Fables of Camelot

As described in the introductory post, this is a roleplaying game I wrote with Sami Koponen a while back; please play and comment if it interests you.

What follows might be considered a simplified beta draft – a presumed final product would likely involve extensive GM advice, sample adventure material and all that context a less than thoroughly experienced GM would need to bootstrap himself. Should be enough for anybody wanting to use the game for its intended purpose, as a free-wheeling introductory RPG. I’m sure Sami will criticize me harshly if I get any details wrong here.

Introduction

“Fables” are animal fairy tales with a moral component and usually somewhat acerbic, mature style unusual in other genres of fairy tale. The game’s supposed to be pretty heroic in tone, but with an acerbic edge that recognizes the realities of the world.

Fables of Camelot (Fabelot for short, as I like to say) is a single-GM, cycling multiplayer adventure roleplaying game set in Arthurian England with a fabulous gloss – the characters in the game may be visualized as anthropomorphical animals sort of like in Disney’s Robin Hood, although in a roleplaying game it’s really largely up to each player how they choose to visualize things: is king Arthur a lion, a lion-headed man or just a man with a lion crest?

The point of the game agenda-wise is to set up the player characters as brave knights of the round table, knights who go on fabulous quests on behalf of king Arthur and make decisions regarding the well-being of the realm. Camelot’s time is fleeting and the knights are there to preserve it and fight back the darkness, or at least save the most important bits of the Arthurian age from the enroaching dark ages. The individual adventure is supposed to have a punchy moral dilemma, room for characterization and positioning of characters and randomness, as well as plenty of consequences for deeds done – and all this in half an hour per adventure. The entire campaign detailing the fate of Camelot seems to run in a full day of convention play; eight hours, say.

Character Creation

Create all the initial knights together at the start of play. Later on players might leave and enter the game, there are intermissions between scenes so new players can enter and the GM can advice them in chargen. Luckily character creation does not take long. I’ll explain each step below in detail first, but note that the idea in play is that the GM is explaining things efficiently and quickly to the players, so no need to go over things in excruciating detail.

Coat of Arms

2d6 Heraldic Animals
2 Lion
3 Bear
4 Wolf
5 Boar
6 Fox
7 Badger
8 Rabbit
9 Squirrel
10 Grouse
11 Moose
12 Rhino

Choose your character’s demeanor and escutcheon – heraldic animal, essentially. If you bought into the idea of animal knights this is easy: if you want to play a cunning knight make him a snake, if you want a stoic character like my Sir Badger, make him a badger… the character’s nature is shown on his shield, even if the characters in this genre don’t usually directly acknowledge the nature. Up to you whether you want to imagine your character as an anthropomorphic animal or just a human who has a snazzy emblem on their shield. If you can’t make up your mind right off, roll off the table here.

Feel free to establish more detail if something interesting comes up – a dominant color scheme for your knight’s equipment, for example, or stuff about his family line; perhaps a lion knight is a relation of king Arthur, or two knights of the same “race” are members of the same family. I myself like to get historical and sort of gritty with this stuff, so I’ll have weird an un-fairytalelike details, such as having certain animals being typical of “Normans” while others are “Celtic” and so on.

When GMing, explain the premise of the game quickly and then ask the players to choose their animals, listing a few examples such as how Arthur is a lion or Lancelot is a wolf, whatever. Encourage creativity with body language and riff off anything the players come up with – if they want to play a mouse, say, you might query about the character’s bravery and thus encourage the player to form a clearer image of his character. Don’t allow the game to get stuck here, this is a spot decision – anybody doesn’t have an animal immediately in mind, make them roll on the table.

Starting Attributes

The characters each get two attributes, Might and Fame. These are merely calculated, no need for choices. Should be quick.

Might is used in personal feats of all sorts, and it improves by experience on the battlefield. As the player characters have just been inducted into the Round Table they all begin play with one point in Might, making them some of the mightiest combatants and heroes of the Realm.

