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Darcand
2014-12-04, 07:17 PM
Working on a sandbox and flushing out the local hobgoblins. I want to create a forum of ritual tactical combat which I am tentatively calling "Spears" which is essentially dodge ball with javelins in an arena environment. In the case I'm considering using a tunnel with low walls for cover, elevation and loose gravel for tactical movement, and side tunnels for flanking.

The rules are each combatant gets a buckler, no armor, and two javelins. If you get stuck you're out. Last man/ team standing wins.

The idea is that this is a way to resolve conflict in a martial society that reflects cunning and strategy, and although some deaths do occur, largely doesn't diminish the fighting force. I also thought it sounded like a lot more fun then the traditional brawl in the sand style RPG arena combat for the players. I set the limit at two javelins per to prevent spam cheese, and javelins in particular to open up options for mle combat.

What do you like and what am I missing? Is this the sort of encounter you would enjoy playing in one of your games? All feedback is welcome.

Mark Hall
2014-12-04, 09:31 PM
Hmmmm... I'd toss in a caller. Someone whose job is to direct their own team, and provide the tactical overview. Make them teams like 4-5 people, plus the caller... meaning an effective caller has to keep track of 8-10 people over varied terrain, and give instructions without giving away his team.

Vitruviansquid
2014-12-04, 09:36 PM
Who fights in a match? If I have a dispute with you, and we're both high ranking hobgoblins, do we have our followers fight, or do we participate ourselves? What happens if we both participate, and we both get killed, nullifying the reason for the combat in the first place? You could settle it so that each team has a "captain" who is the hobgoblin directly involved in the dispute, and killing the opposing team's captain is an instant win condition. All the participants on the other side are immediately stripped of all rank and possessions, becoming slaves to the winner's captain, while the winner's subordinates expect to have a share in the spoils of rank, slaves, and material wealth based on their performance in the game. They could also just be summarily executed - after all, you can't have anyone coming back to stir up trouble in retaliation for a lost game of Spears.

And let's say I am a powerful hobgoblin with two subordinates I both consider integral to my plans. What happens if those subordinates decide they want to kill each other? Can I have a say in preventing this Spears match if, say, I'm in danger of having an inept or dangerous hobgoblin replace one of my subordinates?

Is it common for hobgoblins to cheat at Spears? If so, how is this cheating usually done? Are there any consequences for cheating?

Is it okay for a lower ranked hobgoblin to demand Spears with a higher ranked hobgoblin? Is it okay to deny the Spears once you've been challenged?

Does HP damage apply during Spears? What if I nail someone twice with my javelins, and he hasn't died?

TheThan
2014-12-04, 09:37 PM
Put a small fissure between the two. Also they should get something special for knocking someone out with their buckler.

Darcand
2014-12-04, 11:42 PM
Hmmmm... I'd toss in a caller. Someone whose job is to direct their own team, and provide the tactical overview. Make them teams like 4-5 people, plus the caller... meaning an effective caller has to keep track of 8-10 people over varied terrain, and give instructions without giving away his team.

I like the idea of a Caller, I had originally intended the Challenger/ Defendant to function as a field commander of sorts, but that isn't to say that one of the rolls couldn't be a scout type who has to keep track of enemy positions.

Mark Hall
2014-12-05, 12:04 AM
I like the idea of a Caller, I had originally intended the Challenger/ Defendant to function as a field commander of sorts, but that isn't to say that one of the rolls couldn't be a scout type who has to keep track of enemy positions.

Challenger and defendant would work well as Callers... it's a test of leadership and tactics, not murder skill.

If you want to make it non-lethal (or at least, practiceable), replace active javelins with blunt javelins with tar rags on their points. A nice, black mark on you, impossible to wash off (especially in combat).

Might also make that 4-5 person group sort of a staple of hobgoblin organization... like, the closest people in the world to you will be the same 4 people (with the fifth being yourself); the unit is called a hand.

