Game idea: Blue Rose + ACKS + Pendragon = ???

Is this game idea wacky?

Combining elements of Blue Rose + ACKS + Pendragon. PCs are noble Knights of the Blue Rose who make court with Queen Jaelin in the spring, adventure (go on missions) in the summer, harvest (i.e. use the domain rules) in the fall, and reflect (level up, essentially) in the winter. Start them at Conqueror level maybe?

Why would I want to do this?

  1. I love the setting of Blue Rose, but have no interest in it mechanically, other than Conviction and the alignment/virtue/vice system. Contrary to many complaints I think there is a lot of adventure potential in the setting, what with several wilderness areas to explore, border skirmishes to resolve, ruins to find sorcerous artifacts to destroy, etc. etc.

  2. I like Pendragon and its year-by-year flow of game time. I think adding the seasonal conceits to an ACKS game could grant it a cool session-by-session structure as well as allowing the coolness of playing characters’ descendents, add things like romance to the game, etc. Probably would have to adjust the child mortality rates to be more in line with the world of Aldea, however, among other things.

  3. I like ACKS and want to use it in different settings and contexts. I like building characters and classes in it, I like the proficiency system and the domain systems, and so on.

What do people think?

So I’m not familiar with Blue Rose, but I’ve been pondering a Pendragon/ACKS hybrid since I picked up the Pendragon Bundle of Holding. Prestige, dynastic play, and yearly cycles all sound like they would go well with ACKS. I think XP for dynastic replacements on PC death might need some thought/work, and leveling rates vs aging might get a little wonky if you’re only adventuring a quarter of the year. I also think (from the Pendragon side) that you probably wouldn’t need to start out at name level; plenty of minor nobles with tiny holdings are in the 4th-level range under ACKS’s default demographic assumptions anyway.

Oh, another concern: are returning from the dead and potions of reverse-aging still options? If so, you may see less of the dynastic stuff going on. If not, the bodycount’s going to get pretty high. Dunno.

Blue Rose has always struck me as an interesting take on an Arthurian style setting, it makes complete sense to combine it with Pendragon and ACKS.

An Arthurian variant of ACKS has been in the back of my mind for a while, for that matter - all the talk around the Heroic Fantasy supplement has landed between Howard and Tolkien, and I think there’s room for another wing, espc. as it’d lend some fantastical modifications to the domain management subsystem (health of the land and health of the king is one in the same)

So, perhaps in reverse order:

  1. I think ACKS’ domain system would be a great fit. ACKS assumes a once-a-month adventure for domain growth; squeezing that into the summer would be fine; you may have scale XP to meet whatever would be the desired rate of growth to make up for less adventuring, unless there’d be some subsystems to grant XP in other methods - some mechanic to represent success during the spring court season, let’s say…?

The domain management XP would add some there, actually - if you’re looking at a dynastic sort of thing, then “stronghold level” becomes less important as you’ve inherited one - gather the year’s worth of domain management XP during the 6 months of fall and winter, perhaps? That, I guess, would be the boost for lower level characters - they’d be nowhere near their GP threshold for a well-established domain - I don’t think you’d necessarily need to start at Conqueror level.

I could see the non-knight PCs if any doing mercantile operations during the spring, rather than spending time in court - perhaps any system that awards XP at court should be tightly bound to how mercantile operations work, actually - perhaps the ebb and flow of reputation and favor magically match that of market availability…hm…I can’t tell if that’s a dumb idea or an ingeniously dumb idea - do trading favors work like trading sheep? Ask a politician?

  1. Yes, this would work out. To make it smooth all you’d really have to do is convert all the monthly domain rolls to seasonal domain rolls, as well as the money flow.

I like the descendants. ACKS already has the support system in the domain rules for a low level character owning a domain; and I think putting something like family dynasty rules into the game would really be a good boost to the domain rules - the character becomes an extension of the domain, rather than the other way around - and the player is managing the character as a domain resource.

