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The Adventure of the Great Hunt is a Sneak Look At Pendragon 6E

Chaosium, on the second anniversary of company founder Greg Stafford's passing, has released a sneak look at the Pendragon 6th Edition rules and a free adventure. Pendragon is an Arthurian tabletop roleplaying game, first published in 1985. This 6th edition has been in the works for nearly a decade, and Stafford referred to it as the 'ultimate edition' of the game.


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The package contains the core rules, the adventure itself (The Adventure of the Great Hunt, which is designed as a one-shot single session of play), and six pre-generated characters. The six characters are The Adventuring Knight, The Champion Knight, The Courtier Knight, The Hardy Knight, The Hunter Knight, and The Religious Knight. Players are encouraged to come up with their own names and coats of arms.
 
Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Ethawyn

Explorer
King Arthur Pendragon is my favorite RPG and I'm currently running a 5.2 campaign. I cannot wait for 6th edition and almost all of the rule changes they've made are fantastic.

If folks want to know more about KAP 6, Dave Larkins did an interview with What Would the Smart Party Do? where he goes into details about it and the Pendragon line, including the fact that a Kickstarter for a reprint of the first edition boxset is coming very soon.
 


Jiggawatts

Explorer
I've never partaken in Pendragon, with a new definitive edition of the game being released this might be a good time to hop in and give it a go.
 


Ethawyn

Explorer
This will be rather lengthy.

