Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-Through Year 500

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 500
The fifth year in the Anarchy Period, there is no king in Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •      Sir Safrax, played by Lilith.
  •     Sir Quintus, played by Matt.
  •     Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.


King Idres of Cornwall marched on Dorset, but the combined forces of Dorset, Salisbury, and Somerset repulsed the Cornish advance. Praetor Jonathel of Dorset is thrilled, and solidifies his alliance with Salisbury.

Despite this win, there is bad news on the Saxon front. A new group of Saxons, the Angles, land in Caercolun and quickly overtake it, creating a new kingdom of Anglia. The Earls of Hertford and Huntington come running to Salisbury, looking for aid, as they are next on the chopping block.

In Wales, Escavalon conquers Estragales, creating a more powerful kingdom there. The King of Escavalon also looks to Norgales, where three usurpers rule, aiming to expand there as well.

In Salisbury proper, at the prompting of the player characters Countess Ellen agrees to a marriage with the son of Duke Killian of Clarence, securing an alliance with both Clarence and Marlboro. The allied block is quite large now, comprising most of central Logres.


Thoughts: The player characters are starting to change the scripted narrative. In the campaign book, Idres conquers Dorset, but through the diplomatic negotiations they undertook the players have changed that and secured a valuable ally. They also negotiated the marriage deal to bring Clarence and Marlboro into their alliance, creating a strong Cymric block in the center of all the invading nations, allowing them to resist much more effectively. The players put a lot of their efforts over the five years of Anarchy into this, and with good rolls and lots of legwork it paid off.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-Through Year 499

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 499
The fourth year in the Anarchy Period, there is no king in Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •         Sir Safrax, played by Lilith.
  •         Sir Quintus, played by Matt.
  •         Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.


The knights visit the ruler of county Dorset, Praetor Jonathel, and convince him an alliance with Salisbury is in his best interest. Jonathel has his eye on the encroaching Cornish king and agrees readily. Thanks to this alliance, it looks like war with Cornwall is on the horizon! King Idres has captured county Jagent, and Dorset is clearly next. King Idres’ son, Mark, has tried to woo the Countess of Salisbury but is rebuffed and sent packing.

Luckily, the Saxons continue their squabbles, with Kent and Sussex hiring fighters to go against one another. Sussex and Essex just ask for some fighting men instead of their usual tribute. Salisbury still does not submit, sending nothing to any Saxon but Wessex. Salisbury suffers no raids, the Saxons are too busy fighting amongst themselves.

The player knights take a grand tour, up through Gloucester and Marlboro, seeking alliances with Salisbury. Their great honor and courtliness impresses many of the lords here, and negotiations of alliance open. After helping the Countess of Rydychan regain her seat from usurpers, the newly restored Countess eagerly joins the alliance. Marlboro is interested in a marriage alliance, which is proving a bit harder to secure. Knights from Gloucester are appearing at court in Sarum, where the walls have been completed, strengthening the forces of the Countess.


Thoughts: This year is where the players really took the lead. They were determined to create a coalition among the counties remaining outside Cornish and Saxon control, and began laying the foundation for such an alliance. Their actions in aid of both Dorset and Rydychan created a good core, if they can see to it that Dorset is not destroyed by Cornwall next year. Their constant advocacy for strong leadership in Salisbury and alliances all around has made a big difference, as their actions start to make the dire situation in Anarchy diminish just a bit.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-Through Year 498

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 498
The third year in the Anarchy Period, there is no king in Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •        Sir Safrax, played by Lilith.
  •        Sir Quintus, played by Matt.
  •        Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.


King Idres of Cornwall is attacking the county of Jagent. The knights are more worried about Saxons, and luckily the Saxon lords seem to be fighting amongst themselves. That doesn’t stop the extortion request from Wessex, however. They want either double tribute or vassalage. On the player knights’ advice, the Countess opts for double tribute. Other Earls are swearing allegiance to Saxon kings, adding British knights to the forces of those kingdoms.

