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 http://www.gspendragon.com/camelot2.html#courtofcourts
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:
08. Sword / Melee Wpn
12. Loyalty (Lord)
13. Love (Family)
So, there you have it. I'd love to hear what you guys think.