517: For nearly a quarter of a century, Arthur Pendragon, High King of the Britons, has overseen a golden age in Britannia that few would expect. Saxons, Picts, Irish, and Britons, Nicenes, Pelagians, and pagans alike can all find a place in Arthur’s Britain. Trade flows from Ireland, Pictland, Francia, Anglia, and even far-off, exotic locales like Hispania, Italy, and Constantinople. Arthur and his knights have set an example of courage and honor in placing one’s life in service to others, and the High King has proven generous in bestowing equestrian rank on anyone who proves that they possess these virtues in service to the ideals of Camulod. It has created a nation bound by shared virtues, rather than shared traditions or genealogies. It has created a heroic age.
Current Issue The Wasteland
In the worst days of the long war that raged until the battle of Badon Hill, the Britons wrote to Flavius Aetius in Gaul: “The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us to the barbarians; between these two means of death, we are either killed or drowned.” This was not merely a rhetorical flourish. For many generations, the climate in Britain had been changing. It grew colder and wetter. The water rose, sometimes submerging old Roman towns, ports, and structures, inspiring many tales of sunken lands like Ys, or the “Atlantis” in Plato. The old vineyards die. In the north, the farmers move south for warmer climes. In the south, they move into the hills, as the valleys become waterlogged. Once fertile farms become marshes and swamps. The people learn to do without the old staples of Roman life, and instead make do with barley and rye. In the lands of the Angles, as that letter to Aetius hinted at, the Saxons face no less pressure from their homelands being consumed by the North Sea and the great Germanic migrations, set in motion by the Huns a few generations ago, push them into it. They continue to come to Britain’s shores, sometimes as settlers and sometimes as raiders, but always adding to the pressure.
The old pagan superstitions seem to hold weight on this matter even among the Christians, for many now whisper what secret sins lurk in Arthur’s household to bring such rot and ruin upon the land.
Invoke Examples: You can find the ruins of an abandoned farm or vineyard; there’s a nearby marsh to lose your enemies in; you find newly-arrived Saxon settlers eager to find a place for themselves in Arthur’s Britannia.
Compel Examples: Two families have become embroiled in a blood feud over the boundary between their farms; what you expected to be a clear valley has become a morass; a group of refugees from the north arrive seeking better farmland.
Impending Issue Saxon Fashion
Since the Battle of Badon Hill, the Saxons have become part of Camulod. In Icenia, Medraut has become one of the most beloved of a new generation of heroes, the leader of an elite cavalry force like his uncle Arthur’s before him, riding in to save the day across the Marches. He speaks the Saxon language, wears Saxon fashions, and even, it is rumored, follows Saxon customs and administers Saxon justice. In Belgia, many remember the days when Caratacus Strongarm rode with Arthur and his knights and joined their charge down Badon Hill. The Saxons form a military class in Belgia, like the Goths in Italy, but many of the Belgae youth, inspired by tales of heroism in war, have adopted Saxon fashions, aspiring to join that class. In Cantium, one of the greatest heroes of Camulod’s founding, King Bedwyr, has taken on many customs and fashions of the Saxons he once hated so fervently. Across the island, one might find young Britons dressing in Saxon fashions, British heroes rewarded with belts, buckles, and weapons crafted in the Saxon style, and Britons speaking the Saxon tongue.
Many of the older Britons find this terribly disturbing. Indeed, the growing tensions between the Dobunni and the Belgae stem in no small part from the Dobunni fear that the Belgae have ceased being Britons at all, and are now simply “West Saxons,” as their old king Lucan derisively called them. Camulod’s ideals of unity and cooperation are strained once again. Can the covenants made in years gone by endure as a new generation emerges, and they bring a new culture and new values with them?
Invoke Examples: Someone you might not be able to communicate with otherwise turns out to speak the Saxon tongue; a non-Saxon finds appeals to Saxon virtues convincing; Saxon items are accepted as worthy items of trade by anyone across the island.
Compel Examples: Traditionalists attack Saxons or those who adopt their ways; a non-Saxon must live up to Saxon warrior ideals; a Saxon warlord attracts many followers and decides to claim more power for himself.