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Squiring and family queries (Salisbury start)


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I'm hoping to start a Pendragon campaign in the near future, and I'm thinking about the starting characters' social network. (I'm planning a Salisbury 485 start.) Do any of the supplements talk about how squires are chosen?

KAP 5.2 has this on page 48: "Usually your squire is a younger son of one of your lord’s other vassals, or perhaps the son of one of his allies’ vassals." So would they normally be assigned by the lord, or would the knight get to choose from known candidates?

My vague impression (from reading some medieval history books many years ago) is that the knight-squire relationship was at least partly about strengthening connections between families. A father probably wouldn't take his own son as a squire, but might send him to become squires for a brother (the boy's uncle) or a close friend; alternatively, he might angle to get a richer, more powerful or more famous knight to take the boy on. (Not unlike the considerations of knightly marriage, in a way.) So could PKs have each other's brothers as squires? I'm also thinking it could be neat if a couple of the PKs had been squires to each other's fathers before the latter's deaths.

Along a similar line, I'm wondering how likely it is that PKs might already be related. Vassal knights presumably tend to marry ladies from other vassal knight families. I'll leave that to player choice, though.

 

 

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According to the Book of the Entourage the squire is assigned by the knight’s lord, who considers such things as who among the boys should enter the career towards knighthood, and the political implications of the loyalties that will form between the families.

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1 hour ago, Uqbarian said:

Along a similar line, I'm wondering how likely it is that PKs might already be related. Vassal knights presumably tend to marry ladies from other vassal knight families. I'll leave that to player choice, though.

Not exactly an answer, but when I heard @sirlarkins run of Paladin on his podcast, I immediately thought it'd be pretty interesting to run a group of PKs that are all related, brothers and cousins. You'd have to ensure there are plenty of unplayed brothers and cousins for backup characters, and the whole Estate management thing might need some rethinking, but kinda fun to have them all working on the same family legacy, and their Love (Family) Passions would all apply to each other. Kind of like playing the Orkney mob. :)

Edited by Sir Mad Munkee
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2 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

I'm hoping to start a Pendragon campaign in the near future, and I'm thinking about the starting characters' social network. (I'm planning a Salisbury 485 start.) Do any of the supplements talk about how squires are chosen?

 

Not really, Book of Entourage does get into it a little with the background tables. Squires are usually the sons of knights with connections. Some will advance to knighthood, others will not and remain as squires or become esquires (older squires or ex-squires and ever mounted sergeants) either due to lack of funds, connections or desire. Some squires hail from common backgrounds and so wouldn't generally be eligible for knighthood unless they really distinguished themselves.

Politics plays a huge part in it. It can help create ties between families. In some ways the knight is like a foster father to the squire. 

2 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

My vague impression (from reading some medieval history books many years ago) is that the knight-squire relationship was at least partly about strengthening connections between families. A father probably wouldn't take his own son as a squire, but might send him to become squires for a brother (the boy's uncle) or a close friend; alternatively, he might angle to get a richer, more powerful or more famous knight to take the boy on. (Not unlike the considerations of knightly marriage, in a way.) So could PKs have each other's brothers as squires? I'm also thinking it could be neat if a couple of the PKs had been squires to each other's fathers before the latter's deaths.

Yes./ Part of the reason for that was because it was felt that father would be too soft on his own son, which would be a detriment to the lad latter on when he because a knight. Yo u don't want your son to die on the battlefield because you didn't train him hard enough.

 

2 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

Along a similar line, I'm wondering how likely it is that PKs might already be related. Vassal knights presumably tend to marry ladies from other vassal knight families. I'll leave that to player choice, though.

It's quite possible, IMO. In most of my campaigns the PKs have married off sons and daughters to each other any by three or four generations the PKs all have some sort of family connection to each other. So it seems quite possible to me, depending on how large you group is and how close a connection you are looking for. I've had some PKS play brothers, althought that does affect the dynastic part of the game. 

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4 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

So could PKs have each other's brothers as squires? I'm also thinking it could be neat if a couple of the PKs had been squires to each other's fathers before the latter's deaths.

I heartily encourage this. It ensures that there is some continuity between the PKs, even if one of them gets replaced by a younger brother. The younger brother would have been in the same adventures (as a squire) and would have had a Mentor/student relationship with another PK, too. Not to mention that it also helps to knit the other new PKs together, having been squiring in the same group and likely shared tips and chores.

