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SaxBasilisk

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About SaxBasilisk

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  • RPG Biography
    RPG player, GM, and author
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    Pendragon, D&D RC & 5E, GURPS,
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    Upstate New York

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  1. Here we are, at the second year of the GPC! First, let's start with a minor point. The Book of Uther notes that Syagrius is a king, not a praetor, and that he shows up next year, not this one. I think it actually works better to have this situation simmering in the background. The game also keeps Syagrius alive after his death at the hands of the Visigoths, so it's not as if we're adhering strictly to the historic record anyway. Now, let's dive into Sword Lake! This is a key opportunity for players to participate in a key point of Arthurian legend - and it's also a little weird, for a few different reasons. Before starting on the concerns, I should make a few prep notes. First, if your group has a few game years under their belts, it might be worth asking if there's a narratively-satisfying reason why they might not have been invited to go raiding. You might also check out the "Riding the Rounds" adventure on page 67 - not "Riding Patrol," as it says in the text - and the "Sample Peasant Problems" on the margin of the same page. It bears noting that this is the first time sexual assault could potentially come up as a topic in this game. Different groups will handle this topic in different ways, and it's worth giving some thought to it. You might want to keeep the nukalavee statistics handy - and you might consider whether this combined "horse and rider" encounter grants the horseback vs. foot +5/-5 modifier. Let's discuss into the challenges of this adventure itself. First, our adventure is based on how willing the characters are to help out a peasant with livestock. This paradoxically means that the more faithful players are to playing PKs in the setting, the less likely it is that they'd actually participate. I'm also wondering if groups that started in 480 instead of 485 are more likely to have embraced their roles, which might encourage them to blow off Merlin. Second, the adventure scales in some odd ways based on the number of PKs. Many Pendragon adventures have opponents that scale to the number of PKs, but this one does not. That means that larger parties are more likely to notice the goat's unusual size and more capable of dealing with the challenges. Yet if the party is more than four, you'll end up with a climactic fight in which someone is playing the role of Sir Standsaround. You might consider how you want to scale encounters down or up for your group's size. Finally, the working assumption here is that the PKs are successful in helping Merlin get the sword. If your group does not, it will affect later chapters. It's probably best to assume that Merlin does get the sword, as otherwise it will lead to major changes in the following chapters - unless you feel up to the challenge. What experiences have you had? What would you add or run differently?
  2. I think we've got that one pretty down pat - it doesn't matter much when someone's on the receiving end of a two-handed weapon crit - but I appreciate the reminder.
  3. Thanks to everyone for their comments and feedback. I appreciate the notice that great spears will not negate the +5 bonus the knights get, which I had missed. I did want to answer some of Axgtgx's comments, largely because I think they were helpful in making some choices about my campaign and its philosophy. Most of my players started their gaming experience with Call of Cthulhu, and the majority are veterans of a multi-year B/X "death at 0 HP" campaign. We've already had two knights die (one through crits, one through crits + bad decision making), and the players just created other characters and moved on. So I think we're good here. I'll just juxtapose these two quotes here: and I'd agree that there should be an emphasis on combat in the knight's training - and I have no problem with killing a character who has been neglecting that. At the same time, I don't want a game in which all the PKs spend most of their improvement points from character creation to the start of aging raising the same three skills just so they can survive against BoA units. I'd prefer a game in which a PK works on their combat skills, but can also pursue becoming a Religious or Chivalric knight, or poetry, or politics. With the deadliness of Pendragon, there's a risk in neglecting combat ability - but I'd find it unsatisfying if players felt the risk was so great that they shouldn't improve anything else. So I feel that the best thing to do would be to combine the rulesbook and BoA lists, and use the latter more for seasoning than as a staple. That doesn't mean I don't want to see new army lists, of course...
