The Great Pendragon Campaign

AD 485

Marshall Elad of Vagon Castle, where the our heroes are training as squires, continued their training.

(This “adventure” is really just a method to walk them through the basic mechanics. Which is fine, but Squire Nidian remarked that it was very similar to the beginning of CRPGs. This feeling was enhanced when Elad asked them to go check out a rumor of a bear up near Imber. At least no one was asked to clean out a basement full of rats.)

Turns out there was a bear! Nidian, whose family has a proclivity for hunting, quickly outpaced Squire Owain and found the bear! The bear was pretty tough, so Nidian decided to cut and run. He found Owain and they went back together to make short work of the beast. The local priest bound their wounds and got the peasants to clean and dress the bear, giving them its hide as a prize and as proof of their deed.

On the way back they found a pair of bandits beating up a peasant and decided to charge! Unfortunately for Owain, his target rolled a critical and spitted Owain on his spear, taking him to 1 HP. Owain was a mess but they managed to get him back to Vagon.

Back at Castle Vagon, Sir Elad was suitably impressed! Not with Owain getting skewered to within an inch of his life, but with their general leadership and heroism. Owain was bedridden for a few weeks but was eventually able to get up and around — just in time for a messenger to arrive for the Marshall. They’ve been summoned to Sarum by Earl Roderick!

At Sarum they hobnob a little with the castle folk, and then Earl Roderick calls Owain and Nidian up in front of the assembly and knights them! Arise, Sir Owain! Arise, Sir Nidian!

We called it a night there. King Uther has summoned Roderick and his knights to aid in an attack on the Saxons!

View
AD 486

Dramatis Personae (in order of Quality):

Sir Lug of Winterslow (Jeremy) (1401 Glory)
Sir Owain of Over Wallop (Norris) 1362
Sir Nidian of Haxton (John) 1348
Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (Dale) 1220
Sir Cyfan of Teffort (Joshua) (1169 Glory)

Sir Cyfan was a new addition to the Salisbury band.

As spring breaks over Britian, Earl Roderick’s vassals convene at Sarum for Pentecost court. Merlin is there, hobnobbing and scheming as usual. Also present is a guest from the Continent, Praetor Syragius. He is here to make the procession around Logres and beg for help defending Rome against the barbarians. Earl Roderick of Salisbury is under command of Uther to show courtesy to the Praetor, or he would probably be pelted with turnips and laughed out — the current problems with the Saxons are directly related to Rome’s refusal to aid Britain 76 years ago (“look to your own defenses,” the Emperor wrote to the British Collegium).

When last the Salisbury boys took measure of the mood of the nobles, things were grim — 485 was a bad year for the Britons. But now there is rumor of a plan! Prince Madoc wants to take a select group of knights up to Colchester to pick off Saxon raiding groups. Glory! Plunder!

After a few weeks of hanging out at the castle, the Earl summons them in. Madoc is off to the side in the Great Hall and nods at the knights as they enter. “As you know, men,” begins Roderick, “the Prince plans to take a select group of hand-picked knights to Colchester to harry those Saxon dogs, raid their supplies, and put as many of them to the sword as possible.”

The knights smile and shift in anticipation.

“While he does that,” continues the Earl, “I need all of you to perform garrison duty in the west.”

Wah wah waaah waaaaaaaaah.

Well, that is not as glorious, but when your liege says jump ….

The knights pack (i.e., tell their squires to pack everything) and head out to a little manor in the hinterlands. The lord is three years old, his elderly and boring uncle is regent, and there is nothing going on. They ride the borders of the land every day, and mostly nothing happens. Chase a few bandits (they have an infuriating tendency to melt into the population or underbrush), listen to a few peasants complain (they always complain, so they are told to take it up with the Earl).

Then one day, they are helping an old man try to find his pet goat, when suddenly they hear the goat bleat in terror! A giant steps out and roars at the knights! They are somewhat stunned but manage to collect their wits and charge! They ride him down like champions and manage to kill him before he gets a hit in. As they are cleaning up, they hear clapping and cheering. It’s the old man! A strange mist swirls around him — now they can see that it is Merlin!

“Leave your horses and squires, and follow me,” says the magician. He leads them deeper into the forest, which has begun to take on a barely perceptible glamour. The trail forks, one leads into the forest, the other goes down towards the shore of a lake. Merlin points down the forest path. “There! Protect me, knights!” He strides down the lake path and steps onto a small barge. Out of the forest charges a strange being. It is a man astride a horse, but both man and horse are the same slimy dark green color. The man wields a sword in each hand — as the knights gape, other arms grow out of the man’s body, wielding swords and clubs.

Some of the knights gather themselves together [making Valorous checks] and attack. Sir Owain is again reduced to 1hp at the first exchange. Things are going badly for the knights. It is making five attacks per round and beings to mow through our heroes. [As always, I roll everything openly and announce target numbers, so the players know that the danger is real.] I begin to worry about a TPK, but thankfully someone — Sir Teryrnor, I believe? — rolls a masterful stroke and puts the creature down.

