Solo GPC

510 (Session Two)
...and Of Boy Kings

 Picking up where we left off, then…

Having been crowned King of Logres to widespread jubilation and acclaim, Arthur was swept off in a grand procession bound for Carlion. This just so happened to be Herringdale’s destination too. Arthur was going because the Supreme Collegium was reconvening in the ancient city to elect a High King. Herringdale was going because his daughter, Heledd, was due to marry King Alain of Escavalon. Don’t you love it when character motivations line up with campaign events so neatly?

510 (Session One)
...and Of Boy Kings

Here we are at last; if you’re familiar with the contents of the Great Pendragon Campaign, you know what’s coming this year. The trick in running it is to weave the events in the PCs’ lives into the grander narrative. In effect, one of the most oft-told stories in the Western lexicon becomes background scenery for the exploits of the campaign’s main characters. This could be said of the GPC in general, but it’s especially true for this year.

Even a campaign limiting itself purely to the events scripted in the book would find 510 to be an extraordinarily action-packed year. As this year also marked several important watershed moments for Herringdale personally, it’s turned into a truly epic year – one we’re still making our way through, actually. Obviously, then, this will be the first of another several-part installment.

Of Countesses and Earls...

[Partly by design, partly by accident, this turned to be a real action-packed year. It actually spanned two full sessions, so be warned that it’s even lengthier than usual…]

This year witnessed Sir Herringdale come into his own as a political mover and shaker in Salisbury and beyond. Some of his attempts at power brokerage met with wild success; others proved much more vexing… The year started off, however, with strange portents of things to come.

The Battle of Nentley Marsh

Man, the Anarchy Phase sucks. Just when everything looks to be going along as planned—BOOM! Disaster strikes! I honestly felt bad having to run the events outlined in this year after last year’s relative triumphs. Ah well, the element of drama and all that, right?

(Also, after this year’s battle, I reached some conclusions on how I’m going to run battles in Pendragon for the foreseeable future, but I’ll elucidate on that in a separate post.)

Daggers at Broughton

Although the Great Pendragon Campaign and the many Pendragon adventure collections available in PDF form provide reams and reams of material – more than one could ever hope to squeeze into even two or three campaign arcs – I’ve found in my experience of running the game that the best sessions inevitably arise from the home-crafted scenarios, the ones that play off of character history and development. This year’s session was one such as that.

Through the Marshes of Avalon

Winter passed into spring and life returned to the county of Salisbury. As May got under way, at the realm’s far eastern corner, construction on the new, improved Du Plain Castle resumed, with the castle’s chief engineer assuring its soon-to-be lord, Sir Herringdale, Marshall of Salisbury, that the castle would be fit to move into by the end of the year. Meanwhile, back at Broughton Hall, Herringdale was entertained by the jongleur troupe he sponsored. As always, they were a source of juicy gossip gathered from all corners of the land. This year, they brought him the welcome news that King Nanteleod was moving behind the scenes, attempting to orchestrate a reconvening of the Supreme Collegium so that he could be officially proclaimed High King.

Giant Changes

This was a year in which legends were born.

Yes indeed, among bards and court poets the tale of Sir Herringdale’s encounter with the Giant of Burcombe would soon become a well loved and oft told tale. Among wags and gossips, behind the scenes and in hushed tones, the tale of what had awaited Herringdale when he returned home and the events that soon transpired would become an even greater topic for conversation. And in later years, the coming of the bandit known as Bright Flame would become the stuff of folk mythology among peasants, particularly the Saxon folk of the old kingdoms who longed to throw off the reign of the Cymric king known as Arthur.

But enough foreshadowing. Things are gloomy enough for Salisbury without casting more shadows.

The Fall of London

(Ahem. The campaign has been moving along nicely, but I’m woefully behind on writing updates. Here then is the first…)

If this campaign were a video game, this year would have been a cut scene.

What I mean by that is that this was a year in which Herringdale was swept up in events greater than himself and largely stood by, impotent to help or attempt to make a change. There wasn’t much in the way of dice rolling or action, but there was a fair amount of introspection into character motivation and mood. Accordingly, it was also a low point for Des as a player. Since I’m writing this update two (game) years further on, I can happily report that the despondence felt by both character and player was soon to lift, but this year saw a very real frustration set in.

When It Rains...

The old oak door creaked open. A robed, bearded figure was silhouetted in the door frame by a hunchbacked lantern bearer lurking behind him.

“Just down these stairs, m’lord,” grunted the hunchback. Merlin swept down the stairs as mice frantically squeaked to get out of his way. His wise eyes swept the stacks of unbound manuscripts and leather-backed tomes as he entered the darkened chamber. He knew exactly what he was looking for, and sensed he was at last on the verge of finding it. Then he spotted it.

Pulling the stack of crinkled parchment off the shelf, he blew a thick layer of dust off the topmost sheet.

“Here it is at last!” he exclaimed. “Bring the light closer, oaf,” he snapped. As the lantern loomed near, he could make out the flowering, illuminated words along the top of the page: “The Continuing Adventures of Sir Herringdale.”

At last it can be told! The thrilling conclusion to the two-parter “Weddings and Warfare” installment of the ongoing chronicle of the line of Sir Herringdale of Broughton and a return (one hopes) to regular campaign updates. Yeah…sorry about leaving regular readers hanging for over a month. I’ve found that long-running campaigns tend to move in these sort of cyclical motions—sometimes things cook right along, other times there needs to be a period of down time, either due to in-game or Real World reasons. In this particular case, it was the Real World that intervened (nothing major, just lots of little things conspiring to drain all available free time), but at last we can return.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at these sorts of things) this update will be a little shorter than normal. This is because I’m working off of five-week-old notes and dim memories. Apologies. Regular long-winded updates will resume with the next installment.

Weddings and Warfare

Well, things are starting to accelerate now for sure. I’ve been looking forward to running this year because of a couple set-piece encounters; the player-driven developments of the past couple years only added to the uncertainty and intriguing possibilities. As I mentioned in my last post, part of the fun for me as a GM is not knowing how things are going to turn out in a given session. I’ve only become more adamant on this position as I’ve gotten older; thus my increased use of random tables in D&D, for instance. Pendragon tends to generate enough “random events” through its base mechanics that I don’t often need to resort to random tables, but this year ended off with my first playtest of my siege rules, and they didn’t fail to disappoint. So on to the action, then…


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