So I've been in love with Pendragon for about a year now, and after our D&D TPK I've been plotting running a campaign. But I have two huge glaring worries about it as a game because I dislike railroads. They bore me. I have more fun when the players can try new things. Pendragon has two features that worry me about running a campaign. Further, last time we played Pendragon my players weren't that into it, and I wasn't feeling it either. So I'm dealing with two concerns:
1. Railroady plots in published adventures/the Grand Pendragon Campaign. This is not just a "feature" for me, it's a bug. I don't mind structure: hearing about main NPCs off screen, being assigned missions by the liege lord. I just don't like limiting the players' choices once an adventure is kicked off. I'm planning to fix this by going with the flow and asking lots of questions about what PCs do, and not worrying if they mess up the timeline. I endorse that PCs are there to kick ass and take names (or die trying) and your NPCs are the grist beneath their mailed boots. I'm also planning way more random tables for feasts, yearly events, etc.
2. Encouraging the pursuit of power/giving a shit about Pendragon: I think my D&D crew who I've played with before didn't really understand what they're supposed to be doing. Pendragon is not as clear as D&D, because its goals are alittle off kilter. I also like intrigue and gathering power stories, in addition to tales of moral choice and heroism (blah romance). I intend therefore to try and get PCs first into warfare and combat, and get used to interacting with NPCs with really STRONG personalities. Then I want them to inherit some land and use the Book of the Manor to really build up little personal fiefs.
Anyone have experiences or suggestions with running Pendragon to not be railroady? To maximize intrigue and power grabs?