Sunday, June 1, 2014

[Pendragon] The Great Pendragon Campaign: Year 498 - Merely the Continuation of Policy by Other Means

The knights of Salisbury get political this year, choosing sides, supporting factions…and raising armies and launching invasions!? Yep.



Featuring:

Brendan
Jade
Renae
Jen

The campaign's wiki can be found here.

27 comments:

  1. It's all fun and games until someone goes insane and/or attempts to eliminate the most plot-critical NPC of all time in a battle that was presumably an epic fight between a man torn with grief over the hard years to come in order to achieve a brighter tomorrow, and a knight who can only avenge the betrayal and dishonour that he sees before him. Truly a fight worth betting on and making out like a bandit to make up for a hard tribute year.

    Also without David S, family members die, people go insane, criticals do minimal damage, creepy uncles make headway with the group mother, and battle leaders give up without a fight. Really all the bad luck seemed to cancel itself out though.

    It's always dangerous to play a campaign in a pre-written narrative because sometimes characters you know are supposed to how up later do get killed off through PC action (usually deliberately). When playing a Star Wars Clone Wars RPG, a friend of mine burst into a room and immediately hosed down a random area in order to intimidate people so that they would listen to him. That random area happened to contain a surprised Count Dooku, who was instantly cut down. That was a fun, awkward silence.

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    1. I can't remember if this is in the GPC specifically, or whether I read it elsewhere, but Greg Stafford's position as far as the Great Pendragon Campaign goes is that there are only three "plot immune" characters: Arthur, Guenever, and Lancelot. Without that central trio, the overall narrative arc kind of falls apart. Everybody else--including Mordred, Merlin, Gawaine, the whole lot--is fair game as far as PC actions impacting them goes.

      If Merlin had died, it would have altered things somewhat, sure, but the story could have gone on. In fact, we've now nearly had *two* major characters die (first Brastias, now Merlin), and I'm a tad disappointed that they've both survived, simply because their deaths would have made my job as GM a bit more interesting. I like getting thrown curveball challenges like that.

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    2. Merlin is straightforward to replace, as pretty much everything he does can be done by the Lady of the Lake. (In Pendragon, one of the several Ladies of the Lake, but I don't like that.) The story might even be more better if one boiled it down to one single pro-Arthur magical figure with mysterious motives, if that's not heretical to say.

      On another note, I've become a huge Ellen/Blaines shipper, just because I can't wait to see how our heroes would cope with Sir Blaines as an authority figure in their lives. Bring on the happy day!

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    3. "More better." Well, it would be.

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    4. Yeah, I figured after the session that a Lady of the Lake would logically take Merlin's place. That's the thing: outside of the central trio, everyone's ultimately replaceable, either with another NPC or maybe even with a PC!

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    5. I'm so happy to hear people rooting for Blains and Ellen. Every week brings us closer to the inevitable and I am just as excited to soak in the players' dismay during the nuptials.

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    6. I'm rooting for them, but only because I hold out hope that Ellen is going to provoke Essex into attacking Salisbury, and then forcing either Wessex or Sussex (or both) into defending her new territory, thus weakening all three Saxon kingdoms that are threatening them as well as opening Salisbury up to annexation.

      I'm a big fan of overly complicated political maneuverings.

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    7. There's so much potential for destabilizing Salisbury. Having played through the GPC once and doing everything in all my characters' powers to save it, I love coming back and tearing it up for fun.

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  2. Well, I was wondering when the player knights would deal with the de Wallingford brothers. I almost expected them to do so as soon as they heard it, but that just goes to show that they're not the young, impulsive knights who lopped people's arms off for saying bad things about them.
    Out of curiosity, though, what makes you choose to make the players roll their notable traits/passions with success meaning the passion takes over? I would imagine that it depends based on the trait/passion, but it struck me as an interesting thing to know.

