Of Waves and Dragons
The game of Pendragon is full of tales of intense emotion, much of it uncontrolled. Beautiful women drive men to incredible and outrageous acts to prove their love. Family feuds turn otherwise sane men into wild avengers.
Passions are strong personal emotions, including religion, love, hate, amor, loyalty, envy and anything else that the Gamemaster admits into the game. These passions provide a method of measuring a character’s inner self. They help the character follow the morals of his age, and let him benefit from being notably example of proper (or improper) behavior.
Passionate characters may preform with superhuman effort and greater likelihood of success. However, passionate characters are volatile and moody. Their feelings may change instantly due to success of failure of a passion roll, they are likely to be found in any one of several states of mind which are not found among dispassionate folk: Inspiration, introspection, melancholy, shock and even madness.
Passions can either be invoked by the Gamemaster or the players at the Gamemaster digression. They can inspire a character to great acts or drive him completely mad. When a passion is invoked a passion roll is called upon with modifiers for the situation with the following results. The player rolls against the specific passion with the following result.
Critical Success: The character is inspired and acts strongly in accordance with the passion. Gain 1 point in the passion, plus an Experience Check.
Success: The character is inspired and acts in accordance with the passion. Gain an Experience Check in the passion.
Failure: The character is disheartened unless the Gamemaster rules otherwise.
Fumble: the character is maddened and immediately loses 1 point in the passion.
Inspired: To be inspired is to have achieved the highest state of passion. Inspiration can turn an ordinary character into an extraordinary one. An inspired character gains a tremendous ability for a time. The player may choose any one skill or combat skill. This inspiration lasts for the length of the task at hand but never more then a full day.
For a success on the passion roll the character gains a +10 modifier (or a +5 if the GM determines as such).
For a critical success on the passion roll the character gains a 10 if the GM determines as such).
Shock: If a knight should somehow fail to preform a deed for which he was inspired, he suffers from shock. In game terms, the character must immediately make a roll on the Aging table.
The GM may also impose shock on a character but this is never coupled with a roll on the Aging table.
Disheartened: A disheartened knight suffers a -5 modifier on all further rolls made during the situation that brought on his state. Once the situation passes, he then roll the passion check as second time if the check fails the character becomes melancholic.
Melancholic: Melancholy is a mental disorder that when it manifests, causes the victim to be overwhelmed by grief. He or she may fall to the ground weeping aloud, lamenting losses and ill luck, and crying out form deep emotional pain. Alternately, a melancholic character might fall into deep and morose depression.
The player can choose to lose one point of the passion to immediately snap out of it or they can simply wait it out.
If a melancholic knight is disturbed by another man he falls into a rage hoping to overcome his misery thought violence; he always attacks the disturbing individual, unless it is a woman. The only way a man can hope to calm a melancholic knight is by using “reverse psychology”. The would be healer must first succeed at an unopposed roll using the trait that best fits the situation. If he fails the roll, he fails to penetrate the victim’s melancholy using that trait. He may try again using a different trait.
Once the healer succeeds at a trait roll, he provokes an opposed roll from the victims on the opposite trait (He is assumed to have addressed the melancholic victim in such a way that he provokes a response). If the melancholic character win the resolution, he attacks, but if he loses he calms down and, a short time later, goes to sleep. On a tie, the character do what their players wish them to do.
In game terms melancholia usually last for one full day.
Maddened: A character may be driven mad by his passions. This madness may occur at once, or once the relevant action is over. Once the madness sets in, the player must immediately give his character sheet to the Gamemaster, who describes what ensues based only on what the other player characters know and can perceive.
The maddened character may do any number of actions but for the most part they will flee the scene of their disastrous experience at all costs. They will typically disappear from the campaign for a time and will be reintroduce at a later time. In extreme cases the character may never return to the game.
Gaining a Passion:
Passions may be gained during play. Plenty of opportunities are given in a typical campaign to gain enemies, lovers, and loyalties. A player and Gamemaster should agree upon the passions before they can be taken. When something significant occurs to the character either the player or Gamemaster may suggest that a passion has likely been generated. They discuss the matter, and then, if a concord is reached, determine the character’s starting passion value.
Loyalty is the prime virtue of the medieval world, without it the feudal system could not exist. Most knights believe in “King before God”, no matter what the priests tell them. Showing obedience is correct behavior, and disobedience to a lord is shocking to all true knights. All knights must be knighted by someone, and the “Loyalty (Lord)” space on your character sheet is used for his loyalty to the initial lord. The starting Loyalty (Lord) value is 15 for vassal knights (and thus the default for player character.)
