Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-Through Year 495

Summary: Our group is attempting a complete run of the Great Pendragon Campaign  using 5th edition rules. Players are Matt, Mark, and Lilith. I am the GM.

Year 495
The eleventh and last year in the Uther Period, with Uther Pendragon as king of Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •         Sir Eleanor of Dinton, played by Lilith.
  •         Sir Conmorl of Winterbourne Gunnet, played by Matt.
  •         Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.


This year is a biggie. The death of Uther, and the end of the Uther period of the campaign. It all begins with the Battle of St. Albans. A massive Saxon force is met at this town and the battle is hard-fought. Sir Eleanor falls in this battle, slain by a Saxon berserker. Sir Aeddan tries to use his passion of hatred for the Saxons and critically fails, running mad with grief at the death of one of his kinsmen. He disappears from the battlefield, rushing off into the wilderness. Ironically, this is what saves him from the betrayal later. Sir Conmorl fights and kills one of the Saxon kings, and his bravery earns him a place at the main hall in the subsequent feast. Again, ironically, this success is what dooms him.

Someone at the feast poisons the wine. All the greatest knights of Britain imbibe and die horribly at the main hall. Only Sir Conmorl is present, but he drinks freely and dies, along with King Uther, Earl Roderick, and almost all of the lords of Logres. Things begin to fall apart almost immediately after.

Irish are invading Gales (Wales), Picts are scouting the north in preparation for invasion, King Idres of Brittany prepares to invade Cornwall, and a Saxon emissary from Essex arrives in the Salisbury court demanding tribute in exchange for protection from the other Saxon kingdoms. The dead Earl’s wife takes on the role as Countess until the Earl’s heir can reach majority, but not all of the local knights swear fealty to her.

Duke Ulfius of Silchester survived the poisoning because of his wounds from the battle, and is calling a Collegium to appoint a new king, clearly hoping it with be himself. A sword in a stone appears in London bearing an inscription indicating whoever pulls it is the right king of Britain.

Thoughts: The banquet is a scripted event. The outline of the campaign really requires this disaster to happen, and there was very little the player characters could do. I did give everyone a chance to avoid dying along with all the other knights from their county with some Temperate rolls. Since the poison was in the wine, I ruled that a successful Temperate roll would keep the knight from indulging and dying. Sir Conmorl, however, chose not even to make  the roll, going for Indulgent off the bat as a celebration.

One interesting thing about this event. It’s clearly a super important plot development, but the text of the campaign gives no clue as to who is ultimately behind the poisoning. One of the ladies at court is the direct culprit, but motive or conspiracy is not revealed. Everyone assumes it was Saxons but it’s never explicitly stated.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-Through Year 494

Summary: Our group is attempting a complete run of the Great Pendragon Campaign  using 5th edition rules. Players are Matt, Mark, and Lilith. I am the GM.

Year 494
The tenth year in the Uther Period, with Uther Pendragon as king of Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •         Sir Eleanor of Dinton, played by Lilith.
  •         Sir Conmorl of Winterbourne Gunnet, played by Matt.
  •         Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.


My notes are super light for this year, this report is reconstructed mostly from the campaign book. Saxons run rampage in the north while the king lies ill. The player knights are sent on an embassy to Estragales to seek allies there. On the way, they meet a number of young knights who will be prominent in future. They meet King Canan of Estragales and he hosts them with a chilly and formal hospitality. After their initial introduction, they are put off for some time. The court moves several times before the knights’ embassy is heard. Finally, the king is poisoned at banquet, apparently by his own son. The knights investigate and find that the king’s steward Sir Orcas is to blame, and make friends of the sons of Canan, securing a promise of aid.

The Saxons break through and besiege Lindsey, there will have to be a conflict the next year.


Thoughts: Obviously, this year didn’t make a big impression. There were lots of courtly opportunities here, though, and the players took full advantage.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-through Year 493

Summary: Our group is attempting a complete run of the Great Pendragon Campaign  using 5th edition rules. Players are Matt, Mark, and Lilith. I am the GM.

Year 493
The ninth year in the Uther Period, with Uther Pendragon as king of Britain.

Our current roster of characters:

  •         Sir Eleanor of Dinton, played by Lilith.
  •         Sir Conmorl of Winterbourne Gunnet, played by Matt.
  •         Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.

This was a relatively uneventful year, primarily consisting of a diplomatic mission to the Kingdom of Malahaut in Cumbria. Their lord, Earl Roderick, has been sent to secure an alliance, and the knights accompany him. They impress at court with a few Orate rolls, and go on a hunt, where Sir Conmorl gets lost and captured by bandits for ransom. He manages to get loose and kill the bandits, but is hopelessly lost until Sir Aeddan and Sir Eleanor show up on the scene. Not much else of note occurs.

