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I'm planning a joust for my all-paladin party this coming Sunday. To set the seeding for the tourney, there will first be a race. I wanted something dramatic and complex, to let the various mounted PCs (all 4th level paladins of different gods) test their skills.
Here's my starting idea for the race. I'll post my plans for the joust afterward.
The Ring Race. This one-mile run (5280 ft.) weaves around the Germande Listing Grounds, with mixtures of straightaways, obstacles, and hairpin turns. Riders will compete in groups of eight at a time.
Obstacles include creeks with muddy banks, hedges to leap or maneuver around, and a tunnel through the base of a spinning windmill. Unless otherwise noted, the race path is 40-ft. wide. (Technically this squeezes the horses as they start, but they’re all going the same direction and not fighting, so just ignore that.)
- Ring Beam (1 of 6).
At 600 ft., a beam 10 ft. above the ground crosses the racing path. Three rings (AC 9) hang from it, which you can attack with your lance. You take a -8 penalty if your mount is running. (You cannot ‘charge’ a ring.) If you hit a ring, you can catch it on the tip of your lance.
If multiple riders reach this spot on the same round, have them roll initiative to see who gets first attempt to get a ring. There are a total of 18 rings, and you are allowed to get up to 3 apiece.
If later on you take damage or fall prone, you must succeed a Reflex save (DC 10) or have a ring slide off the tip of your lance.
- Low Hedges.
At 800, 1000, and 1200 ft. there are three low hedges (3 ft., Acrobatics DC 12) that are really just to excite the crowd.
- Ring Beam (2 of 6). At 1400 ft., another beam has three rings.
- Hairpin Turn.
At 1500 ft., the path narrows to 20 ft. and turns sharply. If a running mount reaches this point and then attempts to run on the next round, the rider must make a Ride check (DC 10) or else the mount can only double move on the first round as it navigates the turn.
- Muddy Creek.
At 1600 ft., there is a 10-ft. swath of mud, a 5-ft. wide creek, and another 10-ft. wide swath of mud. This counts as difficult terrain, or you can move at full speed and your mount attempts an Acrobatics check (DC 12) to avoid falling prone in the mud.
You can try to jump the whole distance, which requires a Ride check (DC 15) and then an Acrobatics check (DC 25) using either your Ride bonus or the mount’s bonus to jump. (For a typical heavy horse with the Run feat, this is +16.) If you fail the first check, you fall off your horse. If you fail the second, the horse slips in the mud and falls prone.
- Straightaway One.
From 1600 ft. to 3100 ft. there are no obstacles. However, there is one ring beam, and in the distance you can see the slalom.
- Ring Beam (3 of 6).
At 2400 ft., another beam has three rings.
- Slalom and Ring Beam.
From 3100 ft. to 3500 ft., the course has five medium hedges (5 ft., Acrobatics DC 20) that each cross 30 ft. of the race path, with 10-ft. wide passages on one side. The first hedge has an opening on the left, the second is 100 ft. later with an opening on the right, then 100 ft. later on the left, then the right, then the left. If you don’t want to jump hedges, it’s a 560-ft. series of curves that you cannot run through. (If you spur your mount, though, the extra speed means it probably auto succeeds the high jump.)
At 3200 ft., right in the middle of the slalom, another beam has three rings. This beam is in the middle of the course, so making it difficult to both jump a hedge and get a ring here.
After the slalom, mounts start to act nervous about the upcoming windmill. Each round characters can start making Handle Animal checks (DC 25) to convince their mount to go through the tunnel.
- Ring Beam (5 of 6).
At 3800 ft., another beam has three rings.
- Windmill Tunnel.
At 4000 ft., a tall windmill with a 20-ft. wide tunnel at the base blocks the course. The windmill spins rapidly, with a wing cutting across the opening each round.
The strange movement of the mill is daunting to most mounts. Unless you’ve specially trained your mount to attack unnatural creatures, you must succeed a Handle Animal check (DC 25) to push it some time between ring beam 5 and here. (Increase the DC by 2 if the mount has any nonlethal damage.)
If you succeed, your mount will ride through at whatever speed you want. If you fail, it will slow to a single move for the round it takes to go through.
The tunnel is 20 feet wide, enough for two riders to traverse at the same time. Make a Ride check (DC 20) to time your ride properly to move through safely. If you fail, you can choose to stop and try again next round, or to let the windmill makes a trip maneuver (CMB +15) to try to knock your mount over and push it just to the side of the tunnel entrance.
- Second Straightaway.
From 4000 ft. to the end at 5280 ft. there are no obstacles. However, there is the final ring beam.
- Final Ring Beam (6 of 6).
At 5000 ft., this final ring beam runs down the length of the middle of the course, instead of perpendicular across the track. Thus, if by some chance two riders are neck and neck, they will have to ride right beside each other to compete for these rings.
For a cocky showboat, it’s possible to ride the whole race without grabbing any rings, and then try to get all three here with one single attack. If you succeed by 5, you can get two at once, and if you succeed by 10 you can get all three.
- Finish Line.
At 5280 ft., a ribbon of gold thread stretches between two green and white poles to mark the finish line.
Of course, this is going to take a while to play through, but I'm going to have a soundtrack to keep the intensity up. And I'm planning to just have rough notes of how fast the 12 other NPCs who are competing go. Only 3 NPCs are going to be particularly tough challengers:
- Maralictor Claria Cossala. A hellknight, who's the highest-level opponent, but who isn't focused on mounted combat or riding. Also, I wanted someone evil for them to smite.
- Esmayl ibn Qaradi. An emissary from Qadira riding a camel, who is great mounted but not a huge threat on foot.
- Alaine Germande. The iconic cavalier, who canonically is from Taldor. He's basically the boss fight if anyone makes it that far, since he has Spirited Charge.
What do you think?