King Arthur Pendragon RPG

KING ARTHUR PENDRAGON: The Player Knights and the Epic Story

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People sometimes get confused when looking at King Arthur Pendragon. They wonder, “How can my knight matter is the story is already foreordained? How can my knight matter with all these big name knights running around? Should we change the story? Should we replace Lancelot and Gawain with our knights?”

I think those questions are worrying about the wrong things. Here’s why.

I see the game (and I’ve talked about this with Greg Stafford and he concurred) that the game is more like walking The Stations of the Cross in the Catholic Church, if you will. Or, to get less denominational, like the stages of a Hero Quest in HeroQuest. The game asks the Players to sink into the story of Arthur’s rise and fall and experience it as participants who don’t get to change the big story.

Now, contemporary audiences are used to T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and the musical Camelot (based on White’s book), and other recent novels that deal with the “primary players.” But Thomas Mallory and the French romances are really inspiration for Stafford’s game.

If you’ve had a chance to read Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte D’arthur, you’ll notice, strangely, that there’s a lot of Arthur and Guinevere and Lancelot, but there’s a lot more about a lot of other characters. The book is really a collection of stories about lots of knights, of how they stand in relation to each other and how they stand in relation to Arthur.

Seen this way, you and your players are adding tales to that tradition (which I think is an utterly cool and wonderful thing), tales taking place in the foreground of Arthur’s rise and fall. Arthur’s rise and fall and the love triangle take place in the background of the Player Knight’s lives. That’s a huge shift in perspective as people usually think of it, but it’s very important: Arthur isn’t where the action is. Where the Player Knights are is where the action is.

This is all part and parcel of the Traits and Passions mechanics, as well as the bits about disease and aging and death. As Stafford wrote in an earlier edition of the game: “The game tries less to adapt the milieu to the modem mind than to instruct the modern mind to the milieu.” To this end, the Players are placed within a world where they are not the movers and shakers, where magic is outside of the control and understanding, where Passions and Traits and Disease and Death impress themselves upon the Player Knights — and the Players– in ways that would be unthinkable in other RPGs. The Players are both participant and witness, storyteller and shaman telling the tale. (Okay, flowery, but I think I’m being pretty true to Stafford here!)

Another important — really important — point. The Great Campaign is NOT a metaplot as we know it from game lines past. The differences are vital:

In a “metaplot” from most game lines the Players (and even the GM!) had NO idea where the story is going. In Pendragon everyone knows where the story is going. This gives the Players a chance to have their character knights stand in ironic relation to the larger back story of Camelot and Arthur’s rise and fall. This is a HUGE difference. It gives the Players immense creative possibilities to create amazing moments where the choices they make for their knights are fully informed by the story that everyone at the table knows, though their characters do not.

Because everyone knows the backstory, there is either complete buy in or there isn’t on the part of the Players. You never reach that moment when Great Uza (or whomever) dies when supplement #14 comes out, and one or more Players go, “What? That blows! Great Uza is why I was playing this game.”) With the Great King Arthur Campaign, what matters is how the Players choose to plug themselves in events that the know are coming. Will they side with Lancelot or Arthur when the split comes? Well, that’s something to anticipate and plan toward — not be surprised by later on.

There are no railroad tracks. Unlike most metaplot games, where the GM has to keep tearing up and laying down new tracks to make sure the Players don’t get to far afield of what’s really going on. Here is what’s really going on in Pendragon is the lives of the Player Knights. It’s like setting a story against the back drop of World War II and having the Player Characters be the GIs working their way across Europe. Sure, someone might say, “Hey, If your not playing Churchill, Stalin and Hitler, what the hell’s the point?” But most folks can see how playing those GI will be full of drama even if the GM sticks the events of history and the PCs make choices and live out their lives within that drama. But this works in The Great Campaign (maybe counter-intuitively) because all the facts and history are known. In most of the metaplot games, the uber-NPCs really could move and shake everything the PCs had been doing into useless shambles because who the hell knew what the game company was going to publish next month. And the metaplot really was about the Churchill’s and Hitlers of the game world. In Pendragon all the stuff of the Arthur and Camelot and the love triangle is a given. Okay, then — that’s that that’s a given, what is left to explore and discover? The lives of the Player Knights!

