Jump to content
Paid a bod yn dwp

New edition of Pendragon & naming conventions

Recommended Posts

@Jeff

Caught the tail end of the Chaosium discussion on twitch last night. Really interesting, I shall catch up with the rest on YouTube.

Jeff talking about Pendragon & a possible new edition got me interested. I’ve never played Pendragon but by all accounts it’s a great game. It got me thinking why I haven’t made the jump. 
 

As a Welsh speaker (it’s my families first language), the Anglicisation of the place names is a real off putter. It seems ironic from a cultural point of view that the language that is used to imagine Brythonic Briton is that of the decedent of the invading Anglo Saxons.  Aware that this game has a history, and a basis in Malory’s writing, but considering Chaosiums sensitivity to mythic,cultural/linguistic differences,  it’d be really nice to see this recognised somehow in a future editions of Pendragon , perhaps the use of bilingual place names/characters names, alternative maps, etc? 

Diolch 

Edited by Paid a bod yn dwp
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The funny thing is that in 5e there's a period where they changed (most of) the Anglicized names into Celtic/Brythonic/Roman/etc. where possible and into more fanciful, descriptive names when it wasn't.

Problem is that it was a big adjustment to ask of people who'd been using all the Anglicized names and now needed to consult a list to know what names were referring to where (which is another advantage that's lost in ditching the modern names; you can't just look on a map if you aren't sure where Sockburn is) that was also a lot of work, so by the time the 5.2 corebook is released they've switched back.

I'm actually in favor of not using the modern, Anglicized names personally, but they tried it and decided it wasn't worth all the trouble and confusion.

Edited by Leingod

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Leingod said:

I’m actually in favor of not using the modern, Anglicized names personally, but they tried it and decided it wasn't worth all the trouble and confusion.

Appreciate that the majority of Pendragon players could find a change to Welsh/Brythonic too disruptive, but I think Chaosium have a golden opportunity to do the setting and game justice. 

From a Welsh speakers point of view, it’s equally jarring to see a subject matter like Arthur treated with what comes across as cultural ignorance. Wales and the language has often been a cultural black spot for others. Be nice to see Chaosium addressing that in some way.

I think a bilingual approach could build a bridge, and help introduce those with little or no knowledge of modern (and old Welsh), and the closely related Cornish and Breton languages.

I think a bilingual map ( or extra alternative Brythonic map) , and alternative characters names as an *option* where appropriate, would be a nice gesture and recognition of the stories cultural origins. 

That way it would it would allow those who wish to use the anglicised names to continue, but also say actually there’s important cultural distinction here - Here’s a more authentic view of how the Britons would have envisioned things through their own language. 

Welsh is a living language, shame not to utilise it for a game like Pendragon. Kind of misses the point IMO. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know it's a matter of cultural pride for Welsh people (and rightly so), but the myth of King Arthur is not exclusively welsh. In fact, most of the canonical sources are written in old french or english (with a few others languages). So there is no such thing as "authenticity" in the arthurian setting.

KAP is based mostly on Malory, and the names are a big mash-up beetween all the sources.

But in your game, you could take a welsh flavor if you want to.  You can call the guy Bedwyr, Bedivere, or Bédoyer. It's the same guy.

As Morien said, G. Stafford tried to "desaxonize" the names in some 5.2 supplements, which was an interesting take, but it was very messy. 

Read the books, look at the maps, look at the Book of the Warlord with its new names. Don't judge at first sight.

KAP is a fantastic RPG about King Arthur. If you love the myth, you will love the game. Trust me^^

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand that, as a welshman, it must be frustrating to see a national icon be taken away by the culture that threatened yours for so many centuries. But this game and their players aren't the one to be blamed. From an outsider perspective (some of my players barely get the difference between British and English) the "desaxonization" only helps to make things more confusing for game directors and players trying to access the chivalric sources or learn the geography of the UK. 

But I think there's some merit to your ideas. I don't think it would be bad in any way to add "it's celtic name is X" in the description of each place, if the celtic name exists and it's known. Same could be said about roman names, of course, and even english names if they're not the main one in Pendragon (Camelot being Winchester, for example). In the rest of the book a single specific name should be used, be it the modern form or the one used in Malory, to avoid confusion. But for god's sake please no more name changes like the ones in the book of the warlord! If there's a name let it stay the same until there's an edition change. No matter if it's celtic, saxon or swahili.

