Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Game Recap - Ran a Session of 5th Edition Last Night

5th edition Pendragon, just to be clear.  :)

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
 And you know something?  I really, really liked it.  And we've only scratched the surface of the rules and the possibilities.  Last night was mostly about character creation and background and then we ran a quick introductory scenario designed to give players a basic clue about how to play the game.  This scenario included combat, hunting, jousting and culminated in the Player Knights (PK's) being knighted by Roderick, Earl of Salisbury.

Character Creation
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
 Religious choices also have direct impact on character creation and the role-playing of the PK's.  You can be Roman Christian, British Christian, or Pagan.  One guy chose British Christian while the other guy threw me a curve ball and selected Paganism.  I like the variety.  This choice actually has a direct bearing on your Trait scores (scores which influence your decisions and can bring additional glory or shame to the character).

Being first-born sons of knights, both players inherited an expansive Manor from their fathers.

Introductory Scenario
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 training aspect was to allow each character a chance to show their skills at jousting and horse racing.  I thought it was fun.  The players were competing against each other and against a couple of NPC's I introduced.  If they did particularly well, I threw them a few Glory Points.

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.

Knighting Ceremony
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.

10 comments:

  1. Very pleased to hear it went so well and it seems your players had no problem getting into KAP's basic rules.

    Yes, the way knight creation leads you from your family history to most recent years is excellent. Random character creation at its best.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree. Character creation is awesome. In fact, if I could pick one game right now to run a character in, it would be Pendragon. I like the game that much.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very nice recap of your introductory session! I have read your posts on the KAP forum almost stealthily, as I haven't left any comments on them, but both they and this is so much fun to read.
    Please keep it up! One fun thing though, you say "In Pendragon, Hit Points start off quite high at 1st level (often in the 25-35 range) and are raised up very slowly." You do know there's no level system in KAP, eh? It's humoristic anyway that you write it that way, cause it shows where you come from, and just as I, have learned to appreciate the KAP game immensely though I played "level-games" for so many years.

    ReplyDelete
  4. dracopticon - thanks for the response and for reading the post!

    That is so funny about my comment about "1st level." I definitely know better, but I guess I'm so used to D&D and Pathfinder that it just came out that way. That's funny. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hurrah! It's quite nice to see someone actually playing Pendragon. It seems to have sadly fallen out of favor over the years.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Glad that everyone had fun. Onward to Adventure!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Certainly sounds very 'Game of Thrones' in some ways - not that it's meant to, just my mind made that jump. Is it an expensive system to purchase? I certainly prefer a more medieval setting than pure fantasy - gives it a grittier feel, I'd imagine.

    Great posting ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mark. :)

      Actually, it's not too expensive at all if you're willing to go with PDF's. For $34.99, you can currently get the Core Rulebook, the Great Pendragon Campaign (a huge campaign setting), and another supplement:
      http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/81044/Pendragon-5th-Edition-%5BBUNDLE%5D?filters=0_0_44536_0_0

      Delete
  8. George, great posting!

    Please, let us know of your future adventures and how your D&D players react to Pendragon. XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Claudio. Unfortunately, it appears that Pendragon was a "one and done." See my latest post. :-\

      Delete