Sir Lug binds everyone’s wounds; then they follow Merlin’s trail to see how fares the magus. They see him out on the misty lake, standing on the barge. He kneels. A smooth, feminine arm rises from the water, holding a gleaming sword! Merlin takes the sword, concealing it beneath his robes, and murmurs to the being in the water. The arm disappears beneath the surface and the barge floats, of its own accord, back to the shore.

Merlin steps back onto dry land. “Well done, knights. Britain is in your debt. Let us go now.” He leads them back through the wood to where their squires and horses await. The knights turn to thank him, but he isn’t there! Perplexed, the knights return to the country manor and continue their garrison duty while the severely wounded rest and heal.

They return back to Sarum at the end of the summer, where the Earl is impressed but upbraids them slightly for waiting until the end of the year to tell him about such a portentous event.

During the winter phase, Sir Nidian and Sir Teryrnor have bad harvests. Teryrnor is able to sell a ring and keep himself in his accustomed maintenance, but Nidian lives as badly as his peasants. He refuses to squeeze them, which is admirable but has consequences — most of his best horses die or go lame, and his armor rusts. Luckily the campaign specifies that this year the Earl will replace any steeds lost — so Nidian lucked out.

Sir Lug squeezes his peasants twice, and now they are all hard of hearing whenever he is around. Not insubordinate, technically. Technically.

Sir Nidian, having witnessed the near-massacre of himself and his friends, becomes concerned about his legacy and decides to marry as quickly as possible. He finds a merchant’s daughter; somewhat beneath his station but hopefully fertile. The rest of the knights are trying to maneuver at court and woo a nice nobleman’s daughter or something. They are not terribly successful.

At the end of 486, the standings are:

Sir Lug (1545 Glory)
Sir Owain (1507 Glory)
Sir Nidian (1454 Glory)
Sir Teryrnor (1333 Glory)
Sir Cyfan (1297 Glory)

View
AD 487

AD 487

Dramatis Personae (in order of Quality):

Sir Owain of Over Wallop (1507 Glory)
Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1333 Glory)
Sir Cyfan of Teffort (1297 Glory)

Absent this session:

Sir Lug of Winterslow (1545 Glory) (absent)
Sir Nidian of Haxton (1454 Glory) (absent)

We part the curtain over Dark Ages Britain with messengers arriving at the knights’ manors — Uther will be holding Christmas court in Sarum this year, and Earl Roderick requests the knights’ presence!

The three knights arrive at Sarum and it is horribly crowded with the retinues and hangers-on of everyone wanting to suck up to Uther. The knights find their places as best they can. They hobnob a little bit with people.

Teryrnor attempts to dig for some juicy gossip! Alas, whenever he walks up to a group of whispering nobles, they change the subject.

Cyfan is a veritable horn-dog, hitting on demoiselles far above his station. Or rather, attempting to approach them and getting intercepted by handmaidens and turned away. He is not dismayed.

Owain, the master harper (Play [Harp] 25) wants to play in front of the many worthies and impress them with his skills. Alas, he does not have the social cachet to get a gig in front of Uther and settles for a lunchtime performance in front of some minor nobles. Perhaps for the best, as he gets a rather mediocre success.

During the Christmas feast itself, there is much gift-giving amidst the ridiculous number of courses. Roderick gives his knights some fine clothing, which was much needed.

The climax of the feast involves Uther receiving gift after gift, none more extravagant than those of his son, Prince Madoc. Uther generously re-gifts much of Madoc’s plunder, including a handful of silver pennies to each of our heroes.

Then Merlin enters. The wily magician flatters the king, but says he lacks one thing — a thing which will bring peace to the land. With a flourish, he draws the sword (which the knights saw him get last year) and presents it to the king: “For the High King,” says Merlin, “Excalibur, the Sword of Victory!” Everyone cheers and applauds wildly.

“Surely now,” Uther says, holding the sword and admiring it, “no one can stand before me.”

“All you need to do,” adds Merlin, “is to remain just.” (Ominous pause.)

Uther remarks that he will pay a visit to some of his “friends,” implying the vacillating lords of Britain who have been coming up with nothing but endless excuses for not support Uther’s wars against the Saxons.

Merlin adds one last thing before the final feast begins. In front of Uther and all his high lords, he turn to Earl Roderick, gestures to Owain, Teryrnor, and Cyfan, and says, “Watch these men well, and give them rein to help Britain.” (Players get 50 Glory for being so recognized!)


Later, as the feast is winding down and the lords are dispersing back to their lands, Roderick approaches the knights. He has been requested to accompany Uther to visit the lords of dubious loyalty. Also, Prince Madoc has mentioned that promising knights of quality are needed to join him in raiding the Saxon-occupied coasts, putting their ships to the torch and generally killing the Saxon pig-dogs. Unusually, Roderick gives them a choice. More glory is certainly found in military endeavors, but the chance to be involved in Uther’s political machinations could expose them to many potential powerful allies and (from Cyfan’s point of view) their highly marriageable daughters.

The knights decide to accompany Roderick (and Uther).

They ride to Lindsey and are called upon to recite the Adventure of Sword Lake. Duke Lindsey is impressed and throws his lot fully behind Uther. Uther is pleased, Roderick is pleased.

