The once and future manuscript

As I have written about before, when my taster rules for the classic Chivalry & Sorcery, Chivalry & Sorcery Essence was printed, I thought of it as a toolkit and not as a whole game world. I did put in a bit of the more gritty Darken kingdom of the Marakush game world in as an example, but that was just that, an example.

Chivalry and Sorcery Essence has the ideas of C&S, but uses a d20 system. No. Not that one.

  • Your starting skills are based on your Social Class, starting Vocation with some choices for the player on what to spend points on
  • Magic is a skill and is tricky.
  • The faith someone has in their religion affects what they get out it.
  • Your chance to succeed is STAT + SKILL LEVEL – MODIFIERS.
    • If in a contested skill then Highest Successful roll wins.
  • Success affects how much damage you do
  • armour reduces damage not your chance to be hit
  • you have a few combat tactics options.

I got criticised for not doing a High Fantasy setting, I thought “Arthur was easy”, that it could be included as a free article. It wasn’t. It is time for an update on the project.

After storming through the project in 2013 and 14, I kind of burned out, mostly because of work rather than this. I handed it to a friend, knowing that they would not be able to take it on as a priority.

Earlier this year (2017) I took it back. I have made some progress, not as much as I would like, time is still a factor. The game was 80% done. It is now 90% done but I would like to offer this precis of what is in it

It is technologically and socially the Dark Ages. There are some more medieval romantic ideas in there, but I have tried to create a relatively plausible Romano-British era setting. OK you don’t have Gothic or Italian plate armour, but you have the Sutton Hoo Helmeted Saxons and Late Roman style Romano British Cavalrymen doing their thing

A cut down version of the manuscript contents

    • Social Background
    • Training and Vocations
      • Including two kinds of Christian priests, Pagan priests  (inc Druids) and different sorts of mages
    • Blessings and Flaws (optional)
      • Perhaps your character has a gift from the Fae, allies, enemies, a curse …
    • Character Advancement
    • Optional Combat rules inc The Great Blow,  Shield bash and Hit Location
    • Magic and Magicians inc the Saxon Necromancer and former Druidic Initiates
    • Spell types including Glamour and Shaping spells
    • Enchanting rules including auguries and purification
    • Magic heirlooms
    • Religions of Roman and Celtic Christians, Druids and Saxons
    • Holy Artefacts
    • The societies of the British, Saxons, Irish, Scots and Picts
      • The kingdoms of the British Isles
      • Major Personalities of the British Isles
      • What Chivalry means to British, Saxon, irish, Scots and Pictish knights
        • Tourneys and jousting
      • Warfare at this time
    • The Otherworld and creatures of it
    • Monsters, Beasts and instant NPCS
    • Running a campaign
      • An alternate view of Arthur
    • A starting adventure

When Vortigern ruled he was suspicious and saw every man as his enemy and so he sought to build himself a strong keep to retreat to should he ever find himself in danger. However every attempt to build the tower was doomed. During the day the builders would build it up, and each night the stones would be found strewn across the site.

The wise men whose advice he sought, told him that only the blood of a boy born without a mortal father would quieten the restless spirits of this place, and Vortigern sought such a boy until the young Merlin was found.

Merlin was not afraid, and spoke back, saying that the wise men did not know what was causing the problem and had sought to delay matters by setting what they though was an impossible task. Merlin said to Vortigern ‘Have the ground dug up to show what is there’

They did so and revealed a lake. Merlin then said to Vortigern that the lake should be drained. It was and underneath were two sleeping dragons one red and one white.

‘There, ‘ Merlin said, ‘ is your answer. By day they sleep, but at night they fight, and in so doing the stones of your tower are overthrown. Now, wait for nightfall, and watch and learn, for the White Dragon represents the Saxons, and the Red ourselves.’

That night the White fought the Red. The Red held its ground for a while, then started to be forced back. It rallied and pushed the white back for a short space of time, with some to and froing as both white and red contested the White’s part of the lake bottom, but eventually the Red was thrown to the far end of the bottom of the drained lake where it remained. When dawn came, the white Dragon vanished, though the Red faded more slowly.

Merlin turned to Vortigern and said

‘This is my prophecy, the Saxons are driving west, in our time. There shall be some respite before the Saxons gain the upper hand and force us to hold only a corner of what we now possess. Later though, after a long time, it may be that we shall remain, long after the Saxons are forgotten, but that will be a short twilight before the fading.’

Merlin left, not to be seen for some years, but his hateful prophecy remained.

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2 Responses to The once and future manuscript

  1. Fabrice Canepa says:

    I’m about to start an Arthurian campaign using a mix of C&S Essence and Pendragon. The latter is a wonderful game but I think its assumption is counter-productive: if every player is a knight with his own tract of land, the “winter phase” (the “manor management” phase) is a solitary micro-game between the player and the GM. AD&D’s Birthright was similar and had the same issue.

    C&S Essence, on the contrary, unables the group to include people from all origins (a knight, of course, but also a spy, a local druid or monk, a trader, a forester etc.) to work together toward the preservation and expansion of the common fief.

    It means that it is the perfect game to launch a West Marches type of campaign ( I want to use the loose West Marches frame while taking full advantage of the long timeframe, the ability to play two or three generations of PCs from the beginning of the Uther phase to the Götterdämerung apocalypse at the end of the Arthurian phase.

    I also plan to remain much closer to the dark age technology and mind frame and to play the mythological and religious angle (celtic traditions vs. norse mythology of the Saxons vs. rising christianity). The actions/choices of the players should mirror this clash of civilisations.

    All this leads me to one inescapable question (no pressure ;-): how far are you from completing “The once and future manuscript”. Because it would obviously be a tremendous source of inspiration for this campaign!

    Once again, thanks for the C&S Essence Rosetta Stone that enables me to combine Pendragon, C&S and even a French rpg called Légendes de la Table Ronde ( through the shared magic of the d20 roll-under.

  2. hurcheon says:

    Bonjour Fabrice

    Well, unfortunately the manuscript is still at almost but not quite finished at the first draft. Work has got hectic, and more hectic.

    Add to that I was working on an update to Vis Inperium Victoriana and some work around the new C&S 5th edition, you may know about the kickstarter for that

    I will email you in private later. I have an idea

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