Sunday, December 14, 2014

[Pendragon] The Great Pendragon Campaign: Year 522 - Four of Your Finest Kittens

The Order of Dragonslayers is again on the trail of a foul wyrm, this one dwelling far to the north near the village of Lambton. But are they prepared to pay the price to defeat it?


Dave S.
And…Edie the Dog

The campaign's wiki can be found here.


  1. Well that was nice, clean, uncomplicated fun. Nothing will restore your family honour like visiting Camelot, finding the shadiest apothecary around, buying an expensive potion and then wearing a dress. Why, I bet no one will even remember Sir Archade next year! And the children of Cynrain and Wulfram rack up another kill! Edern + Malvis OTP!

    Also I'm going to complain again about how this knowledge of how slaying the wyrm would result in a curse spread. Clearly it can't be from those villagers. They were idiots. It also can't be from Malahaut. They're also idiots. And it can't be from the wyrm because as repeatedly mentioned, they're the idiots of dragons. I demand exposition crones!

    In less complainy news, I was expecting the twist in the prophecy to be the Knight seeing themselves either in the reflection of their sword, a random pool of blood, or in the Wyrm's eyes as it died. Wonder if that was also a result on the table.

    1. Ah yes, well--that's the heart of the matter, isn't it? Where do these dire warnings come from?

      On the one hand, remember that this is a world where divination magic really does exist. So we can't rule out a seer or witch "foreseeing" grim prognostications.

      On the other hand, a lot of this stuff is rather taken on faith. You'll note that I mentioned last night that no one was compelled to kill the first living thing they saw. The town elder gave up his life willingly on faith that he had to. Similarly, maybe a cat gets killed and soaked in aniseed once a year in Leicester for no reason. Maybe the mayor is just wasting his time, and Black Annis is gone for good.

      But who wants to take that risk?

    2. Not anyone even remotely related to Sir Tathan wants to take that risk.

    3. And that's why members of his family always wear their brass codpiece.

  2. See, I was wondering that too until you implied to Edern that he would be cursed in "unspecified ways" which seems like an out of character acknowledgment there would be an actual price for this. If you had left it at a more ominous "Do you want to see what happens if you don't kill the Elder?" then that would've been a good twist.

    On the other hand it's possible that the GM's words were just a manifestation of his internal Paranoia, and there was no penalty for disregarding it. After all, it's clear both Knights can't have struck the fatal blow, so clearly it's the act of taking part in killing the Wyrm that should impart the curse, in which case Sir Arrent should also have been so compelled since his poison was clearly a factor in the death of the wyrm. Yet all he murdered that session was a rather comely peasant dress. Suspicion!

    We need to resurrect this Wyrm and test this again! OR they need to start spreading a rumour that they are now infected with the Wyrm's curse and anyone who slays THEM will be so afflicted to kill the first thing they see afterwards. That won't have any downsides.

    Another possible twist on the prophecy: Isn't the first thing they saw then they opened their eyes the land of Britain?

  3. What kind of wyrms are you runnin', boy? ~25 damage on a crit? You're never going to kill any knights like that!

    And then you let people impassioned their Honor on a hunt and wave off a fumbled passion roll? You're way too soft. :p

    But seriously, Ederne was pretty lucky - either a Wyrm or a boar can pretty easily spell the end of a player knight.

    1. I am trying to get a little tougher on Passion justifications, but, in re-reading the Passion section of the rulebook recently, I noted this regarding Honor: "But Honor can still cover many other things. In fact, it can include almost anything that a character chooses to include." It's the one Passion that is sort of catch-all, it seems, so I allowed it thinking of that very thing.

      When was there a fumbled Passion roll? I must have missed that. Was it on a roll for Inspiration? Give me the time stamp (approximately) and I'll go back and re-listen.

      This campaign has seen more wyrm-hunting than any previous, and I'm surprised how easily they go down. Of course, the players do their homework and know how to target its weaknesses, but still. (For the record, the bite of the Lambdon wyrm was its secondary attack. Its primary, which it didn't have a chance to land before dying, was its constriction attack, which does 16d6 or something like that on a regular hit!)

    2. At 2:42:55, Jen crit fails her passion in preparation for the tournament. You ruled she had to completely sit out the tournament as a result. Perhaps you thought she had crit failed her tournament roll?

      I am quite pleased with this fight, because the group (especially Dave) really put a lot of thought and preparation into this fight. They had a magic sword, they got an extremely questionable poison, they planned a very good ambush, and they worked cross-dressing into it somehow. Plus your description of the vomitting blood and the speed with which it rounded on Edern made it seem like this was an opponent that would have been much more dangerous if it wasn't being dissolved from the inside.

    3. I was really worried that when the Wyrm bit Edern that he would get some measure of the poison that was still working on the Wyrm's mouth.

      But, you know, never give the GM ideas in the heat of the moment. Also, only my characters are allowed to be hoisted by their own petard.

    4. Ah, okay! Sorry, it was late and my brain was befuddled--I thought I'd missed a fumbled Passion roll during the wyrm fight.

      Yes, Jen fumbled her Passion at the tourney, so she missed out on a shot at Glory. I also made a note to myself to increase Malvis's Cowardly by 1 point during the Winter Phase, since we determined it was due to Marhaus's presence at the tournament--when someone fumbles their Passion, the GM is allowed to make any adjustments he sees fit to the character sheet.

