Pendragon & ArM5

Aside from the obvious fluff you can use to embellish either game, has anyone attempted an actual crossover with the mechanics?

Pendragon has semi-troupe play where each player knight can have an attending squire. Both have an emphasis on intergenerational campaigns. As well, there is a focus on building and upkeep of properties. Where Pendragon seems to have more mechanics related to actual construction and upkeep, ArM5 has a better grip, it seems, on the communal aspect of a village or fortification. And these are the aspects that certainly interest me.

However, it's the blending of knights and magi as PCs that would appear to be the larger obstacle.

Please keep in mind I have only been reading, I've never had the opportunity to play either game. (Though for the first time ever, I admit to bookmarking pages on solo playing a TRPG.)

P.S. I do not own Lords... for ArM5.

Pendragon does have rules for wizards, in the later editions...

For setting material; I had an apprentice Damhain-alliagh (a menace to the British Tribunals) appear in a Pendragon game, the student of the villain.

For play style; We've done Pendragon as a Round Table (or Crystal Council), with GMs rotating, but not Troupe. This usually left problems for the following GMs as some had very different ideas on power and economy balance.

For mechanics; no. I don't think the two systems are especially compatible. Most Pendragon editions specifically exclude mechanics for magic, and combat and social interaction are emphasized. Pendragon has a skill blackjack system, ArM a fairly straight additive difficulty system.

It may be possible to adapt the hedge traditions (that is, the local magic traditions) to Pendragon. Have one or two or five magic skills appropriate to the tradition, arrange a table of bonuses and penalties, and roll on.

Magicians are generally viewed with great suspicion or outright condemnation in Pendragon, with the exception of a few noble ladies. Merlin's goals may be laudable, but he generally regards knights as disposable pieces in the great game, and even this great ally of Camelot is regarded suspiciously, so there's your effect of the Gift.

I am currently running an ArsM5 game without magi, centered on a noble household instead of a covenant. I've been mining Pendragon pretty heavily for ideas. The a lot of the core mechanics are not directly compatible, but I've found that certain ideas translate very well. For instance, I've adopted a version of the Pendragon Personality Trait system in place of the ArsM5 system. I've also found a lot of newer Pendragon supplements, especially Book of the Entourage and Book of the Estate, to be gold mines because a lot of their "mechanics" are actually economics and a Pound in Mythic Europe isn't all that different from a Pound in Pendragon. On the whole, my experience has been that with some creativity and playtesting, concepts from Pendragon can work well with mechanics from Ars Magica.

How does Pendragon's system for Personality traits work?

Instead of 3 traits, chosen by the player and assigned value, Pendragon has 13 (I think) defined pairs of traits... like Chaste/Lustful or Humble/Proud. Each member of the pair must balance with the other (Pendragon uses a 1-20 scale so if you have Humble 15, you have Proud 5 but it's easily translated into ArsM's +/- scale). Pendragon also has some non-paired traits, like Honorable, Love (family), Loyalty and free traits defined by the players. In my game, I've found a virtue in having a number of clearly defined Personality Traits. Before we adopted it, we had a instances where I called for Brave roll or a Just roll and the player looked blankly and said "I don't have that." Now we make Personality Traits, and Personality Trait rolls, a more active part of the game.

Another use Pendragon allows for Personality Traits is you can make a Trait roll to be Inspired... essentially getting a bonus to a task roll because your Bravery or Love or Loyalty spurs you on. I've adopted this as well, allowing players to make a Personality Trait roll of 9+ to get a bonus Confidence Point for immediate use. I even allow Grogs to make use of this ability (the only way they can get such a bonus in most circumstances). It gives Personalty Traits some mechanical meaning. This is balanced by a agreed upon stricter enforcement of this traits... sure having a +6 Brave (because you have the Major Personality Flaw: Brave) means you can easily get a bonus Confidence Point but it also means you character's exceptional Bravery will drag him into situations where he will probably need it.

Overall this system is generally working well for us. If it's had a flaw, it's that my players keep forgetting to make their rolls to be Inspired. :slight_smile:

Thanks. Those ideas sound good

I can show you the next time you have the time.
I've been mining Pendragon for ideas for ... a few years now.

King Arthur Pendragon is my favorite RPG of all time. It's wonderful.

The setting is wonderful (I was a playtester for Saxons! and have a research aide credit in Lordly Domains, so I'm Old School.)

