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Lost In The Wood

Leonard & Ann Marie Wilson

Wilsonshire Pendragon Mods: The Resolution-Bonus Chart

Here’s the first and most important house rule I made to make Pendragon playable with an over-achieving player: the resolution-bonus chart.

The number one thing that makes the game’s rules fragile is the over-20 resolution-roll bonuses. Grab yourself a sword (so that it doesn’t break on a tied roll), pump your skill up to 20 (which you can do before your character ever enters play, if you like), then take off your armor, and fight defensively. You’ll be criticaling 80% of your combat rolls. Since you’re fighting defensively, you’ll only be doing normal damage on a critical, but the important bit here is when you’re criticaling, your opponent is absolutely not hitting you. And if he manages to roll a critical at the same time and he’s not wielding a sword, you’ll break his weapon in the bargain.

Provided your luck holds until you’ve acquired another 4,000 glory, your sword skill will now be 24. That means that under normal conditions you’ll critical every combat roll.

From there, you fight your way valiantly through another 5,000 glory (or less, if you’re fortunate with experience checks), and you’ve got a sword skills of 29. That means you could put be getting the same results even with your armor on.

After that, if you’ve been pursuing glory with single-minded aggression, there’s a good chance you’re still young enough to have a solid adventuring career ahead of you to take advantage of that. With a 29 sword skill at your disposal, you could plausibly make that another 10,000 glory to bring that skill up to 39.

At this point, you’re golden, criticaling every combat round in which you don’t suffer a penalty, regardless of the tactics you use. Who cares if you’re aging and your stats are going downhill now? Get out there and quest relentlessly, using that flawless sword skill to rack up glory like points on a pinball machine. Maybe boost your sword skill up to 49, so you can fight surrounded by enemies and still keep your guaranteed critical strike against every one of them. Or try to perfect your lance skill so that you can win every joust on the tournament circuit for still more glory. When the dust clears, your younger sons may be able to start their careers with that 24 sword skill on the day that they’re knighted, and who knows what wonders they’ll be able to accomplish with that?

Certainly the strategy is not without risks, but this is a high-mortality game anyway, so what’s there to lose by taking some chances on the road to invincibility? The point is, by focusing on the mathematical realities that piling all the bonuses past 20 you can scrape together = winning combats; and that winning combats = glory = more past-20 bonuses = winning more combats; you can conquer the game, spoil everybody’s fun, and get pelted with all the dice you can eat before you get voted off the isle of Britain.

The resolution-bonus chart is my fix to this. Total up the character’s skill with all his situational bonuses, compare the result to the chart, and you get the bonus he’ll actually add to his die roll. Because each successive plus becomes more difficult to earn, you reach a point of diminishing returns, where even the most ravenous combat-monsters will stop pouring all their glory bonuses into the same weapon. They’ll also stop using stupid tactics reaching for a guaranteed critical. And because even Lancelot will now only critical about a third of the time in the joust, maybe your over-achieving player will be okay with that.

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