Great Campaign – Boy King Ideas
The Boy King era in Pendragon is one of near-constant war, as the young Arthur fights to establish his realm. The parochial concerns of the Salisbury knights will widen as they travel with Arthur and participate in the reforging of Logres. It is also a time in which the first stirrings of magic and adventure will come to wider attention, as Arthur faces new and more dangerous obstacles and wields the mighty sword Excalibur.
This is a time for young knights, as their fathers fall in battle or become lords more concerned with day-to-day matters of ruling their lands and advising their liege lords. There will be travel far and wide, rivalries to spark and hatreds to nurture. Not everyone will be eager to be part of Arthur’s new realm, and even this early, there will be snakes in the grass.
Knights of the North. Arthur’s greatest enemy in the early years of his reign will be Lot of Orkney. As the Orkney knights will continue to be troublemakers at court, some younger knights of the north will make good foils for the PCs in the years to come. Perhaps introduce them first at the great tourney.
Troublemakers at Home. Although Robert of Salisbury is the unchallenged earl of the county, the fact that his sister is a widow and many of his knights are young and from foreign lands will spark conflict in the court. Sir Bliant, the young banneret of Witton, will strive to be one of the powers at court, with the aid of his elderly uncle, Sir Bledri.
Bloody Cornwall. Although Arthur will eventually defeat Idres, Cornwall will remain one of the most troublesome neighbours of Logres. Prince Mark will do much to try and undermine the court of Camelot, and his more loyal knights will cause trouble wherever they go. Cornwall will be a particular foe of Salisbury, due to the aid it rendered Nantleod and Somerset.
The Church. The British Christian church has been the main driving force behind the Concilium’s final effort to find a High King. When the Concilium dissolves after its failure, the Church will remain as a silent backer of Arthur, until such time as he has gathered true power to himself. Thus, a few young clergymen who may grow into positions of power would be good to introduce here.
The Boy King. Arthur is 16 when he pulls the sword from the stone. Although quick-witted and well taught, he is without experience of war and battle. He should show sparks of true authority at first, growing eventually into strength and certainty in his own justice and right of rulership.
Sir Grandig: Eldest son of King Lot’s warmaster, Sir Gamelon, Grandig is a sociable if overproud young man of no mean ability. Utterly fearless in battle and convinced of the glory that awaits him, he is the leader of a like-minded group of northern knights who have dubbed themselves “The Terrors of the North.” They are all loyal to Lot and convinced that he will be the next High King of Britain.
Sir Nithian the Grey: Cousin to Grandig, Nithian is the calm voice that counsels caution, tempering Grandig’s reckless pride. Despite the fact that his own family is wealthy enough, he dresses in drab grey most of the time and rarely boasts of his own deeds. He harbours a savage hatred for the Picts and for the Saxons of Deira, having lost his father and elder brother in a battle against their alliance.
Sir Calogus: A hulking warrior in the true tradition of the north, Calogus’s fierce demeanour hides a surprisingly gentle side. A fine hand upon the harpstring, he has a capacious memory for song and a talent for stringing together his own compositions. For all that, he has little ambition or cunning of his own and happily follows the lead of Grandig in most things. His mercy has been noted, but so has his lack of patience with matters that trouble his thoughts.
Sir Brandis: Grandson of Sir Bledri, by Bledri’s illegitimate son, whom Sir Blaen ensured was never made a knight, Brandis is an ambitious and talented young man, both swift with a sword and hardy enough to fight a whole day through. His cruel streak has been noted, but in all other ways he is close to the ideal of knighthood. Bliant has channelled the resentment he feels over his father’s ill-treatment and has promised him a fief of his own in return for his loyalty.
Sir Gestias: Formerly squire to a knight of Winchester, Gestias offered his service to Sir Bliant after Netley Marsh, where he played a part in rescuing the lord of Witton from where he fell. Driven by his ambition, he is a tall and lean man who is quicker of mind than Brandis, with whom he has struck up a firm friendship. To his secret shame, he has a brother who is a knight in Cerdic’s court, and he fears that one day they may meet on the battlefield.