Fame is a measure of how well a character is known and respected, which is important for knights as public figures and paragons of virtue. Each knight’s starting Fame is equal to 1 + [the number of other heraldic animals his could eat]. Thus a carnivore gets a higher Fame to start than a herbivore, generally speaking.

It’s best if the GM counts initial Fame for at least one character to start to show how it’s done and to demonstrate how this isn’t a really a serious proceeding but rather a quick and fun gut-check. I assume as a matter of convention that lions can take on anything other players might have chosen as their animals, for example, simply for symbolic reasons – this is not important as a matter of systemic balance, this step is here just to give a funny insight into the fable society and get some uneven scores for the characters.

Special Trait

Each knight gets a special trait to remember them by and give the player a bit more grist for the ol’ characterization mill, sort of like how old tales tend to distill a character’s special nature in a single moniker. These are rolled from the following table in descending order of Fame: the highest-famed knights roll first, in other words. If a character happens to get the same trait as another one already rolled, he gets that one as well as a new roll – there are no identical knights traits-wise. (This might be considered a whimsical “balance” for the Fame thing, as the humbler knights have more of an opportunity for doubling up on traits.)

2d6 Knightacular Traits
2 Witchwife – The knight’s wife is a witch, which might prove useful (or embarrassing).
3 Pilgrim – The knight has visited distant Jerusalem, making him an example of piety to other knights.
4 Veteran – The knight stood with Arthur when he was crowned; he’s seen it all.
5 Pagan – The knight follows the Old Faith from before the onset of Christianity.
6 Foreigner -The knight comes from a distant land to serve the most rightful king in Christendom.
7 Lowborn – The knight is from a distant country stead or even a commoner raised to the Table for his deeds.
8 Courtier – The knight is an expert in pageantry, courtly love and other matters of civilization.
9 Eyes of War – The knight has realized the art of war, his sword is only drawn with intent.
10 Royal Blood – The knight is a cousin of Arthur’s, or perhaps a prince of some other realm.
11 Prodigious Strength – The knight wrestles down any other on the Round Table.
12 Artifact – The knight has a fabulous item of Christian or Pagan origin.

Note that traits may well duplicate already established characterization, or contradict it. A player doesn’t need to roll a trait from a table to be allowed to introduce the idea that his character is a foreigner, for example, and likewise he may opt to not take a result at all if he dislikes the roll; you don’t have to have any traits if you don’t want to.

Also have each player write their heraldic animal as a trait.

Naming the Knight

Finally, if a player has not already done so, he should choose a name for his knight. A list of examples:

Gawain, Lionell, Gareth, Bedivere, Lucan, Bedivere, Bors, Pelleas, Ector, Dagonet, Brunor, Agravaine, Cador, Gaheris, Lamorak, Pellinore, Safir, Tor, Owain

The rules don’t dwell on it, but by all means make your knight a warrior woman if you want – no skin off anybody’s nose in a convention game, although in a home game the group might or might not want a grimmer tone that involves hassling such exceptional knights (just like a pagan or any other extraordinary knight might be saddles with extra adversity, mind). The overall tone is up to the GM and the group.

Introducing Knights in the Middle of Play

When creating new characters as the game is in progress, just follow the above procedure with the player – they derive their Fame and possible Trait rerolls off the other knights currently in the group.

If a player already has a character, they can of course join in with that one right away.

Setting Up to Play

Once you have created all the characters, it’s time to start the adventuring by establishing Camelot with 20 dice (d6, as all dice in the game) in its pool. These dice represent the strength of Camelot, and once they run out the Arthurian age of England ends and the country plunges into the dark ages.

Also give each player dice equal to their personal Might. It’s been found that the game plays well with two of those small 36-die cubes you get from game stores, in different colours: the Camelot dice can be blue and the personal Might dice red, for example.

