Shimmering Kingdoms True20
- Tilting, or the Joust
- The Grand Melee
- Challenge Events
- Skill at Arms Events
- Mace and Shield
- Broadsword and Shield
- Great Axes
Rules of the Tournament
- Blunted weapons only
- No striking from behind
- No striking opponents who are unhelmeted
- No striking horses
- Must provide proof of noble blood (or be sponsored by nobility)
Three passes. Some hosts may alter this from one pass to ten. Passes numbering more than three are quite rare. There is usually a short period, from one to thirty minutes between passes. A knight may request an extended break, usually to make quick gear repairs or to field-treat an injury. If the host or marshal-in-charge deems the request unreasonable or the combatant misses the call to begin a pass, a forfeit may be in order.
Broken lance on chest scores one point. The largest target, a hit generally breaks the lance.
Broken lance on helm scores two points. Even if a hit is scored, the lance may not break if it glances off the opponent’s helm.
The Grand Melee
The grand melee is a mock battle. All combatants are expected to use blunt weapons, which lessens the killing and maiming power of blows.
Combatants remain in the fight until they voluntarily withdraw or are sent out by the marshals, who act as judges to eliminate contestants. Any knight who takes a life-threatening wound or is knocked out may be, and usually are, disqualified by the marshals and removed from the field.
Not all of the action on the tournament field is continuous fighting. Squires ride about with new horses and lances for their knights, to administer first aid, and to lead prisoners off the field. Knots of reserve knights wait patiently for their opportunity, sipping wine and critically observing the fight. Marshals ride about in heraldic garb shouting announcements and judgements. Leaders hold conferences to decide where reserves should be sent. A charge erupts here, a countercharge there. When a valiant fighter is unhorsed a raging melee boils all around him as friends seek to rehorse him before he is discharged by the marshals.
A knight may issue a challenge of whatever sort he wishes. Some examples of challenges might be: to anyone, to fight Joust and Greatsword; to any knight hailing from a different country than the challenging knight’s homeland, a fight with maces; to anyone, sword fighting on foot; to anyone, a fight to Knockdown with two-handed weapons; to a specific knightly order, a Joust to first blood; to any High Knight, a Joust and Sword, both horse and foot.
Any individual may accept these open challenges. The rules of victory are set at the issuance of the challenge, and are usually one of the following: to knockdown, to withdraw, to a clean hit to the helm and/or chest, to first blood, to the disarmament, upon a certain number of clean blows landing (usually three, five or ten), or as in the Skill at Arms Event conditions (below).
A knight may also challenge a single knight, by name, to a combat. This is an individual match and usually holds no bearing on the official tournament results. To refuse such a challenge without some reasonable excuse (such as wounds) will likely bring about rumors of cowardice and dishonor upon the refusing knight.
Skill at Arms Events
In all of the melee weapon events, one opponent (determined by the lists) attacks first, the other defends for a period of ten swings, each hit is scored one point. Then the knights switch position and the defender is then the attacker for ten swings. At the end of the second exchange, the victor is the one who has accumulated the most successful blows.
The archery events, when held, consist of a targets placed at 30 paces. Competitors line up and, upon the marshal’s command, fire at the targets. Those who strike closest to the bulls-eye advance to the next round, where the targets are moved to 40 paces. Depending upon the number of contestants, there may be more than one set of archers firing in a round. The final round is usually between the top two marksmen. The host sets the target distance, which is usually no more than 100 paces.
Most tournament lists are either single or double elimination. The exact nature of the lists are determined by the host and announced well prior to the event. Small lists (up to 35 knights) last only one day, while huge tournaments (1000 knights or more) can last 31 days or even longer. Each event has its own lists. Each event has its own prize. Most all hosts sponsor The Joust, the Grand Melee, and Challenge Events. Some incorporate the Skill at Arms lists into the Challenge Events.
All lists and rules of combat are usually announced at the end of the Tournament season in the prior tournament year.
Each event has a unique method of scoring to determine the outcome of the event to declare one contestant superior in that event. The winner will receive a prize for their efforts, granted by the host of the tournament.
Tournament Events: Scoring
Three passes. This represents three separate rounds of combat.
Broken lance on chest scores one point.
Broken lance on helm scores two points.
Unhorsing an opponent scores three points and the unhorsed knight forfeits his horse to the opponent.
