You’ve probably heard by now that the Illuminerdy are going to be at Gen Con Indy this year, and that we’re bringing a few games to share with you. One of those games is based on a short piece from a few months ago called Avalon Mesa, a pulpy mash-up of the Arthurian legendarium and an equally mythic version of the American Old West. When trying to take the Avalon Mesa out of a (very) short piece of fiction into game territory, the first step was really identifying characters. How do you recast King Arthur and his kights (and the surrounding cast of wizards and villains) as part of a slightly supernatural Weird Western, all while staying true to the feel of both sets of source material?
Getting Arthur right was probably the most important thing we could do to communicate some key expectations for the Avalon Mesa setting (and I really hope we did), but there are a few other characters that are also important. Characters who, when you see them, instantly tell you you’re just not in Kansas anymore. If you have a King Arthur, you really need a Lancelot, too. Lancelot’s a complicated figure, especially in modern retellings of the Arthurian legends. He’s Arthur’s best warrior and closest friend, and also his betrayer. This Lancelot hasn’t quite made it that far down the trail, but there are seeds of that here. If Arthur wears the stereotypical white hat (maybe with a gold hatband that more than subtly suggests a crown), Lance Franks is wearing something darker. Maybe not black, but definitely gray.
(for Savage Worlds)
Attributes: Agility d10, Strength d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d4, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Guts d6, Intimidation d8, Notice d6, Riding d6, Shooting d10, Throwing d4
Traits: Pace 6, Parry 6, Toughness 6, Charisma 2
Hindrances: Greedy (Will take what he wants at any cost), Overconfident (Believes he can do anything, accepts all challengers), Vengeful (Seeks to right all perceived wrongs against him)
Edges: Attractive (Charisma bonus), Quick (Redraw any initiative card of 5 or lower), Two Fisted (Ignore action penalty for firing two weapons)
Gear: Horse and saddle, canteen, spit-shined black boots, 2 Starr revolvers, straight razor, shaving mirror, calf-skin gloves
You’re not a hero; you’re the guy who gets the job done. Oh sure, you know you can outdraw and outshoot anybody on the frontier, but that don’t mean you’ve gotta wait for iron to clear some cowpoke’s holster before you put him in his place, permanently. Lead beats the law around these parts. The way it ought to be.
You still think you could have won that fight in Atlanta on your own, but you still feel like you owe Arthur Britton more than a little for pulling your bacon out of the fire. Honestly, you admire the man’s moral character, but you’re not afraid to tell him the difference between temperance and weakness.
Thinking back, you’re not sure you’ve ever seen old Martin Ambrose draw iron, or even throw a punch in anger. But he always seems to be in the thick of trouble, especially when it’s got something to do with Arthur. You might not believe in much, but you know enough to respect your elders. If nothing else, Martin is that.
You’ve always liked a spirited girl, but you’ll be damned if Kay Roman might have a little too much spirit, even for you. Sure, she’s got curves in all the right places, but she ain’t no lady. Besides, you’ve seen her knock a prizefighter out cold…when she was drunk, and he wasn’t. Best to keep your distance.
You’d never admit it, but Pale Horn scares you. He’s a savage – barely more than an animal, in your estimation. But animals can be dangerous, especially when they’re wounded, and you know Pale Horn carries more than a few scars. It honestly galls you that Arthur treats the brave like an equal, but as long as Pale Horn stays out of your way, you’ll stay out of his.
Percival Kingfisher is just a kid, but he’s a kid who’s survived some tough times out here on the frontier: in every way that matters, that makes him a man. You don’t approve of the others mollycoddling him, and you take particular delight in helping the kid understand how the world really works. Arthur and Martin are trying to keep him on the straight and narrow, but you know that’s no way to really live.