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My Pendragon Will Vary (Reports from my new GPC playthrough)

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A little background to start:

Like many, I found Pendragon through RuneQuest which I began running with 2nd edition back in the 1980s.  When I saw first edition Pendragon, I was sold immediately – but not most of the people I played with.  Only one person from my group back then really seemed to get into it so it got shelved.  I picked up some things over the years (particularly the big hardcover of the GPC) but that was it.  However, with the plague and the lockdown that one guy who was into Pendragon back in the day and I started a weekly game on Discord which has now evolved into four of us who are spread out too much to get together in person, but can meet online.  That one friend and I had started doing some 5.2 Pendragon to fill in times when others couldn’t make it but I had assumed the others wouldn’t be interested in playing this.  However, I got them to agree to play the Starter Set when it came out and they were hooked.

Having finished the starter set adventures, we are starting the GPC (with new characters) using a hybrid of the starter set rules and 5.2.  We recently had our first real play session (after some sessions getting the PKs generated and setting up some family background).

We’re starting in 480 and I’ve been inspired by what Morien has posted about beginning things then.  The PKs are all cousins.  My set up is that they share a common grandfather whose lands were divided among four sons (all by different mothers – child-birth being what it was, disease being an issue, and Saxons…).  His more extensive lands were divided into four manors between the sons (primogeniture being Roman but not necessarily British and, well, it just made things easier to do things this way).  I used the four unnamed manors on the northern part of the Bourne River south of the forest so I can put them right into the future problems with Silchester.  I also messed around a bit with the Salisbury family history stuff so that all four fathers weren’t born in the same year, got married in the same year, etc… but the four PKs “just happen” to all be the same age.

Our first session was a sort of prequel set in 479.  I didn’t want to use the introductory stuff and the  Bear of Imber since the players had already had several sessions with the Starter rules.  I also didn’t want a fight since there will be lots of that soon.  Instead the PKs were still squires who happened to be with Count Roderick in Sarum while their knights were doing some of their service.  They were sent out to act as a guard of honor for distinguished visitors – Prince Uther accompanied by Lord Ulfius.  They are both back from the campaigns in Frisia, but in typical energetic Uther fashion he is already out on a mission for King Ambrosius to confer with various nobles, including Count Roderick, about defenses against Saxon retaliatory raids.  His next stop is to be in Cornwall to meet with duke Gorlois

As squires, of course, the (future) PKs didn’t interact with such important people but they did meet their squires along with those of other knights in the party – one of who was named Madoc.  I made him Ulfius’s squire- I have no idea what, if any, “canon” exists about Madoc prior to his being acknowledged by Uther in 480 but I liked this idea.  Basically I have it that Uther already knows who Madoc is and has quietly squired him to his good friend Ulfius.  The squires all did a bit of sparring under the watchful eye of Sir Elad (I just had them do a single opposed roll to see how the bouts went) and they were all seated together at the formal dinner greeting the guests,

Ulfius, being the rabid hunter that he is, couldn’t allow the visit to pass without a hunt and had even brought part of his pack along for the trip.  To get the dogs ready – and used to being around Roderick’s hunting dogs – a hunt was held two days before with the older squires (again, I have no idea if this makes sense in actual hunting practice, but it gave me a reason for these guys to have a hunt without more senior figures).  Mainly this meant the PKs and Madoc although I also tossed in an NPC I’m going to use down the road who was one of Uther’s squires at this point.

We used the rules from The Great Hunt and I had them hunting a stag.  One of the PKs had the highest hunting score and was acting as leader.  This was mostly a session to allow for some fun character interactions around the hunt and an opportunity for them to have a positive impression of Uther, Ulfius, and (particularly) Madoc.  We then had a feast (not the slain stag of course – the meat wouldn’t be ready) and the orator in our group got to tell the story of the hunt.  Everyone seemed to enjoy this stuff.

We didn’t really do rolls for the later hunt involving Roderick and his guests, although the PKs did attend their knights during that.  However, a member of Ulfius’s party – one Sir Blains – took the honor of the kill rather than waiting to give it to Prince Uther.  Uther didn’t seem to care much and ulfius just laughed it off, but Count Roderick seemed irritated at dinner that night…

To be continued

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