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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 Ł 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.
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  #2  
Old April 4th, 2013, 09:22 PM
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Nice write-up. Sounds interesting. Thanks, Wil.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 10:46 PM
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Having just checked, both the mabinogion and Le Morte are up at project gutenberg... I've read them both, but can't find my copy of LeMorte, and don't own a copy of the Mabinogion.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 11:03 PM
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Personally I played Pendragon 1st ed when I was young and own 4E, the boy king and many other supplements.

I don't like the addition of magic rules, as one of the things 1st edition said was that precisely there are no rules (or at least rules a human can understand) in the faery world (and by extension to magic), and simply ruled that the GM should arbitrariely use it.

And one of my favorite features of the game is the personality traits, that shape your character actions, and the passions, that allow near-suprahuman faits.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McPerth View Post
Personally I played Pendragon 1st ed when I was young and own 4E, the boy king and many other supplements.

I don't like the addition of magic rules, as one of the things 1st edition said was that precisely there are no rules (or at least rules a human can understand) in the faery world (and by extension to magic), and simply ruled that the GM should arbitrariely use it.

And one of my favorite features of the game is the personality traits, that shape your character actions, and the passions, that allow near-suprahuman faits.
The magic system does NOT cover what faeries can do... explicitly not in the English 4e. And explicitly doesn't allow control over major fey.

And, it's slow enough that it's not unbalancing, and explains a lot of why Merlin and Morgana don't do more... That said, having it doesn't preclude not using it... And no one I've let play a magician has wanted to repeat the experience... But they're all glad I've got a consistent set of mechanics to work with for adjudicating what the magician can do.
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Archduke of Sylea (CORE 2118)
Duke of the Third Imperium (SPIN 0534)
Count Terra (SOLO 1827)
Count Gorod (REFT 1302)
Count of the Third Imperium (SPIN 2232)
Viscount of Adabicci (SPIN 1824)
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Sir William Hostman (OLDE 0512)
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SEH w/Diamonds for Extreme Heroism - Battle of Boughene
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Wil Hostman 0602 C539857-9 S A724
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Old April 5th, 2013, 12:44 AM
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Sounds like fun. Have you read Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles*, which is his retelling of the Arthur legends? Good stuff, and one thing I liked about it is that while the viewpoint character sometimes believes that magic is happening, it is told in such a way that the magic might be real or might not.


* Three novels: The Winter King, Enemy of God, and Excalibur

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Old April 5th, 2013, 01:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceBadger View Post
Sounds like fun. Have you read Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles*, which is his retelling of the Arthur legends? Good stuff, and one thing I liked about it is that while the viewpoint character sometimes believes that magic is happening, it is told in such a way that the magic might be real or might not.


* Three novels: The Winter King, Enemy of God, and Excalibur
No, I've not. I have, however, Read Anne McCaffrey's Black horses for the King, which is probably the closest to the "real Arddur ap Udder" - Arddur as Dux Bellorum, not as Pendragon (high king).
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Archduke of Sylea (CORE 2118)
Duke of the Third Imperium (SPIN 0534)
Count Terra (SOLO 1827)
Count Gorod (REFT 1302)
Count of the Third Imperium (SPIN 2232)
Viscount of Adabicci (SPIN 1824)
Marquis of the Solomani Rim (SOLO 0606)
Marquis of the Third Imperium (SPIN 2410)
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Knight of the Iridium Throne (CORE 1434)
Sir William Hostman (OLDE 0512)
Sir William Hostman (DAGU 0622)
Knight of Deneb (REFT 2239)
Knight of Deneb (Spin 2532)
SEH w/Diamonds for Extreme Heroism - Battle of Boughene
MCG - Battle of Boughene
TAS: William Hostman (CORR 2506)
TAS: Bearer (DAIB 1326)
IMTU ct+ tm++ tne tg-- tt+ tmo+ t4- t20+ to ru+ ge+ 3i+ c+ jt au ls pi+ ta he+ st+
Wil Hostman 0602 C539857-9 S A724
OTU: 95% 3i an+ au+ br- cpu± dt± f+ fs++ ge± ih- inf± j± jf+ jm+ jt+ ls- n= nc+ pi+ pp-- tp+ tr+ tv- vi-- xb+-
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Old April 5th, 2013, 02:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post
Name Lists prevent most silly names
What? No 'Sir Effing Bastage'?

Every once in a while, Dragon Magazine would have an article or advertisement for Pendragon, if I remember right. Seemed like a cool game.
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Old April 5th, 2013, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spinward Scout View Post
What? No 'Sir Effing Bastage'?

Every once in a while, Dragon Magazine would have an article or advertisement for Pendragon, if I remember right. Seemed like a cool game.
I have always detested silly names for anything but Toon and TFFV. Having a canonical names list, I can say, "Pick from These"...

And Pendragon, with a half decent GM, and either Boy King or GPC, turns into the big epic multi-generational campaign from hell. My campaign always bogged down when they started needing to take vassal knights to staff all their disparate manors... In one game, that was late in phase 1
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Archduke of Sylea (CORE 2118)
Duke of the Third Imperium (SPIN 0534)
Count Terra (SOLO 1827)
Count Gorod (REFT 1302)
Count of the Third Imperium (SPIN 2232)
Viscount of Adabicci (SPIN 1824)
Marquis of the Solomani Rim (SOLO 0606)
Marquis of the Third Imperium (SPIN 2410)
Baron of the Third Imperium (SPIN 2231)
Knight of the Iridium Throne (CORE 1434)
Sir William Hostman (OLDE 0512)
Sir William Hostman (DAGU 0622)
Knight of Deneb (REFT 2239)
Knight of Deneb (Spin 2532)
SEH w/Diamonds for Extreme Heroism - Battle of Boughene
MCG - Battle of Boughene
TAS: William Hostman (CORR 2506)
TAS: Bearer (DAIB 1326)
IMTU ct+ tm++ tne tg-- tt+ tmo+ t4- t20+ to ru+ ge+ 3i+ c+ jt au ls pi+ ta he+ st+
Wil Hostman 0602 C539857-9 S A724
OTU: 95% 3i an+ au+ br- cpu± dt± f+ fs++ ge± ih- inf± j± jf+ jm+ jt+ ls- n= nc+ pi+ pp-- tp+ tr+ tv- vi-- xb+-
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Old April 5th, 2013, 11:51 AM
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Long (back in early 90's) ago, I played in a campaign of PBM (not yet email, as most people didn't have it by then) based on the Nobles Book (1E) where each player was a petty noble (a banneret at the begining) begining in 492 (just after Uther's death) and whose objective was to grow your family and fief and raise glory.

It was run in quarterly turns, each divided in 3 months, in each of wich you took a major action (akin of En Garde!'s weeks).

Of course, the most importat matters were the economic management of your fief and the military management of your troops (about 10 knights and 20-40 footmen at start).

You could be promoted in nobility (and given more troops and larger fief) for heroic acts in combat, good victories for your King...

It was quite an interesting campaign. Sadly it only lasted about 5-6 game years (I don't remember exactly) ...
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