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Salisbury Knights - a playthrough of the Great Pendragon Campaign


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9 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

Why did your players pledge their loyalty immediately? Was it the "Arthur effect"?

That's probably a good way of putting it. They (the players) were probably a little star struck since we've been playing for a year and now Arthur has finally popped up. Also - I think they're ready for a high king again after the craziness of the anarchy.

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On 2/9/2021 at 1:21 PM, BioKeith said:

Merlin then turned to Sir James who stood nearby. 'Find me the ten most honorable knights to set a watch over the sword and the stone until Candlemas". Sir James immediately conscripted his fellow Salisbury knights who were present...

Shameful cronyism.  I am shocked.  🙂

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Our epic year of Arthur continues...and then I threw in a little more Merlin.

510 - continued

As King Arthur led his army on to the field outside of Carlion, his inexperience compared to King Lot could be felt by his knights. Nevertheless, Sir James led the knights of Salisbury as they charged some veteran northern knights and smashed through them. However, when James collected the unit, it was noticed that young Sir Caoilfhionn, in her first battle, had been knocked off her horse, unconscious. Sending a squire to find her, she was safely dispatched back to camp to seek medical attention. The remaining knights fought forward into the killing zone. The northerners proved to be fierce foes, and Sir Archer’s misgivings proved to be true as he was felled by a mighty blow from his opponent, near cleaving him in two, and spilling his guts onto the field. Sumayl fought like a man possessed, his two weapon style confusing his opponents and Sir Penelope Starling fought on bravely, upholding the honour of the knights of Salisbury. Nearby Arthur’s banner could be seen flying proudly, but so to was Lot’s. The northern king spied Arthur and charged straight at him. The king’s bodyguards were overwhelmed. Soon only 3 knights were left standing with the King; Sir Bedivere, Sir Kay and young Sir Edwin, who had only just been assigned to the king's detail. Sir Edwin fought with inspiration, as he defended Arthur, but they faced overwhelming numbers. Nearby King Lot could be seen sneering, sure of victory. Arthur, as a last resort, drew Excalibur. There was a bright flash and the enemies on the field were struck by a wave of pressure which knocked the northerners back. Suddenly, into the gap, surged the citizens of Carlion, who had come from the city, falling upon the flank of Lot’s army, wielding only farm implements. James fought his way to Arthur’s side and Lot sounded the retreat as his army withdrew in an orderly fashion from the field.

After collecting themselves from the battle, Arthur asked his most trusted vassals to advise him. The rebel army had retreated for the moment, but reports soon came that Lot was still pillaging the surrounding counties of Logres. Sir James advised that enough forces could be put together to pursue the rebels. King Alain advised Arthur to send to the continent for help from Kings Ban and Bors of Ganis whose father had supported Aurelius Ambosius when he had started his campaign to be high king many years before. Arthur agreed Lot could not be left to sack the countryside, but also that seeking allies seemed a wise course. And so Sir James and Sir Penelope took ship to France, while the rest of the knights of Salisbury headed north with Arthur.

By early July, Arthur had tracked down Lot’s army near Bedegraine, and despite being outnumbered, Arthur ordered battle to be joined. Smashing through the initial line of knights, Arthur’s army soon found themselves beset by hordes of Picts. The unchivalrous bastards began targeting the army’s horses and as darkness fell, most of the knights found themselves on foot.

 

Meanwhile in France…

James and Penelope landed in the crowded port of Bordeaux and after inquiring how to find King Ban and King Bors from a local priest, they headed towards the edge of town. On the way, they were approached by an urchin who offered to be their guide, and Sir James saw something in the young lad – a diamond in the rough and agreed. The lad, Raoul, led them out of town and on a shortcut. Fortunately, Sir Penelope was keeping her eyes open rather than entertaining the urchin and so saw the ambush before it was too late. Prepared, the two knights quickly dealt with the outlaws who tried to ambush them, but the urchin had run off by the time it was over. Penelope was able to lead them back on course to the King’s court.

Once there, both knights expounded on Arthur’s virtues and impressed King Ban, He agreed to bring his army to Arthur’s aid and called for a muster. So it was that in a few short weeks, the knights found themselves back in Bordeaux in the company of 500 french knights, loading up to sail back to Britain. In the harbour, Penelope spotted Raoul, who, when he knew he had been spotted, came up and begged for her forgiveness, saying that he had been compelled to lead them astray because the outlaws had been holding his sister hostage. Penelope’s mercy got the better of her suspicion and soon Raoul and his sister, Saraphine, were on their way back with Penelope and the fleet to serve as her pages.