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2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

It's quite possible, IMO. In most of my campaigns the PKs have married off sons and daughters to each other any by three or four generations the PKs all have some sort of family connection to each other. So it seems quite possible to me, depending on how large you group is and how close a connection you are looking for. I've had some PKS play brothers, althought that does affect the dynastic part of the game. 

Same in our campaigns. It can swiftly become a bit incestuous, though, so a dash of new blood is recommended from time to time. But it is very common for our PKs to be related through marriage, whether marrying sisters/widows of other PKs, or happening to marry sisters from the same NPC family.

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Thanks for the replies, folks!

11 hours ago, Puckohue said:

According to the Book of the Entourage the squire is assigned by the knight’s lord, who considers such things as who among the boys should enter the career towards knighthood, and the political implications of the loyalties that will form between the families.

Thanks for that, I've found it. And the political angle just made me think of the flipside that sometimes a lord (particularly a suspicious one) might want to discourage bonds between strong vassals so they don't get too close. 

 

10 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes./ Part of the reason for that was because it was felt that father would be too soft on his own son, which would be a detriment to the lad latter on when he because a knight. Yo u don't want your son to die on the battlefield because you didn't train him hard enough.

That makes sense.

 

10 hours ago, Sir Mad Munkee said:

Not exactly an answer, but when I heard @sirlarkins run of Paladin on his podcast, I immediately thought it'd be pretty interesting to run a group of PKs that are all related, brothers and cousins. You'd have to ensure there are plenty of unplayed brothers and cousins for backup characters, and the whole Estate management thing might need some rethinking, but kinda fun to have them all working on the same family legacy, and their Love (Family) Passions would all apply to each other. Kind of like playing the Orkney mob. :)

Yeah, playing a proper clan of knights could be fun!

 

7 hours ago, Morien said:

I heartily encourage this. It ensures that there is some continuity between the PKs, even if one of them gets replaced by a younger brother. The younger brother would have been in the same adventures (as a squire) and would have had a Mentor/student relationship with another PK, too. Not to mention that it also helps to knit the other new PKs together, having been squiring in the same group and likely shared tips and chores.

Thanks. I am a bit worried about continuity, because I keep seeing people comment about how lethal the Pendragon system is. The best way to find out is through playing it, I guess!

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17 minutes ago, Uqbarian said:

Thanks for the replies, folks!

Thanks for that, I've found it. And the political angle just made me think of the flipside that sometimes a lord (particularly a suspicious one) might want to discourage bonds between strong vassals so they don't get too close. 

Yes, but then you have to wonder why the lord is willing to knight them in the first place. Loyalty Lord is key so if the lord is suspicious of a squire he'd probably wouldn't knight him. In my campaign I had several PKs up their Loyalty Lord to 16 so they could be in the running for some special positions. If I were a noble I wouldn't put a knight in charge of a castle unless I was certain that he was loyal to me. Anything else is just gambling with your demesne. If a castellan betrays you to a neighboring lord you are going to have a very tough time recapturing your own castle.  I'd sleep better if my castellans had Loyalty (Me) 20, and anybody not known for Loyalty (16+) wouldn't be put in that sort of position, unless absolutely necessary.

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That makes sense.

Probably. Anywayit was more common to send the son out to be squires than to do it yourself. 

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Thanks. I am a bit worried about continuity, because I keep seeing people comment about how lethal the Pendragon system is. The best way to find out is through playing it, I guess!

Well, it dpends. What RPGs do you have experience with. Pendragon can be deadly, and sometimes the dice can turn against a player, but there are more lethal RPGs. 

What I will warn you about is that Pendragon combat is fast, especially when characters don't have much in the way or armor and/or shields. Probably much faster than most experience RPers are expecting. A fight can, and probably will,  beover in a couple of rounds. This can lead some people, even some GMs to think that the fight wasn't dangerous. That can lead to the PKs getting cocky and taking greater risks or the GM believing he should up the opposition in order to get a "good fight". That can lead to a major disaster and Total Party Kill. 

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6 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, but then you have to wonder why the lord is willing to knight them in the first place. Loyalty Lord is key so if the lord is suspicious of a squire he'd probably wouldn't knight him. In my campaign I had several PKs up their Loyalty Lord to 16 so they could be in the running for some special positions. If I were a noble I wouldn't put a knight in charge of a castle unless I was certain that he was loyal to me. Anything else is just gambling with your demesne. If a castellan betrays you to a neighboring lord you are going to have a very tough time recapturing your own castle.  I'd sleep better if my castellans had Loyalty (Me) 20, and anybody not known for Loyalty (16+) wouldn't be put in that sort of position, unless absolutely necessary.

