Arthurian Britain

Arthur, The Boy King
Arthur, The Boy King

Pendragon – Cymric for “High King” – “ben” = “chief”, “dragon” = “warlord”.

Each test of the Dragon is a test of a candidate’s valor, justice and honor. Arthur will pass his first test, but not his second.

Knights of Arthurian Britain



This campaign begins in 495 AD, an era of material, cultural, and spiritual poverty. Characters take part in the ongoing struggle to improve themselves, their lands, and their kingdom. The emphasis is on the passing of time, exploring the realm, taking part in history and meeting (or becoming) important people. Characters need only a desire for adventure; there will be opportunities for huge amounts of glory, but at very high risk.


Britain was occupied by a race of faeries before the first men came. Brutus, the grandson of Aeneas of Troy, was the first human to settle the island. Christianity was brought to the island by Joseph of Arimathea in AD 55. Feudalism was instituted by Uther Pendragon circa 480 – 495, in the style of his contemporary, Clovis of France.

In 495 AD, High King Uther Pendragon, strapped to his horse because he was too ill to ride unaided, led the assembled forces of Britain to defeat the Saxons in battle near the city of St Albans (May 22nd). At the victory feast, a Saxon, disguised as a doctor, poisoned the wine. Uther and most of his ranking nobles died during the next week (May 28th). Without an heir, the land plunged into civil war, plagued continuously by raids from the Saxons, Picts and Irish. This is an outlaw’s time; anyone can grab something and keep it through might and main rather than through law.

The Supreme Collegium has met but could not select a High King. Logres is run by a council of regents comprising Bawdwin of Britain and Dukes Corneus, Ulfius and Cador.

In London, in the yard of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a block of red marble has appeared. Atop it is an iron anvil and thrust through both is a magnificent sword. Around the based of the stone it says in Latin “Whoso pulleth out this sword from the stone and anvil is rightwise born King of all Britain”.


Feudal loyalty is an agreement between two parties: a lord and a follower. The lord is called liege, while the follower is called vassal. The liege vassal relationship is critical to government and society. A King is the most important authority and the liege lord of the land. Everyone but a King is someone else’s vassal. To rule successfully, a King gives rewards as land grants to his vassals. Grants are for the life of the recipient and the life of all his heirs. A gift is for the life of the recipient only.

A vassal does not own the land, but he owns all the granted benefits collected from that land. The vassal receives his grant in return for loyalty and services, i.e. to serve in his lord’s military campaigns and to advise his liege on important matters. In return, the liege owes his vassal protection, sustenance and livelihood. Typical reasons for losing a grant are treason, not supporting the liege and lack of an heir when the grant-holder dies.

Knights are the lowest class of noble vassals. They may hold their land from the king, a duke, a count, a lower class noble, or even from another knight. Knights must give an oath of loyalty to their lord, which comprises homage (an act of submission) and fealty (an oath of faithfulness which can be re-sworn on the demand of the lord). A vassal may hold land from many lords, but one lord is the most important. This lord is referred to as the knight’s liege lord.

Church officials and monasteries also rely upon land grants to knightly vassals in return for loyal service. Some monasteries have become powerful landowners in need of knights to protect themselves.

In the Hall of Arthur Pendragon, King of the Britons

  • King Arthur and Queen Maeve, his wife
  • Merffyn the legendary sorcerer, Arthur’s guardian
  • Sir Brennos (Cymric pagan)
  • Sir Lancelot (French Christian, born 494), wears Seelie armour, carries magical weapons and shield
  • Asterlan – son of Brennos and Titania, foster son of Arthur and Maeve
  • Otho the Troll – Ambassador of the Unseelie Fae

Social Classes

Classes include nobles, clergy and commoners.

Nobles are divided into the higher nobility and the lower nobility. Higher nobility (leaders and warriors) are called “Lords” and include all knights with vassals who’re themselves lords or knights, and all hereditary landholders. Titles include Duke, Earl, Baron and Banneret. Lower nobility includes all other knights and is referred to as “Gentry”.

Commoners are the ordinary people who provide the food and goods which allow noblemen and clergy to pursue their specialised functions. Commoners include farmers (from serfs to rich landholders), artisans and merchants.

Nobles, Clergy, and Commoners

  • King Mark of Lyonesse
  • Duke Corneus of Lindsey
  • Duke Eustace of Clarence
  • Bishop Bawdwin of Briton, no relation to Father Bawdwin
  • Baron of Lambor, Lambor Castle
  • Lady Anne of Longcott, Brion’s widow
  • Lady Gaille of Winton, hostess extraordinaire
  • Lady Margolin (Aneurin’s mother), and Lord Bliant
  • Lady Leda and her brother Lucienne
  • Lady Ygraine, Arthur’s mother
  • Isolde and her sisters, Levcomagus
  • Father Bawdwin, no relation to Bishop Bawdwin of Briton
  • Marcus, woodsman and guide, Lamborn Castle


Certain customs are universal among all the peoples of Britain. These customs are the laws of loyalty, family, hospitality, and honor. These laws are respected, even among enemies, and are the keystones to society and behavior.

