View Full Version : [H‚rnMaster] Pendragon Adventures
12-15-2009, 05:48 AM
Starting on the day after Christmas, my next real big campaign will take off, combining two things I really like and which go well together: Historical Dark Ages and the myth of King Arthus. The campaign will be based on the original Great Campiagn of Pendragon, but with a much stronger historical, and gritty note. Player Characters are the retainers of Arthus (and Uther in the first sessions) and slowly becme important and powerful warlords and chiefs (or "knights" if you prefer the romanticised terminology) of the High King, beat up the Saxons in the East (and the Irish in the West, the Franks in the South and the Picts in the North... there are more than enough enemies around).
Flavor of the Campaign: This is not going to be a romantic, or chivalric fairy tale. Yes, the fey will have their appearance (it is a low magic game based on a pseudio-historical background, not a historical one); the cmpaign covers a time span of almost 75 years, and the player characters will not only follow the time and life (and death) of Arthus, but also create their own house and fiefdoms, become powerful landowners and noble lords. It is quite likely that characters die - if not in battle so from old age - during the campaign, and the houses and families create a source of regrowing new characters, in the case of a death - and characters will die. Horribly. In 500 A.D., life is cheap, the world is an ugly, dirty place, and an infected wound can be a death sentence. With a few exceptions, most characters from Arthurian legends are free to as the player characters and players have the chance to play their own version of traditional characters from arthurian lore, but it can also be that one of these chosen characters - or anyone else, with the exception of the "Big 6" (Artus, Merlin, Morgana, Lancelot, and Guenivra) will die before their time, giving the whole legend a certainly different perspective.
Literature: Apart from the RPG sources (Pendragon, H‚rnmaster and an old and very worn copy of Gurps Camelot), I use a few historical text books (mostly the Osprey stuff, which is okay, but mostly fascinating because of the pretty pictures) and two major fictional works: On the one hand, the omnipresent Mists of Avalon, on the other hand the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. I'll probably need additional stuff about the world of the faeries and probably on the old druidic faith as well, but for the beginning, this will suffice.
Rules: As I said before, the background is based on the Pendragon RPG, but frankly, the rules of the game are pretty mediocre, way too superficial and too much focused on chivalry and heroic knights in shining armor gor what I have in mind. So I took a gritty (and pretty obscure) Roleplaying for rule purposes: H‚rnmaster (3rd edition) for depicting the world of Arthur who it really is instead of how it should be. In addition to the usual H‚rnmaster rules, the Traits from Pendragon replace the morality ability and faith of the H‚rnMaster rules. Characters have 12 Character trait pairings (like Chaste/Lustful or Trusting/ Suspicious) which define the character's well character and which changes and develop over the time due to character actions -whch they can influence as well (yes, you role for these abilities. Yes, you can act against the result, but that is generally considered to be tactless, and characters who represent to be moral representatives of their faith and role in the world gain a specific bonus (depending on their faith and role) and Charisma, which grants bonuses to social skills and is a general blessing (as in: will perhaps save you from certain death). Characters are supposed to be heroic figures, especially because the world around them is as grim and dark as the proverbial dark ages the whole setting takes place in. The characters are supposed to become legendary heroes and a beacon of hope in a dark time.
Things to Come: In the folowing, I will present the setting, campaign structure, character stuff and rule elements for the H‚rnmaster/Pendragon Crossover, the intended low magic setting and especially artefacts (Excalibur, the Grail, stuff made by the fey) and many, many NPCs (a first count of important characters or at least named characters came up with around 45 to 50 NPC, most of them petty much placeholders for PC's at first). I would really like to see the opinions and ideas of other people concernign Arthurian lore. Due to the forum rules, I will not discuss the religious side of the whole campaign, as it concerns real world religions, and even a conflict between them. If you are interested in the religious elements of the campaign, I can send you the relevant stuff per PM.
12-15-2009, 09:52 AM
So, now the boring, crunchy part: The Character stuff. Due to the forum rules, the religious part has been scrubbed.
Characters in Pendragon come from one of five different people, who form each a unique culture as well, even though the differences are blurring.This cultural background is not that important, though - characters are on the side of Artus by default anyhow, and therefore most likely to be Kymric.
The five usual people are Kymric, Irish, Roman, Saxon and Pictish, but more exotic backgrounds can be chosen as well, but must fleshed out by the players themselves.
Kymric Characters: The Kymric Britons are the most common characters in Arthurian times; they are the Briton Mainland people, the ancestors of the Celts who lived here during the Roman invasion and rule.
Kymric Characters are the “norm” and are therefore only slightly modified.
Kymric Characters are of average size and weight, and complexion. They gain a bonus of one (1) point to their Stamina and Comeliness attribute. Kymric society is feudal. Kymric characters are not limited to Albion as well. The Brittany realms are Kymric as well.
As there are so many people to claim Kymric ancestry (and rightly so), the Kymric culture may differ widely and modify character traits accordingly.
Romanized Britons: These are those Kymrics who have copied Roman lifestyle and appearances and formed an amalgam of these Roman customs and their own British ones. They are typical representatives of the upper class and the urban population, but mostly in places were true Romans are rare. They gain a +1 to the Traits Deceitful, Proud and Suspicious.
Rural Folk: The village folk and smallfolk of the vast majority of Britain. They are the vast majority of the British people, but most of them are representatives of the simple folk, not necessarily the upper class. They gain a +1 Bonus to the traits Honest, Just, Pious and Trusting.
The North: The Northern Realms breed hardy men, more used to hardships and skirmishes with Pictish Raiders than the Southern Kymrics who grew soft before the Saxon Invasion. Northerners form the major opposition to Artus’ rule in the first years, and they maintain their reputation as fierce warriors. Northerners gain a +1 bonus to the Traits Energetic, Honest, Modest, Selfish and Temperate.
The Subjugated: These are the Kymric people who live in the Occupied lands, either in the Saxon territories, or in the kingdoms of the Irish occupants in the East. The Subjugated are meek and form a lower class to the ruling foreigners. Subjugated Characters gain a +1 bonus to the traits Cowardly, Modest, Prudent and Temperate.
Irish Characters: If not for the Saxons, the Irish would be considered the worst foes of the Britons. There is little difference in culture and structure between the Irish and the Kymric, but the language and a few other customs. The Kingdom of Ireland is not limited to the Island of Ireland, though - a few years back, a few irish exile nobles crossed the Narrow Sea and formed small kingdoms that forms Dal Riada.
Irish Characters are of average size and stature, but have a slightly lighter skin ( -10 on the complexion roll). Treat any result of Silver hair on the hair table as “red”.
Irish Characters gain a bonus of one (1) point to their Stamina and Voice attributes. Irish society is feudal, and Ireland itself is mostly Christianized while the Irish kingdom of Dal Riada in Albion are Pagan.
Irish characters gain additional +1 bonus to the Traits Energetic, Generous, Reckless and Vengeful.
Pictish Characters: The Picts are the tribesmen of the North, especially the highlands. They have been the enemies of the Romans and Britons for centuries and remain a danger in Arthurian times, even though the Saxons and Irish Raiders are more of the threat, except for the northern border kingdoms.
