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Pen & Paper Roleplaying Central => Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion => Topic started by: Simon W on September 16, 2020, 06:26:47 AM

Title: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Simon W on September 16, 2020, 06:26:47 AM
I've been a fan of Pendragon ever since it first came out. I played in a long campaign then ran one a few years later. But that would have been a hell of a long time ago. I've got the 5th Edition now. A few weeks back I was chatting with a friend on Discord and we decided to both create characters and he'd GM my character and I'd GM his (text only - just daily posts). We have our characters and I've got a copy of The Great Pendragon Campaign. So, I re-read the rules and started reading the campaign. And I felt intimidated. I put the books down and tried again a few days later. I had to put them down again. I discussed starting the game with my friend. He was up for it. I started reading the rulebook again. The rules seemed to be everywhere throughout the book. And there seem to be tons of them. All over the place. I put it down. Made excuses why we hadn't started yet. Told him I was just trying to get a grasp on everything; he said likewise. I've been running tons of different rpgs (including Pendragon!) successfully for donkey's years. My players always want me to run games for them. I GM the most. I'm currently running two other games over Discord (video chat). But I can't seem to start this simple text-based Pendragon game. What the hell is wrong with Pendragon?
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: ChristopherKubasik on September 16, 2020, 08:22:37 AM
What edition of King Arthur Pendragon did you run before?


I ask because KAP 5 is not very different from any of the earlier versions. (KAP 5 introduces the Family History section for character creation, and that's about it.)
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Simon W on September 16, 2020, 01:04:26 PM
I think I just struggle with masses of rules these days? I used to love a good set of crunchy rules but more and more I've drifted to my own homebrews or lighter systems. It's just that when talking about Pendragon (edition doesn't really matter, as you say) I thought I could do it justice, but the more I read the more I felt it wasn't for me any more. Now, if I could come up with a rules-lite version, I'd be golden!
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Trond on September 16, 2020, 04:16:27 PM
Huh I never got started at all. Maybe I have the same issue. I have 1st ed and 4th on my shelf. And they have always stayed there, apart from some flipping now and again.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: S'mon on September 16, 2020, 05:06:33 PM
I had to do a double take when I realised this was posted by the author of Barbarians of Lemuria!  ;D


Really, I get the exact same deer-in-headlights feeling quite often when I go outside my immediate comfort zone. I'd love to run more science fiction, but I seem to have some kind of a mental block when it comes to SF campaigns.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: ChristopherKubasik on September 16, 2020, 05:37:28 PM
I think I just struggle with masses of rules these days? I used to love a good set of crunchy rules but more and more I've drifted to my own homebrews or lighter systems. It's just that when talking about Pendragon (edition doesn't really matter, as you say) I thought I could do it justice, but the more I read the more I felt it wasn't for me any more. Now, if I could come up with a rules-lite version, I'd be golden!


I, too, have moved to simpler games over the years. And yet a game like Pendragon still holds my attention. (I've been organizing notes on the side in preparation for the time I get to play it.)


As a possible solution to your concern: I have found that building my own set of cheat sheets for any game I want to run to be immensely helpful. I have to sit there and figure out how the rules work if I'm going to distill them into several sheets of paper. And by the time I'm done I have a core reference document to use until I get the rules all by habit.


Admittedly, my cheat sheet for Pendragon is 9 pages long. But there are a lot of eddies in the Pendragon rules. Nonetheless, 9 pages is fewer pages than the whole book, so it is still quite valuable.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: LiferGamer on September 16, 2020, 11:47:10 PM
I had to do a double take when I realised this was posted by the author of Barbarians of Lemuria!  ;D

Really, I get the exact same deer-in-headlights feeling quite often when I go outside my immediate comfort zone. I'd love to run more science fiction, but I seem to have some kind of a mental block when it comes to SF campaigns.


(Huh, what's' Barbarians of Lemuria... goes and looks... will be buying it tomorrow.)


Yeah, I'm in the same boat on both counts - I tend to be happier with simpler systems now, even towards the end of my many years of running just GURPS, I was sliding into BANG! skills and something that looked more like GURPS Lite, and embraced Savage Worlds for a time.


I also can't seem to run ANYTHING that isn't Fantasy for long.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: RPGPundit on September 17, 2020, 01:07:49 AM
I agree that the rules are not extremely well-ordered. But they are easy, once you get the hang of them all.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Simon W on September 17, 2020, 05:17:23 AM
I agree that the rules are not extremely well-ordered. But they are easy, once you get the hang of them all.


