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Ellie

When the wife of a knight dies how has your table played it?

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The death in childbirth table has me thinking. For those who have had a player's wife die how did you and the table deal with this? Did they just move on and get a new one? Did you act out her funeral rights? 

I would love to hear how people have handled this (or not) from an RP perspective. 

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I haven't had it happen in my own campaign yet.

However, when it happened years ago in the campaign my father ran there was a funeral and feast, and my character was too heartbroken to move on for at least several years (Love (wife) 18) (and note this wife (who was an heiress and beautiful and all that) was won by an arduous series of adventures, not by rolling on a table). By that point, however, his sons were looking for wives, so that was the focus. If the campaign had continued (it didn't get to the end of the story) perhaps he would have eventually married a widow?

I'm sure that any major character deserves a send-off (in a dynastic game) at least as interesting as the way they were introduced.

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1) The players had just played through the encounter with the Silchester knights and had offended one of them. We were using the charts for survival from the Book of the Entourage, and it turned out that the PK's wives was going to die by violence. I decided that this was the action of the Silchester knight, quite the dastardly deed. The PK mourned a bit, then he got his friends  together, rode to Silchester, and killed the guy. He remarried a year or so thereafter, before he was killed.

2) Another player lost his wife and went into a prolonged period of mourning, choosing not to remarry for the rest of our (short) campaign.

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1 hour ago, Ellie said:

I would love to hear how people have handled this (or not) from an RP perspective. 

RuneQuester, not knight, but this topic is good for both I think. I have never even had a PC die never mind their relatives... (must be much a softie, bad form really for a barbarian) so again, alas I am almost useless in this discussion... Time to redeem myself...

18 minutes ago, SaxBasilisk said:

1) The players had just played through the encounter with the Silchester knights and had offended one of them. We were using the charts for survival from the Book of the Entourage, and it turned out that the PK's wives was going to die by violence. I decided that this was the action of the Silchester knight, quite the dastardly deed. The PK mourned a bit, then he got his friends  together, rode to Silchester, and killed the guy. He remarried a year or so thereafter, before he was killed.

Reading this, I just had in mind a good wife watching her knight husband being cut down and where this might go, as Ellie said, from a RP perspective. Might you weigh in for the distaff side on where this might go, story wise, in your hands Ellie, or anyone really? A wee bit of a side path in not an outright derailing, but the mind is mysterious and wonderful and this is the direction it went from your great request and SaxBasilisk’s evocative tale of woe. Should we need, I would be perfectly happy to start a new topic if it this sidetrack because a train wreck. Shouldn’t though...

Cheers

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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I'd love to run a game where the woman sees her husband cut down so she takes up is cause and rides out in his name. In fact my newly created female knight might take up a similar backstory and motivation now. I think she saw her father and older brothers killed in combat and took up being a squire. Revenge always makes for easy motivation. 

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7 minutes ago, Ellie said:

I'd love to run a game where the woman sees her husband cut down so she takes up is cause and rides out in his name. In fact my newly created female knight might take up a similar backstory and motivation now. I think she saw her father and older brothers killed in combat and took up being a squire. Revenge always makes for easy motivation. 

You should read up on Jeanne de Flandres, duchess of Brittany: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joanna_of_Flanders

Edited by jeffjerwin
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52 minutes ago, Ellie said:

I'd love to run a game where the woman sees her husband cut down so she takes up is cause and rides out in his name. In fact my newly created female knight might take up a similar backstory and motivation now. I think she saw her father and older brothers killed in combat and took up being a squire. Revenge always makes for easy motivation. 

Don’t know why, but it seemed to suit the very few comments of yours I have read.Twixt your great question, wed (do not pardon the pun!) to @SaxBasilisk's comment. Magic!

Edited by Bill the barbarian
old & tired

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9 hours ago, Ellie said:

I think she saw her father and older brothers killed in combat and took up being a squire. Revenge always makes for easy motivation. 

That is pretty close to the backstory we came up for a Saxon warrior woman, who was a backup PK. Her family had been slain in a intra-Saxon feud, but she managed to escape and was squired & knighted by a Cymric Knight. Alas, we didn't really use those backup characters, so her storyline didn't get completed, but the plan was for her to get her revenge post-Badon.

But to answer the original question...

11 hours ago, Ellie said:

For those who have had a player's wife die how did you and the table deal with this? Did they just move on and get a new one? Did you act out her funeral rights? 

It depends on how much story weight and Love (Wife) Passion is involved. We don't play out the funerals even for the PKs, it is more of a matter of last words and asking their friends to look after their families.

