Sunday, January 18, 2015

[Pendragon] The Great Pendragon Campaign: Year 525 - The Sleeping Lord

The Earl of Salisbury has fallen under a curse! What can possibly awaken him from his slumber? Also, some Romans come by for a visit.


Dave S.
And…Edie the Dog

The campaign's wiki can be found here.


  1. Hmmm...looks like Blogger's removed its "Title Link" feature. I attached the MP3 as an Enclosure Link, and that should hopefully work the same. Let me know if you have any trouble, listeners!

  2. Hurray for Des being back at the table to form the multi-cultural Order of Dragonslayers! Just have to hope there's some dragons kicking around in Rome. It's a little sad that she's not playing a relative of Sir Blains, or a knight who was Paged while Blains was implementing his not-at-all-brainwashing policies, but I guess that ship has sailed. Especially once you entrusted his legacy to Dave.

    I ran a Paranoia game with my fiancée's coworkers where she took an adversary-like role of the remote Mission Control for them which was kind of fun. She didn't really get to freestyle on things too much, but it was a fun change of pace. It still felt like a hybrid GM/PC role though, as she had information and goals different from the players, but still not full knowledge of what was going on.

    Also, poor Romans. They've made Cynrain Choleric. They aren't going to stand a chance.

    1. I haven't entirely given up on the idea of featuring an Adversary-type player at the table. Hell, I might even want to give it a spin myself one of these days. I could it working really well with a horror one-shot...

      And yes, the Romans are screwed. "Never mind that shit--here comes Cynrain!"

    2. At least they'll probably have a few years, as the first step will be to conquer France, or at least as much of it as will be required in order to establish reliable supply lines in to Rome. That'll buy Rome at least a year to hope that this world-renowned knight calms down. Although would this mean that the murderous Sir Bruez gets off scot-free next year? Presumably he, or a dutiful son, will have to make sure this dishonour doesn't go unavenged.

      It's belatedly occurred to me that Malvis really didn't seem that concerned over Robert's fate. At the very least she should think that he is her uncle, and from being a creepy Wiki/Forum stalker I know her Love is respectable enough that I would've thought that the possibility of being forced to fight her brother could have more of an effect than "IGNORED!"

      For that matter Pureheart was officially and accurately her half-uncle, and he died suddenly right in front of her. Perhaps all her family strife was what caused her to react hostily to Colomb Not-A-Lady's injury over her new station and caused this murderous rift in their relationship.

    3. Huh, I am happy to see Des bring a character to the table and a diverse one at that, though I can honestly say I am not surprised as she never seemed to have all that much fun with adversary role.

      Are you going to have Cynrain lead any of the armies?

    4. Ah, Jake. I appreciate you carrying the torch for Sir Blains and his line. And to be fair, I didn't entrust Dave with his line on purpose!

    5. Apparently bleeding through the table to the other players, like a communicable disease. Soon all shall be infected.

  3. You know, I've always kind of taken the GPC at face value, but I think my new canon might be that these ambassadors are actually from Constantinople. The emperor just sent them to pretend that they're from Rome and piss Arthur off, so he'll weaken the west for reconquest. That just seems terribly Byzantine.

    Anyway, so I recognize the three adventures you're combining here, but I'm a bit curious: did you give up on the Ivy Tower between naming it and running it, or was that a response to the knights bringing the Knight of the Wolf with them?

    Anyway, good to see a new knight. Hopefully, he won't fall afoul of the perpetual curse of foreigners - not having an heir for when things go bad!

    1. Arthurian Rome is maybe the place where the joins in Pendragon's world show the most. It's absolutely fundamental to a large strand of the source-material from Geoffrey on, but it absolutely doesn't fit with a pseudo-historical late-fifth/early sixth-century world. Me, I'd maybe go in the exact opposite direction to you, and (supposing that the players were OK with it, obviously) ditch as much as possible of the "historical" Arthur element in favor of a Roman Empire that's the way the literature imagines it.

      Also: I hate the togas and Hollywood Roman epic costuming. That's neither the Later Roman Empire nor the Empire of Arthurian stories...

    2. Voord99: I hear ya, man. I'm as much an historical pedant as the next one, and this whole section of the GPC is probably my least favorite for that reason, because it's when history and myth are most at odds (excepting plate armor and concentric castles all that other stuff...ahem).

