I discussed this game in a couple of prior posts and I was definitely more than enthusiastic to play it. Over the past two weeks I've pored over the rules and, just as importantly, the setting. I wanted this to go as well as possible for our group of traditional D&D'ers.
|Cover of Pendragon 5e|
This was a time consuming process, being our first time playing the game. It took the group over 90 minutes to create our PK's. But I found the rules to be straightforward and clear. It literally walks you through PK creation step by step. And the players looked to be enjoying all the opportunities to develop a good character through divvying precious points amongst Traits, Passions, Statistics (Attributes), Skills, and Combat Skills. There is a finite amount of points to go around, and a lot of important traits.
Jim and Adam both created PK's that were combat-oriented, but that is a wise move in my opinion. The early stages of Pendragon are in a Dark Ages setting, a world where "Might Makes Right." Later on, the game develops into a more romantic, chivalrous period where Arthur and Lancelot represent all the knightly ideals of justice, mercy, modesty, romance, etc. But meanwhile, the PK's need to SURVIVE until then.
Both knights had strong skills in Lance (a devastating weapon in Pendragon), Sword, and Horsemanship. They were also strong in First Aid, Awareness, Hunting, and other selected skills.
As for Statistics, both PK's were built with high Size, CON, and STR scores. This made them relatively brutal in combat, as was planned. In Pendragon, Hit Points start off quite high at 1st level (often in the 25-35 range) and are raised up very slowly. One nice benefit of this is that you can easily have a "mixed level" group of PK's in the same party.
A very interesting element to Pendragon is the sense of history and the sense of family. There's an entire chapter dedicated to rolling up your "Family History." You roll year-by-year to see how your ancestors lived, fought, and died. And the more gloriously your father died, the more starting Glory (XP) you get as a PK. I gave the players the option whether to roll up the Family History and I'm happy to report that they both wanted to give it a go. Jim's character, alas, comes from a family line where the men tend to die in battle at a very young age. His new PK hopes to change that pattern. :)
|Greg Stafford in the 70's - I think|
Being first-born sons of knights, both players inherited an expansive Manor from their fathers.
I ran a pre-published Intro Scenario from the book. I truncated it a little bit since we only had a 3-hour gaming session and the first 90 minutes was spent on PK creation. The scenario was comprised of the following elements:
- PK training (practice sessions of Jousting & Horse Racing)
- An actual Joust
- A Bear Hunt
- A Bandit Encounter
- Knighting Ceremony
The Bear Hunt was fun. There were two hunting groups. One of the groups located the bear and surprised it, mounting a devastating double-lance charge from two knights. The first knight (one of the NPC's) delivered a Critical Hit to the bear on the first combat roll. This sent the bear reeling and then Adam's PK came in to finish him off with a lance blow to the creature's midsection. Just like that, the bear was dead.
On the way back from the hunt, the PK's came upon four bandits who had ambused another Knight - Sir Scott. He was beaten and about to be kidnapped. The PK's came galloping across the field on their 900-pound warhorses and scattered the Bandits like bowling pins! Two bandits were instantly slain, their bodies penetrated by lance blows so forceful that the lances actually broke off inside their guts. Two other bandits were badly wounded. Their lives were spared by the PK's, who took them back to the Earl to face justice.
PS: Lances in this game are devastating (although they break a lot). They do massive damage and you almost always win against opponents on foot. In fact, a bandit on foot with an axe faces almost certain death or dismemberment against a charging knight. Even without lances, knights on horseback are fearsome opponents against common rabble unless the numbers are heavily stacked.
After much celebration of the PK exploits, the culmination of the evening was when the characters were Knighted. It was a very formal ceremony and is truly one of the highlights of a character's entire career. The characters started the game as squires and ended it as knights. That's the way this game is supposed to be played.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I'm sure the players will face up against bandits, lions, magical beasts, and hordes of Saxons. With a little courly intrigue mixed in.
I certainly had fun. I hope the players enjoyed it as much as I did.