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Great Pendragon Campaign GM Discussion - 486 AD (SPOILERS)


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Here we are, at the second year of the GPC!

First, let's start with a minor point. The Book of Uther notes that Syagrius is a king, not a praetor, and that he shows up next year, not this one. I think it actually works better to have this situation simmering in the background. The game also keeps Syagrius alive after his death at the hands of the Visigoths, so it's not as if we're adhering strictly to the historic record anyway.

Now, let's dive into Sword Lake! This is a key opportunity for players to participate in a key point of Arthurian legend - and it's also a little weird, for a few different reasons.

Before starting on the concerns, I should make a few prep notes. First, if your group has a few game years under their belts, it might be worth asking if there's a narratively-satisfying reason why they might not have been invited to go raiding.

You might also check out the "Riding the Rounds" adventure on page 67 - not "Riding Patrol," as it says in the text - and the "Sample Peasant Problems" on the margin of the same page. It bears noting that this is the first time sexual assault could potentially come up as a topic in this game. Different groups will handle this topic in different ways, and it's worth giving some thought to it. 

You might want to keeep the nukalavee statistics handy - and you might consider whether this combined "horse and rider" encounter grants the horseback vs. foot +5/-5 modifier. 

Let's discuss into the challenges of this adventure itself. First, our adventure is based on how willing the characters are to help out a peasant with livestock. This paradoxically means that the more faithful players are to playing PKs in the setting, the less likely it is that they'd actually participate. I'm also wondering if groups that started in 480 instead of 485 are more likely to have embraced their roles, which might encourage them to blow off Merlin.

Second, the adventure scales in some odd ways based on the number of PKs. Many Pendragon adventures have opponents that scale to the number of PKs, but this one does not. That means that larger parties are more likely to notice the goat's unusual size and more capable of dealing with the challenges. Yet if the party is more than four, you'll end up with a climactic fight in which someone is playing the role of Sir Standsaround. You might consider how you want to scale encounters down or up for your group's size.

Finally, the working assumption here is that the PKs are successful in helping Merlin get the sword. If your group does not, it will affect later chapters. It's probably best to assume that Merlin does get the sword, as otherwise it will lead to major changes in the following chapters - unless you feel up to the challenge.

What experiences have you had? What would you add or run differently?

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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5 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

First, let's start with a minor point. The Book of Uther notes that Syagrius is a king, not a praetor, and that he shows up next year, not this one. I think it actually works better to have this situation simmering in the background. The game also keeps Syagrius alive after his death at the hands of the Visigoths, so it's not as if we're adhering strictly to the historic record anyway.

Battle of Soissons, which leads to the conquest of Soissons and to the flight of Syagrius, happens in 486. The conceit is that Syagrius, after losing this battle, flees to Britain, instead of fleeing to the Visigoths and being returned to be executed by the Franks (as happened in real history). Thus, he should not arrive to Britain until Autumn-ish 486, showing up in the Christmas Court. Uther doesn't hand him over to the Franks who lack a fleet to threaten Uther with, so Syagrius survives longer than historically.

This is why Syagrius shouldn't show up in Spring 486, since the campaigning season hasn't started yet and he is still the King of Soissons at this time, readying his army to face the Franks.

 

Edited by Morien
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On 8/22/2020 at 5:28 PM, SaxBasilisk said:

You might also check out the "Riding the Rounds" adventure on page 67 - not "Riding Patrol," as it says in the text - and the "Sample Peasant Problems" on the margin of the same page.

I was never a big fan of the "Adventure of the sword" as written. It's awesome to be the one to find Excalibur, but it's poorly written and "easy" (even if the monsters are tough and a PK can be killed with one bad roll).

It's a good idea to mix this encounter with a few more mundanes ones during the patrol. Some brigands,  some minors (but funny!) encounters with peasants, with a chance for a few rolls and roleplaying.

The true adventure will be hidden. So, when a weird peasant asks for his goat, PKs won't be thinking "Oh, it's the adventure!" but "Oh no, another peasant with his pesky problem we don't care". And they will be surprised by a giant with 3 eyes. 🤣

I think you will always find a player to be kind enough to search for the goat (Genuinely or for a check in merciful). And if they don't bite the bait, let them continue their patrol and go on. KAP is about choices.

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