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Gamifying the Caradoc Romance that No One Reads


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Literally years ago in my GPC campaign, one of my PKs picked a fight with an NPC I named "Caradoc" off a list. I found there was a French romance dedicated to the deeds of the elder and younger Caradoc (Wikipedia summary), so I read it. I thought this would be an interesting little side event to continue in the campaign, so I brought in Caradoc's prospective wife Ysave...

...and my player decided to humiliate Caradoc, steal Ysave, and kill him. Thus, the events play out with the PK in the elder Caradoc's role. The wizard Eliavres cuckolds him on his wedding night, fathering a knight. When that knight comes of age, Eliavres reveals his parentage, causing him considerable distress. The PK chooses to keep his mother imprisoned for her dishonor. So far, the player is fine with this... and it's proceeding in broad strokes close to the epic.

At this point in the epic, his mother and Eliavres hide a serpent in a cabinet and convince Caradoc to open it. The serpent jumps out and fastens onto his arm, becoming attached and weakening him. Caradoc handles this by running off, avoiding his beloved and all his friends, and feeling sorry for himself. Apparently he can't just remove the snake. Eventually a solution is discovered: Caradoc sits in a bath of vinegar, and his beloved in a bath of milk. A friend stands nearby, and strikes at the snake when it leaps off. In the end, it merely snips off the tip of the lady's breast before being killed. All is resolved happily, except for the mother.

I'm trying to think about how to turn this into an adventure for the group. It's complicated because we've just entered the Boy King period, and it's hardly fair to have the character absent or hindered in significant events due to having a snake attached to his arm. Also, I'm wondering if it's just too damn weird for the group.

How would you turn this into an adventure that would be fun for your players?

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I’ve never read the story, but some vague thoughts.

To start with the obvious, I think that it’d be easy enough to make the snake the problem of the year to which everyone has to find a solution, rather than something that takes “Caradoc” out of play or hindered (aside from being hindered during this one adventure).*    One might want to reserve it for when the players start to get bored with all the battles and observing famous things at the beginning of the Boy King era, to give them a year where the game feels different.

At that point it is a matter of a series of challenges for the PKs.   1)There needs to be something interesting that the PKs have to achieve to discover the bath of vinegar trick.  It sounds learned, so maybe they have to do some favor for scholarly monks or nuns at an abbey?  I’m lazy, so I’d just use one of the various short adventures and come up with a reason why the monks/nuns want that.

2) There could be a secondary challenge of persuading the beloved to co-operate, since she is taking a risk (and in the story, she is the one who suffers).  If “Caradoc” doesn’t have an established “Guinier”, then maybe he needs to get one, find a woman who will love him, and vice versa?  If he does, just how much does she love him?  If he’s married to the typical NPC wife — who might after all be feeling a little worried about being married to a man who locks up his own mother — then she demands some task, perhaps connected with her family, as adventure no. 2.

3) The really interesting bit is how the PK deals with his biological father Eliavres, and his mother after this.  Forgiving/Vengeful, Love (Family) — it could all get a bit difficult, even patricidal and matricidal.  

For the future: suppose that “Caradoc” had a twin that, unknown to him, Eliavres spirited away and raised?

*For what it’s worth, we’re one of those groups where the players always have a backup character that gets played sometimes in place of the main character, e.g. when the main character rolls Fear (Sea Travel) and can’t go on the adventure for the year.  So taking “Caradoc” out of play for a bit wouldn’t be a problem for us.

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Caradoc is one of my favorites. In KAP6, Eliavres is a wicked fairy knight and features largely in a future regional supplement about Brittany, Cornwall, and Tristram. 

Have fun playing with this weird story! Don't forget the part where Eliavres is forced to have sex with a pig, a horse, and dog as punishment! 🙂

 

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4 hours ago, David 2 said:

Don't forget the part where Eliavres is forced to have sex with a pig, a horse, and dog as punishment!

See, and other gamers ask me why I don't talk about Pendragon stuff away from the gaming table... I'm always worried if I send them to the message boards, the first thing they'll see is a sentence like this one (fairly common in weird Arthurian and Arthur-adjacent literature, actually) and be scared off!

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ROLAND VOLZ

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First, I love the Book of Caradoc. Congrats ! What I suggest for your campaign:

  • About Caradoc "Briefbras" himself. Scholars don't agree about the meaning of the nickname. Some say it means "short arm" (so probably, -1 or worst in For) and others say it means "strong arm" (from the welsh deformed in french, so probably +1 or more in For).
  • Have you a Guinier? If you have not, choose one girl, preferably the sister of another knight. Like in the tale, Guinier will be kidnapped by some faerie knight as a test (Aalardin, if I remember correctly). You could have a fun little adventure chasing them.
  • Make the snake nasty. Caradoc have one year to find a solution, and his right arm is uselss. He needs his friends. Make sure they understand it's a magical snake, and if they try to use lethal force, Caradoc will die. 
  • the mother don't know the answer. PKs will have to ask Merlin, the Lady of the Lake, Morgan le Fay, etc. The benefactor knows how to heal Caradoc (the maiden, the milk and the vinegar). However, he will ask for another quest first. You have another adventure.
  • Guinier could be convinced, because it's very dangerous and the whole story is crazy. Or, as in the tale, she volunteers immediately.
  • The ultimate challenge is very difficult. Guinier losts a bit of herself, even if her brother Cadoc critted. If they don't kill the serpent in one shoot, the maiden will die as well.
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19 hours ago, David 2 said:

