Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Jousting for OSR games

I've been wanting to introduce some medieval games into my campaigns.  It's always nice to have opportunities for wealth and fame that don't involve fighting monsters.  Jousting tournaments can provide a whole host of adventuring opportunities as the PCs will rub shoulders and exchange blows with a great many characters of varying social standing, and how they conduct themselves can greatly influence their standing.

Surprisingly, there aren't a lot of jousting rules that I could find.  None of the various rulebooks I own have any, and a cursory internet search only turned up a lot of overly complicated 3x-5e houserules.  Fine if you're into that, but they won't suit my purposes, so I figured I'd take a crack at a simple jousting system that accomplishes a few goals.

My Intent

  • Jousts should be a form of simultaneous combat, where both jousters have a chance to strike each other at the same time.
  • There should be a small but real threat of death.
  • Strikes should be relatively easy to score so that the joust is resolved fairly quickly.
  • Deadlier blows or unhorsing a foe should be much harder, but have the potential to swing a match.
  • The rules should favor the more experienced knight but allow for a lucky joust by a neophyte.

Jousting Rules

The joust assumes both knights are wearing plate mail with helmet, carrying shield and lance, and riding a war horse.  Engaging in a joust with anything less is foolish and appropriate modifiers should be made.
There are three tilts of the joust, and the knight with the highest score at the end wins.  With each tilt of the joust, both knights make a standard attack roll with their lance.  Scoring a hit against their foe's shield AC (ignore Dex/armor) indicates a lance broken against the body of the knight.  No damage is rolled and a single point is scored.  Scoring a hit against the foe's full AC indicates a much deadlier blow.  Damage is rolled for this hit and the foe must make a saving throw (fortitude, typically) to stay in the saddle.  A single point is scored if the knight stays horsed; the match is won if unhorsed.  Depending on the damage of the blow, the knight may wish to concede the match, or risk serious injury.  A natural 20 is a strike against the head.  This blow is worth 2 points and does full damage, and the rider must make a saving throw at a -2 penalty to stay in the saddle.  As always, an unhorsed knight loses the match.
Note that if using a system that has double damage for charging lances, it is assumed that jousters used blunted lances that would not benefit from that, although some less honorable knights have been known to sneak in spiked lances in order to gain an advantage or just to be ridiculously mean and villainous.
"Then he shows his weakness - that is all mercy is."


  1. Look for a copy of Chainmail, or check out http://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2014/04/tournament-jousting.html. (No, not my page!)

    1. Thanks, I've read some of Delta's blog but hadn't ever seen that. It's an interesting system. I should grab Chainmail sometime, for historical interest if nothing else.