[back to the Pendragon page]

[back to the Complete Pendragon History page]

Pendragon Publications - 1980's

Contents

The King Arthur Companion
King Arthur Pendragon, 1st Ed.
The Pendragon Campaign
The Noble's Book
The Grey Knight
The Tournament of Dreams
King Arthur Pendragon, 2nd Ed.

1983

The King Arthur Companion, The Legendary World of Camelot and the Round Table (CHA2704)

Written by Phyllis Ann Karr
Cover Illustration by
published by Reston Publishing Company, Inc.
compiled and edited by Chaosium, Inc.
hardback book, 8.5”x11”
174 pages.

CONTENTS:

Over 700 entries in alphabetical order, taken mainly from Malory and the French Vulgate, and are cross referenced. Also included are genealogies, maps, and lists of family members, magic users, etc.

COMMENTARY:

I knew Phyllis from years earlier, when I was publishing my fanzine Wyrd. I had published one of her Arthurian stories and entered into a very pleasant correspondence during which I learned that she had compiled a list of references from Malory and the Vulgate.

At that time I was working on my Arthurian board game, King Arthur's Knights, and rather than do all the research myself I asked if she would draw up a list of people, places and things for me, which she promptly and generously did. I was really impressed by it! I'd never seen anything quite like it before.

I asked to publish it, and she agreed, on the provision that she had to fix it up a bit beforehand. I had no problems with improving the quality of anything, and naturally agreed. Several months later I got back the manuscript at about triple its previous length. And I loved it even more.

Chaosium had managed to swing a deal with Reston Publishing, a really large and slick outfit out in Virginia, where we would make a product and they produce, market and sell it. We put together The King Arthur Companion and it came out as a really gorgeous hard cover book—something we could never afford to do at Chaosium.

It sold well, went out of print, we stopped working with Reston.

Back to top | Back to Pendragon Publication History

1985

KING ARTHUR PENDRAGON, Chivalric Roleplaying in Arthur's Britain, 1st edition (CHA2701-X)

Written by Greg Stafford
Cover Illustration by Jody Lee
Interior Illustrations by Lisa Free, Bill Keyes, Michael Blum

CONTENTS:

Play-aids12 pages (Winter Events, Battle Sequence, character sheets. etc.);
Player's Book 86 pages (character generation, game system, traits and passions, skills, combat, background. etc.);
Gamemaster's Book 16 pages (Magic, Creatures, Campaign outline, Bibliography, Scenario);
Characters Book 8 pages (27 NPC stats, common foe stats);
Color Map of Arthur's Britain;
Dice 6d6, 1d20;
Catalog of current Chaosium Products;
Response Card

COMMENTARY:

I began work on this in early '83. At first it was another BRP game, but I was dissatisfied with the BRP combat system, which I considered to be too detailed and time consuming for the type of game that I wanted. At first I was using the Resistance Table for all resolutions, but Ken St. Andre pointed out that there was a simpler way to go that didn't use any tables at all—the system that the game uses now. So a significant part of the elegance of the system is due to the insight of Ken.

I knew from the start that I wanted to use the Personality Traits. I had played with this in earlier games that I published (Thieves World, where it was used to record personalities but not resolve anything; "The Dragonewts March," where it was used to randomly determine what the creatures would do) but here I used it as a defining part of the game.

It was instigated because I was just fed up with players who played their character inconsistently, just to take advantage of whatever the situation was. The pre-eminent example is of the character who drinks everything in sight, but when the faerie queen gives him a cup of wine he puts it aside without a problem. I just wanted something to enforce consistency, even though it took some control of the character away from the player. After all, the literature was full of examples of individuals just being themselves, and getting into trouble for it.

The Passions came a bit later, after we'd tested it through some play. First, I had reread Malory, marking every example of Traits that I found in them (these later became the marginal examples). In that reading I noted that Passions were extremely significant in inspiring the knights.

