Are these rules too complex?

I’m thinking of starting a new game in this forum. I want to complete my current RPG, which may take a while, but I’ve been itching to try something a little more different and light fun. Basically, it’s a medieval jousting game. I’ve gotten not quite half way through typing out the rules.

It occurs to me that while the average Doper is above average intelligence, the rules themselves might be a turn-off to most would-be players. Give a read through what I’ve done so far, and tell me at which point your eyes glaze over and you said “tl;dr”:

Step 1: Choose your social status
Step 2: Assign your stats
Step 3: Calculate skill bases for skills
Step 4: Assign Veteren Points
Step 5: Calculate skill MLs
Step 6: Determine character name, location, liege lord, and heraldry
Step 7: Calculate END, Dodge, and MOV
Step 8: Purchase steed, armor, and weapons
Step 9: Calculate encumbrance
Step 10 Calculate EMLs

Step 1: Choose your social status

The tourney is open to rich knight and poor knight alike. Knights of high social status have more power challenge knights of lower social status. They also have more silver with which to purchase steeds and equipment. The tradeoff is lower skill SBs.

Start with 50 option points. The cost, in option points, for social status is as follows:

Knight-bachelor: 0 pts
Knight-patrician: 1 pt
Fighting Order or Bailiff of the Hundred: 2 pts
Baron or Royal Guard: 4 pts
Earl or Sheriff: 6 pts

Example: Sir Noname decides to be a knight of a fighting order. This costs him 2 OPs, leaving him with 48 OPs left.

Step 2: Assign your stats

You have the following stats. These are inborn or conditioned attributes.

Strength (STR)
Stamina (STA)
Will (WIL)
Dexterity (DEX)
Agility (AGL)

Each of these stats has a value of 03 to begin with. Distribute your remaining OPs among them. No stat may exceed a value of 18.

Example: Sir Noname assigns the following values to his stats:

STR: 10
STA: 8
WIL: 8
DEX: 13
AGL: 9
Total = 48

Adding 3 to each gives him:

STR: 13
STA: 12
WIL: 10
DEX: 16
AGL: 12

Step 3: Calculate skill bases for skills

Each knight will have the following skills. Each skill listed has four pieces of information. The first three are three stats upon which to build the skill. The fourth is the skill’s opening mastery level, which will be explained in step 5.


Calculate each skill base by averaging the three appropriate stats. Round off.

Example: Sir Noname

Riding DEX AGL WIL = 16 + 12 + 10 = 38/3 = 12.6, rounded up to 13.
Initiative 11
Unarmed 14
Axe 14
Club 14
Flail 16
Polearm 14
Shield 15
Sword 15

Step 4: Assign Veteren Points

Knights have combat experience. This is reflected in veteran points. Increase the OML of each skill by spending VPs on it as follows:

Increase of 1: 1 point
Increase of 2: 3 points
Increase of 3: 7 points
Increase of 4: 15 points

Note that no skill may be improved more than once to reduce the cost. You have a total of 30 VPs to spend.

Example: Sir Noname

Riding +3 (7 points)
Initiative +0
Unarmed +0
Axe +1 (1 point)
Club +0
Flail +3 (7 points)
Polearm +4 (15 points)
Shield +0
Sword +0

Total=30 VPs

The new OMLs are:

Riding OML/4
Initiative OML/4
Unarmed OML/4
Axe OML/4
Club OML/4
Flail OML/4
Polearm OML/6
Shield OML/3
Sword OML/3

Step 5: Calculate skill MLs

Multiply the SB times the modified OML to get mastery level (ML). If an ML exceeds SB+100, reduce it to SB+100.

Riding 134=52
Initiative 11
Unarmed 144=56
Axe 14
Club 144=56
Flail 16
Polearm 146=84
Shield 15
Sword 15*3=45

Note that skill MLs are percentages, so anything under 50 is more likely to fail than succeed. A skill of greater than 75 is pretty good, and a skill of over 100 is excellent. Also note that there will be a couple more modifications to them.

Step 6: Determine character name, location, liege lord, and heraldry

Make up a name for your character. Knights patrician, barons, earls, and sheriffs will have a name assigned by the GM. Location and liege lord will also be assigned.

