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SaxBasilisk

Running Multiple Characters per Player in Pendragon

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How do you run games with multiple characters per player in Pendragon?

Specific problems:

1) A particular year has a battle. Do all the characters usually show up? Does the player have a choice of sending or keeping away certain characters? (I assume at least one character must show, and all characters have to show at pivotal battles - but what about the less crucial ones?)

2)  Vassal knights get a lot of skill checks in the winter phase. By my reading of the end-of-year rules, household knights get one. Am I missing something? If I'm not, do you follow the rules as written, or grant more checks to them?

Thanks!

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3 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

How do you run games with multiple characters per player in Pendragon?

Players usually have a primary character, who they run most of the time, and a backup character, who they run with their primary character cannot take part in the adventure for some reason, such as injury. If the campaignhas been going for awhile a PK might have an older knight as well, but he is usally semi-retired once the player switches over to the younger character.

 

3 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

Specific problems:

1) A particular year has a battle. Do all the characters usually show up?

Not necessarily. A liege lord will need to keep some men at home to defend the place while the army is off to war. Exactly who stays and who goes is up to the lord, but the Pks can try to influence him one way orthe other.

3 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

Does the player have a choice of sending or keeping away certain characters? (I assume at least one character must show, and all characters have to show at pivotal battles - but what about the less crucial ones?)

Generally yes, although the GM as the liege lord has the final say. So depending on what the GM and players want to do a player could have one character at the battle or several. However, it is usally a good idea to leave the backup character at home so the player has a spare character to play should his primary character die in battle. 

3 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

2)  Vassal knights get a lot of skill checks in the winter phase. By my reading of the end-of-year rules, household knights get one. Am I missing something?

Probably. First off the status, vassal or household shouldn't make much of a difference regarding the number of skill checks. Both should have a similar number of opportunities during a year. 

Secondly, all characters get whatever checks the GM rewards them with during an adventure for making important skill rolls.

Thirdly, all characters can partake in the solos (if the GM allows them).  A household knight has just as much chance to serve garrison duty, get into battle or play through a lovers solo as a vassal knight.

Lastly, any checks that come from officer status would apply to a houshold knight if he were an officer. Yes, officers tend to be vassal knights, but it isn't always the case. 

So the household knight should be getting roughly the same number of checks as the vassal knights.  

 

3 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

If I'm not, do you follow the rules as written, or grant more checks to them?

Thanks!

The rules as written do no limit the number of checks received per year. Basically as written it is up to the GM to determine if a particular use of a skill merits a check. While the rules say stuff like "extraordinary use" or some such, that really just there so GMs can limit the number of checks to suit their tastes.  Greg tended to be very liberal with skill checks in his adventures and considering the way time passes in the game, I'd advise doing likewise. Even with a check every year it will take time for a character to get a skill from 15 to 20 by skill checks. 

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5 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

How do you run games with multiple characters per player in Pendragon?

I generally don't. In our campaign and in my experience (YPWV), Death happens infrequently enough and usually close enough to the end of the session, that the player has time to make a new character before the next session. It is also rare that there would be need for multiple characters, as usually that one big fight is the climax of the adventure, and the PKs have time to heal afterwards anyway. Also, it is occasionally the case that the one player whose character is all banged up can't make it into the game anyway, so it is actually a good excuse why the character stays home healing up.

Now this is not always the case, and we did have a situation after St. Albans when stuff was going down, but half of the group were still unconscious or close enough after the battle. So in this case, we did create their spares, who had been left in Salisbury to garrison it, like Atgxtg suggested, and played an adventure with them.

The problem with secondary characters is that they dilute the story, IMHO. It is already hard enough to give 6 players enough limelight within a game year to let their personalities shine through. Add the need for the secondary characters, and you either end up splitting the little time you have, or they might just as well not exist, since they are not being played*. Or you end up running twice as many adventure to give spares something to do, which gums up the works and slows the campaign even more. Now if you have less players, these problems are diminished, and the need for spares might be higher as even one knight missing from the roster is a bigger fraction of the whole 'party'.

Other than that, I pretty much agree with what Atgxtg said. If I would have a need for spares, then that is pretty much the way I would use them.

