Sunday, August 3, 2014

[Pendragon] The Great Pendragon Campaign: Year 508 - A Mixed Bag of Death

It’s a battle for the future of Logres as King Nanteleod and King Cerdic face off at Netley Marsh, with the fate of Salisbury in particular hanging in the balance.



Featuring:

Jade
Brendan
Jen
Renae
Dave S.
And…Edie the Dog.

The campaign's wiki can be found here.

22 comments:

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    1. "Every man dies; not every man really lives." --Sir Blains

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    2. I am still going to quietly wave my "I believe in Sir Blains" flag.

      Plus side: This is going to inspire a lot of soon-to-be knights to avenge him.

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    3. From the Amesbury Chronicle, under 508:

      In this battle also died Blains, most gentle knight of Silchester, and a true lover, who overcame all the evil talk of the men of Salisbury with his kindness and modesty.

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  2. Spoiler Alert:
    The death of Nanteleod and Blains was that scripted? Because, it seemed like the player actions didn't matter in that they actually did pretty well in the battle all things considered and it still seems like things completely and utterly out of their control caused their defeat.

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    1. Short answer: yes. The GPC has a lot of scripted events of this nature. Oftentimes, the outcome of a battle, or perhaps certain outcomes within the battle, is/are indeed predetermined before it even starts. The idea, in terms of game play, is to look at the PCs' performance within the microcosm of their experience--how did they do, on a personal level? The GPC emphasizes this point several times: the point is to experience the saga of the PCs' households and how much Glory they can accumulate over the generations, not necessarily to become movers and shakers (although this can happen), solving every dilemma and puzzle put in their way in the manner of D&D.

      That said, I'm never shy about letting PC actions derail scripted events. I'm just not going to go out of my way to facilitate that. It just so happened (completely by chance, wonderfully enough) that the PCs found themselves in the right place at the exact right time to join their banner to Blains just before he was due to make his own ride to glory, and had they done so I would've played through Prince Cynric's assassination run and given them an opportunity to stop it. The fact that their dislike of Blains made it so that they never even considered the option of joining up with him was, in my opinion, just icing on the delicious irony cake.

      As for Blains dying, that was at Des's request. She wanted him to go down fighting, and I asked her if she thought he would die a hero trying to defend the king. She answered an emphatic "yes," and that was that. :)

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    2. Personally, I didn't realize that was an option. If I had, I probably would have voted to join Nanteleod's banner rather than Blains'. Still, it would have been Des' decision in the end, regardless.

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    3. An interesting point. Like I said, I didn't go out of my way to encourage you guys joining up with either banner because, as you point out, there are hierarchies of command involved here, and also I'm not trying to lead you all around by the hand more than I have to (due to said hierarchies).

      On the other hand, this is a simulation of medieval-style warfare; this is hardly a time of rigid chains of command, and you guys would have totally been in your rights to say, "We're going to try and join up with the King!" Particularly if you're back in the camp or rear areas--a perfect time to reorganize and recommit. There are elements of the system and setting I sometimes take for granted that you all may not immediately pick up on.

      Going forward, it's a bit like the situation with feasts: if an NPC gets mentioned, they're effectively "on the table" in terms of being there to interact with in an appropriate capacity. It's a soft option, and not one that needs to be followed up on by any means. But it's always an option. Hierarchies of command are only so powerful - this isn't Victorian England, and characters in Arthurian tales are constantly going off and doing what they want, or cajoling their fellows to do the same.

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    4. Well, you guys were trying to join up with Nanteliod, there were just Saxons in between the two of you. I also from listening didn't realise that Blains was an option for grouping up, because by asking them to make an Awareness test to notice he was rallying forces, I took it to mean he was doing it some distance away from the PCs, and the time that it would've taken them to go rendez-vous with him would leave Nanteliod in danger. I was expecting the charge to work like other battle charges, where finishing off your opponent in the first strike would've allowed you to break through and make a second attack against the real threat, which in this case was Prince Cynric?

      These are all questions that the Knights can ask themselves in the grim aftermath of the battle. Did their pride refuse to allow them to consider teaming up with Sir Blains, or were they merely concerned about getting to Nanteliod as fast as possible? Could they have made it through the charge, or was a concentration of Salisbury's best (and not elderly) knights actually caused the Saxons to throw more forces at delaying them? Have Cynrain and Cormac yet again been witness to the destablization of Britain through their own uncertainty as to how they should act?

      I'm sure the pronouncement that you can probably knock out two years next week is a sign that everything's going to be okay and not depressing.

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    5. It's always interesting to hear how things sound on the other side of the screen (or castle, in this case). One of the luxuries of running a long-term campaign like this is that we as a group can get to a point of understanding each others' cues. In cases like this, in the future, I might expect a bit more interrogation from the players in regards to where precisely a given NPC is, what his situation/condition is, etc. One thing to keep in mind is that each battle round represents an hour of time passing, so even if Blains was a ways away, it would have been possible to ride over and engage with him in the time frame of a battle round.

