Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Jousting (A Minigame)

With eight-hundred years of history and practice throughout a continent, it's really hard to talk about jousting in general terms. Some SCA nerd is going to yell at me, God bless them.

Let me put some caveats up. These are the jousting conventions for the Kingdom of Yr Hen Ogledd during the reign of the Joyous King. Similar conventions of martial chivalry are shared in Westeros and Arthur's Lloegyr.

These rules are written using Lamentations as a lingua franca, but since it's OSR I hope you can convert them to your weird homebrew easily.

Note to self: Make rules for feathers on your helm increasing your speed
Let's define a few terms.

What is Jousting?

Jousting is a martial sport practiced by knights within the bounds of chivalric law. The whole point is to knock the other guy off the horse in the nicest way possible. 

Who can joust? 

To joust, you must be a knight with:
  • Set of tournament armor
  • Strong oaken shield
  • Worthy warhorse
The organizer of the joust is usually responsible for supplying plenty of tourney lances, which are blunt and designed to splinter.  

What are the in-character rules of the joust?

In Yr Hen Ogledd, each joust consists of two knights and three passes of the tilt. Each pass consists of three separate phases, terminating in a CLASH! After three CLASHES!, whichever knight has the most points and is not disqualified is declared the winner of the joust. 
  • You gain 1 point for striking your opponent's shield. 
  • You gain 1 point for shattering (dealing 5+ damage with) your lance. 
  • You are disqualified if you are knocked from your horse and your opponent is not. 
  • You are disqualified if you kill your opponent's horse. 
  • You are disqualified if you are no longer strong enough to fight. 
Sidenote: Hang on. Can we talk about jousting for a second? Sometimes we abstract things in RPGs so far away from the real world that they seem mathematical to us--sterile, unreal, abstract. Jousting is fucking scary. You're perched on top of an animal that's way stronger than you. It obeys you. You're hurtling way faster than you can run towards another dude. You both are wrapped in armor that weighs half your bodyweight. They have a fourteen foot shaft of wood pointed at your head. If it hits you, it might kill you. Your only hope is that you hit them first. God damn.
Look out, Checker Boy. Axe Head gotcha. Your highschool crush is watching. She laughs.

What are the "mechanics" of the joust?

So, the basic gimmick is that the knights have three passes (three chances) to knock the other one off the horse while not being unseated. Each separate pass has three distinct phrases: the canter, the gallop, and the CLASH! Whoever has the most points at the end of the three passes wins the joust. 

1. The Canter

You enter the lists at a canter. 

Each player chooses one jousting action to perform in secret (see below). 

At the end of the canter phase, each player reveals what choice of jousting action they made to the other player. 

Play continues to the gallop phase. 

2. The Gallop

You reach the mid-point of the lists at a gallop. 

Each player chooses one jousting action to perform in secret (see below). 

At the end of the gallop phase, each player reveals what choice of jousting action they made to the other player. However, at this point, it is too late for your opponent to react to your actions--they must meet you at the CLASH!

Play continues to the CLASH! phase. 

3. The CLASH!

Each player throws one d10 onto their jousting die drop sheet. This happens simultaneously.

Download it here

I don't really care where you throw from, but both players need to throw from the same place. 

Wherever the d10 rolls, that's where your lance hit. 

  • If your die rolled off the paper doll, you miss your target. 
  • If you hit your opponent's helm, they take damage equal to the number shown on the d10. They succeed in a Save vs Breath to remain a-horse. 
  • If you hit your opponent's body, they take damage equal to the number shown on the d10. They must succeed in a Save vs Device to remain a-horse. 
  • If you hit your opponent's shield, they take damage equal to half the number shown on the d10. They must succeed in a Save vs Paralyze to remain a-horse. 
  • If you hit your opponent's horse, the horse takes damage equal to the number shown on the d10. Your opponent falls under the horse and takes twice the amount of damage. You are disqualified and victory passes to your opponent (no matter his health). 
If you deal 5+ damage, your tourney lance splinters. (This earns you a point.) 

Assuming no one was disqualified during the CLASH!, both contestants return to the top of the lists and play resumes at the canter phase until three passes have been completed.


In the event of the tie, a group of four judges (two per knight) advocate for one knight or the other to the master of the games based on their behavior during the joust. Assuming you have at least four other people at your table, I encourage you to make the players speak for the judges.

Did one knight put himself at a disadvantage to make the joust more equal? Was one knight more eloquent in speech? Was one knight more pious?

The tied knights should make a Charisma check (or equivalent). For each salient chivalric detail that the judges can come up with, that knight gains +2 to their check. Whoever wins the Charisma check wins the joust. 

From the Dunk and Egg comic

Jousting Actions

As you charge towards your opponent, you have two chances to take certain attitudes, positions, or maneuvers--jousting actions--to put yourself at an advantage during the CLASH! 

You can use the same jousting action during the first two phases of a pass and gain their cumulative bonus during the CLASH! 

It should go without saying you don't gain the benefits of last pass's actions on your subsequent passes. 

Aim: During the CLASH! phase, you may throw an additional d10 onto the die drop sheet. You choose which of your die "hit." (Even if this action is used multiple times, you may only choose one "blow" to hit.) 

Defend: You may cover another "zone" on your paper doll with your shield. For example, you may declare you are guarding your helm. If your opponent hits your helm during the CLASH!, you treat it as a shield hit. 

Grip Lance: You grip your lance and lean into your attack. You deal +2 damage during your CLASH! 
Note: A destrier gives +3 damage with this action.

Sit High in the Saddle: You stand in your saddle, ready to leap at a moment's notice. If your horse goes down for any reason, you can make a Save vs. Poison with a +2 to leap free of the horse. You don't take any damage from the horse's fall, but are still unhorsed. You cannot sit both high and low in the saddle. 
Note: A charger gives +3 bonus with this action. 

Sit Low in the Saddle: You straddle your horse, holding fast with your knees. You gain a +2 bonus to any save to stay in the saddle. You cannot sit both high and low in the saddle. 
Note: A charger gives +3 bonus with this action.

Wheel Horse: During the CLASH!, if you have taken this action you may choose to wheel your horse instead of throwing damage dice. You may attempt to Save vs Poison (or "Animalis" skill throw, or similar) to pull your horse away from the blow. If you fail, your opponent's blow connects but you do not strike back. This action is not disqualifying, but it is considered bad form. It accumulates a -1 point total each time taken after the first. 

1 comment:

  1. I really like minigames like this, they're great breaks from the usual rhythm of play. This one seems good, not to complex, not too simple. I'd like to see some rules and tables for running a whole jousting tournament in the future!