Setting a good scene can be one of the more rewarding parts of running a good game. Ask yourself how often do you recall great encounters your players have been in but you can not recall where those encounters have been set? A good scene location can lay the foundation of a great encounter. A Tourney can further that and provide us with the foundation for several great Scenes!
Not only can a tournament event be set as a backdrop for your adventure but you can bring it to the forefront and make it the center of one or several game sessions. There were several types of tournaments that were held In medieval times and all were held over the period of several days of celebration and feasting.
The advantages of running a tournament were many. Chiefly among them was the notoriety and power it could bring to a region. Tourneys brought nobility to one location. If it’s a large enough tourney lords from far off kingdoms may even make an appearance. Giving your players a fun opportunity to meet and role play with nobility on potently neutral ground and possibility make contacts allies or even have to opportunity for travel to distant locations later in your campaign. But if you are going to have a Tournaments in your game you are going to need some events for everyone to participate in. The goal of each will be brief so that they do not bog down your game but add to it.
If you are going to have a Tournaments in your game you are going to need some events and Scenes for everyone to participate in. Here are a few ideas of events you could run during a tourney for your players. Or you can make up some of your own.
Running a Historical Melee would be a mess to run at the game table. Why you ask? Well basically because the Melee was a mass combat with the goal of capturing your opponent’s men for ransom. Each side would face one and other mounted and armed with lances. They would charge into the center and then wheel around and make a second pass or single out downed opponents to capture. The Melee could take place on an open field or stretch over several miles of area. In game terms, it is nothing less than a small-scale mock war.
So if I were to run Melee I would instead turn to movies like A Knights Tale, First Knight, and Excalibur. A test of the master of the sword. One on one combat with blunted weapons as a test of skills. Thus keeping everyone involved alive yet proving themselves in a test of combat. The first competitor to five successful strikes is the victor. All combatants are expressly forbidden to use magic arms or armor. And no spells of buffs allowed during the contest.
This is a contest of skill, not a test of magical resources. Run a melee tourney event just like a standard melee combat. Each competitor may take as many attacks as they have per turn as per a normal combat. Whichever combatant strikes more blows in a melee round gets a point for that round. The winner of the round is announced to the crowd and the next round begins. If after five rounds there is a tie the combatants move on to sudden death. Where each blow landed counts as a point. This continues until there is a winner in one round.
Rules for the Melee:
Each Round Lasts 5 rounds of combat (roughly 30-second rounds)
Track all hits on your opponent for scoring.
The highest number of hits wins the round.
Repeat for three rounds to determine the victor.
If tied continue until there is a victor of one round.
The Joust is as old as the Tournament itself yet the melee was the preferred event in the beginning And for a time it was occasionally banned from some events that held Melee due to the exhausting nature of the Joust would leave warriors at a disadvantage when the Melee event would begin. Over the years the Joust became the more popular event.
The concept is simple two horsemen with lances meet on the field of battle known as the Lists. The two ride at each other from opposite ends of the field. The goal was not always the same. Some Jousts the goal was to unseat your opponent from his horse and others was to shatter your lance on your foe’s body. And the popularized movie version of both shatter and unhorsing your foe.
Conducting the Joust
All combatants are expressly forbidden to use magic arms or armor. And no spells of buffs allowed during the contest.
At the signal (usually a trumpet charge), the opponents ride at each other, carrying only a lance and a shield, (make a ride check higher roll attacks first (simultaneous on tie).You may use three lance’s in each jousting match.
You receive one point for breaking your lance on your opponent’s chest.
You receive two points for breaking your lance on your opponent’s helmet.
You receive three points for knocking your opponent off from his horse.
An “unhorsing” ends the match.
Once your three lances have shattered, the jousting match is over.
If you do not break your lance, it is considered a glancing blow and does not count for points, unless you manage to unhorse your opponent in that charge.
Game Rules Note:
All attacks that hit strike your opponent’s Chest.
All attacks that crit are strikes to your opponent’s Head
Any attack that strikes and deals damage results in a ride check DC=10+1/2 Damage
Lances break on a roll of 1 or missing your targets AC by 5 or more.
Three rounds of three shots much like darts.
Hit strikes outer ring. Scoring 1 Points
17 hits blue ring Scoring 2 Points
18 hits red ring Scoring 3 Points
19 hits yellow ring Scoring 4 Points
20 hits Bullseye Scoring 5 Points
Hunting and Falconry.
These tests of skill and training can be conducted with a series of Skill checks. Each day the hunters roll a survival check to see how much food they are able to provide for the nightly feast. On the last day, the huntsman who provided the most is awarded the title of Grand Master of the Hunt until next tourney.
NOTE: Any of these events can still be used as backdrops for Roleplaying scene if your players have no interest in taking part. Anything from Gambling to assassination might be taking place under the cover of the cheer of the crowds.
Other Tourney events!
As important a part of any great tourney is the nightlife! Great feasts on an epic scale of decadence. Entertainment from around the realms. This is the prefect time for your not combat players to get involved in what they do the best.
Bards and Rouges can ply their trade among the crowds while the warriors of the day recover from their bruised bodies and egos from the day’s events. Wine and Ale flow and stories of adventure are shared. The opportunity to make a powerful ally or enemy might just hang on a simple word. So tread wisely and enjoy tournament session.
Song & Dance
When the sun goes down and feast ends then the revelry begins. The backdrop makes a perfect setting for your players to come face to face with foes in an environment where combat is likely the absolute last course of action that they can take. It also sets a great stage for overt diplomacy or back room dealings. These kinds of scenes can enrich your game and if the right deals are struck. Maybe even have long lasting repercussions in your game world if things go poorly.
Let’s not forget all of the ceremonies that we can use have. Maybe your players are going to be given Land or title. Why just handwave this, a tourney with a ceremony presenting the players with their lands grants or title is the perfect time to lay in some politics for your group. This can also be a good scene for awarding and acknowledging any players that did well in the tourney events.
Have you run Tourney in any of your games? Would you run aTournamentt now ? Are there some other events that you think I should add to the list here? I welcome your thoughts!