So, I wouldn’t want the Players to replace the famous knights — though it’s certainly possible they’ll be sitting alongside them at the Round Table. The story that matters, however, is the story of the Player Knights, a new cycle of tales of men and women caught between the tension of inspiring ideals and grounded realities; the stories of how they conducted themselves as citizens, warriors, lovers, fathers and servants of a king in a land of god, war, fairies, and family.

I explain to new players that they are creating minor nobility characters that history forgot your family’s name perhaps somewhere in a hidden archive is that history which has been hidden in your family vaults for years. Until now when your current future offspring reads about the exploits of their ancestor during the days of king Arthur Pendragon!
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Character Updates
The Knights

First the current KAP year that ended was 513 AD!

When we last saw Sir Adolphus (played by Jimmell Akers), he had just inherited his fathers castle that he needs to desperately fix up, he needs to play through the adventure of Wormegay Castle (Gay in this game means happy by the way). King Farion has ordered him to fix his castle and dig in to buy him some time,, so Sir Adolphus is spending the winter in his castle, and is playing through his castle adventure for his winter phase solo getting his castle ready for the coming winter!

Sir Miles (Played by Chris Z) was courting the beautiful Ahvielle Alarch ferch Amren and is currently courting her at her estate of Stoneleigh and thus he is spending the winter phase on a lovers solo Adventure!

Mean while King Farion (Played by Earl C. Hedges Jr). rallies his knights and prepares for war this winter next spring he will make a surprise strike on Bulith with Sir Fritz Roy (Played by Earl C. Hedges Jr) and Sir Darrow (Played by Darrell Newman). they will be taking back the Kingdom of Bulith. in the Adventure of The Bulith War helping their King, Tathal. The King of Bulith, Tathal , is an information source for the player knights, who are fighting his cause!

Duke Morvid of Gloucester had to retreat into the Kingdom of gold after The Duke Galantis of Clarence Invaded his lands with King Arthur Pendragon The City was besieged and the inhabitants fled leaving behind only a small garrison to hold arthur at bay while the woman children and knights retreated only the Soldiers were left behind with archers!

The Clarence/Gloucester War
The constant war between the rival dukedoms
of Clarence and Gloucester is a result
of the author’s own campaign and research.
It arose from three motivations:

1. A Game Need
I wanted to have a place where mercenaries
and adventurers could always find
work. It is a place where player groups
can always go if they have no other events
of interest available. It also serves to illustrate
the types of war which Arthur has, or
allows, in his kingdom. In early days it is
savage and unbridled. Later, only chivalrous
battles take place.

2. Humor
The constant war gets pretty ridiculous
after a while. The constant need for good
knights gives the gamemaster a chance to
make up various excuses and extravagant
promises which recruiters use to coax men
for their battles. It often ends up to be rival
recruiters promising each others’ lands to
those who will join them.

3. Confusion
I had a terrible time trying to figure out
where Clarence was, or might be. I was
also confused about what the status of
Gloucester was, or could have been. When
I finally learned that the dukes of Clarence
and Gloucester both held the territory
which, in Pendragon is called Clarence and
Gloucester, I finally understood where
this constant war came from: my own confusion their!

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Chapter Four the Boy King Period From the GPC

In this Period, King Arthur takes the throne of Britain and fights a series of fierce battles to hold his claim. He is aided by Merlin in many ways.
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Historical Comparison
The Boy King Period is roughly equivalent to
12th-Century England in terms of culture and warfare.
In many ways, the coming of King Arthur parallels
the end of the Norman dynasty and the coming
of King Henry II of England and the Angevin
dynasty (whose monarchs are commonly called the
Plantagenets). Think too of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine,
the strong wife of Henry, as Queen Guenever.
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Our Campaign
This campaign is largely scripted throughout this
Period. The role of player knights is to participate
in the events and to acquire Glory from the many
battles. Of course, they can choose to find some way
to go off on adventures, but if they do there is the
chance that they will miss much of the action. Remember,
refusing a lord’s command to muster causes
a loss of honor, is a sign of cowardice, and if continued
deserves degradation.

Politics
King Arthur fights first to acquire his throne in
Logres, then to attain the High Kingship of Britain.
He follows the route of conquest, not acclamation, to
become the High King, and thanks in large part to the
recklessness of the other kings of the land, succeeds.