Love of family is a natural emotion common to humankind in any age. The travel restrictions of the medieval era were severe, which reinforced family closeness. Serfs almost never traveled more than a day’s walk from their birthplace. Noblewomen were fortunate to travel across the country once a year. Thus, turning to one’s kin for help was the universal answer to any problem.
In character generation, new characters, who are by default eldest sons and thus destined to be the heads of their immediate families, start with a powerful love for their family: A character’s starting Love (family) value is equal to 15 for eldest sons. This default value is similar for all daughters of a household.
However, less fortunate younger sons, often sent from the hearth, were more likely to find fault with their kin, and so expressed less loyalty to them.
This passion measures how much your character respects the time-honored institution of hospitality. In cases of greatpassion (16 or higher), a proponent of this practice might feel bound to correct others’ inhospitable behavior, and perhaps even to seek out and destroy those who break the rules of hospitality. On the other hand, anyone with a disregard for hospitality (less than 5) is likely to steal without compunction.
Whenever a character’s behavior warrants it, the Hospitality statistic should be altered. If a character goes lurking and spying around in someone’s castle, especially if he actually robs it of goods, he should lose at least 1 Hospitality point immediately for breaking the rules of hospitality.
Similarly, if a character rises to defend the hospitality of someone else, he should get an Experience Check especially if he defends the hospitality of someone for whom he really doesn’t much care, or if he holds his own anger or hatred in check for the sake of another’s hospitality. (No check is given to someone defending his own home.)
All characters from the Cymric culture start with a Hospitality value of 15.
Honor is the passion that sets knights apart from ordinary people. It is a combination of personal dignity, integrity, and pride. Personal honor is not always a slippery issue. The Dishonorable Acts table, below, lists a number of things upon which everyone can agree as being dishonorable actions for a knight. Performing these deeds clearly and invariably diminishes honor this is the code of knighthood to which knights have agreed.
Attacking an unarmed knight: (–1)
Desertion from battle or military service: (–1)
Plundering a holy place of your religion: (–1)
Killing an unarmed holy person of your religion: (–2)
Killing, kidnapping, or raping a noblewoman: (–2)
Lending money at a profit: (–2)
Performing physical labor: (–2)
Breaking an oath: (–3)
Flagrant cowardice: (–3)
Treachery against a member of your family: (–5)
Treason (against your lord): (–5)
Killing a kinsman: (–6)
Learning to cast magical spells: (–8)
However, beyond the acts listed on Table 4–3, disagreement may arise as to what is or is not honorable, often because the honor of an action is personal rather than social.
The term “personal honor” is used carefully to separate such honor from other sworn or understood social obliga- tions, including issues or behaviors covered by other passions. Thus, it is not possible for a knight to have his personal hon- or abused if someone insults his family one’s Love (family) passion covers that. Likewise, someone insulting one’s lover should involve the Amor passion, not Honor.
But Honor can still cover many other things. In fact, it can include almost anything that a character chooses to include. Someone with an extremely high honor may be offended by anything that anyone says that he does not like. Rationality may have little if any bearing.
Honor is tied to traits more deeply than other passions usually are. The “integrity” component of Honor, for in- stance, is closely linked to the trait of Honest, while “pride” is obviously linked with the Proud trait. Thus, a knight might be required to make a Proud trait roll by the Game- master and, upon losing, the player might then invoke the Honor passion (rather than the Modest trait) to help him through the event.
A dishonorable character suffers considerably in Arthurian society. He loses the trust of those about him, and in committing dishonorable acts probably incurs various punishments — monetary fines, banishment, forfeiture, blood feud, etc. These social troubles are further reflected by rules concerning this passion.
Whenever a character’s Honor is reduced to 4 or lower, he has proved himself unfit to bear the title of knight and serve a lord. His lord must either outlaw him or degrade him (i.e., strip him of knighthood). To fail to do so places the lord’s own status in jeopardy because he would be fail- ing to uphold his own governance. Honor may eventually be regained at this grim point in a character’s career.
If a character’s Honor ever reaches 0, the player must remove that character from active play. Recovery from such a low state is simply not possible. If the player wishes to see him in the campaign, he must turn the character sheet over to the Gamemaster, who can play him as a Gamemaster character if he wishes.
A character’s starting Honor value is 15.
By default, hatred of the Saxons is an inherited pas- sion of all starting characters. The depredations of these foreigners have reached everyone in Britain. Characters begin with a Hate (Saxons) value of 3d6.
