Friday, March 23, 2018

The Legendary Legacy of The Knight of the Yellow Pentacle For Your Old School Games

"Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table, accepts a challenge from a mysterious "Green Knight" who challenges any knight to strike him with his axe if he will take a return blow in a year and a day. Gawain accepts and beheads him with his blow, at which the Green Knight stands up, picks up his head, and reminds Gawain of the appointed time."
So I've been going over & over my notes of Arthurian literature & mythology constructing this campaign setting for the Lion & Dragon rpg clone system. I've also been concentrating on one of the latest & yet mostly forgotten knights of Camelot. This knight's family continues the traditions of Camelot & their fight against the powers of Chaos. Because Lion & Dragon is a medieval authentic system it closes gap for a wide range of OD&D & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. 

Sir Gwain is the one knight whose adventures find him against the games of Fairyland, the powers of Camelot, & on various otherworldly journeys including the quest for the Holy Grail. Yet his family not only survives but goes on to thrive after the death of Camelot after the powers of the Fey conquer it.

"Gawain (English: /ɡəˈwn/, Welsh: [ˈɡawain]; also called Gwalchmei, Gualguanus, Gauvain, Walwein, etc.) is King Arthur's nephew and a Knight of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend. Under the name Gwalchmei, he appears very early in the legend's development, being mentioned in some of the earliest Welsh Arthurian sources.
He is one of a select number of Round Table members to be referred to as one of the greatest knights, most notably in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. He is almost always portrayed as the son of Arthur's sister Morgause (or Anna) and King Lot of Orkney and Lothian, and his brothers are Agravain, Gaheris, Gareth, and Mordred. He was well known to be the most trustworthy friend of Sir Lancelot.[1] In some works, Sir Gawain has sisters as well. According to some legends, he would have been the true and rightful heir to the throne of Camelot, after the reign of King Arthur."

Gwain is the son of Arthur's sister Morgause (or Anna) and King Lot of Orkney and Lothian. Both of these lands of Orkney and Lothian both have hard core  brushes with Chaos in the form of the giant races. These races were servants of the Elves left over from the pre Biblical Flood.
"There are also accounts of giants in the Old Testament. Some of these are called Nephilim, a word often translated as giant although this translation is not universally accepted. They include Og King of Bashan, the Nephilim, the Anakim, and the giants of Egypt mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:23. The first mention of the Nephilim is found in Genesis 6:4; attributed to them are extraordinary strength and physical proportion"

When I mention Elves here I'm not talking about the traditional Dungeons & Dragons Elves. I'm speaking of the Elves of  Fairy Tales, mythology, the former gods, etc. The races of elves of original Dungeons & Dragons racial fame are merely the former slaves of the Elves along with the other OD&D races.

Original Dungeons  Dragons's  Gods, Demi Gods & Heroes Robert Kuntz and James M. Ward gives a bunch of options for giants in the vein of classic mythology.

"As a general rule, giants are among the most magically gifted beings in all Norse mythology. Fire
and Frost giants have the ability to change shape, polymorph objects, control weather to a certain
extent, use illusions (count 10% as solely illusionists) and use fire and cold respectively.
Another interesting characteristic is that these giants are not stupid as legend often informs us
that they are. Also, some of them equal the gods for beauty. Listed among the other giants that
reside in Jotunheim (Giantland) are Storm giants. Rock giants and Stone giants, though these
groups are not as banded together as the Fire or Frost giants are. Giants have class H treasures.
If not detailed, giants take 100 Points of Damage and their armor class is 3."

The giants Fafner and Fasolt seize Freyja in Arthur Rackham's
illustration of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Sir Gwain's family has some of the last major interactions & battle with chaos during the Arthurian push. Sir Gwain & The Green Knight, is a saga which traces down the familial patriarchal battle with what some believe is the Green man. I don't think so. What you're really looking at is Sir Gwain's battle with one of the major arch devils or perhaps Satan himself.
"Given the varied and even contradictory interpretations of the colour green, its precise meaning in the poem remains ambiguous. In English folklore and literature, green was traditionally used to symbolise nature and its associated attributes: fertility and rebirth. Stories of the medieval period also used it to allude to love and the base desires of man.[34][35] Because of its connection with faeries and spirits in early English folklore, green also signified witchcraft, devilry and evil. It can also represent decay and toxicity.[36] When combined with gold, as with the Green Knight and the girdle, green was often seen as representing youth's passing.[37] In Celtic mythology, green was associated with misfortune and death, and therefore avoided in clothing.[38] The green girdle, originally worn for protection, became a symbol of shame and cowardice; it is finally adopted as a symbol of honour by the knights of Camelot, signifying a transformation from good to evil and back again; this displays both the spoiling and regenerative connotations of the colour green. "
"Scholars have puzzled over the Green Knight's symbolism since the discovery of the poem. He could be a version of the Green Man, a mythological being connected with nature in medieval art, a Christian symbol, or the Devil himself. British medieval scholar C. S. Lewis said the character was "as vivid and concrete as any image in literature" and J. R. R. Tolkien said he was the "most difficult character" to interpret in Sir Gawain. His major role in Arthurian literature is that of a judge and tester of knights, thus he is at once terrifying, friendly, and mysterious.[38] He appears in only two other poems: The Greene Knight and King Arthur and King Cornwall.[39][40] Scholars have attempted to connect him to other mythical characters, such as Jack in the green of English tradition and to Al-Khidr,[41] but no definitive connection has yet been established."

This is where the interactions with the covens & cults of Chaos in Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos come from. There has been a subversion of the orders of the supernatural since the upheaval of the Romans in Britain. Many powers of Fairyland itself have been taking full advantage of the circumstances to step into the gaps in worship to replace the natural order.