  4. Yes, that title is a bit provocative. We've been having some serious trouble in our campaign battles, which prompted me to take a look at the tables I was using - those for Defending and Attacking Saxon armies in the Book of Armies. Just to be clear, I'm using the main rulebook's battle rules with two house rules: first, the reduction of critical hits to 1.5xregular damage, and second, the commander of a disengaged unit gets to choose between two units if they decide to attack. I've also incorporated the rules from BoB regarding rescue of unhorsed characters. Even given this, battles are often brutal and not a whole lot of fun, in a way I hadn't noticed in a past campaign in which I just used the rulebook armies. Upon examination, the Saxon units in BoA are much more skilled, and almost always have a weapon or fighting technique (missile, great spear, or mounted combat) which negates the mounted/foot bonuses that should be a major factor in these fights. (I won't get into the rest of the book without reading it more carefully - but this sort of thing seems to be a trend.) I certainly think that battles should be dangerous - but it seems this pushes matters too far. I certainly don't want to see each session's training and Glory become about upping weapon skills and passions just so they have a decent shot at survival. At the same time, I like some of the distinctive units and special properties of these units. So - do you use the armies in BoA? Would you consider reducing their skills somewhat, or mingling them with forces from the rulesbook list? Am I missing some rule here that would help?
  5. I like those suggestions - I'm trying to draw a line between "starting a Pendragon campaign" and "starting the GPC" which might be helpful. Casting the net wider, I'd recommend Sires and Knights and Ladies, although I'm not sold on Battle, especially as a new campaign book.
  6. It's been a while... but I'm back, ready to pick up where I left off... at the beginning! To alleviate confusion, this is the first post in this series that's at the start of the published Great Pendragon Campaign, beginning in 485 AD. The Book of Uther covers 480-484. I've started campaigns in both, and I can say I honestly don't have a preference. I'm sure someone's done a detailed post somewhere about how to get started with the campaign here, so I'll just give my summary: The Great Pendragon Campaign (print and electronic): Sadly, the GPC is a huge book - in fact, so huge that the index was omitted. I have both print and electronic - one that I can fill with post-its and easily navigate between sections if need be, and an electronic one for searches and tablet reading. Free PDFs: There's a GPC Character stats document, and an electronic version of the index. Both are easily found at the publisher's website. The first is good if you need statistics for prominent characters - such as that assault on you know who - and the second might be useful if you don't have the electronic version, I guess. The Book of Uther: Contains background on various courtly personalities, an expanded timeline of the Uther years that enhances and sometimes contradicts the one in GPC, etc. The Marriage of Count Roderick: Describes the Salisbury/Silchester rivalry that plays out this year, if you don't want to make up your own reasons. As for this year itself... BoU clarifies that the Saxon king mentioned in the "Gossip" section is Aesc, not Hengest. Two main events occur this year: the Battle of Mearcred Creek, and the Siege at Allington from the main rulebook. Based on a comment I saw elsewhere, I think Greg wasn't sure that the first actual session should involve a battle - but the next major one wouldn't be until 490. ...so there's not much going on this year other than that, unless anyone wants to add any thoughts.
  7. Thank you! I think I am looking for something along those lines. As for the backstory - I'm altering the system slightly, so I've got female knights and pre-Romance Period use of the Amor passion. Those are my choices. I figured that Lady Llylla had another couple years, given how picky Ederyn was about her suitors. Then my player declared that he wanted to court her, despite the differences in status. I let him roll for a passion, and he ended up with a high one. So every time a suitor shows, he duels them into a bloody pulp, usually in public - thus the bad relations with powerful people. This has gone on for long enough that Ederyn has lost territory, to the Saxons, including much of what he was going to provide for her dowry. In this context, "winning" means a wife with a high Cruel who dislikes him immensely for taking her away from better prospects, and a need to negotiate his relationship with the mistress with whom he has a child, and who has the ability to curse people... And the player acknowledges all of this. He likes to switch up characters every so often, and I think he is committed to this crazy situation but might need a break from the drama. So he's playing a family member - in this case, the older sister / household knight denied her birthright who vanished a few years ago and became the focus of a short scenario to bring her back. I think there's enough backstory and connection to the campaign to make her a viable alternative for a little while.
  8. One of my players wants to switch to playing PKs so he can take up a household knight. His previous PK participated in the Adventure of Sword Lake, has a tendency to anger powerful people, loves Lady Llylla of the Castle of Vigor, and really hates Saxons. Thus, Count Roderick is going to put him "on loan" to Baron Ederyn, and send him off to kill Saxons for a few years. There's a good chance the player will want to return to this PK at some point. Looking at the book, I'm wondering how to play this. The Vassal Knight Service solo seems a little short on both Glory and risk of death. At the same time, I'd prefer not to model it on something like the Book of the Estate, where it's all modeled with one roll with no Glory attached. I suppose I could put him through battle rounds or a sample combat against a tough Saxon to model what happens that year. How would you handle this situation?
