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The Great Pendragon Campaign gives us Borre and Loholt, two sons of Arthur (who were actually probably the same character just given different names by different authors), who are, in keeping with Mallory and that general tradition, illegitimate, because Arthur and Guenevere's marriage is childless, and both of them long predecease Arthur himself and leave behind no issue. The GPC also deliberately doesn't thrust these two in the spotlight, making it easy to make as much or as little of them as you'd like. In other works, though (including both the Welsh stories and also stuff like Perlesvaus), not only Borre/Loholt but other children of Arthur exist, several of whom are legitimate or at least aren't actually called illegitimate. There's a lot of children of Arthur to be found, both legitimate and illegitimate, and I found myself wondering what could be done with them in a campaign.

Now, my question here is: Do you think something interesting could be done in a campaign where Arthur does have legitimate children by Guenevere? For one, I think even more of an obvious family tragedy than “there is no legitimate heir to Arthur's throne” would be “there are actually several, but they all predecease their parents in tragic circumstances and without any children (at least that anyone knows of/knows where to find).”

(The name of the thread is just a play on the Quatre Fils Aymon I decided to make because the Welsh corpus gives Arthur four sons - not stated to be bastards, so I'm guessing they were legitimate - in all: Amhar, Llacheu, Gwydre, & Duran).

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In my campaign, I talked a bit of Borre in the Background, and his tragic death (like in the CPC).

However, I never talked about Loholt. As in Perlesvaus, Chrétien in his Erec and Enid, and other welsh tales, he is in my head the only legitimate child beetween Arthur and Guenever. Yes, his death would be a tragedy, and explained a lot about the end. I really dislike the bit with Kay in the GPC (from Perlesvaus, yes, but he is not my Kay).

As I said, a bit of a missed opportunity.

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One of the major themes of Arthurian lore is the lack of Arthur and Guenever having children. Arthur does have other children as has been pointed out.  If one wants to have them have children, it will have major ramifications, IMHO.  From the reason why they don't/can't to now there being an official heir will now affect your campaign.  

Perhaps the reason why they suddenly do needs to be carefully examined.  Does this mean Guenever's affair with Lancelot never happens? Does Modred fail in the civil war? Does Camlann never happen?  And if you go into the religious side of things, Arthur does not fail his kingly duties, he does provide an heir!  What caused this? Was Guenever barren? If so, how?  What cured her?  

You have lots of possibilities to pursue along this course and if could be an interesting campaign.  

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21 hours ago, Leingod said:

Now, my question here is: Do you think something interesting could be done in a campaign where Arthur does have legitimate children by Guenevere? For one, I think even more of an obvious family tragedy than “there is no legitimate heir to Arthur's throne” would be “there are actually several, but they all predecease their parents in tragic circumstances and without any children (at least that anyone knows of/knows where to find).”

Yes, but going down that route could result in some serious changes to the campaign. Like Hzark10 brought up, it leads to lots of questions. For instance, most sources have Arthur in love with Gwen and the lack of a heir possible leading to a rift between them. I think if Gwen produced an heir, Arthur probably wouldn't have had the illegitimate sons with other women, nor would he have fallen prey to the "False" Guinevere. 

There are so many possibilities, especially as there are already so many different versions of the story. In fact I think there are some legitimate sons mention in some of the older texts.  Adding just one son could alter things considerably. And what happened to him? If he died or something then the circumstances could affect other things. What if he was killed in one of the various wars? Would it affect how the rest of the war played out? Would Arthur bear a grudge against those responsible? Ultimately you could change things as little, or as much as you want.

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20 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I really dislike the bit with Kay in the GPC (from Perlesvaus, yes, but he is not my Kay).

Well, at least the GPC does poor Sir Kay a lot less dirty than Perlesvaus did. In the former, Kay does it on accident because it's dark and Loholt has passed out atop the giant's corpse, so Kay thinks he's just beheading a sleeping giant. Whereas in the latter he kills Loholt knowingly just to claim the credit. I actually think the former works well, because that kind of "you unknowingly did something horrible that you try to keep secret but it causes your ruin later" motif is pretty Arthurian. It's like Kay's own version of Arthur unknowingly committing incest.

