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Pendragon Design Journal #5: Honor and Glory

Posted by Michael O'Brien on 30th Dec 2021

By David Larkins, Pendragon line editor.

A new edition of the Pendragon RPG is coming! The intention of this series of design journals by Pendragon line editor David Larkins is to trace the path of development, starting in the early 1980s and culminating with the forthcoming new edition of the Pendragon RPG, which will be first to be wholly published by Chaosium in a quarter-century.

Happy Winter Phase! For this, the final Pendragon Design Journal of 2021, we are taking a quick look at how the new edition handles two of the game’s most definitive Statistics: Honor and Glory.

Honor

For existing players coming into the new edition, Honor carries the most revisions and changes of the two. This isn’t to say Honor is greatly changed. It may still be invoked as a Passion, though it exists outside of the Passion Courts system discussed in Design Journal #4. Honor may only be decreased through a knight’s own action or inaction, as always, but it is here that we find Greg putting in a lot of work on defining the nuances of Honor and how knights and ladies may lose or gain it.

As with much of Sixth Edition, these are extrapolations from elements already found in the game, given increased weight and additional applications.

For example, we are introduced to the concept of Public versus Private Honor. Honorable or dishonorable acts do not fully affect a knight’s Honor value unless they are witnessed or talked about. A perfidious Player-knight who slays their brother, for example, would normally lose 10 points of Honor for fratricide. However, if the murder were committed in total secrecy (say in the middle of a wild moor or dark forest) with no witnesses (or at least none who were suffered to live…), our murderous knight’s Honor would remain unchanged in the view of the public, allowing the Player-knight to go on living a lie.

It is impossible to hide from ourselves, however, and so our fratricidal Player-knight would make a note on their character sheet that their true Honor value is actually 10 points lower, and all rolls are made against that value.

If and when the truth of the murder comes to light, the Player-knight then adjusts their Honor to the true value it has been all along; if this is enough to drop the number below the minimum threshold for knighthood, they would experience their degradation in status at that point in addition to any other in-game consequences coming their way.

In a similar vein, Sixth Edition provides details on losing Honor through inaction (when confronted with dishonorable acts and failing to do anything about it), through accusation (whisper campaigns can be hazardous to one’s social standing!), through the shame of failing to live up to an oath, and through conflicts with one’s Traits and Passions.

As always, it is harder to gain Honor than it is to lose it, but rules are provided for increasing the value by acting in accordance with honorable Traits and Passions, by defending one’s good name and disproving scurrilous rumors, and by holding true to vows and oaths.

Glory

Glory remains largely unchanged in its design and application, as befits such a simple and elegant system. The old “bonus point” gained from crossing a 1,000-point threshold is now called a Prestige Reward, as it can be applied in ways other than modifying your character’s Statistics. Most notably, a Prestige Reward may be used to ensure healthy childbirth and guarantee the birth of an heir!

Veteran Gamemasters will be pleased to see that the guidelines for Glory awards are the most comprehensive ever published, including clearly defined Glory from Standard of Living, conspicuous consumption, and social events such as feasts.

Lastly, by way of a tantalizing preview of a future Design Journal, certain Glory award benchmarks have been revised, perhaps nowhere more notably than in the new Battle system. Battles are still a great source of potential Glory, but how your knights earn that Glory differs notably from older versions of the Battle rules.

2022 - The Year of Pendragon

Before I wrap up this month’s Journal, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has expressed their excitement for the forthcoming edition over the course of the year, and for your patience as you await its rollout. We have taken our time in making sure that Sixth Edition does justice to Greg’s vision and memory, and I cannot wait to share with you all the greatness he has left us. As we move through the production cycle towards completion, rest assured that as soon as we can be positive of a release date, you will hear about it almost in the same instant!

Regardless, I am looking forward to making 2022 “The Year of Pendragon”!

Art - "Round Table" by Andrey Fetisov