The GM does well to illustrate play with props. For example, a map of Arthurian England off Pendragon (or just a big sheet of empty paper to draw on) is cool because you can show the players where the different events take place. You can also keep the various dice pools on the map: for instance, place that pile of Camelot dice on Camelot on your map or a piece of paper where you draw a castle for the purpose. And add places and things on the map as the game progresses; the players will get to distribute dice to them, it’ll improve the dice geography to have these small piles of dice here and there on the map as the players dictate.

Adventure Structure

Now the game goes cyclical, all of the following steps (scenes, really) repeat until the game ends:

  1. A new adventure begins at Camelot: new knights are introduced to the Round Table and king Arthur gets news of a quest or other adventure; he sends the player character knights off to do great deeds.
  2. A travel scene brings an unexpected event for the knights to handle; it may be an omen of the actual problem they’ve been sent to solve, or it may be a separate thing that has its own consequences down the road. A small adventure, in essense.
  3. Intermission is a good idea in this place in a convention environment, to give the players an opportunity to leave the game gracefully if it’s not their thing; the adventure has taken 15 minutes (including chargen), and the players have had an opportunity to try out adventuring in the travel scene. Most players will stay to find out what happens to Arthur’s mission.
  4. Mission scene is more complex because the adventures are rarely entirely straightforward affairs, but the GM should simplify and frame hard to get to the core of the matter quickly: the players get to choose how their characters handle the mission.
  5. Consequence scene is an optional GM choice for when the mission resolution was somehow partial or caused immediate consequences that have to be dealt with. In home play it’s not a big deal, but in convention play the adventure should never take more than these three scenes – save the rest of it for the next adventure if you’re on a roll.
  6. Winter phase comes as the knights return to Camelot. They get to assign resource dice, report on their deeds to Arthur, grateful people might reward them and the various statistics are checked. Camelot pool is diminished by the hardships of winter.
  7. Another intermission comes after the adventure is concluded. In a convention environment you might even want to encourage the players to make room for new people, especially if you have a line; the campaign continues regardless of player swaps as the GM keeps track of the whole picture.

Once Camelot hits zero dice in a winter phase after an adventure, that’s a sign that the place has finally fallen to adversity; the knights return only to find the castle in ruins, perhaps, or they participate in the last desperate defense against the Black Dragon Banner of Mordred, or however the GM wants to frame it. More on the epilogue later, there’s a specific procedure.

I could explain the conflict resolution and such systems here, but I prefer to do it after explaining the above structure a bit more. For now just remember that there is a procedure for resolving stuff, and it interlocks in all sorts of ways. Easier to understand it once you understand the above cycle, I think.

Beginning an Adventure

The first adventure may be begun with a full-blown Arthurian scene: Camelot is feasting the Pentecost and inducting new knights on the Round Table; only the most virtuous and mighty are chosen for this position of wardenship over the realm, as the knights are expected to judge and enforce their judgment in lieu of their liege lord Arthur, independently and without backup as needs be.

The idea in this game is to allow for a modicum of free play, so don’t hurry too much; rather, let the setting breathe for a couple of minutes, perhaps have the knights read a knightly vow or describe what they do in the feast of the Pentecost at Camelot – anything to affirm characterization and fictional positioning, as long as it doesn’t take too long.

Pacing is a tricky thing, I’ve found that some GMs can be too quick while others are too slow. If this scene overall takes more than five minutes you probably have a too large group or you dwell too long on some bit of fiction. Don’t engage in dialogues here – at most a monologue from Arthur; have players declare actions, not engage in thespianism. “My character Bors drinks himself under a table at the feast.” is about right.

Later adventures will start more or less similarly, except you can vary the exact activities at Camelot, keep up continuity, characterize NPCs a bit and so on – let your imagination breathe. Perhaps do another Pentecost only if and when there are more new knights to initiate, and do hunting trips (a typical Arthurian beginning for an adventure), royal visitors, winter bragging, tourneys or whatever for variety’s sake; the intent is always to segue into an adventure, and the beginning scene never lasts long, but it is long enough to narrate Kay’s slow descent into drunken degeneracy in between adventures, as he appears consistently more besotten at the beginning of each adventure.