Uther needs messages taken out to outlying lords. Perhaps the players would like to volunteer? Of course they would. Riding out to Ebaracum, the lord is out fighting Saxons. The players grab a guide and ride out to look for him.

But … SAXONS! A small Saxon raiding party ambushes them! Luckily the sharp-eyed Sir Teryrnor spots them. The knights charge! Rolling randomly, Sir Owain is up against a berkserker! The berserker is afoot, -5 to his Greataxe skill of 22. Sir Owain gets a +5 for being horsed. Owain rolls a middling success. The berserker rolls a 17. Critical, doubling his 8d6 damage. Sir Owain’s success allows his to get his shield into play. But it doesn’t matter. Almost 50 damage; poor Owain’s head flies across the field as the berserker roars his fury. Teryrnor and Cyfan dispatch their enemies without issue. The berserker, outnumbered, runs off.

A moment of silence for Sir Owain, first of the knights to fall in this campaign. As he was without issue, his player will have to start from scratch with a new knight.

Somberly, the two surviving knights manage to find the King of Ebaracum with news of Uther and the Sword of Victory. Ebaracum is unimpressed, and tells the knights that he will visit Uther when the Saxons stop attacking Ebaracum. The knights ride away. It is a cold and lonely trip back to Salisbury.


During the winter phase, Sir Cyfan manages to find a wife, who immediately graces him with a daughter, but dies in childbirth. The baby lives.


Standings:

Sir Lug of Winterslow (1545 Glory) (absent)
Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1494 Glory)
Sir Nidian of Haxton (1454 Glory) (absent)
Sir Cyfan of Teffort (1449 Glory)


RIP Sir Owain of Over Wallop, 464-487.

View
AD 488

Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (1615 Glory)
2. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1494 Glory)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (1474 Glory)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (1449 Glory)
5. Sir Uwain de Pieds Larges (1169 Glory)

We open AD 488 with a new knight, Sir Uwain! Not to be confused with his player’s previous character, Sir Owain. Totally different.

The Salisbury crew joins Earl Roderick at court at Winchester this Pentecost. Rumor has it that the Saxons will be held just barely at bay, while Uther shores up his support in preparation for a major push — hopefully decisive — in a few years. The immediate problem is that there are a lot of dukes of Britain who have been, if not openly rebellious, then obnoxiously passive about Uther’s claims to the throne of the high king.

One of them is Duke Gorlois of Cornwall. Problem #1: The route to Cornwall is controlled by King Cadwy of Somerset, who is caught between Uther and Gorlois and trying to survive as best he can. Problem #2: Uther has promised Pryaetor Syragius that he will send an army, led by his illegitimate son Madoc, to help the Praetor liberate Rome.

The king has offered Roderick a choice: the Continent, or Cornwall. Roderick asks his knights for council. The Salisbury boys discuss and vote, to a man, for Cornwall. They want to be near the center of the decision making, even if it means less glory.

Off to Somerset. King Cadwy is ambivalent, but he allows that he will will give Uther passage to Cornwall if he takes care of a problem for him. What problem? Well, apparently there have been some water leapers harassing Cadwy’s fishermen. If Uther can send some men to take care of them, then Cadwy will be able to justify (to Gorlois, and more importantly, himself) kowtowing to Uther.

Uther conveys this information to his nobles. The Salisbury knights are standing guard outside Uther’s tent, and cannot resist their impulse to serve their liege lord! They burst into the tent, Howard & Fine & Howard style, and volunteer all over themselves. Uther is please and amused and accepts their offer.

The next day they are out in the marsh in some borrowed boats. They don’t know much about boats, but … Suddenly, a leaper! They look like frogs with foggy wings instead of front legs, and no back legs. And shark teeth! They fly out of the water and grab one of the knights and carry him a overboard the other side. Drowning, sinking into the water. The other knights set spears. One of the knights grabs a rope (fortuitously tied to an oar lock) and rolls off the side to rescue his sinking friend.

Harrowing combat. Leapers going over the boats. Knights ducking and dodging. Someone else gets taken over. CON rolls to hold breath, then CON-5 rolls. The knights roll a bunch of criticals! Leapers fly over the boats only to split slow-motion into pieces in midair, the knights making dramatic Matrix-esque sword poses as the pieces splash into the water. Soon four water leapers are bobbing upside down at the surface. One swims off crookedly into the swamp, trailing blood.

The knights return victoriously to camp. King Cadwy is pleased. King Uther is granted passage. Uther returns to Winchester to winter and celebrate, and prepare for a visit to Gorlois next year.

Rumor is that Madoc went to Frankland, fought some Franks with the Praetor, and then rebuffed the Praetor’s command to follow to Rome. Madoc returned to Britain. If the ties between Britain and Rome were not severed before, they are now.

During the winter phase, Sir Cyfan marries again, and his new wife produces another daughter.