Maybe there could be a supplement with everything needed to have a pendragon game more inspired on welsh tradition and less on the more internationalized chivalry romances. I know that I would buy it.

Edited by King Pellinore

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Paid a bod yn dwp said:

As a Welsh speaker (it’s my families first language), the Anglicisation of the place names is a real off putter.

Really? I mean it's not like Cymric naming conventions come up in many other RPGs. All place names tend to get shifted for langage anyway. Most English speaking places use Rome, not Roma, and so on. It's not like you could use older names with your players, assuming you knew them.

10 hours ago, Paid a bod yn dwp said:

It seems ironic from a cultural point of view that the language that is used to imagine Brythonic Briton is that of the decedent of the invading Anglo Saxons.

It is ironic.Almost as ironic as when the Saoxons hoped Arthur would come back and save them from King John. But then the legendary King Arthur is more medival, and thus Anglo-Saxon-Norman than historcal.. 

10 hours ago, Paid a bod yn dwp said:

 

 

 Aware that this game has a history, and a basis in Malory’s writing, but considering Chaosiums sensitivity to mythic,cultural/linguistic differences,  it’d be really nice to see this recognised somehow in a future editions of Pendragon , perhaps the use of bilingual place

I doubt it. Thy tried getting rid of the modern place names in some of the latter supplements and it just made things much more confusing to play. My players barely know where London is, and might be able to find Sarum or Carleon, but they'd be hopeless lost with Welsh place names.

Unfortunately, Welsh (itself a Saxon word) isn't a language that comes easily to non-native speakers. 

 

Personally, I'd love there to be one or more "spin off" books that cover alternate version of Arthur. One more Cymric, another more Roman, and so on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does someone here own Karr's The King Arthur Companion? Does it have the alternative Celtic names for some of the Round Table Knights?

It is not very difficult to find out alternative Celtic names for various towns and cities with a bit of googling (same is true for the most well-known RTKs, too, if they have Celtic roots), if one wishes to do that in their campaign. I have been quite vocal in the past about preferring the modern names that I am much more familiar with and can use google maps for distances or even localize the place if it is more obscure one. Much easier for me to GM, especially given that most of the adventures are from 3e and 4e, which use the modern names.

(Funnily enough, I got a different cultural shock one day when one writer was using Finnish words and placenames in a fantasy novel written in English. I simply couldn't read it. The Kingdom of Tasavalta (= Democracy in Finnish) was simply too much of a cognitive dissonance for me to carry on.)

I know that we used to have one poster who was really into the Celtic placenames. I might try to contact him to find out if he has a list that he has already compiled and if he wishes to share that...

Edited by Morien

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pendragon is wonderful- but it is blemished by the pronounciation of “Cymric” and the 6th edition is a chance to get it right.

 

And let’s not get into John Wick’s foolish words...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Dimbyd said:

 

 

And let’s not get into John Wick’s foolish words...

Forgive me for asking this, but who is John Wick?

As for the "naming matter", I think that a lot of it hinges on the take on Arthur that you're using.  If you emphasize the "post-Roman Britain invaded by Saxons", the pre-Saxon place names definitely work best.  If you're focusing more on the later medieval romances, in which the Saxon wars and other such fifth/sixth century elements are downplayed or even omitted, the more modern names can work - within limits.  (No matter which Arthur, I would advise against using modern place names where the present-day place name is too strongly associated with Britain after the Middle Ages - and especially from the Industrial Revolution onwards.)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, merlyn said:

Forgive me for asking this, but who is John Wick?

 

Either a master assassin or a game designer who has recently had bis product brought into the Chaosium fold, Depends on who you ask. Maybe both...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John Wick is the lead designer of 7th Sea, which is now publshed by Chaosium. Its a great swashbuckling game.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Atgxtg said:
On 7/3/2020 at 10:43 AM, Paid a bod yn dwp said:

 

Really? I mean it's not like Cymric naming conventions come up in many other RPGs. All place names tend to get shifted for langage anyway. Most English speaking places use Rome, not Roma, and so on. It's not like you could use older names with your players, assuming you knew them.