It would not go amiss to compare this scene with the beginnings of many formula-driven children’s cartoons. Masters of the Universe in my childhood used to be structured like this, for instance: every story starts at the castle of Eternia, displaying a slice of life or a humorous accident from the lives of the heroes.

The actual content of the scene is that Arthur gets a new mission and immediately sends some knights on it – or perhaps he’s been mulling over something for a while and now decides to act because the omens are right. Whatever.

When Arthur gives the knights their mission (it’s always the PC knights he chooses, obviously), explain what they’re going to do and why it’s important, then give them their resource dice from the Camelot Pool: these represent wealth, armsmen and other support Camelot can proffer to the heroes at this time. The number of dice the group gets is equal to [number of knights] + [highest Fame among the group], although the group can agree to take less, and obviously Camelot can’t give more than it has to begin with.

The GM might opt to give the players some interactive opportunity regarding the mission in this scene, too – they might get to argue among the Round Table for why Arthur needs to deal with the witchfolk of the downs instead of the rampaging giant in Cornwall right now, or whatever. GM discretion, although doing anything more than the above is definitely advanced play and perhaps not a good idea for the challenging convention environment where you’re trying to get through this scene in 5-8 minutes at most.

Travel Scene

The travel scene is a lightweight, straightforward situation thrust at the knights in the interest of learning the rules and making for some variety in their adventuring. It is probably unrelated to their actual reason for being on a mission, although handling the travel scene badly might mean that it becomes their next mission as the situation spins out of control.

Examples of a travel scene follow. I’ll pick the best out of Sami’s longer Finnish list, I’m sure the reader can figure out how this works.

  • Farmers driven from their homes by Saxon raiders ask the knights to interfere.
  • Farmers need help in plowing, perhaps because they’ve lost their young men to a war.
  • A tournament that allows any knight with Fame >1 to attend.
  • A young man asks the humblest knight (lowest Fame) whether he should become a druid’s apprentice.
  • A young man wants to take revenge on the killer of his sister, asks the knights to knight him; starts asking from the knight with the highest Fame.
  • A monster or beast plagues the area and somebody asks the knights for help.
  • An elf maid tempts the knights to allow her brother to steal half of the resource dice the group has.

(Sami has a huge list of these, feel free to ask him for more. Good stuff.)

Travel scenes should be quick, and thus the NPCs involved will generally accept whatever decisions the knights make as long as there’s some sense to them. Don’t get difficult, but rather move on after a conflict (if it comes to one).

Mission Scene

The only real differences from the travel scene here are that the situation has been foreshadowed at the beginning of the adventure, and the situation tends to be more complex. I’ll pick some of Sami’s examples for this, too:

  • The brother of a dead lord wants to become the new lord, and wishes to wed the daughter of his brother to solidify his claim; the girl is willing to withdraw any claim, and definitely does not want to marry anybody. Details to taste, somebody or somebody’s champion will likely want to fight no matter what the characters choose.
  • King Gundleus has his realm in Northumbria, guarding the wall of Hadrian from the Picts. His men slew a pict youth in the midst of his initiation rites, and now the Picts siege his castle, demanding his daughter as a blood sacrifice.
  • A lake monster guards a fabulous underwater treasure, but is nigh undefeatable on water. It can be attracted to land, however, by using a virgin as a lure.

Also, before starting the adventure, by all means consult the following table of Arthurian adventures correlated with Camelot pool size. As the Camelot pool diminishes that “triggers” adventures Fated by all that backstory you probably know (Uther’s sin, Arthur fucking his own sister, etc.). If you’ve already run an adventure indicated by the table, by all means pick a generic adventure or go to the next one in the table or add more “canonical” adventures as inspiration warrants – this is more of an inspiration than a rule.