Outside of these laws, the accepted custom is might makes right (brutality wins). The Truce of God is a new idea being bandied about by the (Christian) clergy, but few lords obey it. Chivalry is an abstract ideal spoken about, especially in stories, but never practiced. Formal romance is unknown and women are treated as property. Property belongs to the father, or patriarch (patriarchy).


Characters are knights, an elite and privileged part of a working society. Knights are members of the ruling class and wield exceptional power, exercise privileges and uphold responsibilities. They are the movers and shapers of society. Knights seek fame, power (through obtaining lands and a castle), marriage and family. They must fulfill the obligations of their office and take part in the larger events of their time to maintain their proper status as knights. A noble knight is a leader of men, a subtle intriguer, a great lover, an expert in battle strategy and a superlative killer of men and monsters.

Knights act as sheriff, judge and jury for all matters of Low Justice on their own lands (excluding capital crimes such as murder, rape, treason and theft of the knight’s goods). Knights may also act on their lord’s behalf in their lord’s lands, either by delivering Low Justice or by taking the wrongdoer to the lord’s court in the case of capital crimes. It is possible for Knights accused of wrongdoing to claim trial by combat. The division of justice into High and Low means that most knights do not have the power of life and death over their prisoners, they can only throw them in prison.

Tournaments do not exist. Noblemen do not have enough peaceful spare time to develop a sport.


Knight’s families include, in order of importance, eldest son, parents, siblings, other children, wife and distant relatives. A knight’s family supports him against his enemies, ransoms him when he is captured, and sustains him emotionally. Blood feuds begin when family members are slain by other knights.

Marriage is a sacred and legal institution established to secure inheritance rights, not as an expression of love. It is sanctioned and blessed by pagan and Christian churches and recognised by all Government authorities. Divorce is only allowed on the grounds of consanguinity (partners are more closely related than third cousins) or adultery (by the woman, never by the man).

A critical function of marriage is to produce a legitimate heir (the eldest son of the father) who will get control of the property of the father and the mother. Marital fidelity was a constant issue as women could be murdered for having a lover, but men were admired for their capacity to engender children upon many women. Illegitimate children had no rights to inherit property from their father and, although they could be legally adopted, they could only inherit if no legitimate children lived.


  • Praetor Jonathel of Dorset (Arcavius’ liege), staunch ally of Earl Robert
  • Lady Margot (Arcavius’ wife), daughter of Eustace, Duke of Clarence
  • Albania and Bellitia, twins, daughters of Arcavius and Margot (born 499)
  • Decmus, Arcavius’ eldest son and heir (born 500)
  • Gessius, squire to Arcavius
  • Lepinis, squire to Arcavius

The Orkneys

  • King Lot (Cymric pagan, born 468) and Queen Margawse (Arthur’s ½ sister). Lot witnessed Arthur survive the Test of the Dragon and joined with him against the Northern Kings.
  • Gawaine (Cymric pagan, born 495)
  • Agravaine (Cymric pagan, born 496)

Raven’s Gate (Chalke) Castle

  • Jeanne, Lady of Broad Chalke, Priestess of Raven, wife to Rhodri
  • Caradoc (Cymric pagan, born 496), Rhodri’s son and heir, engaged to Guinevere (Cymric Christian, born 495)
  • Nia (born 498), Gwyn and Gwen (born 499) – children of Rhodri and Jeanne
  • Sir Edar, Castellan of Marlborough Castle and Steward of Mildenhall (Rhodri’s vassal knight), and his wife Lady Aneurin, Oberon’s daughter. Aneurin disguised herself as a boy to act as Edar’s first squire.
  • Sir Cynrain, his wife Lysanor (Ailil’s daughter), and her son Uther (by Arthur)
  • Sir Hywel – Rhodri’s first squire, now one of his vassal knights
  • Sir Nai – another of Rhodri’s squires, now also one of his vassal knights
  • Sir Tathyl – Brion’s first squire, now one of Rhodri’s vassal knights
  • Perin, Rhodri’s current squire (19 years old)
  • Rhodri also holds Broad and Marlborough Castles, Mildenhall Town, and Wood Reach Manor (Silchester)


  • Duke Ulfius of Silchester, Cynon’s liege, Roman Christian (born 469)
  • Arianwen, Cynon’s wife
  • Bellator, Captain of the Guard
  • Castor, a Bard
  • a skilled Moorish surgeon and maker of naphtha

Weapons and Armour

Norman armor is the best type available. Helmets are open with a nose guard. Armour can be upgraded by shaping it to cover legs and arms and making a better helmet, but it is still called Norman armor. The standard shield is a long kite shield. Bows and light crossbows are the only missile weapons available. Chargers (Norman horses) are the best horses available, but they are not very common. Most are needed to outfit knights and so lords do not sell them on the market.