Darcand
2014-12-05, 12:37 AM
Who fights in a match? If I have a dispute with you, and we're both high ranking hobgoblins, do we have our followers fight, or do we participate ourselves? What happens if we both participate, and we both get killed, nullifying the reason for the combat in the first place? You could settle it so that each team has a "captain" who is the hobgoblin directly involved in the dispute, and killing the opposing team's captain is an instant win condition. All the participants on the other side are immediately stripped of all rank and possessions, becoming slaves to the winner's captain, while the winner's subordinates expect to have a share in the spoils of rank, slaves, and material wealth based on their performance in the game. They could also just be summarily executed - after all, you can't have anyone coming back to stir up trouble in retaliation for a lost game of Spears.

And let's say I am a powerful hobgoblin with two subordinates I both consider integral to my plans. What happens if those subordinates decide they want to kill each other? Can I have a say in preventing this Spears match if, say, I'm in danger of having an inept or dangerous hobgoblin replace one of my subordinates?

Is it common for hobgoblins to cheat at Spears? If so, how is this cheating usually done? Are there any consequences for cheating?

Is it okay for a lower ranked hobgoblin to demand Spears with a higher ranked hobgoblin? Is it okay to deny the Spears once you've been challenged?

Does HP damage apply during Spears? What if I nail someone twice with my javelins, and he hasn't died?

A lot of good ideas. If I challenge you then you have to accept, and participate personally or have your honor and ability called into question.

The idea of being hit and then being out is that most combatants will survive. However, given the egoistic nature of Hobgoblins it does make sense that if both Captains are struck I would rule that the complaint is thrown out and the Challenge ruled invalid, but without penalty for either side.

I like the idea of the losing team being forced into slavery by the winning team, with the option and understanding that the losing Captain must pay a ransom for them if they performed well or have his honor diminished.

As hobgoblins rule iron fistedly I see no reason why a leader couldn't demand a Challenge to Spears be dropped, but it would be expected that he then place judgment on the grievance.

As to cheating, it is loosely defined. Using superior abilities such as Deflect Arrows or a Returning Javelin would be allowed, as it is considered foolish not to use every advantage in battle. Arcane spell casting would be disallowed, as these Hobs view it as profane Elfish Sorcery, but having weapons blessed by a shaman beforehand is probably common place for those who have the means. The only real "cheating" would be to deny being struck. To do so and be found out would make the offender Dishonored, and given as a slave to the winner, whom honor demands should immediately execute them, as the Dishonored are worthy of neither death in battle nor life in chains.

Lower ranked Hobs can, and often do offer a Challenge of Spears to those of higher rank. It is one of the principle ways to advance. However, as the Defendant has greater resources, a Hob must be confident of success before issuing a challenge. It is considered shameful for a higher ranking Hob to challenge a lower ranking one though; it is seen as admitting the weaker party is a threat.

That considered, Goblins and Bugbears do not have the Right of Challenge unless they can get a Hob of equal status of the Defendant to issue it on their behalf. This is because those sub-races are considered Honorless and cannot be trusted to make good on the results of a Challenge by Spears or to pay ransom for claimed warriors, and it is up to the sponsoring Hob to ensure such damages are paid. Hobs are allowed to challenge Goblins and Bugbears however, but the act is considered distasteful and weak. Both Goblins and Bugbears often serve as subordinates in challenges.

To your last point, the objective isn't to kill, simply to wound, as an opponent wounded must drop his weapons and withdraw. However, just to be cruel, an opponent slain in Challenge of Spears is to be considered too weak to survive and his killer given his choice of the slain's weapons, mate, or slaves. Because Crits Happen.

Darcand
2014-12-05, 12:44 AM
Challenger and defendant would work well as Callers... it's a test of leadership and tactics, not murder skill.

If you want to make it non-lethal (or at least, practiceable), replace active javelins with blunt javelins with tar rags on their points. A nice, black mark on you, impossible to wash off (especially in combat).

Might also make that 4-5 person group sort of a staple of hobgoblin organization... like, the closest people in the world to you will be the same 4 people (with the fifth being yourself); the unit is called a hand.

