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Great Pendragon Campaign GM Discussion - 488 AD (SPOILERS)


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The next year in my irregular series is 488, in which our brave knights go to France (probably).

This session may require more GM preparation than previous years. The characters will be essentially choosing between two different courses of action - accompanying Uther to Somerset, or joining Madoc's expedition to France. To be realistic, neither group I ran through this year decided to stay in Britain, but your mileage might be different. This means choosing between two scenarios, both of which will probably require some extra work on your part to create some additional material for both scenarios. If your planning time is at a premium, you might feel out which way the players lean beforehand.

Those who've played through the water leapers scenario note that it can be quite deadly. One key factor here is whether the PKs are using their Boating skill, which is not exactly the most popular skill for training. Perhaps King Cadwy can provide some experienced boatsmen to help out?

If the players go to France, it's good to consider their relationships with Madoc and Syagrius. Perhaps a scene or two early in the session can bring the characters' relationships to life?

The GPC has some suggestions as to what adventures might be crafted. I'll add one, translated from a local folklore book:

"One such Dame was known as La Dame d'Apringy who appeared in a ravine at the Rue Quentin at Bayeux in Normandy, where one must dance with her a few rounds to pass. Those who refused were thrown into the thistles and briar, while those who danced were not harmed."

I put a long-disused postern gate into Bayeux leading off this ravine, and told the players of the story. They could lead some troops to the postern gate, so long as one of them was able to pass a Dancing roll. The first one who tried rolled a critical, then went mad during the assault and ran back to the ravine...

This might not work for everyone, whether because you prefer less supernatural content during the Uther era or want to keep things more gritty and serious. This session is a good one for considering what you want the tone of your Uther period to be.

EDIT: This year also ties to two adventures in the section at the end of the Uther period, "The Mercenary Syagrius" and "The Presumptuous Praetor," in which Syagrius returns to Britain. Some GMs, preferring to be more faithful to the history of the real-life Syagrius, might choose to pass over these.

EDIT: Also, Book of Uther establishes that Syagrius is not a praetor, but a king. Apparently some people care about this sort of thing, so I'll put it here.

For those who've run this year of the GPC - how was your 488?

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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18 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

"One such Dame was known as La Dame d'Apringy who appeared in a ravine at the Rue Quentin at Bayeux in Normandy, where one must dance with her a few rounds to pass. Those who refused were thrown into the thistles and briar, while those who danced were not harmed."

I love this little tale. By curiosity, what is your source? 

I think it's a an excellent idea, by the way ^^ 

Otherwise, I am not a big fan of the raiding of Normandy (Neustria?). I suppose it's a wink to the Vulgate when the kings Bohort and Ban and Uther burned everything in the land of King Claudas, giving him his nickname (Claudas de la Lande Déserte, or Claudas of the wasteland). 

If I had to play this part, I would make the war dirty. The PK need to understand they're not the good guys in this war, and Uther not a good king. I would really play the sack of the city of Bayeux, and every dirty consequence of it.  I will place the players in front of tough choices:

Will they enjoy the mayhem, , or try to protect the people, the women, the churches? There is no boundary anymore. They can do anything. What kind of men are they at the core?

18 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

Perhaps King Cadwy can provide some experienced boatsmen to help out?

Why king Cadwy would provide a boatman ? Aren't they at war with Somerset? Anyway, astute players will recrut a boatman for a fair price (1£, considering the risks). If I played this part, the poor man would be the first victim of water leapers ^^ 

I think that's precisely the point: marshes and seas don't mix well with a man in heavy armor. Usually, swimming and boating are very minors skills. For once, they will be very useful ^^.

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12 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I love this little tale. By curiosity, what is your source? 

Having examined that quote from my game notes, it is 100% pure vintage Wikipedia. But I did get beyond it, and I think I actually dipped into this work right here, before realizing that it was legitimate and I didn't actually need the research for the game:

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Contes_populaires_préjugés_patois_prov/J-FiAAAAcAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

 

12 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

I think it's a an excellent idea, by the way ^^ 

Thanks!

12 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

Otherwise, I am not a big fan of the raiding of Normandy (Neustria?). I suppose it's a wink to the Vulgate when the kings Bohort and Ban and Uther burned everything in the land of King Claudas, giving him his nickname (Claudas de la Lande Déserte, or Claudas of the wasteland). 

If I had to play this part, I would make the war dirty. The PK need to understand they're not the good guys in this war, and Uther not a good king. I would really play the sack of the city of Bayeux, and every dirty consequence of it.  I will place the players in front of tough choices:

Will they enjoy the mayhem, , or try to protect the people, the women, the churches? There is no boundary anymore. They can do anything. What kind of men are they at the core?

I hadn't thought of it that way. My read of the chapter was that the main drama was the Syagrius-Madoc conflict, with sympathies leaning toward Syagrius. If the praetor's mission leads to horrible slaughter, that might change the moral reading of that conflict. Maybe Madoc is right to plan to leave quickly, or (dropping the scene of eavesdropping on the council) maybe he's sickened by what he sees and that's why he decides to leave.

Combining it with your first insight, however, I'm wondering how much it really matters how this invasion is played out. The only impact it really seems to have is providing the characters with some insight into how Madoc would be as king. Maybe that should be a focus of however the invasion is run.

 

12 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

Why king Cadwy would provide a boatman ? Aren't they at war with Somerset? Anyway, astute players will recrut a boatman for a fair price (1£, considering the risks). If I played this part, the poor man would be the first victim of water leapers ^^ 

 

I think Cadwy would help - but that's based on my reading of what's going on between Uther and Cadwy.

Back in 482, the Somerset invasion ended up in this weird stalemate settlement with Cadwy becoming both count and king. Uther's massive march through Somerset in 489 would be supported by a vassal, but would make an independent sovereign look weak. So both kings are in an odd spot.

Dealing with the water leapers is a symbolic gesture that allows the march to occur. Uther can dismiss it as insignificant to his men, Cadwy can play it up as a good deal to his people, and the world spins on.

I'm interested to hear what people think about this interpretation.

 

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11 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

Having examined that quote from my game notes, it is 100% pure vintage Wikipedia. But I did get beyond it, and I think I actually dipped into this work right here, before realizing that it was legitimate and I didn't actually need the research for the game:

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Contes_populaires_préjugés_patois_prov/J-FiAAAAcAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

Great link. Thank you! The book is indeed talking about this "lady of Aprigny" (not Apringy ^^) but have other cool stories as well.

The fée d'Argouges (fairy of Argouges) have a beautiful story about a fairy lady, and Jeanne Bacon is a another badass lady. 

 

 

 

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