Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Tizun Thane

Things you dislike in the GPC

Recommended Posts

I love the GPC, but of course, nothing is perfect. 3 things I dislike and will never use in my campaign:

  • The horrible railroad sometimes. My players want freedom, and KAP is especially about choices.
  • The betrayal of Sir Kay. I despise this plot twist. It's from Perlesvaus, a fun book, but non-canonical with the rest. I love the canonical Kay, full of sarcams and bravado, but ultimately loyal to Arthur. A gray character and a fun one. #NotmyKay
  • the Kidnapping of Arthur by Annowre.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pretty much in agreement, although a lot depends on the GM, too. Anarchy is especially fun since it gives much more freedom for the PKs to influence alliances etc. And while the grand outline us there, nothing says that the details can't vary.

I disliked the Kay downfall as well so in our old campaign, I didn't even introduce Arthur's sons (even Mordred's true parentage remained unknown). Kay died during the Grail Quest, which allowed me to run some more warfare in France as the result.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One item I'm still debating whether to include is Arthur's Irish campaign.  GPC's presentation of Arthur as a just and righteous king (most of the time, mind you) doesn't quite square with the long and problematic history of Anglo-Irish relations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, SaxBasilisk said:

One item I'm still debating whether to include is Arthur's Irish campaign.  GPC's presentation of Arthur as a just and righteous king (most of the time, mind you) doesn't quite square with the long and problematic history of Anglo-Irish relations.

Anglo-Normans were not that bad. It is once the conflict became religious and political (the Tudors and then the Stuarts) that things really took a turn for the worse.

Arthur invades in support of King of Leinster. Basically bops the High King of Ireland on the nose and tells him to behave, before returning to Logres. You could easily drop the speculative grants out of it and then it would be just the Irish Kings fighting amongst themselves, possibly with Cymric mercenary knights, as already happens in the 520s.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

One item I'm still debating whether to include is Arthur's Irish campaign.  GPC's presentation of Arthur as a just and righteous king (most of the time, mind you) doesn't quite square with the long and problematic history of Anglo-Irish relations.

I downplayed this part too, as Morien suggested, with only the 530 campaign to teach Irish a lesson. There was decades of piratry too to punish.

6 hours ago, Username said:

My biggest gripe is Gareth's non-mentioning. Definitely the biggest to me. Though I'm also not fond of Kay's treatment in the end.

The whole adventure is supposed to happen in 532? I read it somewhere (in the old forum?).

I think it's wonderful to see each GM adapting the GPC to his own needs, and it's still working.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I think it's wonderful to see each GM adapting the GPC to his own needs, and it's still working.

Well, most of us were running Pendragon before the GPC, and so have already gotten into the habit of adapting the timeline. The GPC is really just the Pendragon campaign, expanded and fleshed out. In a way, I wish the old PC was reprinted/including with the GPC in order to show how loose the timeline really is. Probably the biggest complaint I've read about the GPC is that is is a straitjacket that forces GMs to run the campaign a certain way. What the old PC revealed, with things such as the alternate dates for the kidnapping of Guinevere, was that the timeline was only one way of stringing the events together- not the "one true way". Mind you the GPCs timing and decisions made are very sound, but the GPC is really just a guideline, not a directive.

 

 

Edited by Atgxtg
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Username said:

My biggest gripe is Gareth's non-mentioning. Definitely the biggest to me.

Can I ask more about this? Gareth is obviously mentioned. Are you pointing at the lack of his story being told regarding his humble beginnings, being tested, and being knighted?

21 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

The betrayal of Sir Kay. I despise this plot twist. It's from Perlesvaus, a fun book, but non-canonical with the rest. I love the canonical Kay, full of sarcams and bravado, but ultimately loyal to Arthur. A gray character and a fun one. #NotmyKay

I hadn't read far enough into the GPC to know this! And like others, I'm not that fond of it. 

I think I see why Greg introduced this boat-load of possible heirs and then killed them off. First, there's no heir, and that's bad. And then there are many heirs. And that's good! And then, slowly, the numbers start dwindling, and what was good fortune becomes the press of tragedy. 

But dragging in Kay as a traitor is an odd choice. (When I tracked down the events of Kay's killing of Loholt in the GPC yesterday after reading this thread my first assumption was he killed the prince by accident! I coudn't imagine him doing it on purpose. Of course, Greg is aware the whole thing might strike people as odd... and suggests that Kay might have killed the prince by accident!)

