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Good KAP Convention Scenarios. Also… Using Traits


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I'm thinking about running something for an online game convention, and would love to run King Arthur Pendragon.

This would be a four hour block, with 2-3 players. The Grey Knight looks great, but I'm wondering if those who have played through it could weigh in on how long it takes to run.

If that might run too long, any recommendations for a 4-hour convention game scenario? Something the not only shows off the rules, but brings the dream-like quality of Mallory into play?

Thanks!

Edited by creativehum

"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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Looking at my GM notes... I had 6 players, and it took 3 sessions of ~3-4h to complete. That being said, we tend to waffle a lot, and the bigger group you have, the more rolling and talking amongst the group to make a decision there is, and I was adding some stuff, too. With 2-3 players, especially if you keep things going, I think it is possible to do the adventure in a single session.

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Thank you so much for the reply! 

After reviewing the Grey Knight a little bit more and considering your response, I've decided to go with The Adventure of the White Horse. I'll have an introduction where the PCs are Squires frustrated that they aren't out with Uther battling Saxons, the Knight of the Old Way arrives at Castle Vagon on his way to the celebration, and Sire Elad gives them permission to tag along.

I have two additional scenes toward the end to extend if needed -- a fight with some Saxons, a knighting ceremony when they go to Sarum to tell their tale. Either can be cut, but they're there if I want them.

I think it will go well. 

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"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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3 hours ago, creativehum said:

Thank you so much for the reply! 

After reviewing the Grey Knight a little bit more and considering your response, I've decided to go with The Adventure of the White Horse. I'll have an introduction where the PCs are Squires frustrated that they aren't out with Uther battling Saxons, the Knight of the Old Way arrives at Castle Vagon on his way to the celebration, and Sire Elad gives them permission to tag along.

I have two additional scenes toward the end to extend if needed -- a fight with some Saxons, a knighting ceremony when they go to Sarum to tell their tale. Either can be cut, but they're there if I want them.

I think it will go well. 

White Horse is definitely more doable in a single session, and having some material that you can add to pad it if the players run through it too fast is good, too. One thing that you NEED to take care with the White Horse is that you cannot let the PKs to drop off at the first failed trait roll, or it will become a very very boring con game for the PK's player. There is a discussion about that in this Forum, I believe. I forget if you contributed to it, too?

Of course, it is possible to do the opposite to the Grey Knight. You can easily cut the encounter with the Lady and the Bandits and just make the faerieland mess with the time so that the PKs need to race back to Camelot to get there in time. Or you can streamline some of the other encounters (like the initial court & tournament).

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Yes. I've re-read the thread yesterday. It was helpful! And thank you for the reminder.

The thing to keep in mind, for me, is that KAP's adventures suggest Traits work one way, and the rules suggest Traits working in an almost completely different way.

In particular, the KAP adventures are written in a way that suggests the PCs need to make Trait rolls left and right to find out what happens. These texts also often suggest that a PC only rolls one of the two paired Traits to determine what happens. (So, in The Adventure of the White Horse, the text says, "This is a test of the Chaste trait: roll to avoid.")  But none of this is how the rules are written.

In the KAP rules if you don't have a Famous Trait, you don't have to make a roll. You can make a roll. But you don't have to. Instead, you can simply make a choice and get a check for the Trait you chose. (I'm fine with this. It means we're still honoring the player's choice for the PC with a mechanic (the check) and over time these choice will make the PC Famous in the Trait if he keeps behaving that way.)

Secondly, per the rules, even if one has a Famous Trait you roll on the first Trait. If you succeed, you behave in that way. However, if you fail...

Quote

Failure: Failure at a single die roll is not enough to force a character to act entirely opposite to his usual patterns of behavior; the player must also roll against the opposite Trait to see if chance and statistics force his character to break pattern. Thus, only a successful roll within the range of a Trait forces the player’s hand.

If the PC doesn't succeed at the second roll, he can choose to behave however he wishes.

Finally, PCs can always "Prepare for Trait Rolls"

Quote

Players will often sense impending Trait rolls and should take action as needed to keep the game moving along without arguments. They can have their characters avoid conflicts or gain modifiers against forthcoming ones, but only if they pave the way before the Gamemaster initiates the challenge process.

All in all, while the PCs might be tempted by the fertility festival, the odds are slim.

If it should happen, I'll sort something you. I really liked your idea of letting the PC work to catch up, treating it as one of the failed horsemanship rolls and setting him an hour behind the others.

Edited by creativehum

"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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Yeah, Trait rules are a bit wonky, which is why we have had so many threads on those rules across various forum iterations.

I think I would impose the trait tests here (although I would definitely do the second roll as well). But like I said in the other thread, I would change the Traits some and make it a delay, not Out of the Story. But I can see the argument (especially in a Con Game) to ensure that all the Players get to the end to experience it.

