Roleplayer #24, June 1991

The One-Minute Jouster

Quick Tournament Rules

by Chris McCubbin

Playing out tournament jousts round-by-round can be monotonous – two heavily armored, highly-trained warriors can clash for a long time without accomplishing anything more significant than a lot of broken lances. In a tournament setting, where most or all of the PCs might have to fight multiple bouts over several days, combat can bog down the adventure mightily.

The system presented below is a much quicker method of resolving non-lethal, tournament jousts. While it is much less detailed and more abstract than the complete joust routine, it does give a reasonable outcome of the joust, showing who won and how much real damage each fighter took.

This method is intended for use with non-lethal, tournament jousts with blunted lances only! For lethal combat, normal GURPS combat should be used.

To begin, each competitor in the joust should average his Lance, Shield and Riding skills to come up with a single Jousting combat value. The Joust is then resolved as a series of Quick Contests, with each opponent rolling against his Jousting combat value. In each contest, the loser takes the amount of damage he lost by. This is real damage. It is not modified by DR and attack type – that's already been figured in, under the assumption that both competitors will be similarly armed and armored – if for some reason one competitor has an edge or disadvantage (magic weapons or armor, say, or no armor) which is liable to seriously change the odds of the combat, use normal combat. Damage taken does not modify the next roll in any way.

If a competitor falls below 0 HT, he must make the appropriate HT roll(s) before each new contest – if he fails a HT roll, he is unable to continue the joust, and his opponent is declared the winner. On a tie, neither competitor takes damage.

The contests will normally continue until one or both characters are unhorsed. A knight is considered to be unhorsed when he either rolls above his Jousting combat value, or loses a quick contest by S or more. Note that it is entirely possible for both knights to unhorse each other, by both failing their Jousting rolls on the same round. A jouster is always unhorsed on a critical failure (or any roll of 17 or 18), and can never be unhorsed or take damage on a critical success. If a knight fails his Jousting roll, he takes a final 1d of damage, in addition to any damage he may take from losing the contest. If the unhorsed fighter decides to continue to attack on foot, the combat may be continued using normal GURPS combat rules.


Sir Ariosto is facing Sir Gorespear on the first day of the grand tournament. Neither knight has fought previously in the tournament, so both are unwounded.

Sir Ariosto has a Lance Skill of 15, A Riding Skill of 13, and Shield Skill of 15, rounding off to a Jousting combat value of 14. Sir Gorespear has a Lance Skill of 13, a Riding Skill of 15, and a Shield skill of 12, rounding off to 13.

In the first contest, Gorespear rolls an 8, and Ariosto rolls a 13. Gorespear almost unhorses his opponent, but not quite. Ariosto takes 4 points of damage.

In the next contest, Ariosto rolls an 8 and Gorespear Rolls a 9. Gorespear takes 2 points of damage.

In the third contest, Gorespear rolls a 10 and Ariosto rolls an 11 – a tie, neither knight takes damage.

In the fourth round Ariosto rolls a 10 and Gorespear crit-fails with a 17. Gorespear both fails his Jousting roll and loses the contest by 5 or more, either one of which would be enough to unhorse him. He also takes 8 points of damage, plus an additional 1d damage for failing his Jousting roll. Gorespear rolls a 5, for a total of 15 points of damage sustained in the joust. A resounding defeat – unless he can get some magical healing, Gorespear is probably out of the tournament.

Rules conceived by Chris W. McCubbin, Todd A. Woods, Andy Blum, Tim McGoughy and Steven T. Zieger.

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