Pictish characters are small and wiry. They are 2’’ smaller than the average human, and get a -2 Modifier on the Frame roll. They also have a slightly darker skin (+10 on the complexion roll). Picts gain a +1 bonus to their Dexterity and the usual bonuses for tribesmen. They are Pagan, and form a tribal society.
Pictish characters gain a +1 bonus to the traits Cruel, Energetic, Valorous and Reckless.
Roman Characters: There are only a few Romans left in Britain, and those who are live in the cities and urban centres. Roman culture is still seen as a highlight of arts and culture, and the Britain Romans try to maintain a culture and mores which has already disappeared on the mainland.
Romans are slightly smaller than the Kymric (reduce size by 1’’) but of average stature. They have significantly darker skin (+15 on the complexion roll). Romans gain a one (1) point bonus to their Intelligence and Voice attributes. Roman culture remains imperial, even though it is mostly maintained by nostalgia.
Roman Characters gain a +1 bonus to the Traits Just, Deceitful and Suspicious and a +2 bonus to the Trait Proud.
Saxon Characters: The Saxons are invaders in the South and Southeast of Britain, and up to Arthurian times, they are vastly successful. They started to carve out small kingdoms in the East, and the Briton armies have only slowed down and prolonged the invasion until now.
Saxons are a bit taller and heavier built than the average – they are 2’’ larger than usual and add a +1 bonus to the frame roll. They also have a significantly lighter skin than the Britons ( -15 on the complexion roll). Saxon Characters gain a bonus of +1 to their Will and Comeliness attribute.
Saxon characters gain a +1 bonus to the traits Cruel, Proud, Reckless and Valorous.
Female Characters: The Arthurian times are a man’s world, and are particularly unfair on women who suffer from many social and cultural discriminations and drawbacks. To make up for this and to explain the outstanding role of female PCs, female characters gain two (2) points they can add to any attribute(s) they wish. Unlike male characters, especially knights who are going to be one among many others and will have to compete with all the Lancelots, Gawains and the like, while female characters are a lot more unique and outstanding than usual. Take this as a form of postive discrimination if you want.
Determining the Attributes: H‚rnMaster is an old-school game. Character attributes are determined randomly, and may be absolute awesome or abyssmal. But since the PCs are meant to be the stuff of legends, they ought to have attributes above average to represent how outstanding they are. For each regular attribute, players can roll twice, rolling 4d6 and drop the lowest die and pick the better result. For each key attribute, characters roll twice with 3d6+6, and drop the lowest die as well. For the appearance roll, including size and stature, one usual roll is made for every trait, even though the cosmetical appearance (with the exception of size and stature) can be picked at will.
Social Rank and Sex can be chosen or rolled randomly as well - the majority of the characters are supposedly noble anyway.
Character Traits: Every par of character traits start as a 10/10 pairing, which is then modified by the character's background (see above) and their religion (as in Pendragon Core). Than, every character rolls two different colored d6 (preferably a white one and a black one) and add the difference to one of both traits (the left one if the white die is higher, the right one if the black dice is higher).
Afterwards, players have a number of points equal to their willpower to adjust these character traits in either way, but not more than 3 points per abilty. The maximum relation between a trait pairing is 19/1, which represents a very extreme position and sometimes even a neurosis or psychosis. Bonus points gained from the risk rolls on the medical and psychological trait tables can also be used to modify the chracter traits.
The so determined abilities form the Bases of the abilities, similar to the skill bases. The "ML" of the character traits are based on SBx4, as if they were skills.
Tests of character traits are usually made by comparing two rivalling traits; this work just like a rivaling skill check. The two competing traits do not have to be of the same pairing; often enough to other traits may compete as well. If both rolls achieve the same success level, the player is free to decide how the character behaves. If one trait roll succeeds and the other doesn't, the character will probably follow this notion, but within the player's decision - the character is at least temted. If one of the rolls is a critical success, or a critical failure, the character must follow the notion, even if it i a generally stupid idea. And if a critical success is opposed by a critical failiure, the Gamemaster can define the character's reaction and behaviour in this situation if the reaction of the player is not strong enough. Whenever a critical success or failure comes up in a trait roll, a skill development is made for the winning side of the conflict. If the roll succeeds, the pairing of the increased ability is decreased by the same value, even if it was not the rivaling trait in this specific skill roll. This is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. Nonetheless, a character trait may never exceed the effective level of 95 or become lower than 5.
Players are inivited to make unrequested trait rolls whenever they are not sure how their character would behave. In other situations, the trait rolls are called for by the Gamemaster.
12-16-2009, 09:24 AM
Now, when the rule stuff is out of the way, we can deal with the interesting parts: The campaign's metaplot arc and the cast. The metaplot is divided into 5 acts, with a short prologue and a longer epilogue. This covers a timespan of roundabout seventy years, from the death of Uther Pendragon, the father of Artus, to Artus death - and beyond.
The Prologue, Death of a High King (478) deals with the death of Uther and the beginning collapse of the eastern provinces due to Saxon onslaught. The PCs are young, perhaps eager participants of Uther's last campaign and fight in his last battle about Londinium. When Uther dies from the wounds he received in the battle, the PCs become Merlin's agents and bring Uther's bastard son Artus (and his sister Morgan) into security to Broceliande in Brittany, where the young boy grows up to become a leader of men at the court of King Ban of Benoic and out of reach of Saxon or British enemies.
In the first Act, From the Ashes (479 – 483), the PC's can witness how the alliance of British kingdoms formed by Uther collapses without a strong leading figure, and the ongoing defensive battles become one tactical retreat or bitter defeat after another. These are the years where the young guardsmen and retainers of Uther - the PCs can become true heroes and important warlords through many battles. They can start to build up a reputation and gain retainers and followers, they are likely to marry an establish the dynasty needed for the game and to form their part of the legend. Yes, they are doomed to fail without Artus or the support of the rest of the British kingdoms, but because they try nonetheless, they become heroes. From a solely game-based perspective, this is the most ‘sandbox’ part of the campaign, as the characters have significant freedoms due to the lack of a king to rule the country. As this is the very beginning, this will hopefully influence the rest of the campaign as well and perhaps make up for the strong metaplot and the associated railroading tendencies.
In the end, when things seem to be without hope and a united Saxon army is threatening to overcome the remaining defenders of Logres, Artus arrives at the head of an expedition force from Brittany (accompanied by, among others, Lancelot). In the end of the first act, Artus is crowned to be the king of Logres. He is only fifteen at the time. The PC's become the veterans of the Saxon border, and pretty much the liaison between Artus and the lords of Logres (who think the boy to be a valuable puppet, or at least a better alternative to the current vacuum of power. The ascension of Artus in Logres is mostly undisputed, especially when the PC's come to the support of the boy, and his mentor Merlin.
12-16-2009, 09:40 AM
The second act, The Boy King (483 – 489), describes the conflict between the British nobles and kingdoms, especially between young Artus and his allies and the powerful king Lot of the North. Lot has sworn that he himself will never claim the crown of Logres, but through the maternal line, his firstborn son Gawain has a more solid claim to the throne than the bastard Artus. Lot fights for the birthright of his son and the dream to become high king and pendragon himself.