At the end of 488, the standings are:

1. Sir Nidian of Haxton (1791 Glory) (2 ranks)
2. Sir Lug of Winterslow (1769 Glory) (-1 rank)
3. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (1703 Glory) (
1 rank)
4. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1627 Glory) (-2 ranks)
5. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (1307 Glory)

View
AD 489

Standings:

1. Sir Nidian of Haxton (1791 Glory)
2. Sir Lug of Winterslow (1769 Glory)
3. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (1703 Glory) (absent)
4. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1627 Glory) (absent)
5. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (1307 Glory)

Last year, our knights were instrumental in helping to secure Uther’s passage through Somerset. This is important because it will help Uther directly confront his passively-rebellious vassal, Duke Gorlois of Cornwall. THIS is important, because if Gorlois falls into line and starts supporting Uther militarily, then Uther can finally have a real chance to expel the Saxons and bring peace to the peace to war-torn Albion.

All Gorlois has to do is acknowledge Uther as the high king. Surely something to which any stiff-necked, prideful noble would happily submit.

But insurance is always desirable, so Uther summons his nobles to Cirencester, preparing to march his army on Cornwall. Our knights and their lord, Earl Roderick, are marching as well. The mood is grim — no one wants to wage war on fellow Britons, when the Saxons are occupying Kent, in the southeast, and threatening Lindsay, in the north.

King Cadwy joins Uther at Somerset, but doesn’t bring any troops. Our knights are sympathetic, recognizing that Cadwy is caught betwixt the twin horns of Uther and Gorlois, and cannot risk throwing in his lot unless the winner is clear.

Gorlois meets them in Cornwall. Taking advantage of the terrain, his army is up in the hills, amongst the trees. At the foot of the hill is a stream that Uther will have to charge across. Even assuming equal numbers, this is a receipe for the slaughter of Uther’s army.

The morning of the battle, our knights nervously prepare. Sir Nidian will be the battle commander of their group (having overtaken Sir Lug in Glory, the honor is his).

Uther rides out under a flag of parley. Merlin is at his side. No one realized he was here. “One land, one king!” yells Uther, loud enough for all to hear.

“Justice!” Gorlois yells back, but rides out to talk to Uther, stopping a prudent distance away.

Merlin speaks softly, but his voice carries to all: “Show him the sword.”

Uther draws Excalibur. A gasp rolls over the field. The Cornish troops withdraw a few paces.

“Behold, the Sword of Victory,” says Merlin. “Forged when the world was young.” Again, he speaks softly but his voice carries eerily.

Gorlois, visibly shaken, steps back to confer with his earls. He steps back and shouts at Uther. “And if I surrender, what do I get?”

“You get?!?” sputters Uther, but Merlin interrupts him with a gesture. The two of them hurriedly discuss in low tones. Uther nods and continues. “You get … all the land from here to the sea, to hold for the king.”

“I accept!” shouts Gorlois. Both armies cheer! A crisis, and a senseless bloodletting, is averted. The camps are joined, drinking and feasting goes on into the night. Gorlois leaves sometime before dawn, and Uther’s army the next day.

After a few days on the road back to Cirencester, Uther tells Roderick that — seeing how an extended Cornwall campaign is not necessary — he will go to Lindsay to fend off some of the Saxon raiding parties. Our knights are pleased for the chance at a little solid action against the real enemy. Except for Sir Uwain, whose player has not had the best of luck fighting Saxons.

The Saxons refuse honest battle, so our knights group up and hunt for a raiding party. They find a party of six Saxons and, thanks to Nidian’s hunting skills, manage to come upon them unawares and they are despoiling a farmhouse. Nidian leads the battle and they charge! The Saxons are surprised but manage to fight back as best they can. Which is not good enough! The knights make so much Saxon-kebab with their lances, putting down three of them in the first pass. The other three break and run. They manage to capture one — it is the leader! They truss him up and frog march him to Lindsay, exchanging him for ransom.

During the Winter phase, the weather mostly cooperates. Decent harvests, plus the ransom for the Saxon war band leader, means a good year.

Standings, not including anything gained by Cyfan or Teryrnor during Winter 489:

1. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2026 Glory)
2. Sir Lug of Winterslow (1894 Glory)
3. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (1703 Glory)
4. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1627 Glory)
5. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (1451 Glory)

View
AD 489, addendum

The Lamentations of Sir Teryrnor

A makeup session with Sir Teryrnor this afternoon. We’ve established that he is at home during AD 489, but why? His player and I decide to go through the Winter Phase to see if that suggests anything interesting.

During the Winter Phase, it is established that his brother is missing! Excellent.

One day, Sir Teryrnor’s brother, the honorable Sir Glyn, makes rounds through the county. He is expected back for dinner but does not return.

Another day comes and goes, with no Sir Glyn. This is relevant because Sir Teryrnor is without issue, thus Sir Glyn is his heir.

Teryrnor and his loyal squire, Caradoc, ride out to search for Sir Glyn. They wander about in the scrub forest for a day and run out of food. Rather than return to the manor, they press on. Hungry and tired, they spend the night in the woods.

They spend half of the next day wandering and then come upon a bandit encampment. The bandits have a captive, whose head is in a sack. Is it Sir Glyn? Someone else? No matter, Sir Teryrnor charges!

The bandits pull daggers and put them at the captive’s throat, demanding ransom.

Sir Teryrnor does not negotiate with terrorists. He charges. [Check Proud, check Reckless.]