Sir Travistar: A knight of Cornwall, close to a renegade even in Idres’s court for reason of his fierce temper. Currently exiled, due to his killing a courtier in a duel, he is a close companion of Prince Mark, whom he keeps informed as to the passage of events in Britain. Despite his status, he suffers no insults to either Mark or Idres and has the ability to back up his temper.
Sir Samwell: Likewise exiled from Cornwall, Samwell shares Travistar’s fierce temper but has little of his skill at arms. What he does have is a bitter and biting tongue, which he freely uses to castigate any who displease or cross him. A slothful and overweight man, he shares Travistar’s fierce loyalty and is all the more eager to return home for having spent time elsewhere.
Sir Saul: Elder brother to Samwell, Saul has spent years serving as Idres’s loyal man on the continent. There he has gathered to him some of the finest knights of his day and equipped them as well as his ample plunder can manage. All of them ride chargers (he himself has three) and are garbed in the finest reinforced mail. As Idres’s elite cavalry, they have turned many battles, and Saul himself has covered himself with glory. His loyalty to his kin is renowned, as is his unflagging valour in battle.
Bishop Malcuin: Born in Lothian, Malcuin was converted to Christianity as a youth and has spent five years in Rome, gaining the favour of the Pope. Sent back to Britain with letters of Papal authority, he is a constant pain to Bishop Dubricus of Canterbury, who can find no appropriate place to send him.
Brother Alexander: The youthful Brother Alexander is heir apparent to the monastery at Amesbury and has been sent as its representative to the great tourney in London. A friendly and approachable young man, he has a keen mind and is determined to further the will of the church in the matter of the king.
Father Joseph: Father Joseph is the right-hand-man to Bishop Roger of Salisbury. An elderly man of lean frame, he is tireless in the pursuit of his duties, as he has been for many years. However, he also has a waspish tongue and can be dismissive of the follies of “knights in armour.”
The Forest Deeps
The Forest Sauvage becomes a wilder place as Arthur establishes his realm. Even the accepted and remembered paths are no longer wholly safe. Monsters and giants are waking from long slumbers, and renegade knights are establishing their own fiefs. Many of these knights are of fey blood and have dire habits that will see their reputations spread far and wide. In time, they will become targets for Arthur’s knights, among whom may be the PCs.
The Ladies of the Court, being those women who were so appealing to the guests to King Madog’s court, are not easily won. They have plighted their troth to two of those knights, but those who would woo them must face the judgement of their fathers. The ladies Tanree, Nemedia, and Melisande have powerful guardians in the form of their fathers (three brothers) and brothers. The first lives under the protection of Sir Tybalt, lord of Moulton Maris upon the forest’s western hills; the second under the protection of Sir Nergal, whose seat of Nedcombe is a grim and shadowed site; and the third is the ward of Sir Morgalis, who dwells in the fair vale of Fartherly, a site that belies his brutal tendencies. All of these lords would prefer their daughters to wed their own liegemen, and any suitors will have to overcome these rivals and pass such tests as their fathers set.
Salisbury Arthur’s victories and battles in his first year as king offer the men of Salisbury and elsewhere a chance to show their merits. His first court, in 511, will be a place where all men will seek to rise in the esteem of their new liege.
511: A Year of New Beginnings and Old Foes
There are no grand battles in 511, with foes on all sides taking stock after the tumultuous events of the year before. With Merlin’s help, Arthur has survived the first and greatest threats to his rule. However, he is still far from secure, and he listens to the advice of all the great lords as he tries to find a way forward. In the end, an effort is made to repair some of the damage of the years of Anarchy and fortify against the troubles to come.
Although King Lot does not attend Arthur’s court in Carlion, he sends his wife Margawse south with his sons to treat with the young king. There will be plenty of opportunity for the knights of Salisbury to develop friendships or rivalries with the young knights of the north. In particular, Sir Gracian will find himself the target of Sir Grandig, whose father he slew in battle the year before.
