For about a year or so, I've been reading SirLarkin's blog The RPG Corner for updates of his Great Pendragon Campaign solo game with his wife. As far as I can tell, we're the only two who are actively blogging about RPG'ing with our significant others. I'm not sure what that says, aside from maybe we're either very lucky or very crazy ... or both ... but it's been a fun ride reading about Sir Herringdale, his wife's character. I have to confess, when the old valiant knight finally passes on, I'm going to feel some sadness.
Anyway... the whole deal sounded like great fun and I know that @thePrincessWife loves the Merlin tales. I've never been much of any opinion about them, but between SirLarkins and her, I was convinced to seek out a 1st edition box of Pendragon and give it a shot. It's sat on my bookshelf for about 6 months now, and it wasn't until I could get the Great Pendragon Campaign sourcebook as POD book from RPGNow that I finally decided to start playing.
@thePrincessWife's RPG experiences are singularly D&D, so I wanted something that we both could "quick start" into. Fortunately, Green Knight provided a "How To Play Pendragon" demo that is available on the web (not sure if it's legal or not, but since it's billed as a demonstration module, I'm guessing it's nothing I'll get sued over.) This covers the basics of combat, traits, passions and skills as well as providing an easy-peasy scenario that leads right to the wacking of swords and stabbing of lances.
So my wife was given the character of Sir Caradoc of Malahaut (I don't know if it's supposed to be the same Caradoc as of Arthurian legend, but we weren't focused on that.) and after being told he was a giant of a man, she played him as a fun-loving, lets-all-have-a-ball knight, even when he was getting punched off his horse. But more of that in a minute...
So the scenario has Sir Caradoc about to cross a bridge when he notices a knight's party tent (aka pavilion), a couple of warhorses and a shield whose heraldry Caradoc didn't recognize. (she didn't make her Heraldry roll... off by 1!) A squire with a ridiculous Monty-Python-esque French accent asked Caradoc to halt and joust with his Lord, as the mysterious Blue Knight wished to see if all zeeze Breeteesh kin-ites are ze bezt zat zey all zey zey arrrrrr! (.. if all these British knights are the best that they all say they are. Told ya it was bad.)
Sir Caradoc, being all chivalrous and honorly (and the wife wanting to do some old fashioned Medieval wacking) accepted the challenge. Now he being squireless, Caradoc was on his own lugging his crap, so he set up while the Blue Knight waited on the other side of the field. There would be three passes of the lance and three swings of the sword.
The combat system of opposed rolls at or under the skill used is a neat and easy mechanic and very much concentrates on mano-v-mano. Unfortunately, it went badly for Caradoc on his horse. The first pass, Caradoc was able to bring up his shield and deflect the Blue Knight's lance, but it was clearly the visitor's point. The second pass, Caradoc shattered his lance and took a nice glancing blow that he'd feel tomorrow. After dismounting, getting his own backup lance and remounting, Caradoc took to the field for the third pass. He didn't get himself and his lance set right because the Blue Knight not only connected, but Caradoc was knocked out of his saddle and landed in a heap. THUD! (@thePrincessWife fumbled the final pass, so I ruled she fell off her horse due to not having a squire help Caradoc prepare adequately.)
So it looked like the Blue Knight was going to best Caradoc, but we had the sword battle to deal with. This whole time, Caradoc was laughing and saluting his opponent. Despite being knocked for almost half his hit points, he was enjoying the contest.
The sword fight was short, brutal and composed primarily of Caradoc knocking the Blue Knight around. @thePrincessWife lost the first blow which her armor soaked up, but handily beat out the Blue Knight the last two, landing a pretty damn good shot that rattled the Blue Knight through and through. Having each won a contest, the Blue Knight revealed himself as Sir Norman St. Germaine, here in Britain to travel to the tourney at Camelot and pit himself against the best. Having seen that British knights were indeed honorable, chivalrous as well as being able to take a lot of punishment and then dish it out, he asked Caradoc for an invite, which was gladly given. The crazeeee squire with ze out-rahgious French ahhc-cent applied a great deal of effective first aid to Caradoc and off they traveled to Camelot. Close curtain.
We then decided to start rolling up a character for @thePrincessWife. Thus, Sir Smitely of the Wall, a Pict knight with a family who knows a thing or two about heraldry, was born. We got most of the way through chargen, which is a game in itself, when the eyes started glazing over and we knocked it off for awhile. We were up in the Dells to have some alone time, not crunch numbers! Still, the whole deal seems pretty neat, and I'm going to use one of the beginning adventures from the Pendragon adventure book "Tales of Chivalry and Romance" to put us on our way to learning this game.
No, I'm not buying Arthurian miniatures... er... yet...