Thursday, January 28, 2010

The "Great Pendragon Campaign" in the 31st Century?

I like to tinker. That's what I do. I get ahold of things and I want to twist and bend them into new ways. That's probably why I'm not as successful of an independent RPG author as some of the OSR bloggers... I'm more in the "Oh, let me make this do that and something else."

Lately, I've been utterly fascinated by SirLarkins's posts on his blog RPG Corner about his solo Pendragon game with his wife. Pendragon is a game about life and family in the mythology of King Arthur - and it's one of the few games that assumes and encourages a campaign that spans generations of a family. I've found myself extremely intrigued by this concept, so much so, that I found the first edition boxed set on Ebay and got it for less than $10 - and now my wife and I have something new to try. I'm also going to pick up the PDF version of the "Great Pendragon Campaign" book which is essentially a chronological campaign setting that one can use to run their Pendragon campaign in tight context to the Authurian legends.

Add to this mix another bit - Erin and I have been discussing on comments and twitter about the old school concepts of Battletech and Mechwarrior - the fact that when first conceived, Battletech was similar to knights on their steeds coming to battle. 'Mechs were rare, extremely valuable and most often were family heirlooms to be passed down. If a family owned a Locust, it was likely that they'd always be Locust-drivers, even if they were fortunate enough to gain a bigger 'Mech somehow. I equate the training and 'loyalty' to their class similar to that of a light cav knight compared to a heavy cav knight.

The Battletech Universe is widely understood with a well documented canon to it, much like Arthurian mythology. It occurs to me that a grand campaign spanning generations of Mechwarriors across the Succession Wars as technology and governments reverted back to scavenging and almost 21st century technology would be fascinating! Add in the aspect of a family focus across generations and this could be a very interesting

Now it could be that this has already been done, to some degree. I don't recall all the supplements but I don't remember one that dealt specifically with family type issues or generations like Pendragon does. One could look at the Mercenary supplements to Mechwarrior for some inspiration. Still - creating a "Grand Mechwarrior Campaign" book/approach that follows the Succession Wars would be a fascinating exercise!

I don't have enough hours in the day to do all the neat crap I want to do. *sigh*

19 comments:

Nathaniel said...

As a fan of both Pendragon and BT I think this idea rocks. I've got mixed feelings about the timeline development after 3025 so it might be fun to imagine a parallel universe in which an Arthur analog rises to reunite the Star League instead of the Clan invasion.

One of the problems with this idea is the slow pace of BT combat. Any ideas how to speed it up to make generational play more feasible?

-NB

Chgowiz said...

Nathaniel - this is where my bias comes in... I'd probably not extend it past the Fourth Succession War and into Clan/3050+ technology. I think this sort of thing would work far better for older style Battletech play - where Mechs were rare.

I don't know... I'd probably host one or two battles a "year" perhaps? I'm a fan of Quick Start/Intro style play with a dash of vehicles and fighters thrown in, so I'm probably thinking my combats would be quicker. I hope.

Nathaniel said...

I'm a 3025 purist myself so I'm down with the scarcity issue and generally roll my eyes at most of what they did from 3050 on (though I played since thats the era most people wanted to play).

I had visions of rolling to see what your character's father did in the 3rd (or even 4th) Succession War.

Also, I was hoping you were coming out with MicroLite BattleTech to speed combat way up.

-NB

Chgowiz said...

I like Quick Start/Intro hybrid so much, I don't see a reason to rewrite it. :) It was the "Time of War" monstrosity that forced my hand on mMW. I think QS w/heat,jump,vehicles is microlitish, while still feeling like Battletech. We'll see how it goes at WinterWar.

Chgowiz said...

I could see the setup of what your family did prior to the Succession Wars - how they fit into the Star League, how they reacted/were treated during the Amaris coup. It would be different for the different houses.

Erin Palette said...

I still maintain that Hanse Davion is a close to an Arthur analog as you're gonna get.

Chgowiz said...