Representatives of Cornwall will appear too, though none of the major lords or princes. Instead, the war captain Sir Saul and some of his men represent Idres’s interests before the new king. In any case, there will be plenty of opportunity for players to become embroiled in the intrigues of that court, as the exiled knights Sir Travistar and Sir Samwell seek to regain their places in Idres’s favour.
Sir Hervis de Revels, acknowledged as one of the finest knights in Logres, will grow impatient at the bickering and bargaining of the lords and decide to launch a raid into the Saxon lands of the north. He will garner the aid of many young knights, eager to prove their worth, among whom may be some of the players.
The threat of Marlborough and its renegade Count Padern has not gone away. Padern tied his fortunes to Nantleod, whom he saw as a strong king, well able to protect his liegemen. He was not so swift to join with Arthur however, and has been surprised at how swiftly the boy king has united Logres behind him. He continues to play both sides while maintaining nominal loyalty to Arthur, sending knights to the courts of both Lot and Idres. While he hates the Saxons as much as any man, this disloyalty may lead to his downfall. Until then, he will cause trouble for many, especially the hated knights of Salisbury.
Both Chivalry and Romance begin their first flowering in this era. Arthur sets the tone for chivalry as early as 511 A.D. when he speaks of the brotherhood of knighthood and its duties and obligations. Romance is more slow in arriving, but even before Arthur is wedded to Guinevere, hints of it begin to show in the more settled areas in Logres. The first notable example in Salisbury will be Sir Ferdia, who will continue his pursuit of the Lady Selene and become a finer knight because of it.
Rivals and Foes
The second generation of knights from Salisbury will be stepping into a wider world than their forebears. Accordingly, they will be small fish in a very big pond – and one that grows ever bigger as Arthur continues his conquests. There will be many other young knights from every corner of Britain seeking to make their names, and as the years go by, rivalries will no doubt emerge between them, whether they be friends or foes.
• In Salisbury, there will be no shortage of rivals. Among Bliant’s men, Bledri the Savage is noted for his recklessness and his skill with a blade, and Sir Brandis for his cruelty and his skill with a lance and other prerequisites of knighthood. Aelran the Younger is a noble young knight, with a keen mind and courtly manners. There is also Manaan the Bastard, son of Sir Manaan of Pitton, as fine a horseman as his father but with a vengeful cast of mind.
• In Silchester, Sir Gallienus, the youngest son of the Steward of Levcomagus, is famed for his loyalty but feared for his cunning. Sir Kerrin is the son of a bachelor knight but shows great skill with sword and spear, and is notably handsome. Wounded in his first joust, Sir Bairam remains a fine knight when horsed, but his greater skill is in crafting cruel songs to wound his rivals.
• In Marlborough, Sir Paris is the bastard son and heir apparent of Count Padern. Handsome and youthful, he is arrogant to a fault but has the skills to back up his words. Sir Medius is cut from a different cloth. Youngest brother of Sir Pellogres, he is a good Christian knight, sparing with the sword but untiring when roused.
• In Clarence, Sir Eliot the Doubtful is bolder than his name suggests, rarely pausing for thought when action is called for.
• In Lindsey, the devout Sir Richard of Lincoln is ever at the forefront of battle and unwavering in his devotion to the young king. Considered a fine knight in every way, his only flaw is perhaps his lack of mercy to his foes.
• Among the Hampshire knights that now serve Cerdic, the avaricious Sir Harald is perhaps the finest. His loyalties are occasionally suspect, but his skill with an axe or a spear is not doubted.
• The knights of Rydychan are more friend than foe to Salisbury, and may be the county’s closest allies. Sir Cynon the Just has fought in several battles, winning glory for his efforts, but it is his unswerving devotion to justice that has gained him a name. Sir Owain of Oxford, the son of the constable of that town, is heir to riches, but despite his skill with a sword, he is more at home in court than in battle. Sir Gwelian’s father was one of the rebel knights, and although he is loyal to the count, many despise him for his history.
• In Bedegraine, Sir Gwerthen, son of Sir Gwenabwy, shares his father’s love of both battle and feasting, apparent in his rotund appearance.
