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Running Badon (GPC) - Your Thoughts?

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Next session is Badon! I'm taking some notes from the GPC and the Book of Armies to do so. My thoughts:

1) GPC has a four-day battle; BoA has a three-day battle. I'm going to use the four-day battle, but use the weaker units in BoA for Day 4, alongside the Saxon kings.

2) A good number of the older PKs have retired. I'm allowing players to bring them back if they want for one hurrah.

3) Generally speaking, players may swap characters if they withdraw to the rear, when one drops, or at the end of the day.

4) I'm fine with a big deadly fight, but not so much of the BoA sentiment that you need to ramp things up if you haven't killed half the group, so I'll probably ignore that.

5) The battle is silent on whether Merlin is there, but the implication is that he isn't. I'm on the fence about what I want to do with him.

Other than that, I'm going to kill off a couple older named NPCs, and try to give a good number of the others their moment to shine (about ten seconds).

How have you / would you run Badon?


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1) We did the four-day battles. In Greg's game, only one player out of five survived Badon. He warned us it would be deadly. 

2) Yes, we did that, too! Great way to let them go out in a blaze of glory.

3) Good idea!

4) I don't mind killing half the group if that's how the dice roll. As long as you prep the players that the battle's going to be deadly and they agree aforehand.

5) I don't think Merlin's involved in Badon; don't remember Greg having him there. I definitely never had him at Badon. 

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7 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

1) GPC has a four-day battle; BoA has a three-day battle. I'm going to use the four-day battle, but use the weaker units in BoA for Day 4, alongside the Saxon kings.

This is because GPC counts the 'prequel' battle of the ford as part of the Battle of the Badon Hill, despite it happening at the ford rather than the hill itself. Once you make that adjustment, the 3-day battle makes sense. That being said, BoA goes way over the top for my liking, when it comes to the enemy list. Giant Swooping Hawk, really? Draconic warriors? I much prefer the pathos of GPC last day, with the dregs of the Saxon nobility dying with a song on their lips, slaying before being slain, earning their ticket to Valhalla.

2 and 3: Yep, probably a good idea to clean house. Also, you could even fudge the dice a bit (with the Players' approval) to ensure that those old characters go out in a blaze of Glory (Heroic Death 1000 Glory), which gives them a proper sendoff while at the same time allows you to underline the deadliness of Badon without killing their current characters. Pruning the family trees of deadwood, as well as clearing out some of the NPKs is a good idea, too, IMHO.

4: I have run Badon twice.
The first time, we were wrapping up the face-to-face campaign (at least for now), as I was moving across the country (we picked it up later via Skype and IRC, and then Roll20). So everyone kinda knew that it was going to be a Big Finish. So after the PKs managed to survive Day 3 (the actual big battle, where the PKs were instrumental in keeping the Cymric infantry line from collapsing), as they were walking amongst the piles of the dead in the dark of the night, they came upon an old man with one eye, carrying a spear, two ravens on his shoulders and flanked by two damn big wolves. "You have spoiled my plans for the last time..." Worked very well for an epic finish, with one player bragging for years that his PK managed to wound Wotan before getting impaled.
The second time, I kinda wussed out since most of the PKs were relatively young still, and killing them off would have left a big gap before the heirs would have grown up. So while they lost an extended melee, I didn't have the Saxons slaughter them all while unconscious, but had the cavalry literally arriving in the nick of time.
I think it is obvious from the above, which one I preferred. 😛 (I was drawing heavy inspiration from Twilight of the Grey Gods by Robert E. Howard. And before someone calls me out for having a literal god on the battlefield while pooh-poohing Giant Hawks, well, one fits my mythic narrative, the other doesn't. Besides, the Wotan encounter happened in the night, with just the PKs witnessing it, rather than in the middle of the battle.)

5: I think GPC mentions that Merlin has been missing for a while, in the gossip or something? So no, he would not be around.

Edited by Morien
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On 1/11/2023 at 2:40 AM, SaxBasilisk said:

5) The battle is silent on whether Merlin is there, but the implication is that he isn't. I'm on the fence about what I want to do with him.

When I played Battle of Badon in Pendragon, Merlin showed up on the last day and issued people with 1 healing potion each.  It was enough for us to rampage through day 4.

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I also have a group of young PKs, so during the final episode, I had forshadowed an alternative choice through a vision where they went through a hidden path and had a chance to disrupt the Saxon magicians from summoning their Dragon. It was climatic, death and destruction all around, and the players had a blast. No, no fireballs, just the type of fighting you would expect from heroic activities.

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  • 1 month later...