      There's always a tension with KAP, since it tries to balance modern ideas about Arthur (including what we now know historically and archaeologically) with what the medieval chroniclers believed (which, of course, was wildly at odds with our current understanding of the period).

      The fact that there's even a "Roman Empire" to fight against at this time (at least in the west) is completely ahistorical, of course, but I can't go whole-hog into the fantasy, with Augustan-era legionaries and such. I fully intend to model the actual Roman opponents on late Roman/Byzantine troops, but I decided to go with the GPC's Hollywood vision of the Roman embassy as a sort of nod to this cinematic ahistoricity.

      (Although, for what it's worth, I subscribe to the notion that the historical figure Riothamus is the origin of the Roman War tales, as well as Arthur being taken to "Avalon," so it's not like this is potentially completely ahistorical.)

      Perhaps the biggest signpost that Malory, et al., didn't know their historical asses from their elbows is that a 6th-century Arthur is actually a contemporary of Justinian the Great--a much more interesting opponent than the fictional "Emperor Lucius"! Justinian's reign historically begins in 527, so keep an eye out for me weaving that historical fact into what is otherwise total myth. But as Max suggests, with a little tweaking one could pretty easily turn the Roman War into the Byzantine War! But I'm running the GPC as-written as much as possible. Maybe next time...

      Max: The Knight of the Ivy Tower is actually part of the "Knight of the Wolf" scenario, and it was run as presented in the text. I take it there's another Pendragon scenario out there involving an Ivy Tower?

    3. Man, now I want to Emperor Justinian vs. King Arthur that would be off the wall insane. I would also like to Marshall Griflet *snickers* vs. Justinian's legendary General Belisarius.

    4. Argh, now I'm seriously considering a re-write...

    5. I can't speak towards 5e, but in Pendragon 4e, one of the short adventures was "the Adventure of the Ivy Tower," where every year on May 1st everybody falls asleep, and when they wake up, half of their food is gone. The player knights may come here on their own or be directed by the knight of the wolf, but they have to try to stay awake and figure out what's going on (and put a stop to it).

      On the Roman Empire, I don't know if it's that bad. I mean, if you went back in time and asked the Ostrogoths, they probably would have claimed to be the Roman Empire. And I mean, Theoderic the Great died the same year that "Emperor Lucius" does in the GPC. Certainly, the trappings are more classical than they really should be (and that kind of conflicts with the whole Syagrius incident earlier in the campaign, anyway), but then Arthur's knights are wearing rather anachronistic armor themselves. So, I mean, we say that Theoderic, excuse me, Lucius, is trying to reconquer the empire. So he's got his Goths and some proper Romans (who perhaps in Rome have preserved some of their ancient culture). They've conquered France and Gaul (perhaps Lucius tried to aid the kings of Ganis when Arthur didn't). And now they're looking to expand into Britain or the Byzantines are looking to knock them down a peg (it's not like they're going to try to reconquer Italy in a few decades or anything). And unfortunately for this would-be Caesar, Arthur is the wrong king of the Britons to get into a fight with.

    6. I'm a bit of a skeptic about the "historical Arthur" in general, personally. (Put it this way - I was made really happy by Guy Halsall's Worlds of Arthur.)

      But I do respect Greg Stafford's decision to incorporate it into Pendragon, creaky though the fit sometimes is. The 20th and 21st century fascination with an imagined post-Roman Arthur holding off the Saxons our own Arthurian myth. What it says about us, probably best for later generations to analyze. But something that puts that many novels on bookshelves is definitely speaking to our experience at a deep level.

      Actually, if I had a lot more time and energy than I do (enough to get back into gaming, for starters), I'd quite like to run a gonzo historical fantasy campaign in which the conceit would be that *all* of the dubious supposed historical origins of medieval legends are true.

      Not just a historical Arthur in Britain, but a historical Siegfried in the Rhineland, an Attila whose as close as possible to the legendary version - and keep going: a historical Fionn mac Cumhaill in Ireland, a historical Beowulf in Denmark and so on. All running around in the early-to-mid fifth century in as thinly rationalized versions as possible, with historical probability shamelessly subordinated to ridiculous sword-and-sorcery tropes (except the sexist and racist ones, of course).