Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Games I Love - Pendragon

Today I wanted to post about one of my favorite role playing games, Pendragon.  This is a game I have been following since the fourth edition in the mid 1990's.  Its a game of chivalry and romance, knights and ladies and the tales of King Arthur and his companions.

This is a game created out of a great love of the source material.  Greg Stafford has spent years perfecting the game and has lavishly researched the material.  The current version is 5.1 which was recently updated, I have not had a look at it yet but I plan to purchase a print on demand version off, but a bit more on that later.

Now before I get to far into this post I would like to disclose to my dear readers that for all of my love of this game, I have never actually played it.  I could never talk my friends into giving it a try so it has sat on my shelf for years, only to be pulled down and read every now and then.  With that out of the way, on to the review!

The book is a hefty 352 pages and is packed with lots of gaming goodness.  Included are sections on what your character knows of the world, character creation, your family history, the lands and people of Britain, glory and ambitions, women in the game, game mechanics, ideas and passions, religion, wealth, chivalry, magic and faerie and then some scenarios, character and creature stats and a series of appendices.

Statistics are few, your character has only size, dexterity, strength, constitution and appearance, with several derived statistics such as damage, healing rate, movement, hit points and unconscious.  Character creation is very limited, most characters are knights though there are advanced rules for creating magicians and characters from other lands.  All characters have Personality Traits, with two sides to each trait and the two numbers must always add up to twenty.  For instance, my character has a Forgiving score of seven, the opposite of Forgiving is Vengeful, which is given a score of thirteen.  There are a total of thirteen sets of traits that define your character, different religions have different sets of traits they hold in high regard and if your character has a high enough number in these traits you receive a bonus.  Its a very interesting system that really helps to paint a picture of your characters personality.  What I find so appealing is that it is such and original system, I have never seen anything like it, no D20 rules here!  Another important part of your knight is Glory.  All knights accrue glory in battle and in courtly settings and your glory is a rough measurement of your status with your people.

Another reason that I find Pendragon so appealing is that it is meant to be played as a multi-generational game.  Each scenario is meant to be played over the course of one game year, and between scenarios the Winter Phase is run.  This includes the Solo (for a knight that missed the scenario or is playing a romance), experience checks phase, effects of aging, checking for economic circumstances, rolling for the health of all horses, rolling for family to see if you can marry or have children or to see if there are any family events.  Characters also get a chance to train and then glory for the year is computed.  Its an interesting system that allows a knight to start a family, raise children and then the player can eventually play those children as new knights once they come of age.

Pendragon is available from as a print on demand book in both hard and soft cover.  There are also a number of books for the game including the Book of Knights and Ladies which includes all kinds of advanced character creation rules, the Book of the Manor which includes extensive rules for creating and developing the economics of your knights manor.  Two other books which work together are the Book of Battle which includes a brutal mass combat system for large battles and the Book of Armies which includes a number of pre-generated armies for the mass combat system.  

Overall this is a wonderful system that stands out as a shining example of a game created with passion and love.  I can only hope that one of these days I will get a chance to don my mail and thunder down the lists for the favor of a beautiful lady in waiting.  

Five steins out of five!

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