The component power blocks in Britain at this
time are as follows:

Logres: Logres is still broken up into its counties.
The two remaining duchies of Lindsey and Silchester
dominate the lowlands.

Saxon Lands: The south has five kingdoms and
many small chieftains (such as Chief Port or the Haestingas).
Two strong kingdoms encroach upon Malahaut.

Malahaut: The Kingdom of Malahaut is still a
strong kingdom with several cities around Eburacum,
plus the Catterick lands. Numerous hill tribes and
peoples are allies, such as Elmet, Rheged, and the
Pennine tribes.

Norgales: King of Norgales also rules Gomeret,
Snodonia and nearby hill tribes, plus the plain of
Chester.

Cameliard: Cameliard is nervously independent
between aggressive Norgales and protective Lindsey.
The king plays a key part in the upcoming royal story.

Escavalon: The strongest kingdom in south
The city of Carlion, in this land, plays a key part in the upcoming
Arthurian story.

Wales includes The Marcher Lands of Builth, Brycheiniog, Elfael, Ergyng (City of Hereford Capital of KOG), Estregales (which includes Carmarthean, Menevia, Neath, and Pembroke, Pembroke, Gloucester, Gwent, Lamber, Manchester, Kinteton, Warcester, Warwick. All can be found on the cambrian map located in the maps section!

However a Hidden Kingdom Known as the Circle of Gold exist’s to challenge Arthur and His knights, This Kingdom Plays an Important part in the Cambrian War That the players will be taking Part in! For Behold the Secret is revealed that the Kingdom of Gold, The Cercle of Gold, Ergyng with the City of Hereford is Capital of KOG,It is the same kIngdom Big and powerful!

What’s New
The standards in the Boy King Period are slightly
advanced from those of the earlier two Periods. If
something’s not mentioned here, it doesn’t exist at
this time.

Equipment
The following equipment is currently available.

Armor: Better armor becomes commonly available
to most knights who can afford it: 12-point reinforced
chainmail, worn with a closed helm.

Weapons: The newly available weapons are the
jousting lance, morning star, and warflail.
Horses: Chargers become widely available. The
result is that the mounted sergeantry are mounted
upon them as well as all knights.

Clothing: Clothing during this Period shifts
from 5th- or 6th-Century dress to later medieval fashions.
Men wear both a long-sleeved undertunic and
an overtunic of fine wool or linen. The overtunic has
no sleeves, and is fastened at the waist by a belt. Legs
are covered with chausses, which are thick stockings.
Thick leather shoes are common. The cloak is knotted
and pinned at the right shoulder. Hair cuts are
short, with a soup-bowl style being popular among
knights, in part because it suits the type of helmets
being worn. Men are clean-shaven.

Women wear sleeved undertunics
like a man’s. The overtunic, called a
bliant, fits tightly at the waist and flows
into a skirt. The neck is cut low to reveal
the undertunic beneath and is laced up
the sides. Belts are worn around the
waist, and the cloak is attached with a
cord across the neck.

Heraldry
Knighthood is recognized as having
special privileges and rights, and
one of those is to have individual coats
of arms. Personal designs cannot be duplicated
by anyone else in the kingdom,
and in this early period fights and feuds
may occur when people discover someone
else has chosen the same design.
Heralds also make their first appearance
at this time, their job being to
advise and to keep track of the increasingly
complex arms.

Customs
Chivalry is instituted as a real
phenomena in Year 511. Starting three
years later, in 514, King Arthur uses it
as one method of qualifying for membership
in his Round Table, the most
prestigious club in the world.
Women acquire more social status in
this Period. Everyone is quite impressed
that King Arthur marries Guenever for
love rather than (just) politics.

Tournaments
The first tournaments are established
as a method for knights to show
their prowess and practice their skills. It
is also a way to win Glory and, just as
importantly, money.

