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Morien last won the day on July 31

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About Morien

  • Rank
    Senior Member


  • RPG Biography
    1989 D&D, the original one.
    1990s Other RPGs to follow.
    1995 GURPS. Lots of GURPS.
    2000 Pendragon. Lots of Pendragon.
    2010-ish Becoming active in Nocturnal's Pendragon Forum.
    2014 Starting to help out with the publications & erratas as part of Greg's 'Household Knights'.
  • Current games
    GMing one GPC Pendragon Campaign, and another campaign in Middle-earth using Pendragon system.
    Playing in a couple of GURPS campaign.
  • Location
    Barcelona, for now
  • Blurb
    To be honest, I chose my username based on an old RPG character of mine, not because of its Arthurian connection. I am a pasty-white Finn, actually. :P

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  1. Yeah, although you could add an additional proviso that if the evil lord is applying cruel collective punishments on the peasants if some of them try to flee (up to and including separating children from parents or men from women to ensure that husbands can't flee with their families), then it might be a bit more of a gulag, turning the peasants more into actual slaves. Especially if the land is hemmed in by an enchanted forest or some other such thing that escaping might not be such a sure thing, either, and that there would not be any recourse from a higher power (Count, Duke, King). The squeeze modifiers kinda assume that there would be a possibility for a peasant to leave and have a chance of finding a plot of land to farm under a kinder lord, or some manual labor in a town. You could even apply 'The Anarchy' modifier by reducing all Lots lost by one or so to reflect that the peasants value the security more during those turbulent times. Anyway, with the fix in the first post, the Evil Lord can do Negligible Squeezes all he wants, doubling his DF. Light Squeezing would become a defacto +2 Lots yearly, tripling the DF (until you roll a 3, losing 2 Lots, and then you have to take it easier the next year to fix the damage). But of course with NPC Dark Lords you can go even further like the suggestions in the first paragraph: assuming that those would translate to something like a reduction of Lots lost by 2, then he could pretty much be doing 50% Squeezes yearly and double his army, especially since he is likely not spending all that much money to a civilized court, either. Again, it might not be a stable situation over the long term, but it could very well work for a few years, long enough to make a pest of himself, get some reputation, and for the PKs to hear about it and come kick his ass.
  2. The Lots of Damage in Book of the Estate/Warlord are a bit ad hoc, and I think we can do a bit better. In particular, the drop of the Lord and Lady from Ordinary to Poor is just a flat £3, regardless of the size of the Estate, meaning that while it is -3 Lots in a £10 manor, it is a mere -0.1 Lots in a £300 honour. The standard of living for the rest of the people does scale with income, but while the step down to Poor is -50% to Ordinary, the step from Poor to Impoverished is just -25%, meaning the same relative change (half the before) is a smaller absolute change (-25% rather than -50%). Finally, since the damage should also affect the Production (stolen horses and goods) from which the servants are paid from, you would actually need to save money in Servants at the same time you are making savings from the CR, or look at the total income instead, not just the CR. So here is my suggested revision (more math in the very end), which should work for any landholding size: Lots Effect -1 Lose Discretionary Funds. -2 Servants drop down to Poor. -3 The Lord and Lady drop down one level in Standard of Living (minimum Ordinary). The officers' bonus pay is reduced. -4 The Court drops down to Poor.* -5 The Army drops down to Poor. The Lord and Lady drop down another level (minimum Poor). -6 Servants drop down to Impoverished.** -7 The Court drops down to Impoverished. Sale of raw materials.** -8 The Army and the Lord and Lady drop down to Impoverished.** * A one-manor knight likely lets his Chaplain go at this point, being unable to afford such a luxury and preferring to keep his wife at Ordinary (or she will want to know the reason why!). ** Like it says in the Book of the Estate, you almost never see such perfect deterioration of circumstances. Rather than keep people at Impoverished, it is much more likely that the Lord downsizes his staff, letting people go. Of course, if times are bad all around rather than this being a result of a raid, this might mean sending people off to starve, but those are the breaks. Seeking extra income in the form of Squeezes (see below), adventuring, tournaments, raiding and war are also very likely. Especially in the case of raiding and war, if any of the knights or soldiers happens to die, that is one less mouth to feed the coming winter... so yay? Releasing retainers (squires, household knights and foot soldiers) from service costs honor (-3 Honor in Book of the Entourage) and risks banditry, as the armed men seek their sustenance in whatever way they can. So usually, the Army is the last to go, also because it is part of the vassal's duty to bring