The old dream of a unified Britain becomes more and more true, but unfortunately, this unified Britain stands against Artus - and the player character's kingdom while Lot rallies the kings of the North under his banner. Artus and his retainers are forced to make an alliance with the Leodegan, the king of the western kingdom of Cambria. This alliance is settled with the arranged marriage with Leodegan's daughter Guinevra, who is even younger than Artus. With the support of the Cambrians and the kingdoms of Brittany, Artus and his followers are not as outclassed by Lot's alliance as before, and both sides avoid an open conflict, reducing the de facto war to small war bands plundering and pillaging the enemies' villages and paying Saxon and Irish mercenaries to raid the shores of the other party. A new Saxon king, ∆lle, calling himself the Bretwalda ("ruler of all Britain") has united the Saxon, Anglish and Jutes to invade Logres and threatens both Logres and the South, but also the Southernmost of the Northern kingdoms.
Eventually, both sides recognize that this prolonged conflict only benefits the Saxons, and a more open warfare begins, with a few indecisive battles. The Northern kingdoms still have more troops, and partially better ones as well, but they have to face the newly imported cavalry of the Broceliands under the leadership of Lancelot, and the veterans of the Saxon border, like the PCs, but mostly they lack the strategic finesse of Artus and the counsel of Merlin. This allows the "boy king" to win a few decisive victories against Lot and his allies which forces the latter eventually to negotiate, and eventually to give his three older sons as hostages to Artus. The three, Gawain, Gaheris and Agravain soon befriends Artus and become trusted allies, despite their father's role.
The second act ends with the declaration of Artus as the high king and pendragon, a ceremonial marriage between him and the land itself (he eventually fathers his son Mordred in this very night) and the feeling that there is hope after all. The festivities take place during the night of Lughnasad, one of the highest holidays of the old faith of Britain. Everybody is jolly drunk, it is a day for marriages, or at least lovers coming together. It is a perfect night for an ambush, and ∆lle's warriors plunder the fortified border towns Lindum and Ratae with ease. Artus is just becoming a true adult in this time (meaning he becomes older than twenty), but is already a veteran. Lot on the other hand is deemed " too dangerous too live" by Artus allies and is murdered by Pellinore, the brother of queen Guinevra.
12-16-2009, 10:11 AM
Thus begins the third Act, the Saxon Wars (489 – 501).
The border forts and towns are utterly unprepared for the Saxon attack in the Lughnasad night. ∆lle's unified tribes capture the fortified towns Lindum and Ratae pretty much in the same night, while a third army under the leadership of ∆lle's old rival Cerdic besieges Venta Belgarum in the South. The war-weary troops of the former war are rushed to the border, with too little supplies and in a bad time - most of the levies want to go home for the harvest, and desertion becomes a common problem. While the Northern Kingdoms send their experienced warbands south, and join sides with their former enemies, they have little success, if any.
The next years are coined by the wars against the Saxons. This time, the Britons are able to beat the invadors from time to time, and Artus proves again that he may be young, but is a peerless strategist. For several years, the wars are a series of stallmates, countless skirmishes and minor battles, without any decisive victories for either side. The PC's and their allies can probably relief Venta, but are most likely unable to hinder the plundering of Glevum and Corinium. A cholera epidemic weakens both sides and makes warfare mostly impossible for the better part of two years. As the PC's are now roundabout 40, it is a good chance to itroduce their heirs by now, even though the second generation may still be a bit young.
Artus establishes the permanent midwinter war council, and it soon becomes common that the lords and war band captains spend the winter at court. This council will later be glorified as the "Round Table", but in truth, it is a collection of veterans and leaders spending the cold and dark time with planning the campaigns for spring, whoring, boasting and drinking beyond their capacities.
The war creates heroes and the war creates martyrs. But despite the war, the true climax of the act is the search for the thirteen treasures of Britain, which shall become the epitome of Merlin's work. The old druid believes that when he can collect all of the treasures, he will be able to cast a spell so powerful that it will protect Britain forever, cast the Saxons back into the sea and solve the conflict that should not be named as well. The queen's party - the opposition in the above mentioned unmentionable conflict - begin to search for these treasures as well, but mostly to claim them for themselves or to destroy them, if needed. The expendable warriors of the realm begin to the long, looong and rivalling quest (which is seen with amusement, later bewilderment and finally sorrow by the high king). While a few of the treasures are already a part of Merlin's hoard or the treasures of large cathedrals or monasteries (Excalibur, Artus' sword is probably the best known treasure), some are nigh impossible to find, especially the Cauldron of Gwyddno Garanhir, or the Holy Grail, as the Queen's Party call it.
This is the most classic part of the campaign. The PC's -a classic ragtag band of heroes - are on a mission from an authority figure to find legendary magical treasures. They travel here, and there, follow legends, and may even spend a few adventures in the land of the fey. This is also the most fantasy part of the whole campaign, as it include obvious magical items. The cauldron, for example, revive dead warriors and turn them into silent (they can only grit their teeth... and groan) but surprisingly resilient fighters. If the characters succeed and find al treasures, they will have a powerful supernatural weapon, which may make the difference in the long run, but if not for really great ideas and heroid deeds, it is most likely that the quest fails, or is abandoned for more dire needs on the front. You can only hunt for mystical treasures for so long, before you start to worry about your friends on the battle lines.
In the end, there is the one decisive battle everyone has talked about for years - ∆lle's army, returning from a successful raid deep into British territory and slowed down by carts full of plunder is forced into a stand at the mountain of Badon, while Lancelot and his riders manages to drive Cerdic and his supporting troop for ∆lle away. The battle is one of the largest and bloodiest ever, as ∆lle fears for his life, and Artus must fear that he will never again be able to muster a similar large army when he loses this battle. In the end, the shieldwall of the Saxons breaks, and ∆lle is captured. Like with Lot, Artus treat his former enemy with utmost respect and honours and "convinces" him to swear fealty to him. ∆lle agrees (not that he has any other chance) and is allowed to leave after leaving a handful of hostages. With ∆lle's capitulation, Cerdic and the other Saxon leaders soon follow to agree to peace negotiations and the exchange of hostages, and are forced to give up conquered land as far one day's march, and the whole Thames valley up to, and including Londinium, which effectively divides the Saxon territories. If the quest for the "grail" unexpectedly succeeds, the result of the battle and the whole war may become a lot more spectacular and take a strong departure from the plot laid out below.
Yes, this is the very core of the legend, including the most central tales - the battle against the Saxons and the Grail quest. You could probably reduce the whole campaign to the third act, and it would still make fun (and sense), but this is meant to be the highlight of the campaign – afterwards, the tragedy will take its course.
12-16-2009, 12:20 PM
The fourth act describes The Time of Peace and Wonder (501 – 512), the almost utopian feeling of Artus' rule. Pretty much every border is secured, and only minor skirmishes with raiders of all kind and the usual internal conflicts break this peace - but are rarely a serious threat to the overall stability of the realms. Tourneys are introduced to act as a stand-in for actual warfare to keep the mostly bored warriors of the former wars occupied, there are a few campaigns against the Irish occupants in the Northwest, and against the Picts beyond the border but no real threat anymore. Instead of warriors bards, and 'chivalric' tourney knights become the all-important representatives of the upper class, and with Camelot a permanent court is established.
