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About Khanwulf

  • Rank


  • RPG Biography
    Kicked off with Car Wars in the 80s and Battletech in early 90s, followed by DnD, Paranoia, Marvel and all that through White Wolf products. Last real table play was in 2004, but the internet is good for folks who are distant or mobile. My games are typified anymore by extensive research and writing, especially since they're play-by-post.
  • Current games
    King Arthur Pendragon, Chronicles of Darkness, Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing (FASERIP)
  • Blurb
    I'm an international development project professional with a business masters who's worked all over the world and acquired odd perspectives on the same. History, stories and the "systems of systems" that make up things catch my fancy.
  1. Khanwulf

    Raids in Salisbury during Anarchy

    It may be useful to consider the purpose of the fortified home (manor, castle) was to protect the personal property of the lord long enough to demand a siege, at which point raiders would have to risk 1) the concentration of responding forces, 2) lack of food, 3) disease. Staying on the move means that a raiding party sweeps through fast enough that concentrating forces is challenging and they can forage, plunder and keep camp clean. Most of the time the noble family would retreat into their fortification and wait--if they could salley against the raid that would help, but probably lacked the forces to do serious damage. They would, however, keep the raid itself nervous and moving--covering ground but probably not taking everything of value. So in Salisbury you could have a raid in force appear and sweep through much (but not all of course) of the county before leaving again, if the Countess and her knights are not able to respond in sufficient force. The moment of vulnerability comes when the raid slows under the weight of its plunder, and knights are able to catch it or maneuver to force a real fight. --Khanwulf
  2. Khanwulf

    Ransom, loot etc

    In the book Saxons! the cultural line is drawn that among the Germanics the proper way to handle loot/prisoners was to turn them over to your chief (who might then pass them on up to the one in charge of the battle). Then, the loot got divided as the chief showed his generosity for all to see. After all, can't be generous if you got nothing to give away, right? This implied to me that British knights got to keep their personal prisoners--who might be escorted from the field by squires after honorably surrendering, and could only be expected to surrender valuable prisoners when their lords "pulled rank" somewhat irregularly or as a show of loyalty. And yes, it's a huge source of income. I've done it exactly once so far and it involved a baron, so was very happy the as-yet-unknighted PKs were obligated to fork over the loot to their chief! --Khanwulf
  3. Khanwulf

    Book of Beasts

    Of course a product like this would not be for everyone: nor is the Book of Battle, or of Feasts. These are specific aspects of KAP taken and blown out with details and mechanics that a given table may find extraneous. Or, exactly what they needed to breathe life into. Feasts were a hugely important aspect of noble life at the time--as were hunts. Hunting served both as entertainment and as a means to demonstrate competency in marital skills while bringing back needed meat for the feasts. In the sources hunting happens quite a bit, with some significant stories following from them. Ultimately if you're plotting out expansion books, you could do Battle, Feasts, Beasts (hunting) and Tournaments, and cover the social activities of knights thoroughly with optional expansions (including killing each other). Back to beasts: * This would be a great place to discuss horse coloring, temperament variations, rarity and cost - something like how Ikabodo addresses it in his fantastic Oath of Crows campaign page. * If you're doing cards, then each card could provide a picture, statblock, common area/terrain, page reference, and hunting challenge/event with tests -- idea being that the cards double as events and you don't know what you're hunting until you spot something (the next card's animal?). * Also the book to cover animal training, for exotic pets and the like. Of course the training is actually done by hired services, so that should be mentioned from Entourage. --Khanwulf
  4. Well there should always be trails at least between settlements/manors. Keep in mind that if you go off-road you're 1) crossing someone's farmland/pastureland/forest reserve and they may have words to say about that and the damage you do, and 2) traveling on soft ground with great risk of burrowing animals taking out your horse's leg, or slipping while navigating a bank, or ditch or tree roots, or whatever. If you're taking the usual oxcart then that will get bogged down in short order. There's a reason the Romans built roads. --Khanwulf
  5. Khanwulf

    Family history from 480?

    Yeah it probably is. I mean you could define a decent feature list and estimate wordcount. That could be enough for the Chaosium to decide if its worth sourcing text and doing a KS? --Khanwulf
  6. Khanwulf

    Family history from 480?

    I'll second that: a Book of the Hunt would be extremely useful for breathing the same life into hunting that Book of Feasts did for ... um, feasting. In fact, you could apply the same card mechanics if you wanted to. Then, jazz the book up with a bestiary, discussion of the role of meat acquisition and conservation in noble society, and horses. End with a few hunting mini-adventures. That would be a product well worth the money. --Khanwulf
  7. Khanwulf

    Family history from 480?

