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Giant Ice Spider

When to Start - 506 or 510?

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Hi,

I'm planning to run the GPC for 2 friends. I haven't received my copy yet, so I'm not going into year-by-year specifics for this thread - I just want to have an idea in my head of what the campaign will look like before I start prepping. Knowing them, we won't get through all 80 years of it, so I want to do a time-jump and start later on. I'm most excited personally about the period of 531-565, but feel it would be best to have established PKs for that era.

The 2 start dates I'm considering are 506 and 510. The advantage of 510 is it's later, so we'd get through more of the GPC; however, 506 gives us (part of) the Anarchy, which could add a bit more depth to the campaign. Or perhaps a 3rd option would be better?

So, any thoughts?

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I think 510 makes sense. You could start with the 'tourney' at London before Arthur draws the sword from the stone and the PCs could witness it as the first adventure. You can steal most of the story from Boorman's Excalibur and most of the players will get into the story right away. Have them help Arthur search for a sword for Sir Kay.

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If you are trying to lure in new players, starting in 510 works. However, if you are most interested in just running knightly quests/adventures in the heyday of Arthurian Chivalry, feel free to skip straight to 531. Although I warn you that GPC is not all that helpful in 531 - 553, with most of the events focused on the big names (Lancelot, Tristram, Percevale). What you really want for those years are the adventure & regional books (with adventures in them).

One thing I would seriously recommend if you want to get through GPC quickly... don't be afraid to 'skip' some years. Greg used to say that the intended pacing was 1 session per game year (which is about 3 times faster than my norm, but there you have it). This can allow you to put those years away rather quickly.

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I'd start in 506. I think the Anarchy is really important for prepping the ground for Arthur and not making him into some sort of Mary Sue. It's going to be rough, but if you're thinking of doing 30 years of Pendragon, I'm sure you've got a good group who can handle dystopia.

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3 hours ago, Username said:

I'd start in 506. I think the Anarchy is really important for prepping the ground for Arthur and not making him into some sort of Mary Sue. It's going to be rough, but if you're thinking of doing 30 years of Pendragon, I'm sure you've got a good group who can handle dystopia.

The issue with starting in 506 is that you are actually in a hopeful phase of Anarchy, a Cymric resurgence. The feeling that things are going to crap is more like around 500. Or you can push it even further and start in the aftermath of the Battle of Netley Marsh. The issue is that I doubt you are going to get the same feeling of Dystopia that you would get from actually playing through the Anarchy. Part of what makes it work is that the Players get to influence the decisions and feel the oppression of the forces arrayed against them.

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12 hours ago, Morien said:

If you are trying to lure in new players, starting in 510 works. However, if you are most interested in just running knightly quests/adventures in the heyday of Arthurian Chivalry, feel free to skip straight to 531. Although I warn you that GPC is not all that helpful in 531 - 553, with most of the events focused on the big names (Lancelot, Tristram, Percevale). What you really want for those years are the adventure & regional books (with adventures in them).

 

Morien - could I please ask which regional books you're thinking of? We've started off (I have KAP 5.2, GPC, and Book of Estates) and I think some more background information about the various areas and locations would be really helpful!

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30 minutes ago, Porius said:

Morien - could I please ask which regional books you're thinking of? We've started off (I have KAP 5.2, GPC, and Book of Estates) and I think some more background information about the various areas and locations would be really helpful!

Note that all these are 3rd edition publications, so they are set in 531, not 485. You can get some information out of them, and even if you are starting from 485 in Salisbury, it will probably take until Conquest before you really 'break out' to adventuring in other parts of Britain. As I implied in my answer, these regional (and adventure) books are excellent at filling in the otherwise pretty boring Romance and Tournament Periods in GPC.

In ascending order of preference:

Beyond the Wall covers, as the name implies, Caledonia, and adds a lot of information on Picts and making Pictish characters. However, that goes more into a variant campaign to my liking, as is recognized by the book, giving a short Pictish tribal campaign start. However, the Adventure of the Treacherous Pict is from the perspective of the Arthurian knights and it is a pretty good one. However, the short adventures are nothing to write home about, and most of the Pictish information is not that useful for the regular campaign. You get maps of Caledonia and a couple of paragraphs on Gorre, Lothian and Garloth as well, which might be useful, but limited by the fact that this is 20 years after Lot fought Arthur...