More importantly, after about a year of writing and test play, the basic game system was in place. (I wasn't working full time on this—I was still president of Chaosium.) I was pretty content with it. However, I was appalled by the widespread ignorance among gamers of medieval society and ways, both of which I considered integrally important to the game. One time I played with some people who claimed to be knowledgeable about the Middle Ages and said they wanted to play “in the genre.” But during the game they insulted their liege lord and refused to obey him, in typical RPG player fashion, but SO incorrect for medieval tradition. I noted that they had no idea of the social standards of the time.

Thus I set to to compile the background that pervades the book. It's a good enough lesson on Medieval customs that several teachers have told me that they've used it in their classes as one of the best summaries available. It took me almost another year to write all that, extract the examples from Malory for play, and create the final map.

I was happy that when I took the game to DunDraCon one year, and imposed the behavior on players, the people who did know what the Middle Ages were about were happy about the imposed cultural rules. And I was glad of that, even though Roderick Robertson (who I met here for the first time) took me a bit to literally when I told the players not to worry about using the proper heraldry—he gave his knights arms of a "Pink Flamingo, proper;”"and his wife, Ellen, a "bunny with a sword and flower" on hers. Heck, those weren't as bad as the "head of Bullwinkle, erased" that Charlie insisted on using…

But at last I was content with the product and it went into production.

When I visited the printer during its production I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the map. The color separations that we had sent to them had had a piece of tape on one of the sheets (each color had to be done on a separate sheet) and it was clearly visible there in France. "Want me to stop the press?" Richard asked. Of course he would have done it—I was paying, and would have had to pay again for his guys to do the printing plates, and print the maps again… I did a quick calculation of the cost, swallowed hard, and said, "No, keep going." No one ever complained about the "landing strip" in Normandy, and now you can tell if you have a first printing of the game by seeing if that is visible on your color map.

And so Pendragon was launched.

Back to top | Back to Pendragon Publication History

THE PENDRAGON CAMPAIGN, Plot, Magic and Scenarios (CHA2702)

Written by Greg Stafford
Cover Illustration by Tom Sullivan
Interior Illustrations by Lisa Free, Michael Blum, Billy Keyes,
76 pages

CONTENTS:

Gamemaster notes, notes on the setting of Britain, a magic system intended for the Gamemaster's use, Chronologies and notes for many main characters, a brief synopsis of the overall story arc ten pages of scenarios, three pages of annotated Bibliography, many coats of arms.

Cover illustration:
Interior illustrations: Lisa Free
1985. 76 pages.

COMMENTARY:

As usual, I had written far to much stuff to fit into the boxed game and keep it within a decent price point. We were always afraid of having games that were "too expensive." We'd recently had success with The RuneQuest Campaign, a compilation of odd bits and scraps, and so decided to put them all into this book, which was released quickly after the boxed game.

Much of this was later cannibalized to be parts of other books. "The Plot" was greatly expanded to become The Boy King; "Creatures" were included in later editions of the main rules, and "Encounters" were later in Blood & Lust.

Back to top | Back to Pendragon Publication History

1986

THE NOBLE'S BOOK (CHA2703)

Written by Greg Stafford
Cover Illustration by Steve Purcell
Interior Illustrations by Carolyn Schultz, Bill Keyes, Lisa Free, Mike Blum
80 pages

CONTENTS:

Nobility (duties and benefits of nobility, French Characters, Heraldry, Hosting Tournaments, Glory); Economy (Arthur's Britain, Taxes, Castles & Defensive Works); War (Raid, Siege, Invasion, Battle), Land Record Sheet to keep track of your fief's economics; large fold out, "Inside a Keep,"

COMMENTARY:

I knew after the initial release that I would need to provide more information about the upper echelons of society, even if only for the GMs. And of course, ambitious PCs would want to get to be barons and so on.

This book provided the first example of how a player who had a PC of Noble Knighthood rank would also have to take on some duties as a GM.