Yeah, perhaps I need to set up a "cheat sheet" first, maybe referencing page numbers for when I really have to look a rule up. I feel we should just start and it will get clearer as we go along. I know that makes sense...at least it isn't face-to-face so there is plenty of time to look up a rule as necessary.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: ChristopherKubasik on September 17, 2020, 09:29:00 AM
The rules really do become simple once you put them into practice. Pretty much everything runs off a d20 Fumble/Fail/Success/Crit roll. There are variations on that, but once you see them in play a couple of times they become clear.


The only bumpy part, in my view, are the damage and healing rules. There are different kinds of effects of damage, and each wound needs to be tracked separately. But even this becomes clear in time.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: estar on September 17, 2020, 12:14:39 PM
What the hell is wrong with Pendragon?

I like Lord of the Rings and all thing Tolkien. However until The One Ring/Adventures of Middle Earth, I never "got it" in a way that allowed me to run a tabletop roleplaying campaign.

Why?

Because when read the stories, you are up there taking in the grand sweep of it all by the time you reach the end. With the tabletop roleplaying, you are down there at eye level living out the life of a character (players) or the NPCs (the referee).

And with out a hook it hard to translate between the the two.

What clicked about Middle Earth after reading the adventure/setting supplement for TOR/AiME the critical element is as follows.

Evil is not just philosophy or a choice, but a palpable force that TOR calls the Shadow. As a concept it is related to Call of Cthulu insanity mechanism. Except instead of "things man is not meant to know" it is that certain actions like violence of any kind, opens one's spirit to Arda's corruption by Morgoth. Represented in the Third Age by Shadow controlled by Sauron.

From this you can follow why

Good people are asshole and distrustful of those outside of their immediate community.
Why people need to spend long periods of time living life between adventures. And why adventures are so taxing on the mind and spirit in Middle Earth.

So with that insight I was able to understand the motivations and attitude of the NPCs and thus roleplay them in a way consistent with Tolkien's novels. Thus come up with situation that reflected Tolkien's stories but not run the players through a thinly veiled railroaded pastiche of one of the novels.

Now for Pendragon
I am also a fan of the Arthurian myths and the Pendragon RPG. Although it my friend who the master of refereeing Arthurian campaigns so I am more of a player.

But I had to say what would be the key insight to how to roleplay a character in Arthur's time the word would be Passion. Great Loves, and Hates, Great Desires, Great Sorrows, and so on. On the surface it seems little different than other types of medieval roleplaying like in Harn or Chivalry & Sorcery. However in the world of King Arthur all the thing one does in Harn or C&S is done passionately all the time.


Take for example my Scourge of the Demon Wolf adventure. A isolate village sick of being terrorized by a wolf pack, refuses to bring in the harvest. The Baron, pissed sends the PCs to deal with the situation one way or another.

In the adventure, I play everything straight forward. Yeah villager are pissed but understandably so. All the other character in the adventure motivations are presented pretty much as you would expect if you actually there.

Now if I ran this as part of a King Arthur campaign, I would ratchet up the emotions up by an order of magnitude. Every character would be more passionate about what motivates them.

Then into that I would throw the PCs to sort through the mess. Given how Pendragon works, if they manage to match their own passion with those of the NPCs, in the roleplaying sense not mechanical, then like they will be able to resolve what going on.

Wrapping it up.
It sounds like you know the elements of the Arthurian mythos pretty well. So start by crafting some situations that would work in any vaguely medieval setting. Make sure some of the specifics reflect that it in Arthur's world and not say Middle Earth, or Lankhmar. Then rachets up the NPCs passion about their beliefs and motivation several notches. Throw your buddy into the middle of all that and see what shakes out.

Finally remember that in tabletop roleplaying all the histories, and other details don't matter unless it is relevant to how a character or creature behaves thus how it is roleplay. Figuring that out is the key to translating any literary setting into  tabletop RPG campaign.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Brendan on September 19, 2020, 05:27:49 PM
Hello guys, gals, and attack helicopters - long time no chat.  I just popped back in to the forums and, lo and behold, a Pendragon thread. I'm planning a Pendragon campaign (4th ed), albeit slowly, so I hope to see this thread grow.  If I have any great insight I'll do my best to share.

