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The Squire Pool
Historically, a squire was assigned to a single knight, for whom he worked until death, dismissal, or until he attained knighthood. Sometimes, though, either a squire’s or a knight’s player is unable to participate in a game session. To allow play to proceed, a knight can be played without a squire, a squire can be played without a knight, or a squire can be borrowed for an adventure.
This borrowing of squires ignores the historical custom of assigning squires to individuals. However, based on an example drawn from Malory’s Grail Quest, we have adopted it. Thus, in Pendragon, squires are sometimes temporarily attached to whichever knights need them at the time. Squires must maintain loyalty to their current knights as if they were their own masters, and perform all other squire’s duties for them as well.
Squires receive goods, training, board, and protection from their knights. Goods include their clothing, horses, armor, weapons, and everything required or sustenance. Training is gained through play experience, and as outlined in the experience rules. Squires receive board from the knight, as available and appropriate. Unless the knight is in a lady’s quarters, the squire can expect lodgings comparable to the knight’s.
The knight must work and fight to protect his squire, and may not squander his squire’s life needlessly. This is a subjective judgment made by the knight, and a matter of trust for the squire. Many squires chafe at being held back, preferring the chance to fight the enemy and thus gain experience. Others appreciate the protection.
Squires, as the lowest class of nobles- and gentlemenin-training, may be ransomed if captured for 6 £.
WOMEN IN PENDRAGON
Women have roles in the Arthurian world that no man can perform. Still, Pendragon is based on Arthurian literature: To be faithful to the sources, the role of female characters is limited to those roles found in literature and history. The core game does not go out of its way to be politically correct or modern — those concessions appear in later supplements. Thus, this chapter concerns itself with the traditional roles of women in feudal society, with perhaps a nod toward some other possibilities.
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A character sheet for traditional female characters is provided.
Women in Pendragon are normally classified as one of three types, based on the typical roles found in Malory and similar sources. These are as follows: ordinary, important, and extraordinary women.
Ordinary: These women fulfill all non-epic functions without complications. Their anonymous existence is implied or accepted through the feudal world. They remain faceless and nameless. Such women have no individual character sheets; they are all non-player characters. These generally include the un-played wives of player knights.
Important: These women have some individuality. They usually have names, or are at least known as the daughters of their fathers. Interestingly, many of these important women are called Elaine, or some alternate spelling of that name. Important women are often widows, mothers of vengeful men, heiresses, or healers of note. They are commonly accused of or found to be using minor magic. They are often among the major Gamemaster characters who will interact directly with the player knights on a regular basis. They generally do not have complete character sheets.
Some important women from Malory include Amide (a.k.a. Elaine), Percivale’s sister, who is instrumental in the
completion of the Grail Quest; Beauvivante, the provocateur of Sir La Cote Mal Taile; La Beale Isoud, Queen of Cornwall and lover of Sir Tristram; Brangwine, handmaid and confidante of La Beale Isoud; Elaine of Carbonek, who bears Galahad by Sir Lancelot; Elaine of Astolat, who dies of a broken heart for Sir Lancelot; the various wicked enchantresses (often queens as well) who plot great calamities for the Round Table sympathizers; and Dame Lynette, who, with her saucy tongue, guides Sir Beaumains on his first quest.
Extraordinary: These women are major characters, with rights and powers and personality to match any man’s. Their actions have a major impact upon the main story line. All player-character women are of this category. In game terms, any woman can be made extraordinary simply by filling out a character sheet for her and playing her at appropriate times during the game.
Extraordinary women in Malory include Queen Guenever, the beautiful wife of King Arthur and head of the Courts of Love; Queen Margawse, widow of King Lot, a dabbler in witchcraft and the mother of Sir Gawaine and his brothers; Queen Morgan le Fay, the mistress of Faerie, an enchantress supreme who has a passion for Sir Lancelot, hates Guenever, and plots trouble for her brother, King Arthur; Lady Viviane of the Lake, who gives Arthur his sword, Excalibur, and is killed by Sir Balin; and Lady Nimue of the Lake, guardian of the High King’s court against wicked enchantment, once Merlin is gone.
COURTLY ACTIVITIES AND SKILLS
Even extraordinary women tend to have minor roles when compared with the adventuring knights. After all, much of this game is concerned primarily with the masculine pursuits of combat, war, and knighthood. However, Pendragon still offers a chance to play interesting and influential females. Sometimes a player is almost required to play a woman character. If a typical (i.e., male knight) player character dies when his son is young, then a formerly ordinary woman is likely to be upgraded to watch over the affairs of the heir until he is ready for knighthood. Sometimes a daughter is the only issue of a player knight’s marriage, making her a highly desirable heiress.
