Sunday, March 30, 2014

[Pendragon] Great Pendragon Campaign: Year 489 - The Kingdom of the Circle of Gold

Clouds of war continue to gather, although not from the expected directions. An enchanted kingdom is uncovered. Rules for death and dying are consulted.


Dave S.
And...Edie the Dog

The campaign's wiki can be found here.


  1. I'm really enjoying the Pendragon actual play videos, good job all! I have to say however, I'm still on the fence with the rules as they seem very scripted with things happening to you more than you determining outcomes. Having said that, I bought all the books and have been reading through slowly to get a better feel for it. The scripted nature of the game was no doubt a design intent, and may very well reflect the reality of being a junior knight vassal during the time.

    1. Glad you're enjoying the recordings!

      You're absolutely right in judging the narrowness of the game to be a design intent, and yes, when the characters are lowly vassals, it's a fairly "mission-based" game. There are two other things to keep in mind as you're listening, too:

      1) The first ten years of the Great Pendragon Campaign are meant to be a sort of tutorial, both for the system and the setting. The book is explicit about this, and this segment is by far the most railroady. Once we hit 496 and on, the training wheels come off and the players will find much more autonomy in their decision-making.

      2) With 80 years and probably around 90-100 sessions in the whole campaign, one really needs to come in with the long view. It's not so much about individual characters as it is about the characters' family. So one might see individual characters come and go much more freely, and there's less emphasis on tactical victory--it's more about the aggregate experience. For example, there are adventures where if you make the wrong choice or fail a crucial roll, your character is "Out of the Story" for the remainder. That's safety net, no concession to prioritizing PC protagonization.

      And ultimately it's a game that involves the feudal system, so there are rigid hierarchies and social customs to obey to some degree or another at all times. A group that's more used to free-form sandboxing and wide-open character autonomy might have a tough time with Pendragon.

      This essay talks about characters more than campaign structure, but it gives an excellent insight into the game's design agenda:

    2. I also got the feeling that the character's involvement to the story was not as significant as it was in their Deadlands game, where it very much gave the feeling that the overall story would be advancing regardless of the PC's actions, but when I read up a little bit on the scope of what the Great Pendragon campaign was meant to be then I can appreciate what's going on for the reasons that David pointed out. This is sort of the founding of what could grow into great, heroic knight houses (maybe), and instead of opening with the latest and greatest heroic descendent, we start off at what is very much an introduction with the players as minor, named characters in Uther and Roderick's story, and there's a lot of potential to grow there.

      Plus even though the game itself seems pretty railroady right now, the dedication with which everyone is immersing themselves in their characters and the setting is what's really making these recordings so great to listen to, and I can see the appeal of the binary "Trait A/Trait B" choice, since it means your character sometimes does try to charge a group of enemies that outnumber them more than 2:1, with predictable results that are nonetheless fun.

      But I mean seriously Sir Pace, you even acknowledged your family's curse at one point in the episode. What were you thinking?

    3. "[O]pening with the latest and greatest heroic descendent" is a great way to sum up how most RPGs approach PCs. And yeah, the mechanics are set up in such a way as to make each successive generation a little more badass than the one that came before (due to inherited Glory and Passions), so this is very much a "founding" generation.

      I'm beginning to suspect Sir Pace has a death wish. Dave's already created a backup character, Pace's brother. At this point, I want to start a pool on how long Pace will last. Watch, he'll end up outliving everyone else... ;)

    4. Depends entirely on if he is both married and an expectant father as of this winter. If so, I wager ten Libra on him dying in 490.

    5. 490 or 491, if the APP 27 lady gives birth to a healthy son. Pace's drandpa died when his dad was 1-2, dad died when he was 1.

      If my interactions with the game are any indication at all, Pendragon is the system where I'm basically playing cursed characters at all times.

      It's a hell of a lot of fun, though, and I always look forward to the next session.

    6. Your maybe-future wife has a name, and also probably a face!

      You did seem incredibly cheerful when you thought Sir Pace had died, and I've reached the point in Deadlands where Victor has joined the group and promptly lost all of his blood, so it sounds like you just play cursed characters in general.

      I don't know if it's where your attitude comes from, but I find character generation/creation the most fun, so I'm always a little sad when one of my characters survives because now I have to keep playing them and don't get to come up with a new backstory and ridiculous accent.

    7. Name and face are now up on the wiki...

      And yes, Dave loves character creation. Sometimes I think he loves it too much.

    8. Looking forward to the continuing saga. Great job on the campaign page as well!

      You may also be interested that the RollPlay R&D crew is also currently playing Pendragon,, No doubt all of your efforts are currently spiking sales of Pendragon!

    9. Ooh, thanks for that link! Looking forward to checking those recordings out. :)

    10. It's a vicious cycle. I do love CharGen, so character death is kind of...foreplay, I guess?

      That sounds kind of sick, but also kind of accurate.

      So maybe Larkins is right and I love it too much.

  2. Finally caught up on my listening. I really liked the adventures in this one. I'm definitely swiping some ideas from these games to modify for my own group.

  3. Was this a published adventure or one that you created on your own? 489 is pretty spares in the GPC...

    1. It's a bit of both, actually. There's a scenario in Tales of Mystic Tournaments called "The Tournament of the Circle of Gold" that features a prelude set during the Uther Period. The text itself is just a brief little section that lays the groundwork for the later scenario, but I decided to turn it into a full-fledged adventure.