Camelot < Adventures of Fate
15 The Grail Quest: Arthur and his knights go on a series of long journeys in an effort to find the Grail; this will likely fail, although other adventures are had on the side and some few knights might win a glimpse of the divine.
10 Lancelot Quest: Lancelot is reputed to be the greatest knight who ever fought. The knights need to find him and convince him to join the table round.
8 Isolde’s Love: The knights are sent to bring the beautiful Isolde from Ireland to wed king Mark of Cornwall. She falls in love with one of the knights on the way, but Mark is crucial to the stability of the English Realm.
6 The Trial of Guinevere: Lancelot is exiled and Guinevere threatens to burn as a traitor of the realm for her adultery. What will the knights do? Lancelot returns to save his love and escapes to the wilds.
5 Battle of Camlan: Mordred has used the instability of the realm to his advantage and leads a coalition against Camelot when Arthur is away with most of his knights to fight the emperor of Rome. Arthur returns after a delaying action to potentially tragic consequence.
4 Twilight of the Realm: With Arthur buried under Glastonbury Torr (or spirited to Avalon or buried at Canterbury, whatever floats your boat) the realm quickly disintegrates as the knights turn against each other and the ideals of chivalry give way to brutality. What will the knights strive to protect in this age?

Remember that the mission might extend into two scenes depending on the player actions, but the basic premise is that the GM frames tightly enough to reveal everything relevant in one scene, thus allowing the characters to make their choices and resolve potential conflicts.

Winter Phase

After the mission has been concluded however it will conclude, go through the following steps. They each involve both game mechanics and narration, so proceed accordingly; no need to take these in exact order if the story dictates a different one.

  • Any knight who got injured during the mission has to roll (as explained later) to avoid dying of his wounds. Even dying knights get to participate in the other decisions below, as their friends carry their last words back to Camelot. A knight who got wounded multiple times might reasonably need one success per wounding – pretty much a GM’s call, as is the timing of this check; if the adventure’s pacing indicates, it might be worthwhile to have this check made in between the adventure scene and the consequence scene, for example.
  • If the knights succeeded in a mission of such nature that it involves treasure or gratitude of powerful people, reward them with resource dice to represent this. Dice equal to the number of knights would be a substantial reward, I suppose, but go with your gut. The GM may also award a character with a new trait at this juncture if something happened to transform the character during the adventure; this option should be used sparingly, but it is there for when the character takes a wife or whatever to permanently change his nature.
  • As the knights arrange for the after-mission handling, they have an opportunity to assign any of their remaining resource dice to various purposes: the default is that any unassigned dice return to Camelot, but the knights may declare that they help the poor farmers start up a new life or whatever with their dice; this increases the chance of a happy ending when the campaign ends, but for immediate purposes the players might consider 1 die a solid investment and 3 dice relatively extravagant. Shoring up their own estates is an option for knights who know how to take care of their own ass, of course.
  • Once the knights return to Camelot, they get to report to Arthur about their deeds, and Arthur gets to comment on what they did. Each player chooses which of the knights his knight will praise afterwards; each knight gains Fame equal to the number of other knights who praised them. (No Fame for praising yourself, of course.) However, Arthur may at GM’s option upbraid a knight for unchivalric behavior; if he does, halve that knight’s Fame score (round down).
  • Over the winter knights who were victorious in battle gain a point of Might. (Doesn’t matter what sort of battle, duel or melee or siege or whatever.) There should also be some mechanic that could reduce Might, but I’m currently unable to figure what it would be.
  • Finally, the entire Camelot pool is rolled and any dice that show a “1” are discarded as the stresses of the time try the realm; if the dice run out here it’s epilogue time. Additionally, the following modifiers apply to increase the range of removed dice by one step each:
    • The knights failed to protect Camelot’s interests on their adventure. (This one’s surprisingly common, especially as it’s a valid moral choice to not always back Camelot in the grimmer sort of game.)
    • Merlin, Lancelot, Arthur, Guinevere or other figure of legend abandons Camelot.

After the above procedures feel free to speculate a bit about the fate of Camelot and the fate of Britain entire, and then continue from the beginning of the cycle as necessary. Next I’ll tell you how to resolve conflicts, and then how to resolve the game’s ending.