The key combat mechanic breaks for experienced characters, though, so you either do no damage the vast majority of the time, or ridiculous damage. Pendragon players used to call this the "tink, tink, tink, boom!" problem. I wonder if that's been fixed in the WW and successive editions?

The world building is awesome, though, in a way you can't get away with now. I saw a review of The Pendragon Campaign a while ago on that called it "railroading" to posit in advance that Arthur dies at the end, or that Lancelot does his thing with Gwenivere. There's a huge school of gamers now who aren't willing to let the world evolve with their character on the margin.

Pendragon was the game I ran the most from 1985 I think when it came out (I owned two separate copies of the boxed set of 1st ed as I forgot to pack one for uni!) through till the late 90's when I started playing Ars Magica. Even my beloved Call of Cthulhu was not played as much! However despite owning every edition I have no played now for 15 years, which is a shame.

The Pendragon personality traits mechanic was hugely influential on me, and the paired traits I think would work well with the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Cardinal Virtues. I wanted to do more with Personality Traits in Ars 5th, and I think Erik Dahl was also moving that way, but David had downplayed them a bit in the RAW and you could reassign them after any session, so my thoughts on using them in The Church never really came to much and I wandered off to create devotion points as a mechanic instead. :frowning:

CJ x

I picked up the Pendragon Campaign (for those who don't know, it's a year by year campaign outline for the whole Arthurian saga from the rise of Uther to the death of Arthur) at GenCon a few years back and I confess as a GM I was a bit turned off by some of the "let's watch Lancelot do something cool" scenarios. At the same time, I loved some of the other scenarios where the players get to involved in some events (like helping Merlin get Excalibur in the first place). On the balance, while I will probably never run the Pendragon Campaign, I've found it a great source for scenario ideas. I've also used it to help me figure out how to incorporate my PCs into events of real world history.

Well, I happen to like the devotion points mechanic. :slight_smile: My own version of the paired Personality Traits is a hybrid of Pendragon's and the Seven Sins/Virtues.

Ironically I still believe the best version of the Pendragon campaign was the 1985 one. The boy king was ok but the hardback left me a bit cold. The terse original year by year outlines were really inspirational and I still believe such a thing could work for Ars. Of course post White Wolf and Shadowrun etc metaplot (EDIT: Sorry predictive text had mad this metaphor!) is looked down on...

Yes, there are players who can't stand not being the center of the world.

Tink-tink-boom was still a feature of Pendragon in early 5th Edition; there's an upgrade edition now, but I don't think it's been addressed.

More tink tink now, less boom as I recall of 5.5. Aging and stat loss reduces damage dice, but of course crit verus crit continues. I recall seeing PC's with Sword skills of 37, by the add a point to something over 20 for each 1,000 points of glory mechanism, though I forget which edition of Pendragon that was - and that can keep your Strength up too when aging cuts in, by adding points there. Of course you can always adopt the Heroquest masteries approach, where a character with 37 fighting one with 32 is just 17 versus 12 - knock the 20's off. That might actually be the rule? The thing is yes, Pendragon characters get pretty tough fairly fast if they are glory hounds.

However as a chronological game where i have run campaigns with three generations of the same family as PC's, there are many similarities to the scale of Ars Magica play - both are Epic Chronology games, and both presaged the indie games of the 2000's by doing one thing well - in Pendragon knights, in Ars magi :slight_smile:

CJ x

This is a fundamental problems with games set in worlds defined by a single story, whether that world is Camelot, Middle Earth, or Westeros. If the player characters are not central characters to that story, they are bit players, and feel like bit players. If they are central characters to that story, then they will change the story, which is also a problem.

It's a completely different problem from being in a world where things evolve with the player characters on the margins. Those worlds are not defined by a single story, so the player characters can still be the central characters in the story of the world, and the big events in the background are just things that happen and influence their story. The problem with metaplot is that it has a tendency to stomp on people's campaigns, because it isn't all set out in advance (as a matter of necessity).

But then, I'm a member of the school of thought that says that, if you have a defined story, with a fixed ending and fixed events, then RPGs are the wrong medium for you to write in.

Or you're a damn good writer in the 'vague outline' sense :wink:

After all, any game I've ever run has the basic outline timeline drawn up before I run it. The outcome of those key events has an influence on the 'ending', but if my scenario was set up to culminate in a massive battle at the end, there will be a massive battle. It might be that due to the players, one side has ALL the advantages and wins easily, but it's still gonna be there. Of course, I also make sure the scenario makes this clear, that the players can change the path of the avalanche, but there's going to be one.