      And yeah, the way I was picturing the events playing out in my mind was that Blains, being a little ways off, was in a perfect spot to get straight to the king, whereas the PCs had a bunch of Saxons between them and the king. But that wouldn't have been obvious until the PCs' unit had approached Blains. So there was a lot going on behind the scenes, as it were, and not anything I necessarily expected the PCs to act on. But I have to think that if it had been the Duke of Clarence or Sir Amig or another ally-type, things just might have played out differently? Who knows--the what-ifs are part of the fun. :)

      As for the charge, we didn't go into round-by-round melee because by that point it was too late. When the PCs' banner got pushed back to the camp, I decided that they could join up with Blains and have a shot at defending the king, but otherwise there'd be no way to save him due to the swarming hordes of Saxons in the way. So we really only needed to play through the charge itself, because by that point it was all over.

      As for the next couple years...yes. Everything's going to be totally okay.

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    6. They had probably sent all their Saxons over there because they had seen Cynrain, and realised how much they could've ransomed him for if they captured him. Also I was thinking Blains could've tried to let out a call to rally Salisbury forces, but the best way to exploit a hole in the enemy formation is probably not to scream out that you see a hole in the enemy formation and everyone should come here so that you can exploit this weakness.

      Really if you think of Blains yet again using the PCs as his own personal pawns as a diversion to allow him reach Nanteliod and gain the glory for saving the day, everything went exactly as planned. Right up until he died. That's probably the mindset he would've wanted to die with.

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    7. Which is probably what you, as the GM, were really planning the whole time. I merely figured out through logical application of the clues you had laid out what was going on behind the die-rolling screen!

      *WINK*

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    8. It's more or less where my brain (and Des's intentions) were at, but the connecting details always emerge after play, don't they? One of the best summaries of the RPG experience I ever read is courtesy of Mike Mornard, one of the original D&D players, and it was something along the lines of, "RPGs are a story told in retrospect."

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    9. It's a trick I've used on a number of occasions as well. I can have motivations and reasons for why people do things, but it's only once the dust has settled and the wave upon wave of helpless NPC followers are cleaned away that the survivors attempt to compose a narrative to help them understand what happened, which is sort of what history is.

      Also, I don't know if your players should write off their Hate Blains passion yet because now they're going to look at the aftermath of his life, and the fact that he went out of his way to try and mentor the next generation of Knights means there are a lot of people who might try to emulate Blains's behaviour soon reaching knighthood. They would be a worthy target for that Hate passion.

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    10. With the next generation he only got the pages and that was for what like 4 maybe 5 years so when they become squires it will probably becom moot points and thats even if the people of Salisbury actually gave a crap about what Blains had to say.

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    11. It is a pretty formative time for children though, and it could (or could not) be the fundamental basis for what they consider knights to be.

      In most games I play I usually like to take time when a PC or a major NPC dies to consider the interactions I've had with them, and what sort of impact them not being there anymore would have. With Vergil the impact was more at the moment of death and all the secrets she must have had up to that point. With Tathan, and to a lesser extent Sir-Not-Pace, it was the seemingly arbitrary and abrupt nature of the death that should have been shocking. With Blains he was someone who the PCs mostly had a Hatred passion for, and yet died trying to do something incredibly heroic. It's an interesting chance to try and reconcile those two things.

      Or to spread gossip that it was Blains who actually felled Nanteliod, who with his dying breath avenged himself upon his betrayer. That'd be fun too.

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    12. Re: the pages' brief time with Blains.

      On the other hand, this is a genre in which a woman can fall sincerely in love with a man whom she's never met. So perhaps the briefest exposure to Blains could be enough to impart a permanent Loyalty (memory of the kind and noble Sir Blains) passion.

      But, unless I missed something, Blains and Ellen's child is still alive (and is, I believe, male). That might prove to be a person whose relations with our heroes (or more probably their children) will prove interesting.

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  3. Blains was never much more than a mustache twirling villian; Ponce is the one that's going to massacre the PCs one day.

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    1. Actually, I tend to think that, overall, what came across at the end of the day is that Blains was never really hostile to our heroes themselves, as distinct from hating anyone loyal to Roderick. It really was all about Ellen for him, and once they were married he seamlessly switched to the genuine pursuit of Salisbury's best interests as he saw them. Of course, we don't have the inside scoop, but this is how things have seemed to me.

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  4. Also, just had a look at Earl Robert in the wiki. Is his Suspicious (Silchester) an inheritance from his dad? I was wondering if having Blains there in the last few years would change that element of his personality, especially since Silchester and Salisbury haven't had that much to do with one another in this version of events. Cornwall, one might think, might be attracting a fair number of negative directed traits and passions in this particular Salisbury...

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    1. Suspiciousness of Silchester is just part of growing up in Salisbury. The initial enmity with Levcomagus is merely a symptom of a much deeper dislike of that county. I'm sure there were those in Silchester who viewed Blains as a traitor for "going over" to Salisbury. Individual exceptions won't really make much of a difference over time.

      It all makes perfect sense to me--living in New Mexico, I see widespread distrust and resentment of Texans, something that goes back to when Texas joined the Union and tried to claim most of the current state of NM as their own. No amount of Texan tourist dollars have seemed to assuage this attitude. Our current governor even had to fight against and seriously downplay her Texan connections during the last election.

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