FEAR (CREATURE OR EVENT)
Fear is a negative emotion that can possibly be inher- ited as a family curse, but is normally gained only through a character’s personal experience. Fear is an irrational and absolute, mindless state of panic. Only extraordinary ad- ventures can instill such terror in knight characters (lesser characters may be more vulnerable). Such fear usually stems from supernatural places or creatures.
Of course, a Fear passion is often wisdom in disguise, as many supernatural creatures and natural phenomena are im- mensely powerful and can cause only harm to humans. Some sample fears might apply to for hags, sailing, sea monsters, crazed holy men, standing stones that move, or Picts in the wild.
Note: Fears, unlike other passions, never give benefits; they are an exception to the normal passion rules. No Glory is gained from a success or a critical success on a Fear roll, and no inspiration is possible. A Fear passion serves only to place the character out of the player’s control (or at least to drastically limit his actions) during specific situations.
Special: The Gamemaster may create an opportunity to overcome a Fear passion. Such a chance should probably come only once in any character’s career, and if the char- acter succeeds in overcoming his Fear, he may gain Glory for it — about ten times the value of the character’s former Fear value is appropriate.
HATE (NATION, GROUP, OR PERSON)
Hatred motivates many people in Pendragon, especially poltroons who are driven to dastardly deeds. For instance, King Mark assuredly hates Tristram, and Morgan le Fay hates Guenever. Even some of the protagonists develop hatreds, usually because of their Love (family) or other loyalties. The best instance is Gawaine’s unrelenting Hate (Lancelot), brought about by Lancelot’s slaying of Gareth, Gawaine’s beloved brother.
Hatred may be for an individual, a people, a kingdom, a religion, for magicians or monks, a station or class, or whatever the Gamemaster agrees to.
Starting Hate values are up to the Gamemaster, but should have a value of at least 10. The exact Hate value should be based on the event that provoked the passion.
Loyalty is the basis for all society. A knight’s initial lord is the one who knights him and thus for whom he harbors a special passion, as detailed above. As the game progresses, though, a knight may later acquire other lands, though, and therefore other lords as well. The typical Loy- alty (lord) value for a new lord (other than the one who knighted you) is 3d6.
The following modifiers are common to these loyalties:
Manor(s) granted: (1 per £1 of annual income)
Likely, only a few characters will ever become direct vassals of the High King. The typical Loyalty (Pendragon) value is 2d6+6.
Your father was killed fighting against a Pendragon: (–1d6)
You are socially conservative: (–1d6)
You already have the Hate (Pendragon) passion: (Subtract value of the Hate (Pendragon) passion)
Your liege lord has the Hate (Pendragon) passion: (Subtract value of the lord’s Hate (Pendragon) passion)
Feudalism calls for mutual loyalty between vassals and lord. Most knights never gain other knights as vassals and thus have no need for this passion. However, any knight who does gain the vassalage of other knights should also gain this trait, which might be used, for instance, to deter- mine whether the lord will ransom his vassals. Other game uses will inevitably come up.
The typical starting Loyalty (Vassals) value is 2d6+6.
Knights may join or even form fellowships. (The name of the fellowship replaces the word “group” in the name of the passion.) The typical Loyalty (group) value for a new group is 3d6.
Members are all kinsmen or from the same kingdom: (1d6)
Members knew each other previously: (Varies (as appropriate)
LOVE (PERSON, GROUP, OR GOD)
Love is an emotional bonding or attraction felt by one individual for another individual, group, or deity. A charac- ter may have many loves, but it is best if only one counts for Glory points each year (normally the highest).
Love (Deity): This passion is required of all Christian clergy. The cynical nature of many clergymen proves that this passion does not have to be high to join the church, but it is a requirement nonetheless. Religiously oriented knights may also have this passion.
A critical success in this passion gives the character a modifier or a check to all appropriate religious traits, not to any one skill. The character is thereafter incapacitated by an ec- static vision for a period of time determined by the Gamemas- ter (at least 1 hour), and cannot act at all during that time.
The typical Love (deity) value is equal to that charac- ter’s starting Pious trait value.
Love (Spouse): Deep feeling and attraction for one’s husband or wife was apparently quite uncommon in the feudal world of arranged marriages, but not entirely absent. Two significant exceptions in the romances are the loves of Duke Gorlois for his wife Ygraine and of Arthur for his wife, Guenever.
The typical Loyalty (spouse) value is 3d6.