That’s right, folks! It’s an eight-part tournament arc! No, not that kind of tournament arc. We’re talking this kind of tournament arc. Knights and damsels. The roar of the crowd. Shattered lances, grand melees, and more rearing stallions than you can shake a spur at. Of course, in Paladin’s case, I guess that’ll be a rearing mare. Snowflake is very much a lady.

The opportunity to go High Medieval can be a refreshing change of pace every once in a while. While I love dungeon-punk, over-the-top APs, and the kitchen sink approach to fantasy as much as the next gamer, a return to chivalry and romance makes a lovely palate cleanser. It also gives you access to some fun tropes.

For example, the last time Laurel and I participated in a jousting tourney we got to go full on Black Knight. Laurel was playing a young noblewoman in that one. She’d been sent to the country to prevent her from following her six older brothers into the local order of knighthood. You can imagine the mother figure in this scenario: “I will not have my only daughter charging about the countryside on horseback fighting monsters!” It should go without saying that the young lady in question fell in with adventurers, then proceeded to charge about the countryside on horseback fighting monsters. Still, respecting Mommy Dearests’s wishes, it was a very hush-hush adventuring career. Our lady knight didn’t want word to get out, and so she took on the guise of the Knight of the Fangwood rather than let the bards sing her proper name.

You can probably see where this is going.

When word got out about a jousting tournament, it was my job as the party wizard to thoroughly disguise our knight. Because of course m’Lord and Lady Parental Units would be in the audience, and of course Laurel had to fight the championship bout against her older brother. There were tense moments galore. The Knight of the Fangwood had to keep up the ruse in conversation with her parents, preserve the dignity of her brother, and make the dramatic reveal at exactly the right moment. It was also good fun watching our bard imitate Chaucer during the introductions.

As fantasy nerds we all have bits and pieces of Arthurian legend, medieval pop culture references, and snippets of actual history bouncing around in our brains. I think it’s worth our while to use those resources. After all, the dragons and magic spells are that much more believable when they appear alongside traditional, respectable pseudo-history.

So what about the rest of you guys? Have you ever gone medieval on a game? Which elements did you use? What tropes paid off? Let’s hear all about your courtly love affairs, well-researched period costumes, and epic grail quests down in the comments!

 

ADD SOME NSFW TO YOUR FANTASY! If you’ve ever been curious about that Handbook of Erotic Fantasy banner down at the bottom of the page, then you should check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. Twice a month you’ll get to see what the Handbook cast get up to when the lights go out. Adults only, 18+ years of age, etc. etc.