The bandit leader slits the captive’s throat, and the four bandits scatter into the woods. Teryrnor rides down the leader and cuts him down in a one-sided battle. He returns to the encampment, leaving the bandit to the ravens.

As he rides back in, his squire, arms covered in blood, sobbingly relates how he tried to revive his lord Glyn but failed. Sir Glyn is dead; Teryrnor now has no heir.

Teryrnor ties Glyn to his horse and returns home. His dowager mother beats her breast, pulls her hair. “I wish your father was still alive,” she says. His mother does not attend the funeral.

Teryrnor tosses the torch onto his brother’s pyre. The smoke takes his soul to Valhalla.

View
AD 490

Standings:

1. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2,200 Glory)
2. Sir Lug of Winterslow (1,894 Glory)
3. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (1,703 Glory)
4. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,680 Glory) (absent)
5. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (1,450 Glory)

Our Heroes travel to Warwick for Spring Court. The mood is tense but excited as Logres prepares for war. With Gorlois at Uther’s back, the Britons finally have a chance.

Schmoozing with the hoi polloi, the talk of the court is about Gorlois’ wife, the Duchess Ygraine. She is a legendary beauty, but none of that will matter if they can’t expel the Saxons.

Sir Cyfan shares some wine with Prince Madoc. This is becoming an annual tradition for the two of them at spring court — the prince appreciates Cyfan’s candor and forthrightness, and his views as an outsider. Cyfan appreciates the prince’s fame and wealth, and his access to the halls of power.

Sir Lug attempts to join Cyfan and Madoc in the garden, but Madoc fails his Recognize roll and asks Lug to go fetch some more wine. Lug is chagrinned but complies, taking the opportunity to talk to Sir Brastias. Brastias confides to Lug that the Saxon army has doubled in size since last fall, and one of their kings, Eosa, is so big he can’t ride a horse.

One of the other knights learns that the Saxon kings have an enchanted weapon, and look to add Excalibur to their collection. Gulp. “Molon labe,” says Uther, or he would have if he spoke ancient Greek.

Within a few weeks, Uther’s army marches to Lindsey. The Saxons array themselves on the other side of the field. Uther has 2,000 horse and 5,000 foot, against the Saxons’ 10,000 foot. This is easily the biggest battle our heroes have seen.

Uther, Earl Roderick, and the Knights are in the center. The horns blow and the armies rush at each other in a thunderous charge. Sir Lug, directing the Knights’ battle group, blows his Battle roll and directs the party into a swirling melee of axes and howling Saxons. Swords are swung, blood is spilled, and the Knights are swept apart and back together over the course of the battle. Sir Cyfan is laid low by a single blow, but miraculously survives. His squire drags him out of battle.

Lug and Uwain fight on. Glancing over the right flank, they see Duke Gorlois crash through the Saxon lines and lay the giant King Eosa low with a single blow. The Saxons begin to route, first the right, then the center!

As the Saxon lines collapse, Lug spots King Octa isolated on the field, with only a single heorthganat protecting him. Uwain spots the Saxon banner, guarded by two men. They could try and take the king, or settle for the banner, or continue to pick off a few more Saxons. Lug valorously charges the king, with Uwain following closely behind! The heorthganat intercepts Uwain, and the king wheels his horse around to face Sir Lug!

A few exchanges. Heavy blows are landed, shaking the combatants, but they keep their feet (or saddles). Uwain finally knocks down the heorthganat, then nearly decapitates him as he tries to rise to his feet. King Octa slams his axe into Lug’s side; Lug is knocked off his horse and blacks out. Uwain engages Octa and fights over Lug’s unconscious form! Uwain lands a solid blow. Octa looks around and sees his army dissolving. Octa fails his Valorous roll and turns and flees, Uwain chasing him from the field of battle!

The victorious British army sets up camp and celebrates. Sir Nidian rides in. “Hey guys, did I miss anything?”

That night, the Knights are given a place of honor guarding Uther’s tent, where they manage to thwart an assassin. Unfortunately, they thwart him fatally and are unable to find out who sent him.

The following day they march back to Castle Lindsey for the victory feast. The Duchess Ygraine makes an appearance and recites a victory poem. All the knights and lords are fascinated by her, but none so much as King Uther. Gorlois sees Uther staring brazenly at his wife and frowns.

A few days later, Earl Roderick gives the Knights their choice: would they like to accompany him as he stays with the King on his yearly progression around his realm? Or would they like to go with Madoc as he raids the Saxon lands in retaliation? The Knights opt to stick with Uther.

As the weeks go by, Uther gives his lords leave to return to their lands one by one. Except Duke Gorlois. Gorlois asks every day to return to Cornwall; Uther is insistent that Gorlois and his household must stay with the royal court.

Uther eventually reaches London and holds Christmas court there. Despite all his talk about the great victory and the plunder found, Uther seems restless and unhappy.

One night, the Knights are milling around the courtyard, off duty. A few snowflakes drift down with a chill air that blows in. Across the courtyard they see some squires readying a dozen or so horses. Hmm. The Knights go over and question the squires. Why are they getting ready to ride into a coming snowstorm? Merely following orders from their lord, Duke Gorlois, milords. Hmm. Lug decides to go find Sir Brastias and inform him that the Cornish are skedaddling.

