Last year, I ran a Dragon Chess Tournament in my D&D 5e game, and it was a lot of fun. The event was a huge tournament that attracted people and powerful monsters from across the land to compete for fabulous treasures. I created an abstract system to simulate several days of play in the tournament, culminating in an epic final match. The rules I used are below:
Dragon Chess Tournament
Premise: A Dragon Chess Tournament is being hosted in the Crystal City, an ancient Metropolis of crystal spires whose best days are behind it. Hundreds of challengers have journeyed across the lands to compete for the grand prize, a mysterious and valuable treasure.
What is Dragon Chess?
- Dragon Chess is a Chess variant played on a 3D board with fantasy creatures. It was invented by Gary Gygax.
- See Official Rules here (but see below for an abstracted version suitable for D&D): http://www.chessvariants.org/3d.dir/dragonchess.html
Structure of Tournament:
- 500 GP Entry Fee
- 8 Rounds of Swiss Pairings
- 1 Point for a Win
- ½ Point for a Draw
- Only players with greater than 6 points at the end of 8 rounds proceed to the Top 8 Finals.
- Top 8 is single elimination (with the top players paired against the bottom players)
- 5+ Points: Roll on Individual Challenge 11-16 (pg 136)
- 5th-8th Place: Roll on Treasure Hoard Challenge 0-4
- 3rd and 4th Place: Roll on Treasure Hoard Challenge 5-10
- 2nd Place: Roll on Treasure Hoard Challenge 11-16
- 1st Place: Roll on Treasure Hoard Challenge 17+
- Players play 1 game of Dragon Chess a day.
- Each game begins at noon and ends at sun down (about 8 hours)
- Place a chess piece in the middle of 5 spaces on a track. The goal is to advance the chess piece towards your opponent’s side of the board.
- Players roll Luck checks to determine initiative (see optional rule in DMG, or just roll an unmodified d20).
- Players take turns taking actions against each other.
- Each player can take one action an hour.
- The player with initiative goes first each round.
- If an action is successful, the player advances the piece one space towards the opponent’s board. If it fails, nothing happens.
- Actions include the following:
- Intelligence Check to make good moves. Dragon Chess proficiency bonus may be added to this roll.
- History Check to remember famous plays (1/game since these opportunities only rarely present themselves). Player must name move they attempted (the more colorful the better; think “The Green Dragon’s Gamble”, “Melf’s Horizontal Shuffle”, stuff like that.)
- Sleight of Hand to cheat. Note, your opponent will notice you cheating if you fail by 5 or more points.
- Persuasion Check to argue legitimate infractions to a judge, as Dragon Chess is an arcane game that is played in many different regions (1/game since most opponents tighten their play after the first infraction and judges get tired of nitpickers).
- Bluff check to argue trumped up infractions to a judge. Note, the judge will realize you are lying if you fail by 5 or more points.
- Other skills, abilities, and tricks may be attempted as desired, subject to DM approval.
- For the Swiss Rounds, the mechanics are simplified:
- For rounds 1-4, to simplify things, just have PCs roll vs DC 15. Opponents do not take an action, and failure sets you back.
- For rounds 5-8, for PCs who have or maintain a positive record, the competition becomes more challenging each round:
- Round 5: DC 16
- Round 6: DC 17
- Round 7: DC 18
- Round 8: DC 19
- Further into the tournament, players have a chance of encountering Premier Players, in which case a match is played out using opposed rolls. Rolls are always opposed with Intelligence checks (modified by Dragon Chess Proficiency if they have it).
- Finals are played on life sized chess boards with enslaved and enchanted creatures. As such, there are some additional considerations:
- As opponents are Premier Players, all rolls are opposed.
- Initiative is determined by placement in top 8.
- No time limit, though no rest is allowed during matches.
- Players may nominate a KILLER who attacks pieces on the Dragon Chess Board.
- Players may nominate a WALL who defends against pieces on the Dragon Chess Board.
- No one else may participate in the match.
- A player or their proxy may attack a chess piece in place of one of the other actions. The player takes a turn of combat against the piece on the board (randomly determined, as per below). If the piece is destroyed, they advance.
- If a player loses a defensive roll or if one of their pieces is being attached, they or their proxy may stand in for one of their pieces to avoid moving back a space. If they are dropped to 0HP, however, they still move back.
- When determining which piece you are facing for attack or defense, roll a d6. A 1 is a pawn, a 2 is a Knight, a 3 is a Bishop, a 4 is a Rook, a 5 is a King, and a 6 is a Queen.
- If a King is destroyed, the game is over immediately.
- Dragon Chess Pieces have the following base stats (Die Roll refers to the roll used to select a piece, so a Pawn is +1 and a Queen is +6): Attack: +5 + Die Roll. Damage: 4d10 + Die Roll. AC: 15 + Die Roll. Saving Throws: +2 Bonus + Die Roll if proficient. HP: 10 + 2 X Die Roll.
- Pawns are proficient in Dex ST
- Knights are proficient in Str ST
- Bishops are proficient in Wis ST
- Rooks are proficient in Con ST
- Kings are proficient in Cha ST
- Queen is proficient in ALL ST
- Cheating is much more commonplace, and famous players are known for specific dirty tricks. Judges are generally tolerant as long as the crowd is having a good time.
Finals: The following NPCs will be making it to the finals, assuming the PCs themselves do not place or absent any other trickery. If a PC does place, the lowest placing NPC is removed from the finals. If the PCs are not competing in a match, generally you can assume the more skilled player will beat the less skilled one:
- Grim the Mighty (Archmage, Proficient: +11 to Dragon Chess Int Checks)
- Adult Red Dragon (Proficient: +9 to Dragon Chess Int Checks)
- Mindflayer (Proficient: +9 to Dragon Chess Int Checks)
- Bugbear Warchief (Expertise: +8 to Dragon Chess Int Checks)
- Lich (+5 to Dragon Chess Int Checks)
- Assassin (Proficient: +5 to Dragon Chess Int Checks)
- Unicorn (Proficient: +4 to Dragon Chess Int Checks)
- Githzerai Zerth (+3 to Dragon Chess Int Checks)