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Help! I am running Pendragon for the first time and could use your advice.


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I am going to run a super lowkey casual game of Pendragon next week. Myself and one of my players have played one game at GenCon. None of us have read the rules but all of us are experienced with RuneQuest so have some idea of the basic mechanisms. I have the rule book, and a copy of Tales of Chivalry and Romance, which I plan to run something out of. (But I have almost every published scenario and am open to anything) We will use pregens and wing most of the rules. Mostly we want to get a feel for the setting. 

So a few questions for those folks who know the game best:
For a green to the system GM and party, which one shot would you recommend to play? 

and

What is your number one tip for a new Pendragon GM?
 

 

Thanks! :D 

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33 minutes ago, Ellie said:

What is your number one tip for a new Pendragon GM?

Relax and have fun. :)

34 minutes ago, Ellie said:

For a green to the system GM and party, which one shot would you recommend to play? 

The introductory scenario (Imber Bear Hunt) in the rulebook is intended to help introduce various aspects of the game. However, one of my big personal favorites is the (long-form) Adventure of the White Horse that was published in 4th edition rulebook. If you have it, I would strongly suggest starting with the Intro adventure and follow it up with the White Horse, once the squires have been knighted.

Of the Chivalry & Romance adventures, I would suggest the Golden Rose. It is probably the most straightforward of them. The New Made Knight is better for experienced players who know how chivalry works, and the Mysterious  Manor is more of a murder mystery than a chivalric quest, IMHO. In this case, I would still start with the introductory adventure. Also note that Golden Rose is clearly more for late Tournament period, what with the existence of full plate armor. The PKs would be in a serious disadvantage trying to fight with just chainmail.

The Adventure of the Kingdom of Circle of Gold (Mystic Tournaments) is also pretty good for a new group, as it doesn't have super high stakes. The only downside is that the players might feel frustrated, as they most likely won't be able to 'win' the adventure, at least not in their first go. (Again,  the adventure is set more in Boy King if not Conquest period, so you might have to adjust the armors accordingly.)

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52 minutes ago, Morien said:

The introductory scenario (Imber Bear Hunt) in the rulebook is intended to help introduce various aspects of the game. However, one of my big personal favorites is the (long-form) Adventure of the White Horse that was published in 4th edition rulebook. If you have it, I would strongly suggest starting with the Intro adventure and follow it up with the White Horse, once the squires have been knighted.

@Ellie for reference, that's the scenario I ran for you (somewhat modified) at Gen Con, so you'll be well prepared to run it yourself! ;)

The Bear Hunt is indeed an excellent introductory scenario for GM and players alike. You can honestly get by just reading the scenario, especially since you've already played.

And to echo @Morien, don't sweat the details, just have fun with it, and be willing to roll with whatever happens without too much fretting over canon. The first time I ran Pendragon, I killed off Earl Robert in the first scene! Oops...

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Hi Ellie!

1. Don't be afraid to let the PKs and PLs fail (and fail forward). Fixing mistakes and being imperfect people is part of this kind of story. Most of the interesting romances (Lancelot, Yvain, the Grail Quest) feature obstacles and minor (or even serious) defeats before the 'win' happens.

I'm very fond of the two adventures in Tales of Mystic Tournaments and the "Best Wine in the World" in the Savage Mountains book, though there may be some nostalgia going on there.

 

Edit: They feature interesting characters, moral quandaries, significant challenges, and strong female characters.

I'm also fond of the adventures I've written but they won't be in print for a while.

Edited by jeffjerwin
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19 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

I'm very fond of the two adventures in Tales of Mystic Tournaments and the "Best Wine in the World" in the Savage Mountains book, though there may be some nostalgia going on there.

Oh yeah, how could I forget about "The Tournament of Dreams"? One of my all-time favorites.

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Sorry about coming to the party!

What they all said before me. 

If you are able to mentally place yourself in the adventure, what needs to stand out. What would you see? hear? feel? 

I got a couple, but don't remember the names off the top of my head (and not at home), but the Tournament of Dreams is also one of mine.

BobS.

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3 hours ago, Ellie said:

I am going to run a super lowkey casual game of Pendragon next week. Myself and one of my players have played one game at GenCon. None of us have read the rules but all of us are experienced with RuneQuest so have some idea of the basic mechanisms.

Let us RQ savvy and KAP ignorant types know how it went. Curious minds, and all.

Cheers

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14 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

I'm very fond of the two adventures in Tales of Mystic Tournaments and the "Best Wine in the World" in the Savage Mountains book, though there may be some nostalgia going on there.