  1. The same complaints levelled against Blue Rose probably apply to a Camelot sort of setting, the weight of an established rule-by-divine-right sort of system does have a bit of an oppressive-to-players lean. As we know, strange women in ponds distributing swords and golden deer tapping folks with antlers are poor bases for a system of government.

It also somewhat belies the “Conqueror” part of ACK, and there’d be a rough transition from A to K, but I’m pretty sure a set of players ganging up to take out Camelot or Aldea would be pretty awesome.

If I were to want to start looking at Pendragon to see how they worked it, where would you recommend I start? Any specific edition better than any other? Expansion books?

I always thought True20 should have gotten more attention than it did.

/I think my idea on an Arthurian ACKS is from just wanting an excuse to play O Fortuna during a Domains At War battle.

…since I picked up the Pendragon Bundle of Holding…

Well, f*k, managed to miss that. Grumble, mumble, kick a rock.

I would probably leave in tampering with mortality etc. but rule that it can’t bring you back from death from old age (not sure if that’s a rule already).

The aging process vs XP is def what worries me here, for the most part. Maybe if I used rebalanced classes around semi-equal XP charts and just had everyone level up once per adventure regardless?

In Pendragon the son inherits one-tenth of the father’s glory so there could be a system there. Of course in ACKS if the child is inheriting the father’s domain he or she will probably level up kind of quickly based on that right?

Blue Rose is basically just the setting and not much will come from it mechanically so I guess I am mostly asking about hybridizing Pendragon and ACKS here. The only thing from Blue Rose I’ll be taking crunch-wise is that characters have a “light” and a “shadow” nature which defines their most important virtue and vice, and they regain Conviction (basically action points) by acting in accordance with one or the other. Basically a roleplaying reward for staying in character. Potentially I could have them roll against it, Pendragon-style, to decide which to use if they successfully regain Conviction and how?

“I could see the non-knight PCs if any doing mercantile operations during the spring, rather than spending time in court - perhaps any system that awards XP at court should be tightly bound to how mercantile operations work, actually - perhaps the ebb and flow of reputation and favor magically match that of market availability…hm…I can’t tell if that’s a dumb idea or an ingeniously dumb idea - do trading favors work like trading sheep? Ask a politician?”

This is a fantastic idea and I’ll have to re-read mercantile ventures to figure it out. I definitely LOVE the idea of XP for performance at court happening somehow but I’m not sure how exactly to do it. Spring court is one of the big roleplaying opportunities in Pendragon it seems so that I wouldn’t want to reduce it just to rolls and bookkeeping, but some mechanical support for it would be awesome too.

There should probably be an XP bonus for getting married too. Proportional to size of dowry?

Knighthood, nobility, and so on work differently in Aldea than in a typical setting - they’re basically meritocratic positions handed out by a magical deer with Detect Evil powers or whatever, so I don’t think having all the characters be noble knights would be as restrictive in this as it seems to people in Pendragon. Mercantile ventures for characters who want to engage in them would happen in the fall in that case.

I have only read Pendragon 5th edition and it’s wonderful. People seem to like it too so I guess it’s a good place to start?

:: There should probably be an XP bonus for getting married too. Proportional to size of dowry?

Oh good lord, I just had a vision of a monster entry for Maiden (in lair: a Gaggle, 2d6, each maiden is accompanied by ladies-in-waiting (1d4) with 2 HD, and guarded by a Matron, 7+2* HD, petrifying gaze) with variant treasure type (dowry) based upon their HD.

Surprisingly, that’s not that much of a joke - there’s probably some math that can be done on the dowry value based on the level and domain holdings of the parent. Base that math on how much XP you want out of it, no need to go porportional, continue to let GP==XP on a 1-1 basis.

At it’s core, the mercantile system is a adventure generator - the PCs are supposed to head out and do the trading themselves, and the Judge is expected to throw some game at them. They get a little bonus at the end for surviving in the form of successful trade.