Some of this material had been intended for the 2nd edition.

I thought all of this was important, but my favorite part by far was the fold out interior view of a typical square keep, with descriptions of the rooms and their uses. My whole Medieval curiosity had been launched when I was about seven years old and I was looking at photos, many of which were of castles. I remember clearing thinking, "They had tall rooms then!" and wondering, "Why didn't they have any roofs?" This diagram was, in effect, the culmination and satisfaction of my research on that question.

Back to top | Back to Pendragon Publication History

THE GREY KNIGHT (CHA2705)

Written by Larry DiTillio
Cover and Interior Illustrations by Susan Seddon Boulet
44 pages

CONTENTS:

The Grey Knight scenario

COMMENTARY:

This is a scenario by Larry DiTillio, a TV writer who had already done some Call of Cthulhu material for Chaosium, as well as writing the "Sword of Hollywood" column for Different Worlds magazine. The scenario is derived from the Medieval Gawaine and the Green Knight but with a twist.

One of my favorite game moments was at a DunDraCon when Larry was GMing and I was playing, and I asked if my knight could do something or other and he told me I had to make some Trait roll, at which I questioned it. He looked me square in the eye and said, "It's your damn game, make the roll!"

I really liked the presentation of the scenario, which had synopses of the events in the margins along with relevant critical data, which made it easier for the GM to run the game after he'd read the adventure. To my regret, we were unable to maintain this format, because (as usual) we had too much stuff to cram into the later books.

Back to top | Back to Pendragon Publication History

1987

TOURNAMENT OF DREAMS (CHA2706)

Written by Les Brooks, Sam Shirley and Greg Stafford
Cover Illustration by Steve Purcell
Interior Illustrations by Susan Seddon Boulet
Maps by Caroline Schultz
48 pages

CONTENTS:

How to Use this Book, The Adventure of the Tournament of Dreams, The Adventure of the Circle of Gold

COMMENTARY:

This book has two fun scenarios in it, one by me and one by a couple of enthusiastic Chaosium fans from Richmond VA whom I had met at a convention, both of whom would later be working for Chaosium. They are, of course, Sam Shirley and Les Brooks. I was hoping that this, and Grey Knight, would inspire people to send in more of these scenarios, and while some people did, we continued to receive more background material than scenarios. This is common to all the games Chaosium ever published, except Call of Cthulhu.

Back to top | Back to Pendragon Publication History

1989

KING ARTHUR PENDRAGON, 2nd edition (CHA2701-X)

Here's one of the great mysteries of gaming! Second edition Pendragon. I have read a couple of places where people swore they've seen a copy of it. I'd like to get a hold of one myself to complete my collection!!

But I never will. There never was a second edition.

When we would have plans for product we would assign it a stock number, and sometimes we would announce that to the distributors so they would be ready for it. They'd put it on their lists, heck, sometimes they'd solicit for it even though we'd told them that we wouldn't be doing it for another year or so. But in any case, once the number was assigned, we could never change it even if we decided to cancel it for some reason. Thus came into existence good ol' CHA2701-X.

It had been planned to be the same game system, but reorganized a bit to have a character generation book, to be called The Knight's Book, a player's book called The Nobles Book and the GM book, The King's Book.

But we had decided that we wouldn't be making games in boxes anymore. The boxes were expensive—I think they cost us $1 each, which meant that they added $7 to the retail price. Also, if we shipped a game in a box, with dice, then the duty was really high, raising the cost significantly for our fans in Oz. Books had no duty whatsoever. (Sometimes we would take the dice out of the boxes and ship them over, and send the dice separately.) But we also realized that most of the people who would buy the game already had dice, or could buy them at the same store where they bought the game. So we pretty much stopped making boxed games.

And there went 2nd edition Pendragon, into the bin of lost and mysterious games.

Back to top | Back to Pendragon Publication History | Back to Pendragon