Re: Greg Stafford's Pendragon
Dude, I was in school for a really long time. Happens when you change grad programs twice....
The thing that springs first to mind is the first time I played the Heart Blade adventure from "Blood and Lust."
The Heart Blade is an adventure where a PC knight falls in mutual love with a beautiful heiress -- a goal of any smart player knight -- and as they go to get married, she's kidnapped by an evil knight. As part of this there are quests, witches, a magical sword dedicated to love that is going to be turned to serving hate, true love, giants, revenge... it's like the Princess Bride but serious.
Anyway, at the end of the adventure the PCs come in with their quests done, but fail to sway an important NPC (his brother was being held hostage and they couldn't get him past his Love: Family passion to follow his Honor passion), and as a result in the huge final fight... fail to save the fiancée. She dies bleeding in her lover's arms, swearing to him that this is not the end.
Everyone was a little devastated, as we'd mostly to that point played the kind of games where either there was no true love in peril, or the true love in peril would of course be saved. The players were also a bit startled by the way the Traits and Passions system had played out across the adventure, making NPCs (and their own characters) take actions that you might not have expected -- people caught between love, honor, vengeance, and loyalty doing the kinds of fucked up, irrational things that characters in the source literature do.
Anyway, the knights live on, they move on to the next year's adventure and have a really bad year of getting their ass kicked. The PC whose fiancée died is despondent and is out riding near the lake on his lands one night, when an apparition of his dead fiancée rises out of the water and begs him to come with her to the land beneath the waves where they can be together. The player can't decide if he should trust her or not, and we end up rolling some Traits.. and in the end he doesn't go, and she retreats into the lake weeping.
For the rest of the character's life he was never sure if it was her or not, and if he should have gone with her. His bitterness grew until he finally ended up in a small-scale war with the NPC who wouldn't help him in the first adventure, and ruined his family and reputation in doing so. In the end he ended up working with Mordred, because he was promised help in defeating his enemies, and became one of the men who rode against Arthur in the last battle.