Sunday, November 16, 2014

[Pendragon] Great Pendragon Campaign - An Adversarial Interlude

Due to a combination of illness, travel, and bad weather, we were forced to cancel our planned session for this week. Instead, we bring you our resident adversary as she sits down to create a new character to torment the players with, and to discuss future adversarial plans. Obviously, if you're a player in this campaign, light spoilers abound. All you other listeners, please enjoy!

We will (weather and health permitting) be back to our regular schedule next week!

30 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear you guys were not able to play and I know eagerly await next week.

    I know think of Blains Jr. as BJ the wonderlad.

    P.S. Nitpick you gave him a spear expertise even though he is not pagan.

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    1. I know, I was so pumped to run this session, and then one by one the cancellations came rolling in. In the end, it could have been a one-person session with Jade, but I decided I wanted to wait and try and get a fuller table for our triumphant return.

      As for Spear Expertise, all Cymric folk get it regardless of religion. It's their "cultural" skill.

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    2. My apologies, I remembered the OG group and I suppose I just heard the two Pagan knights that being Cynrain and Pace getting the spear expertise.

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  2. Clearly BJ (a nickname that hopefully your players will not pick up on) is the fantastic product of the Blains Schoool for Gifted Squires and will embody everything good and virtuous about knighthood. Such a shame his father died before he could implement his Spymaster curriculum for his handpicked students. Presumably at least.

    Also as a listener, you mention the Anarchy period as being hectic and stressful for your players, but listening to it there didn't seem to be too much overtly challenging there. The most lethal thing you faced during that time was a particularly aggressive fish, whereas once Arthur came along there were dragons and zombies and quests that spanned the breadth of England.

    Should you run this a third time I think that would be a good time for adversarying, as it could also represent people in England turning to what's normal (e.g. fighting amongst themselves) and desperately trying to ignore the ever growing Saxon pressure.

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    1. I can see some points to this in that the challenge may not have been all there and maybe it is supposed to be more challenging. But, what I got was that it was supposed to be more depressing than anything and with you as knights of Salisbury having to sell you souls to the devil i.e. the Saxons to just survive.

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    2. Coovala's got the measure of it. The Anarchy is all about causing stress and uncertainty among the players as much through implication as through action. The feeling by the end should be, "We need a king just so we don't have to worry all the time!" Witness the fact that every single one of them "castled up" their manors. Those preparations certainly did help assuage the hurt from the periodic Saxon raids. Their political alliance with Count Cynrain (and his mercenary buddy Cador) also paid off nicely. Without those two elements, the Anarchy would have hit them a lot harder.

      What fascinates me about the Anarchy is that it's a litmus test for the player group's psychology. It's a very wide-open period, and actions and outcomes are almost entirely player-driven. This group decided to rely on castles and alliances, but other groups could just as easily raise an army themselves and go on the offensive against weaker neighbors, or try to marry Ellen off to Ulfius or Nanteleod, or even dethrone her and try and install themselves as Earl, or sign on as Cerdic's vassals, or...

      Certainly, the group projected a certain level of confidence at the table, but Cerdic and Blains had them sweating through the whole period. It's one of the reasons the group was so openly hostile to Des when she played those characters. They spent a considerable amount of time and energy trying to come up with effective counter-measures against both. I don't think I've ever fielded as many between-session planning emails from the players as I did during the Anarchy!

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    3. It definitely felt like something was building, but at least at the table maybe everyone was just doing a really good job portraying an air of confidence because the desire for castles also struck me as a reflection of Blains's early and aggressive raiding, and running out of things to buy for their manor.

      What I'd told myself in the story was people viewing King Nanteliod as the new heir presumptive after Uther, and so after he was unexpectedly killed everyone panicked and held the emergency "Pick a new King" conference. It's understandable, but it was more that gradual build up of tension and paranoia than any actual danger.

      It might also help that the only true example of anarchy I remember (apart from Saxon invasions) is that Rydychan had its rightful heir overthrown in a military coup, which was promptly thwarted by some theretofore uncounted Knight.