My first instinct was to cut Loholt out of the campaign and avoid the whole problem. But then I asked, "But why did Greg do this?" And I arrived at the notes above. Upon reflection, I'll keep Loholt and go with my first instinct about how he died at Kay's hand.

I think the notion that Kay, thinking he had done a great thing (finding the giant "asleep," hacking off its head to keep it dead), unwittingly beheads Loholt with the same stroke, That Kay is so proud In his deed only to discover a terrible error is very Malory. 

_______

As far as the railroading goes (and I say this as someone who hasn't used the GPC in play yet) I would love to hear more about this. What instances are in the book? How did the Players handle them? (I ask in part because I see places which might seem like railroading, but in the specific nature of KAP's rules work well with the game's strengths. So I want to hear more about this.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, creativehum said:

As far as the railroading goes (and I say this as someone who hasn't used the GPC in play yet) I would love to hear more about this. What instances are in the book?

The beginning of the campaign especially. The first years...

34 minutes ago, creativehum said:

I think the notion that Kay, thinking he had done a great thing (finding the giant "asleep," hacking off its head to keep it dead), unwittingly beheads Loholt with the same stroke, That Kay is so proud In his deed only to discover a terrible error is very Malory. 

It doesn't appear in Malory. The only source is in Perlesvaus (from the famous Anonymous). Loholt slayed the giant. He felt magically asleep just after (some kind of "post-berserker" magical sleep). Kay came and killed by treachery the brave Loholt in his sleep. It was no accident of course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, creativehum said:

Can I ask more about this? Gareth is obviously mentioned. Are you pointing at the lack of his story being told regarding his humble beginnings, being tested, and being knighted?

His death is mentioned at the hands of Lancelot as well as him being a good guy knight, but his whole story and accomplishments aren't there. He should at least have a few comments in the sections. As well as an introductory scene similar to Perceval where you run into him in Camelot as kitchen staff and then another where he leaves for his adventure. As it is, there's the presumption that the players should be upset about his death, but there's really no reason to be. Gareth is a big name knight, definitely in the same category of fame as Lamorak (as a character not as a knight in KAP), but he's not present. 

14 minutes ago, creativehum said:

My first instinct was to cut Loholt out of the campaign and avoid the whole problem. But then I asked, "But why did Greg do this?" And I arrived at the notes above. Upon reflection, I'll keep Loholt and go with my first instinct about how he died at Kay's hand.

This was mine in regards to all of the heirs as well, but I also came to the same conclusion as you. Kay must have killed Loholt by accident because, in my opinion, Kay loves Arthur too much to kill his son purposefully and he would despair too much at the shame of the deed. Besides, Kay has been functionally retired from adventuring for many years at the point of Loholt's death. He goes on surprisingly few adventurs when he was young. So, it seems very out of character for him to be so mad with glory as to kill Loholt purposefully, but accidentally and then fleeing from the shame of it? Trying to hide it from Arthur as well, all seems very real. Why I think the heirs are introduced is because my players, like I think most players of KAP, have a passing familiarity of the Arthurian legend as most people do these days. They know Lancelot, Gawaine, Arthur, Guinevere, and Mordred. They know the general arc, and that Arthur dies with no children to carry on his legacy. So, I think the heirs are introduced as a red herring. To give the players the hope that they can save Arthur's reign to change the legend and ensure a happy ending. It also gives the GM a chance to allow that happy ending where there's a continuation of the legacy of Arthur or at least the stability of Arthur's reign through one of his sons.

21 minutes ago, creativehum said:

As far as the railroading goes (and I say this as someone who hasn't used the GPC in play yet) I would love to hear more about this. What instances are in the book? How did the Players handle them? (I ask in part because I see places which might seem like railroading, but in the specific nature of KAP's rules work well with the game's strengths. So I want to hear more about this.)

I would say the whole GPC is a railroad. Every event is laid out year by year, the outcome of battles, the adventures, the deaths, the crowning of Arthur, the death of Uther. Very little agency is allowed to the player to change the legend. These things will happen.

But, I would say a few things to that.

