497. An Ostrogoth rules the Eternal City, while a Frankish warlord rises to dominate all of Gaul, but Rome’s legacy lives on in an unlikely outpost: Britannia, once among its most remote provinces. Even there, though, Britons loyal to Rome for generations must now reconcile themselves to the distinct possibility that the legions will never return.
Faced with threats from all sides, Arthur Pendragon gambled the fate of the island on a chance to end the decades-long war once and for all. He assembled a mobile strike force of elite cavalry able to respond to threats anywhere in Britain, and led them on a campaign around the island. His victories rallied the Saxon renegades under the banner of a single Bretwalda, leading to one final confrontation at Badon Hill, where he could break their threat forever with a single charge of his knights.
The Bretwalda Ælle may lie dead, but his Roman puppet Ambrosius Aurelianus Brittanicus still rules in Londinium, protected by the garrisons raised by his far nobler father, and still fiercely loyal to his heir. If Arthur hopes to unite Britannia as High King, he will first need to take Londinium, and decide the fate of his patron’s son.
Current Issue Pax Arthuriana
The fabled Pax Romana brought peace to Italy for centuries, by pushing its conflicts out to the provinces. That strategy ultimately destroyed the Empire, as generals on the periphery gained power, and then turned their experienced soldiers towards Rome to claim the imperium. It also changed the peoples living along the Empire’s frontiers, drawing them into cycles of war and violence that came to define them.
Arthur Pendragon dreams of a different kind of peace, a dream that he calls Camulod. The victory at Badon Hill ended the generations-long war with the Saxons, and prepared the way for him to make his dream a reality. He does not want to preserve his peace through domination, as Rome did, but with so many petty kings and chieftains who still hold onto the bloody ambitions that Rome’s visions inspired, he knows that he may not have many other choices.
Arc Mechanic: The Golden Age
Current Status: 1/10
Seventeen British kingdoms answer to Arthur Pendragon as High King: Belgia, Cantium, Demetia, Dobunnia, Dumnonia, Eboracum, Elmet, Guotodin, Icenia, Linnuis, Londinium, Novant, Pagensia, Rheged, Venedotia, Venta, and Ystrad Clud. These kingdoms differ in their loyalty, however.
Success: The knights win when they raise 10 out of the 17 kingdoms to the status of Loyal to Camulod. This brings the Pax Arthuriana to Britain, and ushers in the Golden Age of Camulod.
Failure: The knights fail when 10 out of the 17 kingdoms are in the state of War Against Camulod. The Pax Arthuriana breaks down, and the Golden Age of Camulod remains nothing but a dream.
Mechanic: Each kingdom has five listed NPC’s, divided among three types: Potestas (those who hold political power over the kingdom), Predico (those who understand how the kingdom really works and influence the political ideas and aspirations that guide it), and Populus (those who speak for the common people and represent their interests). Kingdoms that PC’s have a strong investment in (like ruling it) may already have all five of these NPC’s listed. In others, you may need to discover them. The means by which you can discover these NPC’s varies by their type. Potestas characters may be generally known, but you may need to spend some time with the common people to discover Populus characters.
Each of these five characters offers a quest. If you complete the quest, the kingdom’s allegiance will move one step closer towards Loyal to Camulod. You can also raise a kingdom’s allegiance by resolving its issue. Other factors can also move allegiance. Arthur can increase the kingdom’s allegiance by one step over a session by holding court in that kingdom. Other events can move a kingdom’s allegiance in the other direction.
Impending Issue Restitutor Orbis
No one may have borne the actual title but the Emperor Aurelian, but the concept has nonetheless become an important one for those who consider themselves citizens of the Empire: Rome’s power may wane, but when it seems most in need, a messianic king will emerge who will restore the world. The cycle has played out many times before, though things could hardly seem bleaker for the Empire now. Saint Augustine predicted that the world would end in the year 500 — just three years away. The seas have risen to drown many ancient lands, including the Saxons’ own homelands, driving them to join their kin in Britannia. Amidst such calamity, the Britons naturally look for the restitutor orbis who will save them once again.
Arthur Pendragon won a decisive victory against the barbarian invaders at Badon Hill. Many Britons now look to him as the savior they have long hoped for. An apocalyptic fervor grips the land, but many heap their hopes and dreams on Arthur’s shoulders. Can he fulfill those dreams? Will Arthur restore the old world as they hope, or usher in a new one?
Arc Mechanic: The Treasures of Britain
Current Status: 1/10
According to Myrddin, the destruction of the head of Bran the Blessed has left Britain vulnerable to invasion. He wants to gather twelve treasures mentioned in stories and histories, which, he says, will restore the island with the protection it has lost. The treasures are:
|Caliburn||Possessed by Arthur Pendragon|
|The Basket of Caratacus||Guarded by a Demetian chieftain named Gwyddno Crane-Legs|
|The Drinking Horn of Bran the Blessed||Hidden on Ynys Môn|
|The Chariot of Caesius Nasica||Caesius Nasica was a commander of the Legio IX Hispana, which is last recorded on the border of Pictland during the reign of Hadrian.|
|The Halter of Mascen Wledig||Owned by the kings of Ystrad Clud — currently Dumnagual.|
|The Horseman’s Knife||The Knife’s last owner was slain by Vorcunos, who says that he hid it in a cave in Eboracum.|
|The Cauldron of Diwrnach||Smuggled to Ireland by Myrddin to save it from Arthur’s wrath. He plans to retrieve this treasure last.|
|The Whetstone of Lucius Artorius Castus||Likely known to the Sarmatians, making Batraz your best lead.|
|The Coat of Paternus||Stolen from Cunedda by an Irish warlord named Galchobhar, currently in Ireland.|
|The Cauldron and Bowl of the Dobunni||Hidden during the Revolution in Dobunnia.|
|The Gwyddbwyll Board of Constantine the Great||The board itself and most of the pieces are owned by Einion ap Mark, but many of the pieces are distributed among the various princes and rulers of the north.|
|The Mantle of Joseph of Arimathea||The whereabouts of the mantle are known only to a Dumnonian hermit named Peltiacos.|
Success: If the knights gather 10 of the 12 treasures, they will have gathered enough to provide hope for Britain’s future.
Failure: If three of the treasures are irretrievably lost, even finding all of those that remain will not be enough to protect the island of Britain. Despair spreads across the land.
Mechanic: At the beginning of any scene, if you have one of the treasures in your possession, you gain its name as a situation aspect. Each treasure also has a stunt associated with it. You may consider this stunt as one of your own whenever you have that treasure in your possession.
In this arc, advancement is tied to the two arc mechanics.
Minor Milestone: You will earn a minor milestone each time you fulfill a quest.
Significant Milestone: You will earn a significant milestone each time you successfully complete one of the arc mechanics.
Major Milestone: You will earn a major milestone at the completion of the arc.
The arc will end when both arc mechanics are fulfilled.
Both Succeed: The knights usher in the Golden Age of Camulod, a time of peace and prosperity across Britain that will inspire people to embody their most noble and heroic ideals for generations to come.
Only the Golden Age Succeeds: The knights usher in the Golden Age of Camulod, but there is a sense of unease beneath it all, a palpable sense that this moment of peace and prosperity is ultimately doomed to fail.
Only the Treasures of Britain Succeeds: You have amassed an arsenal that can save the island from external invasion, but as you see strife and civil war erupt all around you, you realize what a Pyrrhic victory that may be.
Both Fail: Shadows gather over Camulod as strife and civil war wrack the land. You stand at the beginning of a dark age, and can find purpose only in defending the last shining ideals of Camulod against the inevitable doom surrounding it for as long as you can.