Posted on 2019-05-01 by genevieve

Soon a great tourney will decide who will reign next as Princeps of Insulae Draconis.

One tournament tradition in Drachenwald is that all entrants get a chance to face each other in the lists. If you have travelled great distances to take part in the tourney, you deserve the chance to meet everyone in honourable combat.

The typical way to make this happen is through a round robin tourney.

Their Highnesses have stated they wish a round robin, with each pairing being a best of three bouts. If one combatant wins two bouts in a row, the entrants can decide if they wish to fight once more, for the pleasure of the fight.

One elegant (and plausibly medieval) way to set up a round-robin is with a geometric guide.

For our use, with eight couples entered, you draw a 7-sided figure (heptagon), with a dot in the middle, and number the vertexes and the centre.

You draw straight lines across the figure, left to right, and then a single line from the top vertex to the centre. These lines represent the pairings for the entrants for the first round.

For subsequent rounds, you 'rotate' the numbers clockwise round the figure, and use the same lines to create new pairings.

Here's an article explaining the process - much easier to follow in a diagram!

After all entrants have met each other on the field, the list minister determines which two entrants have won the most pairings, and they fight a final of 'best of five' bouts.

At every tourney I've attended, there's a palpable buzz around the final bout. Anything can happen and only the people on the field can determine the outcome.

If you have never seen a Society tourney before, you'll notice that the rounds begin with salutes.

Salutes remind us that we are here for the joy of historic combat, and that each fighter is fighting not for their own advancement, but for the honour of their friend, companion or beloved.

Early in Society days, only men took the field, and women waved them on. It took awhile for some men to accept women as fighters who could meet them as equals on the field, and longer still to accept that we might find inspiration from men and women both.

Happily, our coming lists include same-sex couples, who show us that inspiration and honour, just like love, comes in all forms.

By convention, combatants salute first the king and queen of Drachenwald - and for this tourney, the prince and princess of Insulae Draconis.

They then salute the person who inspires them on the field.

They then salute their worthy opponent, who they are meeting to fight.

Then the fighters are directed to 'heed the marshals', who starts the bout when both fighters confirm they are ready.

This last salute is important. Our Society combat relies on 'the slain man say he be slain' - that the person who is struck decides if the blow was good enough to wound or kill them. So for every bout a fighter wins, it is their opponent who gives them that victory.

This system makes our game different from other martial arts, where judges assign points on what they see, according to a fixed criteria, or using mechanical devices to determine a score.

And it means that every couple who enters helps decide the winner on the day: that all eight couples have a part in choosing the next reigning couple of Insulae Draconis.

Looking forward to seeing everyone attending Coronet of Fools!