I agree that they are good adventures, but I wouldn't recommend them  to a group of new players & a new GM straight off the bat.

Edited by Morien
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On 8/16/2019 at 4:57 PM, Ellie said:

I am going to run a super lowkey casual game of Pendragon next week. Myself and one of my players have played one game at GenCon. None of us have read the rules but all of us are experienced with RuneQuest so have some idea of the basic mechanisms.

First off a bit of caution. Despite the similarities Pendragon and RQ game mechanics are different. As combat is decided by a single opposed roll, rather than with alternating attacks & parries, combat plays out much faster. Armor plays a much bigger roll and shields tend to be the difference between taking a minor scratch or no damage at all. Most unarmored opponents will take a major wound and  drop on a good hit. Run a mock fight with some of the pregenerated characters and some generic NPCs to get a feel for the game. 

Quote

 

 

I have the rule book, and a copy of Tales of Chivalry and Romance, which I plan to run something out of. (But I have almost every published scenario and am open to anything) We will use pregens and wing most of the rules. Mostly we want to get a feel for the setting. 

So a few questions for those folks who know the game best:
For a green to the system GM and party, which one shot would you recommend to play? 

For a green GM and player's I'd recommend the introductory adventure that's in the core rules - it was designed specifically for that purpose. Just be sure to go over the hunting rules and use book marks or possibly  print out the relevant tables to make that part easier on yourself. The intro adventure has a lot of tests and die rolls that not only help to teach the game system, but also give the players some chances to learn and to fail without serious consequences.

Quote

and

What is your number one tip for a new Pendragon GM?
 

Okay, I changed my mind here, and replaced my #1 Tip:  My number one tip is to have enthusiasm. If the GM in interested in the game and presents it to the players with enthusiasm, then it becomes infectious and everybody becomes vested in the game and will have a good time. if the GM isn't enthusiastic, then the players won't be all that interested and it won't go well. Yes, the ups & downs of the adventure, die rolls and all that play their part, but none of that matters if nobody cares about the results. The best way to get everybody else to care is for you to care. Do that and the rest should sort itself out. Don't worry too much about the rules and such. All GMs make mistakes from time to time, and experienced GMs are just better at recovering from them. 

 

 

Edited by Atgxtg
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2 hours ago, Morien said:

I agree that they are good adventures, but I wouldn't recommend them  to a group of new players & a new GM straight off the bat.

The edition of Mystic Tournaments printed by Green Knight has GM advice and recaps of rules in it (I don't have the first edition handy), so I'm not sure why not. However, yes, do the Hunt and the White Horse first. I would also suggest The Marriage of Sir Roderick, to be mixed in there, as a counterbalance to the fighting and adventuring, as it plausibly involves both knights and ladies.

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2 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

The edition of Mystic Tournaments printed by Green Knight has GM advice and recaps of rules in it

You mean mixed in with the text? Since I sure can't find a GM advice nor recaps of the rules as their own section.

Even less than the rules, it is the mind-set. Sure, if the players have a background in chivalric characters and Arthuriana, it is easy enough. But if they are coming in cold from a generic hack-and-slash murder-hobo campaign, it gets a bit more iffy.

And I did say: "straight off the bat". As in the very first introduction they get to KAP. No intro adventures, no White Horse, no TMoSR. That is a pretty big ask for a GM who has never GMed KAP before. I know I wouldn't want to try those as my first adventure as a GM.

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1 hour ago, Morien said:

You mean mixed in with the text? Since I sure can't find a GM advice nor recaps of the rules as their own section.

Even less than the rules, it is the mind-set. Sure, if the players have a background in chivalric characters and Arthuriana, it is easy enough. But if they are coming in cold from a generic hack-and-slash murder-hobo campaign, it gets a bit more iffy.

And I did say: "straight off the bat". As in the very first introduction they get to KAP. No intro adventures, no White Horse, no TMoSR. That is a pretty big ask for a GM who has never GMed KAP before. I know I wouldn't want to try those as my first adventure as a GM.

Fair enough.

My dad started me and my brother in KAP 1.0 on "The Best Wine in the World" and I think we did the Gray Knight and the Tournament of Dreams shortly thereafter. A baptism of fire! We screwed up but it was fun...

The trouble, of course, is centering the game around the chivalric ethos, and making sure that Traits and Passions are a major part of the story (as well), in my view. A lot depends on getting the 'feel' right, including the importance of early mistakes and learning how to be a good knight the hard way (like Gawaine's and Pellinore's in the first Hunt for the White Stag). But I expect others will disagree with me.