Indeed, but circumstances can change. E.g. Lord A used to like Squire B and knighted him, but since then Sir B has been seen talking to Lord A's unfriendly neighbours; maybe best to not let Sir B form too many connections with other prominent families. I'm not expecting it to come up very often, though, and maybe not at all.

 

6 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Well, it dpends. What RPGs do you have experience with. Pendragon can be deadly, and sometimes the dice can turn against a player, but there are more lethal RPGs. 

What I will warn you about is that Pendragon combat is fast, especially when characters don't have much in the way or armor and/or shields. Probably much faster than most experience RPers are expecting. A fight can, and probably will,  beover in a couple of rounds. This can lead some people, even some GMs to think that the fight wasn't dangerous. That can lead to the PKs getting cocky and taking greater risks or the GM believing he should up the opposition in order to get a "good fight". That can lead to a major disaster and Total Party Kill. 

Thanks for the tip! We're mostly used to D&D (4e and 5e). Faster combat will definitely be a plus. I'm planning on lowballing most opposition until I get a better idea of how things actually work in play.

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7 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

Indeed, but circumstances can change. E.g. Lord A used to like Squire B and knighted him, but since then Sir B has been seen talking to Lord A's unfriendly neighbours; maybe best to not let Sir B form too many connections with other prominent families. I'm not expecting it to come up very often, though, and maybe not at all.

Yeah, one way to mitigate that sort of thing is to highlight the lords favor to those who serve him well and have a higher loyalty. The encourages the other PKs to "loyal up" so they can compete for favor. 

7 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

 

Thanks for the tip! We're mostly used to D&D (4e and 5e). Faster combat will definitely be a plus. I'm planning on lowballing most opposition until I get a better idea of how things actually work in play.

Practice fights are good here. You can run some training combats with the characters using withheld blows (half actual damage, but full score for knockdown). Or even a mock combat or two that doesn't really happen just to show the players how the game works. You can even do this without the players. Pick two characters or just take some stats out of the book and run a fight two or three times to see how it plays out. 

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22 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Practice fights are good here. You can run some training combats with the characters using withheld blows (half actual damage, but full score for knockdown). Or even a mock combat or two that doesn't really happen just to show the players how the game works. You can even do this without the players. Pick two characters or just take some stats out of the book and run a fight two or three times to see how it plays out. 

Definitely! I hope to get some practice runs in before we start. Fortunately the basic mechanics look pretty straightforward.

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3 hours ago, Uqbarian said:

Definitely! I hope to get some practice runs in before we start. Fortunately the basic mechanics look pretty straightforward.

Yeah basically:

1. Both roll, higher successful roll wins

2. Winner rolls damage. Check knockdown and roll DEX or Horsemanship if required.

3. If withheld blows halve damage. If rebated or wooden practice weapons also halve damage (that stacks)

4. Defender gets the protection of his armor, and if he got a partial success, his shield.

 

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I know I wrote a post with some suggestions on how to gauge the Pendragon combat deadliness in the old Nocturnal Forum. I don't have the time to recreate it (or dig it up) now, but in a nutshell, the killers are:

1) Monsters hitting lots of dice of damage, capable of single-shotting a PK to minus HP far enough that saving them with First Aid is impossible. High skill, impassioned enemy knights criticaling go into this category as well, particularly with later period heavier warhorses and lance charges, although this is partially counteracted by armor improvement. (In our campaign,we use +4d6 for criticals rather than double, and this makes a huge difference when facing a 8d6+ attacks that critical.)

2) No Mercy! Enemies who do not show any mercy for unconscious PKs can easily turn a lost fight into a total party kill. Better to use opponents who have some reason to keep the PKs alive, even if it is just for Ransom. This also lowers the chance of 'random' deaths.

3) Lack of proficient healers. Compare First Aid 10 to someone with First Aid 20, and you see why this is a huge advantage to have. It was so big an advantage that the PKs ended up pooling their resources together and hiring a physician (First Aid and Chirurgery 16+) to ride around with them to patch them up after the fights. 1d3 healing per wound gives a big buffer to death, since usually it takes half a dozen hits to knock a PK down (but see point 1 for an exception).