the Army to the muster when the liege calls. SQUEEZING Speaking of Squeezing, I think we erred a bit on the strict side on Squeezing, especially at the low end. After all, you want an evil knight to be able to be evil, right? As it is, Squeezing is more of a zero sum game, as you may lose Permanent Lots. With Squeeze 10%, you have 50% chance of losing what you squeezed, and that defeats the purpose. Squeeze 25% probably loses one Lot, too, and has a possibility of losing two, which means that he actually takes a total of -2 + -1 = -3 Lots of damage over two years. Squeeze 50% has the average result of -2 Lots (3 Lots of income lost over 2 years), but can lose 3 Lots, resulting in 3+2+1 = 6 Lots of income lost over 3 years. Squeeze 100% has average -4 Lots, resulting in 4+3+2+1 = 10 Lots of lost income over 4 years. The worst is -5 Lots, resulting in 15 Lots of lost income over 5 years, or a total of -5 'profit'. On the low end, Squeeze 100% can have -3 Lots, resulting only 6 Lots income lost over 3 years, a 'profit' of 4 Lots. Assuming in all cases that the recovery rolls are successful, which they might not be. To make the Squeezing a bit more fun and tempting, I would drop the 1d2-1 roll from Squeeze 10% and have the penalties just be the adverse Trait rolls: it is tough to be a peasant in Uther's Britain, and if the Lord is just taking 10%, you say 'thank you, milord', and continue working (heck, it is even called 'Negligible'!). I would also make 25% Squeeze into a 30% Squeeze: we don't really use half-lots as it is and this makes it a bit more tempting to do. Although I would add +1 to the trait rolls, making it 1d3+1 rather than preferable to do over the 10% Squeeze one. I think 50% and 100% Squeezes are fine as they are: such harsh squeezing should potentially be damaging over the long-term and should definitely be more of a desperation move. In short, this allows the Player to embrace the Arbitrary and often Cruel nature of Uther Period by Squeezing his peasants a bit whenever he wants to, and just see his bad traits accumulate. Or they can be the good guy in a bad world, and then reap the benefits when Chivalry becomes more of a thing with Arthur. Math: Servants are 37.5% of the total income (CR+Production), so dropping them down to poor ought to be -18.75%, and down to Impoverished is -9.375% more. The raw materials can't really go down by itself, since it is a fixed cost, but I figure once you are letting servants go, you might have some back log. Court is only about 12.5% of the total, so going to Poor is just -6.25%, and Impoverished is just -3.125% more. Family is just 5%, and losing all of that knocks you down to Ordinary. Actually Poor if you have kids, but we handwave that now and assume that the Lady finds the money somehow: it is just £1 which is easily enough taken somewhere else. It is just extra £4 to keep a Baron Rich, which I think is reasonable from any honour. For one manor knight, most of the standard of living is coming from the Army expense anyway. Discretionary Funds are also just 5% of the total. Army is 27.5% of the total, so -13.75% for poor and another -6.875% for Impoverished. So: -1 No DF, -5%. The other 5% handwaved. -2 Servants Poor, -18.75%. Total -23.75%. Slight overestimate, but close enough. -3 Family down a level, -5%. Total -28.75% and a bit from Officers' Pay Bonus, which also ensures that they don't live better than the Lord and the Lady. -4 Court Poor, -6.25%. Total: -35%. -5 Army and Family Poor, -13.75%. Total: -48.75%. -6 Servants Impoverished, -9.3%. Total: -58%. -7 Court Poor, -6.25%. Total: -61%, but handwaving with the sale of raw materials. -8 Army and Family Impoverished, -7%. Total: -68% + the sale of raw materials.
  3. Thanks to everyone, too. I didn't really expect to win many converts, but at least I managed to communicate why I dislike those skills, and that counts as a successful roll in my book! And yes, like you point out, we didn't have the cultural speciality skills until K&L, and did just fine with various different cultures.
  4. Stereotype of Occitanians in 4e: "The Occitanian stereotype is that of a refined courtier, interested in all the latest courtly fashions, including romance. Occitanians are wealthy, comfortable, and stylish. Gaul is the center of romantic poetry which will spread to all the Arthurian lands, and its natives are its staunchest adherents." Stereotype of Aquitanians in K&L: "Stereotype: Arrogant continental nobility, even a little soft since they so prefer the ways of love. Self Image: Sophisticated continental nobility, where noblesse oblige is a virtue of the nobles, who wisely and benevolently oversee their vassals of all classes. Let’s Be Practical: These are sophisticated, cultured people, able to charm, make poetry and read. They are from the land of Sir Lancelot." Lancelot's Culture in 4e character sheet: "Occitan" Hence, 4e Occitan = K&L Aquitanian. As for why the name change was made, I was not involved yet in that, but I would imagine that as the start time got pushed back to 485 in 5e, Greg decided to make the world more akin to historical late 5th century, too, hence the mentions of Visigoths and Ostrogoths and Franks. Very striking is if you look at the 'French' names in K&L (actually Frankish) and compare with the French names in 3e/4e (more medieval French names).