Resolution System

The knights have two ability scores, Might and Fame. Here’s what they do:

Might allocates the knight with personal dice that he can use in any conflicts that come up. He can’t lose his personal dice, they’re always available for him.

Fame helps the knights wheedle a lot of dice out of Arthur at the beginning of a mission. During the mission a knight’s personal Fame allows him to use those resource dice: each knight may roll at most as many resource dice in a conflict as they have Fame. In addition, whenever the knights disagree on what to do with resource dice, the dice are split evenly except that each knight controls at most as many dice as they have Fame; possible excess dice lay unused for the moment (and ultimately return to Camelot, should the order of the knights really break down).

There are also roleplaying considerations the GM will do well to emphasize: the NPCs will generally address the most famous knight as the leader of the band, while the most mighty is the likely target of any martial challenges and such.

When there is a conflict situation in the game (standard definition, nothing tricky here) the players each decide if they want their knight to get involved. Any knights participating roll their Might dice and as many resource dice as they want to a maximum of their Fame (higher Fame gets first pick if dice run out). The dice are then read for several purposes:

  • Each high die (4-6) is a success. Generally one success is enough for the knights to get what they want, although knights working at cross-purposes cancel each other’s successes. The GM may also declare a specific described course of action heroic if it’s beyond the reach of normal men, meaning that it only garners successes off fives and sixes on the dice. If several knights are working in parallel simultaneously, the knight who actually gets a success (or most successes) gets their way; the goals might be complementary but slightly different, which is always interesting.
  • More complex deeds may require several successes, the GM is primarily responsible for narrating what each individual success accomplishes in the fiction. However, he shouldn’t hide the facts – tell the players before the roll if what they want seems to fall into several subgoals that each require a separate success.
  • If the knights roll excess successes, the players may keep the extra successes on the table for now and use them to override GM narration developments that they don’t like. For example, if the knights didn’t know of some detail that comes to bite them in the ass in the conflict narration, a player may immediately spend an overflow success to have their knight do something about it. The extras remain until the next (entirely new) conflict or end of the scene or until somebody sweeps the dice away.
  • Each participating knight (who rolled their Might, that is) needs to get at least one success off their Might dice or get injured in the conflict. An injured knight loses their Might dice until the end of the scene and might get crippled during the winter phase as described earlier.
  • Each six rolled off Might dice adds one die to the resource pool as the knight’s valorous deeds inspire the community. The GM might keep these in escrow until the end of the scene, although I wouldn’t bother.
  • Each one rolled on resource dice means that the die in question is spent and is removed from play.
  • A knight acting on the strengths of a trait of his (including his heraldic nature) gets to reroll failed resource dice (not ones, though) once per conflict. Might also be that he gets to reroll all failed dice except ones, I’m not sure yet. Must have been some good reason for this nuance when we thought out these rules.

Generally speaking I’d recommend saving the conflict resolution procedure for violent or potentially violent situations, but it’s the GM’s call.

Fall of Camelot

When Camelot has no dice at the end of a winter phase (perhaps the knights didn’t bring any back or the Camelot pool roll failed catastrophically) it’s time for the epilogue. At this point the GM should have a sort of chronicle of adventures developed out of the deeds of the knights: they’ve spread the wealth of Camelot out to the realm for various purposes, which the GM has been encouraging. Perhaps they gave a few dice to a farming village, some to a loyal sub-king, some to their own estates, some to the beautiful Isolde and so on. This is all good, as anything not thus supported will fail horribly as the king’s peace disappears in the turmoil of the dark age.

For any thing or community or person or whatever that the knights have given dice to through the campaign, describe the thing shortly to remind the players and then roll the dice. If there are no successes, the thing is destroyed in the turmoil of the age, while success (high dice) indicates that the thing in question survives the darkness thanks to the deeds of the knights. Anything that was not thusly subvented gets destroyed; up to the GM to decide how much he wants to dwell on the various hearths of the knights, people they’ve met and so on and so forth. An uplifting ending is probably the right choice if the players haven’t intentionally shot for a tragic tone in their choices: after all, Camelot was fated to fall sooner or later, but the birth of the new world is in the deeds of the knights who spent Camelot’s resources in the best way possible, by giving the realm itself a chance at life.