13 hours ago, Hzark10 said:

One of the major themes of Arthurian lore is the lack of Arthur and Guenever having children. Arthur does have other children as has been pointed out.  If one wants to have them have children, it will have major ramifications, IMHO.  From the reason why they don't/can't to now there being an official heir will now affect your campaign.  

Perhaps the reason why they suddenly do needs to be carefully examined.  Does this mean Guenever's affair with Lancelot never happens? Does Modred fail in the civil war? Does Camlann never happen?  And if you go into the religious side of things, Arthur does not fail his kingly duties, he does provide an heir!  What caused this? Was Guenever barren? If so, how?  What cured her?  

You have lots of possibilities to pursue along this course and if could be an interesting campaign.  

I feel like that only really became a major theme with the Vulgate and stuff that was strongly influenced by it; Loholt, for instance, is Arthur's legitimate son in both Lanzelet and Perlesvaus, but then is made into a bastard by the Vulgate. And as mentioned above, the Welsh gave Arthur four sons that we know of. And, for my own part, I honestly never really cared much either way about that particular aspect of it, so I don't feel all that attached to Arthur and Guenevere's marriage being childless.

That said, I personally probably wouldn't cause the overall story to change all that much in the end; that is, Guenevere still commits adultery, Mordred still takes over, Camlann still happens. Really, I just think it's a much more powerful tragedy to see Arthur and Guenevere have children together but then outlive them all. Not for there to just be a vacant heir's throne forever, but to go from a big, happy family full of heirs that dwindles down to that vacant throne as the years go by. And it also provides more storytelling options to have children of Arthur and Guenevere who can be characters in their own right (and whose deaths can thus have an impact).

10 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, but going down that route could result in some serious changes to the campaign. Like Hzark10 brought up, it leads to lots of questions. For instance, most sources have Arthur in love with Gwen and the lack of a heir possible leading to a rift between them. I think if Gwen produced an heir, Arthur probably wouldn't have had the illegitimate sons with other women, nor would he have fallen prey to the "False" Guinevere. 

There are so many possibilities, especially as there are already so many different versions of the story. In fact I think there are some legitimate sons mention in some of the older texts.  Adding just one son could alter things considerably. And what happened to him? If he died or something then the circumstances could affect other things. What if he was killed in one of the various wars? Would it affect how the rest of the war played out? Would Arthur bear a grudge against those responsible? Ultimately you could change things as little, or as much as you want.

Well, the first paragraph doesn't really apply to the GPC, which completely omits the "False Guenevere" episode and dates Arthur's three natural sons as all being conceived before he was ever married. And obviously anyone who wants to can put those back in, but personally I like it better that way. And yes, there are legitimate sons in other traditions, as I stated above I named the title of this thread after the four (presumably) legitimate sons he's accorded in the Welsh stories. To elaborate on them a bit:

About Amhar (also rendered Amr or Anir) we know only that Arthur killed him (for reasons and under circumstances that are lost to us) and had him buried in what's now Archenfield; Nennius recounts this in the Historia Brittonum and claims that he visited Amhar's grave, which had the curious property of changing its size. He's also named as one of Arthur's four chamberlains in Geraint and Enid. We know even less of Gwydre, who is one of the casualties of the hunt for Twrch Trwyth in Culhwch and Olwen. As for Duran, he's only known from an obscure (possibly 15th century) manuscript that says he died at Camlann.

In contrast to them, Llacheu (who might be the origin of Loholt) actually has enough bits left over for us to guess that he was actually a fairly important character at some point. He's accounted as one of the "Three Well-Endowed Men of the Island of Britain" in the Welsh Triads and fights alongside Cei in What Man is the Gatekeeper?, and Welsh poems of the 12th century and later also use him as a standard of comparison for heroism, much like Arthur himself.

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1 hour ago, Leingod said:

Well, the first paragraph doesn't really apply to the GPC, which completely omits the "False Guenevere" episode

Exactly. It's a weird little tale a GM can keep under his sleeve to surprise every player. IMO, it's the same thing with the murder of Kay. However, it shouldn't be in the GPC, the main tale of the game.

I love the sarcastic Kay full of bravado, but faithful to his king. The "Loholt accident" makes Kay dirty, the same way the "false Guenever" incident makes Arthur dirty.

