Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Milean Tournament or The Third Empire Bohort

Jousting and tournament battles are a common feature of Llyrian life. They're also practiced in other kingdoms, particularly those with strong traditions of knighthood. In elvish lands, tournaments and mock-battles are the safest, have the most rules, and result in almost no deaths (due to the low elvish birth rate anything else would be considered insane). The tourney type we will now take under investigation is the Milean bohort, which is common in subject Meirenia, Colona, Byrne, and other neighboring lands.

While Llyrian tournaments are meant to represent the Late Medieval development of the courtly joust, the bohort is something much older and more feral. In the early Middle Ages (lasting into the middle-High period as well) "tournaments" were much less organized and generally combined what we think of as the grand melee and the joust. Essentially, the sport was played either individually (each knight or lord being considered a team of one) or in teams (everyone wearing the same badge, colors, or tabard) with everyone wailing on everyone else. Surrender and the payment of ransom was common (ransoming horse, armor, or person back to the captured knight) while being knocked out or killed was rarer but still possible.

In a Milean Tournament, the main feature is always the bohort. Other challenges may surround it (such as archery competitions for common folk), but the biggest crowd is always drawn by the sacred field. Priests of Haeron and Fortuna consecrate the grounds where the bohort is to be held, while a nearby grove is reserved for priests and healers of Avauna to tend those who will inevitably be wounded in the proceedings. Teams are usually assigned by lot and may be done so in advance (in which case the participants are liable to order and wear a tunic and hose of the appropriate color) or on the field (in which case tabards are distributed). Magic is strictly prohibited (though magical weapons and passive trinkets such as cloaks of protection and rings of the same are generally not frowned upon unless they are particularly injurious to the lives of other knights on the field). All weapons used are blunted, meaning they deal 2/3rds subdual or temporary damage and 1/3rd real damage to those they strike.

I've reworked lances to be more dangerous (they are essentially one- or two-handed spears that retain the doubling bonus of being used from a charger), so most knights who have recourse to horses (you have to bring your own, else you fight on foot) usually use a lance as their primary weapon until it sticks or breaks. Being dismounted doesn't spell the end of the competition—you may fight until you yield or pass out and are dragged from the field. Those who are defeated are given armbands of the color belonging to the team which took their surrender. Ransoms are pooled and distributed amongst all team members.

When only one team has members standing left, the purse is awarded that team. Generally, these are large rewards--upwards of 500ƒ per contestant are not unheard of, nor is it rare for a full suit of mail to be designed by a favored artisan of the host (likewise with weapons).

The rules of the bohort are bloodily simple: choose your weapons (you get 3 of the blunted weapons, generally) and then go knock down and beat bloody as many other knights as you can. Generally, teams stick together and attempt to engage as a lance for the most impact (pun intended).

So go forth and WIN!

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