Sailing up the Severn river as far as they could, the fleet was met by Merlin, who urged the knights to ride immediately as ‘battle had already been joined’. Soon the knights were riding northward – at least a two week journey to Bedegraine, but as they looked, the forest they rode through was just a blur in their peripheral vision. Merlin was up to something.

 

The Battle of Bedegraine - Day Two

Arthur’s knights had lost many horses to the Pict warriors and so the knights of Salisbury formed up amidst units of footmen defending . The knights of Salisbury stood firm as Lot sent his infantry to the rear and ordered his mounted forces to attack. Sir Alfred and Sir Edwin fought a desperate battle against their mounted foes. Again Arthur's forces seemed on the point of being overwhelmed when a cry went up from the flank; “Ban and Bors!”. The fresh battalion of knights from Ganis burst from cover and attacked with Penelope and James in the front row. Lot’s army fell back abruptly, but in good order, and the three kings, Arthur, Ban and Bors greeted each other in the middle of the battlefield.

Arthur decided to give all of the plunder from the goods left behind by Lot to the Ganis knights. Unfortunately this meant none for his own men. Merlin– however, approached Sir Penelope and told her that he knew where a roman cache supposedly lay buried nearby. Penelope, her squire and her two pages rode up into the Pennine hills the next day and located a decrepit old fortified Roman villa. She sent Raoul and his sister into some hard-to-squeeze-into places and they returned with a bag of roman silver! Penelope sent her squire to notify Arthur, and soon the remains of the huge cache had been excavated and given out to Arthur’s men.

Arthur then ordered his men to rest in the nearby countryside at  what manors, castles, and towns they could find. Arthur, along with his more senior knights and advisors went to Bedegraine Castle, the seat of Count Sanam. The count's daughter, Lyzianor, was of marriageable age and beautifuld and, most likely at her father's urging, she tended to the king constantly. Arthur did nothing to refuse the attention but, at least in front of the court, acted in a most decorous manner.

In early August, news came to Arthur that King Ryons of Norgales was besieging King Leodegrance of Cameliard - one of the first lords to have 'bent the knee' to Arthur the first time he had drawn the sword from the stone, so he resolved to go to his aid.
King Leodegrance was besieged in Carohaise in Cameliard– on the trade route between Lambor and the City of Legions. As King Arthur’s force of 600 knights arrived, they could see they were evenly matched with King Ryon’s army – Ryons lifted the siege and formed up to do battle. King Ryons himself was rumoured to be the son of a giant and sorceress, but despite this, the knight’s of Salisbury felt confident, after all, the young King had already won two battles this year and Merlin was still at the young king’s side. That’s when everything started to go wrong.

The first charge left the knights in the killing zone, which quickly degenerated into chaos. The Cambrian forces were not as well trained as Arthur’s, but Sir James’ echelle of knights failed to keep any kind of organization – perhaps from weariness, perhaps because the younger knights ( Sir Edwin and Sir Alfred) were at their limit. Soon the knights found themselves fighting individually, rather than as a unit. Desperate one on one fights ensued. Sir Penelope Starling tried, but failed to rally her comrades At last, Arthur and his house guard led by Sir Kay and Sir Bedivere fought their way to Salisbury’s side. At that moment, King Leodegrance led his knights out of the besieged city and smashed into Ryon’s flank. Finally Arthur’s army managed to reform, but King Ryons sounded the retreat before further damage could be done to his side.

Leodegrance and Arthur embraced on the battlefield and the day was won. The knights spent a week recuperating in the city before Arthur released his vassals to return to their estates. As they were preparing to leave, however, the knights were brought in for an audience with Merlin.

 

The Halter of Clydno Eiddyn

Merlin was there with a warning. He saw the continued fighting with the northern kings a distraction from the true threat – the Saxons. He said that ‘One of their kind, a Laece named Issen, has grown powerful enough to call forth old forces. I am fearful that if we do not find the rest of the Thirteen Treasures of Britain, we will not have the power to stand up to him, or them.’ Merlin thought that Sir Cedric was the key to recovering the remaining treasures and when he discovered that Cedric had set off for The Great Mire to recover the dagger he had lost, he set the knights to find him.