* One advantage of waiting until they are needed is that you are more free to fill in their backstory, even adding marriages and children if they are old enough for such. In particular, I tend to give the new characters a benefit of the doubt if they are old enough to have participated in some battles, and allow them to have some previous Glory from that. It helps to cushion the blow a bit, and give a sense that they were doing their bit, rather than having been always assigned to the garrison hell.

1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

Greg tended to be very liberal with skill checks in his adventures and considering the way time passes in the game, I'd advise doing likewise.

I strongly, strongly encourage being liberal with checks. As Atgxtg says, it is going to take years anyway for the characters to improve significantly. My rule of thumb is that if I call for a skill roll and it is anything else than a failure, I give a check. I sometimes even give checks without rolling: "You spent a lot of time interacting with various faeries this year, all of you, check Faerie Lore. Oh, and you spent the summer riding back and forth through Britain, check Horsemanship as well, and thanks to all the visits to various courts, Courtesy and Intrigue." I usually ask the players at the end of the year to identify a trait or a passion that they think would deserve a check, and a couple of skills that they would have been practicing on the side, as it were. Often enough these are skills that they rolled but failed at. If the game year doesn't end with a few checks in Traits and Passions and 10 or so in skills, the player has probably been missing for most of it.

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8 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

Vassal knights get a lot of skill checks in the winter phase. By my reading of the end-of-year rules, household knights get one.

Can you point me to which rules/text you are drawing from for this reading?

Thanks!

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32 minutes ago, creativehum said:

Can you point me to which rules/text you are drawing from for this reading?

I presume, Solo Scenarios, KAP 5.2 pp. 230-231 in particular.

Own Land gives three checks (Intrigue, Folk Lore, Stewardship), and potentially a Just check or a sure Arbitrary check.

Vassal Service, on the other hand, says: "For each activity, the character gains a check in any one from among a number of Skills and Traits (player’s choice)." And the subsequent lists make it clear that this is, indeed, 'pick one'.

So, assuming that the Vassal Knight is doing 'Own Land', he gets 3+1 checks, while a household knight doing 'Vassal Service' gets 1 check.

Of course, there is no rule that the household knight couldn't, say, roll 3 times for the 'Vassal Service' if the GM agrees.

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I do run games with multiple characters, in part because I have a small group (2-3 regulars) and in part because my regular players are all women and tend to prefer using a Lady as their main character. They use their character's brother or nephew as their knight and escort when getting around. The knight does the knightly stuff (tournaments, battles and challenges), while the lady makes important decisions... (They are handmaidens of the Queen, so they tend to get jobs like "take a letter here", or "represent the queen at some event", or "find Lancelot").

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@jeffjerwin I'd be very curious to hear more about your campaign & play. Do you have a campaign webpage, or would you be interested in starting a new thread discussing the Lady characters?

I understand that it is a somewhat different dynamic when you have all the players playing, primarily, Lady characters. In our group, it has been more of a case of playing a lady knight (now 3 out of 6 knights), so it mostly plays the same way as a fully male knight group would, or one has played a lady healer type. The latter is obviously different when you have 5 (usually male) knights and 1 lady healer, the lone lady being more of a support character. Although in our first GPC playthrough, she managed to become quite influential, and the PKs became more of her personal bodyguards / henchmen.

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42 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

I do run games with multiple characters, in part because I have a small group (2-3 regulars) and in part because my regular players are all women and tend to prefer using a Lady as their main character. They use their character's brother or nephew as their knight and escort when getting around. The knight does the knightly stuff (tournaments, battles and challenges), while the lady makes important decisions... (They are handmaidens of the Queen, so they tend to get jobs like "take a letter here", or "represent the queen at some event", or "find Lancelot").

That is very interesting. I'd love to hear how things pay out in such a campaign. Do you spend more time at court, or do the ladies accompany the knights on adventures? Do the ladies stay at home or in the base camp during a battle? 

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1 hour ago, Morien said:

So, assuming that the Vassal Knight is doing 'Own Land', he gets 3+1 checks, while a household knight doing 'Vassal Service' gets 1 check.

