I’d just like to point out this article is NOT about Guildball. Sorry, and all that.
Legal disclaimers aside, this is the second article about designing a campaign from scratch. If you read the first one, you’ll probably remember I’m talking using the Pendragon system to take a group of peasants through the Third Crusade, and potentially into Robin Hood territory, back in Merrie England.
So, much researching and reading of Pendragon rules later, and two things are apparent; firstly I’m not even sure Pendragon is the right system to use, and secondly I’m not sure about the historical idea. Still, having major doubts is an important part of the creative process, right?
Pendragon, in case you are unfamiliar, is designed to allow you to play a knight of the Round Table, in the time of Arthur (yes, I know he quite likely didn’t exist, but then orcs don’t either). There are all sorts of rules allowing stylised tournament combat, and knightly courting of damsels. My guys are 12th century serfs, off to war. Half the Pendragon skills are basically irrelevant, and we need a few more. The mindset is totally different, and so I’ve had to change quite a few things. But, I suppose as my guys progress, it’s not impossible that they get knighted, or own property. So we’ll stick with it, as Pendragon has such a simple, fun combat system. However, don’t get excited about longbows and bodkin arrows. They don’t really exist yet, and if Richard had taken a couple of thousand longbowmen with him, history would have been different. So take a bow by all means, but bear in mind, no one really rates them (mind you, look where that got King Harold).
Robin Hood is one of those great mythological characters who may or may not have existed. Apparently ‘Robin Hood’ was an expression, an obvious fake name for an outlaw. But then did that happen because of a very famous outlaw, called Robin Hood? Historians disagree on all sorts of stuff here, and the one thing they tend to agree on is that the film idea, about a disinherited knight, as promoted by Sir Walter Scott, and various movies, wasn’t likely to be true. The background for the 3rd Crusade is well detailed, just not very long. Most of Richard’s army did a fair amount of sailing, lots of marching, and very little fighting. Hardly epic campaign material. However, in the midst of my doubts, I had a light bulb moment. I’ll make it up.
So, with a butchered Pendragon character sheet as a boat, and a historical framework, filled in by my imagination as the wind, we set sail…