One, I don't think the GPC railroads your game unless the GPC is your campaign. By that I mean, if your focus is on the grand political world or national or international drame and not the character drama of your players then it's very railroad-y. We're midway through 515 at this point and I'm sure if I asked the players what their highlights were they'd be something like (all player names coming up) Galahad's tremendous fame and 25 kids. Gwfferfawr single handedly defeating a witch and marching through the swamp carrying Krullmyre who was nearly slain by the personification of his vices. Brien raising orphans as sergeants to replace his loses in the Anarchy. Our group losing 35% of it's members slaying a dragon that burnt down a players manor twice. All of those stories occurred with the GPC as the backdrop and it provided context and background for it, but not the storyline itself. Our story has been on the players as individual actors with their own limited sphere of influence not on the world and the players have, and I think they would agree, a lot of agency in their own storyline. 

Two, my players have loved the GPC. Many of these players had never done anything other than D&D and some have told me that KAP was their favorite RPG they've played. Everyone practically cheered when Arthur arrove on the scene. They try to avoid "spoilers" of the GPC because they enjoy the story that's happening in the background. I think that alone speaks volumes to the value the GPC has. 

Three, as a disclaimer, I never got to speak to Greg so I can't say this for sure, but from everything I've heard, I would say he didn't intend for the GPC to be followed verbatim. I think he would have rather seem the GPC used as a framework and a place for ideas while allowing changes to the storyline to be made. I believe he'd rather have seen people do what they wanted then feel like they have to do what a book says.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Tizun Thane said:

It doesn't appear in Malory. The only source is in Perlesvaus (from the famous Anonymous). Loholt slayed the giant. He felt magically asleep just after (some kind of "post-berserker" magical sleep). Kay came and killed by treachery the brave Loholt in his sleep. It was no accident of course.

I'm a bit confused by this statement. 

First, yes, it doesn't appear in Malory. I'm aware of that. Which is why I was surprised by this element and had to look it up.

Second, if I say it was an accident... then... it was an accident, yes? That's what I assumed had happened when I read the details on p. 298 of the GPC. And then. On p. 299 of the GPC Greg offers a note the gamemasters saying the GM will have to decide exactly what happened, with it being an accident being a possibility. After all, in the GPC Kay does no further acts of treachery. It is all up to the GM to decide what happened before the reveal of Loholt's death and what actions Kay will take subsequently. 

I understand that for you it can't possibly be an accident. But I think we can agree we can disagree on this. Even if, as I suppose you might think, such an interpretation as offered by the GPC or myself is stupid and nonsensical!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Username said:

As it is, there's the presumption that the players should be upset about his death, but there's really no reason to be. Gareth is a big name knight, definitely in the same category of fame as Lamorak (as a character not as a knight in KAP), but he's not present. 

Got it. Thanks. And yes, I agree. 

And thank you for the rest of your lovely, thoughtful post.

Your handling of the GPC as background is how I approach it as well. It is like using WWII as a backdrop of American grunts in an RPG making their way across Europe. Yes, there is a whole theater of politics and grand strategy going on... but what matters to the PC is their specific adventures, struggles, incidents, and lives.

But then I see KAP and the GPC as an extension of how Malory built Le Morte D'Arthur. I can read the stories of Balin or Tristram and be completely caught up in them... but these stories aren't about the sweep of Arthur's rule and all the political shenanigans that, just as in the GPC, serve as background for the stories of these knights. 

I see KAP and the GPC as tools for the GM and Players to creature "other books" from Malory that he did not include, telling the tales of specific knights that's Arhtur's rule made possible, but are not about Arthur's rule.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, creativehum said:

As far as the railroading goes (and I say this as someone who hasn't used the GPC in play yet) I would love to hear more about this. What instances are in the book? How did the Players handle them? (I ask in part because I see places which might seem like railroading, but in the specific nature of KAP's rules work well with the game's strengths. So I want to hear more about this.)

The trial for treason for helping Merlin is probably the most blatant and worse instance. The PKS end up helping Merlin escape with the baby Arthur, and the Gm is supposed to put the PKS at Uther's mercy and have them barely get off charges of treason when everyone makes Merlin the scapegoat and claim that he must have ensorcelled everybody into helping him.

I can see why Greg added it. It is one of the few instances where the PKS can take center stage in a big event. It also works out well story wise,  I suspect the whole thing was really a put up job to hide Arthur's whereabouts (in Mallory Uther knows Arthur is with Sir Ector) and getting people interested in Arthur to try and follow Merlin aboard. But from a gaming standpoint it's not all that great. The PKs get asked to help out by Merlin, which has worked out well for them in the past, only to be accused of treason, and later found innocent, without really doing anything in the adventure. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

The PKs get asked to help out by Merlin, which has worked out well for them in the past, only to be accused of treason, and later found innocent, without really doing anything in the adventure. 

