Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pendragon in the North thoughts

So after a recent move I've been left without a regular face to face D&D group. This also means my Dark Sun Egypt hack never got off the ground, so I've put it on the backburner in my day-dream thought time. That space has now been taken up by thoughts of continuing a Pendragon game. I've been re-reading the Grand Pendragon Campaign, listen to Librivox Mallory, and surfing the Pendragon boards idly. What has this lead to?

Pendragon North! The PKs would be mercenaries and landless knights settled in the North shortly after Arthur's defeat of Lot and the other lords. Goals would be to maximize intrigue, have lots of Scottish landscapes (PKs stranded on the Moors while mist rolls in, yes please), and all the "joys" of subduing a restive people in a harsh environment. The PKs can be from almost anywhere because the stewards of Arthur and the new lords in the North need hard fighting men. I could also justify a straight-up Danish/Norse invasion. Notable lords:

Duke Ansirus the Pilgrim, Lord of Benoic: recently built the Pilgrim's Castle in the north (located modern Dundee), rules a recently conquered Pictish land. Probably the starting liege for the PKs. Ansirus would be pious, possibly Roman culturally, intolerant of pagans and heathens, and harsh with his pict peasants, which might lead to conflict with his northern neighbor, the Pictish King Carados.

King Carados: ally of Lot in the war against arthur. Bent the knee, now telling others he's converted to Christianity. This may be a farce to avoid trouble, or could be sincere. His pict knights have shabby armor and ride near-ponies, but know the land and are more loyal than the pictish clans.

King Uriens, Lord of Gorre and Stangorre: Rewarded for bowing to Arthur quickly with dominion over his cousin's kingdom as well as his own. He is the strongest lord in the North, but hampered by troubles with the Irish and Pict raiders to the west. Danish longships have also been seen off the coast.

Queen Elaine: Arthur's sister rules the land of Garloth, a pagan Cymric kingdom. She is able, but her knights are few.

Stewards of Lothian: no true lord rules the former sovereign land of Lothian. Instead stewards hold the Castle of Maidens and Stirling Castle and their rents for Arthur. The other lords of north eye these lands hungrily, and some are rumored to be considering strange alliances for the opportunity to take them from Arthur's hands. Arthur has begun to order chapels and monasteries built to convert the pagan Cymri of these lands, providing a useful proxy for Ansirus of the stewards are lax in their efforts. The peasants tell rumors of witches convening to halt such efforts.

(forgot to note names before). Suggested Stewarts: Robert the Stewart, Count of Menteith for Stirling; Alexander the Stewart, Count of Buchan, the Black Knight for Castle of Maidens. (might remove earldoms)

Tables would include rules for travel in the treacherous north, fierce Caledonian faeries of ice and earth, Pict and pagan rebellions and raids. I think a major plot would be intrigue and war between the kings, the rise of the kingdom of the isles to the west, and perhaps a danish invasion of the orkneys.

I'd want rules where the PKs have to establish their military bona fides in this game, by fighting personally, but also being in charge early on of their own men that they scrape together themselves. In other words, I'd like it more militarized, mercenary and gritty than usual for Pendragon. This means more use of the Book of Battle and mercenary hiring costs.

Most importantly, I'd like to establish strong NPC personalities for the characters to meet: scary and cruel witches, really intolerant zealots, over-the-top power hungry folks - borrowing more from Game of Thrones style characterization than Mallory.

I may not end up running this, unless maybe on G+, but some of the ideas I think I'd port over into the Grand Pendragon Campaign, especially the strong NPC ideas. I do like the rise of the Britons, Dark Ages Anarchy and the long fight against the Saxons (who also get to be stand-ins for the Vikings), but I find the NPCs Greg Stafford put in the GPC terribly bland. More to come later...

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