Monday, June 4, 2018

Yvain, or, The Knight with the Lion As OSR Campaign Setting Fodder For Your Old School Games

I haven't put fingers to key board since this morning & work has had me moving from one thing to another. But I've been neglecting the Lion & Dragon rpg for a bit now but I wanted to get into the Welsh Arthurian literature for a bit. Everything I love about Welsh Arthurian literature is here in spades. The other worldly influences are striking as they are weird in their execution. This is a perfect piece to demonstrate the conflict that knights would have in a familial conflict. The tale of "Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain" really shows the dangers of domain level play for PC's in old school adventures.

" Chrétien de Troyes's 12th-century romance Yvain, or, The Knight with the Lion and all of its adaptations, which include the Welsh tale of Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain and the German epic Iwein by Hartmann von Aue. Usually known as the Lady of the Fountain, she becomes the wife of the poem's protagonist, Yvain, one of the knights of King Arthur's Round Table, after he kills her husband, but later spurns the knight-errant when he neglects her for heroic adventure, only to take him back in the end."

Owain Departs from Landine, by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

"Chrétien calls her "la dame de Landuc", i.e. the noblewoman in command of the territory and castle of "Landuc", located near a supernatural fountain within the enchanted forest of Brocéliande. The lady Laudine's fountain, which magically generated a powerful storm when its water was poured into a nearby basin, was guarded by her husband, Esclados the Red, until his defeat by Yvain. After learning about his cousin Calogrenant's encounter with Esclados, in which the former was attacked and beaten for using the well to create a storm, Yvain took revenge on behalf of his kinsman by slaying Esclados in combat. He then followed the mortally wounded warrior back to the castle, where he fell instantly in love with his victim's widow. Though distraught over her husband's death, Laudine was convinced by her vassals (especially her servant and confidante Lunete) to marry Yvain to ensure the protection of her lands."
The Celtic Otherworld is loud in this tale & we get a real sense that these people have stepped into the shoes of a far older race. The land itself is inherently charged with occult energies & the old gods are waiting just around every tree. Romans have only recently gone & all throughout the tale their lingering presence still echoes.

Yvain rescues the lion from the dragon, (French, 15th century)

"When Yvain was invited to pursue knightly exploits with Gauvain (Gawain), Laudine did not want him to go, but relented when he promised to return after a set number of days. She provided her husband with a magic ring that protected true lovers from bodily harm and warned him not to be late; but Yvain, caught up in his chivalric quests, failed to come home on the agreed upon day. Laudine had a messenger retrieve her ring and inform her absent husband that he was not allowed back. After a resultant period of madness (spent as a wild man in the woods), Yvain engaged in a new series of adventures, fighting to aid others (such as the lion that gave him his nickname) rather than gain glory for himself, and eventually proved himself to Laudine, who accepted her husband back into her castle.
In the 13th-century Welsh tale of Owain, one of the Three Welsh Romances associated with the Mabinogion, the corresponding character is left unnamed, known only by her title: Lady, or Countess, of the Fountain. Her first husband is referred to as the Black Knight."

Gauvain (Gawain) is your proto typical adventurer knight egging on his friend & partner with  Laudine providing the family artifact that belonged to the Elves of old. Then there's Esclados the Red whose a whole separate blog entry unto himself. But Yvain himself & his family have a shed load of potential to them. The  enchanted forest of Brocéliande 
is one that I've used in countless games to link up with other OSR campaign settings. The wood is a perfect territory for knights, warriors, & adventurers to take a hand to really thin out some of the monsters that come through the old Elven gate way systems. 

Yvain, the Knight of the Lion
"Yvain’s origins are Celtic: Yvain is a form of Owain, who according to Chrétien's source commanded an army known as "The Ravens" in the sixth century, and with his father Urien, a historic king of the border district of Rheged, acquitted himself so valiantly against the Angles that King Arthur awarded him the kingdom of Scotland. Both Owain's and Urien's names were preserved in Welsh folklore. In the earlier legends Urien wooed and won the fairy of a fountain, who, with her friends, would take the form of an army of ravens to assist her son Owain in battle. As the legend was retold over the centuries, Owain supplanted his father as the wooer of "the Lady of the Fountain," whose traditional name Laudine is derived from the Latin name of Scotland."Chrétien de Troyes. Yvain; or, The Knight with the Lion. Translated by Ruth Harwood Cline. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1985. pp. xiii-xiv. ISBN 978-0-8203-4055-5

Shades of Norse lore indeed folks & it all circles round into the back history of the knights of this land. The
Chrétien de Troyes's 12th-century romance Yvain, or, The Knight with the Lion and all of its adaptations, which include the Welsh tale of Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain" show exactly how a small area of the Welsh literature is ripe with OSR & old school campaign potential. 

Six Reasons Why
Yvain, or, The Knight with the Lion
Works OSR Campaign Fodder 

  1. This literature is not weld known to even old school players & dungeon masters making it perfect for dungeon masters wanting to give more mythological depth to their campaigns. 
  2. The family of Yvain is perfect PC fodder for an adventurer's family background from the ground up. The PC has roots in the area so when their killed their brothers or cousins may inherit their equipment 
  3. Dark Secrets there are several pieces of supernatural or occult background that can add family secrets. 
  4. Lots of crossover potential with other OSR gaming system worlds & settings. 
  5. The perfect locations to add in a 'forgotten treasure' or as the base of operations for a heretic chaos cult. 
  6. Authentic Arthurian material to add to existing games to bring in the history of the Arthurian from another perspective into OSR games

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