The King is ill, and it really seems like he may be suffering some sort of curse. He is despondent after the loss of his son, and Queen Ygraine is still wroth at Merlin for the abduction and won’t hear that name spoken in her presence. The player knights are better off away from court, as they are all still Merlin loyalists.

Another meeting of the Fellowship of the Condemners is held over the winter, and this lays groundwork for connections throughout the south of Britain that will end up being very important in a few years.

Thoughts: This was a good court scene, but for the most part not particularly eventful or notable. Sir Conmorl would surely have beaten the bandits had he been fully armed, but he was in his hunting leathers.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-through Year 492

Summary: Our group is attempting a complete run of the Great Pendragon Campaign  using 5th edition rules. Players are Matt, Mark, and Lilith. I am the GM.

Year 492
The eighth year in the Uther Period, with Uther Pendragon as king of Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •         Sir Eleanor of Dinton, played by Lilith.
  •          Sir Conmorl of Winterbourne Gunnet, played by Matt.
  •          Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.

The big news this year is the kidnap of the king’s infant son. The player knights witness this, with Merlin telling them he is pursued by enemies and disappearing. The player knights then engage with the pursuers, only to find they are the king’s men. They are arrested and tried for aiding the kidnap, and questioned closely by several priests. Sir Aeddan, a pagan, is subject to particular scrutiny and is more than a bit resentful about it.

The knights are spared if they denounce Merlin and swear new loyalty to the king, which they all do. They are uneasy about all this, though, since they believe Merlin has the best interests of Britain at heart. Sir Aeddan gathers all the knights who were accused, including some NPCs, and creates a new order, the Fellowship of the Condemners. They take this name as a badge of shame for denouncing Merlin when they all believe the wizard is a loyal Briton. They agree to meet annually, and to do what they can for Britain for all their remaining days.

In Saxon news, the two captured kings Octa and Eosa escape to their northern kingdom. From the continent, new swarms of Saxon warriors arrive to reinforce them.


Thoughts: The whole kidnap and trial is on rails, rails, rails. The thing is really just a straight steam along a scripted storyline, and if the knights wish to survive, they have no choice but to denounce Merlin. The king is in a rage and the queen wants them dead. Of course, our players clearly found a way to express their frustration and created a whole new knightly order. This turns out to be hugely influential and beneficial to the future story in our campaign, so it’s pretty cool to see the players put their own individual stamp on the game, something that will continue and I will encourage as the game proceeds.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-through Year 491

Summary: Our group is attempting a complete run of the Great Pendragon Campaign  using 5th edition rules. Players are Matt, Mark, and Lilith. I am the GM.

Year 491
The seventh year in the Uther Period, with Uther Pendragon as king of Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •       Sir Eleanor of Dinton, played by Lilith.
  •      Sir Conmorl of Winterbourne Gunnet, played by Matt.
  •       Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.

This year is the conflict between Duke Gorlois and King Uther. After Gorlois returned to his lands, afraid for his wife’s safety near the king, he has declared the insult unbearable and raises his knights. While they have their doubts about the justness of this battle, they go along anyway.

The Battle of Tintagel is fought this year. While the knights, led by Sir Madoc, go up against one of Gorlois’ fortresses, the King assaults Tintagel, a fortress atop a sea spire connected to the land by a causeway, very difficult to storm. The battle is hard fought, and the Cornish attack at night in a daring raid. It is chaotic close-quarter fighting, and Sir Madoc is slain by Duke Gorlois, who is then in turn brought low by the player knights. When news of this reaches Tintagel, the castle surrenders.

King Uther immediately announces that he will wed Ygraine as spoils of war. She reports being visited by Gorlois even as he fought to his death many miles away. The players all know what happened, even if their knights do not. By end of summer it is clear the new Queen is pregnant.

Thoughts: Again, lots of important events that have little to no player involvement. The battle was fun, and the death of Madoc and Gorlois ordained. I decided to let the players have the victory over Gorlois, especially as they seemed to like Madoc a bit. The Uther period is all setup for the Arthurian times so it seems heavily on rails. My players are playing along, but I also am chafing a bit and the highly scripted adventures at this point.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-through Year 490

Summary: Our group is attempting a complete run of the Great Pendragon Campaign  using 5th edition rules. Players are Matt, Mark, and Lilith. I am the GM.

Year 490
The sixth year in the Uther Period, with Uther Pendragon as king of Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •          Sir Eleanor of Dinton, played by Lilith.
  •          Sir Conmorl of Winterbourne Gunnet, played by Matt.
  •         Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.
In this session, Mark brings in a new character. His old character’s son is still far too young to inherit, so he takes on Sir Aeddan, the old character’s younger brother. Matt decides his old character Sir Galmwr has run off back into the woods, seeking out the Lady of Flowers to live at her court again.