Yes really. If you’re brought up in Cymru/Wales, and use or are familar with the language and it’s history, your perspective on these things is understandably different.

At its heart the myth and subject of Arthur is Brythonic. One of the interesting things about the Welsh (and Cornish and Breton) language is that it’s hasn’t changed as much as other languages such as English over the centuries.  It’s a living language of the here and now, but also a window onto Britain’s past. Place names come alive and take on different meanings, it opens old Brythonic Britain to modern eyes. Shame not to use that in a game like Pendragon.

To be clear I’m not proposing a whole sale name change to Brythonic/Welsh as I realise that the majority may find that an obstacle  to play. Instead I propose optional names perhaps in parenthesis next to the Anglicised names, or as reference at the back of the book. That way it does a bit more justice to the subject. It opens peoples eyes to Brythonic culture but also keeps gamers happy who prefer to carry on with the Anglicised names they’re familiar with. 
There’s definitely a middle ground to be found. I think to do nothing would be a real shame. 

 

Edited by Paid a bod yn dwp
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm French from Britanny, and I can't play Pendragon using Anglo-Saxon (English) names for places and people, as it is the language of invader enemy, and a rather big anachronism. I was glad that authors and publishers started to use descriptive names and ancient welsh or latin sources for places and maps in recent books, but I was told on this forum (or was it the other before ?) that it was an unsuccessful experience, as old players were lost.

For the sake of coherence of a "modern" and complete Arthurian universe, I think that we should get rid of english names (or use them as reference for precise locations). Medieval sources are vast and contradictory, using fancy or very actual names to please its hearers (of XII-XVth centuries), without the idea of a coherent territory. But KAP sets the game on a map and a time span of 2 or 3 centuries during Great Invasions context. We need proper names in accordance to the purpose of the game.

Arthur was a Briton who fought Saxon invasions. Later indeed he pacified the enemy and halted invasions, kept new names in taken over regions, why not. But anglo-saxon folks only conquered Britannia after his death.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Paid a bod yn dwp said:

as reference at the back of the book

I think this is a good idea. And it wouldn't be so difficult to do, especially if we are looking at mainly the biggest towns and such, not every village and a manor, many of which didn't even exist in 500s. You could have a column each for Modern, Roman and Cymric/Welsh, as applicable. However, the issue is that even for some of the biggest towns, the etymology isn't always straightforward; even London's etymology is still being debated. Or one could just select an etymology that sounds good enough or just lift it from the legends, like Caer Lud.

It should be easy enough to dig out Arthur's companions in Welsh sources and give their names as well as the more commonly used ones. Like Bedevire = Bedwyr. Gawaine = Gwalchmei.

 

My own annoyance with names was the use of French, especially in the older editions. I know why it is in there (since a lot of Arthuriana from Middle Ages was written and read in French), but it is especially jarring when 5e is using Cymric names and then you run into Damosel Jeanne Sans Pitie or something like that. Even De Gales ("Of Wales") and De Ganis ("Of Ganis") are a constant reminder of these anachronistic names. A lot of the round table knights have names that have little to do with Cymric, I know, but usually they are mangled enough that they sound fantasy-like.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Kulhwch said:

I'm French from Britanny, and I can't play Pendragon using Anglo-Saxon (English) names for places and people, as it is the language of invader enemy, and a rather big anachronism.

I just can't play Pendragon for the very same reasons, also medieval knights in Dark Age Britain just doesn't work for me. 

It's a shame, as it looks like a really fun game.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well that's the old root of Pendragon, the enchantment of Britain which induces a fantastic technical evolution under the rule of the Good King wearing the Kings' Sword as a spiritual link between the land and the people. That's magic and fantasy, and there are also witches and faeries in this game. But in fact you can easily play it as you want, heavy armors and big stone castles are facultative and appear at a later period of the campaign. You could stick with a more realistic technology with no problem.