 

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Assigning squires: Like a lot within the KAP world it is a political choice. The main question a lord will ask is: What do I get out of it?

Some options could be: A loyal knight, closer ties between my men, closer ties with another lord, some money or soldiers. 

 

As for combat always be aware that when fighting other men the knight is at the top of the foodchain. They are better equiped (chain armor and on horse), and have a good skill in arms (15 and up). Unfortunatley even if you are good or very good, a critical hit of a bandit may kill you. So in the end a fight against several bandits will probably mean that a lot of the enemy is killed, but you could end up with a dead knight as well.

Also more enemies means more danger as the defender needs to split his skill between the attackers. So bandits ganging up is rather standard.

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6 hours ago, Cornelius said:

Also more enemies means more danger as the defender needs to split his skill between the attackers. So bandits ganging up is rather standard.

Definitely this too. Splitting the skill also means that the PKs will take more more hits without the shield protecting them, meaning bigger, more dangerous wounds. Also, it can mean that they are taking two hits at the same time, without armor, without dropping in between which can get rid of the unconsciousness buffer, too.

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I finally found the old post I made in the Nocturnal Forum. Most of it was already mentioned in previous posts here, but here it is nevertheless:

 

Lethality of Pendragon: When it is and when it isn't
Morien
02-17-2015, 06:10 PM
 
I think this topic has been broached before, but I couldn't find a thread with a quick search that would address this particular point. In another thread, a poster mentioned that Pendragon's system is lethal. And I admit, it is, but only up to a point. And it very much depends on your assumptions.

In the campaigns I have GMed, the PK death has been a relatively rare occurrence, by and large. It is also pretty clear to see the trends what have lead to those deaths. So I will try to talk about the lethality of Pendragon system based on those GMing experiences, and invite others to post their experiences and comments.

First of all, something to underline a lot: in Pendragon, unless hit by so massive amounts of damage at once that the GM simply declares that you got turned into pink mist, you are not dead as soon as you reach 0 hit points. You are simply DYING. And you have, by the rules, time still sundown or something like that to get to a healer or more likely, your friends to get a healer to you.

Secondly, you can perform first aid on each and every wound you have suffered in that particular fight, which hasn't already had first aid tried on it. Yes, this does mean that a good healer (particularly first aid), is a life-saver, something that my players have noticed and in one group, even budget for (shared 'combat healer' with good horsemanship to keep up, very high First Aid and a high-ish Chirurgery for those times that they are stuck in the middle of a forest somewhere). In the other group, they have a healer lady player character, who is even better than a hireling.

Thirdly, there is the unconscious buffer, HP/4. So any hit that is able to kill you will have to pretty much cause at least that much damage, since otherwise, you'd not be up fighting anymore but already unconscious. (Oh, I should add, that we use a house rule that you do not take 1d6 of damage when falling from horseback, if you are already unconscious. This doesn't skew the results too much though, since the PKs all have Armor of Honor (3 pts), and usually do not either take damage or have whatever minor damage first aided afterwards.)

These all three points lead to the situation where you are unlikely to get 'nibbled to death' by many small wounds, since all of those wounds get first aid and you are unlikely to hit minus hit points before going unconscious first. Instead, it is the big hits that kill you.

In our campaigns, the deaths have been overwhelmingly due to:
1) Enemy rolling a critical when you are already at low hit points, usually when you have gotten into a fight already badly injured from previous combat (thus, those minor wounds have already been first aided and do not provide an additional buffer).
2) Enemy being a monster hitting well above the human norm (8d6+) and/or even rolling a critical. Even then, it usually takes a couple of hits unless it is a critical.
3) Group healer not being present and someone failing their First Aid skill of 10.
4) There was a one case of 'enemy has no mercy' where the fallen PK was pretty much executed by a fiend.

Numbers 1 and 3 are something that the player / PK can (try to) control. Points 2 and 4 are fully in GM's hands, and the GM can influence 1 and 3, too.

