In the saga I'm running, the Covenant has the Hooks, Rival Faerie Court and Festival. The two are combined to make a yearly event called the Great Game, a game that developed as the two sides have participated in it over the decades, the stakes being the Covenant itself as well as its ability to put up an Aegis. The players have just joined this Winter Covenant as journeyman magi and are now starting to discover just what they've signed up for as one of them will be designated the coach for their side. I tried to come up with rules that would represent simple game play (it's a lot like the game 'Steal the Bacon') but when played by faeries and a team run by wizards. Let me know what you think, especially if you see some very exploitable rules (which isn't a bad thing, the whole point of the Saga is that the new blood brings in new innovations. And if anyone is interested in a pre-made Winter Covenant, let me know.
The Great Game
The game of Kings and Rivals shall be held on the Summer equinox of every year, ere the casting of any Aegis of the Hearth. If the game and resulting festival is lapsed or the Aegis cast before the game, then the Magi of St. Simprinâ€™s will have been declared the loser and can expect to reap the consequences. The forces of St. Simprinâ€™s shall always be the King in this contest, and the Faerie court of Prince Balthomir shall be the Rivals, until the court shall win three festivals in a row. At which time The Faerie Court lays claim and right and title to the Covenant of St. Simprinâ€™s, its peoples, power, land, resources, and totality. As long as St. Simprinâ€™s does not lose three Summers in a row it shall remain free, but is only allowed to cast the Aegis when it is victorious. The rules of the game of Kings and Rivals are as follows;
The game shall be decided upon the field of glory, as designated by Prince Balthimir, its dimensions shall be honored, all play shall be upon the field, and those that would play must take the field.
There shall be no more than 5 pairs of feet upon either the Kings or Rivals side on the field.
There shall be up to three rounds of play, the best of three decides the winner, the third round can be dispensed with should one side take the first two.
Each round of play shall last 2 Diameters of the Sun, a magus of St. Simprinâ€™s shall provide the timing without deception.
In the center of the field of glory a pole shall be erected that is without bark and 20 feet tall.
Upon the top of the pole shall be placed the crown of brass, the goal of Kings and Rivals.
To win a round one must take the crown from the pole and bring it to oneâ€™s own end of the field, where both sides assemble at the beginning of the round.
The side designated as King can win the round by default if the crown is not taken to either end by either side before the time runs out.
While accidents, injuries, and deaths may result, it is not the intention to cause permanent harm to either side, as such no weapons of a bladed nature may brought onto the field, though the natural weapons of the participants may be allowed.
Causing excessive death or injury can result in the loss of the round, excessive defined as 3 pairs of feet being eliminated to injury or death.
No one on either side of the field may enter the field on any round with active magic, spells, enchantments, glamours, or active items of power.
Any that intend to use magic, spells, or glamours during play must dare the field and risk active participation.
The pole may not have spells or glamours or supernatural abilities cast on it, or used within 2 paces of it.
The crown may not be moved, targeted, affected or otherwise touched by magic, spells, glamours, or supernatural abilities, at any time during play.
All participants shall remain visible during play, there shall be no false players or figments of players, and players may not shrink to smaller than a hound (size -2).
The crown must return to the side of the field by a carrier on foot. While the crown may be hurled, the carrier may not fly while in possession of it, nor may the carrier fly to obtain the crown from the pole. Any flying participants must land before they touch the crown, and must not fly while it is in their possession.
Between rounds players may substitute on either side as needed as long as no more than 5 pairs of feet are on the field on either side at the beginning of the round.
Should a rule be broken during play, the time is stopped and the crown given to a player on the side that did not break the rules at the location of the offense, the other players shall assemble 5 paces from the carrier on their respective sides. If the crown is on the pole at the offense the teams shall assemble at their ends, with the innocent side allowed to assemble at half the distance to the pole.
Up to 3 diameters may be spent between rounds to recover and converse with teams and participants.
An impartial advocate of Prince Balthomir shall preside over the field as Marshall, and his rulings shall be final. He shall be charged by the Lord to be fair and wise in his rulings.
Anything to stop tampering with the Teams , pre-game?
Are there regular participants who have been part of either team for several years (or more)?
Is there any side-betting on the Game?
What if a Team Player was bribed/blackmailed to throw the Game?
(can be from either side)
Most important point that was missing from the description made is - what is the gain for the covenant, the right to cast an aegis for one year is nowhere near the payment deserved for wagering the magi their servants into slavery, all their books, vis, magic items, their homes and all their wealth.
Such a game is fine as a bargain, but why would the magi have agreed to such a deal in the first place. Some obvious type of rewards would be a small amount of vis (say 20 pawns) each year as long as the game is played, or a larger amount of vis every time the magi win (say 50). When the stakes are so high - and if the covenant itself is wagered then the stakes are high then the faeries would insist on the magi getting something out of it, to do otherwise would put faeries in debt, according to faerie honour, that would build up further every time the magi win. As far as myths go faeries are meant to not accept any gift from a mortal unless they trade something back for that very reason.
Another thing to consider is how hard to avoid are the terms of the loss, can the magi set up a chapter house nearby that is considered a seperate entity that they can move their stuff to and thus avoid the loss of? Also the charter of the covenant? i'm assuming that the covenant has npc magi, and if they are allowed to disappear off into the horizon when the covenant is in danger of losing for the third time then the players - who don't have that option ooc if you base your game there. It puts players in a bad position, there are mages who would want to cut and run, but if so they lose their character. Best option is for the covenants charter to ban magi from leaving unless the covenant just won a game. You can leave a winning team but not losing.
Good points all, the best one is what could compel a covenant to make such a deal? There's a few story elements in the covenant's past that I'm working on, but they had decent compulsion as well as a precedent for what happened wih Durenmar and how they were punished for their involvement with the Fae. The players (when it was revealed last night) said much the same thing regarding this and concluded that once they had a bit more time to prepare they intended to renogitiate wth the Faerie court for a better deal. What the Praeconis of the Covenant said was that a favored Custo had negotiated the game right before what could have been an actual invasion by a powerful Faerie lord and his forces. Some of the other magi of the Covenant didn't care if they were invaded, but they were outvoted.
At this first Covenant meeting with the PCs it was decided that the newest Tytalus would be given the task to train the Grogs and lead them to victory. And he saw many of the same exploitable rules also. The rules developed over the years as each tried new strategies. I'll get back to those a bit later.
Aha, someone else saw the Myth similarities. I'll admit, I borrow heavily, especially when I know my players haven't read the same books I have. Technically the biggest influence would be the board game Blood Bowl though.
Parma. No active magics. I wrote the rules, by my own interpretation your Parma can't be active when the game begins. It takes roughly a Diamater to bring it up, meaning you're not likely to have a chance to do it during a round. The answer? Suppress your Parma before the round begins, enter the field and turn it back on once the round starts.
While the Fae might gain a lot by winning, the cleverness of mortals and the learning curve of the Fae should mean that the mortals are always at an advantage.
Can the crown be swiched? If it hasn't been tried yet, the first time it's tried it will likely work, then they'll probably make a rule against it. Magic armor and weapons? Sure. They can't be active when they enter the field though, so they can't have a constant effect, it needs to be something they can turn off and on. Climbing gear? Don't see why not, though it can't be magical at all due to the rule of not using magic within 2 paces of the pole.