Friday, June 8, 2012


(pic from here:

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?


  1. I think you've got the measure of things pretty well. The best way around the railroady bits of the GPC are randomness and willingness to go with the flow. I've read somewhere (maybe in the GPC itself, maybe in a forum) that the only "off-limits" characters in terms of death or interference are Arthur, Guenever, and Lancelot. Everyone else is fair game. I played in a Pendragon campaign last year in which one of the PKs made an enemy of the Orkney clan--and ended up killing Gawaine and Mordred! Stuff like that definitely keeps you on your toes, as do random events and the chaos introduced by Traits and Passions (particularly fumbled Passions...). One of the Pendragon forum guys put together a massive feast events table that I turned into a deck of cards; that's always a highlight of any session with a feast, seeing what craziness the cards turn up.

  2. Thanks for the feedback! I grabbed that Feast events table, but have yet to use it. I love that it works off of APP rolls. Currently the PKs are eye-balling some serious power-struggles with Silchester during the Uther period. I'm looking forward to working it out.

    The only thing I'm alittle confused about still is the mandatory nature of the Trait system as written. I've been ruling both ways as to whether PKs need to succeed at a trait ROLL to do the thing they want (say sleep with someone), or they can just do it. I think I might adopt a system of: they auto-succeed at the trait-influenced action (unless the opposing trait is high) but get no check, while they get a check if they succeed at the roll. Without a roll, no auto-checks unless the player does something awesome (sings a made-up song, etc.).