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    1. The rules for invoking traits and passions are fairly loose, up to a certain point. There are three circumstances in which they can be invoked:

      1) The player voluntarily rolls against a trait, passion, or opposed trait pair.
      2) The GM calls for a roll because he feels the situation warrants it, either based on the current game fiction or based on player actions.
      3) If the trait or passion is "notable" (16 or above), a roll is _mandatory_ in appropriate situations. For example, a notable Hate passion would require a roll whenever the object of one's hatred is in the vicinity; a notable Valorous trait would require a roll if the player was otherwise trying to avoid combat. These mandatory rolls are the most fun, as they tend to produce uncomfortable or even hazardous situations or force players to act in ways they wouldn't otherwise. But I do love it when players voluntarily roll against their non-notable traits or passions "just to see what happens." :)

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    2. I wasn't sold at first on the idea of what I usually relegate to roleplaying decisions being left to skills, but I think the idea has grown on me. It's a nice system of representing concretely how you view your character is reflected by their actions, and it is nice to sometimes nudge players in directions their characters might not like.

      Also, I liked this quote from Des so much I made it an out-of-date internet reference: http://tinyurl.com/BlainsAdversary

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    3. I wish I had video-taped Des's reaction when she saw that, Jake. You made her week!

      *Voord99*: "Ellen/Blains shipper" is one of my new favorite phrases.

      Thanks, all, for your continuing feedback and fandom. ;)

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    4. Jake, thank you so much for making that amazing mage. It really boosted my spirits on a few levels. From a gaming stance it is most helpful because you wouldn't believe the glares I get from all sides of the table. It's kind of disheartening to have animosity from fellow players when I am used to working with them as a team. As "The Adversary" I get a lot of grief from the PCs and sometimes I doubt my motives when I am doing things to undermine them. I understood this would be the dynamic from the get-go, but I didn't expect to feel all of their negativity, which I have rightfully earned!

      Knowing that you and other listeners are enjoying my turns in my adversarial roles really pepped me up today. Thanks so much :)

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    5. Being the adversary seems like a tough role, and one that I still don't like as a GM. I understand the advantages of being a player antagonist, but I always worry it could lead to unfair resentment at the table. As the GM sure I may throw unexpected alien horrors made of sentient worms that devour people and assume their identities, turning trusted allies against the players and making it impossible for them to trust anyone, but that's my job! Whenever Blains shows up I can hear people want to hate and distrust him (such a jerk!) but on the other hand that is the appropriate response since he is usually in an antagonistic role. Plus everyone hates the new stepdad. Also he burned Cynrain and Vergil's estates, and it's hard to recover from that impression.

      I think your best adversary-ing is as Sir Jaradan, since when he shows up it's usually in a role that isn't aligned with the PCs, but there's no real animosity between them, it's just that they have different goals. There is a sense of sad reluctance to take sides in a Merlin/Jaradan fight... or desire to start betting. Whichever.

      Also making image macros is a fun way to distract myself from marking, so I made a couple more. I made some for Jaradan, and you can find my folder here if you're curious: http://tinyurl.com/EsotericAdvice

      Jaradan needs a better shield composition. Dark green on pure white? That's just awful.

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    6. Those shield macros are FANTASTIC. Love 'em.

      Technically, Jaradan's shield is dark green on "silver"--which is represented by pure white. Generally, "colors" (red, green, blue, black, purple) should be displayed over "metallics" (yellow/gold, white/silver). There are rules to this heraldry thing that don't conform to your modern design criteria, sir! ;)

      This has been my first time using an adversary player in a game, and it's been a really interesting experience so far. I think you're right that the more ambivalent adversaries like Jaradan are more interesting, but at the same time, I'm loving what Des is bringing to the table with Blains (and looking forward to what she'll do with other scheming villain-types like Morgan or Mordred) simply because she's coming up with these machinations on her own, stuff that I almost certainly would not have conceptualized myself because I was too busy running the rest of the campaign. One of my weaknesses as a GM is the tendency to focus on one plot thread/NPC at a time to the exclusion of the others. This way, no matter what else is going on, Blains is always lurking around as a threat, and the players know it.