Starting with the base system:
  • Base resolution system is unchanged. However, skills over 20 are written differently and it's a nice touch. In both editions, when a skill is 20 or over, a roll of 20 or over is a critical success. If your skill is over 20, you take the amount over 20 and add it to your roll, effectively increasing your crit range. This is pretty straightforward, but can be a bit confusing at first. Now, instead of skills over 20 being written as, for example, 25, they’re written as 20(+5) and the rules tell you this format means add the number in the parentheses to your roll. "
  • APP is now “Appeal” rather than “Appearance.” It functions the same as it always has, but having it be “Appeal” will make the nature of the stat clearer to beginners.
  • Speed is now on the 1-20 scale other stats are so it can be rolled against,including opposing rolls.
  • We don't know all the details but some Attributes are calculated differently now.
Changes to Passions
  • Passion rules are significantly tweaked and all for the better. In KAP 5.2, there are flat bonuses and downsides to a passion roll regardless of how high the passion is. In 6E, higher passions give greater bonuses more easily, but also have greater risks on a failed passion roll.
  • In 5.2 RAW a successful passion check gives +10 to a skill; a critical gives +20. In 6th the bonus is either +5 or +10. I'd note this is already a common house rule (I use it at my table). The other difference is that how much of a bonus you get depends both on the level of success and how strong the passion in question is to begin with.
  • In both versions, failing a passion roll can make you become melancholic or mad, but how you become melancholic or mad has changed, as well as their effects.
  • Melancholy now lasts for days instead of hours, but instead of causing your character to mope around uselessly it gives -5 to all rolls. This effectively merges it with the status called disheartened from 5.2. It's harsher than 5.2's disheartened, but softer than 5.2's melancholic. Most importantly, it doesn't effectively take your character out of play.
  • Madness in 5.2 RAW was effectively character death. Madness in 6 only temporarily take characters out of play.
  • Melancholy and madness now give glory rewards.
  • All of these changes fix a problem in 5.2 where the consequences were so huge players rarely used their passions, but at same time the bonuses could be a bit game breaking.
  • There seem to be some new default passions: devotion and station. These aren't explained, but they're on pregen characters. Note that you can always come up with new passions so this isn't a change so much as an expanded list of suggestions. None of the pregens have a hate passion, but I wouldn't assume that's a change.
Skill Changes
  • number of skills have been combined. I noticed: fairy lore has been subsumed into folk lore, and heraldry and recognize have been combined (I actually had this as a house rule already). Flirting and romance, which in 5.2 covered base flirtation and high courtly romance respectively, seem to have been combined, although it may be that Romance is simply not listed because the adventure is set before the flourishing of courtly romance.
  • Weapon skill list has been pared down into broad categories. So, for example, there are not separate skills for swords and greatswords.
  • The skill “Lance” has been renamed “Charge,” which makes more sense as Lance was used for proper Lance charges but also charging with a spear. It seems to have been expanded to also be useable for charging with other weapons such as swords as well. In both 5.2 and 6, a charge lets you use your horse’s damage attribute instead of your own and so typically does more damage.
  • 6th edition has a new rule that’s one of my favorites. When you attack from horseback, your other weapon skills are now capped by your horsemanship skill. So, for example, if you have a 20 in swords but only a 15 in horsemanship, your base sword skill is capped at 15. This solves a problem in 5.2 that Horsemanship is basically only regularly used to see if you stay on your horse when suffering knockdown. Considering how important Horsemanship should be to a knight, that really seemed insufficient.
Combat Changes
  • Damage from criticals is potentially significantly less deadly. In 5.2 crits doubled damage. In 6 they add 4d6. Your average starting knight does between 4d6 and 6d6 damage, so it's not a big change there, but certain enemies, especially monsters, do a lot more. For example, the specialized Saxon berserker unit that killed my wife's character did 8d6 and so reached 16d6 on a crit. On the flip side, a weak character attacking with a dagger might normally do 2d6 damage but could end up doing 6d6 on a crit now.
  • Rules for fighting multiple opponents have changed. In 5.2, a knight fighting with a sword skill of 15 against two opponents would have to make two opposed combat rolls and divide up his skill between the two attacks. So he might do 7 and 8, or 5 and 10. It’s a really cool rule. In 6th edition, a knight fighting multiple opponents simply gets a flat -5 to his skill per opponent faced, though he still rolls separate opposed combat rolls for each. He does have the option of electing to ignore an opponent and not get the negative from them, with the trade off being the opponent gets an unopposed attack. This is simpler, I suppose, but I already know I’d almost certainly house rule to continue using the 5.2 rule as it’s one of my favorites. I do think I might use the 6th edition rule for NPCs though, as it would decrease bookkeeping for the gm.
  • Armor is more detailed, with different kinds of helms and shields each with different effects. It doesn’t look to be overly complex, so I think this is a good thing.
  • Weapons now have parry values. In both versions, combat rolls are opposed rolls. If you succeed your roll, but your opponent succeeds better, he gets an attack in on you, but you get a “partial success.” In 5.2, the partial success means you get the defense value of your shield subtracted damage done to you, but if you don’t have a shield then you get nothing. In 6th, weapons have a parry value that reduces damage in the same way shields do (though it’s a lower amount). I really like this.
Healing
  • First Aid now heals Healing Rate in damage instead of 1d3.
  • The status “unhealthy” has been renamed “debilitated,” which is clearer.
  • Healing rules in the quickstart are heavily summarized and Larkins has confirmed that some things from 5.2 “missing” from 6 are simply not in the Quickstart for space reasons.
Hunting
  • Hunting rules have been significantly reworked, but I had enough trouble with 5.2’s hunting rules that I haven’t used it enough to be able to comment well on the differences
Some Notes from Dave Larkin’s Interview and Other Comments From Him
  • A significant expansion for 5th edition Pendragon has cultures being distinct mechanically by each having a “cultural skill” that replaced several ordinary skills. For example, Romans have a special skill called “Law” which they use for courtesy, folk lore, and intrigue rolls. This provides an advantage because you essentially get to raise a cluster of skills with one skill. Cultural skills are gone in 6th edition. Instead cultures get a cultural bonus to certain skills at character creation. Cymric knights +3 to spear, horsemanship, and courtesy.
  • A new map of England has been made by Francesca Bearald and is made on a 1 inch to 1 mile basis like British Ordnance maps.
  • There’s going to be a whole chapter on horses, which is good, and also a lot of detail on the feudal structure.
  • Default start date for 5.2 is during the reign of King Uther. The default start date for 6E is Arthur pulling the sword from the stone. A lot of campaigns stall out during the Uther and Anarchy periods and so people never get to experience the actual Arthurian stuff. They do have plans to eventually expand the campaign backwards however, even going back to the reign of Vortimer.
  • More support for women knights, including ways to integrate them that are consonant with traditional Athurian stories.
  • Completely reworked rules for large battles that are “less wargamey”
  • There is a mechanic for mourning when your wife dies in the Winter Phase.
  • Lots of stuff coming for Pendragon! In 2021 we’re supposed to get the 6th Edition rulebook, a 6th edition starter set (modeled on the Call of Cthulhu starter set, but with a mini-campaign), a multi-volume revision of The Great Pendragon Campaign, and a resource pack like the one from RuneQuest (will have a GM screen, a guide to Salisbury, and a map I believe). In 2020 there’s also going to be a Kickstarter for a reprint of the 1st edition Pendragon boxed set.
  • A number of expansions that were in the works for 5th Edition, including a revised Book of Knights and Ladies, a book detailing Salisbury in more detail, a book with magic rules, and a book about castles have been pushed back to be 6th edition supplements.
  • The Samurai and Greek hero spin-offs are still in the works. Full manuscripts exist for both.
 