    Thanks Morien and Atgxtg! Instead of cluttering this post with reference quotes I'll just dig in: SIRES does address many of the setup issues with Uther, and lays the foundation for his disagreement with Gorlois. My Pendragon will vary: I want to make Gorlois younger, roughly Ambrosius' age, and contemporary expatriate in Brittany. The two were quite close, making Uther the jealous younger brother. Ygraine I've already introduced differently, in 467, so I'm not going to walk that back but it creates a rivalry story between Ambrosius and Gorlois for her hand--and in which she ultimately (given her head by her father, King of Galvoie) chooses Gorlois because he will "be hers entire, while as queen of the High King she will be but one rose amongst the thorns." Uther, who never actually meets her during this period, further hates Gorlois for refusing to bow out of what he thinks should be Ambrosius' kingly perogative. If --and I've not decided fully yet-- I send Ambrosius along with Riothamus, Uther can make a hash of things up north early on. Some years later Ambrosius would give him another chance during the Frisian campaign and he blows it again. For all this I'm taking a page from some scholars who point out that Britain's manpower reserves at the time would be in the north (and Cornwall), so when Ambrosius takes his mercenaries and the flower of nascent British knighthood to the Visigothic maw, he's counting on the experienced warriors of the north to keep the Saxons honest to their oaths. When news gets back that the army is lost and everyone is dead (471) there is great mourning--except among the sons of Hengest, who are now free to do what their thegns want and raid for revenge. They put out word to the Continent, muster their army and in spring 473 set up the Thames... only to find out that Ambrosius just got back, heard the Saxons were on the move, and scrounged up another army from the south. Result is Windsor. Ambrosius spent a year in Burgundy trying to extricate his mauled troops, before giving up and letting the Burgundian king land his continentals in exchange for enough gold to take ship from Arelate (Arles) in the south and around back to Britain. Excuses here are: it takes the PKs on a bit of a whistlestop tour outside Britain, including a potentially fatal battle, has them meeting people they otherwise wouldn't, and removes them from Britain when they might otherwise meddle in the Cornwall Civil War. Or I might just skip everything and let the PKs meddle in said war. I really like the thought that Aelle intended to join the Sons of Hengest and missed the battle, deciding to cool it a few years and land with a plan. Or... he didn't miss the battle, but left and came back with more men. In my head, his success is because he provoked Ambrosius/Uther to chase him along the coast toward Pevensey, then sent his Kentish reinforcements to land behind the British and threaten their camp. Result was Ambrosius retreating into the Anderida and digging a defensive ditch to overnight (later to be called "Malfosse" by annoyed Norman historians). Meanwhile Aelle looks at the situation and cannily decides to parley. --Khanwulf
  8. Khanwulf

    Family history from 480?

    Interesting idea Morien: getting my cake and eating it too. I was going to leave Uther to mess up relations with the northern lords while Ambrosius got his tush kicked by the Visigoths--it would help to explain why Uther is loathed outside of Logres. Note: all this is "was going to", before Sires went to great length to address some of my setup concerns. Really my main issue with Ambrosius hanging around Britain is... why would the Saxons rebel against their peace oaths and rise up to raid at that time? They got the ever-lovin' heck bashed out of them 3-4 years before (counting mobilization times), in the early equivalent to Baden, and to me it would take a real, glaring opportunity to rouse them and dare a revenge raid. Sure, Hengest's boys might want to prove themselves, but they had their own chiefdoms under their dad for some time already. So... if Ambrosius took a bunch of men off and was rumored to be killed along with his army, that to me sounds like real opportunity. If Riothamus != Ambrosius, and Riothamus is said to be dead as well, plunging untouched Cornwall into meyhem, then that IS an opportunity--to strike up the Thames and into the heart of richest Britain. The Saxons get stopped at Windsor, while winning the battle handily. What? Stopped? Why? My theory is that they discovered Ambrosius was still alive, got his army together and lost, but had enough pull to continue the mobilization and fall back to building Ambrosius' Dike. At this the Saxons decided to just take what they could get and retire with glory intact. Ambrosius doesn't have to be a militarily awesome king: he's a Good king, not a Great one. Uther is Great not Good, and Arthur is both. So anyway, I'll see how this all goes. --Khanwulf
  9. Khanwulf

    Family history from 480?