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  3. Just now tuning in after illness/travel. Looking at Concorde's winter phase and his desire to squeeze his peasants, I realized if I were at the table I'd have sung this.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2dImprgiB8

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    1. I have no doubt you would have, Dave.

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  4. I have finally caught up to this newest episode and wow that was pretty hype how the characters are taking action on their own now and have enough personal power to raise armies. With Sir Cynrain I do not see why the player would have to give up their player for a new one. It seems the responsibility of count would take up time but the Pendragon logic is that usually a Pendragon adventure would take a month out the year at most and the day to day running of cities would be run by city officials instead of in the this case the Count. Especially even though its on a smaller scale in that the character is already a banneret I do not see Count as to big of a jump.

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    1. I love how the group has taken to their new-found autonomy. Should be interesting to see how things pan out from here. Now they're invading neighboring counties--what next? ;)

      As for Cynrain: the idea isn't to permanently retire the character, but rather rotate him out of "active" service, effectively making him one of Jade's back-up characters. I think I mentioned during the session that Cynrain could still come back whenever Jade felt it might be appropriate (particularly to lead battles), but, as the main rulebook says:

      "Since a character with even a minor barony is 'set for life,' he has in effect 'won' the game of Pendragon. A baron is no longer compelled to follow the life of an adventuring knight errant. When a player character receives such a grant, he should retire for a while to learn about the land, pay off the relief, create an heir, and so on. As a lord, he can now grant knighthood to his own squires and other loyal men; for all intents and purposes, he enters the ranks of 'semi-retired player knights.'"

      It's tempting to allow a baron- or count-level knight to carry on the primary character, but I've run campaigns before in which I've done that and there really is a shift in tone and excitement. There's a book forthcoming called The Book of the Warlord that promises to provide some tips and systems for running higher-level nobles, but even then the feel of the game would be radically different from the default "adventuring knight" setup.

      Still and all, the important thing to remember is that Cynrain will still be around, even if he becomes a count!

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    2. I'm glad that you've been counting Cynrain's many noble deeds, and that it's time for him to stand up and be counted among the leadership of the land. He's counting down to age retiring his adventuring days anyway, and if he he stops to count coup I think he'll see that his attempts to better Logres have counted for the better. He's a knight that could always be counted on, and now he will be a Count worth counting!

      I mean you should absolutely discuss this with your fellow players, and I'm sure they'll be bad to have Cynrain semi-retired and might even ask for you to stay. Just remember: In feudalism, it's your count that votes.

      Okay think I'm done. I've made enough puns. By my count anyway.

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    3. ::begins researching how to block users from ever commenting again::

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    4. What? No! I can change! I promise I'll be better in the future! Don't count me out yet!

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    5. I have to admit, the comments section would be pretty baron without you, Jake. See that you do change your punning ways, though, or earl be sorry.

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    6. My comments only ever wanted to serf you, but I guess there's no accounting for taste.

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  5. I was recently perusing your Rpg Corner and have been reading and enjoying your solo GPC I can totally agree that Herringdale was a beast. On that note have you ever considered recording an alternate history in which Herringdale in the battle of Badon's Hill actually had one hitpoint left. I just think it would be cool to hear or read about an old war dog like Herringdale deal with more and more supernatural entities.

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    1. Glad you're enjoying the write-ups! (It's a little weird to be simultaneously writing actual play reports and posting actual-play recordings for the same campaign in two iterations.)

      I've never considered doing an alternate history, actually. That's an interesting concept, although I think Des and I were both quite satisfied with how things panned out with Herringdale. Character mortality is just something one has to embrace when playing long-form Pendragon. Still, it is an interesting concept. Maybe in this campaign some of our "old guard" knights will live long enough to see the Enchantment of Britain...

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    2. Just a suggestion on my part. I just liked when it was touched on slightly in the last few years of Herringdale. I would love to hear or read about a character who did live that long in a Pendragon Campaign you would be like Ser Barristan Selmy at that point.

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