Speaking of Trait Rules and Famous Traits...
When it comes to Famous Traits, if you allow the Player to choose when the character has a trait 5-15, you should allow him to choose to act according to the trait when it is 16+. It makes no sense that a Chaste 5 character can choose to be chaste 100% of the time and Chaste 16 character would actually be lustful: 0.05 + 0.15 * 0.2 = 8% of the time, and 5% of the time STRONGLY Lustful (fumbled Chaste). Instead, Chaste 16 should be able to choose Chaste (if non-Famous Chaste gets a choice) and only roll if the player wants the character to actually be Lustful; he needs to fail his Famous Chaste before he can choose Lustful.

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I've never found Trait rules wonky, but maybe that's just me. They've been the same for 30 years, going back to the 3rd edition (1990)*. They work great, I enjoy them. So much so that I'm confused as to why some people get them chewed up in play. But then, gamers are like that. They often think, "I know how to play RPGs" and skim the rules that are novel to their expectations and never really take the time to see how all the pieces fit together. (I am not saying you are like this @Morien. You have thought about all this a lot.)

As to your second point... what can I say? like I said, I like. the rules as written. They make perfect to me. So I'm fine using them as written. And so characters with Traits less than 16 get to choose.

I'm comfortable with this because of the mechanics of the game and how they interlock. The game offers a reward for having a Trait of 16+ (an annual Glory reward equal to the value of any 16+ Trait), and the cost of that reward is having to make a roll when Tests arrive. That's the game part of the game, and it is clear and functional. 

I understand that for the some people the Trait values working this way (changing nature at 16 or higher) doesn't "make sense" or whatever. Especially for those who might have played the 1st edition, where this rule isn't part of the game. 

Ultimately, if people want to change the rules so they make more sense (which really means, "makes sense to me") they should! I'm no stickler on this points.

But I note that many people don't play the Trait rules as written, and have often been surprised when I point out what they thought were the rules are in fact not how the game was written to be played.

_______________
* The one big change since the 1990 3rd edition was in 5.0, when the annual Glory reward for Famous Traits was only awarded if the Trait was tested that year. (I'm sure this was a result of one of the many conversations online you mentioned above.) That, of course, broke the interlocking structure. The rules were revised back to the previous rules in later revisions of KAP 5. To get several Traits to 16 is going to take consistent effort on the part of the player knight, as well as maintaining that level, and the Glory reward is for those things.

Edited by creativehum
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"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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12 hours ago, creativehum said:

Yes. I've re-read the thread yesterday. It was helpful! And thank you for the reminder.

The thing to keep in mind, for me, is that KAP's adventures suggest Traits work one way, and the rules suggest Traits working in an almost completely different way.

In particular, the KAP adventures are written in a way that suggests the PCs need to make Trait rolls left and right to find out what happens. These texts also often suggest that a PC only rolls one of the two paired Traits to determine what happens. (So, in The Adventure of the White Horse, the text says, "This is a test of the Chaste trait: roll to avoid.")  But none of this is how the rules are written.

In the KAP rules if you don't have a Famous Trait, you don't have to make a roll. You can make a roll. But you don't have to. Instead, you can simply make a choice and get a check for the Trait you chose. (I'm fine with this. It means we're still honoring the player's choice for the PC with a mechanic (the check) and over time these choice will make the PC Famous in the Trait if he keeps behaving that way.)

Secondly, per the rules, even if one has a Famous Trait you roll on the first Trait. If you succeed, you behave in that way. However, if you fail...

If the PC doesn't succeed at the second roll, he can choose to behave however he wishes.

 

I think part of the problem here is that the rules talk about moral tests in a different way than they talk about Trait rolls earlier in the same section:

Some of these tests use absolute Trait values. For example, only those characters with an Honest Trait of 15 or more may pass uninvited through the doorway into the Palace of the Lake, where lives the fay Nimue.
In other cases, a character must pass a less rigorous test and make an unopposed roll against a particular Trait. Success gains the reward, while failure indicates that the consequences of fail- ing the test ensue. Thus, anyone who answers a “justice riddle” correctly (i.e., succeeds in a Just roll) can enter into the great feast hall of King Bagdemagus on St. John’s Day, while failure to answer the riddle means a cold meal outside.

This does not read as if the idea is that someone with Just 5-15 automatically enters King Bagdemagus’ feast hall by just saying that their character answers the riddle correctly.  And this sort of thing is elsewhere in the rules, such as the Valorous roll for challenging monsters.  This section is located late in the discussion of Traits, after the section on “Trait Disputes” (where it also looks like 5-15 are expected to roll).  Note also the reference to tests using absolute Trait values, which reasonably might lead one to infer that the next part is also meant to be new rules for Traits.

So it’s not unreasonable, I think, for people to read things like the Chaste roll in The Adventure of the White Horse as being rolls that everyone has to make to pass the test.

There’s also the whole “letter vs. intent” problem here.  Because while the rules literally say that only 16+ characters have to roll, they justify and explain this as “people act according to their character when they act without thinking.”  Which sounds as if Morien’s rule fits the intended purpose better.

