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