Mock combats and competitions of martial skill can be found throughout Leng, but nowhere are they more popular and common than in the home of knighthood and chivalry, Vingaard. The High Tourney at the capitol city of Solamnus is held every year at the end of summer, where the mêlée and lists cannot even be entered by anyone who hasn't won a purse from one of the numerous lesser tourneys that take place throughout the year. In the spring are the small tourneys, casual events with comparatively meagre rewards. As the year draws on the events become more competitive, the famous and well-known knights begin to participate and the larger cities hold their annual tourneys. All this leads up to the great event in Solamnus, which usually takes place at the end of the 8th Moon, though some years it is delayed until well into autumn.
Lists & Jousting
As with all competitions, there are many variations upon the lists. Set forth here is the most common and standard form of jousting competition found in the tourneys of Leng. The primary difference is in the lances; when jousting for a tourney, special jousting lances - sometimes known as tourney lances - are used. These are designed to minimise damage to the contestants. A tourney lance is made to unhorse its target rather than piercing their armor, and they are designed to shatter harmlessly if placed under too much stress.
Because of the synthetic nature of a tournament joust, there is more room for precise skill. When charging in the lists, a successful Ride NWP check gives a +1 bonus to-hit for every 4 points the check is passed by, to a minimum of +1 if the check is passed in the first place. This represents the skill and control of the horse required to position a lance so that it strikes their target dead center. A jouster must be a skilled horseman as well as an able combatant.
As noted above, tourney lances function very differently from normal lances in the lists. Tourney lances deal normal damage for a lance of their type; they do not deal the 1d3-1 damage dealt by the jousting lances listed in the PHB. Upon hitting an enemy with a tourney lance, damage is calculated normally (including the x2 bonus for charging on horseback), but is not immediately applied. Instead, use the rules on the mounted combat page to see if the rider is unhorsed; if so, they take half the damage the lance would normally deal as nonlethal damage. If the lance hits but does not unhorse the rider, then it will deal 1d4 points of nonlethal damage and shatter harmlessly. Usually, the contestants will continue to ride at each other until one or the other cannot stand, sometimes taking a break or recess to change horses or mend armor.
Variant: The "Aurus Tourney"
One less strenuous variation of the traditional joust involves a point-scoring system. Under this system, 3 rounds are fought, and points are awarded each round depending on the skill with which the contestants joust. If you miss by 2, you have touched the shield and score 1 point. If you miss by 1, you have broken your lance on the shield and score 2 points. If you hit the opponent but do not unhorse them and the damage number rolled is 6 or lower, you have simply struck the opponent and are awarded 2 points. If you hit the opponent, but do not unhorse them and roll more than 6 damage, then you have broken the lance on them and are awarded 4 points. Unhorsing the opponent is instant victory, unless you unhorse each other, in which case the round is a tie. At the end of three rounds, the points are tallied and the winner is announced.
Variant: The "Royal Tourney"
The final variant of the joust is a cross between joust and melee, and is a very serious affair. Two shields are affixed to a wall for each knight; these shields are usually special-made for the event. If the knight's symbol is a falcon, for example, one shield will depict a falcon hooded and fettered, while the other one will depict a falcon with talons outstretched. The former represents a joust with blunted weapons, while the latter represents a real fight that ends only in a yield or a death. Another knight who wishes to challenge you must strike the appropriate shield with his lance, leaving a dent.
Whichever mode of combat is selected, the process is the same. Both knights begin on horseback and joust each other. They continue to ride at each other in the lists until one or the other is unhorsed. At this point, the unhorsed knight can choose to yield, or he can call for axes to be brought out. The two knights will fight with axes until one or the other is disarmed, or until three blows with landed. At this point, the loser may yield; or he may call for swords to be brought out. Combat by sword lasts until one of the parties yields, collapses, or dies.
Variant: The Mass Tourney
An old and outdated form of tourney dating to the early days of Vingaard, the mass tourney is a simple simulation of traditional warfare. Two settlements are designated, each with a leader, and in the days leading up to the tourney many knights will flock to the encampment of their chosen leader. While the forces are still gathering, there are usually an assortment of festivities and small tournaments - such as jousting, contests of skill and strength, and so on.
When the morning of the tourney finally comes, the two forces form a long line and face each other. There are usually a number of challenges to jousts, especially amongst younger knights, and both sides watch the jousting. Finally, the tourney begins: both lines charge at each other with lances couched. When the lines are broken, any riders who remain horsed will turn and pick out single riders to target. The combat will usually continue, horsed and unhorsed, until both sides are exhausted or the day ends - during which time it spreads over several square miles. The objective of both sides is to capture their opponents and ransom them for their equipment.
The mêlée is a storied event - there have been as many variations on the mêlée as there have been mêlées, and as a result they are often far more popular amongst the common folk than the lists, which are ritualistic and often repetitive. In its simplest form, the mêlée is simply a facsimile of real combat between knights, where each knight seeks to capture an opponent so that they can be ransomed. The purest form of the mêlée is fought only between knights, who use true weapons and put up their weapons, armor and horse (if it is a mounted mêlée) as collateral for their defeat. However, there are many variations upon this theme.
