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Some Pendragon questions if you please


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Been running a lot of Pendragon lately but I wanted to check with folks and see how everyone does things:

* Experience checks -

The rulebook suggests that skill experience checks should be fairly rare, but is a bit vague in what it considers to be an appropriate rate.

With one group currently, I award a check if you crit a skill, then give each player 2-3 checks based on significant events they did. For traits I award checks very liberally (any that succeeded, plus I tend to keep track of things said and done and award a few extra checks based on that).

With another group, I started out just doing the Runequest approach (skills get a check on any success) and.. it doesn't actually feel like it's made that big of a difference. Many skill checks don't turn into an improvement in any event, so progression isn't really increased that much.

What guidelines do you use in your games?

* Solo's.

So far, I always give each character a solo in winter, but reading the winter phase again, it seems like that may be too much?

What is your habit here?

* Non-knightly character creation?

Is there a book for this or an earlier edition which has some suggestions if I wanted to create a villager, monk or similar type of character or should I just assign whatever? Mostly thinking for secondary type characters or well known NPCs.

* Squire character creation?

If we wanted to promote a squire into a full character, is there an option in a book to specifically create a squire character?  

 

Thanks in advance folks.

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I give checks pretty much on everything except a failure. Since we play 3-4 sessions per game year, we seldom use solos although I have my own personal and family event rolls yearly, inspired by Paladin. I aim to about 10 skill checks per year and usually award additional 1-3 checks to even the spread between the PKs, too.

Non-knights (other than squires and ladies), just look at the commoners in the end of the book and tweak from there. They are NPCs. They can be designed for their role without any specific rules.

Squire chargen is in Book of the Entourage.

 

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Depends on the level I am playing. I have run at different styles/levels of play depending on the wishes of my players.

In my Low Dark setting, I only give checks when players get a critical, even in skills.  There is almost no magic and what there is, is not for player's hands. Timewise, I tie this into Pre-Arthur where history is still pretty much the rule.

The second level is the default Pendragon rules.  As the rules are written and houseruled on certain things.  This setting is most familiar and can be tied to any period.

The third is my high level game. The fae have a major impact, magic is much more common and available to players, checks are given for success. I also have additional rules to make players more powerful. I expect players to hold their own against the named Round Table members and be seen as equals with them and families are meant to be movers and shakers in their areas.  But, the old saying goes with this as well, "With great power..."

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Skill checks: I tend to give PKs a skill check any time a success advances the action. It gives the characters incentives to try out different things and engage with the setting in different ways. (And I want to say that's how Greg played it; if it's not true, someone will correct me.)

I've used the "Your Own Land" solo a lot with the PKs, with everyone going through the same stages at once. Now that we've had some household knights and officers entering the game, I bring in Vassal Service as well. It goes quickly - and the court cases in the first one usually end up being hilarious. I might add on an additional one if a PK is particularly set on it.

In addition to Morien's comments, you might check out The Book of the Entourage for various types of commoners with whom the PKs might interact. Creating one is often as simple as assigning a Key Skill appropriate to the profession. If people want to interact more with a character, you might add a notable trait, and then add on details from there to fit. There's no point in pouring a lot of effort into each of what will become a rapidly expanding cast of characters.

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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My answers below:

* Experience checks - I generally give them for every critical roll and for successes that mean something for the story and/or PK. Heck, I even award them sometimes when a result provokes a good laugh, or if the character fumbles (because failing is a great teacher too, right?)

* Solo's. It really depends on the characters and what they're after. We will generally always play the "economy" solo, since most PKs own land. Sometimes, we'll add raids, madness solos and the likes, depending of what is happening. Don't make solos automatic events, it needs to make sense in the context of your story at that specific time

* Non-knightly character creation? I think the 4th edition rulebook contains ideas, the Knights Adventurous supplement from that same edition is also a great tool for that. BUT... will it work at the table? I mean up to you and your group to decide, but I would advise against it on the long run, maybe run a one shot type of game to see if you like it or not.

* Squire character creation? 5th edition contains a part on squires and how to play them. Book of the Entourage is also great for squire creation rules (and for other things as well, including improved family survival rules, wedding tables, etc).

Edited by Greyblade
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4 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

I've used the "Your Own Land" solo a lot with the PKs,

Yeah, we do that too, albeit again it is more of a homebrew.

31 minutes ago, Greyblade said:

Book of the Entourage is also great for squire creation rules (and for other things as well, including improved family survival rules, wedding tables, etc).