Three types of events occur: animal
fights, the bohort, and the melee.
The first two are not for knights.
Animal fights are meant for peasant
entertainment; either animals fight each
other (bulls versus bears is popular), or,
occasionally, men fight against beasts.
The bohort is a rough-and-tumble
fight of non-knights seeking to prove their
prowess to overlords, perhaps so that an
individual might be chosen as a squire.
The melee is the primary knightly
event. It is fought between two teams

of knights. An area, often of several square miles,
is marked off as the combat area. It overruns fields,
towns, and vineyards. A safe area, wherein the knights
may not be attacked, is marked for each team. A time
limit is set, usually half a day, and the event begins
and ends only when the marshal’s bugles are blown.
Only sword and lance may be used in the melee.
At first, the sponsor may choose to allow either
blunted or normal weapons, though after a short
while only rebated weapons are used to preserve the
lives and limbs of the combatants. Only fair fighting
is allowed — no attacks from the rear, no multiple
opponents on one, no tricks such as tripping horses
or using dogs to panic steeds. However, there are not
yet any judges to oversee this, so honor is required
from all participants to follow the rules.

Any knight may participate, and he may be assisted
by his squires, servants, or even masses of footmen.
The object is to capture enemy knights and
bring them to the refuge, whereupon they are captured
and forfeit their horse and armor. This is very
expensive for the losers and very lucrative for the
winners. Prisoners who have been captured but not
yet returned to the safe area may attempt to escape
without besmirching their honor.

Fiefs
Fiefs are still grants of land, or perhaps of some
other right (such as raising a toll booth on a bridge,
or taxing part of the income from a town), in return
for fealty and service. However, landlords naturally
still prefer to retain all their income and reluctantly
make such grants. They much prefer temporary gifts
that are not inheritable.

Construction
Commoners start to build their houses with
chimneys. While the army is gone, many new manors
are built with them. This greatly improves the
standard of life inside these buildings.
Motte-and-bailey castles are common because
they are cheap and quick to raise, but stone begins
to replace timber for castles in this Period. The Pendragon
finances many such keeps and stone walls for
his holdings.

The following components become available, at
the given costs, during this Period:
Curtain wall (DV 7): £20 per area
Curtain wall, double (DV 9): £30 per area
Gate and gateworks (DV –1): £6
Gate and gateworks, large (DV –2): £7
Gate and gateworks, postern (DV 0): £6

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How's This For Ambitious?

Starting in January 2000, I began a chronicle of my one-on-one run of Pendragon Campaign, played by myself. This page collects all the game reports and analysis produced over the three-and-a-half years this campaign solo campaign!
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Ah, here we are in 2000 all of a sudden. Hello and happy New Year everyone!

I have returned with an ambitious plan to kick off the first post of the new year. It all started a couple weeks ago when, for reasons I’m still not too clear on, I pulled out the character I ran in my Pendragon campaign last summer. There were a couple things I wanted to check on for whatever reason, but I ended up just sort of going over the character sheets and remembering how much fun that campaign was. It was a short one, especially by Pendragon standards, covering only about 10 years of game time in the span of maybe a dozen or so sessions, but even in that short amount of time some great stories were woven, epic moments sprang up, new legends were born. It’s really almost alchemical how Pendragon just…generates epic moments, almost like some kind of weird mystical engine clanking and puttering away, randomly dropping out gold nuggets.

Quite subtly, almost imperceptibly, I started thinking about Pendragon again, like a recovering alcoholic contemplating just one more sip of the sweet stuff. “Why not run a little one-shot over the holidays?” I thought to myself. Why not indeed. I came up with a modest little scenario idea, and decided to play the adventures of Prince Farion!

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My memories a sad day!
Christmas has never been the same!

By the time KAP 4th came out I was having personal issues it would soon turn out to be a sad christmas this year though we had a christmas dinner cooked and presents under the tree it was not a happy time for me nor my dad!

His dad my grandfather who I played the Pendragon game with died! On December 25th 1999 he passed away! Me and my grandmother tried playing it with out grandpa to entertain her but she missed him in tears would come in her eyes a short time later she had a stroke from the stress and my Aunt put her in a home!

Things would get worse during our churches new years party of praying in the new year my mom suffered a stoke feel and hit her elbow on the piano bench she was taken to the hospital, we would later find out that her diabetes had gotten worse and eventually it would cost her in more ways then one! She lost the use of her legs due to diabetic neuropathy and would suffer from it for the next 14 years! It was left to me to look after her with dad helping out when he was not working!

At this point I was determined to play by my self while looking after mom!

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