Not saying that it is what was meant!  But am saying that the rules are not well-written to communicate how they are supposed to work — letter and stated intent should always match.  When the way the Trait rules are explained is unclear, people are sensibly going to look at how Trait rolls are described elsewhere, and draw inferences.  

Edited by Voord 99
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I think we’ve talked about this before? At another forum?

the Moral Tests are in a completely different section, under a completely different heading. I’m not saying people might not get confused. Not only are they clearly separated out, I’m not sure what else Greg could have done, the text under Qualifying for a Moral Test is clear and specific in the matters it is discussing, and completely different than than the Trait tests discussed in the earlier pages.

* * *

As for the text of The Adventure of the White Horse in this matter...

The situation at hand has no text to suggest the fertility festival is magical — which is what the section on Moral Tests hangs on. So… I’m not sure what the confusion is here. “Are you good enough to pick up this sword?” Is not what is happening here.

As for the test in question makes it clear the PCs will have to succeed at either their Indulgent Trait or Lust rolls after failing their Temperate or Chaste rolls — so I this case it is right there.

The note about Indulgent or Lust is made a few sentences after the first roll, so it is possible someone might miss it. But this is why I stick to the rules. I do believe the adventures assume the rules to be in play… but they don’t keep repeating the rules again and again.

By sticking with the rules and not making special cases I keep play on track.

Edited by creativehum

"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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  • creativehum changed the title to Good KAP Convention Scenarios. Also… Using Traits
  • 2 weeks later...

@Morien Thank you for all the help and thoughts on The Adventure of the White Horse. Just ran the game for my online convention slot and it went gangbusters.

I was kind of loose with a lot of the "race to the ceremony" rules. For example, they all decided to join the hunt for the Red Stag, and because they did that in such a cool manner, I said they still had time to get to the ceremony. We had so much time left it felt strange shutting down the game right then! But it also meant extra Horsemanship and Horse CON rolls, so it all felt like it was going great.

My favorite part was when they confronted the knights from Somerset who blocked their way and demanded jousts. One of the knights volunteered to do all four jousts, allowing the other three squires to continue on to the ceremony. He got himself a Generous check.

The framing device was that they were squires training at Vagon Castle while Uther, Roderick, and their relatives were marching east against the Saxons in 485. The squires returned from the adventure to find that the Saxons had kicked the ass of Uther's army. Roderick and the knights of Salisbury were despondent. But when Roderick has them tell the tale, especially the way the request the blessing of the Red Stag and it was granted by the beast after they cornered it, the tale of wonder lifted the spirits of all the knights.

All in all, a great session! One of the players just commented on the convention site:

Quote

I came away from this game wondering why the hell I have been wasting time playing other RPGs when I could have been playing Pendragon instead. 

 

Edited by creativehum
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"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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On 12/20/2021 at 1:10 AM, creativehum said:

I was kind of loose with a lot of the "race to the ceremony" rules. For example, they all decided to join the hunt for the Red Stag, and because they did that in such a cool manner, I said they still had time to get to the ceremony.

You were a nice GM, too be sure ^^ Which one gained the blessing?

On 12/9/2021 at 5:08 PM, creativehum said:

The situation at hand has no text to suggest the fertility festival is magical — which is what the section on Moral Tests hangs on. So… I’m not sure what the confusion is here. “Are you good enough to pick up this sword?” Is not what is happening here.

I always felt the pagan ceremony was magical, on the contrary. The goddess Rhiannon is testing their dedication to the cause.

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46 minutes ago, Tizun Thane said:

I always felt the pagan ceremony was magical, on the contrary. The goddess Rhiannon is testing their dedication to the cause.

That's a good point, and I'll clarify, since I was trying to make a point about Moral Tests, as described on page 87 of KAP 5.2. Also, as far as I can tell, @Voord 99 has substantially re-written the post I responded to (which is fine!) so I'll take a moment to dig in again.

It's a fertility ritual, so of course it is magical.

The Chaste/Lust test, based purely on the language of the adventure as written, is a Trait of the standard kind. It is a test of whether the knight gives up on his race to reach the White Horse and the ritual before the moon sets and the sun rises. It is a Test to see which direction of action or choice the knight makes, which is the standard use of Traits.

As for it possibility of being a Moral Test, I'll quote the rule here for clarity:

Quote

 

Qualifying for a Moral Test

Arthurian adventure is full of magical and moral tests. A magical shield may be fated to be wielded only by a chaste knight, or an enchanted sword may be withdrawn only by a courageous knight, and so on.

Some of these tests use absolute Trait values. For example, only those characters with an Honest Trait of 15 or more may pass uninvited through the doorway into the Palace of the Lake, where lives the fay Nimue.

In other cases, a character must pass a less rigorous test and make an unopposed roll against a particular Trait. Success gains the reward, while failure indicates that the consequences of failing the test ensue. Thus, anyone who answers a “justice riddle” correctly (i.e., succeeds in a Just roll) can enter into the great feast hall of King Bagdemagus on St. John’s Day, while failure to answer the riddle means a cold meal outside.

