Solo GPC

500
A Lion in Summer

This year marked a turning point in a lot of ways. As I mentioned in a comment to my last campaign update, this year promised much courtly intrigue—only appropriate, since Herringdale’s Intrigue skill is up to 17 by now!—and a possible shift in tone. I think it delivered on both promises in spades.

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499
The Return

With the snows melting and the first warm breezes blowing through the eaves and branches of the Forest Sauvage, Sir Herringdale got set to try again at the Gallant’s Challenge. Again, they headed out to the mews, and again Herringdale chose the Modest falcon. They then set out into the woods in search of quarry.

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498 (Session Two)
Lost in the Forest

Having seen to the safe departure of Merlin, Herringdale made swiftly for Sarum and a meeting with Countess Ellen.

“My lady,” he said when he’d finally arrived, “I have reason to believe that I may be able to locate the son of Prince Madoc.”

Countess Ellen looked simultaneously excited and worried.

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498 (Session One)
Crossroads

After having to skip a week’s session due to an attack of late-winter crud, we got back into the Great Pendragon Campaign this weekend. I’d been looking forward to running this session quite a bit. In fact, I even had a dream about running it earlier in the week, something that doesn’t often happen to me. As it turned out, this year made up for our dearth of playing in that it provided two sessions’ worth of action. Read on for an account of the first session…

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505
Year of the Three Battles


In the wake of Elaine’s departure, Broughton Hall was left emptier and more eerily quiet than ever. Herringdale easily secured the employ of a new steward, sending for the services of the steward of Burcombe in fact. But his youngest child, his daughter Lilo, was left without a mother and grew increasingly sad and despondent. As the snows began to fall, she grew ill. Yuletide came and went, and still Lilo languished. Countess Ellen sent her best healer trudging through the snow to Broughton, yet there was nothing to be done. Lilo had been sickly since birth, and at last the Reaper caught up with her. On a cold February night, she passed away in Herringdale’s arms.

The dice dictated more cruel fate, but I chose to defer that until game play (an advantage of running the Winter Phase first!).

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497
The Battle of Du Plain Castle

If you’re familiar with the geography of Salisbury, the title of this year’s update should clue you in right away to the events that would unfold during our latest Pendragon session. The Anarchy Phase arrived on Sir Herringdale’s front doorstep this year…

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496
Anarchy in the U.K.

And so we enter the Anarchy Phase.

Unlike most other phase transitions in the GPC, the Anarchy Phase doesn’t mark any major shift in technology, social mores, fashion, or much of anything, really. A note is made at the beginning of the chapter that we’ve moved into the equivalent of 11th-century history, and that the power of the Myth is starting to increasingly displace the reality of 6th-century History, but all in all it’s a pretty subtle transition.

Not so subtle, however, when looked at from the perspective of our hero, Sir Herringdale, who now finds himself Marshall of a county adrift without a leader in a troubled sea of enemies. This isn’t called the Anarchy Period for nothing folks.

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495
The Hall of the Dead

I had wanted to get to this year before our move. I knew that, whatever might transpire, it would be a watershed year and a good point to leave things off for the time being (no fear, we have every intention of continuing the campaign once we’re settled in at our new place—we just have no idea how long that might take).

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494
On His Majesty's Secret Service


After last year’s break from serving as Earl Roderick’s dogsbody, we were back to scripted events in the GPC. King Uther, still stricken with a wasting illness (and—according to whispered rumors—calling for Merlin in his delirium) had, during one of his more lucid moments, proclaimed that Logres should be seeking alliances with other powerful kingdoms. Earl Roderick’s embassy to Malahaut the previous year had failed. This year, the Earl selected Sir Herringdale, one of his most renowned knights, to travel as Royal Ambassador to the Kingdom of Estregales. There, it was said, King Canan had done what no other Cambrian king had managed: through political maneuvering and military might, he had forged a strong alliance between the lowland lords and the mountain chieftains.

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493
A Terrible Gnashing of Teeth

This year proved to be a real nail-biter, both in regular play and in the Winter Phase. It was also kind of a big shift thematically, which threw Des for a bit of a loop, but I had my reasons. Permit me to explain my GMing machinations…

On paper, the year 493 in the GPC is a whole lotta nothin’. Earl Roderick goes on a diplomatic mission to Malahaut to try and drum up support for an alliance but meets only brick walls and eventually returns home all put out. No thanks. Plus—and especially after the rail-roady events of the previous year—I thought a little break was in order from all the scripted stuff. Branch out a bit, refocus things on Sir Herringdale’s personal life and struggles. As Uther’s kingdom begins to fall apart, as the High King withdraws into melancholy and illness, what goes on in the life of one of the kingdom’s most esteemed knights?

I had downloaded an adventure from RPG Archive a few weeks ago called “The Adventure of the Poisoned Lake” and was looking for a chance to use it. It features some mystical elements, but nothing too over the top for pre-Enchantment Britain. I really liked how the GPC had gotten off the ground with fighting a Giant; I wanted to get back to that a bit this year.

See, the way the time line works, you’re not going to see a bunch of crazy faeries and goblins and manticores and what-have-you running around Britain until the so-called Enchantment begins, shortly after Arthur takes the throne. Uther period adventures are much more pragmatically-based. But there are still supernatural elements lurking about the fringes—sort of the “supernatural natives,” if you will. I thought the Poisoned Lake adventure would stand up well to that litmus test.

In the course of planning things out, I started thinking about adding a little more to the year’s events. Every period in the GPC has a dozen or so short mini-scenarios listed at the back, things that the GM can just sprinkle in here and there to add little touches distinctive of the period. I chose to throw first one, then two of these mini-scenarios into the mix once Herringdale got through the Adventure of the Poisoned Lake (or rather, if he got through—as written, this is not a solo-PC-friendly adventure!).

So yes, I made some tweaks to the deadliness factor of the adventure as written. But Herringdale nearly bought it twice even then. Granted, the first time was because Des was unlucky enough to have me roll a “20” on the Enchanted Forest Encounter Table, but still…

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