The Grand Melee
Combatants remain in the fight until they voluntarily withdraw or are sent out by marshals, who act as judges to eliminate contestants. Simply being unhorsed does not eliminate a knight – sometimes his squire can bring a new steed; he can capture one from a mounted foe; or he can retrieve one from a friend.
Marshal’s rulings are final and no one may reenter melee after being ejected from the field. Marshals also separate combatants whose passions or behavior overcome their chivalry. The marshals usually also dismiss those individuals too stubborn to acknowledge defeat.
Step One: Determine Sides
Knights are assigned to teams by the host. Visiting knights, those not affiliated with either side, usually have free choice of which side to join. Sometimes other considerations determine their choice. For instance, certain orders of knights have sworn never to fight against each other.
Step Two: Pre-battle Preparation
Everyone is made aware of the stakes involved. Forces are divided into units, and individuals are assigned to units. Liege lords, as well as ladies whose favors are borne, are heralded and acknowledged in the spectator area.
Step Three: Opening Round
Leaders of each team command their forces to attack, and the melee ensues.
Step Four: Disengaging Combatants
Anyone not in melee is disengaged, including those who did not join in the first attack or who may have withdrawn.
Being disengaged does not free a knight from the threat of attack. Zealous foes may range anywhere on the field to seek opponents. Surrender may be offered at any time. The knight who yields is the prisoner of the other knight and is taken off the field, either by the knight or his squire.
Step five: Dismounted Knights
Dismounted knights may continue to fight against mounted or other dismounted foes until disqualified by a marshal.
Step Six: Conclusion
The melee will continue all day until the host declares it over, usually at the marshals’ advise or because the day is ending.
The winning side of the melee is usually apparent. But if not, then the host, his advisors and the marshals determine the winners.
A single person is usually selected as the best fighter of the day. He is the Tournament Champion and receives whatever reward was promised.
The rules of victory are set at the issuance of the challenge, and are usually one of the following:
- to knockdown: The fight continues until an opponent is knocked out or knocked down. Honorable knights usually grant their opponent who has tripped due to a fumble a second chance. They know that their skill had nothing to do with the result.
- to withdraw: Either opponent may choose to withdraw for any reason, thus forfeiting the round.
- to unconsciousness: The usual result of this victory condition is unconsciousness. It is not dishonorable to yield to an obviously superior opponent to save the humiliation of such a blatant defeat.
- to a clean hit to the helm and/or chest: The combatants usually fight defensively, and the first to land a blow to the specified area is the victor.
- to first blood: Generally a lengthy battle, the fight continues until one opponent scores a critical hit. If a combatant is knocked unconscious during this challenge, it is customary for both combatants to take a recovery break, which may last hours.
- to the disarmament: The fight continues until an opponent is disarmed. It is completely acceptable to use locking gauntlets. Honorable knights usually grant their opponent who has dropped or thrown away his weapon due to a fumble a second chance. They know that their skill had nothing to do with the result.
- upon a certain number of clean blows landed (usually three, five or ten): A clean blow in this example is one that does damage to the opponent. The combatants compete in standard melee until one or the other has landed the agreed upon number of blows.
Skill at Arms Events
In all of the melee weapon events, one opponent (determined by the lists) attacks first, the other defends for a period of ten swings, each hit is scored one point. The attacker strikes ten blows. Each successful hit scores one point. After the ten swings are finished, the knights switch positions and the defender is then the attacker for ten swings. At the end of the second exchange, the victor is the one who has accumulated the most successful blows. It is possible for a knight to be knocked unconscious which makes it impossible to continue the round. Officially this is considered a loss and forfeit, but a generous and chivalrous knight may waive the forfeit and wait for his opponent to recover and continue the round. The host ultimately has the final say on whether any opponent is fit to continue in a round. In the events that utilize shields, the shields may be used to bash the opponent but the landed blows are usually not counted either towards the number of blows attempted or landed. Many use the shield bashing tactic to trip their opponents, in hopes of weakening them, or to bluff them into leaving themselves open. Such tactics are generally considered underhanded. It is considered standard practice for combatants to utilize their specialized training when choosing such events.
Standard range begins as 30 paces (90 feet). The longbow is the accepted weapon, although there are sometimes specific events featuring other types of missile weapons. Composite weapons are usually allowed, as are masterwork items. As these items are rare and expensive, it is usually considered snobbish and unfair to use such advantageous weapons. Many selfish nobles, however, continue the use of such weapons (or even magical ones). Some hosts expel contestants who are found to employ magic in any tournament event.