So if you feel that Pendragon is too lethal for you, my advice would be:
1) Encourage players to think about whether or not it is smart to fight on if they are already barely clinging to consciousness, or if they are already at half hit points to even start with. This connects to number 4, below.
2) Use 'normal' opponents. Other knights, bandits, Saxon raiders, and so forth. Their damage is much more forgiving. Note, Saxon Berserkers with Great Axes are starting to be in the monster category...
3) Make sure that the PKs have access to a healer. If they don't have their own one, there could be a manor close-by, with a lady of some healing skill. Or perhaps a beautiful damsel who would make a good Amor for the healed knight...
4) Introduce enemies who are unwilling to just kill the defeated PKs. Knights are worth money in ransom. They might be used as political counters, hostages to get treaties or something else. Enemies that have some measure of honor are also more fun to play with: not every villain needs to be a psychopath. Even many villainous knights in the tales kidnapped and imprisoned good knights rather than killed them (although counter-examples exist, too).
5) The more fights you have in a game-year, the more chances per year you have that a character dies in a fight. It is a tautology, I know, but worth mentioning. A couple of the characters in our campaign have died due to a 'random' duel: one simply got insulted at a party and things escalated from there, while another, a Lustful pagan, spent a few days waiting for another player character in a harbor town by trying to seduce local ladies. After some unfortunate rolling, the husband came barging in with his morning star, catching his wife and the PK in flagrante delecto, and in the ensuing fight, the philandering PK got smashed up without his armor on.

With our houserule of the Glory Point (fate) save negating enemy criticals, and with expert healers available to the PKs, it is actually pretty hard to die in our campaigns without hard hitting opponents, like, as it was said, monsters. This is especially true in the later periods, when the plate armors start becoming common, increasing the protection that the PKs enjoy past 20 points.

What are your experiences with Pendragon lethality?
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Pretty much the same experience. One of the new PKs in my group got the natural healer characteristic and the other, experienced players, immediately convinced the PK to max that skill out ASAP. First Aid 20+ is such a blessing, especially as the PKs get "nickeled and dimed" a lot.

About the one major factor you didn't mention is Major Wounds and Chrirurgery Needed. Quite a lot of PK have died in my games because they took a major wound and didn't do so well recovering, either due to lack of a Chirurgeon, or simply by bad die rolling. Its not as pronounced as in the old days, since PKS still get thier healing rate, but a failed or (worse still) a fumbled chirurgery roll can kill, as those with Chirurgery needed checked off are low on hit points.

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3 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

About the one major factor you didn't mention is Major Wounds and Chrirurgery Needed. Quite a lot of PK have died in my games because they took a major wound and didn't do so well recovering, either due to lack of a Chirurgeon, or simply by bad die rolling. Its not as pronounced as in the old days, since PKS still get thier healing rate, but a failed or (worse still) a fumbled chirurgery roll can kill, as those with Chirurgery needed checked off are low on hit points.

That occasionally happens, but only once you have already gotten hammered by a Major Wound (likely a critical to begin with) or are in close to 0 hit points, which tends to require bigger wounds and usually more than one at the same time. I'd say that the death by Chirurgery Fumble/Fail is much rarer in our campaigns than the death by the lack of hit points. A PK was hovering just there a couple of sessions ago, survived, but unfortunately got one-shotted with a critical, high-rolling lance hit... I did mention this in my 3rd recommendation about making sure that there is a healer nearby. The knights in the stories usually manage to find a hermit or a lady to look after them easily enough, after all.

I have to admit that while the possibility of a PK death needs to be there to make the risks actual risks, it can be very annoying dynastically to have a PK die without heirs. I am almost tempted to require that the new characters would start as 25-year olds, already married with a couple of sons already to carry on their legacy, and a couple of younger brothers as spares, too, rather than as 21-year old unmarried knights. Having the family line cut has a big impact on the enjoyment and the continuation of the game, I find. The player of the above PK didn't have an easy spare to slot into as it was already the third brother, so we ended up having him play the stepfather of his previous character's nephew and niece (so the children of the elder, already dead brother). Granted, this was partly due to the campaign issues, as he would have had a couple of spares in Salisbury, but the rest of the group is in Cornwall after having been exiled from Salisbury, so bringing a Salisbury knight into the mix didn't sound like a good idea...

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35 minutes ago, Morien said:

That occasionally happens, but only once you have already gotten hammered by a Major Wound (likely a critical to begin with) or are in close to 0 hit points, which tends to require bigger wounds and usually more than one at the same time. I'd say that the death by Chirurgery Fumble/Fail is much rarer in our campaigns than the death by the lack of hit points. A PK was hovering just there a couple of sessions ago, survived, but unfortunately got one-shotted with a critical, high-rolling lance hit...

It's much less of an issue now that in KAP1 where you didn't get your healing rate. 

