Sex and Honor
Medieval society honors a woman’s chastity. Women’s Honor is tied in with her sexuality. Extramarital sex by women is dishonorable. For men, no Honor lost, though—this is the infamous “double standard.” (These rules apply to anyone who has Chastity underlined as a religious virtue. Religions without that virtue may be different. Ask your GM if it matters.)
Pendragon recognizes that value, but also expresses support for the Romantic notion that love is more important than marriage, and fidelity to one’s lover is more important than duty to one’s spouse.
Pagans! These standards don’t apply to your cultural values. An essay on “Pagan Knights” is in preparation.
Many people are uncomfortable with trying to cope with sexual themes. It’s a very touchy subject, delicate at best, and embarrassing among people you know only through gaming. Yet, it is a major branch of the literary Arthurian world. So it is likely to come up in a game.
It is more difficult if players say they won’t play in such an environment as these antique practices. If protests come up during the game, for your self-defense cite the Authority of the Rule Book (“I’m just doing what it says here.”) in your defense and have the protester read the “Sexist Setting speech”. Then ask the player what he wants in the system, decide if it is worth your while, and agree or disagree. Then keep playing.
We will here explain the game functions, with some of the rawness of time, without apology for things that are known or thought to be known of the time. The assumption is that people seek and enjoy love, and as expression of that often engage in sexual activity. The nature of medieval society, where marriages are for political and familial connections, makes much of this love outside of marriage.
One major theme is that the men, normally required to do murder and mayhem, learn virtues from Amor, like Generosity and Mercy, so they can do their job better. Thus, chivalric combat that is set above ordinary combat. It is a tougher set of standards to meet.
Romantic Love is similar, in a non-violent manner.
Honor is Lost for Succumbing to Lust
10 Honor is lost by women who have pre- or extra-marital sex. Modifiers affect this. It is lost when the knowledge becomes public. “Public” means anyone beyond the couple’s sworn followers—squires and maiden in waiting. Friends, confidants, etc. are part of the public.
This is lost only once, the first time it is made public. Subsequent mentions do not cause loss, nor do subsequent indiscretions, nor subsequent lovers. It is not possible to increase Honor this way, so the greatest possible benefit is to lose 0 points.
To submit to Lust is bad enough, but the man’s social class is actually a critical factor. Having an affair with someone of greater power actually diminishes the severity of the loss. People are just sometimes more forgiving or understanding of this.
King, or his heir. 10 minus 3d6
Royal Officers, Count, Baron. Minus 10 minus 2d6
Banneret. 10 minus 1d6
Esquire. 10 plus 1d6.
Commoner. 10 plus 2d6
Priest, bishop. 10 + 3d6
This table is comparative by levels, and works from the center, assuming the Lady is of knightly class. For women of other classes, find the Honor lost by putting her in the center and comparing levels of difference. For instance, if the Queen is having an affair with a regular knight, he is three “social levels” below her. Thus her honor loss is the is three notches down from the center, or 10+3d6 loss.
Honor Below 4
Just like knights, if a Lady’s Honor goes below 4 points she has proved herself unworthy of bearing the title of Lady and serving a noble house (KAP page 76). Normally she is put into a nunnery, often quite against her wishes, and kept out of public sight every after. She is out of the family, out of the game.
Prelude: This section in particular is difficult for many of us to cope with. This is dark side of Love Family and Honor. GM’s need to discuss it with players before enforcing it (indeed, like with all rules!) It really depends on historical/brutal the GM wishes the game to be. As with many of these decisions, it may be that most NPC families are this way, but the player knight’s family is the exception and is leading the entire realm to a more enlightened future.
Every member of the lady’s family must make a Love (Family) roll and an Honor roll. Success at both indicates that they feel the entire family was insulted by this act. Each Family member gets a Hate (the lover) passion.
The starting value is equal to the amount of Honor lost by the woman, plus a roll on the Love (Family) with these results:
Critical: +3d6 Hate (the lover)
Success: +1d6 Hate (the lover)
Failure: no modifier
Fumble: No Hate
Newly generated Passions with values less than 5 can be discarded.
So what’s the Family do?
Whatever they wish. There is now a grudge against this guy, but so many things come into account that it is impossible to determine their actual action. Their actions would be modified by how well liked the woman is by the family, by the power and connections of the lover, by the relative strengths of the now-opposed families, by whether the other family are allies or enemies, and so on.
The range of actions is from everyone getting armed and setting right off to kill the guy, to doing nothing.
Deciding what to do is, after all, what the game is about.