This year features the Battle of Lyndsey (by way of Geoffrey of Monmouth, apparently). The Cymric knights go north to fight the Saxons coming down through Northumberland, and fight them back from their march southward. The two fearsome Saxon kings Octa and Eosa lead them. The battle is pretty fierce, and culminates in an opportunity take down King Octa as the Saxons are routing. Sir Aeddan is the one who breaks through, capturing the Saxon King to win a huge sum of Glory and potentially a great ransom. After the battle, there is a great victory feast, and the player knights get their first glance at Ygraine, apparently super hot, since just laying eyes on her makes you make a Lustful roll. Even Sir Eleanor makes the roll, as Lilith informs us that Eleanor is mostly into women. Sure, she’ll marry for heirs, but that’s not where her romantic inclinations lie.

Further intrigue follows in winter court with the King. He has released all his lords back to their own lands, but won’t let Duke Gorlois go and the duke is getting irritated. The king is besotted with Ygraine and keeping the duke around so she has to stay too. Gorlois steals away along with his wife in the middle of the night, witnessed but not stopped by the player knights. The king then claims that Gorlois has abused his hospitality and prepares once again to make war on Cornwall. Meanwhile, Earl Roderick of Salisbury, lord of our player characters, and the king’s bastard son Madoc are far more concerned with a massive landing of Saxons in the lands they already hold. The Earl leaves many of his men behind to guard the county while he is off on the king’s war.

Thoughts: More battle! There’s a lot of that early game in the campaign. This time, a really cool opportunity for the players to shine and capture the enemy king. I took this event as inspiration forward and tried to give players the opportunity to make a difference in a battle, and if they get the result that indicates an enemy general or hero, let them have a shot at someone important.

The Ygraine stuff is super heavy handed. I see what they are going for here, the tragedy of Uther needs to play out. I don’t think being a passive witness and unable to change anything is really involving the player knights, though. There some serious railroading here in this section. The whole Lustful thing is also interesting. Only Queen Guenivere inspires the same sort of rolls in the campaign. It did reveal some interesting information about one of the player knights, so that turned out well. Sir Aedden ended up hopelessly in love with Ygraine, which ends up pretty cool later as he runs into her many times as they slowly age out of the game. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-through Year 489

Summary: Our group is attempting a complete run of the Great Pendragon Campaign  using 5th edition rules. Players are Matt, Mark, and Lilith. I am the GM.

Year 489
The fifth year in the Uther Period, with Uther Pendragon as king of Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •        Sir Eleanor of Dinton, played by Lilith.
  •        Sir Conmorl of Winterbourne Gunnet, played by Matt.
  •        Sir Aeron of Pitton, played by Mark.

A planned fight with Duke Gorlois of Cornwall ends in a truce, with the Duke pledging himself to King Uther in a scene right out of the 1981 movie Excalibur. Like, literally right out of it. The Campaign text acknowledges the source, and Matt immediately recognized the scene from the movie. No one had a problem with this, in fact it seemed to get my older players more excited about what was happening.

After this supposed battle is cancelled, the player knights decide to go up north and harass the Saxons besieging Eburacum and raiding into Lindsey. This is run like a skirmish, which is different from a battle, instead it’s a straight-up round-by-round combat. The fight goes pretty well until Sir Aeron engages with the leader of the Saxon warband they are fighting, a Saxon berserker. Berserkers have a Hate (Britons) passion at 20, so a guaranteed bonus on their attack, and this guy also has a really good Axe skill. He crits Aeron and kills him in one blow. It’s just as brutal and surprising as our first session. Mark seems a little disheartened, but we’ve decided to engage the system as it comes and let the result stand. He’ll bring in his backup knight next session.

As the year winds down, news comes that more and more Saxons keep landing in the north, led by the very frightening sons of Hengest, the kings Octa and Eosa. They are laying waste to Northumberland and it’s clear that local Britons aren’t going to be able to hold them back. Uther is resolved to go up there next year and drive them back.

At the end of this year, Sir Conmorl gets married to one of the many NPCs of Salisbury I’ve created and been keeping track of. It generates a great list of eligible knights and ladies, and creates a little bit of story outside our featured knight’s progression. As an example, Sir Caramides, lord of Wylye, had a terrible string of rolls this year, losing his wife in childbirth and his only son to illness.

Thoughts: The brutality of the system is really brought home this year. Our player knights are still relatively young, and the players are learning about the efficiency of their builds. Lilith made the mistake of making her lady knights small in stature, and that has a big effect on damage rolls, despite the fact that Sir Eleanor is really strong. Sir Aeron died because of the way passions work in play, his enemy had a passion and thus got a really good chance at criticals. The players are now trying to work their passions in whenever they can for their advantage, and are spending a lot of year-end points and glory points to raise them. The closer you can get to a 20 the better off you are at getting that hit on the passion. They are also all really doubling down on that Hate (Saxons) passion they’ve all got, since we’ve pretty much been fighting Saxons since day one.