Generally, it is expected that there is a year's mourning period. Less than this may raise some eyebrows. If the Love (Wife) was less than 16, I generally let it go at that. If it is higher than 16, I expect the PK to be in mourning, but I allow them to reduce the passion by 1 each Winter Phase, IF they choose to. They can choose to keep the passion (and gain Glory thereby), but then they will still be in mourning and will not remarry.

There are three things that make the PKs want to remarry quickly: 1) They don't have heirs yet and they need them. 2) They want to have a caretaker for their manors. 3) They want the marriage glory & dowry. If they already have plenty of heirs and especially if the first wife was someone with more of a story behind her, then the player might decide that he is fine being a widower, and is in no hurry to remarry just to get a new 'random' wife.

Since we are using the new childbirth tables I was talking about in my house rules thread, the childbirth mortality has come way down, and hence the wives are dying much less often. Indeed, it is much more common for there to be widows than widowers.

I recall three occasions from our game:

1) The wife in question was a beautiful little sister of one of the other PKs. She wasn't too keen on the marriage, but big brother pushed her to marry his friend (the husband PK). The husband did his best to try and win her affections, but I think their first child died soon after childbirth. And then at the second pregnancy, she had complications and both her and the child died. Her parting words, if I recall, were: "And now you have managed to kill me, too." The PK was a bit torn up about it.

2) In the other case, the wife was a player-lady. As it happens, she managed to catch the eye of a local faerie prince, while she was still a maiden, and was lured to his castle with the aid of a unicorn. The Faerie Prince (The Prince in White and Gold) seduced her and then returned her to the mortal world at her request. Finding herself pregnant, she married one of the PKs to preserve her reputation. However, the following year, after she had given birth to a beautiful baby girl, she was back adventuring with the lads, they saw a unicorn again, and they let her go off on her own. This time, shedidn't return, and after looking for her for a week, they returned home. The PK found out that his wife had returned, written him a letter, and left again with the baby. The letter stated her apologies, but she had fallen in love with the Faerie Prince, and she suggested that they should declare her dead, so that he could remarry. The PK decided not to remarry, and died a couple of years later, executed for treason against Prince Mark and Cornwall.

3) The third case happened just last year. The PKs had been meeting with some Faeries as part of the adventure, and the group's male Pagan PK was putting the moves on anything with a dress. He did succeed in seducing a faerie lady... who proved to be a bit more possessive over her new paramour, trying to delay his departure from the enchanted forest. When they got home, his wife mysteriously became ill and died soon thereafter (family event). There is a suspicion that a faerie curse might be behind it...

Note that only one of the above is a death in childbirth, one was a player's choice, and the last one was a family event + story thread.

Edited by Morien

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It really depends on the relationship between the PK and his wife, as marriage is rarely a matter of love. It may even be a relief if he has a Love Passion for someone else.

Politically, it may be a big problem if no living child survives, as the bond between two families is broken.

Also, remember that in Pendragon times, life expectancy is much lower than in present day, and death was seen as part of life.

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12 hours ago, Ellie said:

The death in childbirth table has me thinking. For those who have had a player's wife die how did you and the table deal with this? Did they just move on and get a new one? Did you act out her funeral rights? 

Usually, the death in childbirth come at the end of the session, with a random roll. So it's a bit more difficult to roleplay.

I remember 3 occasions from my game:

1) A knight lost his wife and his two infant sons during the same (harsh) winter. It was a marriage of reason, but there was fondness between them. The knight was heartbroken, and decided to abandon his land and left for the north with his little daughter, because he was (intimate) friend with Queen Margause. He died a few years later fighting for king Lot.

One generation later, Helen, the daugther came back to reclame her inheritance usurped by his uncle (the brother of the first character). She married later with a childhood friend, (another PK).

2) This Helen was frail like her mother, and had a difficult pregnancy. She should have die, but the husband PK decided to sacrifice a glory point (a big deal!) to save her. We had a good roleplaying scene whith him at her side, begging her to live. There still together after 15 years of marriage, with 4 healthy children.

The first player is quite pleased with his little children.

3) A PK met a warrior woman (very rare in my campaign). They fall madly in love under magical circonstances. Shortly after their wedding, she gets pregnant. She died in childbirth with their son. He mourned her during years, feeling guilty, and didn't touch any other woman. Finally, he met her again in the Other Side, and decided to stay with her (OUT OF THE STORY).

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1 hour ago, Ellie said:

@Morien all of those are wonderful storytelling! And man those parting words in the first one. Brutal. 