This new court is rife with intrigues. At least three larger factions rival for power and Artus' goodwill - the Orkney clan around Gawain, the Galis clan, the relatives of the queen around her brother and new king of Cambria, Pellinore (old Leodegan died of natural causes during the Saxon wars), and finally, the continental clan of the Armoricans around Lancelot. Especially the Cambrians and the Orkney clan are regularly at each other's throats, and the Armoricans make sure that none of the others ever grow too powerful.
The old guard warriors like the first generation PC's are probably not at home here at court, and it may be a good time to let them retire and retreat to their manors and let the younger ones take over the reigns.
Despite the general rosy perspective, there is one major problem: Artus has no heir. He has several illegitimate sons - the oldest is Mordred, the boy he fathered during his acclamation of the Pendragon title, but there are at least three more - the brothers Amharr and Loholt, and the boy Borre, all of them become the wards of trusted allies of Artus (you know, like the PCs).
There is another major conflict taking place in this time, but due to the forum rules concering religions it is only mentioned very briefly here. This conflict also leads to the discord between Merlin and Bediver, and Artus' sister Morgana and the queen. This soon becomes a country-wide conflict, and tears the court apart into the "queen's party" and "Merlin's party" (incidentally, the House of Cambria are in the queen's party, while the Orkney's are stout supporters of Merlin). It is up to the players on which side they stand - Artus himself is torn between the different influences and opinions of his allies. He tries to remain neutral, and thus manages to offend both parties. When he is forced to make a decision, he highly offends his wife, and lays the foundation for further trouble to come. The conflict is mostly a result of the lack of a strong external enemy, who bounded the different factions together. The whole conflict escalates, and the Orkney brothers use it to revenge their murdered father by killing both Pellinore and Lamorak, the queen's youngest brother.
The conflict comes to an end with the untimely death of Merlin (he had always appeared to be a very virile nonagenarian), and the triumph by default of the queen's party. Nonetheless, it becomes more and more obvious that Guinevra and Artus have grown apart and become distant. As he has no true heir, he acknowledges his illegitimate sons - and Gawain - as his heirs, but foremost Mordred is acknowledged as prince - which includes further conflict potential, as Mordred was raised by Morgana, and trained in the druid's ways. The queen thoroughly despises him and everything he represents, and he has a hard time at court.
Artus recognizes that he needs to end the conflict in his kingdom after the murder of Pellinore and Lamorak. He uses the ongoing conflict with the Irish raiders as a pretence for an invasion of Dal Riada, the Irish usurper kingdom. The Irish are overcome quickly by Artus' army, but what was planned as a one summer campaign to let of steam grows into a full-blown war with the Irish kingdoms.
From a gamemaster's perspective, this is just used to create a framework for a few naval battles, and a less good vs. evil conflict than the war against the Saxons – now the PCs are in the role of the invader army, at first in Dal Riada, and later Ireland itself. The whole war takes four to five years, and in the last three of them Artus and his direct retainers are the whole time in Ireland, away from the court. Artus installs Mordred as the regent, and his old friend Lancelot as the marshal of the remaining forces, not knowing that this escalates the ongoing conflict and intrigues.
#The fourth act ends with the triumphal return of the victorious invader fleet from Ireland, to come home to a country in turmoil (dundunDUN!)
The fourth act is the stuff that forms yet another central topic - intrigues and life at the court, and perhaps the more villanous role than usual. It all ends in a war - again - and this time, the PC's are those on the offense, not defense and can be a lot more aggressive, if they wish to do so. Alternatively, they remain in Camelot and become pawns in the struggle between Mordred and Guinevra/Lancelot.
12-16-2009, 07:00 PM
The fifth act, Dusk of a Dream (512 – 525) shows the obvious: Mordred relied much on Lancelot’s council, which lead to many, many problems in the country. Lancelot had started to collect taxes on his own (a typical task for the army) – high taxes at that – but kept a significant part for himself and his supporters, especially the queen’s party. Mordred suddenly had to deal with riots all over his kingdom, an open rebellion of the Kingdom of Dumnonia (Cornwall) and found himself very alone – no allies at court, no friends around and the one person he had trusted before had betrayed him. Nonetheless, he decided to fight back, and rally his own troop against the Armorican cavalry under Lancelot’s commando – and hired Saxon mercenaries. The conflict had not escalated to an open battle yet, but Mordred’s popularity was abysmal – not only due to the whole tax plot, but also because of the Saxon soldiers he garrisoned in key towns and in Camelot itself. In addition, his best friend (and, according to rumours propagated by Lancelot and his clan, his lover) Taliesin the bard, another young druid, discovered the love affair of Lancelot and Guinevra – which had originated a few years before as a result of the fallout between Artus and his queen and his acclamation of his bastard sons.
When Artus comes back to his kingdom, he is met by Mordred who tells him about the intrigue and especially about his adulterous wife. Completely true to medieval double standards, Artus and most of his followers – at least those who believe Mordred – are appalled by the betrayal – even though the offender is more likely seen in Lancelot, than Guinevra. Artus invites Lancelot to a meeting, but he does not appear. Instead, Lanceot and his retainers retreat across the channel to Armorica, Guinevra and the Ganis clan go to Cambria and mobilize its levies, and send strong accusations against Mordred to Artus– including the idea that he has tried to rape the queen, and planned to overthrow Artus and claim the throne for himself. Which position is true remains uncertain, if the player characters are not developing great detective abilities and find out what truly happened – Mordred is mostly innocent and actually a quite decent guy, but too rash and has a talent for accidentally offending people. It doesn’t help that he was trained as a druid and maintains certain prejudices, similar to Merlin. For a smart and highly educated person, he can show a great lack of common sense. Guinevra is just really, really bitter. First she is pretty much sold to strengthen a political alliance to a man who is literally married to his job (or kingdom) and who just doesn’t love her. The only hope she probably could have is a family, children of her own someone who actually needs her, or gives her the feeling of affection, but no, this doesn’t work out either. Her family just uses her as a vehicle to power, and her brothers are both killed. She looks for a role in life in piety as a way out of the whole misery just to see that there is a strong counter movement to her notions in this regard which almost lead to a civil war – and her husband is one of the others. And then, just to make absolutely sure that she understands that he deems her worthless, her adulterous husband proclaims his sons from other women to be his heirs. Then there is one true friend, one guy who always was her friend. She falls in love (it certainly does help that this friend is a great war hero and looks absolutely striking) and then is plagued with a very bad conscience, due to her pious ways. When the whole thing escalates, and Mordred learns of this affair, does it surprise anyone that she panics? Lancelot is a completely different problem. To put it shortly, he is an opportunist. He believes that most of Artus’ successes are mostly his merits, and that he also feels disregarded when Artus leaves him behind for the Ireland invasion and then is put under the command of an adolescent bastard like Mordred.. When he came to Britain in 483, Lancelot abdicated his inheritance of the throne of Benoic, and chose the life of a warlord over that of a prince and eventually king. He regrets this decision now, feeling that all the power he got is only handed down by the royals. Lancelot wants to be worshipped, and praised. This combination of envy and regret makes it interesting to seduce Guinevra, mostly to prove that he can have something Artus doesn’t have. Also, she is a trophy.