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I'm more likely to wait for the Samurai and/or Greek than rehash britain again. My players may have loved Arthuriana, but I'm almost over Arthurian Britain. Especially the GPC.

I did notice one 5E skill absent the sheet... Siege. Looks like they rolled it back into Battle.
 

Ethawyn

Explorer
I did notice one 5E skill absent the sheet... Siege. Looks like they rolled it back into Battle.
Oh yes, I missed that one. I think that's another good change.

I don't blame you for waiting for Samurai/Greek, but they'll never interest me as much as Arthur and Charlemagne.
 


Baba

Villager
I’ve seldom loved a campaign as much as the one we’ve been running in Pendragon for the last five years.

One of the main draws for me is the generational play. We only have one big adventure a year, and time flows quickly. We are currently in our fiftyfourth campaign year, playing the grandsons of the original characters. We can follow the main conflicts and challenges of a character from youth to grave, and the development of Arthurs society from before he is born until his death. (We still have 16 years to go until endgame at the battle of Camlann.)

Although it is of course also possible to play oneshots.

Gameplay is mostly simple. Chance may influence the game in fun and unexpected ways, and is not only about succeeding or failing.

It’s quirky in a sort of eighties-way, with both good and bad quirks - it has (in my view) more beauty spots than something like the more streamlined d&d5, but they don’t detract too much. Also, I expect the new 6th edition will file away some flaws.

Also, I love the setting. It is a mix of fantasy and history, inspired mainly by medieval romance, but also by other retellings of arthurian stories. It rapidly evolves thorugh the decades from a brutish dark age society to an idealized, optimistic late medieval, to a tarnished rennaisance.
 

This sounds quite interesting. I've never used Pendragon, but the system sounds good.
The system is pretty solid...
The setting as presented in pre-6th editions is politically incorrect these days. And it is so intentionally - Arthurian literature has largely been clearly dividing gender roles, and the exceptions are notable for being exceptions. 4th and later have small sections on making it play more politically correct.
 

The system is pretty solid...
The setting as presented in pre-6th editions is politically incorrect these days. And it is so intentionally - Arthurian literature has largely been clearly dividing gender roles, and the exceptions are notable for being exceptions. 4th and later have small sections on making it play more politically correct.

My players are old-school, so no worries there. Selling them on the Arthurian virtues is what would be the challenge.
 

My players are old-school, so no worries there. Selling them on the Arthurian virtues is what would be the challenge.
That's what the religious bonus (which grants +6 HP for Christians, +1d6 damage for Wotanics) and Chivalry Bonus (+3 Armor, and 3 armor vs falls - falls in non-battle jousts have been a major problem for Wotanic knights.)
 

