Ideals in Pendragon – Chivalry and Religion

One thing that often causes consternation in Pendragon is the topic Ideals. An Ideal is the special bonus you get for having certain traits. You get a chivalry bonus in ou have 80 points in your Civalrouc traits and get a relgious bonus if you have a 16+ score in each of the five religious traits.

There are several Ideals, and the number increases dramatically if you have the Book of Knights & Ladies. But there are two areas that frequently cause an issue, and it looks like the new edition of pendragon will leave these untouched.

  1. The Chivalry Bonus is extremely powerful, and the easiest of the Ideals to qualify for.
  2. The Roman Christian bonus is very compared to the other Religious Ideals.

To be fair, I haven’t seen many people complain about the last one, but the first is very common. It’s not unusaly for people to increase the requirements. For example, Chivalry requires 6 traits – if you require them all to be 16+, this makes this ideal hardest to qualify for, worthy of the benefit it gives.

But the problem with this approach is that many canonical knights who are chivalrous would not qualify under this scheme (for example, the way Gawaine is presented in the rules).

Ideals, Costs and Benefits

Let’s look at the bonuses for the core Ideals.

ChivalryEnergetic, Generous, Just, Merciful, Modest, Valorous+3 Armour
British ChristianChaste, Generous, Honest, Modest, Temperate+2 Damage, +3 Hit Points
British PaganLustful, Energetic, Generous, Honest, Proud+2 Heal Rate
Roman ChristianChaste, Forgiving, Merciful, Modest, Temperate+6 Hit Points
Germanic PaganGenerous, Proud, Worldly, Indulgent, Reckless+1d6 Damage
Table of Ideals

Look at how common damage bonuses are. Compare British Christian to Roman Christian. The British benefit is much better, and is also – more subtly – easier to acquire, because the beginning traits of starting characters match up better.

The Chivalry bonus is better then everything (with the possible exception of Germanic Pagan, aka Wotanic, though its religious traits make that one tricky!).

Why this problem exists

The reason for this is pretty simple. In the very first edition of Pendragon, there was no british Christian religion, Chivalry gave no benefit, and Roman Christian give +3 Armour.

Under that scheme, Chivalrty was woth glory (and 100 glory per year is good!) and the Roman Christian benefit was very powerful, leading many players to try to get it and becoming more traditionally “pure”.

With the next edition, several changes were made:

  • Chivalry was emphasised, gaining Roman Christian’s benefit.
  • British Christianity was introduced, and probably balanced with Roman Christian as it used to be
  • Roman Christianity still existed, but had lost its religious bonous and so needed a new one.

These changes weakened Roman Christianity to irrelevance and made Chivalry a must=have power-house (and remember, it’s still the easiest Ideal to achieve).

Suggested Changes

When I play Pendragon, I don’t use the same scheme as presented here. I do change thiongs from time to time, but I mainly restore Roman Christianity as it was. That leaves Chivalry:

Either of these two methods have worked for me:

  • use it exactly is it was originally. It gives no bonus but the Glory – which is itself a powerful bonus.
  • Give 1 hit point per 10 traits, if you qualify (that starts at +10 and can be much higher). This is fine because hit point bonuses can be noticeable, but are easily eaten away. I like this benefit.

What About British Christian

For cpmpatility wiuth this rule, I assume all Christians get 3 points to distribute between damage and armour. So, British Christian would get +2 Damage and +1 Armour. The Book of Knights & ladies has several moe christian religions (lie Arian Christianity), and i look att hose to calculate their new ideals.

In The Future

In a future post, I’ll talk about another ideal I introduced, the True Knight. I’ve seen this has some popularity in other people’s games, especially those that spend a lot of time in the Uther and Anarchy periods, so it’s wiorth describing.

There’ll be other house rules to talk about, but also methods of running adventures ans campaigns. Pendragon is an unusual campaign, and needs players and GMs to handle it a little differently.

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