Guinevra and the Ganis clan raise an army in Cambria. The Cornish are rebellious. Lancelot and his family returns to the mainland, and raise an army as well – including most of the cavalry under Lancelot’s command. Artus is infuriated. He besieges Venta Silorum where Guinevra and her clan wait for the rest of the kingdom to rally. This war is very different to the wars before, because everybody knows each other so well. Old friends fight against each other. Old rivalries are again brought to daylight. Meanwhile, Mordred hires even more Saxon mercenaries and march against the Cornish rebels, where he is surprised by Lancelot’s surprisingly quickly striking expedition force, and must retreat. Artus storms Venta, and captures Guinevra, sentencing her to death. Before the sentence is carried out though, Lancelot makes one of the quick and deadly cavalry charges which has made him so successful in the past, slaughters many, many, of the unarmed retainers of Artus, and frees Guinevra. The Orkney clan is almost completely wiped out. Old reliable friends and rivals alike are dead. Any chance of peace is gone.
Now everything is set for the final stand: Lancelot’s army and the rebel Cornish – and a few Cambrian supporters face Artus remaining army at Camlann. It is big, bloody battle, which is finally decided by Mordred, who arrives just in time with a force from the North and ∆lle himself, at the vanguard of a large Saxon army. At first, Mordred’s reinforcement crushes Lancelot’s army, but then the Saxons turn on Artus army and the Northerners as well. Artus is mortally wounded, the remaining old guard members are few and many of them injured, and the majority of the elite and military forces of the Southern British kingdoms is dead. You pretty much know the rest already: Artus is shipped to Avalon, the Saxons move further into the west and capture the remains of Logres, the Arthurian Age is over. Epilogue (for those who like to see how everything they have ever achieved in a really long campaign is destroyed in a few years through the invaders. Credits.
Okay, there are still lacking parts. Tristan and Isolde are still missing. Morgana plays a much smaller role than I am content with by now (I could probably remove her from the all-important NPC stack and make her a potential player character…). And there is not one abduction of Guinevra in the whole plot. Seems like a neglect as well. Percival and Galahad are still missing as well, but they are intended to be potential PC’s, so they will only have a minor role in the overall plot anyway. I should also include a second epidemic in the plot, mostly to kill off some minor characters who are just bogging the game down.
Next in line: Way too many NPC. Way too many. Especially funny, because at least a handful of the NPC concepts I will come up with for the campaign will be totally void when those names and roles are occupied by player characters.
12-17-2009, 05:22 AM
Before we come to the NPC, I should insert a small Geographic and sociopolitical lesson.
The Arthurian World consists of Albion, Hibernia / Ireland, and the Northwest of modern France, Brittany (or Armorica if you use the Roman collocations). The most relevant part of this is Albion (you know, the Island usually called Britain), since most of the plot happens there. Albion itself consists of several larger kingdoms, and communities. Each of these larger kingdoms itself consists of smaller client kingdoms, duchies and so on. The term king is usually used very loosely, and often means little more than "powerful tribal chief". So every king can have several kings under his command and two kings may use the same title, but are not nearly equal. Other nobles are usually just called lords, without many specific titles, but many, many Latin terms are used quite indifferently if this at least sound great. It may happen that a small fief in the middle of nothing consisting of a dense forest and a small village is ruled by a 'prince'. Mostly, the title of a lord just means "wealthy landowner" or "succesful captain".
There are few chances of social improvement in this society - there are only three roles a common-born man can usually assume (if he has the chance) which woould allow him to improve his status: He can become a warrior (meaning a real, professional, permanent soldier, not a part of the standard levy that forms the majority of ost armies), a bard or become a druid or clergyman. All these roles require a great talent, or just luck (and in the case of a warrior a great amount of risk). A good soldier may become a captain of a warband, and through further successes even a lord when he can afford a hall and the surrounding lands, or becomes it installed as a fiefdom by his lord. This is the assumed default carreer for at least one of the PC's.
Albion consists of 6 larger kingdoms, seven if you include the Irish territories of Dal Riada in the Northwest and the Saxon lands in the East and Southeast as independant, sovereign kingdoms.
The High King is then the superordained king of all kings and effectively treat every other king of Britain as his clients. The term Pendragon is often used synonymously with high king (and the Roman term Imperator Augustus), but is more of a spiritual and religious title - of the druidic faith - than a political one. While it has its political impact, the title refers to a ruler who has passed certain rituals (namely the marriage to the country to create a bond between the realm and its ruler) and is therefore more of an idealistic take. Neither the title of the Pendragon nor the title of the high king are inheritable, but must be earned through the acclamation of the nobility, and the druids.
The five kingdoms are:
Logres (the largest of the kingdoms, in the South and Southwest), which has the eastern third or so of its whole territory lost to the Saxon invadors. Since Vortigern in almost anciet times (seventy years before the prologue), every high king had been from the royal line of Logres. Logres is traditionally the most powerful kingdom in Britain, but has lost much of its prestige and influence through the Saxon invaders on its very coast. Uther is the king of Logres, and this is the only title that Artus may inherit. Logres include only one major vassal kingdom, Cameliard, but the old Roman cities still have a strongly Roman lifestyle and are more or less independent vassal states on their own, even tough they swear fealty to the king of Logres.
Dumnonia, or Cornwall is perhaps the smallest of the kingdoms, but thanks to an ancient mining tradition, it is also filthy rich. The Dumnonian nobility is traditionally the best equipped and most wealthy in Britain, and they can usually afford to pay their warriors very well, and occasionally hire mercenaries or pay 'protection money' to not be attacked by Irish raiders. The Dumnonian nobility is also very typical in their bearance of old Roman traditions and customs and more than anybody else, they try to maintain a Roman lifestyle, and to be even more Roman than the Romans.
Cambria in the West equates roughly to modern Wales. It is a small and rough territory, and the home of the queen and her clan; as thus the Cambrians are very early on allies of Artus, and even though they rarely muster large troops, their bows are a rare and effective weapon, and the Cambrian archers are almost as dreaded as the cavalry by the Saxons. Cambria consists of five client kingdoms. All kings of these smaller realms are all blood related to the House of Galis, and are therefore closer allied than usual, especially since the ruling family seem to lack a strong power on their own. These five client kingdoms are Estregales, Escavalon, Sugales, Gomeret, and Ynys Mon.
The North, sometimes also called Powys, is just that: the territories between the northern border of Cambria and Logres and Hadrian's Wall, and a few cases even beyond. The North is a rough and dangerous place, and firmly controlled by the Orkney clan, and his allies. Taken for himself, King Lot is most powerful and influential ruler in Britain, as he has not only formed this large alliance of kingdoms, but also has subjugated and integrated some of the Pictish tribesmen beyond the wall, carving out a kingdom for himself between Hadrian's wall and Antonius Wall, called Lothian. The people of the North have a stronger pictish influence which grows the further North you got, and the Northern people have little to no patience for Roman traditions, some even despise the Southerners for the fact that they were conquered by the Romans. This perspective is especially common beyond Hadrian's Wall.
Even further North are the Pictlands, or Pictish Wilderness, The lands of, well, the Picts. These fierce tribesmen are often seen as savages and barbarians, especially by the Romanized Britons, and are usually felt to be just another threat, just like the Irish and the Saxons. On the other hand, the Northern kingdoms who have waged war against the Picts as long as they have fought against each other often recruit Pictish skirmishers and warriors, especially as scouts, and many noble families of the North - most prominently the Orkney clan - have Pictish anscestors.
