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Honor

I actually dislike mechanical solutions for a lot of roleplaying actions, but I still try to use the game system to interpret them. It’s pretty hard to judge how to value a lot of things. Here’s one effort to sort of quantify social consequences, as expressed in Pendragon terms.

Contents

The Honor Stat
Honor Loss
Disobedience
Honor Regained: Apology

The Honor Stat

Honor is personal to each individual. Once lost, it can not be regained. It is a man’s trustworthiness in a world without written contracts. It answers one question: does he keep his promises? Does he keep oaths? And this includes his promises to his liege lord (through homage and fealty), to his society (marriage and inheritance, responsibility to vassals and commoners), to his friends, spirituality to God, to a Church), the institution of knighthood (class affinity, chivalry) and anything else he swears (Romance vows, heroic ventures, etc.). To break that word is bad.

In the sources material, men are either Honorable or are not. It’s like virginity or pregnancy: you either are or are not; there is no part way.

What, then, does the Honor stat represent?

Dishonor comes from deeds. However, just doing something bad doesn’t provoke angels to fly down and yank off your spurs. We see bad knights at court who have done shady things, or even dishonorable things. For instance, we find Sir Gaheris at court after he murdered his mother. We need look no farther than Mordred. Also, a man may have segmented Honor—“He treats women dishonorably”—that does not entirely disqualify his Honor.

Thus we see that degrees of dishonor seem to exist.

Knights can accumulate a bad reputation, though, as knowledge of their questionable activities spreads. Gossip can be dismissed or ignored, but true actions (things done) erode the trust that’s at the heart of Honor.

That erosion is the diminishment of the Honor passion.

It requires two things: 1. To have done something dishonorable; 2. That deed to be known.

So, what then Honor measure? It is the measure of public condemnation—it is the gray zone between being fully trusted and not. It measures the public leniency that people give to someone who is slipping away into moral condemnation.

Secret deeds

Strictly speaking, deeds that are unknown do not fulfill the requirement to lose Honor. Strictly speaking, a knight has his public Honor and a secret cache of sins ready to burst into open. His personal Honor, empowered by guilt over doing bad things, would be Public Honor minus Secret Guilt.

But in truth, it’s not worth an extra rule in the core book. If a player wants to tote around a big bag of guilt, I say go for it and make it part of the story.

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Honor Loss

It’s impossible to quantify everything a player knight might do, but GMs will have an intuitive measure of importance. My guidelines are, more or less:

1 point: for a minor offense (puking at a royal feast, calling someone by the wrong name, ambiguous comment in public about some virtue, being scolded at Camelot by Sir Kay for the first time)

2-3 points: something that matters (insult, being proven to have lied to your liege)

5+ points: something important (disobey direct order from liege, serious insult, seduce a noble woman, something that damages old friendships, etc.)

10 points: (it affected relations between two counties, publicly embarrassed the count, caused a battle to be lost)

Remember, too, that different people weigh things differently, and what is a tiny thing to one man can be monumental to another. Arbitrary? Yep.

Dishonorable Acts, KAP page 76

I currently think that these are all rather weak, and include it here for comparison.

One Point Lost
Attacking an unarmed knight, Cowardice, Desertion from battle or military service, Plundering a holy place of your religion

Two Points Lost
Killing an unarmed holy person of your religion; Killing, kidnapping, or raping a noblewoman, Performing physical labor, Lending money at a profit.

Three Points
Flagrant cowardice, Breaking an oath

Five Points
Treason (against your lord), Treachery against a member of your family

Six Points
Killing a kinsman.

Eight Points
Casting magical spells

Ten Points
Degradation (character loses the status of a knight).

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Disobedience

Disobedience costs passion and honor. Total obedience is the standard of behavior, deeply imbedded in the system of loyalty and vassalage. Knights obey their lords (as long as the lord obeys his end of the bargain).

If a knight deliberately disobeys his lord’s orders, he gets a check to Reckless. If he is notably Prudent, he can disobey only by failing a Prudent roll, act Reckless and get a check to that.

Honor Loss

See the section above.

Loyalty Loss

Attempt a Loyalty (Lord) roll. If he has no Loyalty to the offended party he loses none.

Critical success = Lose 2 points of the Loyalty
Success = Lose 1 point of the Loyalty
Failure = Lose 1 point of the Loyalty
Fumble = Lose 2 points of the Loyalty

Yes, that is intentional: you lose more for both a critical or a fumble result. Guilt is terrible.

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Honor Regained: Apologies

Normal apologies, according to the norms of the time, are known by everyone. They can resolve differences and regain Honor lost for disobedience.

For a little thing: public apology. With a bow, the offender admits his guilt; the offence is acknowledged and an apology extended to the offended party. If it is publicly accepted, forgiveness is granted (and Honor point regained). Both parties get checks for Modest and Courtesy.

For something that matters: public humbling. Kneeling, the offender admits what he did, states what that offense was, and asks to speak with the offended party. He submits quietly to scathing personal remarks from the offended party, for which he acknowledges responsibility, expresses grief over it and its consequences, and asks to be forgiven. If he is, then he regains the lost Honor. The guilty party gets checks to: Modest, Forgiving, courtesy.

For something really important: public humiliation. Prone, the offender admits to being worthless and begs for mercy. He submits quietly to scathing personal remarks and physical blows from the offended party, expresses grief, apologizes, promises anything and begs some more. Something must generally be lost: money, gifts, favors, etc. Churches scourge offenders here. If (after all this) mercy is granted then the offender regains the lost Honor. The formerly guilty party gets checks to: Modest, Forgiving, Courtesy. The forgiving party gets checks to Forgiving and Generous.

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