Even Sir Gwain isn't immune to the effects of Chaos as parts of his extended families. That's right families plural whose touch of the supernatural or otherworldly isn't lightly brushed away.
" He has, however, been connected to more than one woman in the course of Arthurian literature.[32] In the alliterative Middle-English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Bertilak's wife flirts with him. In the aforementioned The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle, he marries the cursed Ragnelle, and in giving her "sovereignty" in the relationship, lifts the spell laid upon her that had given her a hag-like appearance.[33] He is also associated with a vague supernatural figure in various tales. The hero of Le Bel Inconnu is the progeny of Gawain and a fairy called Blancemal, and in the Marvels of Rigomer, Gawain is rescued by the fay, Lorie.[29][34] In the German tale Wizalois, the mother of his son is known as Florie, who is likely another version of the Lorie of Rigomer. In her earliest incarnations, Gawain's love is either the princess or queen of the Otherworld."
Gwain in fact has children with those who tend the works & gateways to Fairyland as well as the Otherworld ie the traditional Dungeons & Dragons races.

The power of this otheworldly or occult  influence can be seen in the shield of Gwain but its symbolism is obscure at best.

"The pentangle on Gawain's shield is seen by many critics as signifying Gawain's perfection and power over evil.[47] The poem contains the only representation of such a symbol on Gawain's shield in the Gawain literature. What is more, the poet uses a total of 46 lines in order to describe the meaning of the pentangle; no other symbol in the poem receives as much attention or is described in such detail.[48] The poem describes the pentangle as a symbol of faithfulness and an "endless knot". From lines 640 to 654, the five points of the pentangle relate directly to Gawain in five ways: five senses, his five fingers, his faith found in the five wounds of Christ, the five joys of Mary (whose face was on the inside of the shield) and finally friendship, fraternity, purity, politeness and pity (traits that Gawain possessed around others). In line 625, it is described as "a sign by Solomon". Solomon, the third king of Israel, in the 10th century BC, was said to have the mark of the pentagram on his ring, which he received from the archangel Michael. The pentagram seal on this ring was said to give Solomon power over demons.[49]
Along these lines, some academics link the Gawain pentangle to magical traditions. In Germany, the symbol was called a Drudenfuß and was placed on household objects to keep out evil.[50] The symbol was also associated with magical charms that, if recited or written on a weapon, would call forth magical forces. However, concrete evidence tying the magical pentagram to Gawain's pentangle is scarce".

This same symbolism would come into play with Clark Ashton Smith's Enchantress of Sylaire, The (1941) & Enchantress of Sylaire, The (1941). This means that the symbolism is a very potent weapon against the Frogmen wizards of Dark Albion & Lion & Dragon.

It would also come to foreshadow the events of the war between Gwain & Lancelot along with the coming end of Camelot.

"These glowing portraits of Gawain all but ended with Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, which is based mainly, but not exclusively, on French works from the Vulgate and Post-Vulgate Cycles. Here Gawain partly retains the negative characteristics attributed to him by the later French, and partly retains his earlier positive representations, creating a character seen by some as inconsistent, and by others as a believably flawed hero. Gawain is cited in Robert Laneham's letter describing the entertainments at Kenilworth in 1575,[28] and the recopying of earlier works such as The Greene Knight suggests that a popular tradition of Gawain continued. The Child Ballads include a preserved legend in the positive light, The Marriage of Sir Gawain, a fragmentary version of the story of The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle. He also appears in the rescue of Guinevere and plays a significant role though Lancelot overshadows him. In Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Guinevere is found guilty; however, Lancelot returns to help Guinevere to escape from the castle. But Mordred has sent word to King Arthur; Arthur sends a few knights to capture Lancelot, and Gawain, being a loyal friend to Lancelot, refuses to take part in the mission. The battle between Lancelot and Arthur's knights results in Gawain's two sons and his brothers, except for Mordred, being slain. This begins the estrangement between Lancelot and Gawain, thus drawing Arthur into a war with Lancelot in France. When King Arthur deploys to France, Mordred seizes the throne, and takes conrol of the kingdom. Gawain wages two wars with Mordred and Lancelot. He is mortally wounded in a duel against Lancelot who later lies for two nights weeping at Gawain's tomb. Before his death, Gawain repents of his bitterness towards Lancelot and forgives him, while asking him to join forces with Arthur and save Camelot"

Sir Gwain's war also foreshadows the events of the Thirty Year War long after Arthur has been taken by Fairyland's witches to Avalon. Throughout the sagas of Sir Gwain & Arthurian there are many artifacts & magical treasures. These were items that were thought to have acted as symbols of rulership & statehood for either the Protestant or Catholic forces during the Thirty Year War. During the French intervention and continued Swedish participation (1635–1648) the same ground that was the undoing of Arthur became the focus for the mid point of Europe.
"France, although Roman Catholic, was a rival of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of King Louis XIII of France, considered the Habsburgs too powerful, since they held a number of territories on France's eastern border, including portions of the Netherlands. Richelieu had already begun intervening indirectly in the war in January 1631, when the French diplomat Hercule de Charnacé signed the Treaty of Bärwalde with Gustavus Adolphus, by which France agreed to support the Swedes with 1,000,000 livres each year in return for a Swedish promise to maintain an army in Germany against the Habsburgs. The treaty also stipulated that Sweden would not conclude a peace with the Holy Roman Emperor without first receiving France's approval.

This almost became the tipping point for all of Europe in microcosm of the events of the war. Rape, looting, murder,etc. all were the norm for a moment in France.

A landscape with travelers ambushed outside a small town, painted by Vrancx
Could the tipping point to the forces of the Elves have come from a small band of upper crust adventurers royals Hell bent on stopping the supernatural forces behind their own human pawns?! I know that in my games the legacy of Gwain plays out much later on.  This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sir Gwain.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.