This is all very true and I forgot about it. It went ok the first time for me, but just barely. Honestly, I think this adventure could end as a huge bust because of it's railroading and I'm thankful I lucked out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/9/2020 at 9:10 AM, Tizun Thane said:

I love the GPC, but of course, nothing is perfect. 3 things I dislike and will never use in my campaign:

  • The horrible railroad sometimes. My players want freedom, and KAP is especially about choices.
  • The betrayal of Sir Kay. I despise this plot twist. It's from Perlesvaus, a fun book, but non-canonical with the rest. I love the canonical Kay, full of sarcams and bravado, but ultimately loyal to Arthur. A gray character and a fun one. #NotmyKay
  • the Kidnapping of Arthur by Annowre.

There is a solution to Kay's action and motivations that I am working on for Chaosium. Kay's killing of Loholt/Llacheu is also in Welsh legend so it's not as non-canon as you might think.

Gareth's adventure takes place when he is young, in the 520s. He's newly knighted in the Tale after all. I wonder if it was left out because it would make a smashing solo adventure for a PK.

Annowre comes from the Prose Tristan and it essentially replaces the False Guinevere story. That one would probably piss off even more people. (Arthur is tricked into believing that Guinevere is an imposter and that he really married her half-sister, and basically kicks out Guinevere and becomes a tyrant under the false Guinevere's influence. The realm is excommunicated but finally Arthur sees the light when the false Guinevere gets sick (God's punishment) and dies. It's a satire/critique of Philippe Augustus' repudiation of his first wife and remarriage (against Papal wishes) and final return to her after being faced with the interdict. While 'divorced' from Arthur Guinevere consummates her relationship with Lancelot (this detail replaces the consummation during the Abduction to Gorre as in Chretien, which is a better story).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

The trial for treason for helping Merlin is probably the most blatant and worse instance. The PKS end up helping Merlin escape with the baby Arthur, and the Gm is supposed to put the PKS at Uther's mercy and have them barely get off charges of treason when everyone makes Merlin the scapegoat and claim that he must have ensorcelled everybody into helping him.

I can see why Greg added it. It is one of the few instances where the PKS can take center stage in a big event. It also works out well story wise,  I suspect the whole thing was really a put up job to hide Arthur's whereabouts (in Mallory Uther knows Arthur is with Sir Ector) and getting people interested in Arthur to try and follow Merlin aboard. But from a gaming standpoint it's not all that great. The PKs get asked to help out by Merlin, which has worked out well for them in the past, only to be accused of treason, and later found innocent, without really doing anything in the adventure. 

 

 

This is why I had my player characters take Arthur all the way to Penllyn (avoiding or defeating trouble en route) rather than have Merlin do it. Of course they didn't work for Uther in my campaign... they worked for Igraine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/9/2020 at 5:21 PM, SaxBasilisk said:

One item I'm still debating whether to include is Arthur's Irish campaign.  GPC's presentation of Arthur as a just and righteous king (most of the time, mind you) doesn't quite square with the long and problematic history of Anglo-Irish relations.

It's also not really important in the romances. Arthur is sometimes friends with the 'King of Ireland' but often his enemy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Username said:

My biggest gripe is Gareth's non-mentioning. Definitely the biggest to me. Though I'm also not fond of Kay's treatment in the end.

Gareth's death is sensitive in the texts because he's friends with both Gawaine (his brother) and Lancelot... he's immune to the politicking. One thing to keep in mind is that Gareth and Gaheris were originally one character. Gaheris arguably has a bit more story going on in the GPC.

In fact, 'Gaheriet' is the usual name for Gareth, as opposed to Gaheris (Guerrehet). It was Gaheriet/Gareth who killed his own mother (in the Prose Tristan: Malory changes this); he is then attacked by his other brothers, except by Gaheris/Guerrehet, who protects him and dissuades them from avenging her. He also witnesses Li Morholt/Marhaus's duel with Tristram and reports the death of Marhaus to the rest of the Round Table, as well as the astonishing prowess of the Cornish youth. Aside from declining the crown of Orkney (offered to him by Arthur) until the Grail is achieved, Gareth is simply not given much of a story. We are simply told that he was the best of the brothers, and the best-loved by the court for his kindness and handsome physique. It's up to the game master to present him as worthy of admiration. The easiest way is for him to intervene on the part of PKs and PLs that are being treated badly by Mordred or Agravaine, and for him to speak up in defense of Lancelot when people express their envy or resentment against him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@jeffjerwin Gareth is assuredly not as woven into the tale as well as Gaheris, in that he makes less frequent appearances where as Gaheris appears in and out through many books, but Gareth has a whole book devoted to him and I feel he has a much greater role and more story than Gaheris.

