has 'low handling time' in the sense that there's no die rolling or complex charts; you allocate stones (points) of energy out of your pool to a specific power (in this case, Master of Magic, Sorcery, Magical Travel, etc.) and then compare it to your enemy's defense to determine how much of the effect did whatever it was supposed to do. Since effects are described by the players' intent, it's almost entirely strategic; it's possible to simply sling fireballs or erect defenses, summon creatures/invoke their abilities to fight on your behalf, etc.

In addition to using the flexible Magic-focused powers, as described in M&M below it's also possible to describe any of the other powers as having magical origins if you prefer to simply select from a list.

As for personal experience, a mage duel did occur in one of my games; one of my players went up against Dr. Strange (he was totally outclassed, unfortunately) but he did play intelligently, selecting clever effects/defenses to mitigate the power that was being flung at him.

A final, handy element of the system is the ability for duels or other conflicts to be non-lethal; players can declare that they've been knocked out if they take more damage than their remaining health.

D20ish superheroes, but given the fact that any power can have source of "magical", it's easy to build sorcerers; they're just regular characters. And there's no Vancian casting; characters can use their powers as much as they want. The power-building system, especially in third edition, is one of the most comprehensive I've ever seen.

To expand on that last bit, it's possible to create powers that can switch effects on the fly, and those effects have all sorts of... effects. Powers can cause damage, drain ability scores, nullify/negate other powers, summon minions, change things into other things, affect the forces of nature, and all that good stuff. You build a power by selecting what it can do, how hard it can do it, and how far away it can do it from.

The system is extremely light on mechanics; all die rolls are handled with a single d20 vs. an opponent's relevant defense. I played a mage in second edition that made heavy use of alternate power sets to mimic powers over the elements and it was pretty easy.

If, as I understand it, you're familiar with D&D but prefer a similar system with far less rolls to handle, M&M may be your best bet. M&M also has a similar bent towards non-lethality as MURPG does, assuming any and all damage is non-lethal unless a character declares it to be.

I've only played Ascension, which is like, old, n' stuff. There's a newer edition out now. Honestly though, I liked Mage's system of using ranks in various Spheres to construct effects. Just throw out the Paradox system if you're using a magic-heavy fantasy world; it's meant to be a limiting factor in a modern-day game based on the mythology of the setting.

Combat in Mage can be fairly lethal; one good roll with the right effect can pretty much flatten an opponent, so you're going to be doing a lot of jockeying to set them up for that roll. The ten Spheres of influence cover everything from distance (Correspondence) to blowing stuff up (Matter) to probability (Entropy) so you can go to town on how you want to do combat. I was, for a while, designing a system based on Magic: the Gathering - Mage has rotes ("spells") which are suggested, pre-defined effects that give you suggestions on what each Sphere can do so I made a huge list of them based on the spells from Magic. In order to keep duels from being lethal I simulated the "life points" of Magic via a Prime ("energy") rote called Dueling Barrier that gave a player an extra 20 points of armor. Reducing that armor to 0 exposed the player to damage, at which point they'd probably call off the duel.

Fate Core doesn't have a magic system in and of itself, but the Fate Core Toolkit has a bunch, and you can roll your own quite easily. Dresden Files does have a magic system, but I haven't personally used it. The Contest mechanics use disrupting an enemy's magic ritual in the example text. Although my experience with Fate doesn't extend to using it for magical dueling, the fact that it's both rules-and-rolls-light, that magic would be no different than any other conflict, and the open-ended nature of both the system and the narrative power of the players would make it a good choice if you needed to create your own system, since the magic rules would be whatever you needed them to be.

I'm basing these recommendations on the following assumptions, two of which I'm assuming are implied from the question and the rest based on my experiences running a system specifically focused on one-on-one player combat (Street Fighter: the Storytelling Game, which was centered around group/singular martial arts combat).

Tactical Diversity

In order for there to be tactical diversity, you need a wealth of options, either in the ability for the player to create their own options or have a huge list of them to choose from.

Low Handling Time

I assume this is another way of saying "few die rolls" or otherwise streamlined combat mechanics. All of these systems use either no die rolls, single die rolls, or single attack-vs-defense rolls, resolving effects quickly. In addition, most importantly their mechanics are universal, meaning that it doesn't matter what the actual effect is; they're all resolved the same way. This is especially important in a game with a wide variety of powers because it's only a matter of time before two spells interact in a way the designers never intended and you have to stop the game to figure out what to do.

Dueling stuff

I've found, in my experience, that despite duels simply being one-on-one battles there are a couple of important factors to consider. The two most relevant ones are system lethality and character balance. Lethality, because if duels are particularly deadly then players are discouraged from participating in them, and character balance because if characters are physically weak or otherwise unable to defend themselves, they risk being one-shotted or otherwise kicked out of the duel for reasons beyond their control, which is exacerbated by the system lethality; not only did you lose because someone was lucky enough to pick paper when you picked rock, but now you're dead. That's no fun.

The games;

The Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game by QED Games (out of print)

The MURPG system is a resource-based RPG; players have energy pools and spend points from those pools to activate their super powers. Although a superhero game, any existing power can have the source "Magical", which automatically makes it a magic power, and there are specific magic-based powers like Mastery of Magic, Magical Travel, Summoning, and Sorcery. All actions are stones (energy points) spent vs. opponent's defense, and opponents can spend points on defense in addition to their "always-on" defenses.

The magical powers, Sorcery especially, is only limited by what the player can describe, and there are a wealth of existing powers. Clever power use is the bulk of your tactical ability, and since there is a single combat mechanic the system, in my experience, never bogged down. Selecting your powers for the turn, balancing your energy between attack and defense, and figuring out exactly what to do with your powers provided a very flexible, open-ended experience.

