To Quell A Beast – The Adventure of the Great Hunt [Pendragon 6e]

The Adventure of the Great Hunt

Author: Greg Stafford w/ David Larkins
Publisher: Chaosium
Page Count: 26
Available Formats: PDF
PDF (Chaosium) – Free

The Adventure of the Great Hunt is Chaosium’s latest offering in the King Arthur Pendragon saga. In the recent past, the King Arthur Pendragon intellectual property returned to Chaosium, where it all started decades ago. Throughout the years, Greg Stafford continued to research and refine his game, always striving for excellence. Here we are, two years after his unfortunate passing, and his work continues to grace pages with a little help from his friends. The Adventure of the Great Hunt is a scenario, but more importantly, it’s also a quick-start for the recently announced Pendragon 6th Edition rules.

In The Adventure of the Great Hunt, David Larkins, the line editor, has assembled this new edition’s essential rules in an elegant and simplified way that truly conveys the game’s spirit in a few pages. One read through, and players new to Pendragon will find themselves playing in no time. Those of us who have traveled the Salisbury Plain and defended against Picts and Saxons throughout the years will find that the fundamental core of the game is still the same. You will notice some nuanced and not-so-nuanced changes that, to me, feel right at home. I’m excited to see where the full version of the rules takes us.

If you’re new to Pendragon, this Quick-Start is your entry into this legendary roleplaying game and this latest edition. You’ll find everything you need to play the enclosed scenario from both a player and a gamemaster’s perspective within the short rules section. Here’s a brief primer to give you a feel for some of the game terms and mechanics you’ll find in the Quick-Start.

  • Glory – the game’s version of experience points; all knights seek glory.
  • Honor – a measure of your knight’s integrity.
  • Attributes – Size, Dexterity, Strength, Constitution, and Appeal define your knight physically.
  • Resolution system – unopposed and opposed. Use Unopposed when success is based entirely on a knight’s own actions. Use Opposed when success is contested between two factors, such as combat. Each has its own simple formula and measure of success or failure.
  • Traits – determine a character’s personality, arranged in pairs of virtues and vices, and may influence a knight’s actions.
  • Passions – used to give temporary bonuses to traits or skills. Can only be situationally invoked (e.g., the object of the passion is in danger or a knight wishes to act in accordance with the passion).
  • Skills – a way of measuring what actions a knight can attempt to in the game. Skill rolls are needed because there is an inherent chance of failure.
  • Combat – is focused on single or small group actions and is structured into rounds, each following a prescribed sequence.
  • Combat Resolution – is resolved using the opposed resolution system with the winner’s outcome happening before the loser’s outcome.
  • Mounted Charges – similar to standard combat resolution but does have specific rules and implications.
  • Damage – every individual wound is recorded separately. Major wounds result when the actual damage sustained exceeds a knight’s Constitution, resulting in falling unconscious.
  • Healing – first aid may be applied only once per wound and, if successful, heals a number of hit points equal to the knight’s healing rate. Otherwise, hit points are regained on a weekly basis.
  • Squires – a young would-be knight in training. Not only do they tend to the daily chores of their knight, but they can be called upon in combat for limited purposes.

Readers should note that the rules are only eight pages and cover only the mechanical parts necessary to play the enclosed scenario. Inside, you won’t find rules for creating Player Knights or any of the game’s other aspects, such as how Experience Checks work or the Winter Phase. We’ll have to wait for the full rulebook, which is expected to be released sometime in 2021.

The rules within this Quick-Start convey the essentials; they’re elegantly written and clearly expressed. Newcomers and veterans alike will find them a treat to read. The marginal notes add little details that reinforce key points, improve rule comprehension, and flatten the learning curve.

The enclosed scenario can be played as a stand-alone adventure or inserted into an ongoing campaign. If played as a stand-alone adventure, there are pre-generated knights provided at the end of the PDF. These are also available as a separate download from Chaosium. This adventure has never before been published, and it’s a fun little treat and a great fit for this Quick-Start.

The adventure revolves around the Player Knights taking on a noble deed—quelling the Berwyn dragon—for a man of great renown. There are several paths they may follow, but only the foolhardy will attempt to direct attack. Those with a little patience and skill undertake the great hunt and employ a different strategy. Time is of the essence, and if they cannot complete their great hunt and subdue the dragon in time, other plans are set into motion. That’s enough of an outline that I hope it whets your appetite…

The adventure is logically constructed and provides ample opportunities for the Player Knights to use a wide array of their traits, passions, and skills. Once again, there are marginal notes that covey thematic information or reinforce key story points or rules. I enjoyed reading the scenario and appreciate its overarching premise as a religious allegory, which is befitting for Pendragon. Still, I ran into one concern as it pertains to the hunt and the map itself. The map is gorgeous, but neither map nor the text identifies where the Player Knights are starting the hunt. One could infer they are starting either from the “stag” or “mouse” locations, but it’s not clearly identifiable.

With its marginalia, period art, and full-color treatment, the new layout design is something that the Pendragon product line has needed for a very long time. The newly updated layout is reminiscent of an illuminated manuscript. The future looks bright for Pendragon, and this Quick-Start is a great first product in the new product line—it’s short, concise, and the rules support the action-packed scenario. As far as Quick-Starts and introductory adventures go, The Adventure of the Great Hunt is a great example of one done right!

~ Modoc

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