How it could operate is that there is a “market” at court for “adventure/quests” - the value/danger of those quests based on the “market class” of the court they’re at - PCs will roleplay the bargaining that happens to be the people entrusted on the quest(s), and then that is what they do in the summer, perhaps - they then go on the quest, gain the XP during the quest, then upon return to the “court market” next spring they “trade” in the successful completion of the quest for more XP (if we assume XP is what we treat as reputation/glory, which is aligned with ACKS’s view of it), as if they had done a successful mercantile venture.

You’d have to set up a table for the expect “profit” for a given “level” of quest, I guess; assume the GP value of the profit is accolades, gifts, etc. from allies and rivals at court, which is then converted to XP as per normal.

The fact that they’ll need to accept quests that are above their GP threshold manages the system, so they’re not farming low-level zones, to borrow MMO terminology.

Hmmm. Getting experience and accolades from the previous adventure is what the Winter Phase is for, sorta. I kinda want the Spring Court to be about gaining experience purely from performance AT the court, in social situations, contests, etc. However, I like the idea of there being a “market” of quests to take up which are presented at the Spring Court.

"Each spring, the Queen holds court for the Feast of Braniel. The Knights of the Blue Rose gather at this festival to receive quests directly from the Queen for the summer. Each group of adventuring Knights receives a quest based on their experience, ability, and choice.

At court, there are always 2d4 quests available for the PCs to choice from. Each quest has an average level of 1d3-1d3 relative to the PCs’ level. Average level here taking into account depth of dungeon, level of foes likely to be encountered, distance of travel, level of treasure to be obtained, etc. etc."

My idea for marriage was a simple reaction roll to see if s/he accepts and then another reaction roll for the size of the dowry in 100s of GP. Like this:

2 Reject and slander
3-5 Reject
6-8 Try again next year
9-11 Accept
12 Accept with elan (dowry doubled)

2 1d3
3-5 1d6
6-8 1d6+3
9-11 2d6+3
12 2d6+6

:: In Pendragon the son inherits one-tenth of the father’s glory so there could be a system there. Of course in ACKS if the child is inheriting the father’s domain he or she will probably level up kind of quickly based on that right?

Yea, depending on GP threshold.

The implicit assumption in ACKS is that CP equates to your level equates to your personal power equates to your domain size. Placing the GP threshold table and the Demographic tables next to each other will probably get a inheritance percentage set pretty quick - you’d start off higher if your father was higher level, so perhaps the “starting tiers” in this system would equate to starting realm size.

What’s concerning about aging vs. XP? Level attainment before old age takes you?

Off the cuff, at 10% a 7th level father gets you 6,500 XP, or 3rd level if everyone’s a fighter. Demographics says 7th level is a county, a county’s income is around 6,200 per month (pg 230) - that doesn’t mean profit, however, as costs come out of that. Even if profit is just 10% of that, that’s 620 GP/month, or pretty close to the GP threshold of a 5th level character.

If you allocate that once a year, that’s (620-150)*12 == 5,640 GP/XP per year. If you start at 3rd, that gets you just about to 5th level in two years on domain XP alone.

I’d have to spreadsheet that out to be sure…I’m sure an average level of profit could be sussed out to base the inheritance percentage on…the thing to do probably is to stat out the realm before the character (as befits this style of game) so that you have a solid idea of the income.

Depending on how you do it it may take only a handful of years or so for a starting PC to meet their level in GP threshold and fully inherit their father’s place - ACKs assumes you can’t gain more than one level a month (pretty sure?) so it depends on if you limit it to per month, season, or year.

Exactly like that. Winter would be better, yes, I forgot about that momentarily - keep the XP gain for the year in the year.

A more generic setting may add support for multiple, regional courts? As a PC’s realm expands, if different courts are of different classes, that expansion drives the PCs to more central, powerful courts, as their realm subsumes the smaller ones of the Counts and Dukes and they have to travel to hob-knob with Princes and Kings.

There’d be some RP opportunity in that as they graduate to higher courts; "popular country kid in the big city style.

There’s some opportunity to tie in with realm vassalage here as well - a PC marrying into a family whose realm is smaller may gain that realm as a vassal, and vice-versa.