My Badon had a *ton* of setup. During the fight alongside Nanteleod at the end of the Anarchy, Ælle's wife Brona and young daughter Kendra fled to Britain's side because Brona believed Ælle's reliance on destructive sorcery would lead to the most brutal and senseless massacre in history, and he was already ensorcelling anybody who opposed him. She had a special Women's Gift, a song that frees people from sorcerous influence, which she hoped to use to save the slaves and Saxon civilians Ælle was planning to turn into draconic beasts of war. But alas, due to the treacherous Cornishmen led by Prince Mark, the back line was broken, so King Cerdic reached and killed Nanteleod and a possessed Prince Celyn killed his own mother before she could get close enough to the magic's focal point for the song to dispel it. In the following mayhem, the Salisbury knights brought Kendra back as a guest in hopes she could some day succeed where her mother failed, and she began a private and forbidden romance with the Player Squire Deirdre, who was also the rightful heiress of Cornwall Duchy. (Which, at the moment, Cornwall Kingdom had joined the Saxons in exchange for aid reclaiming those lands Gorlois had once stolen, only for the Saxon giants to immediately betray Cornwall Kingdom to keep the Duchy for themselves.)


Fast forward to the year before Badon, Deirdre goes with Earl Jagent to try to liberate Cornwall Duchy from the vile and oppressive giants, but is lured into a trap by the Earl and King Idres of Cornwall Kingdom, who intended for the Earl to swear fealty to Idres and forcibly marry Deirdre to bring control of the Duchy once again back to the Kingdom. Deirdre was able to form a loyalist faction from her cell due to the ire Jagent's Earl procured to himself (between the forcible marriage of their savior and violent attempts to force the pagan populace and Deirdre's Jewish contingent to convert to Catholicism) and get a messenger out, but Idres used foul and dangerous magics to start a blizzard around the city to prevent interference, though his dabbling in such forces drains away his life within months, leaving the kingdom to Mark. Deirdre escapes and overthrows Jagent's Earl, but is unable to begin mustering forces until the heat of next summer comes to break the blizzard, causing her to be late to the muster.


Queue Badon. Of the three players whose main knights were present at the start of the battle, I gave them all control of their knightly family members so they'd have extra characters to cycle between when one died or became too injured to continue, so that I could go as hardball as Badon deserved; one PK who got married late had four younger brothers who he'd managed to win manors and knighthood for earlier in the campaign, one who got married super early had four knighted sons due to his own largesse plus two of them having skipped twelve years of childhood due to the changeling plotline in Anarchy, and the third had an eclectic mix of knightly family members, so it worked out to where everyone had five knights to carry them through the brutal four day battle, except Deirdre's player who only showed up for the big finale.


The player luck was pretty lopsided. The first PK lost all four of his younger brothers and only barely survived while getting his attributes shredded by wound rolls, but it wasn't so bad play-wise since both his sons were close to knighting age. The second player managed to not to lose his main knight nor any of his sons. Third one lost his cousin and father-in-law outright and his maternal grandfather was left bedridden by wounds.


In sum, they managed to kill or capture multiple Saxon Kings, and Kendra was able to rouse her brother from his possession before he could be forced to repeat his kinslaying. By this point most of Arthur's forces had been decimated and were backed into a corner, but Celyn switched sides and protected Kendra long enough for her to complete her song, reversing the transformation curse on all Ælle's victims just as Deirdre's reinforcements showed up. It seemed to be turning into a rout against the Saxons, but Ælle, unwilling to accept defeat despite his children's pleading, absorbed all the draconic energy that had been unwoven from his victims into his own body, mutating into a horrible eldritch parody of a dragon with nine legs, five tails, and dozens of mouths randomly strewn about its already-decaying carapace, which it used to devour the children of the man it once was. Between the bolstering effect of Excalibur on Arthur's leadership and a critical Passion success for her dead amor on Deirdre's part, she managed to fight down the dread beast, firmly securing Arthur's near-pyrrhic victory over the united Saxon front.


It's a rather high-fantasy take on the battle, but we had a lot of fun and it was a really cool change of pace to be able to go wild with all our characters braving the potential of death and so many succumbing to it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This would be my Badon postmortem, if that word bore the least resemblance to what happened.

The Knights of Peryl made it through Badon with no deaths and one member falling unconscious. Damned if two of them didn't waltz through without a scratch.


1) They are fairly beefy knights, with three of the five being chivalric.

2) My Battle rules allow them to sidestep some tougher encounters, though on many occasions they sought out berserkers and giants. I started to mix in those tougher encounters from Book of Armies on Day 4, and they did take them on when not beating up Aelle.

3) I gave them a +1 to the 3D6 battle events roll to signify their early capture of Aescwine.

4) I cut them off at Round 4 on Day 4, but I doubt this made much of a difference.

5) Most if it, though, was the dice. That battle events table never went negative on the group once, with maybe only one round when that +1 would have made a difference in that regard. We're running in Discord, and although I have one player who rolls physically, most of us roll right in the chat. It was just an incredibly lucky set of rolls.

Full account to follow in that thread.

Edited by SaxBasilisk
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