      And yeah, that's it. Madness doesn't always have to be uber-dramatic. I try and have madness resulting from a fumble be proportional to the task under consideration. Fumble during a battle or while trying to get inspired for a critical roll? Run away screaming and gibbering. Fumble while trying to get psyched up for a tourney? Eh. Sit it out and feel sorry for yourself. :P

      Schimpff: Don't think I didn't consider that! But the poison was highly unstable--unbeknownst to you all, I was rolling every round to see if it would stop working, including the first round. (You guys lucked out.) So I figured a bit of quickly-dissolving poisonous spittle wouldn't do much more than sting. Not enough to cause HP loss.

      (Incidentally, I really enjoy fielding peoples' comments on how things come across on the other side of the screen. It's easy to forget as a GM all the little "backstage" activities that go into making the action come across that no one sees. Rest assured, I always have a reason for doing things the way I do. Except when I don't.)

    5. "Madness doesn't always have to be uber-dramatic".

      She's the child of Sir "I went mad and found the Holy Grail" Wulfram. When he went mad he didn't run away screaming and gibbering, he single-handedly flanked a Saxon Army to seize victory that day. It is in her manic blood to have her madness propel her to new heights.

    6. Haha, good point! It'll happen in due course, I'm sure. :)

    7. David, I guess I look at it slightly differently. I feel that if you're rolling a passion, clearly it is very important (to the character at least) - you've decided that, for whatever reason, your Honor (or whatever) is staked on this event.

      On the other hand, I can totally see it from the players' perspective; when you're playing Pendragon, you always want to get that Passion bonus whenever anything important is happening. And from a listener's perspective, having long-lived characters certainly makes it a bit easier to follow along.

    8. That's definitely a valid interpretation as well. In fact, now I'm thinking I'll have to run the GPC again at some point with much stricter guidelines regarding Passion use.

      I'm reminded of the divide in Call of Cthulhu between "pulp" and "purist" modes of play. They're equally valid approaches, but tend to appeal to different groups. Call the difference here "high adventure" versus "blood and guts" or something.

      I think I must have developed my liberal policies as a result of running through the GPC the first time with just a single player--Passions were often required just for survival! Also, the very first time I ran Pendragon (a 35-year campaign), the players got scared off of using Passions early on due to some fumbles and missed rolls and after that shied away from using them in general, which really impacted the quality of the game.

    9. I'm very much in favour of the high adventure approach, though I think madness in battles not serving as an automatic escape would be a good idea. As this pile of corpses from David's characters can attest, the game is still plenty deadly even with more liberal Passions.

    10. I'm the exception that proves the rule!

    11. (Though, to be fair, Renae is right behind me in actual character deaths, I just tend to play and retire characters more often due to personal choice/roleplay opportunities.)

      My deaths: Lewyn, Tathan, Archade
      Her deaths: Virgil, Concorde

      My retires: Pace, Aeron, Adwen
      Her retires: ...

      I feel like I'm missing one or two. Let me know!

    12. You have no idea how much I hate the phrase "The exception that proves the rule". You might now though. It is a lot.

      Another way of looking at it is you make up 50% of the deaths whereas she only makes up 33% of them. I would also move Aeron to the dead list in an honourary capacity since he took a death-level of damage, and can't resume his duties as a Player Knight even if you run out of backup characters (OR CAN HE?).

      I guess it's a matter of perception since your characters do tend to suffer the Worf Effect more than anyone else. Mostly in Deadlands, but also in this game where the dice seem to not go your way.

      And Concord probably would have lived if he hadn't found his courage and charged the Wolverine men despite knowing he would need Cynrain-level slaying power to defeat them (and Cynrain was using it all at the time). I demand respect for sweet, sweet Concord.

    13. Don't let me come across as too strict on passion use. The first Pendragon game I ran was a 4e game from 531-560-whatever and averaged one or two knights (with the occasional lady or magician). So I can relate to needing passions to survive.

      I tend (or at least try) to judge passions in two respects. First, I'm a lot more liberal if you were forced into something rather than choosing to do it. If you got ambushed by bandits, I would likely allow "I love my family too much for me to die here," but I probably wouldn't if you specifically went out hunting the bandits (unless they were harassing your family or something). Second, I tend to be more permissive towards younger knights. Besides being somewhat appropriate, this helps the younger knights, who tend to have lower skills and would otherwise have a harder time surviving.

  4. The main thing I took away from this episode is that I really want to play a game about back-alley street jousting.

    1. Back-alley *bare knuckle* street jousting.

    2. "The first rule about Joust Club is..."

    3. I feel sorry for whomever has to roust these Jousters. They come along with their old time lanterns, and peer down the alley shouting "What are you damn kids doing over there?" to the sound of people frantically scooping up denarii and horses galloping off into the night.

  5. Just a thought for later:

    One of the classic villains should be starting his career soon: Brus sans Pitie, aka Bruce without pity.

    Having the PCs meet him in a certain upcoming war as Bruce the Cruel (or even have their actions turn him from being plain old Bruce), before he has taken on a French nom de plume might be fun.

    The most important part of this is who should portray him, a young Christopher Walken.

    1. Great suggestion! Sir Brus is one of my all-time favorites because he's such an underhanded little shit. I may have to selfishly keep him rather than hand him off to Des for adversarial play...