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As part of my existing Pathfinder campaign, I want to run an in-game tournament between twelve adventuring parties. The PCs would form one team. The other 11 are NPC teams put forward by NPC nobles. The nobles are running the tournament within the story.

At the end of the tournament, we'd see each team ranked by its performance:

First Place: Team PlayerCharacter
Second Place: Team Orc
Third Place: Team Goblin
...
Twelfth Place: Team Kobold

How would I design such a tournament? What elements do I need to consider? Some other GM must have run something like this before. I am looking for a precedent which worked for that GM.

A single game of Capture The Flag wouldn't work, as that produces one team that wins and eleven teams that lost.

I could run a knock-out tournament between sixteen teams, in a series of team vs team cage matches. That produces a result where one team gets gold in first place, other teams get second, third and fourth, along with four teams that lost the semi-finals and eight teams that lost the first qualifying round.

I would rather not have the competition turn into a gladiator ring death match. I'm looking for examples more like a scavenger hunt.

The answer I seek would have precedent and examples that would make sense in a High Fantasy setting. I have no experience with convention play nor Pathfinder Society play; if those have precedent I have not been able to find it.

The best idea I have come up with on my own is that a committee of judges would time some sort of scavenger hunt. There'd be some number (like 20) items to collect; teams are ranked by how quickly they can bring back the most items. I'm hoping someone here has run something like this already (with a better framework than what I've proposed) and can provide guidance on what worked (and what didn't).

Even an answer like "Go look up XYZ scoring" would help, if XYZ were an example of how to score multiple tournament participants.

I want to run this tournament "in the game" for my players. My friends and I are not interested in participating in RPGA / convention tournaments.

While I have not yet found examples of "how to calculate tournament scoring", I'd be willing to consider what the examples say, if they help answer my question and provide a rank to each participating party.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl This question looks a lot like "how to score teams at a Convention" and there's probably either a book or an online resource that provides an outline for how to run a con with RPG's in it. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 21 '16 at 12:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Korvin EPL scoring is way more complicated and richer than tournament scoring though, and that rich complexity is what's sought. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 21 '16 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie OK, I guess a suggestion to look into ELO will not be well received. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 21 '16 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Edited with the goal of achieving an answer that is not based on opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – StandardEyre Mar 23 '16 at 2:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ What you are looking for is experience in such a tournament: something that worked. Not as broad as originally. If nobody has done it, it may take a while to find that out. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 23 '16 at 3:08
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Goodman Games has written something akin to what you are looking for : XCrawl. It's a dungeon crawling rpg in the strictest sense of the expression : the character are dungeon crawling athletes opposed to a "dungeon judge" (DJ) whose work is to design the deadliest crawls.

The original setting takes place in a medieval-fantastic-future world but is supposed to be adaptable to any fantasy world - it's even in the first page of the GM section.

What seems the most important to you would be the "Scoring the Crawl" section : the base is time, but there is a whole table dedicated to calculate scores. It's quite simple - were traps avoided or disarmed, were the PC wounded, how were the room cleaned, and a couple "showmanship" rewards - but can make for a fun evening.

I'd advise to set a maximum score possible to your crawl, then decide on fixed score for the NPC teams. If you use time as a measure of success, decide of your NPC team times. The problem being you'll have to handwave the time to run between the rooms.

I'm basing this out of the D&D3.5 version of the game, but there exists a Pathfinder version.

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