Conclusion

That’s pretty much the game as it stands at the moment, I think. The prospective GM should consider running this as a challenge of brevity: the intro segue to an adventure takes 5 minutes, the travel sidequest another five, the main quest 15 minutes and the winter phase 5 minutes, for a total of half an hour per cycle; at this speed it’s quite possible to get through the entire game in one day of convention play or such.

Some notes cribbed from Sami’s Finnish treatise and my own thoughts:

  • Sami recommends that if you’re running the game in a convention environment you might consider taking in new knights as a separate cycle while the others are still on mission: while the other knights are resolving their thing Arthur sends a new batch of knights on a new mission, and the two crews then meet each other on the road halfway through the first group’s mission, so that the whole crew can then resolve both quests before returning to Camelot. Might be an useful technique if your individual adventures run long and players thus need to wait too much before they can join in the game. Also does good for players to not be in a scene once in a while, I’d say.
  • When introducing roleplaying with this tool, don’t explain the rules in advance – just start playing. However, also make sure that the players understand what you’re doing: there are no hidden elements or secret adjudication to this game, and understanding the hobby and enjoying it is largely dependent on understanding what the players are doing – the GM’s tasks are more impressive and not less if you can demonstrate how and why you act the way you do.
  • Choices are more important than conflicts in demonstrating what roleplaying (and this style of advocation narrativism, specifically) is. Don’t force a conflict in the travel scene when a mere weighty choice with consequences suffices. Many GMs are unnecessarily conflict-happy in this regard.
  • Sami tells me that the first intermission is useful in a convention environment because it allows you to separate the truly interested players from those who’ve found that roleplaying is not for them. The rest of the crew is often in for good, so you might well segue into a general discussion of the form after the adventure, before starting up another round. Be social, that’s what it’s about.
  • Character failure is not player failure. It is not atypical for players to fear and hate failure, but this game is very much a classical Forge design in terms of player relationship to his character: the game’s rules and GM should cause play to proceed in a rewarding and dramatic manner no matter whether characters fail or succeed in things. Even death is cool when treated as such.
  • The game’s system has been intentionally optimized to give the GM some easy and interesting interfaces between the fiction and the mechanics, both ways. Use these to display to the players how mechanics inform the fiction and vice versa: when resource dice are decimated in a check, invent a fictional reason for why the knights are now poorer; when a knight gains a point of Might, throw out some funny anecdote about his exercise and diet; when a cunning elf steals a treasure from the knights, take some resource dice into escrow and see if the players will try to take them back. Play with the system, not just by it.
  • The key to the game is in the resource allocation at the start of the winter phase, before the knights return to Camelot. Make sure that the adventure involves sympathetic, credible targets for chivalric largesse. It’s not necessary for the players to understand that their task is to distribute the dice of Camelot to worthy causes before the place falls, but it does help. Complicate the characters’ life by casting doubt and unclarity over the resources: if the knights get personal rewards in the form of resource dice, are they obligated to return them to Camelot? If the ideals of Camelot call for a permanent solution, should the characters spend resources given to their custody to achieve this task?
  • The campaign framework’s pacing is largely up to the GM: you can add dice to Camelot by giving out rewards or allowing the knights opportunities for some plundering. The players can also go back and take dice from other places to bring them back to Camelot, such as when a greedy asshole makes a turn and decides to support the flagging central government from his personal estates. And you can of course take dice away: up the difficulty of challenges and cause distrust in Camelot to worsen the winter odds, for instance. Bleed resource dice in conflicts.
  • I should probably make an English-language character sheet for this, but I don’t care enough right now. Sami’s Finnish sheet is available in the Internet, of course.
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