Nidian, Cyfan, and Uwain cannot think of a great reason to delay the Cornish — while it certainly seems underhanded, for all they know, Uther could finally have granted Gorlois permission to leave.

Uwain and Nidian notice that the Cornish seem strangely difficult to focus on — they can’t seem to look at them for more than a few seconds before they realize that they are looking elsewhere. Uwain concentrates and realizes that part of the Cornish group is a woman he’s seen at the periphery of court a time or two — Nineve, the Lady of the Lake.

Cyfan sighs, sets his shoulders and walks up to the group as they make their way towards the gate. A Cornish knight sees him and peels off the the group, drawing reign a few yards from Sir Cyfan.

“I would have your name, Sir Knight,” says the Cornish warrior. His hand is on the hilt of his sword.

“I am hight Cyfan of Teffort.”

“I am hight Gwannon of Dartmoor,” replies he. “And, Sir Cyfan, I do not desire bloodshed this night.” The implication is clear.

Cyfan inclines his head. “Nor do I.” He steps back.

The knight bows back. “I will remember your courtesy this night.” Sir Gwannon rejoins the rest of the Cornish and they disappear into the blowing snow.

Minutes later, Uther storms into the courtyard wearing his robes and naught else. He is raging about the treason and disloyalty of Gorlois. The Knights are silent and withdraw as soon as feasible.

The rest of the Christmas court is murmur and talk of muster, war, and revenge. Roderick and his knights return to Salisbury as soon as the storm lets up. AD 491 is not looking good.

Winter Phase:

- Lug’s wife gives birth to his first child, a daughter.
- Nidian, distraught over the death of his wife, hooks up with a woman of ill repute, who rewards him with illegitimate twin daughters.
- Teryrnor also has an illegitimate child, who he names after his recently departed brother.

Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (2,975 Glory)
2. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (2,658 Glory)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2,394 Glory)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (2,228 Glory)
5. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,723 Glory)

View
AD 491

Pendragon AD 491

Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (2,975 Glory)
2. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (2,658 Glory) (absent)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2,394 Glory) (absent)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (2,228 Glory) (absent)
5. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,723 Glory) (absent)
6. Sir Gwyn of Tytherington (1,187 Glory) (first appearance)
7. Sir Morin of Idmisdton (1,178 Glory) (first appearance)

King Uther Pendragon holds court and pronounces judgement upon Duke Gorlois. Gorlois has affronted him beyond all tolerance. Uther claims that Gorlois is a traitor, and the proof is that he left in secret, stealing treasure and slaying servants on the way out of London last year.

Our Heroes remember well, having had the chance to stop Gorlois but deciding not to. They do not bring this missed opportunity up.

The talk at court is bloodthirsty. Prince Madoc wants to give the Cornish what they deserve. Sir Cyfan is tending to his lands and is unable to offer his normal counsel and commiseration with the Prince this year.

Sir Brastias, ever faithful, is nonetheless concerned about the Saxons, who seem to have endless numbers. Sir Lug affirms Brastias’ worries but affirms the need to support the king.

The king demands all available men, knights and levies alike, for the war upon Cornwall. Earl Roderick pulls Our Heroes aside and lets them know that actually, their levies should stay behind in case of a Saxon incursion. However, they and their retinue should prepare to ride.

Rumor has it that Gorlois is not actually a traitor, but escape to preserve the honor of his wife, the Duchess Ygraine, from Uther’s scandalous advances. Deciding on the truth of this is a little beyond Our Heroes’ pay grade. But apparently even Prince Madoc has been overheard arguing with his father over proprieties, and the wisdom of using his political strength to enforce his own lusts.

Uther commands all knights to march on Cornwall immediately. Any stragglers are to follow as quickly as feasible.

The Knights follow, apprehensive. The last time they marched on Cornwall, it was into almost certain slaughter, averted only by the intervention of Merlin. But Merlin is nowhere to be seen. In general the Knights are not really supportive of this, but Uther is their liege’s liege. What choice do they have?

The march is long and cold. Scouts go out and return. Gorlois has divided his forces into two: the majority at Castle Terrabil, ten miles inland; the rest at Castle Tintagel, on the coast. The Duchess is at Tintagel, but if Uther moves on Tintagel then Gorlois’ army at Terrabil will move on their rear and pin them up again the other castle. Uther sends his son, Madoc, with the bulk of his army, to besiege the army at Terrabil. Uther himself rides with a small force to Tintagel. Roderick gives the Knights their choice: Glory at Terrabil, or with him and Uther to Tintagel?

The Earl turns to Sir Lug. Lug, with no hesitation, says “We have ever gone with you and the King. We will accompany you still.” The Earl inclines his head. “Sir Lug, you are a true knight. Would that all my men were as steadfast as you.”

They ride.

Castle Tintagel is on an outcropping in the Irish Sea, connected by a narrow causeway. A deathtrap, so of course Sir Gwyn volunteers to lead the assault. He gets halfway across and the two knights who went with him fall to their deaths. Sir Gwyn hastily retreats back to the mainland. Several more attempts fail. Uther rages. The knights, and Our Knights, stand around and wait for orders. They ride patrols and observe, and attempt to starve them out.