The White Hart hunt and the Triple Quest would make an excellent adventure for the game, I think, as it introduces some key themes in the future plot.

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20 hours ago, sirlarkins said:

My first time running KAP was "Tournament of Dreams" (the Green Knight version). I might have run the intro scenario first, but I don't think I did.

You are a better man than I am, Gunga Din. :)

18 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

A lot depends on getting the 'feel' right, including the importance of early mistakes and learning how to be a good knight the hard way

I agree, but that is particularly why I like the White Horse, as it gives a lot of chances for the trait rolls and such, but the stakes are relatively low. The PKs have license to screw up without feeling like they are total failures. That is what makes it a good intro adventure for me, as it does also expose a more mythical, magical side of Pendragon.

The Bear Hunt is pretty mundane, every day thing, that shows how combat, hunting and such work.

The White Horse expands on that and shows that not all is mundane in the world, and has more of a focus on the choices the PKs make and what their traits are.

Throw in the Marriage of Sir Roderick, and you get a hint of politics and court activities.

Together, I think they make for a nice introduction.

Whereas, in particular Grey Knight throws the players into the deep end. If you think the players can handle it, great, but I prefer to build up to it a bit. That being said, I could also see an argument of dropping experienced non-KAP players into it as a one-shot, just to showcase what the Arthurian questing might be all about. The downside is that it is quite hard to scale up from Grey Knight, and if you go back to Uther Period to start a campaign, things might seem pretty dull by comparison.

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On 8/16/2019 at 1:57 PM, Ellie said:

What is your number one tip for a new Pendragon GM?

Emphasise that it's fun to fail!

Seriously.  What I mean is that Pendragon is all about the dynamic between intent and nature -- the player's ambition within the game and the character's actual personality.  The two are not necessarily the same and are often at odds.  Sometimes it plays more like the Sims as you watch your character do something foolish because, well, he's actually kind of a fool that way.  That's a feature, not a bug.

In a recent game, my character was neck-and-neck in a horse race with another player, and the only chance I had to win was to invoke a Passion for inspiration -- Love of his courtly amour, who was watching the race -- for a bonus to the roll and pull ahead at the finish.  I failed the roll, fumbled it, actually.  My character let up too soon while trying to grandstand for her, couldn't get his amour's attention until the wrong moment, lost the race, and his Love score plummeted as she hid her face in embarrassment.  It was a stunning cascade of failure, culminating in Madness, and entirely in character in a way that I probably wouldn't have chosen as a player.  And it was fun, because it was the character who was failing, not me as a player.

There's been a lot of grousing over the years by players not comfortable with giving up directorial control over their character's thoughts and feelings (as opposed to, say surrendering directorial control when it comes to swinging a sword or breaking down a door), which is part of the dynamic of Pendragon and what makes it the game that it is.

!i!

[P.S. Combat mechanics are different from RQ, but that's the least of your worries.  Pendragon is all about Personality Traits and Passions.  You'll have some familiarity with those from RQG's Passions rules, but read through those sections a couple of times.  You could feasibly jettison all the physical stats and play a game based entirely on the paired Personality Traits table.]

Edited by Ian Absentia
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Passions and Virtues are the main focus of the character sheet, with Skills being secondary to this (or at least equal to them)

I originally presumed that it was the other way around, but not so. In many ways, Greg Stafford was way ahead of his time in rpg design

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I've only recently started running a game too.  The traits and passions really set Pendragon apart from other systems.  Be sure to engineer moments where two or more different traits/passions conflict when the character's making a decision.  Bonus points if they are 16+ values, because there's an extra element of compulsion.  Each of these situations will accumulate, year over year, allowing the player to make their character their own.

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On 8/19/2019 at 8:43 PM, Ringan said:

I've only recently started running a game too.  The traits and passions really set Pendragon apart from other systems.  Be sure to engineer moments where two or more different traits/passions conflict when the character's making a decision.  Bonus points if they are 16+ values, because there's an extra element of compulsion.  Each of these situations will accumulate, year over year, allowing the player to make their character their own.

This is exactly why I like this game so much. Its the drama of the knight.

How to balance his love for his family with the loyalty to his lord. Or what happens when that seductive enchantress tries to take hold of you. To you succumb to her magics or do you stay loyal to your Lady. Do you remain Just or are you merciful to the defeated foe?

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