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Seto
2015-02-10, 04:16 AM
Hey ! My basic idea for the next session is to have PCs watch and/or participate in a regional martial tournament. I think it could be a really fun session/couple of sessions, and the player I've talked to so far (the guy who introduced me to D&D and has more playing and DMing experience than I do) is enthusiastic about it. But I'm kinda drawing a blank on how to pull it off effectively. The party is a Paladin, a Bard/Sorceress, a Wizard, a straight Talashatora Monk (https://www.google.fr/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.giantitp.com%2Fforums%2Fshowt hread.php%3F270919-Tashalatora-The-Inevitable-Conclusion-3-5-Monk-fix-567896&ei=xsnZVJ3OJYWUapDAgOAI&usg=AFQjCNHAwIYGrI06FrcsJc4COuSia_XDVQ&sig2=QV221DuKyrux9LqceRAVfA&bvm=bv.85464276,d.d2s) and a Ranger/Talashatora Monk. All are newbies except for the two Monks.

Here are the questions I'm asking myself :
- What would be allowed ? I'm thinking buffs beforehand are okay, but no direct spells during the combat, since it's a martial tournament. But that doesn't sound so good since I don't wanna forget the casters.
- What would the victory conditions be ?
- Every character is not equal in 1vs1, I don't want the team-players and the buffers to feel left behind.

A few ideas I've had were :
- Categories. Unarmed fight, Armed fight, Spell fight, Team fight.
- Gladiator fights during the morning, Entertainment during the lunch break (cue Bard) (could be even in the form of an artistic contest), Spell contests during the afternoon.
- A subplot leading the whole party (or like 4 of them while the other one is fighting) to work together. To stop a cheat or a sabotager, for example.

I'm open to all the neat ideas that you, Playground, could have :)

Dachimotsu
2015-02-10, 04:57 AM
Coincidentally, my group's most recent adventure was a big martial arts tournament. Here's how I handled it:

-First, I modeled ALL of their opponents as though they were PCs. You want them to be as evenly matched as possible.

-Second, the rules for the tournament. Both contestants are required to stand at certain spots of the ring before the match begins, and may not attack their opponent until it does. Each contestant is allowed ONE non-attacking action before the round starts, and this can even be a movement (the arena was 25x25 squares, so one movement wouldn't mean much). Usually, this action will be used for drawing a weapon or casting a buff.

-Both players take turns attacking one another as usual. Allies of a currently engaged PC can aid their friend from the audience verbally, since cheering can't possibly be against the rules. This will allow someone like a warlord to heal a currently fighting ally with his voice, or a bard to buff them with songs.

-A contestant loses if they are unconscious or not visibly in the ring for 10 counts. (If a round lasts 6 seconds, then just make it two rounds) Flying, burrowing, and turning invisible all count as not visibly being in the ring. They can still do these things, but the countdown will begin and they'll have to make it short.

-NO NO: The biggest, most unfair thing you can do is give one of their opponents a long-range, at-will teleport. Non-ranged characters are guaranteed to get crushed by opponents like these, so keep the teleporting to a strict minimum.

-There will likely be times where NPCs have to fight each other. You can handle these any way you like, but chances are, your players aren't gonna wanna watch you roll it in real-time. Which is why I rolled them ahead of time, writing down what happened and then giving a dramatic reading of what transpired.

Hope that helps! My group had a lot of fun in this campaign, and the winner came out with 1 mil gp in prize money, which he divided among the party.

Seto
2015-02-10, 12:50 PM
Thank you ! I'll let you know how that goes. Breaking the tournament with powerful spells is not going to be a problem, since (I forgot to mention it before) party is level 5.

Any other advice ?

Strigon
2015-02-10, 05:02 PM
Well, I would suggest making the terrain interesting.
If the entire party is going to be fighting a bunch of battles in one spot, can you imagine how dull it would get in an open, sandy arena?
Plus, this makes the party less likely to lose because of poor luck, or have the fights be too easy for the same reason; the more interesting the area is, the more options the players (and you) have to even the playing field. Also, real gladatorial arenas (Even though they're not technically what you're using them for, I think taking a couple bits of inspiration from them would be fun) were frequently changed up. The even flooded them sometimes and had battles between men and sharks!*
Now, sharks aren't very good in a tournament, as they tend to make rather poor champions, but that shouldn't stop you from using the idea behind it! Mix things up, have traps if you want, varying elevation is fun, and feel free to change up the scene from day to day.
The idea of a team battle isn't bad at all; I quite like it! A group of equal level, or slightly lower level, NPC's would make a great challenge!
Of course, there are a couple things you should beware. The first is that, as always, your PC's will probably think of something you didn't. It's quite likely they will try to use this to cheat the system. How you handle it is up to you, but just be warned that the more structured of an environment you have, the more your players can cheat.
Secondly, the prize. It has to be big enough to lure the PC's in, be worth the time they spend on it, and not disappoint them. Choose wisely. And, best of luck!