The improved family survival rules are in Book of the Estate, not in the Entourage, unfortunately.

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Way back when, I was quite generous with experience checks.  And I’ve still been doing that in my just-started game, because I trust my players not to do the “knight slaughters helpless peasants to get a check in Sword” thing, about which the rules express a (reasonable) concern.  I’ve always felt that the BRP experience mechanic is already elegantly self-limiting, especially when you only check for an increase every year, and demands less attention from the GM than, say, Glory awards.

There are also squire creation rules in the Book of Knights and Ladies, but IMO the later ones in Book of the Entourage are better.  They make squires very fragile at the start, though, so someone going from playing a knight to a fresh fourteen-year old squire may find it a terrifying experience if they end up doing any fighting at all.  Might be better for your players’ psychological condition to promote an older squire to a full character, rather than giving them the full squire experience. :)

Edited by Voord 99
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* Experience checks - Generous. My interpretation of a significant roll is large.

* Solo's. I don't play solos in my game, except for missing players to catch up one year or two.

* Non-knightly character creation? No need IMO.

* Squire character creation? Book of Entourage have complete rules for PC and NPC squires. They're good, I believe.

 

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1 hour ago, Voord 99 said:

And I’ve still been doing that in my just-started game, because I trust my players not to do the “knight slaughters helpless peasants to get a check in Sword” thing, about which the rules express a (reasonable) concern.

Yeah, I don't give out checks for 'frivolous' rolls. I do, however, give out checks even from tournaments, even if the weapons are rebatted. I think fighting through a Grand Melee is good practice, worthy of a check if you succeed in your rolls (especially as we use our own homebrew roll X skills solo for it, rather than several rolls per skill).

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11 hours ago, weasel fierce said:

* Experience checks -

What guidelines do you use in your games?

I got this question regularly when running demos and use the rules on page 117 (5.2) pretty much unaltered in my games:

Quote

 

Experience checks for Skills are intended to be very difficult to gain, and are not automatic whenever a success is achieved. Gamemasters must explain this point to the players. The ability to award or deny an experience check is one of the key powers of the Gamemaster.

...

A check for a Skill is possible only if at least one of the following two statements pertains:

1. A critical success is achieved. If a character does his best possible, learning is likely.

2. A success in a significant situation is achieved. Even a dozen successful attacks on a gang of poorly armed peasant levies would not be justification for a check to a Combat Skill, since no real risk or challenge was incurred by the attacker, and nothing important was achieved by their defeat.

 

In the example, it also shows getting a check without a roll.

Because gaining Glory is also tied to skill success, I look at at the glory table as well and ask "what was glorious about that". If it warrants and ordinary amount of Glory (page 122), it warrants a skill check IMO.

 

11 hours ago, weasel fierce said:

* Solo's.

So far, I always give each character a solo in winter, but reading the winter phase again, it seems like that may be too much?

What is your habit here?

As it says - only for those who missed a year and most importantly for romance later. In some cases it felt like it was a whole separate game.

11 hours ago, weasel fierce said:

* Non-knightly character creation?

Never needed it.

11 hours ago, weasel fierce said:

* Squire character creation?

I normally have player squires in the wings - we use normal knight generation, but don't knight them. Speeds up the game if there's an unexpected death.

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7 hours ago, Morien said:

Yeah, we do that too, albeit again it is more of a homebrew.

The improved family survival rules are in Book of the Estate, not in the Entourage, unfortunately.

Oh right! Estate indeed, not Entourage!

Edited by Greyblade
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4 hours ago, weasel fierce said:

Much obliged folks. I'll go look at Estate and Entourage books. I just grabbed the Paladin PDF and was honestly considering using the survival roll in that book instead anyways.

 

Good choice, @weasel fierce! I always feel Paladin is a “little” wonderful gem of a book that still gets too little attention and excitement...

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54 minutes ago, Call Me Deacon Blues said:

For the record, I give out checks like candy. I have a slightly higher powered game than some, but it seems fine. I give checks on all crits, most fumbles, impressive successes, succeeding on a skill that doesn't come up a lot, like, say, Religion, etc. 

Appreciate it. Since many advancement checks fail anyways, it doesn't seem to do all that much harm. 

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* Experience checks 

I think it is part of my sessions, generally in roleplaying, that all players like to make checks in experience or personal improvements after every session as a routine. So, on that basis, any successful use of a skill during a session is checked. Obviously, this needs to be tallied to the storylines and sessions you run, but I think it is worth noting that Pendragon campaigns run on the idea that every session occupies a whole year of game time, while the general mortality of characters in many ways curtails the development of characters that develop too fast anyway. 

