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Thread: Courtly activities during the Uther and Anarchy phases

  1. #1

    Courtly activities during the Uther and Anarchy phases

    One of my main concerns in GM:ing the Pendragon campaign is making the transition from Uther to Arthur really stand out. I want my players to feel a new and more gentle world is entering the stage when Arthur is king, and thus make the Uther and Anarchy phases even darker and more violent; Saruman’s description of Edoras as “a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek and their brats roll on the floor with the dogs” from The Two Towers should come to the players unbidden.

    I've therefore elaborated on a list of courtly activities for the eras before Arthur. The list is based on Greg’s Court of Courts at
    I’ve tried to make the list reflect the customs Greg outlined on p. 27 of the GPC: Might makes right, chivalry is a distant tale and romance is unknown. Therefore no Dancing, Compose etc. I’ve also added the list of Pagan virtues to reflect the near-paganism I feel is prevalent in Logres at the time. Virtous Christians would be known but a distinct minority in the rough-and-tumble atmosphere of Uther’s court. I’ve kept the part where the players can choose to roll at a courtly skill – I’d interpret it as being ahead of the times but throw in a few admonishments from older NPC:s for wasting their time with frivolous activities.
    I’ve also added a chance of catching the eye of the resident lord or king, part of the reason the knights are at court to begin with. This isn’t easy as the knights are competing with everyone else at court, thus the added difficulty. I don’t feel using Courtesy is a contradiction of my mission statement; every society has its own definition of Courtesy, therefore Courtesy rolls during the Uther phase are expressed in a vastly different way than similar rolls during Arthur.
    Activities involving weapons are duels, either drunken brawls at the dinner table or more disciplined affairs in the courtyard, kept up until first hit or first blood. The other activities are likewise meant to be expressed as either loutish boastfulness or learned discourse with the older knights about matters of war. Attribute rolls are displays of endurance, strength etc.
    Thus without further ado:

    Courtly Activities in the Uther and Anarchy phases:
    Each visit of at least a week in court, every knight participates in voluntary and involuntary activities. Attempt an Unopposed Roll.
    Success = Check, and 10 Glory
    Critical = Check and 20 Glory
    Fumble = Lose 1 Honor Point, gain 50 glory for notoriety.
    1. Choose any of the Courtly Skills or one of those listed below and attempt a roll at it. If the knight wishes to catch the eye of the lord / king holding court he needs first pass a Courtesy test at -5 (Earls and Dukes) or at -10 (Kings). Success grants an additional 25 Glory (Earls and Dukes) or 50 Glory (Kings) if sucessful with the attempted roll.
    2. Participate involuntarily in other activities.
    Divide Valorous by 10 = number of other rolls they must participate in:

    D20 Result
    01. SIZ
    02. STR
    03. CON
    04. Battle
    05. Siege
    06. Horsemanship
    07. Dagger
    08. Sword / Melee Wpn
    09. Falconry
    10. Gaming
    11. Hunting
    12. Loyalty (Lord)
    13. Love (Family)
    14. Honor
    15. Energetic
    16. Generous
    17. Honest
    18. Lustful
    19. Proud
    20. Valorous

    So, there you have it. I'd love to hear what you guys think.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Helsinki, Finland

    Re: Courtly activities during the Uther and Anarchy phases

    Nice. I have a few comments.

    1. Brawls and duels
    - I'd suggest not making weapon contest brawls, since not only is it bad form to draw a blade in front of a king, but it is also pretty much certain to involve death / major wounds on first hit. I could see daggers, especially if you rule that they are small eating daggers rather than true fighting daggers, and hence do only -2d6 damage (thus, 2d6 or 3d6 for most knights, which would be easier to survive without a major wound). Weapons should be for 'lets suit up and take this outside' -variety.
    - I would include wrestling/grappling (maybe instead of SIZ?) and even brawling (punching, kicking). It would seem to fit perfectly with your mission statement of a brutish court.

    2. Different traits
    - At the moment, the trait checks are for Pagan Religious traits (+ Valorous), which is a bad thing in my opinion. Unless you wish to make Uther's court a pagan one, but still. (EDIT: Duh, you said that you figured Uther's court was near-pagan. Still, I would change it, since you'd swiftly have Pagan Paragons with this system, who tell nothing but the truth.) I would change out at least Honest, potentially Generous and Energetic as well. Lustful, Proud and Valorous seems very much in keeping with bragging, lusty warrior elite.
    - I would definitely include Indulgent -trait check: Drinking contest!
    - Reckless might be an option: Bragging to do something risky? Or simply showing a proper fighting spirit, hell or high water!
    - Worldly? Which is better, paradise or your own castle?

    3. Other skills?
    - I would probably take Falconry out. That seems more in keeping with a more refined court.
    - Orate could be the replacement: telling a riveting tale of your own accomplishments. Who doesn't like a good yarn?
    - Flirting would be possible as well, although the Lustful trait check is probably aiming at the same thing.
    (- We have houseruled Siege to be part of Battle -skill, so were I to use this in our campaign, I'd likely switch Siege out in favor of Flirting.)

  3. #3

    Re: Courtly activities during the Uther and Anarchy phases

    This is good idea, I will be using these for uthers court

  4. #4

    Re: Courtly activities during the Uther and Anarchy phases

    I like the idea, 'though it's probably too late to use it for my current campaign. I'm going to test it out in my solo trial run game first.

    I adopted most of Morien's suggested changes, and combined a coupel to allow a choice of traits (i.e. Lustful or Flirting (conquests), Proud or Deceitful (bragging), Reckless or Valour (dares)). The most significant pairing I changed was: Hospitality or Dagger (when things get tense enough that fists aren't enough).

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