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    4. The castle building was absolutely a result of Blains and his raids, as well as, I think, the anxiety that if he was so brazen about looting and raiding when there was a king, what would he do now that there was no king?

      That's pretty much on point as far as Nanteleod goes--it looked like he was going to get it all, and then he died, which meant the route of conquest that various warlords had been pursuing died with him. The Winter Tournament is almost like a big, "Fuck it, we're sick of waiting for someone to conquer us, let's just have a big winner-take-all tournament and get a crown on a head."

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    5. I really wish Nanteleod had survived then. I'm assuming not too much would have changed in terms of order because obviously Arthur is sort of a big deal, but it would've been interesting if the tournament had been marred from the beginning by people who thought Nanteliod should have gotten it from the start. Or if the tournament was held to commemorate him becoming High King.

      Merlin probably would've poisoned him and blamed it on Saxons though. Worked last time.

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  3. On another note, at the beginning of the episode you said I think BJ the Wonderlad would inherit the position of Steward of Lecvomagus is this correct?

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    1. As the recognized heir of Blains, BJ would have a definite case to put before Duke Ulfius if he wanted the title. It'll be up to Des, ultimately, whether to press for it, but I can't see Ulfius turning it down (although he's in his rights to do so).

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    2. Also: BJ counts under Love (Family) for Robert, and there's also a case that it will reflect badly on Robert if he doesn't look after BJ by giving him some nice little sinecure (or post of responsibility and importance - whichever will annoy the player knights more!) Also, if I'm remembering correctly, on his mother's side BJ is closely related to titled nobility in Marlborough - so that's another set of valuable connections for him to exploit.

      Loads of fun possibilities for whatever serves the story and annoys our heroes. Rydychan might be out of the question, though.

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    3. Depends if he starts making diplomatic overtures to Rydychan or not. The loss of both Wulfram and Concord, famed across the lands and both Circular Table order members would be a pretty significant blow to Salisbury's glory as a nation. Trying to strengthen ties with a knight that had his formative years there seems logical, especially since he is as famous as all get out.

      Nothing raises a group's suspicion like a genuine peace offer.

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    4. Plus, even though they both raided each others places of residence Cynrain and Blains had I believe the least tension between them with Cynrain's hate of Blains being only at an 11 and not to long Blains married Ellen Cynrain married Elin. So BJ the Wonderlad would probably not be to adverse to deepening ties to Rydychan.

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  4. On another, another note I was looking at the Glory of the characters on the Obsidian Portal page and cannot help but notice that Cynrain has what seems to be the most glory out of anyone if this is so does that actually mean anything?

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    1. Warning: our Master Herald has not gotten to work getting the PC sheets updated, so take all those numbers with a grain of salt. Having said that, I'm positive that Cynrain does have the most Glory (and I believe Jade's been keeping his page up to date). As for what it means, it's a quantitative measure of his fame. It affects Heraldry and Recognize rolls, and also affects how I roleplay NPCs' responses to him. In regards to the other players, whenever there's a question of precedence (who gets audience with the king first, who is allowed first choice of a prize, etc.), it goes in Glory order. It's strictly a measure of fame (or infamy, if the knight has a low Honor), but that means quite a lot at court. On the battlefield, not as much.

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    2. If it's Floor(Glory/1000) bonus to Recognise and Heraldry, doesn't everyone auto-recognise Cynrain at this point?

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    3. Indeed, and now he also auto succeeds on all those skills that you add glory to if not just outright crits.

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    4. I can only assume Jade has practiced saying "That's right, I'm THE Count Cynrain". She's rocking a +21 to those skills, so she rolls Compose at a 37, or a 90% chance of critting. Thus allowing her to sit down every year and basically write an epic poem. Which gets her even more Glory. It's a delightfully broken cycle.