*As said by my high school history teacher, who was... enthusiastic... about certain bits of history. May or may not be a myth; I'm not certain.

Mark Hall
2015-02-10, 05:53 PM
Here are the questions I'm asking myself :
- What would be allowed ? I'm thinking buffs beforehand are okay, but no direct spells during the combat, since it's a martial tournament. But that doesn't sound so good since I don't wanna forget the casters.
- What would the victory conditions be ?
- Every character is not equal in 1vs1, I don't want the team-players and the buffers to feel left behind.


A lot of this depends on what you want, and the edition you're using.

You might have a fairly deadly contest with live weapons, that continue to surrender or incapacity (with the occasional death due to a single shot taking someone from "Completely Ok at 15 HP" to "Dead because some maniac power-attacked with a greataxe for 40+ points of damage.") You might make it until "first blood", which you can define as either "any hit" or to "bloodied" (i.e. you don't lose until you're at half-HP). You might have them use only tournament weapons (non-lethal damage), or live steel.

If you want to make it a martial tourney, especially if the party has a few levels, let the casters mix it up... but they get rated really low. So your 4th level wizard is facing a 2nd level fighter in the staff competition... your edition seems 3-ish, so you're going to wind up with similar HP, similar BAB, and the rules might preclude armor.

Brother Oni
2015-02-11, 03:03 AM
Maybe the bard could play this during the interval (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em30XL9c5NQ)? :smalltongue:

Further to Strigon's comment of varying the terrain, there was an arena battle set up in a game book, where the gladiators started on raised platforms, with the arena floor compartmentalised into different terrain (woods, desert, swamp, etc) by walls with stairs serving as access between the different zones.

Seto
2015-02-12, 09:16 AM
Thanks for the advice, guys ! (Yes, I'm playing 3.5 with some PF mixed in).

Given the savage but sort of benevolent land in which the tournament is being held (Chaotic Goodish), I'd say the rules allow fights to the death but don't make them a requirement and overall try to avoid them ending that way. So, real weapons, but the match ends as soon as a contestant surrenders or is unable to fight, and there's a referee who interrupts the match when they decide someone is the obvious winner.

The various terrains are definitely a good idea, even the flooding (I won't have sharks come in, but I do have appropriately-CRed homebrew Monstrous Mantis Shrimp that I'm dying to use), but I'd like to keep it in one place and the money required to change terrains on the same arena would be big, so I'll have to justify it in-universe (local lords and merchants sponsoring the event spring to mind).

Jay R
2015-02-12, 11:00 AM
Tournaments are pretty common in a medieval world. The standards are jousting, fighting at the barriers, a large melee, and challenge fights.

GorinichSerpant
2015-02-12, 11:05 AM
If you are worried about some spells, you can put them on a ban list for the tournament, not out of character, but in the rules of the tournament. Then it just becomes a problem of whether the party wants to risk getting caught for an illegal advantage.

Lord Torath
2015-02-12, 11:23 AM
Will you allow betting on the outcomes?
I probably wouldn't bother going into too much detail in the NPC fights unless the PCs have money riding on them, other than listing names, weapons, and winners/losers.

If they want to bet, let them know the odds, tell them you've already run the combat (and used morale/bloodied/etc to determine when the fight ended and who one), and ask how much they want to bet. If they are willing, you could run the combat with them controlling the NPC they bet in favor of.

Seto
2015-02-12, 01:35 PM
Hmm, I hadn't thought about betting at all. That's a very interesting idea. There are pros (it would explain part of the regional craze about the tournament, and why it's worth sponsoring by wealthy people, and it would add spice to the session, etc.) and cons (it makes cheating easier and more profitable, and it's supposed to be a rather clean tournament that has good reputation), but right now I'm pretty tempted.

Jay R
2015-02-12, 01:53 PM
Do you know of any major sports competition in the world on which people don't bet?

The question isn't whether there is betting. The question is whether the betting is done officially out in the open or quietly in private.

TheCountAlucard
2015-02-12, 07:15 PM
Reminds me of a Star Wars Saga Edition session in which my character sponsored a swoop race on Ryloth; every other PC decided to participate in the race itself, and they almost unilaterally bet heavily on themselves to win.

Except for the droid; instead, the droid bet everything on a Twi'lek pilot NPC, and then sabotaged everyone else. The droid ended up winning a bajillion credits.

goto124
2015-02-13, 07:42 AM
The question isn't whether there is betting. The question is whether the betting is done officially out in the open or quietly in private.

Why not both? Legal and illegal betting can exist alongside each other. Their nature could be different.