UK Freeforms Presents:

Tales of Pendragon


Pendragon - Players Intro - Players Guide - Travellers Guide - Rules - Conventions  


Welcome to Tales of Pendragon, a live role-playing game about the telling and retelling of the stories from the Saga of King Arthur.

In this game, you will play an ordinary person who lives in the British Isles during the middle ages. You might be a noble, knight, lady, or commoner. Whoever you are, at the end of the day you like to sit down with your companions or colleagues and tell the stories from long ago, when Britain was emerging from the times of the Roman occupation to become a nation.

Then, jousting and romance were the most popular sports, and nascent Christianity grew alongside and sometimes struggled against ancient pagan ways. Beyond the ken of mortals Faerie lay, and sometimes the denizens thereof would make their way into the world of men, or a luckless soul find his way there. Practitioners of the old magics, both foul and fair, still wove their enchantments. High chivalry took its place alongside base treachery, and war was the commonplace pursuit of nobles everywhere.

These stories have been told and retold. Old myths have been remembered and given newer garb, and characters from one story brought into another. All are valid, and to the people of these middle ages they are as real as if they had all taken place. And so we will recreate them, to experience as they did the importance which these legends had in their lives.

You enter Tales of Pendragon as a dweller of those times, someone with mundane hopes and problems. Over the course of the game you will enjoy and suffer the drama, humour, and irony of life that has befallen men and women since time immemorial. But in the course of playing out your life you will need to learn lessons from the old stories. To do this you will take the part of the heroes of those tales and recreate their victories and defeats. Only then will you understand fully why history took its shape, why triumph and tragedy each had their day.

Who You are

You will start the game as a person living in Britain during some indeterminate time of the middle ages. This person is your home character, for it is to him or her you will return after an adventure. Each home character in the game has five virtues, representing your understanding of those traits most important to the Arthurian myth. These are represented by symbols on your character card. The virtues are:

Courage:        Your pride, bravery, and combat prowess; your emotional strength, fortitude, and endurance. 

Piety:               Your devotion to your deity and religion (whether Christian or Pagan); your spirituality, faith, and  understanding of magic, miracle, and mystery.

Love:                 Your capacity for love and romance, whether physical or courtly; your compassion, humility, mercy, generosity, and charity, especially towards the unfortunate; your skill with poetry, song, and the arts; your empathy and understanding of beauty. 

 Honor:            Your personal responsibility, honesty, integrity, and sense of duty; the personal respect and trust you command.

Wisdom:          Your forbearance, caution, diligence, and temperance; your persuasiveness and power with words; your common sense; your resistance to temptation; your discernment.

These virtues are reflections of your inner state. They are used in the game to overcome foes and obstacles, get other people to help you, and the like.

Your Story

When you begin the game, it is at a turning point in your life, one in which you have a decision to make. You might be a young woman looking to seek her fortune; you might be an old man thinking of putting aside his old ways in favour of a new life. In order to make this choice, you will need to interact with the world and grow spiritually. As you do so, you will acquire more strength in the virtues that you need to achieve your goals.

When the game begins, your home character is at a turning point in his or her life and has a dilemma, a problem or decision to make that cannot easily be resolved. This problem is so important to you that you cannot resolve it directly: you are too conflicted to do so, or perhaps the opportunity has not yet matured. In order to proceed with your life, you will need to interact with the world and grow spiritually. As you do so, you will acquire more strength in the virtues that you need to achieve your goals.

The key to this advancement in Tales of Pendragon lies in understanding the stories and myths that were told of great heroes and villains, of miracles and wars, of true love and broken hearts. Whenever you wish during the game, you may become a story. To become a story, do as follows:

First, find a Bard. Bards and their like frequent taverns, alehouses, noble courts, and other places where people gather. Having found one, ask him or her for a tale that you have not heard, in such fashion: “Oh, teller of tales, tell me a story,” or the like.

The Bard will give you a tale, anything from the story of a girl who found a wounded talking animal to that of a band of knights going off to war. These stories are so powerful and important to the world that for the duration of the tale, you (and often others that are nearby and listening) will be given the roles of the participants in the tale, to re-enact the story as you see fit. You and all those playing roles other than their home characters put aside their home identities. For the duration of the story, you become the characters in the tale, with different names and capabilities.

Then the story begins. Play out the story as you think your role demands. When you and any others in the story have brought the tale to a conclusion (of any sort), return to the Bard who gave you the tale. Doff your assumed garments, and be your own self again.

Then have a seat, take a pull at your glass, and tell the Bard what happened. All participants are welcome to tell the story if they wish, and anyone may listen. This need not be a bald retelling of facts; feel free to embellish, exaggerate, and dramatize the events that took place.

The Bard will then reward you and your fellow participants for your tale. You may gain a point in one of the virtues, or you may gain a boon, some valuable item or piece of information. Now go on your way, enriched by the old tale which you have taken part in.

After each tale, take some time to be yourself again and appreciate what you have learned. You may be caught up in someone else’s story! Then, when you are ready, go see another Bard and live another episode of the mythic past.

At one or more points during the game, you will be given opportunities to conclude your dilemma. This will usually take the form of envelopes that direct you to open them at a given time. What happens at those points will depend on which Virtues you have most emphasized up to then. Don’t let your dilemma resolve before then; otherwise, these opportunities will not work as they should.

When a Bard or another player needs someone to fill a role in a Tale, they will call out, saying “Who will take the part of a Goodly hermit?” or “Will you take the part of a Queen?” If you are available, join right in! If you are deeply immersed in another story, you can demur, of course, but otherwise you are encouraged to take any role you are offered.

The saga progresses

Many tales were told about Arthur, his people, and his kingdom. Some of these tales contradict one another. It is up to you collectively to determine what really happened in the story of the Boy King and his realm.

The saga of Arthur begins with his being revealed to the world as Uther Pendragon’s heir. Thereafter, how the story goes is not predetermined, but depends on your actions!

Whenever you finish a story and tell it to a Bard, what happened will be noted. At several intervals during the game, the story of Britain will progress. Whichever virtues have been most emphasized will determine what happens to Arthur and those around him. At the end of each Age, one or two great events will be acted out (by whoever wishes to), announcing to one and all some momentous event. Heralds will announce what has taken place; all will hear of the turn of affairs. Will Lancelot and Guenevere betray Arthur? Will the Round table be broken? Will Mordred come to hate his father? All these will be chosen by you together with your fellow players. As go the people of Britain, so goes the story of her great heroes.

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