James, Penelope, Alfred and Edwin set off for Caer Daun – where Cedric had met his wife, Albia. Entering the Mire, it was apparent that something else was wrong. The land felt blighted and lifeless. Those few peasants that were seen were obviously starving. When they arrived at Caer Daun, it was no better off and old Coel One-Leg was not seeing anyone. Eventually the knights secured an audience, but Coel would have nothing to do with the ‘outlanders who had taken everything from him.’

Leaving to discuss what to do next, the knights were approached by a woman of the settlement who told them she knew that Albia was not forced away, but left for love of Cedric, so she told them to seek out a druid by name of Yspadden who lived somewhere to the north in the Mire, as he would know of all the comings and goings in the Mire and would know if Cedric was to be found here.

Penelope led them through the Mire in a search of the druid. Most of the time, they could not ride their horses but had to lead them. One day they stumbled on a group of fisherfolk being attacked by a Boobrie, a monstrous bird-like creature with huge claws and a wickedly hooked beak capable of eating whole sheep. The knights bravely strode forth to due battle and were able to make short work of the creature. The grateful fisherfolk said that they could guide the knights to the druid, so leaving their squires and horses behind, the knights went by boat and found a small island with a fisher’s hut which their guide told them was the druid’s home.

Investigating, the knights found it empty, but then suddenly in the doorway stood a giant of a man, standing over 8 feet tall, his disproportionately long face not showing any emotion. After determining the knights were here to find Cedric,  Yspadden – for that is who it was - told them that indeed Cedric had been here and then he filled them in on what Cedric had been doing and the state of the Mire.

It seemed that after the Angles had arrived, the troubles in the Mire had begun. And those troubles had only grown worse in recent years when something named Hymbre the Devourer had been unleashed. Hymbre was a mighty spirit, the son of Eagor, the fearsome Saxon Ettin-god of the ocean, whose very name meant ‘terror’. 

Yspadden told them more about the Mire - The five rivers that empty into the Great Mire were collectively known as the Five Mothers. They were the daughters of Sabrinna, Goddess of Rivers, and they all could take the form of horses. For the last few years, he had been unable to call upon the Five Mothers, and had determined that they had somehow been imprisoned and unable to reach the World of Spirits. He believed that one of the Saxons somehow had acquired the Halter of Eiddyn, and that along with Hymbre the Devourer, had captured the goddesses. Yspadden had found Cedric wandering incoherent in the Mire and immediately recognized that there was something special about him. He brought Cedric back to his shelter and slowly helped him back to coherence. He had sent the grateful Cedric to steal back the Halter, but he had not heard from him in a month, so Yspadden, fearing the worse, has grown desperate enough to try and find another way to free the Goddesses.

The knights agreed to help and Yspadden told them that if they traveled to an old ritual site where the Mire meets the sea, a place now known as Hymbre’s Gullet, he would be able to perform a ritual to send their spirits into Ettinham (one of the Saxon underworlds) where they could see if anything could be done without the Halter.

Arriving near the sea, the group found the old temple and Yspadden began his ritual. The Knights were soon beset by a group of Nicors as well as a whirlpool which had arisen around the place. As the ritual neared completion, a Nicor queen appeared and things seemed desperate to Penelope – her mind roared and she felt madness well up within her when she heard a voice – a familiar voice telling her that she was not alone and that help was here. It was Sir Cedric. Using his knife, Cedric quickly dispatched the Nicor Queen and the other creatures fled. As Yspadden finished the ritual, the whirlpool seemed to engulf all the knights, and they felt their souls being ripped from their bodies. The last thing they heard was Yspadden telling them to hurry as he could not keep the portal open for long.

When they next drew a breath, the knights found themselves on a spit of land leading to a promontory upon which was a single misshapen tree. As they drew close, they could see that entwined in the branches of the tree were five horse skulls, each attached to a chain that led to a nearby obelisk. Sir Cedric discovered that he could sever a chain by cutting with his knife where it joined the obelisk, but as he did this, the group heard a loud roar and the stomping of something large and two ettins burst into view. As Cedric raced to the next obelisk, the knights sought to hold off the Ettins. As the second chain was severed, an even loader roar was heard and appearing out of the mist was the huge figure of Hymbre itself. It was the size of a mountain, a squat, toad-like figure with a cavernous mouth. Its stomps shook the ground making the knights sway and fall. Its misshapen wings beat the air sending piles of debris at them. As Cedric slashed the third chain, freeing another Goddess, the portal nearby could be seen destabilizing. Cedric paused to look at Penelope, telling her to get the others to safety and through something to her. He then turned to approach Hymbre. Cedric could be seen to visibly relax. He then tossed his knife towards James and strode forward, a wry smile on his face.