What I did here is to give the household knights a check in Intrigue (the hidden gossip), Folklore (dealing with the locals), and one/two courtly skills (as they have more time to practice). This makes up for the 3+1 skills that the Vassal knights get.  

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What others have said.  Please give us feedback on your campaign. I know Greg did not want the same player running both the knight and his wife as he felt they would be 100% in unison (or worse, they would set up arguments with themselves). 

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1 hour ago, Hzark10 said:

a check in Intrigue (the hidden gossip)

Yeah, seems strange that the vassal knight gets a check simply because the liege pays him a visit, but the household knights with the liege don't get a check.

I wouldn't give Folk Lore, as the household knights don't have to deal as much with the peasantry. Instead, I would give Courtesy as they are witnessing examples of correct courtly etiquette all the time.

Homage Lord would seem like a good one, too, as they are spending their time with the lord and hopefully finding him worthy of their loyalty (if not, I would allow a player to take -1 Homage, instead).

Then add a forth check from the Vassal Service, and done!

 

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4 hours ago, Morien said:

@jeffjerwin I'd be very curious to hear more about your campaign & play. Do you have a campaign webpage, or would you be interested in starting a new thread discussing the Lady characters?

I understand that it is a somewhat different dynamic when you have all the players playing, primarily, Lady characters. In our group, it has been more of a case of playing a lady knight (now 3 out of 6 knights), so it mostly plays the same way as a fully male knight group would, or one has played a lady healer type. The latter is obviously different when you have 5 (usually male) knights and 1 lady healer, the lone lady being more of a support character. Although in our first GPC playthrough, she managed to become quite influential, and the PKs became more of her personal bodyguards / henchmen.

 

4 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

That is very interesting. I'd love to hear how things pay out in such a campaign. Do you spend more time at court, or do the ladies accompany the knights on adventures? Do the ladies stay at home or in the base camp during a battle? 

 

One of the PCs is a skilled medic (she's a Moor with the Medicine skill) so she's generally on the scene, standing back, during fighting; she's saved the lives of several characters. They haven't gone into actual battles but in several cases the women have defended themselves when the men went down:  a giant was killed by the female PCs after the knights were badly hurt (by a bow and crossbow, they being hunting ladies). An evil knight was beheaded but he had been knocked out and the lady had criticalled her Vengeful.

We spend 1/2 our time at court. There are also secondary courts to visit on most adventures. They do go with the knights, but that's because the adventures are based on their jobs: carrying letters, finding Lancelot, accompanying the Queen when she's traveling. In the first adventure (I started in the 530s) they found Lancelot and rescued him from Sir Phelot (adapted from Malory). Obviously, it's a little unrealistic to have the Queen's servants wandering the woods considering how dangerous they are, but keep in mind that the romances have this sort of thing happening all the time: a lady recruits a knight to come with her on a dangerous errand. He does all the jousting, and she keeps track of the route and keeps him alive (kind of a like a squire, but with more agency).

There was discussion by the players of disguising themselves as men for traveling through dangerous areas, which hasn't happened yet, but since women (when the encountered NPCs are not wholly villainous) tend to be given the benefit of the doubt, there's been some excellent 'diplomatic' adventures. Another major advantage is that a Lady is much more likely to gain the trust of NPC women. They have already met (and had dinner) with Morgan Le Fay, who has a different attitude towards lone knights from ladies being escorted by knights, even if they work for her enemy Guinevere.

The biggest change in terms of the story is that the Ladies are in the thick of things in terms of awareness of Lancelot and Guinevere, and were admitted into the inner sanctum at the Castle of Maidens; this meant they are more aware of the ongoing plot, since these link to the Downfall and the Grail. The mediation of chivalry and its rules doesn't apply to Ladies: there is less need to be 'correct' and prickly on points of Honor, so dangerous situations are easier to defuse, though there have been some pointless duels started by the knights.