  9. For whatever it's worth... what I'd like to see: * Rules for childbirth and survival incorporated into main rulebook * Likewise with the marriage rules from Entourage * A Siege skill that isn't just an add-on * Consolidated Glory awards and quality (pages 122 and 257 vary in weird ways) * An early Saxon army that doesn't have mounted troops * All the tables having numeric designations, instead of just some * Table 5-3: Attributes Lost should be repeated in the combat chapter, for ease of reference. * "Your Own Land" extended with five pages of wacky stuff that happens at court * Table 5-3: Attributes Lost should be the cover art, for ease of reference * Cornish ninja PKs with throwing pasties
  10. The gossip section is definitely unreliable - but for me, there's a line where it jumps the line from questionable to conspiracy theory, and declaring that the head of the Druids isn't at least partially pagan falls into that category for me. I think I'd be more comfortable swapping out "demon" for "pagan" when presenting that information to the players. Tactically, it may be on Madoc - but Uther was the one who took Madoc to Cornwall and then left him guarding the camp while he was off in disguise. (I'm willing to give him leeway for most of the Ygraine affair, but as far as I can tell, Madoc's death was a GPC elaboration.) Menevia is why I added the "sign from the heavens" to my list. Mount Damen is made possible due to Merlin's magical refreshment, Lindsey leaves the fate of Octa in the PK's hands, and the St. Albans victory comes about after the initial debacle. Sure, he's got victories - I'd expect that from a guy who's got a Battle score of 20 and whose forces are superior in quality to his opponents. Yet his impulsiveness puts his troops in harm's way.
  11. Oh yes - but in a setting that has a good number of pagans, even if the faith is dying out in Logres, "pagan" is just a weird leap from "half-demon potential Antichrist," compounded by the nonsensical response that he's not pagan when he clearly is. Perhaps a GM should use that information on page 40 instead.
  12. Here we are, at the last year of the Book of Uther expansion for the GPC. Let's get into some commentary... Gossip: I had no idea that the founder and head of the revived Druidic order was a Christian. Is the speaker an idiot? Is Merlin's role a secret? Did Greg write different things at different times? No matter - I'm flagging it here. The Battle of Eburacum: First, I'm interpreting the modifiers per round to Battle rolls to replace the Melee Events table in the Battle series (III.B.), even though it's not being explicitly given anywhere. My own experience of the battle (mostly using the battle rules in the rulebook, with armies from the Book of Armies and a few small modifications adopted from the Book of Battle) was that it was quite difficult, with most of the knight ending up captured or unconscious. I don't know what others' experiences have been, but I can easily see a group losing some PKs here. The GM might want to think about what occurs after the battle. Are the survivors with their unit? If not, how do they find their way back to the army? (I had them separated and then run into Merlin in the night, who led them back to the army.) What might happen to those who are captured? The Battle of Mt. Damen: You might decide whether any captured yet conscious PKs get a share of the plunder. I gave it to mine. Eburacum: You're back in Eburacum! I suppose the players might want to investigate that ambush from last year, if you ran "Marriage" and they still remember. Christmas Court: By this time, the PK's squires are probably getting close to age 21, and many would jump at the chance to become a household knight. You might ask the players if they each wish to release their squires from service, and why, with an appropriate check given to a passion or trait for their decision. The Marriage of Count Roderick: The count's daughter Jenna is born this year. Uther Sucks: I wasn't sure where to work this in to the series, so we'll do it here. It seems that people are fairly sympathetic to Uther on the forums, but in the GPC+BoU as written, he's pretty terrible. Let's set aside the business with Ygraine, the prerogatives of the king (especially regarding Ire), and the dereliction of Gorlois' duties. Uther is still the guy who gets mad all the time, gets his army ambushed twice, bullies others, gets his son killed, and needs the help of Merlin, a sign from the heavens, or the PKs to do anything worthwhile or intelligent. If you do want to make Uther worthy of respect or sympathy, you might want to seek out opportunities to do so.
  13. Would that requirement be binding to the Saxons? Couldn't he push for a longer period of service in the negotiations, if he's got them over a barrel?
  14. FYI, Stormbringer has some rules regarding weapon length which are at least derived from another BRP game. They're too long to type in here, but they might be of interest.
  15. As am I, on both counts. And Username - I just picked up Lordly Domains, so I can indicate to the player that we can pursue more advanced options if desired.
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