 

 

So, a Moral Test is not about which decision a character makes. It is about whether the character is worthy/"can do" the task he wants to make. That's the distinction.

When Voord writes above...

On 12/9/2021 at 7:32 AM, Voord 99 said:

I think part of the problem here is that the rules talk about moral tests in a different way than they talk about Trait rolls earlier in the same section...

... all I can say is "Yes, absolutely! The section on Qualifying for a Moral Test is written in a different way. It is set apart from the rest of the section under its own heading, with its own definition that marks it as specifically its own thing. In other words, I don't see it as a problem at all, since they are different uses of Traits, and explicitly defined as different.

In the case of the festival, however, there is no reason to think the Chaste/Lust Test is a Moral Test. The adventure makes it clear that anyone can join the fertility festival. The question is not "Are these knights worthy of giving up on the chase to the White Horse?" The question is "Will any knight act impulsively and join in the festivities?" Which is the standard use of the Traits and no roll is required if the PK does not have a Famous Trait, per the rules.

However... once a knight or knight have joined the fertility ritual (through choice or impulse borne of a Trait roll) the GM might well expand the magical quality of the ritual on the spot.

This is part of what any GM in Pendragon must do all the time. No adventure as written can handle every aspect of what might happen in any given adventure. And more specifically, what the players, their knights, or the story are interested in exploring.

In this case, if the GM decided to dig deeper into the fertility ritual, he might decide what is to be gained from the ritual, he might decide that a certain lustiness might be required to gain that benefit.  Now the situation is Moral Test, because the issues is not "Which way will the knight act?" We already know that -- he's rejected the pursuit of the White Horse ceremony and joining this fertility ritual. What matters now is "Is this Knight worthy of Rhiannon's blessing?"

With that in mind the GM might call for a Moral Test. And in this case it doesn't matter whether you have a Famous Trait or not. The GM can make it an test of Absolute Trait value, and the PK needs a Lust of a certain value or higher to gain the benefit of the ritual. (He or she will still have a great time! But not get the magical benefits!) Or the GM might allow the unopposed roll, which means the PK summons the lust required in this event, whether the PK's lust was low or high.

So... again, simply reading the rules, I'm literally seeing no confusion. The passages about not needing roll if you don't have a Famous Trait are in sections about actions the knight chooses to take in stressful situations. That's what its about, and it is only used in that section.But the Moral Test section is about something completely different, and assumes that no matter what the value, a PK might not be able to muster the needed Trait to a value needed to pass the test.

Edited by creativehum

"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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Even better. I was rushing to get my convention prep done a week ago and didn't give it the time it deserved. I've now written too much in response to clarify my points, so here is the simple version:

tl;dr: 
Per the rules:

  • Standard Trait Test = Which way does the Knight act?
    • Only Need to Roll if Famous Trait; choose otherwise
  • Moral Test = Can the Knight do the thing/get the thing he or she wants to do/wants to get?
    • Either you have the value or you don't succeed or you need to roll unopposed to succeed, Famous or not; this is not about choice, it is about being worthy at this moment, so the out of only having to roll if Famous is not offered

In The Adventure of the White Horse, the Chaste/Lust roll when passing the fertility festival is a standard Test, since it is about which action the Knight will take -- pass by the festival or join the festival.

Edited by creativehum
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"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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I'll add that my players where making Traits tests left and right on Sunday (sometimes the "casual Trait tests" per the rules, sometimes committing themselves even if they didn't have to (like the fertility ritual). People like rolling the dice!

"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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16 hours ago, creativehum said:

l;dr: 
Per the rules:

  • Standard Trait Test = Which way does the Knight act?
    • Only Need to Roll if Famous Trait; choose otherwise
  • Moral Test = Can the Knight do the thing/get the thing he or she wants to do/wants to get?
    • Either you have the value or you don't succeed or you need to roll unopposed to succeed, Famous or not; this is not about choice, it is about being worthy at this moment, so the out of only having

Or if you critted one way or another, even for a standard trait test.  The rules are messy, but that's the way to play it, sure.

Except, in this case, I always felt it was not a standard trait test, but a magical moral test. It was said "it's a magical night", and if you encounter a red stag, it's because the night is magical. The fertility ritual is not different IMO. In my eyes, it was a magical test. To be chaste (to have a higher purpose) and energetic, be a good warrior and horseman. Love your horse. Every step was a test.

You thought differently and that's fine.

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Thank you for continuing the conversation! KAP is my favorite RPG, and I love talking about how RPG rules can be clear or clouded.

Can you tell me more what you meant by this:

2 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

Or if you critted one way or another, even for a standard trait test. 

How are you interpreting the rule about Critting here?

Per the rules, if you Crit a Trait test (whether as required by a Famous Trait, or if rolled by choice by the player), you act strongly in accordance with the Trait you rolled. But that doesn't contradict or complicate what I wrote in my summary post, so I must be missing your meaning. Can you tell me more?

Thanks!