35 minutes ago, Morien said:

I did mention this in my 3rd recommendation about making sure that there is a healer nearby. The knights in the stories usually manage to find a hermit or a lady to look after them easily enough, after all.

And it's a good one. The hard bit is finding a good one when you really need one. But hiring one and for the retinue is well worth the libra. Fifteen skill comes soon enough, and then players almost cheer when it goes up. 

35 minutes ago, Morien said:

I have to admit that while the possibility of a PK death needs to be there to make the risks actual risks, it can be very annoying dynastically to have a PK die without heirs. I am almost tempted to require that the new characters would start as 25-year olds, already married with a couple of sons already to carry on their legacy, and a couple of younger brothers as spares, too, rather than as 21-year old unmarried knights. Having the family line cut has a big impact on the enjoyment and the continuation of the game, I find. The player of the above PK didn't have an easy spare to slot into as it was already the third brother, so we ended up having him play the stepfather of his previous character's nephew and niece (so the children of the elder, already dead brother). Granted, this was partly due to the campaign issues, as he would have had a couple of spares in Salisbury, but the rest of the group is in Cornwall after having been exiled from Salisbury, so bringing a Salisbury knight into the mix didn't sound like a good idea...

It can be a pain, but a GM can just as easily have another son or other relative show up. Some of those "Dad has a son" rumors from the Family Events could be true.

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9 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

It can be a pain, but a GM can just as easily have another son or other relative show up. Some of those "Dad has a son" rumors from the Family Events could be true.

It is a bit harder when the Dad is a played PK with Famous Chaste...

8 hours ago, Hzark10 said:

Also, depending on how you run things, brothers of PKs can be squires and be available immediately if they joint the group.  Of course, they have to survive it...

Again, a bit harder when you don't have any available brothers left. The PK who just died was the youngest brother who joined the group exactly as outlined in above, when the eldest died at the run-up to Badon Hill. The middle brother ended up on the other side of the Cornwall-Salisbury divide to ensure that no matter which side won, there would be someone to inherit the family lands.

1 hour ago, Uqbarian said:

Hey, does anyone have an idea of if/when the Book of Salisbury might be coming out?

(I'm not sure if I should just add queries in this thread or start new threads.)

I'll let David answer the first one, but if you are getting ready to start your campaign now, it is probably not worth waiting.

As for the second question, generally when the topic shifts (like it has now), it would be better to start a new thread. After all, people would not be looking for Book of Salisbury discussion in a thread that is supposedly about squiring and family. :)

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3 hours ago, Morien said:

I'll let David answer the first one, but if you are getting ready to start your campaign now, it is probably not worth waiting.

That was my guess. :)

3 hours ago, Morien said:

As for the second question, generally when the topic shifts (like it has now), it would be better to start a new thread. After all, people would not be looking for Book of Salisbury discussion in a thread that is supposedly about squiring and family. :)

I was thinking that, but I've been on some forums where newbies are expected to not start multiple threads, and I'm still feeling my way around here.

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5 hours ago, Morien said:

It is a bit harder when the Dad is a played PK with Famous Chaste...

Yup. Although it's worth noting those rumors on the table, even those with famous Chaste scores stumble at times. I've got a PK in my current group who failed a test that way. 

5 hours ago, Morien said:

Again, a bit harder when you don't have any available brothers left. The PK who just died was the youngest brother who joined the group exactly as outlined in above, when the eldest died at the run-up to Badon Hill. The middle brother ended up on the other side of the Cornwall-Salisbury divide to ensure that no matter which side won, there would be someone to inherit the family lands.

Yup, that can happen. Worst case scenario is that it's just time for a new family. Way back in KAP1 I had a Player who was very unlucky with the dice. He'd roll low stats and then roll bad during play, and so died a lot. He went through a lot of Knights and it usually was just bad luck. He never really managed to establish any of his characters, and it must have been frustrating. 

One of the reasons why I started this campaign early in the timeline (410) was to give the PKs time to really get their families established, and have various cousins and such floating around by the time of Uther so wiping out a line "can't" happen. Of course I've got big wars, and Vortigern's reign to get through, so it might not work out that way. We're 18 years in and some PKs still only have one son (one PK even married a commoner wife just to get a son ASAP), but they all seem to have several daughters so in a generation or so I should be able to pull in a relative from somewhere. 

 

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15 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

but they all seem to have several daughters so in a generation or so I should be able to pull in a relative from somewhere. 

So, maybe one of these daughters could take up her father's plight and become a knight.

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