Optionally, make up your heraldry. Get as fancy as you want with this, but simple is OK as well. To make up your own, choose one, two, or three of the following colors:

Argent (White)
Gules (Red)
Or (Gold)
Azure (Blue)
Sable (Black)
Vert (Green)

Then choose a charge, such as a weapon, animal, or other symbol. Note that highewr ranking characters may have one of these assigned. Also note that no two knights may have the same heraldry unless they are from the same clan or order.

Make a picture and post it to the Web if you want. Go nuts!

This heraldry will be displayed on both your shield and surcoat.

Example: Sir Noname becomes

Sir Reginald Obris
Knight of the Lady of Paladins in Meselynshire
Liege lord: Church of Larani
Heraldry: Argent and Gules, a sword inverted

Step 7: Calculate END, Dodge, and MOV

Calculate END (Endurance) as an average of STR, STA, and WIL.
Dodge is AGL*5.
MOV (Movement rate) is AGL.

Example: Sir Reginald Obris
END = 12
Dodge = 45
MOV = 9

Step 8: Purchase steed, armor, and weapons

You have an amount of starting cash with which to buy a steed, armor, and weapons. Starting cash, in silver pence (d), is as follows:

Knight-bachelor: 1,000d
Knight-patrician: 3,000d
Fighting Order: 3,500d
Bailiff of the Hundred: 4,000d
Baron: 6,000d
Royal Guard: 5,000d
Earl: 12,000d
Sheriff: 10,000d

You will need to purchase, at the minimum, one primary weapon, one shield, and a steed. You will also need to bring at least three jousting poles. (The wealthy bring more.) Armor is highly recommended, and wealthier knights are expected to be very well armored. As well, there is an entry fee to the tourney.

Secondary (and even tertiary) melee weapons are recommended. Spares may be purchased, as weapons tend to break. However, spares may not be carried into combat. (A squire may hand you a spare, if you have one.)

Price list:

Entry fee:

Earl: 460d
Baron: 240d
Knight patrician: 120d
Knight bachelor: 60d
Foreign knight: double charge
Fighting order: No charge
Royal guard: 24d


Step 9: Calculate encumbrance
Step 10 Calculate EMLs



Believe it or not, I would need to see more rules. I don’t see enough details into what the skills and items and stats directly do in the jousts. Also is there a none jousting part to the game? If it is strictly combat, simplify the rules.

I thought so. It seemed so easy in my head, but all typed out like that, it’s pretty involved.

I wonder if it might be wiser to have some pre-made templates that can be adjusted in an easy way.

MORE rules?!?

I’m still playing with the concept, but the basic concept is this:

Step 1: Build a character
Step 2: Issue a challenge, accept a challenge, or get a randomly assigned foe
Step 3: Issue orders to your character. (ex. Lean in on first pass, hunker down on 2nd pass, use mace during melee.)
Step 4: I will resolve the combat behind the scenes, then describe it in prose form, declaring a winner.
Step 5: Victor repeats steps 2-4 until the field of 128 has been narrowed to one clear winner.

I would, of course, explain what desirable numbers would mean so that players can optimize their characters.

I’m also thinking of allowing people to play ladies who can bestow favors (and thus, bonuses) on knights, but so far any attempt to do so has resulted in pretty bad rules.

I’d probably include at least some elements of role-playing as well, but the joust would be the main plotline.

If it is strictly combat, I think you should reduce the rules, make a few things simpler.

How about this? Instead of doing all the hard math to choose stats, calculate skills, etc., players can directly choose their skills directly. Let’s say riding, initiative, and 4 weapons at 50 each, with a pool of 200 points with which to increase those skills up to 100. Then it’s a matter of choosing weapons, a steed, and one of, say, five available suits of armor.

Would that be more palatable?

That sounds much better. If there is going to be little role playing, no need to go into small detail.

I lost focus around Step 5. What are the “New OMLs”? “OML/4” is not explained. Then into Step 5, you use “SB” which has not been defined. Where are the numbers in the example coming from?

I can tolerate complex rules, especially if they’re easy to code up on a spreadsheet “character sheet”. But how things affect each other need to be clear. That is, what I am gaining or giving up by moving a point from here to there?

In a final product, you need to start out with flavor text and a clear description of possible goals or victory conditions.