Perilous Forest covers Cumbria, the Wall and the Wasteland. It is slightly weakened by the fact that a lot of the Wasteland stuff is also published in GPC, so that is a dozen or so pages that are essentially the same (although not exactly). There is just one long-form adventure, the Adventure of the Perilous Forest, but it does have a bunch of Cumbrian Wyrms and short adventures to take care of them that a GM can expand into a nice filler for the year. Not all adventures need to be multi-session, after all.

Savage Mountains covers Cambria, and has one of my favorite mini-campaigns in it, Cambrian War and its subsection, Builth War. Basically, the PKs get a chance to play on the Baronial level, with their own little army to pacify the rebellious kingdom of Builth and to build a castle to secure it for Arthur. This in addition to 3 other long-form adventures, including the Best Wine of the World, which was one of Greg's favorites. However, it lacks short adventures, which is a bit of a pity.

Blood & Lust covers Anglia, and it has  my favorite KAP mini-campaign/extended adventure: The Heart Blade. Sure, it can be improved (it is a bit slow in the beginning), but it is a very nice example of a courtship of an heiress, and carries some real stakes with it. It also has three other long-form adventures, as well as a few short ones (most importantly Contest for the Queen's Knights). Given that the Anglian revolt is in full swing from 528 - 531 or so, this is a nice book to have even a bit before the Camille adventure from GPC. Or even afterwards, as the rebellious Angles keep bubbling. It is also a very nice departure from the usual Arthurian ethos, as you can run adventures where the PKs might be asking "Are we the bad guys here?" as they watch the hate-filled Cymric knights rule with a harsh retribution against the Angles, fueling the resentment and hate, contrasting it with Arthur's benevolent rule of former Wessex (Hantonne/Hampshire).

So in summary, whilst I like all of them, Beyond the Wall is one that I use the least and it occupies the lowest rank. It is the only one of the four that I go "Yes, but..." when people ask me if I recommend them buying it (all the others are 'Yes."). Blood & Lust is my favorite, and then it is a contest between Savage Mountains and Perilous Forest. Due to the Wasteland being repeated in GPC (granted, the Peredur/Percevale story is scattered in GPC as well), I would give a narrow edge to Savage Mountains. Also because I like Cambrian War so much and it has more long-form adventures than Perilous Forest. Perilous Forest does offer more short adventure snippets to spice up some years, but that is not quite enough to tilt the balance of 1 vs. 4 long adventures.

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The adventure of the Best Wine in the World is awesome. We played it amd it was great, greatly improved due to a player deciding she wanted to roll Lustful after meeting the Lady for the first time (she had Lustful 18) and critted that roll, rolling an Obsession Passion, 3d6+4 and getting a 20 in that Passion. Many stupid things were done trying to get under her skirt.

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Thank you again, Morien! I hadn't really thought of looking back to the 3e books so that will give me plenty to go on when my players (hopefully!) make it further into the GPC. 

 

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29 minutes ago, Porius said:

Thank you again, Morien! I hadn't really thought of looking back to the 3e books so that will give me plenty to go on when my players (hopefully!) make it further into the GPC. 

You are quite welcome. 3e-4e adventures are still very much usable (1e is a somewhat different story, requiring some more conversion work), although I would warn that some of the skill levels of named knights in the Grey Knight (republished in 4e) are way too low for the named Round Table Knights.

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On 5/7/2020 at 12:52 PM, Giant Ice Spider said:

 

The 2 start dates I'm considering are 506 and 510. The advantage of 510 is it's later, so we'd get through more of the GPC; however, 506 gives us (part of) the Anarchy, which could add a bit more depth to the campaign. Or perhaps a 3rd option would be better?

So, any thoughts?

How about 508?

My reasoning is that it will probably take a session or two for your players to get up to speed with things, especially if they are new to Pendragon. 510 is a big important year, but it's sort of wasted on players who are still struggling to get a handle on the game mechanics, culture, and style of play. I think it's best to give them an introductory adventure to learn the ropes and a second or even third adventure to get comfortable with the game and their characters before running the Sword in the Stone or any other major event.