The knights paused, unsure of what to do. Hymbre reared up and then his great gullet crashed down to the ground around Cedric and everything disappeared in a cloud of dust. This broke the knights from their inaction and they fled as quickly as their feet could carry them back to the portal, making it just as it collapsed. They reappeared back in the real world with Yspadden waiting for them.

The somber group of knights returned back to Logres with the two treasures, the knife and the halter, but it was a quiet ride, as each knight’s thoughts were on their last sight of Sir Cedric.

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9 hours ago, BioKeith said:

but Sir James’ echelle of knights failed to keep any kind of organization – perhaps from weariness, perhaps because the younger knights ( Sir Edwin and Sir Alfred) were at their limit. Soon the knights found themselves fighting individually, rather than as a unit

What happened? Disorganised unit? Sounds nasty anyway...

9 hours ago, BioKeith said:

He said that ‘One of their kind, a Laece named Issen, has grown powerful enough to call forth old forces.

I don't remember if it is the same guy or a new one ^^ I have no idea where you are going with the 13 treasures of Britain, but it's intriguing...

The 5 godesses were under the shape of a lady, or of an horse?

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On 2/16/2021 at 5:20 AM, Tizun Thane said:

What happened? Disorganised unit? Sounds nasty anyway...

Yup - they went disorganized - it was hell!

On 2/16/2021 at 5:20 AM, Tizun Thane said:

I don't remember if it is the same guy or a new one ^^ I have no idea where you are going with the 13 treasures of Britain, but it's intriguing...

Yes - this is the same Saxon Laece that has been plaguing them all along - the same one that killed off Esmee. I wanted to do something more with the 13 Treasures in the campaign, so I'm loosely going with Merlin urging them to all be found and gathered before Badon (although the players don't know about that). Should also play into the Grey Knight which is coming up soon! 🙂

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On 2/16/2021 at 5:20 AM, Tizun Thane said:

The 5 godesses were under the shape of a lady, or of an horse?

This was my attempt at a boss fight. The five goddesses were all 'trapped' on this giant tree - they were represented by the five horse skulls. It was a bit of a tactical 'battlemap' kind of fight as an experiment - went over fairly well, I think.

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A bit of a quieter year after the battles of 510. Huzzah for the Book of Feasts!

511

As the knights returned home it became apparent that Salisbury had suffered raids from Saxon marauders while the army had been gone to the north. Most of the knight’s manors suffered relatively little damage. Though Fittleton Manor had suffered worse than others, Sir Penelope Starling's valuables were safe in her vault, which the Saxons did not discover.

Sir Caoilfhionn returned to Woodborough Manor, now in charge of the manor after her father’s ‘absence’. She remained steadfast in her belief in her abilities, despite the result of the Battle of Carlion in which she had spent the largest part of it unconscious.

Sir James spent most of the winter in King Arthur's court in Carlion, where Arthur continued to lean on him for advice and support. James and Merlin were oft seen at Arthur’s side.

As Earl Robert led a few knights of Salisbury back to Carlion for court in the early spring, rumours were spreading that Queen Margawse, King Lot’s wife, would be visiting. Arthur, unsure of how to react, trusted to Sir James to see to her reception. Indeed, Margawse arrived in the city just in time for a great feast that Arthur was holding. Sir James quickly saw a place sat for her at the high table – giving up his own seat to her.

Sir James spent the evening surrounded by a bevy of nobles. Word had spread that James had Arthur's ear and each was seeking James’ approval for various plans to bring to the High King. King Alain of Escavalon wanted to attack Lot’s rebels and even proposed an alliance with the Saxon's of Deira against Lot - 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend', he quoted.  Duke Ulfius disagreed and wanted to attack the unprepared Saxons of Essex and Kent. Finally Sir Brastias' idea was to hold back in order to train new knights - seeing as the great toll the battles of the previous year had taken.