In fact, medieval knights society can easily be described in more celtic ways. Call your knights free-men, land-owners or champions, and their household shield-carriers, spear-holders, or horse-drivers and you have it. (Sorry I play in French, I have more vocabulary in my own language). Sit your guests in circle at a hall on top of a fortified hill with cauldrons and harpers, rather than have them dine on a table behind heavy hangings on walls, hearing minstrels and jugglers, and you do a lot for the mood.

It's how you tell the tale and transmit to the players that's important, Pendragon have plenty of material you just dig in to take what you want. The core mecanism is the passion system and how heroic warriors struggle with to achieve greatness. That's totally "celtic".

The only problem is names. But that's a small difficulty compared to the fact that you have a eighty-years campaign to play. That's a unique experience in roleplaying-games.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/4/2020 at 2:01 PM, Morien said:

It should be easy enough to dig out Arthur's companions in Welsh sources and give their names as well as the more commonly used ones. Like Bedevire = Bedwyr. Gawaine = Gwalchmei.

Yeah, except that those versions of the characters are different in more than just name. Essentially you really do need to run a different version of Pendragon to go with it.

On 7/4/2020 at 2:01 PM, Morien said:

My own annoyance with names was the use of French, especially in the older editions. I know why it is in there (since a lot of Arthuriana from Middle Ages was written and read in French), 

Because most of the cultures that were into Arthur at the time were themselves French. It's always a problem with Arthur is every cuture that adopted the legend put thier own spin on it, and endeavored to make it local.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, soltakss said:

I just can't play Pendragon for the very same reasons, also medieval knights in Dark Age Britain just doesn't work for me. 

THat would seem to eliminate any sort of "Knights of the Round Table" version of Arthur for you, then. How about a more historcal one with Arthur being say, a Roman or Dacian leading calvary against invading Saxons?

12 hours ago, soltakss said:

It's a shame, as it looks like a really fun game.

It is. I think the way to go with it is to look at Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur as a fantasy novel, and Pendragon an RPG set in that fictional world, which, just so happens, bears similarities to out own in the past. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


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

I think the way to go with it is to look at Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur as a fantasy novel, and Pendragon an RPG set in that fictional world, which, just so happens, bears similarities to out own in the past. 

Like what Hollywood, or the movie / TV, industry does.  You know like they changed history with Braveheart, Pearl Harbor, The White Queen and pretty much everything that has been made in the last 40 years....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Percarde said:

Like what Hollywood, or the movie / TV, industry does.  You know like they changed history with Braveheart, Pearl Harbor, The White Queen and pretty much everything that has been made in the last 40 years....

Yes. The thing is Arthur & the myth still resonates today, certainly for people in Wales, Cornwall, Scotland and Brittany. In some very real ways the Arthurian struggle   still continues.
The Welsh language is a signifier of this struggle to have the right to retain a cultural identity and way of life. The struggle didn’t end at the end of the dark ages. It’s the hear & now. It’s not just a fanciful Norman story of knights In shinning armour doing deeds of great valour. It’s represents a continuing story to people from those countries. 

Cofiwch Dryweryn

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Then perhaps you might try it with the changes with your own houserules to take place where you think the game as gone off the rails, so to speak. Greg always said, "Your Pendragon May Vary." Morien, I, and many others, including Atgxtg, have made our own changes to the rules, be it in character creation, how Passions work, battles, tables, and the like. And, I would love to hear about your exploits.

Note, this is not meant as a criticism, but rather, an exhortation, as you would make the changes that would make the world come alive for you.  To say no, simply because you don't like the way the naming conventions are, would be similar to me not doing Middle Earth, because I didn't like the way they portrayed Saruman.

Share this post


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

Because most of the cultures that were into Arthur at the time were themselves French. It's always a problem with Arthur is every cuture that adopted the legend put thier own spin on it, and endeavored to make it local.

Yes, and German speakers would certainly say how annoying it is Pendragon doesn't consider the grail as emerald stone fallen from Lucifer's head, and makes no mention of Lohengrin, son of Parsifal.

8 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

THat would seem to eliminate any sort of "Knights of the Round Table" version of Arthur for you, then. How about a more historcal one with Arthur being say, a Roman or Dacian leading calvary against invading Saxons?

