Monday, 22 April 2013

Actual Play: Pendragon of Mars, Sessions 3 & 4

Characters Present: Sir Owain the Red, Sir Wiglaf the Windhover, Sir Elias the Overly Curious, Sir Xyre of the Barrens, and squire Emerec of the Isles

Session 3 began with the knighting of the squires Owain, Wiglaf, Elias and Xyre. [Owain, a new character, had been busy doing something else worthy of knighthood for the time period covered by the first two sessions of the campaign.] The Earl, ever the traditionalist, was keen on performing the full knighting ceremony in full sight of the great and good of Salisbury - and this included him delivering full punches to the face to each of the squires as the last blows they would receive injustly. It also had the newly knighted men performing 'the leap', at which they all succeeded. After the ceremony a huge feast was held, and they all used this to maximum advantage with the womenfolk at the castle. Sir Xyre continued to pursue Gwiona in his attempts to get one over on Sir Guy. Sir Wiglaf bonded with Elaine by capturing butterflies for her in the castle grounds. Sir Owain found a shy, beautiful girl called Iblis, who has an irritating habit of blushing all the time; his flirting tactic was to carve a heart into an apple with a dagger and then toss the apple up in the air and throw the dagger at it - he failed in this miserably, but Iblis didn't seem to mind much. Sir Elias managed to converse for a time with Lady Adwen.

The new knights then returned to their manors for the winter, which passed mostly without incident - except for Sir Xyre hearing rumours that his cousin was a necromancer. A few trials were held, a few births were recorded, and the snows receded.

In spring, everybody reconvened at the fortress at Sarum for the Easter festivities. The knights were each given squires to serve them and train with them; these turned out to be almost universally good looking, flirtatious, lustful and muscular [I set up a random squire personality generator table shortly before the game, but the squires it generated all turned out to be much cooler than any of the actual characters]. Sir Xyre was given another squire to take care of - Emerec of the Isles, an almost suspiciously androgynous young man. [Emerec is, unsurprisingly, actually a woman in disguise. Future post-apocalyptic feudal Mars is a chauvinistic society, so women can't be knights - unless they pretend to be men.]

While at Sarum Sir Xyre bumped into Sir Guy and the two exchanged angry words; Sir Xyre told Sir Guy that the Saxon man Guy had killed last year was the son of King Cnut, and Guy was irritated he had not been informed sooner. He suspected Xyre of trying to keep the glory to himself. Meanwhile, Sir Wiglaf noticed that Elaine, his erstwhile paramour, was flirting quite openly with Sir Phelot the Greyling, the court's resident Jack the Lad. He got his squire to fake an emergency so Sir Phelot would leave her alone.

During the feast, Sir Elad gathered the new knights together and gave them a quest on behalf of the Earl. Sir Michael, a knight living on the border of Modron's Wilderness (an area where the terraformed Martian surface had reverted to its original Martian landscape) had cuckolded Lord Jagent, an independent lord whose lands lay between Salisbury and neighbouring Somerset. Lord Jagent was the type to seek revenge for such a slight and would undoubtedly try to make war on Salisbury if he was not allowed to get "satisfaction" against Sir Michael. Earl Roderick therefore wanted Sir Michael - who had fled into Modron's Wilderness - recovered and brought to Sarum, preferably alive. Since Xyre and his comrades were good hunters, they were chosen for the task.

The knights asked around about Sir Michael, and heard from some of those who had fought alongside him in the past that while he was a skilled knight and his mech, The Marsh Harrier, powerful at distance, he was a coward and weak in melee. They set off for Sir Michael's manor immediately, and arrived at nightfall. There, they met Sir Michael's wife and young son. Although his wife was understandably bitter about the fact her husband had fled after shagging another man's wife, she was also unwilling to tell the knights where he was hidden. But Emerec of the Isles, using a different approach, managed to befriend Sir Michael's son and trick him into revealing the information that Sir Michael was hidden in a plateau in the middle of Modron's Wilderness, with a few allies.

The knights also learned that there were huge sandworms in the Wilderness who would try to eat anything moving across the arid landscape, but that, perversely, making as much noise as possible would not attract the creatures but would in fact intimidate the worms into staying away.

The knights decided they would sleep in their mechs rather than in the manor, fearing what would happen to them if they stayed there, and head into the Wilderness the next day. But during the night, in Sir Wiglaf's watch, a large mech was seen silhoutted in the starlight on a distant ridge. Immediately, a game of cat and mouse developed in the darkness. The ranged weapon on Emerec's rouncy was destroyed, but the attacker managed to slip away in the night. Being the fastest, Emerec pursued, chasing the mysterious enemy knight; by dawn, she had reached the plateau Sir Michael's son had spoken of.

The knights commenced to approach the plateau, and were fired upon from a cave near the summit. They quickly went on the offensive, knowing Sir Michael was weak in melee, and a short, sharp battle ensued. But though Sir Michael was joined by Sir Aquinal, his brother, and another unidentified knight in a smaller mech, they were outnumbered and quickly surrendered. Sir Owain, flushed with victory, emphasised the triumph by driving his mech's energy sword through the torso of The Marsh Harrier once Sir Michael had dismounted, despite the protestations from Michael and Aquinal at the damage to their precious heirloom.

And there session 4 ended. It was a good session and definitely felt as if things were clicking into gear. The arrival of Emerec definitely also added an extra and welcome new dimension - if there was ever any doubt that men and women tend to approach playing RPGs differently I think a recording of our last session would quickly dispel it.


  1. I have to say, this is the most enjoyable session write-up I have read in a while.

  2. This really is a cool setting and the game sounds like a lot of fun.