  5. Since I am a Lazy GMtm, I probably wouldn't bother tracking the Glory separately for the Lady (and just use Glory/2 if I ever needed to consider her reputation). I'd just tell Sir Mavion that if he doesn't intend to spill the beans, then Sir Brannis gets the Glory. If Sir Brannis is an NPC, then I would, potentially, give the Glory back to Sir Mavion at some later date, but if both are PKs, then I would not bother. However, if you wanted to be more detailed about it, I would track three Glories for the Lady: 1) Lady's Glory, used for recognizing her and other such Glory related bonuses when she is in her lady alter ego, 2) Knight's Glory, when she is moonlighting as Sir Ellian, and 3) total Glory, used for Glory Bonus Points. As for Sir Mavion, I would treat it pretty much the same way in any case: If Sir Brannis is a PK, decide if the word gets out. If it does, Sir Mavion gets the Glory (if he accepts it, he can insist that really, it was Sir Brannis, in which case the Glory would rebound to Sir Brannis albeit a Deceitful check as well as a Modest check might be coming Mavion's way), otherwise the Glory is Sir Brannis' (with likely a Modest check for Mavion).
  6. It is actually that 5th edition Aquitanians = 3e & 4e Occitanians. French are more warlike, being based on the northern French (Langue d'Oil) & Franks, being more uncouth 'barbarians' in the eyes of the more sophisticated ('licentious') southerners. Stereotypes, of course. Historically, the Occitanians were plenty warlike and the barons tended to be in semi-revolt against their Duke/King much of the time, or settling feuds amongst themselves. So much like the other feudal knights and barons elsewhere*. (* Speaking of, William the Conqueror probably had a point in scattering the barons' lands widely, rather than allowing geographic concentrations. Sure, there was the Anarchy and the Barons' War I and II, and some issues with the Percys', but it was harder for a single baron to start trouble for the King.)
  7. Exactly the point I have been trying to make. Except where you see it as a good thing, I see it as a bad thing. I don't want all romantic knights to be Aquitanians. I don't want all courtiers to be Romans. Nor all Aquitanians as romantic knights and all Romans as courtiers. Now, because of the cultural skills, that is the path that the character gets set on. You basically pick your 'character class' with your culture. What I would much prefer is the starting skill idea that Jeff mentioned. So instead of Aquitanians starting with Venery 10, let them start with, say, Flirting & Romance +5 (I happen to think that these should be combined to a single skill, too, by the way). This means that the default Aquitanian will start out significantly better at those skills than the default Cymric knight, but if you want to play a Cymric charmer, you can pour in the points and be just as charming as an Aquitanian, without struggling against a rules exception. The playing field is level. And sure, while it takes the Cymric knight more points to get to skill 15, by contrast the Aquitanian needs to spend extra points to get where the Cymric knight has his cultural starting skill bonuses (Maybe Folklore could be one, thanks to the shared ethnicity with the commoners making it easier for Cymric knights than for foreign knights? Food for thought.). It all balances out, but not necessarily in the same way. Cultures are still distinctive enough, but you are not 'punished' for not picking an Aquitanian culture for your charmer knight. Similarly, now you can decide that you know what, having Flirting 8 is good enough, so I think I won't boost it to 15 and I'll focus on some other skills instead. And that is totally fine. So for instance, your Aquitanian might end up with Flirting 8 and, say, Folklore 15, while the Cymric guy might have Folklore 8 and Flirting 15. Sure, that is going against the stereotype, but at the same time, both would still be significantly better in their cultural specialities than the Saxon with his Great Axe +5, Folklore 3 and Flirting 3. (Again, all of the above are just quick examples off the top of my head, not sole differences between the cultures.) Basically, the culture would give you an OK skill in the skills your culture is famous for, but specialization would be up to the players' preferences, rather than dictated by the rules exceptions. That is mainly because they have Lancelot, and a bunch of named RTKs from the same royal, extended family. But de Galis and Orkneys stack up rather well against them, still. I''d actually say that since the PKs are all knights, being a skilled combatant is part of the job description. Now, I would not be surprised if, being mainly exiles from Ganis and coming to Britain AFTER the spoils of Badon have already been distributed, the de Ganis knights would have extra incentive to prove themselves in the Wars of the Conquest Period, and adventures during the Romance period, spurred on by the example of Lancelot. Gotta get those manors! So the -average- Aquitanian knight in Britain might be a tougher proposition than some of the Cymric knights who have been coasting on their father's achievements (i.e. manor) or 'stuck' as a household knight with little to do during Romance. But I don't think they'd have some genetic predisposition to be supersoldiers. Totally agreed here. Something like -3 SIZ, +3 DEX and +3 CON as a quick fix?