Note that this "Arthur" candidate (Lucius Artorius Castus) is considered to have lived in the 3rd century, and certainly never faced a Saxon invasion. It's even possible that he never went to Armoric, but in Armenia instead.

8 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

It is. I think the way to go with it is to look at Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur as a fantasy novel, and Pendragon an RPG set in that fictional world, which, just so happens, bears similarities to out own in the past. 

Yes. Pendragon is a game about Arthurian Myth, and not about Britain Dark Ages.

The GPC is in fact a time trip through all the periods during which the Myth was elaborated, from the Dark Ages of the Uther and Anarchy periods, to the 15th century.

To reflect that, one could use Welsh or Latin words in the first period, French in the middle, and English in the end.

Edited by Mugen
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


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

THat would seem to eliminate any sort of "Knights of the Round Table" version of Arthur for you, then. How about a more historcal one with Arthur being say, a Roman or Dacian leading calvary against invading Saxons?

Yeah, the default KAP is explicitly anachronistic, and the society is clearly medieval rather than Dark Ages. That doesn't mean that it can't be used to a Dark Ages campaign, as said by:

19 hours ago, Kulhwch said:

In fact, medieval knights society can easily be described in more celtic ways. Call your knights free-men, land-owners or champions, and their household shield-carriers, spear-holders, or horse-drivers and you have it. (Sorry I play in French, I have more vocabulary in my own language). Sit your guests in circle at a hall on top of a fortified hill with cauldrons and harpers, rather than have them dine on a table behind heavy hangings on walls, hearing minstrels and jugglers, and you do a lot for the mood.

It would take some tweaking, but it would be possible to reimagine most of it, as in above. One would probably have to do away with tournaments, though, by and large, and landholdings would probably be family clan holdings rather than individual ones.

It still wouldn't be historical (well, Arthur himself probably wasn't historical, either). If one wants to do that, then one would pretty much have small kingdoms with a couple of hundred spearmen struggling against one another, rather than tens of thousands of soldiers and thousands of heavily armored cavalry (knights). That being said, I know that some people have at least planned on running Bernard Cornwell's The Warlord Chronicles using KAP.

I admit, I have not even read Age of Arthur, so I don't know how full a world they give, and if it would be easy to just grab that world and use KAP to run it. I don't think it should be too difficult; the setting is usually quite separate from the rule mechanics. Especially if one drops out most fantastical elements like magic and monsters, which would not have a place in a more historical campaign anyway.

4 minutes ago, Mugen said:

The GPC is in fact a time trip through all the periods during which the Myth was elaborated, from the Dark Ages of the Uther and Anarchy periods, to the 15th century.

You are correct about that as far as the GPC is concerned, but the 'Dark Ages' in GPC is strictly visual: clothing styles and such. The society in KAP 5.2 is medieval, and BoUther (and Warlord before it) makes it even more plain by lifting the society and the laws pretty much straight from the Norman England. With a nod towards British Christianity (which I don't think should be a thing, but that is another discussion).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/4/2020 at 8:01 PM, Morien said:

I think this is a good idea. And it wouldn't be so difficult to do, especially if we are looking at mainly the biggest towns and such, not every village and a manor, many of which didn't even exist in 500s. You could have a column each for Modern, Roman and Cymric/Welsh, as applicable.

You mean, a bit like this document by Scruffygrognard? 🙂

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Morien said:

You are correct about that as far as the GPC is concerned, but the 'Dark Ages' in GPC is strictly visual: clothing styles and such. The society in KAP 5.2 is medieval, and BoUther (and Warlord before it) makes it even more plain by lifting the society and the laws pretty much straight from the Norman England. With a nod towards British Christianity (which I don't think should be a thing, but that is another discussion).

As for myself, I started the GPC using the Boy King, and in my memory it seemed more in line with historical Dark Ages.

I remember I had a Roman Knight and a Cymri Warrior in my group.

My original intention was to follow the "Arthur" French comic book by Chauvel and Lereculey, which is based on Welsh legends. But I changed my mind afterwards, and played a more traditional GPC.

Edited by Mugen

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.


×
×
  • Create New...