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On 5/8/2020 at 8:07 AM, Morien said:

The issue with starting in 506 is that you are actually in a hopeful phase of Anarchy, a Cymric resurgence. The feeling that things are going to crap is more like around 500. Or you can push it even further and start in the aftermath of the Battle of Netley Marsh. The issue is that I doubt you are going to get the same feeling of Dystopia that you would get from actually playing through the Anarchy. Part of what makes it work is that the Players get to influence the decisions and feel the oppression of the forces arrayed against them.

You make a good point. I think I'll go with 500.

 

On 5/7/2020 at 10:36 PM, Morien said:

If you are trying to lure in new players, starting in 510 works. However, if you are most interested in just running knightly quests/adventures in the heyday of Arthurian Chivalry, feel free to skip straight to 531. Although I warn you that GPC is not all that helpful in 531 - 553, with most of the events focused on the big names (Lancelot, Tristram, Percevale). What you really want for those years are the adventure & regional books (with adventures in them).

One thing I would seriously recommend if you want to get through GPC quickly... don't be afraid to 'skip' some years. Greg used to say that the intended pacing was 1 session per game year (which is about 3 times faster than my norm, but there you have it). This can allow you to put those years away rather quickly.

I'm not necessarily trying to get through it too quickly, as part of why I'm running this campaign is so my friend group can stay in touch while I go study abroad for a year (if that happens - no word yet)*. I mostly want to give my players the impression we'll be getting through the campaign a bit quicker (because one of my players has certain mental issues and I don't want to stress them out or overload them).

Psychologically (not that I'm a psychologist), the brain hears "shortened" and doesn't care by how much, so shortening by 15 years vs 21 years vs 25 years vs etc would all be about equivalent.

*Obviously I don't advocate breaking social distancing. I would only go abroad if the current situation at least partially clears up and my uni gives the go-ahead. Stay safe, everybody.

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A suggestion - Have the PCs create their characters who will start in 610 and the fathers of said characters, and use a few flashbacks to the Anarchy early on with the Dads, then have each of them decide how their dad died, leaving them as the heir.

 

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When I ran the GPC, I knew I couldn't play regularly, so I skipped a lot of years. Outside 510-518 and the end of the Campaign, I think we only played 1 year out of 2, and perhaps even less so in the end, as players became more and more tired of the game (mostly because there were only 2 of them remaining...).

I even removed 15 years from the timeline, because I was not really fond of the idea of a 80 years old Arthur battling against a 73 years old Launcelot.

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1 hour ago, John Biles said:

A suggestion - Have the PCs create their characters who will start in 610 and the fathers of said characters, and use a few flashbacks to the Anarchy early on with the Dads, then have each of them decide how their dad died, leaving them as the heir.

 

It would be better to start in 510. ;)

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On 5/13/2020 at 11:12 PM, Mugen said:

When I ran the GPC, I knew I couldn't play regularly, so I skipped a lot of years. Outside 510-518 and the end of the Campaign, I think we only played 1 year out of 2, and perhaps even less so in the end, as players became more and more tired of the game (mostly because there were only 2 of them remaining...).

I even removed 15 years from the timeline, because I was not really fond of the idea of a 80 years old Arthur battling against a 73 years old Launcelot.

Personally I don't mind the age thing; my own personal canon is that a side-effect of all the Faerie magic going around is that Arthur and Lancelot and other important characters age much more slowly and gracefully than they "should," much like both Ygraine and Guenevere are all but stated to do. So even though much of the big names are all very old men by the end, most of them still look middle-aged at worst, with Arthur himself looking old only at the peak of the Wasteland's influence but then reverting to looking in his mid-40s overnight.

I feel like that adds to the idea of the Enchantment of Britain making time kind of wonky, since on the one hand society and technology advances at a breakneck pace, but on the other hand the more deeply involved in the grand narrative playing out you are, the less of an effect the flow of time actually has on you. Sort of heightening the feel that Arthur's reign is a period that's "outside" of the normal flow of history and events due to the influence of the Other Side being stronger than it's been in a very long time.

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On 6/7/2020 at 5:34 PM, Leingod said:

Personally I don't mind the age thing; my own personal canon is that a side-effect of all the Faerie magic going around is that Arthur and Lancelot and other important characters age much more slowly and gracefully than they "should,"

You don't even need Faerie magic, glory will do it. Both accumulate glory faster than the aging table reduces characteristics. So they are both essentially ageless. 

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