Oddly enough, as I was writing my last response I was thinking of calling it a hand or a fist. For RP reasons it makes the most sense to keep the teams small, but in my head it ranges anywhere from 4 to 50. I like the concept of it being traditionally five though, and a Hand sounds good for a militarily structured society like this.

I don't want tar rag javelins simply because I view this as a test of both skill and courage, and I am hesitant to remove the danger element, but do not want to make it completely lethal. The way I see it a thrown javelin is unlikely to kill most any martial character over level one unless it Crits, but that risk of death should be there.

Vitruviansquid
2014-12-05, 01:06 AM
I know in DnD rules it's probably not that likely for people to be killed with a few javelins, but I'd honestly find it kind of silly to have a game where you throw javelins at each other unarmored, and not have it be a blood sport.

Besides, having the loser of a match be killed would be much easier for a lawful evil society - less possibility of dispute over the results of the match, less possibility of someone seeking to raise the now-enslaved loser back to his position to form an alliance, much much less possible for the winner to get a knife in the back or have a slave revolt led by a seasoned commander on his hands.

Darcand
2014-12-05, 11:06 AM
I know in DnD rules it's probably not that likely for people to be killed with a few javelins, but I'd honestly find it kind of silly to have a game where you throw javelins at each other unarmored, and not have it be a blood sport.

Besides, having the loser of a match be killed would be much easier for a lawful evil society - less possibility of dispute over the results of the match, less possibility of someone seeking to raise the now-enslaved loser back to his position to form an alliance, much much less possible for the winner to get a knife in the back or have a slave revolt led by a seasoned commander on his hands.

Oddly enough, I based it on the real life traditions of the Dani tribes of New Guinea who use this form of ritual warfare to settle intertribal disputes.

Amaril
2014-12-05, 03:31 PM
Would you by chance mind if I lifted some of these ideas for a game I'm running at the moment? I have a human culture who are highly militaristic that this stuff would be perfect for.

Darcand
2014-12-05, 11:09 PM
I wouldn't mind at all, help yourself!

Bob of Mage
2014-12-08, 02:12 AM
You might want to only some type of ritual javelins instead of any old ones a memeber of the two parties bring. These guys don't want cheaters to win a place high value on the game itself, so have a special set of javelins just for the game would be a good idea. Said javelins could also be made to do less damage than normal so there is less chance of death while still being danger. Maybe knock it down to 1d4 instead of 1d6. Such javelins could also be finely made and highly valued relic passed down within each group. The higher level the ritual combat takes place, the finer the weapons. Indeed the weapons used in combat between generals would be would be some of the finest javelins every made and the closest thing to Hobgoblin art.

You could also make a non-lethal version (they might use the tar ones for this type of combat) that could be for fun. It would be a great way to bond by having mock combat next to your allies (Hobgoblins are big on working as a group). It could also be something to do with people you just started fight along side, or are planing to in the future. Again it would help you bond by being on the same side working for the same goal.

Darcand
2014-12-08, 02:44 AM
You might want to only some type of ritual javelins instead of any old ones a memeber of the two parties bring. These guys don't want cheaters to win a place high value on the game itself, so have a special set of javelins just for the game would be a good idea. Said javelins could also be made to do less damage than normal so there is less chance of death while still being danger. Maybe knock it down to 1d4 instead of 1d6. Such javelins could also be finely made and highly valued relic passed down within each group. The higher level the ritual combat takes place, the finer the weapons. Indeed the weapons used in combat between generals would be would be some of the finest javelins every made and the closest thing to Hobgoblin art.

You could also make a non-lethal version (they might use the tar ones for this type of combat) that could be for fun. It would be a great way to bond by having mock combat next to your allies (Hobgoblins are big on working as a group). It could also be something to do with people you just started fight along side, or are planing to in the future. Again it would help you bond by being on the same side working for the same goal.

I like the idea of using safe weapons for training purposes, but for an actual Challenge I want the potential for lethality because it is a test of not only ability, but also courage.

Valefor Rathan
2014-12-08, 08:35 AM
Variations based on tribe of origin could make for some depth.

Young hobgoblins could travel from tribe to tribe playing in tournaments and as a "cultural exchange program".