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jeffjerwin last won the day on January 22

jeffjerwin had the most liked content!

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About jeffjerwin

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    Senior Member


  • RPG Biography
    Once upon a time wrote for Enclosure #2. Semi-professional game writer for Paizo and a few other companies. Copyeditor for Goodman Games. Started gaming with my dad in the early 80s.
  • Current games
    HeroQuest, Pathfinder
  • Location
    Monterey, CA
  • Blurb
    Single father, librarian, Elizabethan historian

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  1. He's not unbeatable in Chretien and does take some wounds, he just is a juggernaut, and superhumanly strong... But if he was given less than a 40, under the rules, he would lose (and probably die) eventually. So it's a mechanical solution to the plot armor problem.
  2. Well, Gwenhwyfach is dropped from KAP, but she's clearly the inspiration for the False Guinevere in the Vulgate (along with the story about Philippe Augustus' two wives, which is clearly being referenced). There's the intriguing mention of Guinevere as Arthur's 'second wife' on the inscription found in 'Arthur's tomb' in Glastonbury, which probably wouldn't have been put on the fake by the monks if there wasn't a story about it, though the first wife could have been Lyzianor. Vivianne/Nimue's imprisonment of Merlin might have been 'good' by some lights, as he is the son of the Devil and was sexually molesting her. I've never heard any version that has Elaine doing anything bad, though she's probably the original of the 'wife of the King of Scotland' who runs off with Meliadus, Tristan's father, though that's a variant of the Melwas/Meliagraunce story with the "abductor" as a hero - given that Melwas was originally from the southwest (and from Cornwall in one poem) the similarities are striking, right down to Meliadus' green livery, mentioned in Welsh poetry about Melwas. Overall Welsh material - like with Grainne and Diarmuid in Ireland - is far more tolerant and open about women straying or taking young lovers - than conventional romance stories. Morgan's tendency to do so also probably has something to do with her evolution into a villain. I think the key lies in that Celtic (and French verse) storytelling is a profession of wandering/court poets (who often seek female patronage) and the prose romances were adapted by monks. So we may be skeptical about the "False Guinevere's" villainy in that light. She may simply have been Guinevere's rival, more loyal to Arthur but also more vengeful, and Guinevere's love affairs are pretty much a normal aspect of young and beautiful queens... though the Art Oenfer story in Ireland does depict an unfaithful queen whose sexual transgressions lead to a Wasteland, though there there is a whiff of incest, like with Mordred and Guinevere.
  3. Interestingly, in the Welsh material there are few out and out villains (even Medraut is praised) except for Gwenhwyfach, Guinevere's evil sister (and she likely had her positive side too, but we know her only in allusions in the Triads and poetry). Even Osla Big-knife, a Saxon leader, is an ally of Arthur's in the Dream of Rhonabwy, though that poem may deliberately overturn tradition as a satire. In which case Osla is presumably a Saxon enemy at Badon. Vortigern probably had a heroic tradition, given the number of lineages claiming descent from him, like Maelgwn, who is a mix of good and bad. It's only in the French sources that Morgan (who is a good person, more or less, in Welsh sources), Melwas/Meliagance, Mordred, and probably Agravain (Ogyrfran) are described as villains. My own campaign uses Klingsor as a sympathetic villain (though pretty evil), Meliagraunce, the Queen of the Out Isles (Brian's mistress), Brian, and Mordred as villains, but a lot of good people including Arthur make terrible decisions. My Cornish campaign, which is now finished, had Merlin as a villain.
  4. Interesting, though as a Welsh person I should point out that Gwendydd is the 'sane' sister, implicitly good, who tries to rescue Merlin/Myrddin from his madness and is the interlocutor with Myrddin in several poems attributed to him. Of course, the whole incubus story isn't Welsh: it appears first in the Didot Perceval as I recall. Though the Indo-European twin legends traditionally ascribed divine or supernatural origins to only one of the twins, i.e., the Dioscuri and the Hasdingi. But it's certainly creative, and I'm curious to see how things go in your story.
  5. In the summer of 535-6 all Europe was covered in a dense fog... (Which I link to the Wasteland). It's thought to have lasted months, long enough to have destroyed the harvest.
  6. There are several examples of wives and sisters etc of robber knights in Arthurian romance, and they never suffer for the male members of their family's actions in a physical, immediate way, though sometimes they lose their lands or the goods that were stolen. There is a motif found repeatedly of them betraying their cruel family member but it's not expected of them. Edit: this is related to a folktale motif called the "Giant's Daughter" I believe, where the hero kills the evil man and marries their daughter, widow or sister (as in Culhwch). For some time folklorists thought it strange and unlikely but in my experience cruel and evil men are often also cruel and evil to their female relations, not simply to outsiders.