Dal Riada is a coastal realm in the Northwest, opposing the northernmost part of Ireland. Dal Riada was founded by Irish nobles, who travelled across the Irish Sea and conquered the small realms on the coast with ease. This has lead to a situation, where the country's population is not only divided by class, but also by culture and language. The small Irish nobility and warrior class rule over a majority of pictish and kymric peasants. In the war between Artus and Lot, the southern kingdoms pay the warriors of Dal Riada for raiding the North, and the rulers of Dal Riada have seen themselves as allies of the Pendragon and maintain quite a jovial relationship to the court. They may be tyrants and pirates, but at least they are tyrants and pirates which are really fun to have around.
The Lost Lands, or Saxon Territories in the East are just as divided as the kingdoms of the Britons. They are not one monolithic people, but three different ones - Angles, Saxons, and Jutes - who are loosely allied with each other. Each of this people consists of several different tribes as well, and the rivalry between tribes and especially the Angles and Saxons are vast. Nonetheless, all these different people are usually summarized under the term Saxons. Other than Irish occupants, the Saxons have not crossed the sea to rule over a subjugated British realm, but they come as settlers and push the kymric population further inland, or enslave them. Only a small part of the natives are assimilated, which makes the Saxons more dangerous and much more hated than any other raider. This also means that the Saxon Territories are truly lost, if you are not willing to massacre women and children, because there is almost no one but Saxons left there.
12-21-2009, 09:58 AM
Cast, or so many NPC, so little time: As mentioned before, many of the typical characters from arthutrian lore are meant to be player characters. There are only a few NPC who have something like a plot immunity, while many others can and will die. As players are asked to play any character from Arthurian legends they like (with a few exceptions). they can also create their own unique characters if they prefer to do so.
For the easier use, the characters are sorted by their role and their affiliation. Starting with the Big Six, than including many, many other characters, affiliations and time - due to the time betwen the first and the last act, there will be a quite natural flow of NPC's. Some will grow old and die, new and young ones will come up and take the places of the older ones or rival for influence and acknowledgement of the older heroes.
A short note about heraldry: The whole era is actually too early for full-blown medieval heraldry. Nonetheless, every lord has his individual sign, crest or symbol which is also used by his followers, as a sign of affiliation and for a better coordination on tha battlefield. These signs are also inherited, or in some cases worn by a whole clan, and even sometimes combined with an individual crest as well. For example, the whole Orkney clan - Gawain and his brothers - inherits the Wolf Crest of King Lot, but Gawain himself adds his personal crest of the hawk. In addition every kingdom and client kingdom has their own crest itself, as does the high king and Pendragon title. Therefore, Artus army carries three banners - his personal crest of the black bear, the crest of Logres (a bull's head) and the banner of the Pendragon, showing a red dragon.
Player Character lords are supposed to develop their own crests and insignia.
The Big Six
When the player characters are the protagonist of the true plot, the Big Six are the protagonists of the Meta-Plot. Unlike any other character player character or not, they have a certain degree of plot armor, and for a reason: They are there to push the metaplot foreward and create a framework for the actual campaign of the characters. And yes, they serve to create a dense atmosphere and continuity, and allow for a reidentification of rare quality and quantity. At least, that's the intention.
Artus ap Uther Pendragon, also called Artus the Bastard, King of Logres, High King of Britain, Pendragon. Artus is the guy who gives the whole era his name, and he is the last, best hope for a victory against the Saxon invaders. He is not, though, in any means a perfect human being. Artus has his faults, and many of the problems which effectively lead to the end of his realm are his own faults.
Artus is a dreamer, but with a very pragmatic streak. He wants to build a unified, strong Britain, force the Saxons back into the sea, bring back peace and justice and just make the world a better place. Seen from his best side, he is an idealist, a man of great intelligence, wisdom and eloquence. This is the good Artus, the man and king his retainers - and hopefully the player characters - love. He tends to be merciful to his enemies, generous to his followers, and just to his subject. Most people in this time and age have arranged with the usual injustice and feel that corruption is just as common and inevitable as bad weather - not Artus. If the things were up to him, he would wanted to be remembered as a lawgiver, not as the warlord.
Artus also has his dark sides. He is ambitious and sometimes even narcisistic. And if someone rejects his offered friendship, he can be malicious, and even cruel. He also has quite the libido, and over the years will collect several lovers, father more bastards (4) than legitimate children (0) and marry solely for political reasons.
Artus is not a great fighter, but a brilliant tactitian. He can figth, but he does not nearly play in the same league as the first and second tier of terrifying fighters. The nigh-mystical sword he wields makes up for his shortcommings, though.
Artus is not very tall, has honey blond hair and has a problem growing a beard (a slight stigma in a society were most of his warriors will grow powerful 'staches of masculine manliness). He also looks much younger than he actually is, and is quite an attractive man.
As the illegitiamte son of Uther, Artus would usually not inherit his father's title. But since none of Uther's legitimate sons survived their father's demise, there is no other heir left (with the exception of the sons of his half-sister Morgause who was married to king Lot, the main rival of both Uther and later Artus).
Artus personal crest is the black bear, but as the king of Logres and the Pendragon, he also carries the sign of his kingdom - the bull's head of Logres - and the banner of the high king and pendragon, the red dragon.
Lancelot ap Ban, Prince of Benoic, the First Sword in the realm, Champion of Logres. Lancelot is a great warrior, and perhaps the most dangerous fighter in Britain. He is an outstanding horseman and seems to have an unmatched empathic understanding of horses. He will become the commander of Artus' cavalry early on and forms it into the devastating weapon in the war against Artus' rivals and the Saxons.
Lancelot is the son of king Ban of Benoic, and would have become the crown prince and eventually king of the small but wealthy client kingdom. But he decides against this and decided for the life as a soldier of fortune and warlord when he joined Artus' service previous to the Boy King's coronation, and will rise high in the kingdom, up to the part were he is effectively the second man in the kingdom.
In his youth, Lancelot is an outgoing and extremely bold person. He seems brash to the border of madness, but he is able to survivee risks and dangers which seem overwhelming. Lancelot laughs in battle. He rides across the battlefield, killing and seeing friends die while he laughs the whole time. He is also a very friendly person and a good friend. He joins Artus because of his lust of adventure and the worship of his warriors and the general population.
In his later years, Lancelot becomes calmer and more introvertive, and even regretful of his choice to abandon 'his' throne. He also becomes a lot more pious, and acts as an identification figure for the followers of the new faith.
Lancelot looks strikingly. He has dark hair, a well shaven beard, and unlike most warriors, he is lithe and wiry, but not heavily muscled.
Lancelot, as the head of his clan in Britain, wars usually the sundisc banner of Benoic, but has his own advice as well, showing a sea eagle carrying a fish in its claws.
Guinevra, queen of Britain. Poor Guinevra. Guinevra is nothing but a pawn in the power play of the men in her life - first her father, than her husband She willingly and eagerly let these men dominate her life, and is actually quite content with her role first as an obedient daughter, than as an obedient wife, because she firmly believes that she will be happy someday when she fully embodies the role meant for her. She tries so hard, but she never will be happy.