The main difference mechanically besides the fighting skills is the lack of armor, which is problematic when the opponent is evil. Any actual fighting they do is last ditch. I set up the adventures so there's lots of intrigue and female NPCs rather than wave after wave of ruffians and monsters. They are often doing the talking. The knight and lady combo seems to work fine when they're in synch, and these are brothers and sisters and close relations (all of the PCs are at least 2nd cousins of each other). Lady loves and Knightly loves would obviously be NPCs or the whole mystery of romance would be gone, but I could see wives and husbands being played by different players.

In general, I make sure that Personality Traits and Passions (and I'm generally aware of their stats) matter: you can't simply do what your sister tells you to, if it's uncharacteristic of your motives. But they generally have the same aims. There's also a unifying matter of everyone being related to Sir Kay, and thus having a trusted relationship with the King and Queen.

After we resolve our current adventure I will be running Meleagant's abduction of Guinevere, which will be interesting. The PCs will be defending the queen when her Maying party is attacked. We'll see if they are also taken captive or pursue the miscreant with Kay and Lancelot (and later Gawaine).

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I don't have multiple characters per player, but we are only in 487 GPC. I do have generic knights using stats from the core book that are other vassals of Earl Roderick waiting in the wings. If a PC is taken out of action for the while I just have the player play one of these (as long as I can fit them into the story) until their PC recovers. I have only had to do this once when 2 of the PK's were captured by the Saxon ambush. Other times when a PK was taken out of action it was towards the end of an adventure/battle so it didn't matter. I figure that if a backup character for a player could step up, so could a generic vassal of the Earl. My players are having enough trouble managing their one character, adding backup characters would be a nightmare.

Maybe later, when heirs come of age and the players semi-retire their main knight, I might have them keep the older knight as a backup.

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jeffjerwin,

That's very interesting. Can you elaborate a bit more of the "half time at court" stuff? 

 

The reason why I'm asking is that awhile back several of us discussed the situation with lady player characters and that as written, they are somewhat difficult to do much with. The attributes don't mean all that much, there really isn't much right now to make their skills all that effective, and they don't have many ways to get much glory. So I'm interested to see what you've done with your group to see if there is anything that might improve the situation.

Considering how often ladies tend to accompany knights in the stories, maybe lady PKs should have an NPK champion to escort them that the players could take control of to handle combats, duels and the like? 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

lady player characters and that as written, they are somewhat difficult to do much with. The attributes don't mean all that much,

So, how would you make them more of a true character?  What rules would you think need to change/be modified/added?

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9 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Considering how often ladies tend to accompany knights in the stories, maybe lady PKs should have an NPK champion to escort them that the players could take control of to handle combats, duels and the like? 

Yes.... more or less.

Other than that, which makes the romance solo for ladies a must (since usually the knightly lover would be this escort), the trick is to design adventures around the skills that ladies possess, such as Intrigue, Romance, etc... (courtly skills) and assign goals for the adventure (and Glory awards based on them) where the lady's escort's martial abilities and their own problem-solving provide the solution. Basically, all lady-oriented adventures will have 'problems' and 'solutions' that aren't necessarily addressed by combat. Also such pastimes as fashion, 'tournaments of love', 'courts of love', seeking a champion/lover etc. would have to be elaborated on and given Glory values. The model 'Ladies' in the Arthurian legends are great queens and noblewomen, usually rulers in their own right: just as with PC knights, the default lady character is the heir - though this means they usually lack surviving brothers. The other means of gaining Lady's Glory would be through serving as a handmaiden or lady in waiting to a queen. This means entanglement with the queen's private life, which might be rather adventurous.

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@jeffjerwin Thats interesting. I have two players that are about to start up lady characters. Though we're only in 506, so I was hesitant about it considering the social status of women at the time. Hoping they would wait more for the post-Arthurian period. I'll have to keep that in mind. Do you have any experience with a mixed group? Knights and Ladies?

On the topic at hand, I have all characters make a backup. You have no idea when a failed passion may make a person crazy for a session. Also, I agree with being liberal with checks. I, personally, allow double checks in extraordinary situations as a house rule. It happens rarely, maybe to one or two players every other year, but it really hasn't changed much. 

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16 hours ago, Hzark10 said:

So, how would you make them more of a true character?  What rules would you think need to change/be modified/added?

