Sunday, November 30, 2014

[Pendragon] The Great Pendragon Campaign: Year 520 - Wyrmsbane

Following on from their adventures in the Penines last year, Archade and his companions elect to pursue the so-called Dolorous Wyrm of the Forest of Dean. Meeting at Sir Edern's manor in Gloucester, they plunge off on the hunt, bound for death or glory...


Dave S.
And…Edie the Dog

The campaign's wiki can be found here.


  1. It's interesting how your group is convinced in increasing attributes at all costs, as my experience has generally been that high weapon skills are the way to go. Possibly an effect of relative frequency of impassioned status, or because I'm a bit more experienced in the later periods, when one-on-one combats are more common. But I've seen too many big, tough knights take one unlucky crit from a huge giant, when a more skilled knight would have had a good chance of tying the crit.

    1. Okay, good--I thought maybe it was my own lack of player-side experience. That's an excellent observation about skill replacing brawn as the campaign goes on, and perhaps they'll pick up on that. Certainly, the tone shifts dramatically in that direction when a certain knight whose name rhymes with Prancealot shows up. But in the meantime, they seem to be inordinately worried about their characters entering into a phase of decrepitude or dying from stat loss.

      Certainly, the two battles this session were a good gauge of what the group can handle--small giants and wyrms are tinker toys! Time to start rolling out the big guns...

    2. Hopefully that's not true, as the giant fight presumably avoided the untimely death of Sir Percy due to a lucky miss on the attack roll, and theoretically these things should all be deadly but everyone's getting the hang of working as a team and combining their actions.

      This might also be the side effect of keeping their stats at a good level. Rather than be cripplingly over-specialized, they average out their stats, while being good at one or two things, so that their damage output doesn't drop, they can jump off of a falling giant if need be, and they get to rock it up at a party. Plus it speaks of a level of commitment to their characters that they don't want them to die of old age or in bed, but in the midst of battle still looking like a a badass.

      Also, what part of God Among Men do you not understand about Cynrain?

    3. Though speaking of not specialising your build, what was up with that dragon? Scoring a 2 on a bite attack means its weapon skill was at best a 21? That seems pretty low for a mythical fire-breathing beast of destruction and doom, especially since it didn't seem to make any multiple attacks when it got Knights of the Rounded.

      You'd alluded to how it was smart enough to fly up above knights and their silly landbound horses, so without the net and the taunting of a magic sword would that have been the Wyrm's strategy for the fight? It had basically optimal terrain for this fight - a wide open area that had been burned clear of most cover should have favoured long, sweeping gouts of flame burning everyone away.

    4. It was a combination of factors, really. First, this was a wyrm, not a dragon, and therefore not as statistically monstrous. Second, there was Wyrmsbane--as soon as the wyrm took a wound from it, the scenario stated that it would forget about flying up high to heal and instead focus all its attacks on Malvis (save its tail swipe) until she was dead. The might have been the end of her, of course (the fireproof shield was only good for one round of protection from the flame breath) if it weren't for part three, the cavalry arriving.

      Now, on that last point, the scenario seems to assume that the knights will ditch their horses and fight on foot, but at the same time it allows for Horsemanship rolls to control the steeds and doesn't state explicitly whether a panicking steed imposes a penalty to hit or what. So I erred on the side of allowing two successful Horsemanship to spur the steeds forward. Had the fight lasted more than two rounds, I probably would have called for a roll every subsequent round, but there we are. So it was obviously a bit of a flaw in the scenario design, as without that charging horse damage doubled on a crit, the wyrm would have been a lot tougher to bring down (Armor 20, regenerates 5 HP a round). This was the first time I'd ever run this scenario, so the problem wasn't obvious until we were in the thick of the fight. My advice to other GMs running this scenario would be to just flat out state that horses won't go any further, Horsemanship rolls be damned, and force the knights to fight on foot if you want a tougher fight (and Clever Jack's decoy to play a more significant role).

      On the other hand, everyone got to have a hand in killing the wyrm and got to feel like badasses, so who am I to complain? It's the weak scenario designs that result in a TPK that are the real problems.

    5. Perhaps a critical horsemanship allows them to charge, a success allows them to realise their horse will not move forwards, a failure results in being thrown off and a fumble results in the horse running away with the rider mounted? In their horse's defense, they did just see this terrifying beast with a head larger than they are inflict far less damage than they were expecting to one of their kin.

      Also Archade probably would have brought up the inherent problems with fighting a dragon/wyrm on foot e.g. taking forever to close in to combat range and risking being buffeted away by wingblasts. And now "Clever Jack" just looks like he may have suspiciously been up to something this whole time, because that was one inquisitive peasant child.

      I agree that I would prefer to have poor scenario design resulting in my players triumph rather than be devastated. Still though, they are correct that they have possibly broken Britain's economy. Even if it's limited to one librum a day, that's a pretty substantial boon to Arthur's income. Especially if the limit to what he can carry extends to say, a sack he might be holding in his other hand when he wishes for money.

      I wonder how many high kings of olde were crushed to death by the weight of coinage when they did the classic "Wish for a million libra" with the predictable ironic twist.

    6. Point of correction: the Wyrm was only a point or two sizes larger than a horse, so its head would be approximately the same size as a horse's head.

      And yeah, Archade still remembers having to solo a full dragon for two combat rounds. He wasn't getting off his horse.

    7. Oh, that was far smaller than I was imagining. I remember Wulfram leaping into a dragon's mouth in order to stab it in its exposed vital areas, so I guess I just assumed wyrms were on a similar scale. If it is just some sort of dragon horse then a nice mass horse-stabbing could conceivably bring one down. Still impressive teamwork though. Plus you brought along witnesses!

    8. Easiest job those crossbowmen ever had.

    9. I like the focus on stats - it's nice to think of the characters as huge, physically perfect specimens rather than just people who are really good at stabbing.

      I think that directing effort towards stats in this way rather than skills might be at least in part a consequence of a couple of things. One is this campaign's liberal Passions policy, which makes high skills reliable available when needed. The other is not specific to this campaign, but still a recent development: Spear Expertise, which makes high "all-round" combat monsterness easier to obtain than when knights had to think about both Sword and Lance.

      (Damn: this is actually an argument for Spear Expertise, which I hate with the sort of passion that I could use for Inspiration if I were a Pendragon character.)

  2. The problem with T-Shirt designs is they're not very interesting, and although it's possible to make them actually appear on a cafepress shirt or something, given that most of my lazy time work comes from Googling and stealing images I don't want to take that risk. Although I was impressed by how easily Light my Fire becomes Knight my Squire with only that change, as well as replacing "Girl, we couldn't get much higher" with "Glory couldn't get much higher".

    Anyway I made this instead:

    1. Absolutely brilliant. I'm wheezing with laughter. Thank you!

      Now I'll have to ponder an original shirt design (or something related) using those two phrases.

  3. Wyrmsbane sounds a little too Saxon. Suspicious.

    It would be fun to know when Glory bonus is turning what would actually be a fail into a critical on a courtly skill. That must mean that the performance is objectively pretty terrible, but everybody says it's fabulous because the performer is just so famous. I've always thought that would be a great motivation for a Pendragon villain: some talented but obscure person "loses" to a terrible performance by some player knight celebrity and swears revenge.

    I do hope that the showrunners aren't holding back fan-favorite Calonlan until May sweeps.