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Old April 4th, 2013, 08:48 PM
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Default Pendragon

As my current campaign is coming to a precipice point, and my wife isn't enjoying it, I've started my prep work for Pendragon (Which she wants to play). She's a bit burned on Sci-Fi.

What is Pendragon?

King Arthur Pendragon is a Historical Fantasy RPG set in Arthurian England, Focused upon the last few years of Uther Pendragon's reign, through the first 15 years after the death of Arthur Pendragon, aka Arddur ap Uther.

Grounded in a blend of mostly three sources, namely Sir Thomas Mallory's Le Morte d'Artur, T.H. White's The Once and Future King, and the Welsh traditional Mabinogion, the game has its own timeline, from roughly 485-600AD, with rules that compress, due to the magic of Arthur's reign, 10 centuries of tech into a 7 "phases" of 15 years. (Phase 0 is the interregnum, post Uther and pre-Arthur; Phase 1 is the "normal" start point, and begins with the Coronation of Arthur, and 800's tech.)

Players play knights in Arthurian Britain. Ok, in 4E, they can also play ladies of the knightly and noble classes, minor nobles, and even magicians of the Christian, Celtic-pagan, or Wotanic Traditions (and in expansions, Pictish heathenism).

Mechanically, it's a relative of Chaosium's BRP, but using 1d20 instead of 1d100, and annual skill gains, not monthly nor session based. Generally, the mechanic is "High but under" - in opposed rolls, which are EXTREMELY common, Rolls higher than skill are counted as 0, rolls of exactly skill are counted as a successful 20 (and a crit), and rolls under skill count as the roll; a 20 that's over skill fumbles. Skills over 20, you automatically succeed, and get to add the amount your TN is over 20 to the die roll before comparisons, with any roll of 20+ being a critical and counted as a 20.

It also uses a bunch of personality trait ratings... which both respond to how you play the character, and can override player agency for short periods.

What I love about Pendragon
  • Awesome setting
  • Simple, elegant rules
  • low prep (at least if one has Boy King or Great Pendragon Campaign)
  • Mechanical enhancement of the theme
  • long term character growth (Watch them knights grow old and die, then play their children!)
  • Name Lists prevent most silly names
  • PC's are killed readily
  • mechanical resolution of non-combat activities

Why I use 4E
Magic System and wider variety of starting characters.

Things I'm considering doing
The I, Mordred approach
Arthur isn't the goodie-two-shoes White and Mallory make him out to be, but a vicious and cruel tyrant, imposing a heretical christian variant (Grail Christianity) upon both Pagan and Christian alike, encouraging adultery, and robbing the minor nobility, all with the aid of his evil Wizard Mentor, Merlin ... His bastard son, Mordred, however, is, genuinely out to right the wrongs, and bring down the tyrant...

No Merlin
Merlin kills his magic off in casting the enchantment that protects Arthur's realm... it's permanent, and worse, it cripples the old goat right as Arthur needs him the most - the phase 1 consolidation of britain. Merlin provides advice, when Nimue lets him...

Longer Phases
Making the phases 20 or 25 years instead of 15. This renders constructions more "current" and reduces the need to spend a ton of on upgrading kit as often. At 25 years, it also means a full generation per phase, rather than 1 per 2 phases.

Let's resist this Arthur Guy!
Prince Mark has just come to the throne of King of Cornwall... can you, his vassals and vauvassars, defend Cornwall against this Emperor Arddur and his designs of uniting the Angles, Saxons, Cymri, Welsh, Picts, and Cornish into a cohesive empire?

This is just a different angle on the standard timeline.
~ Aramis /trav
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