Brant Guillory, 20 July 2023 ~ #UnboxingDay
Chaosium’s Pendragon is one of the best marriages of system and underlying material in RPG history, and the fact that it’s on the sixth edition is a testament to its staying power almost 40 years later.
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Hey look! It’s a box! We should “un” it!
The always-useful “what’s in the box” sheet to greet the new player, and provide some context to all the goodies you’re about to leaf through
Oh look! All the goodies we’re about to leaf through. As a note, there are a great many similarities between this starter set and the Runequest starter set we cracked into back in November. Whether it’s the “what’s in the box” cover letter, or the gate-fold character sheets, or the back covers of the books forming a consolidated map, this set follows an established pattern. That’s not a bad thing.
The three core books, and their back covers forming a shared map. Unlike the Runequest set, however, there isn’t a single-sheet version of that big map, which is unfortunate given how nice it looks.
Book one is a choose-your-own-adventure style solo quest, that eases the player into the rules and pageantry of the Pendragon system.
Book two – hey look, there’s the whole map1 – provides the rules, and acts as your reference while playing.
The last book includes a longer campaign, with notes and advice for GMs, character stat blocks, and thematic artwork.
Separate appendices are grabbed as needed during the game, and the battle cards are used for mass combat.
I’m still not 100% sure why Chaosium when with this character sheet format. It would be one thing if the paper was thick enough to stand on its own so that each player had a screened area with their hidden vs open information. But they aren’t. And while most of the game info is on the inside, what’s the point of the outside if it’s face-down on the table the entire time you’re playing?
In any case, the characters give you a range of thematically-appropriate options2 that you can pick up and run with out of the box, which is exactly what a starter set needs.
Overall, it’s very well-produced on ramp for the Pendragon system, and the romance of the Arthurian legends are sure to draw some new players who will find this a nice entry point.
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With trembling hands and eager zeal,
I unbox a wargame with great appeal.
Countless components I behold,
Strategies yet to unfold,
In this box, a battlefield surreal!