In Malory, I feel like his role in his tale with Lyonette versus the colored knights, as a servant and then his death at the hands of Lancelot give him a much greater role and stronger characterization than Gaheris. I think we spend enough time with Gareth in Malory to firmly put him in the second class of heroes. Below Arthur, Tristam, Lancelot, Gawaine, Galahad, and Percival. But greater than a majority of the others. Dinadin, Lamorak, and Palomedes seem to be in a comparable place in terms of time spent with the characters. Gaheris though is rather forgettable except for his slaying of his mother.

As to the separation of Gaheris and Gareth, I'd be interested in hearing why you think that was done.

Reading through your post again, it seems like your speaking of him in the Vulgate as being less influential than his brother? Do you think he's given less story in Malory compared to his brother as well?

Edit: I also wonder if Gareth's adventure was left out to be a solo adventure. It would make for a great one. And fits in line with what can happen with Dolorous Gard.

Edited by Username
Added comment and fixed misspelling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Username said:

@jeffjerwin Gareth is assuredly not as woven into the tale as well as Gaheris, in that he makes less frequent appearances where as Gaheris appears in and out through many books, but Gareth has a whole book devoted to him and I feel he has a much greater role and more story than Gaheris.

In Malory, I feel like his role in his tale with Lyonette versus the colored knights, as a servant and then his death at the hands of Lancelot give him a much greater role and stronger characterization than Gaheris. I think we spend enough time with Gareth in Malory to firmly put him in the second class of heroes. Below Arthur, Tristam, Lancelot, Gawaine, Galahad, and Percival. But greater than a majority of the others. Dinadin, Lamorak, and Palomedes seem to be in a comparable place in terms of time spent with the characters. Gaheris though is rather forgettable except for his slaying of his mother.

As to the separation of Gaheris and Gareth, I'd be interested in hearing why you think that was done.

Reading through your post again, it seems like your speaking of him in the Vulgate as being less influential than his brother? Do you think he's given less story in Malory compared to his brother as well?

Edit: I also wonder if Gareth's adventure was left out to be a solo adventure. It would make for a great one. And fits in line with what can happen with Dolorous Gard.

If anything, Gaheris/Guerrehet has even less to do with his brother. The reason for their development into different characters is that they are both attempts to render the Breton name Guerec or Waroc'h into French, and the lack of a standard orthography. Neither character was originally a son of Lot, but 'Waroc'h' was a Breton hero whose father was Macliau or Meliau and it appears that the prefix map- or mac- (son of) was read into that name, giving us 'Guerrehet' or 'Gaheriet' the son of 'Lou' (W. Llew = Lot). Thus stories about a single figure got interwoven into Arthurian legend. Another character developed out of Waroc'h was Erec, and if you compare the Tale of Gareth to Chretien's Erec you can see the similarities. The Bel Inconnu is derived from the same oral source, but there the character is Guiglain, the son of Gawaine; so too is 'Garel' (whose name is even closer). So the core story is the Tale (or really, its antecedents). Another story that I suspect was originally told about this character became the Tale of Caradues (aka Caradoc short-arm), which is set in Waroc'h's kingdom of Vannes, given the mention of Gaheris having a 'short-arm' in the prose Charette.

It has enough versions that we can assume that it was part of the standard repertoire of a Breton conteur.

Gaheris only has a slightly higher profile in Malory because he made Gaheris the killer of his mother, rather than the 'good' brother. The Post-Vulgate has a certain enthusiasm for casting even the heroes in a darker light and this was no doubt a deliberate choice: for the author of the PV, tragedy was the consequence of sin (even or especially accidental sin) and matricide was the justification for Gareth/Gaheriet's death at the hand of Lancelot (also a manslaughter in the fit of passion). In Malory, Gareth is entirely innocent. There are no innocents in the PV: everyone, the kingdom as a whole, is stained with sin.