Within Salisbury, new walls are being built around Sarum, the county seat. They will take a couple of years to complete, which is why the player knights counseled appeasement toward Wessex. They are already making plans to resist, and are also looking at King Idres with a great deal of mistrust. The knights go over to Jagent to help the resistance to the Cornish advance. Their efforts are not enough to force the Cornish back, but they do not do themselves any harm in the battle.


Thoughts: Another year where a lot of the knights’ efforts were concentrated on building defenses in Sarum and trying to hold back the tide of invasion. They are very worried about Saxons, and the county on its own has no means to resist. The player knights are now considering how to deal with that, perhaps by finding allies among the other free counties in Britain.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-Through Year 497

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 497
The second year in the Anarchy Period, there is no king in Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •         Sir Safrax, played by Lilith.
  •         Sir Quintus, played by Matt.
  •         Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.


Invasions press from all sides! King Idres of Brittany and Cornwall is rolling up into Britain, capturing Tintagel this year. The Isle of Wight refused tribute to Cerdic of Wessex, so he invaded and put everyone to the sword, giving the island to his son.  Lords elsewhere in Britain are paying the Saxons, or are out-and-out joining them as vassals.

This year, the player knights decide to consolidate Countess Ellen’s hold on Salisbury. There are a number of recalcitrant bachelor knights who have not sworn loyalty to the new Countess, so the player knights travel around from manor to manor convincing the knights to swear fealty. They are mostly successful, through a combination of persuasiveness, deal-making, and outright bribery. Salisbury stands united.

This is a good thing, as three separate Saxon lords come demanding tribute. The Countess decides to pay this year, but the hostility between the different Saxon legations allows her to play them off one another to Salisbury’s benefit.


Thoughts: The campaign book is super light this year, but the players decided to try to bolster the regime in their home province. This self-directed task was quite successful thanks to many very good rolls on courtly skills. The knights they could not just convince through talking were given concessions or bribes by grace of the Countess, and Salisbury is in a pretty good position pretty quickly. This is super important, as will be seen in future years.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Great Pendragon Campaign: Epic Play-Through Year 496

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 496
The first year in the Anarchy Period, there is no king in Britain.

Our current roster of characters:
  •         Sir Safrax, played by Lilith.
  •         Sir Quintus, played by Matt.
  •         Sir Aeddan of Pitton, played by Mark.


The realm is in chaos after the loss of the king. He is buried near Stonehenge in Salisbury. Our player knights have also shuffled up significantly, we have two new young knights and Sir Aeddan returns from his madness to a world changed. So many knights died at St. Albans that there are many manors held for children in Salisbury, and the Countess Ellen takes over for her slain husband until their son Robert can come of age.

All over Britain the Saxons are coming around to extort protection money. Almost every lord pays, and the Saxons are good to their word, not attacking those who have paid up. Based on the counsel of her court, the Countess Ellen did not yet pay, and two Saxon emissaries are in court demanding money. Things are looking pretty grim. That’s when a new threat emerges in Hampshire, reports of a new Saxon king landing and quickly capturing land. The player knights are on the southern border of the county and they meet King Cerdic, the new Saxon ruler, who claims to be descended from a former British king, and is looking to claim what he believes is his inheritance. These Saxons, even more than those in Sussex and Kent, are a real direct threat to Salisbury.

The year ends with lots discussion. The knights all have a particular hatred of Saxons, and advise the Countess not to treat with these interlopers. It’s unclear how long Salisbury can withstand their demands, however, but the Countess puts off their extortion for a second year.


Thoughts: Lilith brought in a new character, Sir Safrax, a cousin of her old character Eleanor, and the main surviving knight of her household. Sir Conmorl’s son is still far from his majority, so Matt brings in a new Roman character, Sir Quintus, a bachelor knight. Neither knight is a landholder. Playing lower ranked knights is an interesting choice, and their decisions and ambitions are definitely affected by the status. The players had all had pretty high Saxon hatred passions, which are starting to cause trouble in the Anarchy Period, definitely the age of the Saxons.

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.