"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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[Full Alert: I'm on Christmas Break. I'm talking about a game I love. I'm going into text/archeological dig mode. I tend to go to sources and quote things. Sorry for the long post! Also, I'm not particularly trying to convince you of anything. But others might be reading these posts, and having confusion about Traits as well. so I'm simply going to point to the text in the rules to clarify how to play.]

3 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

Except, in this case, I always felt it was not a standard trait test, but a magical moral test. It was said "it's a magical night", and if you encounter a red stag, it's because the night is magical. The fertility ritual is not different IMO. In my eyes, it was a magical test. To be chaste (to have a higher purpose) and energetic, be a good warrior and horseman. Love your horse. Every step was a test.

Absolutely. Every step is a test in The Adventure of the White Horse. This is why I love it as an introductory adventure for new players. There is little combat (and the only combat is a joust), and instead the adventure focuses on Traits, Passions, and choices.

I would insist that this quality, an emphasis on tests, is one of the central qualities of King Arthur Pendragon. You don't want this every moment of play -- it would become both ridiculous and exhausting. But time and time again, the game circles back to tests of Traits and Passions, as defined by the text.

Going further, a test does not need to involve a roll. We know that the GM can award checks for strong actions based on a PK's behavior, even if a roll was not made. ("One of the key tasks of the Gamemaster is to decide when an action performed by a player deserves an experience check." KAP 5.2, p. 87)

Even if a check is not even on the table, choices become tests. In The Adventure of the White Horse, the text suggests no Trait test for whether or not to pursue the Red Stag. But if a PK has a strong emotional reason tied to any Trait or Passion worthy of a check when they decide either way, I'm giving them a check in their Trait or Passion. (I'm not saying that such a decision is obvious. I am saying that the rules are clear on the matter. Interpreting when to give such checks or when to requires Trait tests on the spot is part of the art of GMing Pendragon.)

The notion of all Trait rolls as tests (not only Moral Tests) is in the 1st edition of the game, even when the player is imposing the Trait roll on himself or herself:

Quote

Conflicting emotions: this behavior might be imposed by the gamemaster, which results in experience checks. Players may often wish to use trait tests privately to determine a character’s actions.

-- KAP, Player's Book, p. 53 (1985)

Moving ahead 35 years, here are the three passages from the KAP 5.2 rules referencing Trait tests. Each passage is a separate application of the Trait rules, each under a separate heading, with the last (Moral Tests) placed three pages after the first two. 

Quote

 

Famous Traits and Passions

Only famous Traits and Passions (i.e., those with a value of 16 or higher) are noteworthy, and such Traits or Passions must be tested with a die roll whenever character behavior is challenged in a crisis. Basically, if you get Glory for a Trait or Passion, you should expect rolls based on that value to be made quite often.

This does not mean that Trait rolls must be used whenever the character makes any decision in the game. And even characters with famous characteristics are allowed free choice of behavior except when the plot demands otherwise. The Gamemaster should request Trait rolls only when a Trait is tested in an important situation. In general, Trait rolls simulate situations in which a crisis forces the character to act unconsciously.

-- p. 84

 

So, this has nothing to do with Moral Tests. This is the standard use of Trait test as most people think of using Trait tests in Pendragon. The key point of this passage is about the use of Famous traits and how they are used to determine "character behavior" (how will a character act?; what choice will a character make?) in crisis.

Then we have a passage outlining how the Traits in various combinations to determine how a player knight might act or choose to behavior in a crisis, and how the player might impose such a test on his own knight.

Quote

Conflicting Traits

In some cases, a character may be torn between two warring Traits (that is, not an opposed Trait pair like Spiritual/Worldly, but entirely different virtues, such as Spiritual and Trusting).

By making an opposed roll between two unrelated Traits, you may play your character’s emotions off against each other, emulating the deep introspection of someone tortured by internal doubts. You or your Gamemaster may also set opposed tests of conflicting emotions, requiring you to make several separate unopposed Trait rolls, with varying results depending on which of them was successful and which failed.

So, again even if the player is deciding to create an opposed Trait roll, it is still a "test." Again, this kind of test is about how will the knight behave.

Of special note: Many "standard Opposed Trait tests" will have a moral component. This does not make such a test a "Moral Test." A Moral Test, as defined by the text as a specific application of the Trait rules, has several specific components which stand in contrast to standard Trait tests:

Quote

Qualifying for a Moral Test

Arthurian adventure is full of magical and moral tests. A magical shield may be fated to be wielded only by a chaste knight, or an enchanted sword may be withdrawn only by a courageous knight, and so on.

Some of these tests use absolute Trait values. For example, only those characters with an Honest Trait of 15 or more may pass uninvited through the doorway into the Palace of the Lake, where lives the fay Nimue.

In other cases, a character must pass a less rigorous test and make an unopposed roll against a particular Trait. Success gains the reward, while failure indicates that the consequences of failing the test ensue. Thus, anyone who answers a “justice riddle” correctly (i.e., succeeds in a Just roll) can enter into the great feast hall of King Bagdemagus on St. John’s Day, while failure to answer the riddle means a cold meal outside.

