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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for-

Kings. Back in the day the dream was that our characters would one day be kings, real movers and shakers in society. Certainly heroic poetry offers that as a model for a successful adventurer through Beowulf. Becoming a king in our games meant that we'd be crossing the threshold between RPGs and wargames too, and back then we pretty much all loved our wargames. Many of us still do. I remember an epic battle that took place back in the Dempster Mk. II days where the party attempted to overthrow an evil duke, and of course replace him with one of their own. This duke had a castle that sat on an ancient site of evil power and a host of evil minions at his disposal. The party raised an army and laid siege in an epic miniature battle*. I am pretty sure this all took place after Battle System came out, but before any of us had it and none of us kids had ever owned Chainmail. We used miniature mass combat rules for AD&D that I had devised**, along with my friends, over the course of several years leading up to then. They lost that one, but it was hard fought and pretty cool.

The SCA has kings too. I have attempted, unsuccessfully, on several occasions to become King of Aethelmearc. Choosing our royalty by combat is a little strange I guess, but not really the most anachronistic thing about the society. Honestly, I think that kind of gives it a bit of a D&D feel, which I am sure my fellow SCAdians will take issue with. The idea was originally that the winner of the tourney got to crown his lady as "The Queen of Love and Beauty" ostensibly until the next tourney; so I guess that's where the SCA got the idea of crown tourney from.

K is for Knights and knighthood. Often a knighthood is the reward for an adventurer, often in the mid level range where they have started to make a name for themselves and attract the attention of the nobility. Knighthood is kind of their first step up into the ranks of nobility that they will, if they live long enough and are successful enough, join. This of course assumes that your average D&D fighter is NOT of noble birth to begin with, which is easy enough to assume considering they are adventuring to make their way in the world to start with and EGG gave us the secondary skills list in the DMG that doesn't include a lot of noble skills, but rather assumes a lower to middle class upbringing. Pendragon aimed you towards knighthood right out of the gate assuming that all the characters were the sons of minor nobles or knights on their way up; we always started as squires. Later AD&D 1st edition's Cavalier class did pretty much the same thing, but threw them in with the rest of the low born rabble adventuring.

The SCA makes knighthood a lifetime achievement award for fighting. It is the peerage you receive for fighting and that makes it the opposite of historical precedent. Historically knighthoods were granted to young men when they were fully trained fighters. There was a certain amount of variety in who would get knighted based on wealth or social status or time or place, but knighthood itself was the START of a fighter's career. There historically were higher statuses of knighthood you could achieve, such as Banneret, or entry into exclusive orders of knighthood like the Order of the Garter.

K is for Kilts. Strangely, I don't have a lot of kilted people in my D&D games. I have one specific area where the kilt is the primary male garb, but mostly the PCs never wind up going there. That said, as a man of Scottish Highland descent I can tell you that the kilt is an excellent garment to wear. I wore my first kilt to high school for St. Andrew's day my senior year, so that would have been November of '86. I was totally bad-ass and rocked it. Chicks were totally into it and the guys were envious. Word of warning though, if you wear a kilt it is traditional to go "regimental" or without underpants, for some reason wearing a kilt means that people will feel free to check. Often. Make sure you are comfortable with your junk going randomly on display or wear underpants.

My apologies, I had intended a longer K section today but I have simply run out of time. I've had quite a full day, so perhaps on Sunday I will revisit K and finish it properly.

*So epic that we didn't have enough miniatures between everyone in the group combined to represent all of the forces present and we were forced to make counters for many of the forces. The party Barbarian Osric had called his horde which led to a great many Barbarian counters needing to be created. Darryl C. and I spent 2 days making counters for this battle and he wasn't even a regular player in that campaign.

**Those rules started out as a simple way of just fighting battles on a table-top with pretty much every miniature we owned. Different races had different abilities, like Dwarves were slower but tougher and had better resistance to magical attacks. Mostly it was a dumbed down fast paced D&D combat that would be fun for both me and my wargamer/role-player buddies and my little brother and his friends who were about a decade younger than us. Clearly, I had some simple core rules and added more complex optional rules based on who was playing.