  8. If I use K&L Cultural Speciality Skills and want to make a knight, who is specialized in... 1) fighting with a Spear and a Lance... 2) Courtesy and Intrigue... 3) Awareness and Hunting... 4) fighting with Great Sword, Great Axe and Great Mace... 5) Flirting and Romance... ... which Culture would you suggest I take? I admit that Picts have some serious issues with their -6 attribute points compared to others, making them very much sub-optimal. And the Weapon-related skills are not the best, since they overlap so much, especially in the case of the Great Weapons (also, downside of not being able to use them from horseback, at least not in our campaign), and Spear is the worst one-handed weapon. Still, at least one of my players would have very much specialized in Spear Expertise, if we had those cultural skills. We don't, because as the GM, I said I don't want them in my game, and that was that (further helped by the fact that the campaign had been going for years by then, but the same ruling was for the new campaign, i.e. 2016 onwards). However, we have very much seen this with the Family Characteristic. Since it allows the characters to break the starting level 15 skill limit, ALL player characters who have Awareness +5 or Hunting +5 started with 20 in the skill. Even the one who had Dancing +10 went ahead and put one of the non-combat 10s into it, to get it to 20. The only one who didn't spend skill points to boost the Family Characteristic skill was one who got Heraldry +15, and figured 18 was enough (or was it 17 and then went up to 18 in play, I forget). Anyway, my point is that since it is such a huge bonus to start with a skill at 20 vs. 15 (5 yearly trainings vs. 1), that is what people do. And it does mean that whenever the question comes up, who is doing the Hunting, it is one of the two who have it as their FC. The FC has pretty much locked them in to be the Hunters as far as the group role is concerned. This is one of the reasons why I am seriously considering either ditching FC altogether and just giving 5 extra skill points, or capping the skill involved at 15. Then it becomes more of a choice. Do you want to improve your Hunting 2+5 to 15, or do you let someone else pick Hunting 10 or 15 and be the Hunter for this generation of characters? It also means that it is very difficult for another PK to break into the role, even if they want to. One veteran knight now has Hunting 17, I think. But it is still not enough to compete with the Hunting 20 and 21 of the two FC Hunting younger knights. The only way would be to pull rank (Glory) and boss people around, while recognizing that she is exposing the group to an additional risk of delay or getting lost. Especially when wandering in a faerie forest with negative Hunting modifiers... EDIT: Allowing characters to change cultures and even FCs would help. By RAW, they are pretty much fixed, although it is easy to argue that they ought to be nurture, not nature. For instance, if dad dies while you were young and you are raised by your mom and stepdad, it would make sense to pick up the FC from stepdad. On the other hand, Pendragon is heavy on the Blood Will Tell concept of generational excellence.
  9. No. I am saying that you don't need Cultural Skills to differentiate the knights from one another. It is enough to have traits and simple difference in what skills they wish to pursue. However, as soon as you have the cultural speciality skills, you have a clear minmax role for a knight based on your selection. Thus, the cultural skills LESSEN the differentiation within the culture. And by having that minmax role, it basically encourages you to lessen differentiation in others, too. Why play a Cymric Knight using a Great Axe when you can play a Saxon one and get Great Mace and Great Sword with the same skill? Or why play a Cymric Intrigue+Courtesy schemer, when the Roman Knight does it so much better? When it is just the cultural starting skills which differ, it means that the default X is better in some skills than default Y, but Y Knight can become as good as X Knight in those skills, if they put their mind to it. There is no rule prohibiting Y Knight from doing that. Now there is, since he can never have the same Cultural Skill as X.