The skills of Chirurgery and Stewardship are particularly apt for women. Chirurgery is likely to save the lives of fighting player characters, and is not commonly practiced by men. Stewardship affects the income from one’s landholdings.
Courtly skills such as Dancing are also appropriate for women characters.
WIFE, MOTHER, WIDOW
The standard roles for women (outside of religious life, explained in the next major section) are those of wife, mother, or widow. There are some particular points of interest to women player characters in these roles, as shown below:
Wife: Wives are a natural part of life in the game, and provide great roleplaying opportunities. The game changes significantly, gaining a great deal of richness, when a person other than the Gamemaster operates such a character in interaction with player knights.
Mother: The home must always be tended; such business may be resolved in a few die rolls, but it is very important for unmarried wandering knights to have someone at home managing the household.
Widow: The wife of a knight is likely to outlive her suitors and husbands, accumulating some of their Glory and further collecting her own along the way. Thus, a widow is highly desirable as a wife. Widows also often have young children whose interests require attention until they come of age. Such rights are given to the official ward of the heir, so women seek to gain that right over their own sons. Finally, widows by law keep a third of their husband’s holdings as their own source of income, the “widow’s gift.”
This can amount to quite a sum.
Women, usually daughters of men with no male heirs, may come into property in their own right. Yet, however rich, they are without power under the law of the land, held in a state of perpetual childhood. An heiress is placed under the care of her father’s liege lord, and he has the right to choose her husband. This effectively makes her a pawn in her lord’s hands.
The liege lord generally takes control of all the property of an heiress, taking its income for himself for the duration of her spinsterhood, merely providing for her welfare out of her coffers. Since the income is usually much more than the expense of keeping a rich maiden, lords like to have heiresses in their care, and are often in no hurry to have them wed.
Because the hand of a rich heiress is the greatest prize that can be awarded to a loyal retainer for his service, many knights maintain their bachelorhood in the hopes of receiving just such a reward. Perhaps the best historic example of this patience is found in Sir William Marshall, a landless knight who served faithfully as head of the household knights for Prince Henry of England (the “Young King”), then for his father King Henry II, then King Richard the Lion-hearted, and fi nally King John Lackland before fi nally obtaining the hand of the Countess of Pembroke at the ripe old age of forty-three.
The law of the land requires that, if an heiress is widowed, her liege lord may have her take a second husband of the lord’s choosing. However, law also holds that a woman cannot be forced to marry a third time. If she fi nds love after being widowed a second time, she must obtain her lord’s permission to marry, as before, but she has no obligation to marry. Further, she can now, unencumbered, exercise all other rights of possession. Knights may swear fealty to her, she determines how to spend the fi ef’s money, and so on.
Such an heiress is quite independent and powerful.
Because women are effectively blocked from great personal achievement, they often fi nd their outlet for power and respect by manipulating and controlling men. Some men do not mind this. In fact, some actually prefer it to thinking for themselves. The custom of fi ne amor (see Appendix 1) provides limitless opportunity for adventurous, if perhaps reckless women to pursue their personal interests.
Romance is one way of controlling men. Although the consequences of an affair may be personally disastrous, love is one of the areas where women have great freedom, albeit in secrecy. A woman may be courted by several suitors, all of whom she is refusing, all of whom are working hard to please her. If she is cruel and clever, she may test the dedication of her paramours by sending them against her personal enemies, or otherwise engaging them in troublesome tasks for her.
Religious women can hold great power, even in a man’s world. Their claim of loyalty to a higher power gives them authority denied to people with only mundane pursuits. Their proximity to spiritual power often makes them feared as well as respected.
Historically, religious communities serve many functions relevant to women. They provide a number of benefi ts for their members:
• a place for women to follow a religious vocation
• a place where orphaned girls can be raised until they are of marriageable age
• refuge for widows who are trying to avoid another marriage or who are completing a period of mourning for their husbands
• refuge for women deposed from their rightful lands until their lord returns, or until their lands are otherwise returned
• education and training for women
• sanctuary and care for travelers, outcasts, the sick, and the wounded
Note, however, that such communities also provide lords of the land with a socially acceptable means of removing troublesome women from positions of power without having to resort to violence. In this way, even the most benevolent institution can be abused.
Nunneries, sometimes called convents, are places for religious Christian women. These are often part of a “double monastery,” in which the women’s section is considered less important than the men’s. Sometimes, however, a nunnery is completely independent, with the abbess responsible only to the local bishop. The abbess of such a nunnery is a landholder with all the usual rights and obligations, holding the land in trust for the Church in general or her abbey in particular. It is therefore possible that a knight’s lord is actually an abbess.