I think there’s some call to expand the available number of henchmen/vassals for this style of game - or, perhaps, expand the idea. Perhaps marrying and gaining a vassal gets you a wife, possible children, a vassal realm, and a built-in henchman in the form of the eldest son/best knight of that realm.

Marrying into a larger family gets you the off-chance that your progeny end up inheriting the larger realm in the future. That’d be an interesting bet to make - finding/allying/marrying into a larger realm would also be a valid strategy.

In an Arthurian sense, perhaps each member of the Round Table was a henchman of Arthur - is there some central cadre of the Rose Knights that are somewhat equivalent to that? Or are they as a whole already elite enough to be that Round Table-esque thing?

I think ultimately we need to merge XP and prestige. From a game design perspective, they serve similar functions (advancement and score-keeping), and come mostly from similar places.

I do think it makes more sense to put mercantile ventures in the fall phase, as the harvest comes in and markets are held. Would be interested in a separate court mechanic; was looking for a while at rolling some Influence rules (basically persistent modifiers to reaction rolls with certain people), and having court be where Plots take place (hijink-like activities to increase your influence with others, or to push your rivals out of favor). But that was primarily Crusader Kings-inspired, and I do not know how well it models the Arthurian feel.

The Rose Knights are a sort of special forces thing that’s part of the larger Aldean army already. So there’s not really a henchman-vassal relationship. (The relationship doesn’t really exist anywhere because this is the fluffy ~progressive~ setting but I’m going to be abstracting the functions of nobles into domains and stuff just as a way to port over ACKS mechanics.)

The Pendragon dowry tables (lol) actually include 1 or 2 manors has benefits in the higher rolls, so I could just add them back in:

2 1d3+6 and no hexes
3-5 1d6 and 1 hex
6-8 1d6+3 and 1 hex
9-11 1d6+6 and 1 hex
12 2d6+6 and 2 hexes

and you gain XP equal to the gold you gained plus the (land value x number of families) of the hexes you get? With those being 3d3 for land value and the domain population rolls based on what kind of hex you get (probably can assume civilized? or roll 1d6, 1-3 civilized, 4-5 border, 6 wilderness).

One thing I’m wondering is whether doing ALL domain accounting during the autumn season would be super tedious (rolling 12 times in a row for population growth etc) or if I should spread it out…

Actually, forget the regional court thing. It breaks the assumptions of either setting to not have a single “Camelot”.

There is something interesting in just the travel time and distance limitations imposed by having to be at a central court during a certain time - there’s a metagame in the domain management portion where perhaps you’ve got to live closer (and thereby be more powerful/larger) to get to court in time for the sweet quest deals, and the bumpkins coming out of the wilderness are only able to get the leftovers.

A season is 3 months, what’s the minimum time spent in court you need? What’s the maximum range by horse or boat to get there and back in one seasons?

Those answers may have interesting consequences for realm placement and size.

Sure. Or both, really - harvest feeds the markets in the fall before winter, and in the spring the planting (and end of winter, when supplies are low) drive a second mercantile phase?

::So there’s not really a henchman-vassal relationship.

Sure. Consider though, the realm as it’s own entity.

Vassals to the realm may be just that - they are loyal to the realm, not the character ruling it - as we’re assuming inheritance across generations, this makes sense.

Henchman (and therefore henchman vassal rolls) the PCs earn are then inherited by their descendants - at time of inheritance, the henchmen vassal realms make morale checks. If they pass, they transform into realm loyal vassals. If they fail, the relationship sours and they are lost.

The metagame on this can be the striving for realm expansion and strong relations so that the next iteration of the realm is correspondingly larger by default, and therefore the next PC starts at a higher level.

The Round Table or Rose Knights then could perhaps be the representatives of those realm loyal vassals. The PC that is King or Queen would then have their henchmen slots free for kingdom expansion via henchman vassal realms to hand off to their progeny.

The dowry table could then be relative to the size of the marrying PC’s realm - the act of marriage is the act of expanding realm loyal vassals, a one-time bonus.

Or just mungle with the math so it’s one roll with a similar distribution of results.