O think a combination of modifications are necessary to make lady characters viable for long term campaign play. Some initial thoughts:

  1.  Attributes need to be significant to the ladies somehow.That would mean making DEX and APP do something for ladies (just how is another topic), and I think Id use a CON roll to let ladies survive childbirth, but treat it as if they survived a mortal wound (three rolls for stat loss).
  2. Ladies should get port of the glory for actions done by knights carrying their favor/or done in their name. This will give lady PKs an in game reason and in game benefits for getting involved in things and promotes romance.Note that this won't be extra glory but come from the glory the knight would has won, as he will credit the lady for inspiring to success. This would be just like when knights share glory for defeating a foe. 
  3. Wives should get some glory (say 10%) from the actions performed by their husband. That will help to make who they marry important as well as how they can influence their husbands to earn more glory.
  4. I'd eliminate the cap on glory from marriage so that ladies would have a reason to pursue more glorious knights for marriage. If all they get is 1000 glory, then all knights are the same as far as glory is concerned. As a starting point I'd go with 1000 glory for a knight plus the award for the knights glory bracket (ordinary, notable, famous, etc.) That way marrying a Legendary knight of the round table would be worth more than marrying a young knight with 1000 glory. Titles would also stack. This way marrying a King would grant the wife 1000 for marrying a knight plus 1000 for marrying a king, plus a bonus based upon how much glory the king has. Note that titles would still be a one time thing so once a lady becomes a queen she'd get no title bonus if she were widowed and later married a Duke. I'd make the 1000 glory for marrying a knight a one time bonus as well (so from the second marriage on it would be just the bonus based on the husband's glory).
  5. I think there needs to be courtly honors and rewards that lady characters can compete for, and a method for them to gain and use influence at court to make things that they want happen (or prevent another lady from getting something that they might want). This could mostly be handled with skill and trait rolls. Roughly speaking the idea would be that influence points would could like 1000 glory for purposes of getting favors and such at court, but are expended when used, probably after the die is rolled (but maybe before to get a standard modifier would be better). For example, if a wife has earned ten points of influence, and he husband asks for permission to go off on a adventure, rolls Loyalty (lord) to get it, and his wife could lobby behind the sceneces spending 3 inflei\unce points to give him a +3 modfier, but now she only has seven points left over.

Once again the above is just some rough thoughts. As the game stands now most of what on a lady's character sheet doesn't matter much and there is little they can do to influence the game other than be a prize for a knight for marriage or lover's solo, heal a few injuries, and be the cause behind the occasional duel. If they are to be primary characters then the focus of the game needs to shift towards them. But note that most of this stuff could be ignored for a typical KAP knightly campaign, or maybe added in a simplified fashion (like giving NP wives a few influence points).

Edited by Atgxtg
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9 hours ago, Username said:

@jeffjerwin Thats interesting. I have two players that are about to start up lady characters. Though we're only in 506, so I was hesitant about it considering the social status of women at the time. Hoping they would wait more for the post-Arthurian period. I'll have to keep that in mind. Do you have any experience with a mixed group? Knights and Ladies?

I run a Romance-Grail-Downfall campaign in part to make the story interesting for Lady characters. Uther to Boy King adventures can have female characters doing things but it's, well, things like defending the manor from the Saxons in the absence of the menfolk, joining a secret witch society, or fighting the oppression of Uther's court, rather than inspiring one's knight to great deeds, engaging in fin'amor, or getting involved in the feud between Morgan and Guinevere. For female characters, the dark and gritty type game is a survival game. The romance type game gives them power.

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@jeffjerwin, your campaign sounds like great fun!

I'm running a single-player campaign, but not exactly multiple characters per player, though we may do that later once we're more comfortable with the system. At the moment, the player has one PK, and I'm running four NPKs who will mostly follow the PK's lead. These NPKs will also be something of an extra life mechanic: if the PK takes a death blow and an ally NPK is present (e.g. in a battle), I can say that the ally NPK dies instead (at least until the PK has an heir).