Eeeeyeaaaahhhh... I think my vision for the PDC+BT isn't to perpetuate the actual Arthurian mythos into Battletech (which actually now sounds strangely appealing)... but to use the "generational knight in a grand story arc" presentation and generational mechanic/focus in the BT world, backdropped by the Succession Wars.

What would be the Swords in the Stone? The Lostek core that Gray Death Legion found?

Nathaniel said...

I agree with Erin that HD is a pretty good Arthur analog. I also think that the Inner Sphere of 3025 is ripe for a story paralleling the rise of the One King and the unification of Britain.

Or, perhaps there was a line of surviving Cameron's and the Excalibur could be something that would prove the genetic link? Maybe a blood sample held by ComStar on Terra. Would "Merlin" be part of ComStar?

Chgowiz said...

Perhaps the surviving line of Cameron traces back to Arthur.

No, Merlin would have to be someone unknown. Not ComStar, I'm thinking someone lost a long time ago, should be dead... but he's back.

Nathaniel said...

Kerensky!

Blair said...

Dune man, Dune!

Ryan said...

I don't have enough hours in the day to do all the neat crap I want to do. *sigh*

I definitely feel you there, good sir.

Your post has also sparked my interest in Pendragon, though I need another fantasy game on my shelf like I need a second appendix. ;)

The Evil DM said...

Tangent: Camelot 3000 Arthurian/ Space Opera.

Timeshadows said...

I was thinking this was going to be a Camelot 3000 post.
--It is still a great post, btw. :)

May be of interest to you:

http://www.google.com/search?q=Camelot+3000&hl=en&sourceid=gd&aq=t

Ragna said...

Your idea sounds amazing!

I hope to hear your progress on future posts!

Years ago I planned to do something similar with Fading Suns. I always loved Pendragon's "winter phase". Sadly I didn't make it :(

Aaron W. Thorne said...

Timely post, as I am currently looking at my new copy of Battletech: 25 Years of Art & Fiction sitting on my coffee table. I would say that the best way to handle something like this is to ignore everything canon from 3026 on. Basically, the 4th Succession War (3028-3029) really changed the underlying nature of the game's backdrop. Before that point, 'mechs were rare and insanely valuable. After that, when everyone started making their own new ones, 'mechs are just walking tanks that look cool, and everyone and their uncle has 5 of them. I would set the game's starting point around the end of the 2nd Succession War. The 1st one was the one that did the most damage, and the 2nd war was the one that made everyone really step back and tone down the destructiveness of combat. The 3rd Succession War was, what, 200+ years of border raiding, with the occasional large invasion of a key planet? That time period would work great for this concept.

sirlarkins said...

Thanks for the linkage! And of course I hope you get as much enjoyment out of Pendragon as we have. :)

I know you said this wasn't specifically what you had in mind, but there was a thread on RPG.net a few years back about combining giant robots and the Arthurian mythos...

::google-google-google::

Ah, here we go:

http://forum.rpg.net/archive/index.php/t-347929.html

Richard said...

Having owned both of these games and played campaigns in both I am struck dumb that I never had this idea cross my mind before now. If you were to parallel BT with PD more closely I believe you would have a very unique oportunity in gaming Arthurian legend. To explain, when I game a Pendragon campaign there is the tendency to get past the first chunk of the campaign and to the actual "Arthurian" part. As if everyone is in the know about the coming of Arthur and standing around until the sword is drawn. If however you set up a BT campaign with the feuding houses and everything a mess, the great Star League gone, perhaps after one generation of BT the players are wondering if there is any hope for their line in all this self-destructive warfare. Out of this the Arthur/Cameron analog arises to lead the begining of the unification. You would be much more inside the heads of the warlords and their retainers of legendary Britain than ever before. It could add a great deal of depth to the roleplaying.

Chgowiz said...

@Richard - that's exactly the interesting play I think could happen. You're watching your entire planet or system fall in chaos and real feudalism/decay versus the pretend feudalism of the Star League prior to the fall.

I'll keep tossing it around.