* Solo's.

Although Pendragon is one of the best games for solo play, because of the Knightly premise, I’ve personally not done so much with them. Having said that, maybe I should do more. 

* Non-knightly character creation?

All PCs are Knights, basically. While there is scope to have other types of characters, I prefer them to be the basis of entirely new games in the shared setting. So, Magicians as per the mooted Book of Magic, for me, is a supplemental game. 

* Squire character creation?

I think there are rules for this and, actually it is pretty necessary because of the aforementioned mortality rate of Knights. You need back up characters in the wings. 

Edited by TrippyHippy
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45 minutes ago, weasel fierce said:

Another one: 
FOr the Uther period, how much Glory "ought" the characters be receiving? Obviously, it will vary depending on things. We've finished 489 and both groups have crossed 2000 but aren't really close to 3000. 

That will probably vary a lot from group to group, and I think there’s a lot  of wiggle room before the players get too starved or too spoiled.

But you seem to be following the same pace as us, or maybe a bit slower. Our first dead player knight went down at Netley Marsh in 508, gaining 1000 glory and ending up at 9761. He was the most glorious PK at the time, but the others were also close to getting famous after 24 years and many great deeds.

*
Our experience with that first generation made us adopt a few glory houserules. The main thrust of them was to reduce passive yearly glory. We didn’t like that the knights would often get more glory passively than from things we had actually played out.

Edited by Baba
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Yeah, that had come up for us in discussion, though the consensus at the time was that building up to receive the passive glory was part of the meta strategy, so they wanted to keep it.

Nobody has died yet but it's come close a couple of times and all dice are rolled in the open, so no hiding when it comes.

 

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2 hours ago, Baba said:

Our experience with that first generation made us adopt a few glory houserules. The main thrust of them was to reduce passive yearly glory. We didn’t like that the knights would often get more glory passively than from things we had actually played out.

Yeah, that has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine, too.

1 hour ago, weasel fierce said:

Yeah, that had come up for us in discussion, though the consensus at the time was that building up to receive the passive glory was part of the meta strategy, so they wanted to keep it.

Pretty much the same. Especially since we houseruled that Glory Bonus Points can be hoarded and used as Fate Points to give you a win in an opposed rolling or a success in an unopposed one, the Players have been doing that. They have mainly used them to avoid Major Wounds that would have dropped SIZ and STR, or if the passion roll failed or if they were critted against by a Giant or some such. Anyway, that tends to mean that they do not have that many Glory Bonus Points to spend to raising their combat skills crazy high. I think the highest one right now is 21, and it got up by a very lucky experience roll. Although we might have one semi-retired PK who has her main weapon skill at 22 or 23... But the Aging is chipping away at her stats, so...

I tend to be pretty generous with Glory in active adventuring, too, so the Annual Glory hasn't gotten too crazy. But I am not giving Annual Glory for Religious nor Chivalric; instead they gain Glory for the high Traits. No double-dipping! The PKs probably net around a 50-100 or so from Annual Glory, and often 100 - 200 Glory from adventures & court & tournaments, depending a bit how lucky they get. No big battles anymore, so that Glory gusher has been closed off.

3 hours ago, weasel fierce said:

FOr the Uther period, how much Glory "ought" the characters be receiving? Obviously, it will vary depending on things. We've finished 489 and both groups have crossed 2000 but aren't really close to 3000. 

Looking at our PKs at the end of 489, low 2000s is more of a norm, pretty much where you are. Around 150-200 Glory per year, all told, + Inherited, Knighting & Marriage Glory.

The Battle of Lindsey is potentially a huge Glory source, as is Gorlois' rebellion and the Battle of St. Albans.

At the end of 495, the surviving PKs had around 7000 Glory, give or take.

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I am fairly generous with checks - giving them for crits, any sort of action that would earn normal glory and using them as fuel for thematic mini-games during a session; plus I will use trait and passion checks like compels in Fate and offer them to players who are willing to get their characters into trouble.

My houserule for checks, which is mine, is to resolve the check as soon as I give it and to only physically put a tick on the sheet if the check is successful - any ticks will automatically increase next winter phase. This was originally done to make winter phase a little quicker but I liked how it gave players extra opportunity to advance a trait if they focused on it in play.

Regards

Luke

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