Here we have the word "test" again. But from the previous quotes, we know that Moral Tests are not privileged with being "The definition of Trait tests in Pendragon." Moral Tests are simply one more use of Trait tests.

Specifically, every example in the Moral Test section is about The knight wanting to do something or acquire something in that instant.

Can the knight pick up the shield? Can the knight see the Grail? Can the knight pass the magical barrier he wishes to pass? 

This is clearly not about which way will the character behave, but about whether or not the character can succeed at a specific test. 

While magic is, without doubt, a defining quality of a Moral Test, it is not the only quality that defines. If Morgan Le Fey conjures an illusion to disguise herself and seduce a knight, there might be a test of Chaste/Lust (or some other combination) whether imposed because of a Famous Trait, or imposed by the player for non-Famous Traits. But it would not be a Moral Test (despite magic being involved) because the issue is not whether or not the knight is worthy of being seduced by Morgan Le Fey or worthy of not being seduced by Morgan Le Fey, but simply "Which way is he going to behave?" Whether magic is involved or not, the question of behavior is a test for general Trait rolls, and the question of worthiness is a test for Moral Tests.

To use a different example, one from a post I made upthread, if the GM wanted to add a reward or boon of some kind for participants who were worthy of the ritual because of a Trait, then there could be a Moral test. Having chosen to stay with the festival (standard, opposed Trait test, pulled by his or her lust), the Knight may now well receiving a blessing if his Lust his high enough or he rolls well on his Lust. (As a side note, if the Knight hat made a crit on his first roll to see if he joined the festival, I would not require a Moral test. I would assume he entered the festival with such spirit he was already worthy of the blessing.)

But would I use a Moral Test for the first roll, when the knight might not want to participate? (Which is what standard Opposed Trait rolls are for.) No. I would not. Would I use a Moral Test when there was no reward or boon or object or need on the part of the knight -- which are the qualities the text that defines Moral Tests -- and is the circumstance when the knight is determining whether to stay or ride on? No, I would not.

So, magic knight or not, each test needs to be defined by the circumstances as defined by the text from the rules. All Trait rolls are "tests" as long as the rolls are binding. The fact that something involves Traits and is a test does not make it a Moral test.

Is The Adventure of the White Horse full of tests? Absolutely! But it is full of the many kinds of tests King Arthur Pendragon offers. That's why I love it!

I can see the way you interpret the fertility festival. The Knight wishes to pass by the festival to continue on with the race to the White Horse. But the road itself is not magical but mundane, so I don't see that path as a magical test that must be passed. The knights are trying to avoid the festival, which in the simplest reading of the rules makes it a standard Opposed Trait test.

Further, applying the Moral Test rules this way opens up the use of them for most situations and tests involving magic (the way you seem to be using them) and I fear in a world rich in magical events the knights would be robbed of the chance to have an impulse to participate or not. 

As far as I can tell, when one interprets the text the way you are interpreting it (again, an interpretation I think I understand) -- yes! -- the rules get clouded and confused, and deciding when and how to apply them becomes tricky.

But if one sticks with a tight reading of the examples offered in the passage on Moral Tests, all I see is clarity and ease. 

I say this not to dissuade you from playing how you want. But I do think there is an easier way to read, and thus run, the game.

Edited by creativehum

"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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3 hours ago, creativehum said:

Per the rules, if you Crit a Trait test (whether as required by a Famous Trait, or if rolled by choice by the player), you act strongly in accordance with the Trait you rolled. But that doesn't contradict or complicate what I wrote in my summary post, so I must be missing your meaning.

No, we agree 😉. I you crit, you must act strongly according in accordance with the trait. If you fumble, with the opposite trait.

2 hours ago, creativehum said:

If Morgan Le Fey conjures an illusion to disguise herself and seduce a knight, there might be a test of Chaste/Lust

If it's some illusion, what you call the standard test apply. The Player can roll, but can still choose how he will react, even against the roll.

However, if Morgan is manipulating the lust emotion (like some wicked succubus 😍), the player must act according to the roll.

2 hours ago, creativehum said:

can see the way you interpret the fertility festival. The Knight wishes to pass by the festival to continue on with the race to the White Horse. But the road itself is not magical but mundane, so I don't see that path as a magical test that must be passed. The knights are trying to avoid the festival, which in the simplest reading of the rules makes it a standard Opposed Trait test.

IMHO, it looks mundane (as far as a ritual orgy can look mundane), but it's not. Like during the Grail's quest. Many things looked mundane, but nothing was mundane. Everything was a magical test. If some beggar asks for some food, it looks mundane, but it's not. It's a divine test (or magical, but it the same thing).

2 hours ago, creativehum said:

Further, applying the Moral Test rules this way opens up the use of them for most situations and tests involving magic (the way you seem to be using them) and I fear in a world rich in magical events the knights would be robbed of the chance to have an impulse to participate or not. 