Sir Penelope spent the evening flirting with a young knight of Lindsay, in between breaking up a disagreement between Sir Kay and Count Sanam of Bedegraine. The Count was still trying to put his daughter Lyzianor forward as a potential wife for Arthur, but Sir James, at Arthur's urging, had the two of them sat away from the high table. Towards the end of the evening, with libations flowing, Penelope embarrassed the knight she was pursuing as she engaged him in a contest of strength, thinking that a sure fire way to a man's heart. After she trounced him, he soon departed. (and Penelope's string of Fumbling her attempts at romance continues)

Sir Caoilfhionn met a knight at his table, Sir Lanceor, a prince from Estregales, who was talking about King Pellinore de Gales. Apparently the King was off again chasing the Questing Beast, and in his absence – a warlord by the name of Ryons had moved in with his army and declared himself King of Pellinore's land of Gomeret. As the night drew on, Caoilfhionn was seen flirting with a young French knight, but Caoilfhionn's nerves got the best of her, and the young knight made excuses and departed early. (The players were all seemingly on a roll with fumbling their flirting attempts)

All of the diplomatic talk must have got Sir James’ blood flowing, for he spent the rest of the feast topping up everyone’s drinks and making sure all of the guests were having a fine time. Young Lyzianor, ignored by Arthur, had excused herself from her father and become smitten with James, following him around throughout the night. Penelope, perhaps because her own attempt at romance had ended so abruptly, saw to it that Count Sanam was distracted whenever he inquired about his daughter's absence.

The last part of the evening was devoted to the knighting ceremony for new knights. Two candidates were to be put forward, Lucas (James' eldest son), and Ysabel (niece to the deceased Sir Reynard Starling). Sir James’ was to have performed the ceremony for his son, but when the time came, he was nowhere to be seen (and coincidentally, neither was Lyzianor). As the feast was wrapping up, and with the two young squires appearing more and more uncomfortable, Sir Penelope stepped up to the high table and reminded Arthur – who had been deep in conversation with Margawse - of the knighting ceremony. Arthur looked amused at James’ absence, and said that he would perform the ceremony himself, and so Lucas and Ysabel were knighted by the high king. Although she was knocked down during the ceremony, Ysabel made up for it afterwards with her ‘leap’ – a double back flip in pike position (Had to reward her crit on her Dex roll) that made her a cause-celeb for the rest of the evening. Arthur closed the evening with a speech in which he extolled the virtues of Knighthood. 

The next morning – Arthur conferred with Sir James. First James counselled caution for the year, agreeing with Brastias and Ector that a year spent in training up the young knights and rebuilding the strength of Arthur’s army seemed prudent. To this, Arthur agreed. He ordered that the army would instead start a castle upgrading/building program throughout Logres.

Next Arthur asked for counsel on what to do about Margawse. She had come seeking an alliance - through marriage of one of her daughters to Arthur. A course that Merlin advised Arthur against. James saw a benefit to appeasement however, and so Arthur invited Margawse to remain at Carlion for the summer.

Sir Hervis de Revel grew impatient at the inaction of the army and petitioned some of the younger knights to join him in a raid into Saxon territory in retaliation for the damage they had caused the previous year. Only Sir Caoilfhionn accepted and joined the expedition into Essex. Once again, however, her nerves were found wanting and she avoided much of the action. Although the raids into Essex were successful, she returned still unproven in battle. Through luck or guile, however, she had procured a prize – a set of Antlers from some large beast she liberated from a fellow knight’s victim. Apparently the Saxons associated the trophy with luck in hunting.

Back at court, many observed Margawse and Arthur often in consultation with one another, taking long walks around the city. Sir Ysabel even observed them retire to Arthur’s chambers late one evening to continue ‘consulting’. Margawse and her sons departed late in the summer, returning to Lothian.

 

And so the knights of Salisbury enjoyed a quiet year and retired to their manors for winter.

 

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18 hours ago, BioKeith said:

...Indeed, Margawse arrived in the city just in time for a great feast that Arthur was holding. Sir James quickly saw a place sat for her at the high table – giving up his own seat to her...

...James saw a benefit to appeasement however, and so Arthur invited Margawse to remain at Carlion for the summer....

What I’m getting from this is that the downfall of the realm is ultimately all Sir James’s fault. 🙂

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Things start getting a little 'cutscene' heavy at this point of the GPC. The players are still excited to be hanging around Arthur, though - so they haven't minded getting into the backstory - so far I've tried to interweave it with a regular court scene or as part of a feast. Sir James has entered semi-retirement, and I'm using him as more of an NPC now, as that player now has James' son Lucas as his primary knight.

512 - Part 1

Over the winter, rumours abounded that Queen Margawse was pregnant. Sir James, quickly doing the math in his head, frowned whenever he was near King Arthur. Still, Arthur found James' counsel invaluable, and named him Chancellor of Britain – in charge of the royal seal and most senior of his advisors. James moved into his own offices in Camelot, leaving his estate to his stewards to run alongside his children.