A common variation is simply the admittance of commoners to the fray, and the introduction of blunted weapons. These weapons function as bludgeoning weapons and deal half their damage lethally and half nonlethally. It is common for the ill-equipped to be slain despite these measures, as being struck by a blunt piece of iron or wood can still kill a man. Another common variation is to split the mêlée into two or more teams, marked by a piece of colored ribbon or perhaps a colored cloak, and to pit these teams against each other. When the mêlée is being fought by peasantry as well as highborn knights, it is common for there to be a purse or some other reward for the victor (and sometimes for the runners up), rather than the contestants putting up their own equipment for collateral. In order to make them less dangerous, some mêlées have strict rules governing the engagement - striking the head is grounds for instant disqualification, those who yield must be allowed to leave the tournament grounds, and so on. No matter how strict the regulations surrounding a mêlée, however, it is an inherently dangerous affair even with Healers on hand, and each mêlée usually claims at least one life.
The pugilism, often simply called the fistfights, are a battle of skill, strength and endurance that is nearly as popular as the mêlée itself, though far less lethal. To reflect the fine details of this kind of combat, a more complex form of combat mechanic is used.
At the beginning of the battle, both opponents roll for initiative. The winner is called the attacker, and the loser is called the defender. The attacker retains the initiative until:
- The attacker performs an action that does not require an attack roll
- The attacker is knocked down or forced to retreat by the defender
- The defender overbears, trips or otherwise grapples the attacker
Every round, both sides must choose a position to attack and defend on: High, Middle or Low. For example, you may choose to attack high and defend low. If you choose to attack the exact point that your opponent chose to defend, you get a -2 penalty to hit. Each round an opposed intelligence check is made by the opponents; the winner picks up on a telegraphed move from his opponent, and knows either what attack position or what defense position they are going to use, and may react accordingly. If neither side succeeds the intelligence check, they are both fighting blind.
Aside from the positioning of attack and defense, there are various attack and defense modes that may be employed, which are listed below:
- None - A standard defense, not utilising any special maneuvers.
- Block - Defender makes a normal attack against AC 4, and blocks if they succeed with a higher roll than their enemy succeeded with.
- Parry - Defender gets no attack, but reduces their AC by 1/2 of their level (minimum 1).
- Normal Attack - A normal attack dealing 1d2 points of nonlethal damage, or 1d3 for armored fists; crit hit requires save vs. death to avoid being knocked out.
- Feint - Draws out the opponent; +1 to-hit if the enemy is using a riposte.
- Outside Attack - Attacks around the opponent's guard; +1 if the enemy's defense position is Middle.
- Riposte - Waits for an exposed weakness; must attack last in the round, but gets a +1 to-hit if the enemy is using a smash, outside attack or wild swing.
- Smash - Beat down the enemy's defense with all your might; +1 to-hit against blocks or parries.
- Wild Swing - No defense may be used, but a +1 bonus to-hit and damage is applied.
The battle will continue until one side or the other has been knocked out by the nonlethal damage or from a lucky strike. If a participant in pugilism is trained in a martial art, they may forego the normal pugilism rules to use these instead.
A competition of archery is a difficult one to evaluate in an interesting manner; normally, all of the many intricacies that make up skill with a bow are abstracted into the roll of a single d20, which hardly makes for an interesting game. However, there are ways to make it more interesting. Most archery competitions will consist of several targets; sometimes these will be placed at fixed ranges known to the archers, and other times the precise distance will be kept secret and the placement will be random, forcing the contestants to judge the distance at which they are firing. With a successful intelligence check, an archer can judge the distance of a target up to 100 feet away to within 5 feet. If they fail the intelligence check, they can only judge to within 25 feet. Each 50 feet beyond 100 increases the margin of error by 5 or 25 feet, and imposes a -1 penalty to the intelligence check. For example, for a target 400 feet away: there will be a -6 penalty to the intelligence check, passing will judge within 35 feet, while failing will judge within 175 feet.
Most competitions will have four targets: one each for Short, Medium, Long and Extreme Ranges. A target has an AC of 10, but this reflects only the difficulty of striking the target. Points are scored based on two factors: the distance of the target, and how close to the center the shot landed. Hitting the AC of 10 only guarantees that the first ring will be hit. The second ring has an AC of 8, the third ring an AC of 5, the fourth ring an AC of 2, and the bullseye an AC of 0. Some targets have an inner circle to the bullseye called the double bullseye, with an AC of -4. The table below gives an example of the point distribution in a standard target game.
|First Ring||Second Ring||Third Ring||Fourth Ring||Bullseye||Double Bullseye|
|Short Range||1 point||2 points||4 points||6 points||10 points||15 points|
|Medium Range||2 points||4 points||8 points||12 points||20 points||30 points|
|Long Range||3 points||6 points||12 points||18 points||30 points||45 points|
|Extreme Range||5 points||10 points||15 points||25 points||40 points||60 points|