Yeah,that's the risk. My rule of thumb is : "is there an obvious choice to this moral dilemma for the player (not the character)?"
If the answer is yes, I ask for a roll after the players gave me their intents (ie "we ignore the fertility ritual, because we must continue our journey).

If the answer is no,  I let the standard test rule apply, and Players are not robbed of their freedom.

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Hi @Tizun Thane,

For clarity, we're on the same page about the fertility festival. While the text states nothing explicit about it having magical effect, as the GM I certainly would lean into that, if only because it is more fun!

So the question at hand has nothing to do with the fictional content. Yes, Rhiannon is present and magical boons might be granted. The question at hand is how the Trait rules are being used. And the only reason I'm going on about this is because it has been stated the rules are unclear or messy, and I'm not seeing it.

Or, rather, I do see the the one hitch now after reading over the posts one more time. @Voord 99 does make a good point that the The Moral Test subsection does not explicitly state or clarify that unlike standard Opposed Trait tests all characters are tested with either the need for an absolute value or with the less rigorous test of making a roll. With that said, the context of the section makes it clear to me that:

a) this section is clearly working in a manner very different from the standard Opposed Trait tests;

b) if the whole point of Moral Tests means that absolute values can knock off folks with lower values, lower values will also have to roll;

c) one of the examples in the text uses an example of needing a static Trait value of 15 to pass, so clearly we're not talking about Famous Traits anymore; and

c) the qualifier for only Famous Traits having to roll is placed in the standard Traits section because it is explicitly about the choices of behavior on the part of the PK. Since Moral Tests are about choices of behavior, that qualifier does not apply to this kind of test.

Could one sentence saying "All Knights have to make the unopposed Trait roll for Moral Tests, whether Famous or not" make things clearer? Sure. Is such a sentence needed given the context of the subsection? Not for me, but I can see how it would help others.

 

Whether or not this is worth a conversation I really don't know! I do know that some people are confused by this point, and I found a question on the old Nocturnal Forums on exactly this scene in The Adventure of the White Horse from four years ago. (Maybe it was you!) But if people are confused, then hashing this out might provide clarity and help people see that the rules are not messy and not confusing. (Because, truly, I don't think they are. And I'm quite harsh about my distaste for unclear rules.)

So, one more time into Moral Tests!

First, we have established in the conversation so far that the presence of magic alone is not enough to trigger a Moral Test. Also, we have established that the moment being a "test" in the story does not trigger a Moral Test, since standard Opposed Trait tests are called "tests" but are not Moral Tests.

So when does a Moral Test apply, according to the text found in the rules?

In the text for the Moral Test subsection, Greg offers four examples of what a Moral Test might be to help a GM understand what kinds of situations the Moral Test is built for. (The three paragraphs of the Moral Test section have remained unchanged since the first edition of the game in 1985, by the way! When I look at older editions it is often amazing to me how much of the game is word-for-word the same from edition to edition.)

Here are the examples:

  1. A magical shield may be fated to be wielded only by a chaste knight
  2. An enchanted sword may be withdrawn only by a courageous knight
  3. Only those characters with an Honest Trait of 15 or more may pass uninvited through the doorway into the Palace of the Lake, where lives the fay Nimue.
  4. Anyone who answers a “justice riddle” correctly can enter into the great feast hall of King Bagdemagus on St. John’s Day, while failure to answer the riddle means a cold meal outside.

The use of Moral Test is slippery business of course. The rules of King Arthur Pendragon famously, and in my view, appropriately, do not have rules for handling magical effects apart from Magical Virtues. (Apart from the 4th edition, of course, but they were removed again for the 5th.) This lets the GM create whatever magical effects and moments he wishes, on the scope or scale he wishes, without having to worry if such effects are too powerful or not, or follow the rules, or whatnot. 

That said, Greg offers the examples in the Moral Test section to help any GM triangulate what sorts of situations are appropriate for Moral Tests.

What do we find?

  1. A knight wants to pick up an object and must be Chaste enough to do it
  2. A knight wants to pick up an object and be Courageous enough to do it
  3. A knight wants to pass through a magical barrier and be Honest enough to do it
  4. A knight wants to pass through a barrier and have a sense of Justice enough to do it (the barrier in this example might be magical, might be mundane, GM's call!)

In all these cases there is:

  • Something the knight wants to do 
  • An object to interact with (a shield, a sword, a magical doorway, a mundane doorway)
  • The test at hand is not about the knight's behavior or choice of behavior (it is assumed that the knight freely wants to pick up the object or pass through the barrier). The choice has already been set: "I want to pick up this object." "I want to pass through this barrier."
  • What matters is, "Is the knight worthy of interacting with this object?"

Looking at the four examples I see a common quality and it is quite clear (at least to me) what kind of situations we're talking about when it comes to Moral Tests.

