Combat Poets

A game for 2+ poets and one arbiter, originally a one-page RPG.

You are a poet, or that’s what they say,
But not for love or craft or memory.
Your verse is for that highest goddess, pay,
And causes all competitors to flee.

Our Sexless and Beautiful Monarch arrived nearly five years ago, calmly walking in from the waste wrapped in the entrails of our previous warlord. Our Esteemed Ruler is a true lover of all art, but they especially love poetry. You chosen poets have one month to prove your craft. The winner will sit at our Majesty’s side. The others will be fed to those slavering dogs you hear, whose palates have developed a fine appreciation for overripe poetasters.

You will each deliver a poem a week. For our Lovely and Rippling Ruler, a week may consist of any amount of time. After four weeks, the poet with the highest measure will be crowned. The others, if they survive–well, I’ve already mentioned the dogs.

Esteem is measured in syllables, which are known in these parts as His/her Perfect Majesty’s Poetics, or HPMP. You begin with 100 HPMP, and you may utilize them in any way you see fit. Each week, our Monarch will choose a theme for your poems. Our Omnipotent Ruler will choose a winner, who can distribute 20 HPMP of “damage” to the other poets or regain 10 HPMP (up to a maximum of 100).

While any sorts of poems are accepted, we here in the Wretched Kingdom have developed some regional variations that may serve you well to utilize. The numbers below indicate the syllables per line, and matching letters indicate rhyme scheme. If you fail to understand this, I expect to soon be filching valuables from your poem-punctured corpse.

Iambic Pentameter Couplets, “The Bastard’s Sonnet”

Use all your current syllables to create a poem in iambic pentameter (10 syllables per line) with optional rhyming couplets. Must have at least 20 HPMP to use.

10 A 10 A
10 A or… 10 B
10 B 10 A
10 B 10 B
etc.

Each correctly iambic line prevents 5 damage that week (50 max). Each rhyming couplet deals 5 damage to a poet of your choice (25 max).

Double Limerick, “Dual-Wielded Doggerel”

Utilizing all your HPMP, follow the format below. Must have at least 42 HPMP to use.

10 A
10 A
6 B
6 B
10 A
(repeat)

Each rhyming and correctly rhythmed “small” couplet (the 6B above) deals 10 damage. Each rhyming triplet deals 20 damage. Thus, a perfectly executed Double Limerick deals 60 damage.

Haiku, “The Last Resort”

You know the drill.

5
7
5

While only usable at 25 or less HPMP, a haiku, when properly written, will prevent all damage dealt to a poet that week. However, if chosen as the winner, the poet cannot deal the usual 20 damage. Their only option is to regain 10 HPMP.

At the end of each week, all poets must present their poems aloud to You Know Who. In all matters of rhyme and pronunciation, Our Majesty is the final arbiter of truth. However, the Fated Ruler of All is aware of our language as a living, writhing beast, so common variants of pronunciation are often accepted. Also, the Great and Benevolent Dictator is known to disqualify or require a certain format some weeks according to Their infinitely wise whims.

A poet reduced to 0 HPMP is thrown to the dogs. The poet with the most HPMP at the end of the month (or the last poet standing) is given a laurel made of garbage. All others will be eaten.

So please announce your name and where you’re from. List your accolades, disparage your rivals, and let the poetry begin.

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