As Camelot was still largely under construction, Arthur held his spring court in Silchester City. A surprise appearance was made by twelve ambassadors from Rome who demanded that King Arthur submit to Emperor Lucius and pay tribute, “for Britain is and always has been part of the Roman Empire.” Needless to say, an immediate uproar was provoked in court as numerous knights shouted down the ambassadors. After a conference, Arthur returned with his answer - a steadfast refusal and a threat to meet rome's arrogance with swords and spears. and he had the ambassadors sent back, with all due courtesy. The ambassadors did not try to linger, but left angrily.

Sir Brastias counselled the young knights of Salisbury to be ready for war saying that the army would march against the northern kings this summer – perhaps even Malahaute, who's king was rumoured to have allied with Lot. Arthur closed court and then departed on progress around Logres, with the first stop being the shrine to the great battle and infamous feast at St. Albans late in February. Sir James, Sir Caoilfhionn, Sir Lucas and Sir Ysabel decided to accompany the king.

With crowds of pilgrims on the roads, Arthur chose lodgings nearby St. Albans. One knight, to everyone's surprise, old Queen Ygraine made an appearance at feast. Those knights who were most observant thought that Arthur was not surprised by the Queen's arrival. During the dinner, a commotion started at the high table, culminating in Duke Ulfius shouting at Ygraine, throwing the room into a tizzy. Again, the observant knights thought that this whole scene felt staged, though to what purpose they could not guess. After the room had quieted, Ygraine told the story of the night of the siege of Tintagel when she was visited by someone with the semblance of her dead husband, though he had been killed that very evening. She bore the child of that union, and gave him to Merlin to raise as her husband Uther had promised. Merlin, lurking nearby, walked up to the head table and pointed to Arthur saying that his was Ygraine's son and Uther was his father.

Arthur and Ygraine then embraced and the joyous mood of the feast returned. The rest of the king's pilgrimage to St. Albans was conducted with Ygraine at Arthur's side. The more politically savy knights realized that now Arthur was tied into the Pendragon lineage, perhaps doing away with his image as a puppet of Merlin. 

Court remained in St. Albans and in March a squire arrived leading a horse across which was draped a dead knight. The squire told a tale of a strange knight at a nearby ford challenging all passersby to defeat him at a joust before he would let them cross. Arthur asked who would face up to this challenge, and just as Sir Caoilfhionn was about to respond, a young squire dashed forward and begged to be allowed to fight the strange knight. Though Arthur was reluctant at first, he knighted the young squire, Griflet - and sent him forth.

Caoilfhionn, Lucas and Ysabel could not let this challenge pass either, and so bid their squires to prepare their horses. Unfortunately their squires had been in the back of the hall indulging and so they were delayed enough that young Griflet arrived at the ford first. The knights of Salisbury arrived only just in time to see Griflet and an unknown knight charging at one another, lances lowered - whereupon Griflet was sent flying, knocked unconscious. No one recognized the heraldry of the unknown knight. Steeling themselves, Caoilfhionn, Lucas and Ysabel rode down to the ford. The Unknown knight was having his squires see to the injured Griflet, but swung around as the knights approached and issued his challenge. Fight or return the way they had come.

First to challenge was Sir Caoilfhionn, but she was quickly unhorsed and left battered on the ground. Next, Sir Ysabel found herself just as quickly dumped on her backside, her jousting skills found wanting. Finally Sir Lucas challenged the knight, and although he was not unhorsed, he nevertheless took a serious blow and despite his pride hurting, he yielded. The knight removed his helm, and Ysabel recognized him to be King Pellinore. He bid the knights return whence they came from and to tell their liege that the knights of his realm required further training.

Swallowing their pride, and moaning from their injuries, the knights returned to court bearing Sir Griflet draped over his horse, in dire need of chirurgery.  When the knights told Arthur their tale he was visibly disappointed in the events of the day and retired from court.

The next morning, Sir James approached the young knights, waking them early. It seemed that Arthur was nowhere to be found. James suspected that he had ridden to challenge Pellinore himself and dispatched the young knights to stop him, while he covered for the King’s absence. And so, with some misgivings, the young knights found themselves headed back to the site of their beating.
 

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Did your players enjoy this session ? They were for a major part only witnesses after all...

13 hours ago, BioKeith said:

. And so, with some misgivings, the young knights found themselves headed back to the site of their beating.

What a cliffhanger ! I love how Pellinore looks badass in your campaign. It's a good idea to make him a special NPC in the GPC.