The chief problem with not giving Dolorous Garde to Lancelot in the GPC is that the well written section of the Morte (French Morte, that is) where Arthur besieges him and Lancelot chooses exile and tells Guinevere to go back to him is taken out of its thematic context. Lancelot surrenders the castle that is the symbol of his greatest conquest and the place where he discovered his own name and destiny, essentially choosing, at that moment, the path that ends with him becoming a monk. Only Gawaine's insistent desire for revenge for Gareth's death causes Arthur to pursue Lancelot, which allows Mordred to seize power in his absence. To recreate this scene without Dolorous/Joyous Garde means the confrontation takes place somewhere else with no connection to the hero.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too many battles. I understand why. But it gets ridiculous. Particularly in Early and Conquest eras. GPC Uther's FIRST year is an battle. And that's probably really annoying for first time players. That's better off being moved to a different year. Boy King features a LOT of battles but that makes sense. But the Conquest era also being an era full of battles feels very repetitive right after the Boy King era. That one can be easily fixed, at least, by just making it so Arthur allows some knights to stay behind to defend the realm from any Saxton Bandits who survived the massive battles during the Boy King Era/Bad Bandits in general/Weird magical monsters, that may use Arthur's business with invading Rome/Ireland/France as an opportunity to fuck stuff up. But still, not a great idea. 

I also feel there are too many years that describe a bunch of stuff that isn't all that interesting to be in for the players because they're mostly just talking to NPCs. There's a few years in the Boy King era where not much occur, but there's one where it's literally just going to random gatherings of important arthurian figures and all you do is view them talking, I understand the importance of "Plot" BUT not every player is going to be that into them to care about everything involve. In particular if it's just talking. 

If there is ever an GPC 2nd edition, I feel an focus on including different dates/ways certain events can occur would be useful for people who want to do explore different interpretations of it, or people who need an less long campaign due to real life issues. 

And to include it's Index. 

You can't forget a good index. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Redmoongodess said:

Uther's FIRST year is an battle. And that's probably really annoying for first time players.

At a convention panel Greg said that making the first year a battle was a mistake, as it dumps first time players into a bunch of rules disconnected from what they expect an RPG to be. He suggests pushing off the first battle until at least the second year of play.

As for the number of battles, I can't speak to that since I haven't had a chance to run a KAP Campagin I do know I've enjoyed running the Battle System in the past. But I only need so much Battle System! After discussions on this site about the matter, I think I'll be leaning on the Battle System in the core rules and delay or never get around to using the Book of Battles. I'd rather the battle be a part of an evening's play... but not the whole night.

The GPC Index was cut due to the length of the book (and the Index is really long!). But it was recently posted as a PDF.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Username said:

This is all very true and I forgot about it. It went ok the first time for me, but just barely. Honestly, I think this adventure could end as a huge bust because of it's railroading and I'm thankful I lucked out.

Probably not all that likely to end up as a huge bust. More like one that will upset the players, and make them less supportive of Uther, and less trusting of the GM. I'm not fond of the version of Uther in the GPC or in BoU I think that Greg followed the film Excalibur a bit too closely by making Uther a bad king..

 

11 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

This is why I had my player characters take Arthur all the way to Penllyn (avoiding or defeating trouble en route) rather than have Merlin do it. Of course they didn't work for Uther in my campaign... they worked for Igraine.

 That is an interesting take. Did Igraine defend them at court, or was she out for blood per the GPC? THe act, and the response can have quite an effect on how the story plays out.

For my part, I think the Merlin steals the baby" thing is really just a cover to make people believe that Arthur is being raised oversees so they won't look for him in Britain. The trial is a complete sham and no one is in any real danger of being found guilty.

One of the things that I dislike about the trial is that it takes Merlin away from St. Albans, where he was really the one to get Uther out of bed, lead the troops, and declare Arthur as his heir. With Merlin commended to death in the GPC  it makes the latter situation from Mallory much more difficult. Someone, perhaps aPK is going to try and cut him down long before he gets to Uther. 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Redmoongodess said:

I also feel there are too many years that describe a bunch of stuff that isn't all that interesting to be in for the players because they're mostly just talking to NPCs. There's a few years in the Boy King era where not much occur, but there's one where it's literally just going to random gatherings of important arthurian figures and all you do is view them talking, I understand the importance of "Plot" BUT not every player is going to be that into them to care about everything involve. In particular if it's just talking.

Oh... and I wanted to add something about this. (And Redmoongoddes, I am not addressing this specifically to you, but to anyone approaching the strange RPG project that is the GPC, as well as typing out notes to myself to make things clear to myself I have sort out.)

I know that when I first flipped through the GPC and read a few specific years I had the same reaction. I thought it would be about jamming the PKs (and thus the Players) from one set-piece to the next.

