The Great Pendragon Campaign
Gameplay is very smooth, with some interesting mechanical twists that further the role play. The game has been built specifically for play in this genre. New players can master the system in one or two sessions.
My style is to bend the game towards the player characters and their preferences. If there is a bias towards combat, or towards court and intrigue, I will bias the sessions accordingly. If there is a good mix, then play sessions will mix it up. There are occasions where the action will be out of the hands of players – in order to advance the overall timeline, large battles, important births and deaths etc, but for those occasions I will mostly use this portal to convey the story. When we get together, character choices will be meaningful and have consequences.
There is a decent review here.
The game plays mostly in theatre of the mind style, and is fast and flowing. Actual play sessions will vary between actions at court, travel, battles, (later tournaments), and sundry adventures.
Essentially, it is a skill-based system, roll under the skill number to succeed – equal the skill and it is a critical.
Opposed checks (such as combat) would have both roll. If both succeed, the higher success wins, but partial success (you roll under your skill, but the number is less than your opponents) usually has some benefit – such as getting your shield in the way.
Where is gets really interesting is in the Traits and Passions. Traits are basically moral charactersitics, in opposed pairs, like Lusty and Chaste, or Valourous and Cowardly. These trait pairs must total 20. When acting one way or the other, you may occasionally need or want to succeed in a roll to behave the way you desire. For example, a Knight with valourous 16 (cowardly 4) may wish to flee an opponent. He would have to successfully roll a 4 or less on a d20 to run away. His cowardly trait may then increase by 1 (depending on circumstances).
Passions are straight numbers that indicate how strongly you feel about certain things. For example, you will start with a Love of family, Loyalty to your Lord, and Hate of Saxons. If something comes up in game which may affect one of these passions (someone casts a grave insult on your family, for example), you may attempt a passion roll. A simple success will make you “inspired”, and give you a significant bonus (+10) on an appropriate skill for the remainder of an encounter. Failure leaves you disheartened (-5 to all rolls in the situaltion) and then melancholic thereafter.