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Let's finish off the year...we added a new player - hopefully she enjoys it and sticks around for a bit. She's new to RPGs so I started her off as a household knight so she didn't have to worry about a manor as well as her character. Still lots of 'cutscenes' in this one, but they were good ones for building up the world.

512 - Part 2

What did King Pellinore do?!?

As the knights set off for the ford that King Pellinore guarded, they were accompanied by a young knight - Sir Bellana. Countess Ellen had assigned her to Sir James when he was appointed chancellor and James was eager to get her some more experience. Bellana confidently led the knights back to the Otmoor. Sir Lucas, Sir Caoilfhionn, and Sir Ysabel looked at one another, unsure of what to make of the new knight. Half way there, the group were waved down by an old man on the side of the road. He said he was on an errand for King Arthur and sought permission to join them as his old legs were weary and he didn't want to let the king down. The knights looked at one another. His story checked out! (everyone 'succeeded' in their trusting vs suspicious rolls)  Generously offering one of their sumpters for him to ride on, the group continued.

Arriving at the ford, they could see two knights facing off against each other on horseback with lances at the ready – one being King Pellinore, the other King Arthur. The two rode at each other several times, but neither could unseat the other. Pellinore seemed in a jovial mood as he could be heard laughing. Arthur, however was much more serious and visibly angry. Pellinore dismounted and the two continued their contest on foot with swords, Arthur drawing Excalibur.

The two traded viscous blows, before Arthur seeming landed a lucky shot, staggering Pellinore. No longer laughing, Pellinore launched himself at the young king, raining blows down on him until Arthur fell to one knee with Excalibur over head. With another mighty blow from Pellinore, Excalibur was cleaved in two – Arthur stared down in disbelief. (and the players had a similar reaction 🙂 ) Pellinore, caught in a fit of passion readied another strike to kill Arthur.  As Sir Lucas rushed forward to try and stop the inevitable. Sir Caoilfhionn, not as quick to rush forward, observed the old man do something.  A ray of light shot out from his fingers and into Pellinore’s eyes. Pellinore staggered back and seemed to come to his senses. Arthur remained mute and a figure of dejection.

The ‘old man’ jumped down from his horse and in a shimmer of light, was revealed to be Merlin. ‘The sword must only be used for the cause of justness, never for one’s pride'. Arthur showed no reaction and Merlin turned to face the knights of salisbury as they gathered. 'It is a lesson that needed to be learned – one that his father never could. If you will protect your king, then I would have you accompany me, young knights. I have an idea.’

Merlin had them bring the non communicative Arthur and the shards of Excalibur and led them into the forest nearby. As they walked, the forest around them seemed strange, especially to Lucas. He had heard tales of Merlin and faerie realms from his father, and as the forest around them seemed to change, he refused to go any further. (Lucas has a fear of faerie magic which he rolled against here) Fortunately Bellana was able to calm the nerves of all the young knights and they continued.

They came out in a clearing near a lake. Merlin asked the knights to stand guard while he and Arthur boarded a conveniently situated punt and Merlin poled out to the middle of the lake. As the knights watched, he threw the shards of Excalibur into the lake. A broiling mist seemed to come up of a sudden surrounding the punt, and a minute later an arm thrust up through the mist holding aloft a sword, whole and gleaming, and a sheath. Arthur, at last seeming to come awake received the sword and cradled it as Merlin poled back to shore.

As Arthur clutched the sword and nodded in thanks to the knights, Merlin stepped up...’now, I have business in the north, you knights – escort the king back to court’, and then he strode off.

The knights walked back the way they had come and soon found themselves back at the ford where Pellinore was packing up his pavilion. He and Arthur embraced and Pellinore asked to come back to see Arthur’s court.

Back at court, Arthur retold the tale of the fight at the ford and how he regained Excalibur, and how the sword would from henceforth only be wielded in service to the realm, not for Arthur’s own whims. Pellinore was so impressed that he swore homage to Arthur on the spot, but soon his squire returned with a report of a sighting of the questing beast, and Pellinore took his leave.

 

Sir Balin

By April, court had moved to Cirencester. One morning a damsel arrived at court, who wore a sword belted to her waist and issued a challenge. She sought a knight who could draw the sword she held, for ‘it is said that it may be unsheathed only by the best of knights’. Many knights tried, but all failed. Arthur was disappointed, but as the lady made to depart, a knight at the rear of the court offered to try much to everyone’s surprise, he succeeded.  Sir Balin was his name. The lady was impressed until Sir Balin refused to return the sword to her, sheathing this second sword in his belt, and she left in tears.