Thanks. And yeah, it wasn't a happy marriage.

I did manage to find another death by childbirth one...

Sara was also a sister* to a PK (a female knight this time). She got married first to one PK, and once she was widowed, she was in no hurry to remarry. In our campaign, I give the PKs more leeway with their own family members rather than make the liege lord the guardian, so when yet another PK started asking for the widow's hand, the widow was like 'no thanks, got my money, don't need no husband'. So her Big Sister (the female PK) leaned on her, HARD. Nunnery was mentioned. And not one of the upper class ones. One where she was expected to actually scrub the floors. Rather than face that, the widow decided to marry the suitor, figuring that this way, the suitor would be gone most of the time adventuring & war anyway, and she a lady of a manor with servants and such... yeah, not that bad a fate.

Then she found out (after some years) that her husband had been cheating on her, so she started flirting with one of the other PKs, who was Famous Lustful, to express her displeasure. Jealousy led to a duel challenge, the husband beating the other knight up and demanding on swordpoint for the knight to leave his wife alone. The husband PK then patched up things with his wife. She was widowed soon after that (nothing to do with her!). And this time there was no Big Sister to bully her (the sister PK had died earlier), so she lived happily as a widow, gaining a bit of a (whispered) reputation for handsome stablehands.

Some years later, a handsome PK started courting her, despite her being already around 35 years old. She was kinda missing having a husband and no doubt felt a bit flattered by the attention, so she decided to marry for the third time. She managed to give her husband a girl and a boy, but unfortunately, died in the second childbirth, at 40 years old.

EDIT: Just to clarify, she had one daughter by the first husband, I think 3 sons and 2 daughters with the second husband, and then a girl and a boy with the third husband, for a total of 8 children, all of whom survived her.

* There was a lot of marrying another PK's sister going on in the first generation. After all, most families had at least one little sister needing to be married off, so why not get a good vassal knight-to-be (fathers were still alive) as a husband?

Edited by Morien

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20 hours ago, Ellie said:

I'd love to run a game where the woman sees her husband cut down so she takes up is cause and rides out in his name. In fact my newly created female knight might take up a similar backstory and motivation now. I think she saw her father and older brothers killed in combat and took up being a squire. Revenge always makes for easy motivation. 

That's sort of a classic origin story for female warrior characters. Someone kills off her father, brother, husband, whoever, and she takes up arms and goes off for revenge. Sometimes the story includes some sort of experienced warrior as a mentor who trains the woman in the weapon skills. It would work for Pendragon, too, especially if the character is from or had to survive in the fridges of the realm where feudalism isn't as firmly entrenched yet, nor as regimented, especially among pagans and Saxons. 

I suspect the origin is more of a cultural "escape clause" for the character, a way to make her acceptable to 20th century readers/viewers. She breaks from traditional behavior of home and family because those things have been taken from her. Ironically, such a character might be more problematic for more modern people than those in the setting. 

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22 hours ago, Ellie said:

I'd love to run a game where the woman sees her husband cut down so she takes up is cause and rides out in his name.

This is exactly what happened in one of my earlier short-lived campaigns.  She was not a woman-knight, but her love for the husband was so high, the player wanted to continue on as the wife.  I might be in a similar situation in a campaign where I am a player.  But, she was not a warrior, but worked her way up very quickly in her weapon skills.  

Alas, the campaign ended before we could resolve how it came about.

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One of my players was playing a Jute with family in Kent who sought out and worked as a mercenary for the various British warlords.  He met the other player characters and they formed a friendship so he decided if he could 'out-knight' the other knights.  Took a while for him to get his horsemanship up but otherwise he fit right in.  Had trouble always explaining how he was a Jute not a Saxon but that was a nice recurring joke.  

He managed to kill an abusive knight during the anarchy who had forcefully married a widow.  He then married the woman and became her protector with the other players coming to his aid when challenged, pooling their funds to build a castle.

She died during a random winter roll after their lands had been raided while they were off fighting with Nanteleod.  He came back to find the burial had already occurred.  But the twist was that she was a pagan and he was germanic pagan.  The (rather bigoted) local priest declared how he converted her on her deathbed and gave her a proper christian burial.  (There was some anger at this, but it was in keeping of his being repressed as a Jute pagan ala the last kingdom).  

Eventually the character had an emotional scene where he visits the grave of his wife with their children and tells her the things he never did.  He then has the same priest convert him to christianity so he can see his wife in heaven.  

(Much later he married again, to an old heiress, mainly for the prestige and power and lands, but did not plan on ever having kids with her)

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