• In Lambor, the scholarly young knight Sir Nythian is known for his recitals of ancient lays of Greece and Rome, and for his habit of singing as he fights. Although only competent with a sword, he is a superlative spearman.
• In Dorset, Sir Iolaus of Dorchester is a proud young Roman knight and the son of the elderly Praetor. A promising leader of men in battle, he is worldly rather than devout.
• Sir Marfan the Grim of Hereford is old before his years, having watched his family die and his land overrun. Now suspicious of everyone, he fights Saxons with their own weapons and disdains the use of the lance.
• In Wuerensis, Sir Jaradan has gained renown for his skill at arms and his valour, hunting down bandits across the small county. He is noted for his jealousy however, and is but a poor knight by his equipment.
• In Escavalon dwells Sir Daffyd the Small, who is taller and broader by far than most men but has not yet overmatched his famous father. Rowdy and noisy, he sees battle as a game that he is determined to win.
• In Estregales, Sir Colum is the son of Sir Colcu, advisor to the king. A determined and prideful young man, he plans to be the best knight in Arthur’s court some day, and his skill and drive will surely help him in this aim.
• In Gloucester, Sir Errian the Fair is a knight divided between his comely appearance and his foul temper. He has slain two men in duels and captured others who have crossed him to hold them for ransom. As a result, he is already wealthy, despite his youth.
• In Somerset, Prince Gwydion is the second son of King Gwynne. Relishing the freedom that his status provides, he is reckless to a fault but generous with it and free with offers of aid and hospitality. His constant companion is Sir Herthis, to whom he bears a striking resemblance. Herthis is altogether more dour, but both he and Gwydion are fine horsemen and hunters.
• Sir Varian of Cambenet is a young knight steeped in the misty folklore of his small land. Heir to wide estates filled with sheep and little else, he rides out often in search of bandits and has become a fine horseman and swordsman.
• In Gorre, Sir Cudfwlch is the younger brother of Sir Cudno, with whom he shares a hatred of Irish raiders. Cudfwlch is the more acute of the two, though he suffers from a lack of drive and purpose.
• In Lothian, Sir Grandig, Sir Nithian the Grey and Sir Calogus form a formidable fellowship. Grandig, the son of King Lot’s warmaster, is one of the finest young knights of Britain, and aided by Nithian’s caution and wit and Calogus’s brawn and steadfastness, he fears no foe or rival.
• In Malahaut, Sir Cervidus of Eburacum is a proud and valorous young knight. Although a poor horseman, he makes up for it with his wide knowledge and skills as a swordsman.
• The small country of Garloth has few knights of renown, but the hardy Sir Garrick is tireless in the service of King Nentres. His highland blood makes him fiercer than most, and his talent with a spear is less than it might be otherwise.
• Devon has been ruled by Idres of Cornwall for some years, and some of his knights are more loyal to him than their own lord. Sir Rhyferth is one such, and he has maintained his honour through the many feuds in which his family is embroiled. A small, ruddy man, he is swift and deadly on horseback.
• Jagent has likewise been part of Idres’s fief for some time, but Sir Fel is not so loyal as all that. Born of a line derived from Pictish mercenaries, he adheres closely to the old ways and is but a small degree separated from outlawry. Were it not for his knowledge of intrigue and his skills at the hunt, he might long ago have been rooted out.
• The island kingdom of Dal Riada is better known for its sailors than its knights, but Sir Cian has achieved success at both. His father was a notorious pirate, and Cian has his own ship, which he uses to supplement the meagre income of his manor. A worldly pragmatist, he is nonetheless loyal to his friends.
• The southern enemy to Arthur’s Logres, Cornwall has notable knights aplenty. Particularly notable are two young knights, Sir Travistar and Sir Samwell. The fierce-tempered Travistar is the senior of the two, and has a bitter demeanour and great skill with a sword. Samwell is slothful and overweight, but he is a master of courtly intrigues and hidden insults. Although currently in exile, both remain loyal to Cornwall and are particularly close to Prince Mark.