One afternoon, Sir Gwyn sees a rider approaching on a white mule. He rides out to meet the rider. It’s an old man with a long beard. Merlin? Merlin! The arch druid of Britain greets Gwyn by name, and, annoyingly, knows all about him despite them never having met before.

Gwyn escorts Merlin to Uther’s tent and stands guard.

That night, while Our Knights are watching the camp, Uther and Merlin (and noble Sir Brastias) leave the tent and ride up the coast. Our Heroes follow at a respectful distance. Merlin sees them but says nothing. Arriving at a standing stone, Merlin dismounts and begins a ritual. Sir Marin, faithful pagan that he is, watches respectfully. The others are suspicious, but if Uther is participating, what reproach may they give?

Uther, Merlin, and Brastias remount and return to camp. The Knights retreat to the side of road as they pass; Uther nods regally at them as if to thank them for their escort.

Returning to camp and unable to sleep. A few hours pass. The Knights mill about, restlessly. A shout goes up: “The duke! Open the gate!”

Gwyn sees Duke Gorlois ride into the castle. He stands guard at the causeway. A few hours later, the duke rides out. Gwyn, Marin, and Lug move to intercept! Suddenly Merlin is there, holding up his hand. “Knights, hold. As you love Britain, trust mine counsel.”

They hold and watch the duke disappear into the fog. They eventually go to sleep, and have dreams troubled by visions of dragons and blood. The night is cold and long.

In the morning, messengers arrive! The knights ride out and escort them in. Their words are for the king only, but rumor spreads quickly: A battle at Castle Terrabil. Duke Gorlois was killed in the fighting, but before he went down, he killed Prince Madoc.

Uther is hit hard by the news. He retreats to his tent to grieve in private.

The body of Duke Gorlois is brought to Tintagel under a white flag, and disappears into the castle. The next day, the Duchess Ygraine surrenders to Uther. Uther accepts, and takes her into protective custody.

Prince Madoc is buried at Stonehenge. The Knights attend, and notice an empty plot ready to hold Uther when the time comes. It is a sobering thought.

Word comes from the south: The Saxons have made ingress into Kent. Women and children are being sacrificed to Wotan, the bloody Saxon god of war. Uther is dismissive, and announces his wedding to Ygraine. The courtiers are impressed with Ygraine’s cunning — she is apparently moving quickly to secure her future. The wedding is the social event of the summer. Ygraine’s daughters are on display; it is assumed that Uther will be marrying them off to secure alliances as necessary.

The Knights are garrisoned at Tintegel for the winter. Their commander gifts them sufficient rewards to let their treasuries build appropriately.

“I don’t know how much longer I can support Uther,” says Sir Nidian privately, when he hears of the year’s events.


Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (3,173 Glory)
2. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (2,725 Glory)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2,583 Glory)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (2,392 Glory)
5. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,746 Glory)
6. Sir Morien of Idmisdton (1,391 Glory) (first appearance)
7. Sir Gwyn of Tytherington (1,358 Glory) (first appearance)

View
AD 492

Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (3,173 Glory)
2. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (2,725 Glory)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2,583 Glory)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (2,392 Glory)
5. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,746 Glory) (absent)
6. Sir Morien of Idmisdton (1,391 Glory)
7. Sir Gwyn of Tytherington (1,358 Glory) (absent)


In the spring, the knights convene back at Castle Tintagel, in Cornwall. Uther is to preside of the marriage of Ygraine’s daughters to the kings of the north. Ygraine is due to give birth in the summer, and wants to be at her home.

The marriages proceed with problems. It is a glorious affair, and, as Sir Brastias (Uther’s bodyguard) confides in his young drinking buddy Sir Lug, it seems that Uther has something other than war on his mind for once.

Spring passes and summer breaks over the land. The knights ride seemingly endless patrols. There is not much opportunity for glory, but there is little danger either.

One morning on patrol, they are surprised by Merlin. “Knights, I need your help yet again.” He heads off into the thin forest without checking to see if they are following. Sir Lug is suspicious but follows with the rest of them.

They are quickly in unfamiliar territory, despite having patrolled this area many times prior. “Is he taking us into Faerie again?” wonders Sir Uwain. No response.

Finally a clearing is reached. Merlin turns to the knights and says, “I need you to wait here. When I return, I will probably need protection. I am counting on your to do your duty for King and Britain. Will you wait?”

“We will wait,” the knights assent.

“Wait here, then. Be ready. Stay on your horses.” Merlin strides off into the woods.

Hours pass. Then, a distant noise: men on horseback. The knights ready their lances and shields.

Merlin walks swiftly into a clearing. Some of the knights notice that he is carrying something. Sir Uwain thinks to himself, “It’s a baby!”

Merlin says merely, “Delay them,” and exits on the opposite side of the clearing.

The sounds of pursuit get closer. A group of knights in full arms and armor burst from the trees! Our Heroes prepare to charge!

“What are you doing?! We are king’s men, on king’s business!” yells the unknown knight. The players all make Heraldry rolls and fail miserably. “The lead knight’s shield has an upraised mailed fist on it,” I tell them.