      Assuming the Glory counts on the Wiki Cynrain now outstrips Duke Ulfis and Sir Pellinore, and basically everyone who's not King Arthur. That's kinda nuts.

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    5. I've been absolutely awful about keeping NPC Glory totals up-to-date on the wiki (I'm considering just getting rid of them), but yeah, Cynrain's in the same neighborhood as Ulfius and Pellinore.

      Which, considering he's basically a self-made man and not a king or an 80-year-old duke, that's still pretty impressive.

      And yeah, once your Glory hits a certain threshold, you're basically just rolling to see if you crit. (Same thing happens once Passions get up into the 30+ range.)

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    6. I also notice that the Order of the Empty Goblet passion has disappeared from Cynrain's sheet. I was hoping he would get one last passion roll to commemorate the passing of Wulfram, but I thought that Cormac was still alive, just standing off camera somewhere. Wouldn't the passion still work for the two of them?

      If not then my patchwork fix for the prophecy still technically holds, but it's a bit of a cheat to say "Four friends denying you automatically means three friends have also denied you".

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    7. Technically, from what I gathered all of Cynrain's family inherited that passion so it could also work there.

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    8. Re: courtly skills and superlative Glory. I quite like the house rule that someone posted on the Pendragon forums a while back, in which Glory bonus adds to APP, not skills, but one has to roll APP to get to roll a courtly skill under many if not most circumstances. So Sir Famous can pretty much always succeed in getting the attention of the court when he wants to play his harp, but Sir Obscure-but-Musical is still able to shine as the better player on the rare occasions when he has the chance to play.

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  6. I suppose that I should probably not comment too much on the name, but - wow: I was not expecting that.

    Also: since Desiree expressed some doubts and frustrations about the role of adversary (Adversary? Or is that too biblical?), I'll take this opportunity to observe that, while my Blains fandom started as a joke, her version of Blains really did become this compelling character. Initially a stock villain from the PC's perspective, he was actually acting out of complex and understandable motives, and by the end was really on their side - with a touch of genuine tragedy in that our heroes could never quite wrap their minds around the fact that Blains wasn't the simple bad guy that he started off as.

    The thought occurs that if Desiree wants to play at least once (well - almost certainly once), there's always Castle of Bones when you get to that year. Due warning to all that they shouldn't play anyone they're attached to, obviously.

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  7. I'm a bit surprised that Des didn't make a lady - the Court of Love, the uncontrollability of whom you might develop an Amor for - these would all seem to be great ways to mess with the players. But then I remembered that we still have a little field trip before the Romance Period. So alright, fair enough.

    I do think it's an interesting question to consider what would happen if something befell Robert. Now, I mean, obviously possession is 9/10's of the law and all that, but legitimately. I don't think BJ really has any claim to the county because he's not related to Roderick - I don't believe inheritance passes through your wife. Jenna might be able to leave the clergy to inherit, but I'm not certain that's allowed. If she did, I believe she'd become a ward of King Arthur, right? And if she didn't, then I think the county would revert to him anyway. Interesting times all around.

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    1. David had mentioned earlier that he'd been studying the laws of inheritance pretty carefully. I'm sure for reasons other than this.

      Although we as omniscient listeners are fully aware of the lineage of Earl Robert, it isn't necessarily the case for the characters in the game. Tongues were apparently wagging about Wulfram and Jenna who had the most adorably obvious crush, but the fact remains that Roderick formally acknowledged Robert as his heir. There's no objective way to prove Robert's true parentage, although he could probably build a strong circumstantial case.

      In which case we could have a war of succession. Because Britain hasn't just gotten through enough of those.

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    2. This point is moot on Obsidian Portal it says Robert's wife gave birth to a young lad in the year 516.

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    3. If that's true, David, I'd be interested to know what sources you've been looking through. Medieval inheritance law is an interesting topic.

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    4. Max: I can't say much as I'm still under an NDA, but I've been working as an editor on the forthcoming Book of the Warlord, and I can say that that will have a lot of such info. Also, the Bibliography is amazing.

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