I've started up yet another Pendragon campaign, this time using the Book of Manors, Book of Knights and Ladies, Book of Armies, and Book of Battle supplments that Greg Stafford has released for the 5th edition. While White Wolf is no longer publishing, Greg seems to have struck up an arrangement with a group called Nocturnal to continue putting out material. Check out http://www.gspendragon.com/ for more info.
We had two players for the game, Graham and Jeremy, and used the new creation rules in The Book of Knights and Ladies (BoKL). I went random where possible, which resulted in two interesting and extreme knights.
Sir Cyric (Jeremy) is British Christian and a giant of a man (SIZ 17), but nimble for his size (DEX 16). He's the son of the Castellan of Tilshead*, sadly dead in the battle of Mt. Damen. He inherits the Manor Broughton and some other rights and incomes to bring him to £9 annual income. His special gift is a sword belt that keeps him from being Knockdowned in melee, and his family is known as book readers.
*Opted for Tilshead, since it notes in the rules that Sir Amig is the new castellan of Tilshead and I figured that'd be a good fit.
Sir Bledsi (Graham) is a Pagan, son of an Esquire (though court gossip has it that he's the son of a real knight, and the product of adultery) raised to knighthood by the gaps in the ranks after the battles of the previous year. A man of strong personality, he is both proud and generous to extremes (19 in both!). He starts the campaign as a household knight in the service of Earl Roderick of Salisbury. His special gift is a magic housecat, bringing an extra £1 income to the Earl (at the moment), and his family is full of keen-eyes.
Having started many Pendragon campaigns, I decided to fast-forward over a lot of the initial scenario stuff. The two knights had an initial melee with wooden swords, to introduce Jeremy to the combat system. I followed that with some lance example, and Graham and I took some time to explain the wound and healing system. Since the hunt for the bear has become something of a joke, we skipped that part (time enough for a hunt in 486).
A short scene was held in court, where the situation with the Saxons was laid out and some intrigue was performed. After that, it was off to the Battle of Mearcred Creek using the new rules laid out in the Book of Battle (BoB). Unfortunately, I hadn't had a chance to fully read the rules over and over again, so some mistakes were made. I used the Defending Saxon Army (weak) list from Book of Armies (BoA) for the opponents.
The hero knights were placed in a squadron with Sir Amig, and the battle began. King Uther failed the initial Battle roll, so no bonus for the first charge existed. I described this as the Saxons having established their battle line near the creek, which forced the charge to slow just before impact. Their first target was some Archers (heorthgneats)*, and this is where the first of my mistakes happened. I had the archers both fire missiles and melee … having re-read the rules, I realize now that they should have just gone into melee with our heroes.
In subsequent rounds, the heroes pushed into the 2nd rank** of the Saxons, running down some ceorls, elite heorthgneats, and even some frothing mad warriors. I made a few more mistakes here, having our heroes face multiple opponents when they should have faced just one, but another mistake (letting the heroes inspire themselves every round) worked to counter the worst damage of that mistake. I also had them rolling damage each round, which they should have skipped, and forgot the squire rolls. In any case, the end of the battle came right on schedule in round 5, and the Saxon army retreated due to Battlefield intensity. Our heroes survived, a bit battered but with no major wounds and good amount of Glory.
* I really like the way the Book of Armies list uses symbols to indicate things like ransoms, attack types and passion abilities. It made it really easy to, at a glance, run the fight.
** Also really like the ranks and the zones of battle, which gave a better sense of the fight and helped with the narrative description of the fight. I was able to give a sense of the chaos caused by their punching into the back lines, as well as convey their danger.
We wrapped up with a quick Winter Phase, skipping much of the details in The Book of Manors (BoM) due to time. We'll fill in some of those details next time we play.