The players distress and discuss their arms briefly. “What does yours look like?” I ask Sir Lug’s player.

He holds up his character sheet, upon which he has drawn a cross-eyed smiley face. “Goddammit, Jeremy, that is not what your coat of arms looks like.”

“Oh,” he says, “well, then I guess it looks like Sir Brastias’, except more greenish. So what does that make mine?”

“Uh, it makes it a green-tinted upraised mailed fist.”

Comprehension dawns as they realize they are facing Uther’s right-hand men. Brastias is fuming. “So help me God, if you do not stand down immediately we will cut you down! Where is that dog, that traitor, Merlin?”

Sir Nidian and Sir Morien pretend to lose control of their horses and they block the path temporarily. Brastias and his men force by them. “The king will hear of this!” he snaps.

Our knights sheepishly follow Brastias. Merlin is nowhere to be found. Camp is set, but Brastias makes it clear that they are not welcome at his fire.

In the morning they wend back to Castle Tintagel. They are informed that Sir Brastias has accused them of treason. This is concerning; treason is a capital offense. There will be a trial, presided over by the king; in the meantime they are confined to quarters. They send word to Earl Roderick.

Several days before the trial, two of Roderick’s men, his marshall and his local bishop, come to question the knights so to better represent them.

The trial is brief. Queen Ygraine calls for their blood. Brastias tells his story. Roderick’s men tell how the knights were clearly ensorcelled by Merlin’s foul magics. Uther asks the knights to speak for themselves. They speak and give a reasonable accounting of their loyalty.

Finally, the marshall stands and states that Earl Roderick gives his word on the honor of these men. The knights are impressed; as well they should be — Roderick has now joined his fortune with theirs.

A famous monk stands and declares that all of Uther’s problems are because of Merlin. Cast him out! “Kill him,” hisses Ygraine.

Uther pronounces judgment. The knights are innocent, having been tricked by Merlin. Merlin is condemned to death. Let the news go out to be read in all public places.

The knights return to Salisbury. They privately thank Earl Roderick for his trust and faith, and pledge their lives and service.


Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (3,379 Glory)
2. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (2,944 Glory)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2,856 Glory)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (2,742 Glory)
5. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,769 Glory) (absent)
6. Sir Morien of Idmisdton (1,550 Glory)
7. Sir Gwyn of Tytherington (1,519 Glory) (absent)

View
AD 493

Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (3,379 Glory)
2. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (2,944 Glory)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (2,856 Glory)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (2,742 Glory) (absent)
5. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,769 Glory) (absent)
6. Sir Morien of Idmisdton (1,550 Glory)
7. Sir Gwyn of Tytherington (1,519 Glory) (absent)


AD 493 opens on a somber note. King Uther is withdrawn, grieving over the death of Madoc and the loss of his infant son. The Saxon kings, Octa and Eosa, have escaped from captivity and are reportedly gathering their armies again in the north, Saxon warriors are flocking to their banners.

In the midst of the spring court, doctors come and go from Uther’s chambers. No one else is admitted.

Earl Roderick is sent a message. He is to travel to Malahaut and formalize an alliance with the northern kings, in anticipation of the Saxon attack. He takes his knights with him.

A long journey north; the weather is clear and bright but does little to lift the knight’s spirits.

Entering the city of Eburacum, the knights are generally snubbed and refused entrance to the court. They rent a house and mill about town, sending their squires on errands, mostly carrying messages to and from Roderick. They notice several well-dressed Saxons in town, moving about freely with no harassment from the town guard. This is alarming but they can detect no immediate threat. An urgent message to Roderick get a quick response: Saxon representatives are also here at court, negotiating against Uther.

Days pass as Roderick negotiates with the northern kings. The knights follow the Saxon envoys in the markets and overhear them plotting to attack Uther while he is weak from his illness. A frantic message dispatched to Roderick, followed by hours of white-knuckled, impotent waiting. Finally he shows up at the knights’ house with his entourage, a grim expression on his face. “We ride at dawn.”

The Salisbury men leave. Nothing is said, nor needs to be.

An hour south of Malahaut there are signs of an ambush ahead. The knights want to melt into the forest and out-tactic them, but Roderick will have none of it. “They will die like dogs,” he says, ordering a charge into the trap. Saxons, of course.

The battle is joined, back and forth for several minutes, then Roderick himself joins to fight alongside his men. The knights’ superior equipment and training turn the tide. They slaughter all the ambushers, cutting them down even as they break and run. There is no celebration. The squires strip the bodies and leave them for the ravens.

At Christmas court, little is improved. The king is still ill. Octa and Eosa are still marching south. War is coming.


Standings:

1. Sir Lug of Winterslow (3,622 Glory)
2. Sir Uwain des Pieds Larges (3,233 Glory)
3. Sir Nidian of Haxton (3,065 Glory)
4. Sir Cyfan of Teffort (2,928 Glory)
5. Sir Teryrnor of Southcott (1,792 Glory)
6. Sir Gwyn of Tytherington (1,691 Glory)
7. Sir Morien of Idmisdton (1,650 Glory)

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.