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.

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.