The approach of autumn, as well as the annual week in which two of the larger horse-selling caravans intersect and both arrive in Fenlock at once triggers this end of Summer tournament, one of the biggest on the jousting circuit outside of the capitol, and one of the preliminary tournaments for the Annual Festival at Arden Vale (the winners of each of the four categories, as well as the overall winner all have an automatic free slot in the lists there, regardless of their social class, and it is one of only two of the large festivals open to commoners.) The event itself is five days long, and this post serves to instruct the players as to stuff their characters already know.
Day One: Arrival of the horses, check in, set up and opening feast.
Fenlock closes the streets in the Southwest quarter of the city, most businesses (except those involved in hospitality) are closed. The temples offer up basic healing (spells of 3rd level and below) for free.
Bars, Taverns and Restaurants give out food from stalls near the main stands and also ribbon favors. Every citizen of Fenlock is given an opportunity to vote for best entertainment at the end of each day by tying one ribbon to the bridge, and the entertainment venue that has the most gets a large sum of gold and bragging rights for a year (The Pink Pearl won last year.)
There is a large outdoor dance and feast at the stands, all are welcome, food is free. Horses are marched down the street in front of the Thane's house (and over the bridge) with performers, jugglers, etc.
Those who've never participated in a joust, or have no rank or record of doing so but who want to earn a place in the lists have to score at least 100 out of 200 possible points in the preliminary tent pegging event held in front of the temple of Ardentia, with the highest 10 people getting a place in the day two 'open' joust. (Participants must have two horses, jousting plate, and five lances. As with all events, anything showing a positive during a Detect Magic disqualifies you.)
Buskers, shop stands and people selling craft goods and sweets are everywhere.
Day Two: 'Open' Joust, preliminary melee, archery opening rounds, horsemanship events, Welcoming Mass.
For most of the day, horsemen who've passed preliminary events before the festival compete in show jumping, races, and events of horseback dexterity. The winner is given a set of platinum horseshoes and a seat in the Horsemen's lists in the Annual Festival at Arden Vale
Commoners who've jousted before and the winners of the tent pegging event and select nobility participate (up to 30 people) in up to three jousts to score their placement in the proper joust. The worst are eliminated and 10 jousters move forward.
The archery opening rounds are open to anyone who has a bow, archers are given 'points' based on up to 10 shots, everyone with 100 points or more moves on. There is a 5gp registration fee. Distance and accuracy both increase points (a bullseye at the furthest target (150 yards) is 50 points, and the longbowmen usually go right for this)
The 'open' melee at this stage is one on one combat, with people who've won at least one match of them moving on, as selected by a judge. This will be repeated each day until the last. Chain mail or leather and blunt weapons only at this stage.
The welcoming mass at the Temple of Ardentia is considered mandatory for all participants. It is famously boring and followed by an outdoor party in tents and around the temple of Ordith, which is notoriously scandalous.
Day Three: Archery Competitions, followed by round one of 'professional' jousts, The Thane's Ball.
Variety of archery competitions, including 'wand shooting' (shooting at a falling, thin target) and increasingly difficult targets. The winner is given a golden arrow worth 100gp and a seat in the archer's lists in the Annual Festival at Arden Vale. The first of the 'professionals' of the jousting lists compete for placement, with the top five not jousting again until the final day. The day is followed by an invitation-only ball at Thane's place.
Day Four: The main jousts and the all-city dance.
All but the top five jousters compete, with every jouster facing every other jouster unless injured past continuing, with the top five moving forward. The day closes with a giant dance at the city's school building.
Day Five: Final jousts, Final Melee, and Grand Awards Ceremony
The final ten jousters compete in a round-robin tourney, with as many jousts as is required to arrive at a definitive winner. This is followed by an all-weapons and any armor grand melee, with individuals being eliminated by judges, yielding or leaving the ring. Last one standing wins.
A golden lance worth 1000gp and a golden sword worth 500gp are the awards for this, as well as seats in the annual festival. (None of these weapons are combat appropriate.)
The best warrior of the tourney is chosen by the thane (usually the winner of the joust, unless one man wins the other events and not the joust) and his award is a blessed (magical) medallion, a place at the Annual festival, a war horse of the thane's choosing and a place of honor at another grand ball, this hosted by the Temple of Palladian.