Rob / Estar - thanks for the insight on theme, I got a lot out of it.  I passed your comment on TOR / LoTR to a buddy who is planning a game. 

Chris, any chance you'd post that cheat *sheet*?
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: soundchaser on September 26, 2020, 10:20:06 PM
I think with just two players and the reverse GMing, you could try KAP with some really simple set ups, just relying on imagination. After all, the character sheet and the rules are imperfect since they are abstract from what you can imagine. I think, perhaps, just sort of wing it at first. Start with some social role playing--discussions, negotiation, etc. Once you are enjoying such, put an obstacle into place--so maybe some violence is called for to solve a problem. Like, your love interest would be impressed if you bring home a trophy from a boar hunt. So try some skill at that, then just build on what you know. Most of all, have fun.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Sable Wyvern on September 27, 2020, 08:05:48 PM
Since a lot of people are talking about cheat sheets, here are the ones I used:


Main Cheat Sheet:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUVV9vVlpnQVZSRzA/view?usp=sharing (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUVV9vVlpnQVZSRzA/view?usp=sharing)


Winter Phase Summary (uses optional rules from various sourcebooks and possibly some personal tweaks):
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUSnloNjlJMjd2QTg/view?usp=sharing (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUSnloNjlJMjd2QTg/view?usp=sharing)


Battle Cheat Sheets (for use with Book of Battle II):
Battle Summary: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUXy16d0xuLWQwTFk/view?usp=sharing (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUXy16d0xuLWQwTFk/view?usp=sharing)

Manoeuvre Summary: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUM2dnYXJTSjE0NlE/view?usp=sharing (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUM2dnYXJTSjE0NlE/view?usp=sharing)



Battle Records in Excel:
Player's Battle Record: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUTHIxd2NPR2g2dU0/view?usp=sharing (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUTHIxd2NPR2g2dU0/view?usp=sharing)


GM's Battle Record: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUb3dqRHBianRXUVE/view?usp=sharing (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUb3dqRHBianRXUVE/view?usp=sharing)



And while I'm at it, an Excel character sheet:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUSm1Da3d0U3c2bzg/view?usp=sharing (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_v5gnUhLoEUSm1Da3d0U3c2bzg/view?usp=sharing)
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Simon W on September 28, 2020, 05:30:22 AM
Cool. Downloaded. I'll study those later maybe with a view to further simplification!
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Trond on September 28, 2020, 03:44:46 PM
I have to admit that an additional problem for myself is that I find Mallory unreadable. Perhaps I'll try the French sources.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Sable Wyvern on September 28, 2020, 08:21:42 PM
Cool. Downloaded. I'll study those later maybe with a view to further simplification!


Interestingly, while my recollection of Pendragon is that it was not a particularly complex game, looking over those sheets does seem to give a very different impression.


Part of that is probably because of the variety of min-games. Tournaments, skirmishes, massed battles, hunts, feasts etc ... each come with their own systems that, while (in most cases) individually simple, do add up.


There are also a lot of optional rules in the plethora of suplements each adding more detail to various subsystems.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Bren on September 28, 2020, 09:33:53 PM
Interestingly, while my recollection of Pendragon is that it was not a particularly complex game, looking over those sheets does seem to give a very different impression.


Part of that is probably because of the variety of min-games. Tournaments, skirmishes, massed battles, hunts, feasts etc ... each come with their own systems that, while (in most cases) individually simple, do add up.


There are also a lot of optional rules in the plethora of suplements each adding more detail to various subsystems.
I thought Tournaments were just Jousting, which is just a skill roll. Did they add something else after first edition? [Edit: looking at the cheat sheet, it appears that they did. Personally I'd consider that level of detail something that would only be seen in the later stages or periods of the campaign.] And aren't Skirmishes just a simplification of the massed battle mechanic rather two different games?

In any case, the GM should gradually introduce the various mini-games one or two at a time which will make the complexity more manageable for both sides of the table. If you follow the Pendragon timeline I'm not sure that formal Tournaments (like the more elaborate castle designs) even exist in the first period of play.
Title: Re: Trying to run Pendragon
Post by: Sable Wyvern on September 28, 2020, 10:21:10 PM
Yes, I believe the skirmish (technical game term) is a simplified, small-scale battle. I was using the term in a more general sense to refer to the default personal combat rules.


My game only ended up running for the first period or two in the GPC, and I think there was quite a bit of stuff on the main sheet we didn't actually use.