Arthur, impressed with the young knight asked him to stay at court, but Balin refused and also left saying he had to make ready to depart.

Trumpets blared announcing the next visitor - it was Nineve - a Lady of the Lake, Nineve. She asked Arthur for a boon that he owed to her - the head of Sir Balin, or the head of the lady who had just departed. Arthur naturally refused such a request as being dishonorable. As the lady and Arthur debated, an armed knight entered the room - Sir Ysabel saw that the knight had two swords on his belt. 

Before anyone could react - the knight swore at Nineve and lopped off her head. This put the court into an uproar, and the knights of salisbury leapt to their feet open mouthed. Arthur was furious and only his sense of hospitality prevented him from ordering Balin killed - instead he banished the young knight, despite Balin's protestations that he had acted in revenge for Nineve killing his mother. Balin departed court.

After he left, a knight leapt up and begged to be allowed to ‘perform the king’s work’, which Arthur allowed, and he rushed off, soon followed by a young lady who dashed after him. The young knights of Salisbury looked at one another, never having witnessed such a ruckus at court. Bellana determined to follow to see what was to happen, and reluctantly the other knights pulled themselves away from the pie table to follow (A couple of the knights crit their indulgent and didn't want to leave the feast). Bellana was not amused, as the young knights proceeded to fall all over themselves and their squires as they attempted to get ready (and then a couple fumbled their squire rolls). Eventually she stormed off telling them to meet up, but her hunting skills abandoned her and she was still searching for tracks as the knights finally followed her. Eventually, after another pie break, and a wrong turn or two, the knights saw two messengers ride furiously towards the castle. “Prince Lanceor is dead’, was their news, and the knights hurried to see.

A few miles away, they came across a scene at the roadside– a knight with a spear through his chest, and a lady lying dead on top of him, with a dagger through her breast. Nearby, a young nobleman was bemusedly talking with his entourage.

The knights approached him, and some recognized him as Prince Mark of Cornwall. Mark was most impolite towards the quality of Arthur’s court, but did tell the knights that Prince Lanceor was the dead knight and had been slain by the knight of two swords. The lady fell upon her dagger when she came upon the dead Lanceor. Holding their temper, the knights departed in search of Sir Balin, but his tracks ran out as he made use of several streams to lose anyone following him. The knights then returned to court.

 

The Battle of the Bassus River

In July, word went out that a muster had been called for, Arthur was determined to bring battle to the north – starting with Malahaute and King Heraut de Apres, the Centurian King. One way or another, he would be made to bend the knee to Arthur.

Marching north, Arthur went around the Humber River into Roestoc before crossing the borders of Malahaute near Castleford, where Malahaute’s army awaited Arthur on a low hill. Arthur's forces were bolstered however, when King Pellinore arrived with a force of knights, and so the Battle of Bassus River was joined.

Sir James led the forces of Salisbury, but had given command of an eschelle of knights to Sir Bellana. She led the first charge up the hill, but disaster and disorder struck the young knights as they met a group of experienced spearsmen. Sir Caoilfhionn was struck unconscious and nearly killed, and the rest of the knights found themselves disordered in the killing zone, desperately fighting for their lives. Elsewhere it was seen that the Centurian King’s banner had quickly fallen (it later emerged that King Pellinore, in a thunderous crash had killed the King with one lance blow).

Sir James sent Sir Alder to bolster Bellana’s knights and they slowly began to get the better of their enemies. They did see, however, that another commander had rallied the enemy troops and was directly assaulting Arthur. Bellana found her eschelle free and disengaged, so led a charge to Arthur’s aid. Nearby, the Brown Knight of the Wilds took on the enemy commander and soon brought him down, and with that, the forces of Malahaute were routed.

After the battle, Arthur gave fair terms to the heir of the Centurion King, whose name was Barant de Apres. However, he took claimed parts of Malahaute, and the whole of Garloth, for his own.

The Brown Knight of the Wilds most mercifully granted freedom, without ransom, to Prince Galegantis, the enemy commander he had brought down – a son of the late King Nentres of Garloth. Galegantis bent the knee and swore homage to Arthur.

As the knights returned home, it became apparent that while Arthur had been campaigning in Cumbria, King Lot and King Ryons had led an army to plunder many unprotected Cambrian lands – Cameliard, Lambor, Wuerensis and Escavalon. Arthur promised to bring them to account next year. And so the knights once again returned to their manors for the winter.

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