Saturday, September 17, 2011

SoSA the 14th: The Feckless Fief (Avalon Lost)

This is post 14 out of 25 in the Cygnus Series of a September of Short Adventures. It's also the 2nd post in a mini-series about the post-Arthurian Avalon Lost campaign setting.

There's an interesting option for a starting player character that I neglected to mention in the previous post. If one of the players is especially jazzed about restoring honor and chivalry to this dystopic and chaotic setting, then maybe that character should be held back for a special introduction...

Once the other PCs leave their home town and enter the wilderness, they can come upon a small cave or barrow. (How? Maybe chasing a fleeing rabbit for dinner... or running away from a wolf chasing someone?) Long story short: buried in this barrow is our special PC, who was cursed to lie in a kind of suspended animation for two-score years. This was one of Arthur's knights, albeit one of the newest and greenest; just having taken his vows and been dubbed a few weeks before he was cursed. But he is now revived (somehow!) by the presence of the other PCs. Of course, being a PC himself, he bonds with them and wants to join their party. :-)

The opportunities for culture shock are obvious. Also, Sir X will likely have to hide his true identity as a knight in order to survive in this bleak time. Still, he will endeavor to keep to the laws of chivalry as he received them. (The example list of "commandments" to the right were given in an article by Robert J. Bezold in Dragon #51, on codes of conduct for AD&D paladins.)

Anyway, one of the rumors that the PCs first hear in Londinium is that there is a small kingdom (about 100 miles to the northwest) where a truly chivalrous ruler sits, and that he was once a knight of Arthur. Whether or not the other PCs want to go there, the revived knight will probably desire to do so. The kingdom is Mercia, and the king rules from Castle Tamworth. The king is known to his subjects by the royal title Cynewald, but the DM should know that this is truly Sir Bedivere, who was with Arthur until the end, and who returned Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. He was exceedingly lucky that his kingdom was so well-protected from invaders, since nearly all of the other knights who went off to rule various fiefs did not survive so long.

Unfortunately, Bedivere's mind has gone a bit soft in the decades since the end of Camelot. Due to a combination of nostalgia and a misguided belief in the widespread existence of knights throughout the land, he forces his local community to hold sham jousts and other courtly doings, 4 times a year. To avoid his anger, his underlings manage to hire fake knights, squires, and chaste ladies who look the part, but outside their public play-acting they're not what they seem to be. Many people in the surrounding town of Tamworth enjoy these entertainments, but those who pay the high taxes to support the extravagance aren't that happy.

It goes without saying that our revived knightly PC will be outraged at the sacrilege of holy chivalric traditions. (I'm reminded of Aang's outrage at the re-purposing of the Northern Air Temple.) What happens next, only the players know....

Of course, DMs can spice things up in many ways. Jeff's Random Castle Shenanigans would serve well as a "wandering monster encounter chart" when at Tamworth. I think I've already linked to Welsh Piper's Random Noble House charts, which can flesh out more intrigue about Bedivere's family and royal court.

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