Small background – my party is in a secluded jungle "base" trying to meet with the leader of a resistance army to get the MacGuffin. My mouth got ahead of my brain, and I ad-libbed that there would be a tournament and the winners would be able to meet with the leader. I figured they would never choose this option because they usually choose to do things through subterfuge or straight favor-quests. I threw it out there for flavor, but now I obviously have to back up the tourney idea lol
Anyways, I don't want the tournament to take up more than one or maybe two sessions if it spills over, so I was wanting to keep it strictly combat without the skill challenges that tourneys sometimes have. The party comp is Paladin, Monk, Fighter, Lore Bard, and the rule will be no killing – resistance army can't really afford to lose soldiers. I'm kinda thinking these are my options:
Run the tournament where they can enter in groups of four, so that the whole party can fight together through a few matches. Probably the easiest thing.
Run it as a massive battle royale and let them band together in the end to be chosen as a group. Could be chaos and also adds some tension between them and the leader (though they don't really like him anyways)
Run it as a 2v2 type thing and get some very rare PvP in, which would leave one group to meet with the leader and one to do some other digging if they lost. I've never had PvP in any game, so I'm not sure if this is a fun idea or one that would cause grudges. Everyone is mature enough, but I just don't know how those things typically turn out.
I don't really want to run it as 1v1 Dragonball style or anything because that will take forever.
Has anyone done one of these before? How did it turn out? Anything I should be wary of? TIA
Didn't expect so many responses, and all have been solid. Thank you guys so much. I think this is what I will be going with (probably TL;DR territory but here goes) –
The tournament will be split into four rounds:
1.) Qualifying Round – the Party will have to bring back a trophy to prove they are worthy to qualify. Options could include the head of the troll shaman that's been harassing their troops in the jungle near by, treasures from the nearby hermit wizard's tower, food/supplies for the army, etc. They will run into another group who constantly tries to undermine them and is obnoxious, hopefully setting up a rivalry.
2.) A round of 2v2 combat. A druid/shaman type character will have a staff that constantly changes the terrain within the arena as necessary. He can be paid off. There are bards in the city that can also be paid off to provide inspiration or what-not for the party. Cheating is encouraged, and the crowd can also provide benefits for the more popular team during the battle. The two party members not fighting can aid their comrades, explore, or try and stop the other team from cheating. No doubt the obnoxious team from earlier is trying to help their adversaries as well.
3.) Another round of 2v2 combat, but the two members that did not fight must fight this time. Same gist as the other 2v2 round, but this time the combatants are 2 "skinny Dragonborn" in robes that split into being actually four Kobold NPC fighters that have all sorts of annoying tricks like blinding, caltrops, etc.
4.) Final round of combat, this time with full 4v4 against the obnoxious party, but with a tWiSt.
The resistance leader they are trying to meet with is a Dragonborn who is trying to overthrow the Elves that currently govern the island who look down on the native Dragonborn. In turn, the Dragonborn also look down on the Kobold natives, though they still employ them in their army. Throughout the dead times during the tournament, the party will run into a Kobold messenger/gopher several times. He shows some magical talent, but rather than be celebrated about it, he is teased and treated like a show-dog doing tricks. A big theme in this campaign arc has also been "don't mess with things you don't understand;" during the fourth round of combat, he will get sick of being bullied and wild surge summon a Nabassu in the crowd causing mass chaos.
Some of the obnoxious team will help the party fight the Nabassu, but of course the MOST obnoxious member will only focus on fighting the party still. Yippee. There's also the fun knowledge that the resistance leader is actually a warlock, but I'm not sure if I want to reveal that just yet, other than having rumors about the losing contestants going missing after events.
The fun part about the Nabassu, is that even if they LOSE in the tournament, they can still have the chance to defeat the Nabassu and gain favor if they haven't figured out another way they want to go in and meet the leader. Also Nabassu is just fun to say out loud.
Anyways, thanks again everyone.
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More about Dungeons & Dragons OnlinePost: "I threw out the word “tournament” off-hand last session, not ever expecting my players to pick that option. So… I’ll be running a tournament next session – advice to make it not suck?" specifically for the game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Other useful information about this game:
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