On 8/30/2019 at 8:20 PM, Morien said:

I strongly, strongly encourage being liberal with checks. As Atgxtg says, it is going to take years anyway for the characters to improve significantly. My rule of thumb is that if I call for a skill roll and it is anything else than a failure, I give a check. I sometimes even give checks without rolling: "You spent a lot of time interacting with various faeries this year, all of you, check Faerie Lore. Oh, and you spent the summer riding back and forth through Britain, check Horsemanship as well, and thanks to all the visits to various courts, Courtesy and Intrigue." I usually ask the players at the end of the year to identify a trait or a passion that they think would deserve a check, and a couple of skills that they would have been practicing on the side, as it were. Often enough these are skills that they rolled but failed at. If the game year doesn't end with a few checks in Traits and Passions and 10 or so in skills, the player has probably been missing for most of it.

A failure is a learning experience! :) I'd be tempted to say crits and failures get checks, myself.

 

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On 8/30/2019 at 12:34 PM, Morien said:

I wouldn't give Folk Lore, as the household knights don't have to deal as much with the peasantry. Instead, I would give Courtesy as they are witnessing examples of correct courtly etiquette all the time.

I was using the skill in the manner of gaining a benefit in communicating with the peasants. I feel that the Household Knights would not want to anger the peasants that interact with the King's service directly. But, I could easily see this as an option or maybe a choice of the two.  

Moien's other options are good as well.

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2 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

A failure is a learning experience! :) I'd be tempted to say crits and failures get checks, myself.

We did consider that, too. However, we felt that it might result in players 'shopping' for rolls in their low skills just to get the check, and make it very hard to get a check in their high skills that really need the checks to advance.

We do give checks on Fumbles, which to us reflects more of a 'I won't do that again!' than a failure, which is more 'I dunno'. :)

1 hour ago, Hzark10 said:

the Household Knights would not want to anger the peasants that interact with the King's service directly.

My point was that the household knights would not be the contact point, usually. Instead, it would be the stewards and bailiffs. Sheriffs, sure, but that is an actual royal office, not a normal household knight (and often was a baron or a landed knight). Whereas the landed knight is communicating with his peasants almost all the time he is at home, listening to their concerns, judging their disputes at manorial court... He simply gets much more exposure and personal interaction with the peasants than a household knight (whether royal or baronial one). By contrast, the household knight would be spending his time at the baronial or royal court (not always the case, there are patrols and garrison duties, too, but still), interacting with his liege lord on daily basis, witnessing visiting knights and nobles... A much better case for Courtesy than for Folk Ken, IMHO. YPWV. :)

 

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7 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

A failure is a learning experience! :) I'd be tempted to say crits and failures get checks, myself.

 

It can be, but depending on what you are trying to learn it could take a certain amount of knowledge before someone could learn something significant from a failure. For example, if you don't know anything about a language then you could try to read it for years and not pick up anything. 

But as far as general play goes, most skills are attempted multiple times, so getting a check isn't all that hard. The hard bit is the roll to improve, once someone has gotten good.

 

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5 hours ago, Morien said:

By contrast, the household knight would be spending his time at the baronial or royal court (not always the case, there are patrols and garrison duties, too, but still), interacting with his liege lord on daily basis, witnessing visiting knights and nobles... A much better case for Courtesy than for Folk Ken, IMHO.

Not at all, and it is a good point.  I will take your advice on this one. 

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5 hours ago, Morien said:

My point was that the household knights would not be the contact point, usually. Instead, it would be the stewards and bailiffs. Sheriffs, sure, but that is an actual royal office, not a normal household knight (and often was a baron or a landed knight). Whereas the landed knight is communicating with his peasants almost all the time he is at home, listening to their concerns, judging their disputes at manorial court... He simply gets much more exposure and personal interaction with the peasants than a household knight (whether royal or baronial one). By contrast, the household knight would be spending his time at the baronial or royal court (not always the case, there are patrols and garrison duties, too, but still), interacting with his liege lord on daily basis, witnessing visiting knights and nobles... A much better case for Courtesy than for Folk Ken, IMHO. YPWV. :)

 

Which would suggest that landed knights should be more likely to get a Folk Lore check than a household knight, due to the greater interaction. 

 

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