  10. As I said in my response to Jeff: So modifying the starting skills will ensure that the average Knight from X culture will likely be better at some skills than a Knight from Y culture, and vice versa. But this doesn't introduce rules exceptions (which I also dislike) nor does it lock you in to that specific career path. It will still give you a minor edge to play to the stereotype (less points needed to get them to 15), but it isn't an existential advantage that the cultural speciality skill is, something no other knight can ever overcome. Furthermore, there are probably other modifiers in play as well, such as traits (especially if the religion varies as well). And if nothing else, there is also how people react to the PK and vice versa. If you are playing a Saxon, even a Berroc one, in pre-Badon days, you might get your share of glares and even challenges, as people who don't know you might lump you in with the hostile Saxons. On the other hand, if you run into another Berroc Saxon, you probably have a better reaction, given that you both belong into the same group that tends to get the cold shoulder. Finally, I am not that worried on how to differentiate the cultures. The default assumption (in KAP 5.2) is that all PKs are Cymric. So clearly, it is all about INDIVIDUAL personalities than the stereotypes. Even widening the cultural pool, that doesn't change. If your character's only defining difference is that he is a Saxon/Cymri/Roman/Irish/Pict/Aquitanian, then what can I say? EDIT: To clarify, that is a big part of my complaint, since the cultural skills will lock you into being a courtier-schemer if you are a Roman, a two-handed weapon user if you are a Saxon, a charmer if you are an Aquitanian, etc. It becomes less who you are as a person and more what culture you were born into. Worse, it means that ALL of your characters will fit into the same mould, which is a wee bit boring in my opinion. I don't want to play 4 generations of the same exact person & role, YPWV.
  11. Have you read 'The Dragon in Lyonesse' by Gordon R. Dickson? Heck, pretty much all of the Dragon Knight books are worth a read, even if they are somewhat higher in magic than is my preference. Comes from having the main character to be a magician, albeit a lower class one, not a true Master of the Arts. I have not specifically run such a campaign, but that book & series came to mind when you mentioned it.
  12. You can go back almost a century to late 13th, early 14th for the large scale adoption of the longbow by the English armies (like Battle of Falkirk, 1298), with maturation of dismounted knights and longbowmen around the Battle of Halidon Hill (1333) in mid-14th century, but other than that, fully agreed. Hundred Years' War of course provided plenty more opportunity for loot and work for semi-mercenary longbowmen, and the successful ones of course availed themselves to better armor when they could. In the terms of Pendragon, the Cymric Knights are effectively Norman Knights, albeit it is just the Saxon underclass who have the Norman vs. Saxon thing going on. The Cymric subjects are more very Late Medieval (15th century) in that sense, English knights and English peasants, sharing a common cultural ethnicity and language. It is the Cambrians who fill the Medieval Welsh role, and I do believe that the longbows have been mentioned often in conjunction with the Cambrians. Yep, fully in agreement here, too. As long as the skills will be 15 or below, it is relatively easy to make up for any 'lost ground'. A Cymri knight who specializes in Intrigue and Courtesy can be an equal to the Roman knight who specializes in the same, but the average Cymri will be poorer in those skills than the average Roman. And that is a-OK in my book.
  13. I would expect it to be a relatively flat probability, if it is a binary £1 or none: The towns have traffic (i.e. demand), but probably already have ferries/bridges (i.e. the demand has already been fulfilled). More common locations are unlikely to have loads of traffic (low demand), but if there is demand, it is likely still there. As I said, though, the £1 for £5 should already be pretty much the optimal result: high demand that has not been fulfilled. In your suggestion, it is actually likely more profitable to build the ferry in a common manor than near a town. I can understand that the competition will be less, but so will be the demand, too. If you drop the income in half for a typical manor, then it would make more sense, IMHO.
  14. I am probably one of the most vocal critics of the cultural skill system. In short, I dislike them intensely, since they lock you into a cultural stereotype. There are clear minmax cultures to pick if you wish to be, say, a courtier (Romans). You will simply be much better since you only have one skill (Law) you have to raise, while the Cymri have at least two, Courtesy and Intrigue. This becomes a huge advantage in 15+ levels, and especially if you push them to 20+, as it only costs you 1 Glory Bonus Point instead of two. And the same for Yearly Training points prior to 20. And if you want to be a Saxon and fight in the shieldwall, guess what, your cultural skill is useless if you want to use a shield. So you will end up with characters whose role and weapon choices are pretty much defined by their culture, rather than their individual preferences. And going against the stereotype is a big disadvantage since then you are inferior to another culture whose stereotype would give you at least some bonus you can use. For example, a Roman knight who wants nothing to do with Courtesy and Intrigue is objectively inferior with Lance and Spear compared to a Cymric knight. And so forth. This is also a big reason why I dislike Family Characteristic. Like the cultural skill, it pretty much locks you into a certain role within the game group, based on a random roll. "Oh, you rolled Hunting +5? I guess you and all your children and children's children will be the Hunters in this campaign." Grr. OK, rant over. Carry on.
  15. Hence Atgxtg's binary choice: Either the ferry is very useful, and provides £1 income, or it is nigh useless and doesn't provide any income and hence never gets built.
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