What gave me a different perspective was reading the Introduction to the book. Several times. I cannot stress how important and valuable the introduction to the The Great Pendragon Campaign is to a Pendragon GM.

In it Greg makes it clear there is too much material in the GPC for it all to be used during a campaign. Especially if one is using the structure of one year equals one to two sessions of play. One literally cannot get everything written in most years into a session of play. 

The Introduction makes several further points that are vital to running the campaign.

Quote

This book is not the game, but the stuff behind the game. The real game is the story of the player characters, but they are set against a medieval backdrop that provides all the static parts of the world: castles, armor, tapestries of heroes surrounding the feast hall, and so on.

The GPC is what goes on while the player knights are living their lives. There, where the player characters are living their lives in the midst of the fantastic Arthurian world, is the real game.

[emphasis added]

Looking at this we can see that even though the book is stuffed with countless details, potential adventures, scripted notes, and more... what matters most in a Great Pendragon Campaign in play is what is not in the book. This cannot be emphasized enough. What matters most in during any group's playing of the GPC is what the Players and the GM create together in the choices, actions, defeats, and triumphs of the Player Knights. And none of that exists until it is created session by session.

Thus, the PKs might miss a battle or two as they are caught up in other events. They might not catch every detail at court, or be present at every meeting to overhear what important NPCs are saving. That said, the impact of the battle they missed, or the impact of court gossip they missed can have a terrible or great impact on their lives as the fallout from what the court was talking about echoes across Salisbury and Britain.

The rest of the Introduction continues with solid advice about how to run the Campaign, as well as suggesting the GM switch things up, skip years and do several Winter Phases in a given session, make dramatic changes to the campaign based on the choices and actions of the Player Knights, and so on. Again, I cannot stress, the Introduction to the GPC is vital not only to its use, but how best to use it.

________________________

A couple of more points:

Greg was there at the earliest days of the RPG history. His expectations of what constitutes a published "Adventure" are very different than the exceptions that gathered in the subsequent decades. If one buys an adventure today, one expects it to be detailed, thought out, and ready to play right there and then. But if you look at adventures published in the first decade of the hobby (GDW's Traveller adventures, for example, or RuneQuest's The Haunted Ruins) one finds more than anything else a lot of inspiration for adventures that a) the GM will have to built out before play; and b) will most be discovered through play based on the actions and choices of the PCs.

The GPC is built with this style of adventure design in mind. It doesn't provide everything. Everything won't be used. And ultimately it is a lot of material for the GM to sift through and grow adventures from. For example the Uther Period Adventures found on pages 65-69 offer countless hours of game play (to the degree that getting in all the Uther Period Events crammed into those 10 years of play might be a challenge!). But on that other hand, each "Adventure" needs to be opened up, detailed, attached to specific Player Knights to be effective, and so on. 

The "Adventures" in the GPC need to be opened up to make sure the focus of the game is on the Player Knights. Advice on how to do this, and why to do this, is sprinkled across the GPC. Which is a pain in the neck, really. But I'm not sure how else it could have been written.

In the same way, the "tightly scripted" events of the Boy King Period need to always be opened up with details that provide specific focus for the Player Knights. By the time the Boy King Phase rolls around, one or more of the PKs will be in romantic rivalries with NPC Knights. One or more of the PKs will be in a rolling blood feud with another family (from Silchester; from the Anarchy Period; from somewhere). The PKs will have fathers of daughters they want to impress; apologies they might want to make; acts of atonement that weigh on them. 

All of these details might not lead to a lot of action on the part of the PKs. But it will certainly resonate with them, making sure that whatever is going on has specific moments and details that tie directly to the lives to the PKs.

________________________

A final point: While Pendragon is without doubt a game about choices, it is also, strangely, a reactive game. All sorts of things (people, monsters, magic, deaths, births, enemies, and more) abruptly fly toward the PKs and test them to see if their Traits are triggered or the Passions stirred. (I call these moments "pinches" as they offer a PC a chance to react and jump, or remain stoic, or whatever.)

Even if the Knights do not take action, we certainly can learn about who the Knights are. (When I run Pendragon I am constantly asking my Players, "How do you feel about that?") Which Trait they choose to respond with tells us as much as when a Trait roll is made. So when all these events are happening around them, there is a great deal that will impact the Knights and give them a chance to reveal details of their Knights to the group even if some of this reaction might only fire off after key events, like the drawing of the sword from the stone, is completed.