That's what the religious bonus (which grants +6 HP for Christians, +1d6 damage for Wotanics) and Chivalry Bonus (+3 Armor, and 3 armor vs falls - falls in non-battle jousts have been a major problem for Wotanic knights.)
They do love a bonus!

But my group is motivated by four basic principles: spite, greed, petty-mindedness, and irrational affections for inconsequential NPCs. I just don't see them keeping a Chivalry Bonus for long....
 

MGibster

Legend
Pendragon is a game I thought I'd never get to play. But with this pandemic going, I might as well ask my players if they'd be interested in The Great Pendragon Campaign.
 

They do love a bonus!

But my group is motivated by four basic principles: spite, greed, petty-mindedness, and irrational affections for inconsequential NPCs. I just don't see them keeping a Chivalry Bonus for long....
If they don't, they lose it.
Should they ever qualify for the Evil Religious Bonus, they cease to be PCs. (At least in 4th.)

And, if they're that outside the pale, the traits can be, at GM decision, used as "you need to fail on _ to do _" or "you need to pass _ to do _."

EG: JS, playing Sir Talroc, decided to go a-looting. But he said, "I'm avoiding the raping part that is so common in sacking a town..."
I say, "The adventure says you need to roll chaste to avoid participation in that aspect."
He says, "May I fail my Lustful, instead?" (Due to a directed trait on Chaste, his odds were better on lustful.)
So I let him. And he crits Lustful. "Fade to black. Next morning, Uther is heard to say, ‹Where is Talroc?›" I ask him to roll energetic... fumble. Test lazy? Success! "Talroc is awakened by the sound of formation... several blocks away..."
When he shows up late and obviously due to haveing been unchaste, Uther utters, "If you can't keep it under your tunic, put it on your shield!"
Talroc's Arms: Per chevron purpure and vert, a sword between two chalices or; on a canton sinister sable, a 1 eyed snake arising from its coils affronty argent.
 

If they don't, they lose it.
Should they ever qualify for the Evil Religious Bonus, they cease to be PCs. (At least in 4th.)

And, if they're that outside the pale, the traits can be, at GM decision, used as "you need to fail on _ to do " or "you need to pass to do _."

EG: JS, playing Sir Talroc, decided to go a-looting. But he said, "I'm avoiding the raping part that is so common in sacking a town..."
I say, "The adventure says you need to roll chaste to avoid participation in that aspect."
He says, "May I fail my Lustful, instead?" (Due to a directed trait on Chaste, his odds were better on lustful.)
So I let him. And he crits Lustful. "Fade to black. Next morning, Uther is heard to say, ‹Where is Talroc?›" I ask him to roll energetic... fumble. Test lazy? Success! "Talroc is awakened by the sound of formation... several blocks away..."
When he shows up late and obviously due to haveing been unchaste, Uther utters, "If you can't keep it under your tunic, put it on your shield!"
Talroc's Arms: Per chevron purpure and vert, a sword between two chalices or; on a canton sinister sable, a 1 eyed snake arising from its coils affronty argent.

Well, they've never been inclined toward rape, but commercialized sex is a common undertaking, and in any setting with gold dentalwork will see them carrying pliers.

Still, the Saxon supplement might be a good fit...
 

Well, they've never been inclined toward rape, but commercialized sex is a common undertaking, and in any setting with gold dentalwork will see them carrying pliers.

Still, the Saxon supplement might be a good fit...
Several published adventures for 1-4 ed make note that the players who pillage have to pass chaste to avoid "enjoying the locals without their consent" as part of the major pillage.

But alas, Poor Sir Talroc had other things to cope with. Ticked off Morgana. -1 to horse survival rolls. ticked off Titania, forced to be silent save for riddles and rhymes. (Player was up to the challenge for that one.) Went through 3 wives in 3 years. (Dead in childbirth every one.)
 

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