1 hour ago, Leingod said:

In contrast to them, Llacheu (who might be the origin of Loholt)

Why the italics? I always thought they were the same character. By the way, Loholt appears in passing as well in Erec and Enid of Chrétien.

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32 minutes ago, Tizun Thane said:

Exactly. It's a weird little tale a GM can keep under his sleeve to surprise every player. IMO, it's the same thing with the murder of Kay. However, it shouldn't be in the GPC, the main tale of the game.

I love the sarcastic Kay full of bravado, but faithful to his king. The "Loholt accident" makes Kay dirty, the same way the "false Guenever" incident makes Arthur dirty.

The difference to me is that, IMO, it doesn't really change who Kay is if he kills Loholt purely by mistake, he can still be the "sarcastic Kay full of bravado but faithful to his king," whereas with the False Guenevere, Arthur looks like either a horrible person or just the most gullible idiot who ever lived. It irrevocably changes the character for the worse.

Plus, that whole episode just feels weird and out of place to me, like it's someone's contemporary political commentary they sneaked into an Arthurian tale.

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19 hours ago, Leingod said:

Well, the first paragraph doesn't really apply to the GPC, which completely omits the "False Guenevere" episode and dates Arthur's three natural sons as all being conceived before he was ever married. And obviously anyone who wants to can put those back in, but personally I like it better that way. And yes, there are legitimate sons in other traditions, as I stated above I named the title of this thread after the four (presumably) legitimate sons he's accorded in the Welsh stories.

Yeah, but Greg did mention it previously. He often tinkered with and changed things here and there. I think tinkering with events is a good thing, probably essential for those who are going to play the campaign more than once. It really helps to keep things fresh.

 

As to Arthur's sons, introducing any son would open up a whole new can of worms. So would a daughter. A daughter would lead to all sorts of new problems as every major king and duke would view her as a path to the throne. Hmm, imagine if Mordred was unaware of his true parentage and tried to marry Arthur's daughter instead of Guinevere.

 

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6 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

As to Arthur's sons, introducing any son would open up a whole new can of worms. So would a daughter. A daughter would lead to all sorts of new problems as every major king and duke would view her as a path to the throne. Hmm, imagine if Mordred was unaware of his true parentage and tried to marry Arthur's daughter instead of Guinevere.

Well, if we're talking about a daughter for Arthur, here's an interesting one that I only found out about recently:

Quote

In an Irish romance, Melora was a warrior-maiden, daughter of King Arthur.

She was in love with Orlando, a prince of Thessaly. Mador persuaded Merlin to imprison Orlando under a spell. Melora tricks Mador into revealing that Orlando can only be freed when three treasures are found which no man born of woman can get. They are the Lance of Longinus, the oil of the pig of Tuis and a precious stone owned by the daughter of the king of Narsinga. Then Melora disguises herself as a man, the Knight of the Blue Surcoat, and not being a man born of woman, but a woman born of woman, she at last gets the treasures.

She defeated the king of Africa to win the Lance and she was given Levander as a servant for the rest of her quest. They were both put in prison by the king of Asia but escaped, taking with them the oil of the pig. They got their hands on the precious stone, a carbuncle, when they trapped the king of Narsinga and his daughter, Verona, who later married Levander. With the three objects of the quest, Melora gained Orlando's freedom and married him. 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Leingod said:

Well, if we're talking about a daughter for Arthur, here's an interesting one that I only found out about recently:

Good find. I was speaking more in general terms. 

What happened was that pretty much every place that liked the Arthurian legend would link itself to King Arthur in some way, retconning the story to suit their needs. That's why practically every region of Britain claims to be Arthur's birthplace or the real Camelot. Many of the famous characters we consider core parts of the tale (Lancelot, Galahad) were such retcons.

I think the key thing here isn't if a GM can do this, but what does the GM get out of idea. If a GM has some good story ideas, almost any alternation can work. I still kick around my infamous idea of having one of the player characters turn out to be Arthur during the Sword in the Stone adventure. I've been kicking it around for over 25 years. It's just that such an idea would really alter the campaign. But for any radical idea to really work, there has to be more to it than the novelty of the change. 

 

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