A Matter of Britain
COMBAT FOR LOVE OR CONQUEST
Knights may decide to undertake combat “for love” or “for conquest.” If the former, both knights must agree to the terms, or else the combat is for conquest by default.
“For Love” means that the knights will fight for the love of fighting, and not for personal gain. Thus, when there is a friendly joust, the winner receives the Glory for winning, but nothing else. Fellows of the Round Table are always expected to joust and fight one another for love.
“For Conquest” is more serious. This combat is hostile, roughly equivalent to an act of war. This does not always mean that it ends in death, but it well might. Similarly, the loser in the struggle is not always held for ransom, but he may be. Alternatively, and more popularly, the winner seizes the loser’s horse, weapons, and armor as his reward, and lets the man go.
Some vile knights will come to fight for conquest, but accept no ransoms, preferring to keep the prisoners in shameful imprisonment. Such villains include the Saxon Sir Carados of the Dolorous Tower, his brother Sir Turquine, and others.
A primary activity of all the famous knights during Arthur’s time is to adventure. Adventuring, in fact, is the activity that sets famous knights apart from those lesser knights who stay at home and acquire Glory passively (i.e., while out of play).
Adventuring is recognized as a legitimate knightly duty by the Arthurian court, one every bit as important as one’s duty to stand garrison and serve an active 40 days in the field. Most knights do not take the job, though. For them, the everyday activities of guard duty, tournaments, and battles are enough to satisfy their sense of adventure. Other knights (like the player knights, we hope), seek more and thus undertake dangerous and glorious quests.
Most of the lords of Logres are in favor of this new “sport” of adventuring, and are happy to oblige those knights who wish to engage in it. The lull of peace following Arthur’s rise leaves castles full of boisterous fighters with nothing to fight. Adventuring sends the knights to work off their energy elsewhere, perhaps far away from Logres. Undoubtedly, the lord hopes that the questing knights’ vigor will arouse something from his other less enthusiastic knights, as well.
Adventures abound. Even stay-at-home knights have a few adventures as part of their routine, without having to go far to seek them out. Such adventures include going to tournaments, participating in battles, engaging in romance, visiting unusual sites, and encountering unusual beings.
Questing: If knighthood is the heart of Pendragon, questing is its soul. A quest includes adventures, but not all adventures are quests. A quest is a protracted series of adventures that must also include the following elements to qualify as such: going to an unknown place, encountering something mysterious or unusual, facing unusual dangers, and facing death. Quests must, by definition, occur in strange lands where High Adventure and opportunity wait to test the neat ideals of the heartland of civilization.
To go on a quest, a knight must request a leave from their normal duties to their lord. On a quest, as in any enterprise, a knight represents not only himself, but also his lord, so the lord will agree to send only individuals whom he will not have to bail out of trouble, or who will not bring shame or dishonor to him. A time limit is often imposed on absentee time for questing. The proverbial “year and a day” is a good starting time period. At the end of the leave period, the knight must return to court and report the results of his activities. In time, as a knight gains repute, the leave may be considerably longer, and sometimes even indefinite, particularly if it is assigned for a specific task.
Of course, questing is also a “metagaming conceit,” the best excuse for player knights to wander the roads and trails of Britain.