Heraldry and Clothing

Heraldry is rudimentary. A lord and his men may all have the same device, providing uniform appearance and battlefield identification. Styles in clothing are all fifth century native dress, differing from nationality to nationality. Clothing has not changed since the Romans left except to get worse as trade routes disappeared, cutting off supplies of exotic cloth.


Motte-and-bailey castles are the type most readily available to be built. In some places, superior Roman fortifications still exist. Stone has replaced wood, giving a stone tower or shell keep. Many Roman walls and dykes remain from older times but cannot be built now as the people lack the skills and organisational abilities.


The setting is Salisbury, a rich, heavily populated county in the heart of Logres ruled by Earl Robert, a vassal of Uther, the recently deceased High King. Logres is divided into many small holdings. The most powerful individuals in Logres and nearby areas are the King of 100 Knights (King of Malahaut), Aelle Bretwalda (King of Kent and warlord of all the Saxons), Idres (King of Cornwall), Corneus (Duke of Lindsey), Ulfius (Duke of Silchester).

Salisbury Castle

  • Earl Robert of Salisbury (Rhodri’s liege), and Countess Katherine, Robert’s wife
  • Sir Gondarins (Robert’s eldest son and heir), and his squire Dafid
  • Sir Jaradan, Castellan of Vagon Castle and Marshal of Salisbury, Robert’s Seneschal
  • Sir Sagamore of Vagon Castle


Everyone believes that magic exists. It includes everything which is unknown, fate, and luck. The fundamental laws of society (i.e. loyalty, hospitality) are enforced by the decrees of fate and thus enter the realm of magic. Magicians are not to be trusted. They can alter reality, talk to the dead, change the weather and may be in league with the Devil.

The different magics which are recognised are druid magic (glamour), Christian miracles, Old Heathen magic (paganism), necromancy (speaking with the dead), Saxon battle magic and demonic magic (dealing with the Devil). Not everyone believes in these different magics, and only a very few can distinguish one from the other.

Glastonbury Tor

Finias, the magic spear that controls the elements, is in Glastonbury Church and protected by the Archangel Michael.

“It is often in our darkest hours that we find the greatest truths.”


In the Hall of the Dragon Queen

  • Lady Voklaynn, Red Dragon of Cymry, her husband Lord Anwyn, and their sons Illisander and Karwin
  • Cendrian
  • Murias, Cauldron of the Dagda (of Plenty), resurrects the dead (but they can’t talk) – taken by Rhodri and Arthur from Ben Nevis (from the hall of Varis the Black, the un-dead dragon necromancer)
  • Wise One (a giant salmon)
  • Guardian of Tor Barrow Hill
  • Knight of the Red Feather

In the Hall of the Fomori King

  • King of the Fomori. The King has Falias (“Lia Fail”), the Stone of Destiny, the stone of wisdom and kingship that roars on crowning the rightful king. The Stone is at the base of the King’s throne.
  • The Northern Witch who taught Queen Margawse. The Witch knows spells to remove speech. Her servants have Pictish tattoos and wear sinister and corrupt green armour. The Witch is Merffyn’s opposition in the North.

“Ruination of others brings power.”

The Northern Witch


Between the realms of men lie the mythical domains of the faerie – great dark woods unexplored by human foot or thought. Kingdoms of the immortals lie beyond settled lands. Their cities and castles appear and vanish like mist. Their magical residents often visit the world of men.

Bold human questers enter the faerie realms to seek the greatest of adventures. From the domain of faerie comes the magic that enchants Britain. Ancient rites and songs echo in the challenges and prizes of adventure.

In the Hall of Oberon, King of the Seelie Fae

The Seelie relinquish power at Samhain (winter solstice – last night of October) and take over again at Beltane. Samhain is the time to choose between rebellion and redemption. At dawn, the Samhain mists force memories from the minds of those who yearn to forget.

  • Oberon and Titania. Oberon carries Gorias, the sword of Lugh of the Long Arm that makes the wearer invincible in battle.
  • Puck
  • Angus, Bard of the Seelie Fae, and the Harp
  • The Captain
  • Lady Etleyenne of the Seelie Court

In the Hall of Ailil, Prince of the Unseelie Fae

The Unseelie relinquish power at Beltane and take over again at Samhain.

  • Ailil (Oberon’s twin brother), Serpent of Many Colours, and Morgaine, Arthur’s ½ sister
  • Durandel, their daughter
  • Mordred, son of Arthur and Morgaine (born 512)
  • Aubergin – advisor to Ailil
  • Darkain – court sorcerer, 4 feet tall and hideous, hunchback, disguised as a sparrow

“Sometimes we remember our nightmares and learn from them. Sometimes we are foolish and forget.”

Prince Ailil

Ailil can grant the right to trial by Fior (ordeal).

“By oak and light and blood.”

Prince Ailil

“When winter is coldest and shadows are longest, trust and honour are hard to find. Survival depends on deception and betrayal.”