  7. The Old Welsh/Cymric word for 'knight' is marchawc, literally, 'horseman'.
  8. Parzival places the castle in Wales. You can send me a private message if you want the rundown but I may end up publishing it, so I'm reluctant to put it in a public forum. The Conte du Graal and Parzival are full of Welsh names, though people have been looking in the wrong places. It's clear that Wolfram may have gotten his Grail material from parallel, now lost, traditions that were left out of Chretien. His Kyot has been identified (very plausibly) with Michael Scot, Frederick II's British necromancer and astrologer.
  9. Well, I'm Welsh so I may have some bias, but Arthur appears in sources that date to before the Templars, or their influence, such as in the 9th century Nennius and the the 10th century Annales Cambriae. Also no romance places the Grail Castle in France before the 14th century Jungerer Titurel, and that places it apparently in Brittany. (the Queste would be rendered incoherent by putting it outside of the British Isles, because the wasteland is specifically linked to the 'sinfulness of the Britons') Edit: Arthur is attested as widely known and part of legend in Cornwall in 1113 (the account of the monks of Laon), before the Templars gained property there in the 12th century.
  10. I was referring to Lancelot's Lac, not the one in Switzerland (as Atgxg suggested they might be the same). They aren't the same in KAP -we're agreeing here. Now, who knows if they used to be the same or were the same in some tradition - in one reference in the Vulgate the Dame du Lac's home is on the 'borders of Burgundy', which used (as the Arelat) to include Lausanne, which was indeed on its boundary. I think the Welsh cat came first and was associated with possibly non-Arthurian giant cat (cave lion?) legends around the region, though who knows... if Arthur died in Burgundy, i.e., was Riothamus, maybe he did fight a big cat in the area, though I don't know how the geography got displaced. The name is overtly Welsh and means speckled cat, which is why the Welsh story is apparently older. I think Arthur and Riothamus are two distinct figures who got conflated, but this is getting off topic. There are interestingly quite a few lions in Arthurian romance.
  11. Not in KAP canon, where the Lac is clearly in Gascony or Poitou (in Breton legend, of course, it is in Broceliande, and in the Vulgate, apparently near the Loire). I think the Cath Palug is firmly in North Wales in Welsh stories. It appears in the Triads, for example. However there was an Arthurian tradition associated with Savoie and Dauphine near Lausanne, or likely was, as both Parzival/Titurel and the Bel Inconnu contain allusions to the noble families in the area - the Dauphins d'Albon/Vienne and the relations in the latter of Renaut de Bauge, the author. There seems to be a link between Gawaine and the Forez in Diu Krone as well. The Counts of Forez included several Artauds (alias Artu) ) in the 1100s. The Dauphins de Vienne were descended from one Mathilde, who may have been related to St. Margaret and Edmund Ironside, though the legend may have been inspired by the very name 'Albon'. But this may have been just the fashion: the 'del Carreto' family of Liguria also adopted an Arthurian legend, taking Lancelot's coat of arms (del Carreto = 'of the Cart') and naming their sons after Arthurian heroes. The Capalu or Chat palu is associated with faerie and Morgan le Fay and Oberon in the Chansons de Geste.
  12. Camden is identifying the site with Catbrain Hill, but his etymology is extremely shaky: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catbrain
  13. The Cath Palug in Welsh legend is associated with the Menai Straits (and even appears there in an adventure in Savage Mountains!). Which is interesting in terms of the story in Geoffrey of Monmouth. In the French Vulgate Arthur fights it at Lausanne, en route to Rome, and in GoM he's fighting 'Lucius Hibernius'... I wonder if the Welsh sources had a king of Ireland as Arthur's foe before Camlann rather than a Roman Emperor. Meeting the Cath Palug at Menai would make sense for that route.
  14. There's a giant (house) cat that in some stories is said to have eaten King Arthur: https://www.medievalists.net/2019/03/the-kitten-that-nearly-killed-king-arthur/. The Alans, who came to influence Breton (and chivalric) culture had a huge dog called the Alaunt, which they doted on. And Welsh (and apparently Irish) society valued cats very highly, mainly as mousers (unlike mainland Europe). Cats even had a ransom/blood price in the Laws of Hywel dda.
  15. Yes. Angles/Saxons, Cymry, 'Romans' and possibly even a few Picts and Jewish people... (if we mix up the historical Welsh kingdom of Ebrauc with medieval Yorkshire). Edit: it's thought that the Deiran Angles may have been foederati, and thus fairly integrated into 'Malehaut's' culture, making for an easy takeover after King Peredur fell in battle in the late 6th century - sort of like how the Angles and Iceni are described in Hzark10's post.
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