Have fun playing with this weird story! Don't forget the part where Eliavres is forced to have sex with a pig, a horse, and dog as punishment! 🙂

 

No - most certainly DO forget about this part, or at least don't do it without first making sure your **players** are ok with this direction. Not everyone is comfortable with this sort of stuff and you don't want to break their heads.

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Thank you all! I like how this is shaping up.

For those who haven't read my actual play thread, I can give some context:

  • Regarding Caradoc the Elder, Eliavres, and animals - yeah, that got cut really early, even before a PK got involved. Given that the important part was to distract the knight, I turned this into an illusion transforming him into various animals on the nights after his wedding to get him away from Ysave.
  • "Strong-Arm" is a nickname alternate-Kay gave the PK, due to his lame excuse of "my hand is weak" for an embarrassing incident at court.
  • Relations between the PK's birth father and mother are chilly already, to say the least. If he had been more willing to let it go, I wouldn't have let the whole possibility die... but he's already contemplating revenge.
  • PK is unmarried. Guinier is set up - she's the nephew of Cador, and I had the group play out the scene where Cador is found with a broken leg after she's kidnapped. I haven't brought her in yet. 
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6 hours ago, SirUkpyr said:

No - most certainly DO forget about this part, or at least don't do it without first making sure your **players** are ok with this direction. Not everyone is comfortable with this sort of stuff and you don't want to break their heads.

Ha ha ha. Blood, death, killing, murder, incest, racism, misogyny, murdered May Babies - all ok. But bestiality, man, we need to have a talk with the group. 

It's always fascinating to see what people will be offended by, what they won't be offended by, and why. 🙂

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On 3/23/2022 at 6:18 PM, SaxBasilisk said:

"Strong-Arm" is a nickname alternate-Kay gave the PK, due to his lame excuse of "my hand is weak" for an embarrassing incident at court.

Well done !

On 3/23/2022 at 6:18 PM, SaxBasilisk said:

she's the nephew of Cador, and I had the group play out the scene where Cador is found with a broken leg after she's kidnapped. I haven't brought her in yet. 

It's a bit late to make her the sister of another PK, I suppose. Maybe a lost cousin ? I think the story works better with a familial connection with another PK taking the role of Cador. 
In the original tale, Aalardin is a faerie knight kidnapping Guinier. So, I guess it's easy to have some troublesome encounters chasing him.

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2 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

Well done !

It's a bit late to make her the sister of another PK, I suppose. Maybe a lost cousin ? I think the story works better with a familial connection with another PK taking the role of Cador. 
In the original tale, Aalardin is a faerie knight kidnapping Guinier. So, I guess it's easy to have some troublesome encounters chasing him.

Aalardin's a really fun character. When riding, Aalardin was always “surrounded by a flock of birds singing different melodies,” and “surrounded with a bright light, like brilliant ray of the sun.”  No rain ever fell upon him, “for him the weather was always fine.”  In addition, he cannot be approached on horseback, no matter how hard the horse is spurred. He turns out to be a good guy in the end, and marries Arthur's niece I think. 🙂

 

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8 hours ago, Tizun Thane said:

It's a bit late to make her the sister of another PK, I suppose. Maybe a lost cousin ? I think the story works better with a familial connection with another PK taking the role of Cador. 
In the original tale, Aalardin is a faerie knight kidnapping Guinier. So, I guess it's easy to have some troublesome encounters chasing him.

Not necessarily. Given that I didn't get to introduce Guinier yet, I think the adventure will be less about trying to convince your beloved to do the vinegar/milk bath, but finding "a woman who truly loves you." Thus, it could be Guinier, it could be a PK daughter (I have at least one person in mind), or it could be someone else.

(Using that wording and not "beloved" or "true love," I suppose I can also backdoor Ysave into this, if all else fails.)

This discussion is quite helpful! I'm going to re-read the Caradoc story again for more material.

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On 3/25/2022 at 9:28 PM, SaxBasilisk said:

think the adventure will be less about trying to convince your beloved to do the vinegar/milk bath, but finding "a woman who truly loves you."

Indeed, except one thing. It works better with a Guinier-like figure. In the original tale, Caradoc saves Guinier at the beginning of the story, and Guinier saves Caradoc in return latter. There is a nice symmetry, and it's always nice to have a lady saving the day.

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