When she finally realises that her role as an obedient wife doesn't make her happy, and the one thing whe truly wishes for herself - children - never come (at first, she just doesn't get pregnant. later they just don't try anymore), she tries yet another role and becomes the obedient and pious servant of the faith. This role doesn't grant her any happiness either, but she becomes the almost grotesque figure head of a self-proclaimed 'Queen's Party' in the kingdom, and becomes effectively the instrument in a power struggle between Merlin and Bediver and her own family and the sons of Lot, conflcits she just doesn't fully grasp.
In the end, she will find love, and happiness. In the arms of another man. But in this time, Guinevra has already grown so bitter, that she hardly recognizes it anymore.
Guinevra has blond hair, and is of average size and stature. She is very attractive, and fully conforms to the current ideal of beauty, with a very light skin, blond hair and a volumptious body, but she is also very insecure, and pays bards to praise her beauty as well. She usually wears the most expensive and splendid clothes and too much jewlery.
Uther ap Ambrut Pendragon, king of Logres, high king and Pendragon of Britain. Uther is Artus father, and will only appear in the first act of the tale. By then, he is already an old and bloated man, known for his large appetites for everything - wine, women, and victories - and the architect of a fragile systems of alliances. Uther forced the Cornish into submission in a war against the then ruler, Duke Gorlois, he formed an alliance with the second most powerful king in Britain, Lot, and solified this alliance by a marriage of his daughter Morgause to the king of the North. Uther's wife died early, and he later lived in a quasi marriage with the headstrong, and inteligent Ygraine, who became his most important counsellor in his later years and the de facto ruler of Logres, and by extension Britain as a whole. With the exception of his only daughter Morgause, Uther survived all his legitimate children. The two sons who survived infancy, Owain and Hywel both died before their father. Owain was cut down in a skirmish with the Saxons and Hywel died from a a fever. The death of his true-born sons made Uther a bitter man full of self pity, who drank too much in his last years. Both in character and appearance, he is only a shadow of his former glory, but he is still the only one strong enough to keep his fragile alliance against the Saxons in place.
In the prologue, Uther is wounded by a Saxon arrow, and the wound becomes infected and festers. Uther dies in agony almost two weeks after the injury, and leaves a realm in tatters.
Think of Uther as an even more exagerated version of Marlon Brando, only replacing the acting career with the serious business of building and maintaining a kingdom.
Merlin the arch druid. Merlin is the highest remaining member of the druids. He is a a strong defender of the old faith, and the old British traditions and feels that the Saxons are only one of the two major threats the isles face - the other one is the religious strive and the new gods coming to his islands. He cannot stand them, and seems to despise the Romans even more than the Saxons.
Merlin is the wise old sage and counsellor of Artus, he is the initiator of saving the young bastard from other rulers who eye for Uther's throne, and he becomes his teacher as well. Merlin was also one of the most important counsellor of king Uther, but he is generally more concerned with spiritual than political or military questions. Merlin became the arch druid by claiming the title and donning the insigina of this office. As there is nobody to challenge his authority, he tends to celebrate it.
Merlin is a dreamer, much like Artus, but they dream of different things. Melrin wants to return to a Britain of ancient times, before the Romans and "the carpenter god" (as Merlin would say). Artus dreams from a unified Britain ruled by law and order. In many ways, Merlin is a fanatic, and highly intolerant, but also a smart and erudite person. It is quite likely that he knows more about the religions he opposes than most of the according followers, or even priests. He will use this knowledge to mock the other faiths and ridicule their leaders. Merlin plays the role of a cynical old man, and he can be very hurting with his words, for friends and enemies alike. He is also one of the few true wonderworkers left in Britain and knows more about magic than any other man (there are a few women whom he acknowledges as more spell-wise than himself, though). He will use this power and the lost thirteen treasures of Britain to create the Great Spell in the third act, the one spell who should change the fate of the islands for ever. It is open if he succeeds or not.
Merlin is a tall, but gaunt man of great age. He is already in his sixties at the beginning of the campaign. He wears the typical druidic tonsure (a shaved forehead), and a long, braided beard. His hair is already silver-grey when the player characters meet him for the first time, but he is still quick in his movements and quite strong - and he will use his staff to beat those who annoy him too much.
Morgan ap Uther, called Morgan the Fey, or Morgan the Witch. Morgan is the sister of Artus, and while her brother is trained to become a warlord and king, she is given to the custody of the priestresses of Avalon, and becomes the most avid ally of Merlin in his vision of reestablishing the old world, and the quest for the thirteen treasures. She will also become the vivid enemy of the queen, and all she represents.
Morgan is in many ways the polar opposite of Guinevra. For once, she has a spine. She is no man's woman, and refuses to submit to any man's rule. She never marries, has several lovers, wars men's clothes, learns to fight with spear and shield, loves to hunt and is generally questioning the usual social order. She is also a priestress of the old faith, and later on of the tutors of Artus son Mordred. Morgan is a living scandal, but she loves her brother dearly, and tries to protect him from harm, but since she is as opinionated as Merlin, the sibling tend to argue a lot.
Morgan is also one of the last truly powerful spellcasters in Britain, her powers even overshadowing those of Merlin.
At first, she spends a lot of time at court, but later she leaves court when she has to fear for her life at the height of the conflict between the Merlin Party and the Queen's Party. She is even more hated then Merlin by the latters, as she does not only defy them in words, but also due to what she represents. After Merlin's death she tries to fill up his role as the leader of the traditonalist faction, but even her own people do not excuse her sex, and she never manages to create a united lobby. When she becomes one of the tutors of Artus illegitimate son Mordred, the queen sows the rumor, that Mordred is in truth Morgan's own child fathered in incest, to hurt both her sister-in-law, and the hated baseborn son of her husband.
Morgan is a small, wiry woman with long, jet black hair. While she is not unattractive, she doesn't conform to the ideal of beaty - she is thin, and looks more like a boy than a 'proper woman', and she spends too much time outdoors to maintain the pale skin of a 'true' noblewoman.
Mordred ap Artus, called Mordred the Bastard, prince of Logres. Mordred is the oldest child of Artus. He was fathered during the ceremony of the marriage between the high king and the land, which was a very auspicious sign for his birth. His mother was a priestress of Avalon, Nineve, and the boy grew up in the sacred glen of the holy island of the druids. Mordred is a highly talented boy, a young apprentice of Merlin and his aunt Morgan, and generally a very pleasant conversationalist. He is an excellent bard, and singer, but he is not a great leader. He sometimes acts much too impulsive, and he has a talentv for accidentally inslting people. His biggest fault though, is that he tries to be nice to everyone. He is not a warrior, and while his isolated youth has granted him great knowledge about the old customs, he seems to completely lack any talent for becoming a wonderworker, and therefore a truly powerful druid.
Mordred is eventually acknowledged by his father and made crown prince and heir, which greatly offends the queen and the enemies of the druids. He has some friends at court, but he never really understands the intrigues and emnities. When Mordred becomes regent during Artus' war against the Irish, he tries his best, but he just isn't a good ruler, mostly because he lacks tha ambition to become one. Mordred likes to read and to play the harp. He likes to debate philosophical and theological questions. But he is bored by elementary things like the distribution of rye or the training of soldiers.
