As mentioned here we've been fortunate enough to be involved with playtesting for Greg Stafford's new battle rules. The new rules continue the approach adopted before in Pendragon of having the battle play out from the players point of view, rather than from a bird's eye view, which gives it a very different feel to other systems. The players might be doing well in all their combats, only to look up and suddenly realise that the rest of the army has collapsed. The outcome of battles in real life are rarely determined by a few men, and so it is with Pendragon, although the players are not just any old knights, and the system has been tweaked to enable them to have an impact when the dice are rolling especially in their favour! An interesting aspect that Greg has introduced is the 'intensity' rating which is a measure of the chaos of battle. This was our second attempt at getting the rules right, and this time we managed it, having got the battle's core intensity and the intensity faced by the players confused last time (the latter is a modified version of the former). The battle ran smoothly and is in our opinion a vast improvement of the old system. We can't wait to see the completed rules published! Here's an account of what happened...
With a ferocious roar the knight's unit, led by Sir Erec, the most skilled in battle, charged upon the forces of Malahaut, crashing into a unit of household knights. Sir Gaelavin tussled mightily with his man, both equally matched, and neither prevailing. Sir Erec fared less well, his oponents managing to best him. Fortunately he managed to get his sheild int he way and thus deflect most of the damage he might otherwise have received. Sir Gwyn was least fortunate, and was unhorsed unceremoniously. His squire had been well trained, however, and managed to get to him and offer him his horse, leaving him with just one squire able to assist him in future rounds.
In the second round Erec and his men faced regular knights. They fared in a similar pattern to the previous round, Gaelavin this time bettering his foe, Erec saved by his shield work and Sir Gwyn ditched once more from his mount. His remaining squire endured the fear of battle to surend his horse to his Lord. If he fell once more, Gwyn would have to rely on his wits or his fellow knights to rescue him... Erec attempted to withdraw his unit, but his opponents refused to let them retreat.
Facing a unit of poor knights, Erec saw that maybe now they might be able to withdraw, taking hold of the advantage of their superior weaponry and skill. So it proved. Both Eric and Gwyn bested their opponents, and Gaelavin ferociously dispatching those who stood in his way (critical success). Triumphant, they managed to disengage so that they could charge once more with their lances...
Thundering across the field of battle, they crashed into a unit of battered foot soldiers. Here their steeds and lances gave them great advantage and they were all victorious in their struggles.
Having seen the success of his previously withdrawing to charge again, Erec once more ordered them to disengage. To do this they had to get past a unit of regular knights who had fallen upon them after their charge. Erec and Gaelavin moved through them with ease, whilst Gwyn found himself well-matched to his opponent. Nevertheless, they were triumphant once more and managed to withdraw and prepare for one last push.
Charging once more through the thick of battle, they faced their hardest foe yet, a unit of veteran regular knights who had been assigned to the rear of their forces. Again, their charge was decisive and they thrust through them with ease. Indeed, their success was mirrored by those of the the rest of Nanteleod's forces, as exhausted after three hours of enslaught, Malahaut sounded withdrawal, relinquishing Lincoln and Duke Corneus to Nanteleod's charge! Now all that was left was to divide up the loot, bandage wounds and count those that had fallen...