For example, the infamous Treason Trial has always intrigued me for two reasons.

First, there is this moment in the text: 

Quote

At this point, the Gamemaster should ask two things: (i) What does each knight wish to say for himself, and (ii) What one attribute will he use to achieve success in delivering that message? Appropriate attributes may be Courtesy, Orate, Just, Loyalty (Uther), or whatever else might convince the listeners.

I find this fascinating because it offers each PK a chance to define who they are what what they value about themselves in front of the biggest most important audience they might ever have in their lives. The Knight who makes his case with Courtesy is a very different Knight than a Knight who makes his case with Just. A Knight who appeals with his Loyalty to Uther is a very different Knight than the Knight who makes a logical case with Orate. The Knights present themselves in this moment, their lives hanging on the line. It is a chance to Crit, be remembered, and gain Glory (even if they end up executed!) Or they could botch it all, make fools of themselves.

And then, even if they do, both Sir Elad and the Earl of Salisbury back them!

Quote

When the knights are finished, Elad speaks of the good reputation and deeds done by these knights. He closes with the statement, “In these dangerous times, my lord, veteran knights are needed,” and says the Earl of Salisbury gives his word on the honor and trustworthiness of these men.

Courtesy. (Success = You realize this is actually a very dangerous thing for Salisbury to have done, for he has committed to the cause of the knights, even if Uther is against them.)

What does it mean to the PKs to have these men risk their reputations for them? Will the PKs raise their Loyalty to Roderick during the Winter Phase if they can? Will they serve him with more integrity and effort? Put their lives on the line for a risky adventure on his behalf? Who knows? It is up to the Players to sort this out for the PCs... but the "pinch" of the loyalty offered by Elad and Salisbury gives the Players a chance to react as they wish in long term ways that can be quite fascinating if the Players seize the opportunity.

(For what it is worth, I consider these two passages the crux of the Treason Trial, not all the NPC trial shenanigans swirling around them.)

In the same way, once Uther makes his ruling, the Knights have more "pinches." What do they think of Uther tossing Merlin aside? Reasonable? An act of betrayal? What do they think of Uther now? Is he still be trusted if he treats his Enchanter like this? Especially in contrast to how Elad and Salisbury treated the Knights? 

You can bet that as a GM I'll be asking the Knights, "What do you think about Merlin having a death sentence put on him? What do you think of Uther now?"

I won't have any expectation of what the Knights will say. After all, so much of it will depend on what their relationship with Merlin or with Uther up to this point. But by asking I point the arrows of the campaign back at the Player Knights. It might look like all this scripted material is "floating around" the PKs and leaving them with little to do. But in my reading it is all rich soil for reactions, shifting loyalties, cementing loyalties, and future actions that might come to bear. 

Anyway... since we're taking GPC... those are some thoughts I've been having over the past several weeks. 

Edited by creativehum
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/11/2020 at 12:34 PM, creativehum said:

 

In it Greg makes it clear there is too much material in the GPC for it all to be used during a campaign. Especially if one is using the structure of one year equals one to two sessions of play. One literally cannot get everything written in most years into a session of play. 

That a good point. The GPC is very much a chronicle of the big events that are going on, not necessarily a itinerary for the PKs. Quite a lot of what's in there is stuff that the PKS won't get involves with for various reasons. Some of it is stuff designated for Lancelot or some other Round Table Knight. Other bits are things happening far away, that might one day prove to be important, even if no PK was there when they occurred.

 

On 1/11/2020 at 12:34 PM, creativehum said:

Greg was there at the earliest days of the RPG history. His expectations of what constitutes a published "Adventure" are very different than the exceptions that gathered in the subsequent decades. If one buys an adventure today, one expects it to be detailed, thought out, and ready to play right there and then. But if you look at adventures published in the first decade of the hobby (GDW's Traveller adventures, for example, or RuneQuest's The Haunted Ruins) one finds more than anything else a lot of inspiration for adventures that a) the GM will have to built out before play; and b) will most be discovered through play based on the actions and choices of the PCs.

The GPC is built with this style of adventure design in mind. It doesn't provide everything. Everything won't be used. And ultimately it is a lot of material for the GM to sift through and grow adventures from.

Yes, and this is a very good thing. It's part of why countless groups can run a game with the same basic premise and timeline, multiple times, and yet each campaign can be unique. Each GM and group can focus on different aspects and versions of the King Arthur legend each time though.  

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...