Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Excalibur (1981)


I watched Excalibur this weekend, for the first time in 15 or so years, and now that I think about it, perhaps the first time in which it wasn't cut up or edited for TV. That, along with advancing age, lended me a better viewing.

It was a very 'fey' movie - the visuals and the 'green lighting' gave an ethereal quality to the whole thing. The structure of the movie, with these 3 or so "acts" broken up without a lot of segue, give a sort of feeling that you're scrying on these events from afar, skipping ahead to the parts that matter.

It was based heavily on Le Morte d'Arthur, which I'm not sure I've read - T.H. White's The Once and Future King had been my go-to as a youth for Arthurian legend.

Nicol Williamson put on a great performance as Merlin - he adopted this odd sing-song cadence on occasion that made you think that, somewhere under that cap, there was this powerful mad wizard barely keeping it together to make this whole kingdom-establishing plan work.

As the movie progressed I started thinking about how I'd present this under a DND-esque system. I recall 2E had Birthright, which (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) had some of this concept of the liege of the land being connected to said land.

While the ruler is hale, happy, and active, the land thrives. In ACKS terms, we'd increase the income from each hex. Perhaps the kingdom would expand itself, and hexes would become "cleared" of their own accord - the Chaos receding against the light of civilization on it's own.

Conversely, when the ruler is haggard, his wife is cheating on him with his best friend and champion, and maybe his half-sister tricked him into getting her with child, the kingdom contracts, the outer hexes turning to borderlands, then to wilderness. Settlements falter, and are abandoned, and Chaos comes ever closer.

There's a fully realized system in there somewhere for someone who wants to do it. I wouldn't want to run it without computer support - I'm seeing a system where you're tracking morale-per-hex and cascading morale events around related hexes as events conspire.

And that's too much for paper.

A slightly connected thought I had - I was trying to determine Merlin's closest class equivalent. Assume with me, for the moment, we're running a campaign using the rules of the system I just proposed, where the health of the king is the health of the land.

I posit Merlin would be a Druid under such a system - that the most balanced and peaceful land, for both man and nature, would be one under the divine protection of a strong king, and that druids in that campaign world would be striving to keep that idyllic, peaceful kingdom as large as possible. As Merlin intimated that his time in the world (and the time of all his kind in the face of the coming of the "One God", as he put it) was at an end, a last-ditch effort to use primal powers to ensure a bright future would be something one would go all-in on.

Morgana, of course, is all wizard. Went bad as soon as she could.

Something something Helen Mirren vs. Eva Green, we all win, etc.
(did anyone else watch Starz' Camelot?)


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