And now we have the "Challenge 2: The Moonlit Celebration" in The Adventure of the White Horse

In this case:

  • There is not specific object at hand to interact with
  • At best the festival is the object at hand (Hand on heart, I find this to be a terrible stretch given the example from the Moral Test text.)
  • The knight may or may not want to interact with the festival, making it completely contrary to both the spirit and concrete examples found in the Moral Test section
  • As established in the adventure, the Challenge is about about choice of behavior ("Do I continue down the road, or do I get pulled in by the lovely disrobing ladies or the wonderful, fresh food?") and not whether or not the knight is worthy of interacting with something
  • One could say that the Moral Test is about bypassing the festival. But, again, this runs counter to the examples in the Moral Test section. Moral Tests about whether the knight, in an absolute sense, is worthy of moving interacting with some specific object, not about avoiding something. (The KAP rules standard Trait tests for that.)

In other words, given the four examples from the Moral Test section, and the facts as presented for "Challenge 2: The Moonlit Celebration" in The Adventure of the White Horse, I feel quite comfortable saying, "One of these things is not like the others."

 

How Do You Run Challenge of the Fertility Festival, @Tizun Thane?

Can you help me out? I have tried to imagine the fictional context of the scene with you as the GM and me as a Knight as I approach the fertility festival, and for the life of me I can't quite figure it out. I don't really understand how your are bringing the Moral Test to bear in this case.

That all said, you're the GM, you should be playing as you want. But given that -- can you walk me through it? Let's say I'm your player, and (as far as I can tell):

  • The players say they want their knights to keep going down the road
  • You say "You need to make a [Trait roll X] to keep going down the road. Everyone needs to roll because this is a Moral Test."
  • And I say, "How can this be a Moral Test. I'm not checking to see if I can interact with something. I'd be checking to see if I can avoid something. That's a standard test." (Let's assume for the moment I'm not trying to be a dick. Let's assume I'm genuinely confused about how you are applying the rules... because I am!)

Now, I might be mangling how you would run it! That's my point. I really don't understand the fiction of the situation as you would present it, or how you would be using the Trait rules here. You might simply say, "I'm the GM, this is how it is."

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"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 12/23/2021 at 5:20 PM, creativehum said:

And I say, "How can this be a Moral Test. I'm not checking to see if I can interact with something. I'd be checking to see if I can avoid something. That's a standard test." (Let's assume for the moment I'm not trying to be a dick. Let's assume I'm genuinely confused about how you are applying the rules... because I am!)

And I answer: this is a magical night. Just roll the dice, please. I am the GM.

And it's a perfectly fine answer. You don't interpret the scene the same way I do. You think it's a standard moral test (like some mundane situation), when I think it's a magical test by Epona (or God, or whatever) during a magical night. The players know it's stupid to lose time with some pretty girls. If I let them do as they wish, there is no challenge.

If some siren was trying to lure the PKs to their doom with a song, it would be the same. Some magical compulsion.

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35 minutes ago, Tizun Thane said:

If some siren was trying to lure the PKs to their doom with a song, it would be the same. Some magical compulsion.

I think in our play-through of that Adventure, I explicitly made the gathering that of faerie folk rather than just peasants, so it had that magical component 'built-in'. But yeah, Magical Night would qualify, too.

37 minutes ago, Tizun Thane said:

The players know it's stupid to lose time with some pretty girls. If I let them do as they wish, there is no challenge.

Well, there is also an argument that the PKs do NOT know this. As far as they know, they might be on a wild goose chase, all for nothing. Why not stop here and enjoy good company and fine food? Have some fun, rather than bounce in the saddle the whole night for some silly pagan ritual that won't matter and they are probably going to miss anyway...

As it says on p. 85 (KAP 5.2): "Sometimes, though, behavior takes precedent over conscious intent. Most of us have experienced doing something without thinking, and a Trait roll duplicates that kind of situation." There is also the case on p. 86: "The Gamemaster asks Ambrut’s character to make a roll against his Merciful Trait,"; there is nothing magical in that situation, just a question if Ambrut will spare the life of a villainous foe. So clearly, there is a precedent for the GM asking the Player to roll for a Trait in certain situations to decide the actions of the PK.

I do impose some 'mundane tests' on occasion as well, just like I might ask Valorous or Energetic rolls. You can't just decide to be Valorous (to continue the fight after a Major Wound) or Energetic (to stay awake the whole night during your Vigil); you'll have to succeed in the Trait, even if it is a simple mundane situation.

 

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@Morien sums it up for me:

On 1/13/2022 at 4:04 AM, Morien said:

As it says on p. 85 (KAP 5.2): "Sometimes, though, behavior takes precedent over conscious intent. Most of us have experienced doing something without thinking, and a Trait roll duplicates that kind of situation." There is also the case on p. 86: "The Gamemaster asks Ambrut’s character to make a roll against his Merciful Trait,"; there is nothing magical in that situation, just a question if Ambrut will spare the life of a villainous foe.

Of course the GM can run the game any way he wants. All I've been doing is pointing at the text and the default design of the game. 

Edited by creativehum

"But Pendragon isn’t intended to be historical, just fun.
So have fun."

-- Greg Stafford

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