Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mock War on the Field of Honor

In the weeks to come I will be hoisting a very, long pointy stick and riding out to feats of arms.

No, I'm not talking about my usual quixotic turns here at the blog, but about yet another fantasy alter-ego, Sir Eld the Equipollent. The completely personality-undefined bachelor knight—he's first-level in a old school D&D game, he has to earn the right to have a face—will be tilting a lance in Mike D's play-by-post jousting tournament.

Mike's done a bang up job of modifying and supplementing the jousting rules found in Chainmail and it got me thinking again about some of the supplemental bits I wanted to add to my own fantasy and medieval mini rules, By this Axe I Rule. Among those many procrasti-tasking add-ons are some bits about running tournaments as scenarios.

Since Mike has the jousting business covered I am sharing the pieces (inspired by a section from Knights & Magick) I have on the mock war of foot combat you could have found in those festively martial events. (I have adapted them some here to be more helpful for roleplaying game situations.)

Mock Battles
Beyond the jousting lists, small-scale, ostensibly non-lethal foot battles were often fought as part of a tournament. These battles can be fought in brackets between groups of knights or in a single one-shot conflict.

These mock battles are divided into two rough types: round tables and grand melees. Round tables are fought between two teams of 2-4 knights (team size must be equal and consistent through the tournament). Grand melees are fought between two equal sides of 5-30 knights (squires and men-at-arms can also be allowed).

Both types are fought over a “field of honor” that a participant is forbidden to leave without forfeiting and a loss of honor. That field is bounded in one of two ways:
1. on a flat field that is either square or oval roughly 200 feet long and 120 feet wide with entry gates on either end.

2. in a marked off area between two close settlements or buildings. This area will vary wildly; sometimes being a space of a couple hundred feet between a castle and its manorial village or up to a mile between two hamlets.

In both cases the rules of engagement are the same:
1. All missile weapons and long-hafted weapons over six feet in length (lances, long spears, pikes, polearms, etc) are banned.

2. Weapons will be either blunted (half damage) or used “without intention to slay” (full damage but see below).

3. Any participant can at any time plead for mercy at which times they are considered defeated by their opponent and removed from the field.

4. Upon reaching 0 hit points or less, the participant is considered knocked out and removed from the field. He must then roll on the following chart.

Roll d6
Dead. Very sad, but a noble death that gets the local bards a titter with the chance to trot out a melancholy romantic airs.
Fatal Wound. Without magical healing, see above. Out for tournament.
Crippling or Maiming Wound. Limb, digit, nose, ear, or eye mutilated, severed, or whatever. -1 to CHA. Out for tournament.
Painful Injury. Wounded but no long-lasting effects. Out for tournament.
Knocked Out. Unconscious with perhaps some ego bruising but able to compete further.

Using blunted weapons +2
Each 4 hp below 0 -1
Not wearing helmet -2

5. Any defeated knight must surrender his arms and armor as ransom to the opponent that defeated him.

6. The melee continues until one side is completely defeated.


  1. Jordans the Pious, a landed vassal knight and his bratty squire Miles the Haughty plan on being there.

    1. Well if we meet in the lists, may the knight bringing the most equal of force to the matter win.

  2. I could certainly see the En Garde! system being adapted to a world of jousting knights.