Mordred looks very much like Artus - the same honey blond hair, the same young appearance, the same intriguing boyish smile. Unlike his father though, Mordred wears a beard with the typical druidic braid and the druid's tonsur. He has a personal banner showing a golden harp. He later carries Artus' bear banner as well, but is never truly comfortable with it.
That was more work than I expected. I hope that noone of tese NPC seems to be portrayed too positive or negative (with the exception of Morgan. Morgan is supposed to be liked by the players, while the gaming world will not treat her kindly and she will suffer from much bad gossip).
Next in line are the rest 50 or so NPC, who aren't as important as these characters, the Tristans, Gawains and Nimues, who fomr the backbone of the campaign.
12-24-2009, 04:57 AM
This category includes many of the traditional knights of the round table, but there are no 'knights' in this campaign. Perhaps champions (as many judical questions are solved by trial of combat, it is always a good idea to have the meanest, toughest guy you could find), warlords, nobles and captains of the various wars. The time and age has no organised military structures; there are captains leading small to medium warbands who are sworn to a noble or warlord (the differences between these two categories are fluid), leading his men into battle. Most of these warbands work well enough in the usual skirmishes and raids which form the vast majority of warfare activities. For larger conflicts and major battles, several warbands gang together, and an additional levy is drafted. While the levy form the majority of the larger armies, they are usually no match for the trained professional soldiers of the warbands.
Artus army is special in a way, since he forms specific cavalry warbands, who have no counterpart in the other armies on the British islands. Usually cavalry captains form a specific elite of his retainers, and the riders are usually a lot richer and more influential by default - soldiers have to bring their own equipment. This limits mounted warriors to the few rich pillars of the feudal world who actually can afford arms, armor, and a warhorse. Artus is the only ruler who actively prefers cavalry to the much cheaper and usually more practical spearmen of the usual warbands, and tries to build a cavalry army who is specifically loyal to him - by spending the horses of these soldiers. This basically creates a new class of warriors, who have a better equipment and prestige than the usual foot soldiers, but are also economically dependant on their lord to maintain their status. These are the "knights" of later, romanticised tales.
The following list of character is roughly organised by the time line - the Old Guard are those characters who are of the generation of Uther, and who are already well established when the first generation of PCs are still green boys. The second tier are the "Generation Artus", those characters who are roughly as old as Artus, or the first gen PCs and who form the majority of Artrus retainers and the like. And the last tiers, the Young, are those who basically grew up in Artus' Britain and who basically came to age after the Battle of Badon and the whole quest for the Thirteen Treasures.
These are only professional warriors and soldiers of the British Sides. The others - the Irish and the Saxons - will have an extra post, as will the nobles who rule these warriors. Characters which are not the best choice for player characters are marked with a *. The character descriptions are very brief, and superficial, too superficial for my taste, but the sheer quantity of characters enforces a reduction of description quality, unfortunately.
The start is made by the three major clans of the time – the Orkney-Clan under the leadership of Gawain, the Galis Clan of the queen, and the Armorican clan of Lancelot and his family in Brittany.
Gawain ap Lot*: Gawain, oldest son of Lot and Artus' half sister Morgause is a royal, but he spends most of his time in camelot or in the forst on the front. Gawain is the head of the Orkney-clan, the sons and heirs of the family of king Lot, but he became a ward of Artus shortly after he came of age. While Gawain is away, his crafty mother is the effective ruler of the North. Gawain and his brothers form a power block within the power structure of Artus' military complex. The Northern spearmen form a solid core of the armies, and form a powerful foundation for the influence of the brothers -they can command more spears than most other houses and theirs are better than the rest. Gawain himself is also a very competent warrior and a generally nice guy, even though he likes to brag and is too impulsive. He is also very loyal to his family, including his cousin Artus, and especially his brothers. This loyalty also leads to the prolonged conflict with the Ganis clan, the family of the queen. This rivalry and blood feud is aggravated by the fact, that Gawain is effectively the heir of Artus, and often acts as the regent when the high king is absent, and that Gawain, like his whole family is a devout follower of the old faith, and feels mostly contempt for the faith of the queen and their family.
Gawain wields the banner of his clan, the Wolf of Orkney, but also has his personal standard which shows a hawk. He is tall, dark blond and wears the typical braided beard of the northern warriors.
Gaheris ap Lot*: The Second son of king Lot and younger brother of Gawain, Gaheris is used to live in the shadow of his older and generally more spectable brother. Gaheris is a very calm and quite man, and even when he talks he tend to mention the obvious. He is a competent captain and fighter, but not an outstanding one, but he is content with his role. He also is the calm pole of his brothers and forms a counterpoint to his passionate brothers. Gaheris looks a lot like Gawain, but only wears a mustache, not the full beard.
Agravain ap Lot*: Agravain is the third son of king Lot, and the youngest one of the three brothers who came as wards to camelot. Agravain is the smallest and youngest of his brothers, and always had to compete with his much taller and stronger brothers -and he did so by dedication and fighting smart, not hard. He may not be the best fighter, but he is a very talented tactitian and has a knack for finding openings and weaknesses. He is also a very coleric and can be very spiteful. He sometimes seem as if he need to compensate for being "only" the small brother of Gawain, and a prince of the North. While his two older brothers look more like Uther's family, and Artus, Agravain looks like a younger copy of his father Lot, and is a lot more fascinated by his father whom he worships a lot more than his brothers, which also means that he takes the whole blood feud against the murderers of Lot.
Agravain has a bad reputation for killing Pellinore and Lamorak, and is often seen as a cunning backstabber.
Gareth ap Lot: The youngest son of Lot, who came a lot later to Camelot than his three older brothers. Gareth hardly knew his father, and had little to do with him, and grew up mostly with his mother. Unlkie his brothers, Gareth belong to the younger generation, and only appear at court after the Battle of Badon. He is not much of a tactical leader, or ever fought in the big wars, but he is competent fighter, and becomes Gawain’s second in command. Gawain may be the charismatic face, and Gaheris the common sense, but Agravain is the brain and Gareth the conscience of the Orkney brothers. He argues a lot with Agravain, and he is actively trying to stop the blood feud between his family and the Galis clan, and is effectively torn apart by his wish to end this senseless bloodshed and murders, and the loyalty to his family.
Gareth is probably the only character from the Orkney clan who is a suitable player character, but it would be a hard job, always being the youngest and least experienced of the four brothers. This means that he can easily be reduced to an appendix of this brothers, and the fact that his family has certain expectations on him, would strictly restrain the freedom of a player character.
Yvain the Lion: Yvain is a cousin of Gawain and his brothers, and the most outstanding member of the greater family of the Orkney clan. He is a strong fighter, and effectively becomes the only cavalry captain of the Orkneys after they copy Artus model of creating a loyal base of riding soldiers. Yvain is a trusted member of the clan, but is a lot younger than the others, and comes together with Gareth to court. He gets involved with the intrigues of his family, and the whole conflict with its rivals, and is sometimes more eager than the four brothers to fight back against the Galis.
Yvain has earned his name through hi personal bravery and is generally considered to be an outstanding cavalry captain, and uses a lion as his personal crest.
Yvain can be a good PC for those who wants to be a part of the Orkney-clan and its network. He is strongly associated with the clan, and he has a certain status in it, but he is not a part of the core family or directly involved in the family matters all the time, granting more freedom for players.
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