    I'd like to seize on this for a moment and ask if you might expand on the implications a bit. Because I was going to run a segment in which the PKs went off with Riothamus = Ambrosius and then help the High King return to Britain after his mainly continental army (returning from the campaign) gets crushed. Sires, obviously, doesn't use this major hook, but if I send the PKs off with Riothamus I can still have them attempt to not die and get back in time for Windsor. So... what if Riothamus lived? --Khanwulf
  10. For maps you may honestly be better off doing a route system with branches and flagging adventure locations nearby. Sure it's fancy to have the detailed and geographically accurate map but the best versions of the day were essentially distance and direction flags--like a glorified subway. That's why the Romans invested so heavily in mile markers and the like: it kept them oriented. --Khanwulf
  11. I don't think Book of Salisbury is published yet. We had Charlemagne, Map folio and Book of Feasts prior to Book of Sires. Very likely that Book of Salisbury is next, or maybe Book of Castles? I don't remember. There's a pipeline. Anyway, it's not likely that your work is wasted in the short term, Atgxtg. --Khanwulf
  12. Khanwulf

    Manor Houses

    Interesting. You're actually probably right: the main cooking would take place over the fire that serves to centrally light and heat the manor. Otherwise you're wasting wood, which is arguably one of the most precious resources available (moreso than labor). I need to research some of these aspects. How basic things get done is an essential pointer to layout and structure. Another example of this: all those white castles in medieval literature? Whitewashed plaster over wood, apparently. Stone being more expensive than trees, and all that, they'd build them out of wood and cover in plaster to keep the fire risk down. Made them more imposing, too, since you could build larger and taller without dedicating as much space to load-bearing walls. --Khanwulf
  13. Khanwulf

    Manor Houses

    Wouldn't the door open directly into the hall for dramatic entrances? And the kitchen, where is it?
  14. Khanwulf

    Lady Knights and Romance

    I think the assumption to work with is that Uther's Bastards (a knightly order if ever there was one, right?) are all unacknowledged, probably cared-for through his largesse, and technically lowborn. His swiving is a matter of widespread rumor, but done quietly both I think because of fear of his temper but also because he's the King (capital K) and that's just what's done when you're an unmarried king. The Church would disagree, but probably not to Uther and especially not after he's broken Gorlois. So all those bastards? Not enough to stake a claim to protecting the throne of Logres. Now a high-born lady, even a queen like Ygraine, brings a measure of legitimacy through association and is a more reasonable target. If there were legitimate, acknowledged issue from Uther or Madoc, then they would be in a higher category of claimant, at least on par with some of the extended family/powerful lord members of the Anarchy. Fun times. Keep in mind as well that secret marriages are a thing. It entirely possible for the PK to claim--especially after Madoc's death--that their well-known affair was actually a private marriage and that was the reason Uther didn't mess with them. A few bribes to churchmen and maybe some winking at Uther and you're set. Personally, because I'm using some related ideas to this thread, I like the "secret marriage to Madoc just outside of Terrabil" plot. The next morning is a hangover, of course. But then I'm mean. --Khanwulf PS. Edit for Atgxtg: I don't think it's fair to make Uther chase anything in a skirt. He just doesn't find someone worthy of tying the knot with until Ygraine comes along, in the balance of beauty and station. But he does insist on having a bedwarmer. A pretty one. All the time. Deprived a few days and he'll find a replacement in short order; which is what happens when Ygraine rejects him. Frankly I think Ygraine lost her charm immediately. I mean the chasing is better than the having, and she was all weepy, then all pregnant, and then bitchy (in GPC) about losing Arthur before she even named him. She was not super-young either and I suspect Uther had some serious buyer's remorse at having chained himself to such a strong woman (Valorous 19!?!). Her departure to the nunnery sounds like the end of an argument or few that, were she male, would have resulted in the king doing some stabbing.
  15. Khanwulf

    Manor Houses

    And per custom folks just ignored inconvenient noises. Privacy? Not so much. Also: the loo. Outside. When nature called after a night of feasting you'd creak up off the board and gingerly step around the body parts and dogs, hoping the rushes (and whatever else) on the floor would keep you from waking your mates (the servants aren't worth the thought); then shove the door open a crack and totter off to do your business. Or just use a chamber pot. Ladies did so a lot but then again skirts have an advantage, there. Storage? The walls would probably be hung with stuff, plus things tied to the rafters. Household knights might be given a chest with or without a lock, along one wall and probably covered with a throw cloth to serve as an extra stool when not accessed. (Practical speculation). Light would mainly be from the hearth, backed up by torches or, if you were quite wealthy, candles. For defensive purposes the hall would not have windows on the lower floor. This is why the solar was so important for the ladies trying to do needlework: it was arranged specifically for extra light over defense. --Khanwulf