The best known of the women’s religious houses in Pendragon is at Amesbury, on the Salisbury Plain not far from Stonehenge. This double monastery was established by Aurelius Ambrosius, the fi rst Pendragon, and has received generous royal support ever since. It is the place where Morgan le Fay learns to read; where Queen Ygraine retires after her son is taken away and her husband Uther dies; and to which Queen Guenever retreats after the disastrous events at the end of Arthur’s reign.
Nunneries are under the protection and control of one of the larger monastic (i.e., Cistercian or Benedictine) orders. They owe allegiance to their father organization, and to the Roman Church beyond. They are organized along formal lines, with several possible roles for membership. Guests hold no special position, but are expected to obey the rules of the house.
Once a woman formally enters a convent, the following ranks are recognized:
• Third-Order Vows: These bind a woman to the rules of the order while residing there, but she can be absolved at any time if she wishes to depart. This is very convenient for women seeking temporary refuge until a husband, lover, or son returns from crusade or war. Widows often take these vows if they prefer to shun the hustle of their lord’s court while awaiting another marriage.
• Novice: Anytime after age sixteen, a girl can enter the convent. She remains a novice for at least a year.
• Postulant: Novices who have proved themselves capable are promoted to postulant, and serve at this rank for at least two years.
• Nun: Final vows commit a woman to the religious life of the nunnery. It is not impossible for her to leave (especially if a good marriage awaits), but it is extremely difficult, often requiring papal dispensation and appropriately hefty bribes.
• Abbess: The abbess is the temporal and spiritual head of the monastery, responsible for the maintenance of its lands, membership, and rights. She is a powerful landholder, and always a respected fi gure.
Just as a Chivalry bonus exists to denote a male character’s living a superior way of life for the fi ghting nobleman, so does a comparable way exist for female characters. The six virtues of the gentlewoman are the following:
Chaste, Energetic, Honest, Modest, Prudent, and Temperate.
Mark them on the Woman’s Character Sheet.
If a woman has these virtues with a total of 80 points among them, she receives the Gentlewoman’s bonus: The woman gets a total of 100 Glory for herself each year. Further, all the rolls for her household made during Step 4 of the Winter Phase are treated as if her economic level were one level higher. That is, an Impoverished household is treated as Poor, a Poor as Ordinary, an Ordinary as Rich, and a Rich as Superlative. Superlative households, however, get nothing more.
GENERATING FEMALE CHARACTERS
To create women characters, use the rules found earlier in this chapter as for men, but with some significant notes and changes.
Ade, Alis, Arnive, Astrigis, Bene, Blanchefl or, Carsenefide, Calire, Cunneware, Diane, Elidis, Enide, Elizabeth, Esclarmonde, Feimurgan, Felelolie, Felinete, Feunete, Florie, Gloris, Heliap, Iblis, Idain, Imane, Jeschute, Laufamour, Liaze, Lore, Loorette, Laudine, Malvis, Maugalie, Melior, Morchades, Obie, Obilot, Oruale, Repanse, Sangive, Tanree, Tryamour, Violette
All daughters are supplied with a dowry, if possible. As with an eldest son, an eldest daughter has the best position to obtain wealth and status, especially if she is the heiress, for all her family’s property and money goes with her into her marriage, making her a highly desirable match. Other daughters may have a cash dowry, or maybe a piece of property, if the father is exceptionally rich.
As with men, distribute a total of 60 points among the five attributes, keeping in mind the restrictions and bonuses for Cymric characters. Note that women tend to be smaller and weaker than men.
TRAITS AND PASSIONS
Assign these, as with men, keeping in mind the associated virtues based on religion.
These differ considerably from those for men, primarily because women have practical skills for tending the home, such as Industry, for sewing and embroidery; Stewardship, allowing her to oversee a family manor; and Read [Latin], to keep accounts and read holy texts.
Awareness 2, Chirurgery 10, Compose 1, Courtesy 5, Dancing 2, Faerie Lore 3, Falconry 2, Fashion 2, First Aid 10, Flirting 5, Folk Lore 2, Gaming 3, Heraldry 1, Industry 5, Intrigue 2, Orate 2, Play [harp] 3, Read [Latin] 1, Recognize 2, Religion [choose one] 2, Romance 2, Singing 3, Stewardship 5, Swimming 1, Tourney 1.
Note that a starting female character has a rudimentary Battle skill in case she someday needs to help lead the defense of a castle or a manor. And, of course, virtually everyone has rudimentary skill with a dagger.
Battle 1, Horsemanship 3, Dagger 5.
Roll once on the table below for each new female character. The resulting gift is an inherited characteristic, not a learned one, passed on through the female line: All women have the same talents as their mothers. Sons never inherit these gifts (and they cannot pass gifts on to their female children), nor can women teach these arts to each other.
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