Since the player could use any power to defend, and had passive defenses as well, it was pretty difficult to simply splatter someone out of existence with a single roll, even if one player vastly outclassed another. The one time one of my players dueled Dr. Strange, clever power use and defensive play allowed him to hold his own for quite a while despite Strange's greater skill.

The system is also fairly non-lethal; if a player takes damage in excess of their current health, they can declare themselves to be knocked out instead.

D20 superheroes with extremely simple mechanics; by third edition all rolls used a single d20 versus either a defensive save or flat defensive score. Similar to MURPG, it's possible to create a magical character purely by selecting/building powers and then saying "My character's powers are magical." The power-building system, especially by third edition, is one of the most flexible I've ever seen, allowing you to come up with a wealth of different abilities.

All damage in M&M is considered non-lethal by default, and there are no "character classes" in the sense that it's possible to build a mage character with similar defenses to a more physically-oriented character, as well as use their powers to defend as well as attack. I've played a mage in M&M; once your powers are built it's a bit more rigid than MURPG but battles against non-minion opponents could be outright slugfests, requiring numerous good rolls to defeat. (3rd edition, specifically, requires you to "wear down" your opponents, stacking penalties on them until they fail a save.)

I've only played Ascension, which is like, old, n' stuff. There's a newer edition out now. I home-brewed a campaign setting using its magic system based on Magic: the Gathering, though; it benefitted from a tweak or two but otherwise worked just fine.

Mage's magic system is freeform, which allows players to describe their own effects, all of which are as strong as the number of successes you roll to activate them. In order to pull off an effect, though, you need enough dots in the proper Sphere (there are ten Spheres). Using Spheres on their own, or combining them with other Spheres, provided an infinite number of effects, but again, they were all resolved with a basic attack/activation vs. soak/defense check.

In addition to free-forming it, there are Rotes - pre-defined effects that spell out what happens and how many dots in the proper spheres it required. (For example, "Fireball: Forces 3"). To keep the "Magic" flavor I simply created a ton of rotes patterned after various Magic cards.

All Mage characters are equally "squishy" - they're normal humans, which means one good roll from the right effect can flatten one. To counter this, I created a Prime rote called Dueling Barrier that mimicked the life points from Magic; invoking this rote at the start of the duel gave a player 20 points of barrier than had to be broken down by attacks/effects, at which point the player would be quite inclined to forfeit.

Fate Core doesn't have a magic system in and of itself, but the Fate Core Toolkit has a bunch, and you can roll your own quite easily. Dresden Files does have a magic system, but I haven't personally used it. The Contest mechanics use disrupting an enemy's magic ritual in the example text. Although my experience with Fate doesn't extend to using it for magical dueling, the fact that it's both rules-and-rolls-light, that magic would be no different than any other conflict, and the open-ended nature of both the system and the narrative power of the players would make it a good choice if you needed to create your own system, since the magic rules would be whatever you needed them to be.

Fate does, however, strongly advise against killing characters, so most of the time if a player is losing a duel they can simply Concede the Conflict/Contest and take a Complication. Characters are also considered competent, and in most cases will be fairly even in terms of the amount of physical/mental stress they can take. This, coupled with the typical flow of Fate combat (creating advantages, invoking them for bonuses) provides for a fairly strategic back-and-forth.

4 Tweaked the section on Mage with an example dueling mechanic from my home-brew system.
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Combat in Mage can be fairly lethal; one good roll with the right effect can pretty much flatten an opponent, so you're going to be doing a lot of jockeying to set them up for that roll. The ten Spheres of influence cover everything from distance (Correspondence) to blowing stuff up (Matter) to probability (Entropy) so you can go to town on how you want to do combat. I was, for a while, designing a system that did exactly what you asked based on Magic: the Gathering - Mage has rotes ("spells") which are suggested, pre-defined effects that give you suggestions on what each Sphere can do so I made a huge list of them based on the spells from Magic. In order to keep duels from being lethal I simulated the "life points" of Magic via a Prime ("energy") rote called Dueling Barrier that gave a player an extra 20 points of armor. Reducing that armor to 0 exposed the player to damage, at which point they'd probably call off the duel.

Combat in Mage can be fairly lethal; one good roll with the right effect can pretty much flatten an opponent, so you're going to be doing a lot of jockeying to set them up for that roll. The ten Spheres of influence cover everything from distance (Correspondence) to blowing stuff up (Matter) to probability (Entropy) so you can go to town on how you want to do combat. I was, for a while, designing a system that did exactly what you asked based on Magic: the Gathering - Mage has rotes ("spells") which are suggested, pre-defined effects that give you suggestions on what each Sphere can do so I made a huge list of them based on the spells from Magic.

Combat in Mage can be fairly lethal; one good roll with the right effect can pretty much flatten an opponent, so you're going to be doing a lot of jockeying to set them up for that roll. The ten Spheres of influence cover everything from distance (Correspondence) to blowing stuff up (Matter) to probability (Entropy) so you can go to town on how you want to do combat. I was, for a while, designing a system based on Magic: the Gathering - Mage has rotes ("spells") which are suggested, pre-defined effects that give you suggestions on what each Sphere can do so I made a huge list of them based on the spells from Magic. In order to keep duels from being lethal I simulated the "life points" of Magic via a Prime ("energy") rote called Dueling Barrier that gave a player an extra 20 points of armor. Reducing that armor to 0 exposed the player to damage, at which point they'd probably call off the duel.

3 Added some more on Fate and why M&M/MURPG's lethality; added 341 characters in body
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2 added stuff
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