Here I’ve created King Arthur, ready to be used as a PC or NPC in your own campaign.
Arthur was born Lucius Artorius Aurelianus, part of the Romano-British population that remained following the exodus of the Romans in the 5th century. Born to a noble blood in the late 5th century Artorius’ father was a king in the southern region of Britain.
His life changed when assassins struck at night, slaughtering his family. Artorius was saved by an old man he would come to know as Merlyn. His identity concealed he spent his youth as a serving boy in a variety of tribes in what would become Wales.
Every few years Merlyn would reappear, moving Artorius to a new location, staying one step ahead of those who were seeking him. During the time they travelled together Merlyn would educate the young boy, preparing him for the trials ahead.
As he became a man Artorius, now commonly known as Arthur, found that he had a talent for combat and leadership. When a half-man half-beast terrorised the local area Arthur led a group of men to hunt the monster down and personally slew it.
Tales of Arthur’s deeds reached far and wide, while his own station improved within the village that was his current home. Investigating these reports came Merlyn, although Arthur was perplexed to find that his old friend was younger than he remembered.
This Merlyn claimed not to know Arthur and seemed annoyed that the young man knew him. He explained that he came from a far away land and was hunting the monster, which had been despatched to cause mischief by distant enemies.
Over the following years Arthur became a hero and leader of men. His travels had instilled in him a belief that all natives of Britain, no matter which tribe the belonged to, were united. He stood as their champion, from the external threat of Anglo-Saxon invasion and the internal threat of monsters that appeared with increasing frequency. In times of dire threat Merlyn would reappear, to aide Arthur.
Uniting the people against these threats Arthur became king of the Britons, many different tribes swearing allegiance under his banner. Arthur felt that he had achieved his destiny. It was only now that Meryln revealed his true nature and the reason that fate had joined them together.
Meryln belonged to an agency called TimeWatch. Over the years Merlyn had found his path crossing with Arthur’s although from his perspective their encounters were out of order, thus he appear to age backwards to Arthur.
Merlyn investigations had initially centred on the Cryptid threat to the country. At first Merlyn believed that these were random encounters but eventually he realised these were attempts to weaken the country by time meddlers to allow the invading Germanic tribes to conquer Britain much earlier. Arthur was seen as an obstacle, as he had successfully repelled several invasion efforts.
These time meddlers had resorted to extreme measures, travelling into the past to eliminate Arthur as a boy. Merlyn was able to get there ahead of them and while he wasn’t able to save Arthur’s family he was able to get him to safety.
Now it was time for Arthur to repay Merlyn and TimeWatch. He would be the champion not just of Britain but of time itself. He could conduct missions for TimeWatch and be returned to his throne only a few days after he left.
Arthur agreed and has spent an extended period as an agent. While the advanced technology is still magic in his mind he has no trouble facing the challenges in his path. He has a strong sense of tactics, a commanding presence and his skill with a blade is unparalleled.
While unafraid of violence Arthur seeks solutions through diplomacy and inspiration. He seeks the best in all those he meets and empowers them to achieve the greatness he senses within them. By opposing and vanquishing evil he believes humanity as a whole will be better.
TimeWatch typically despatches him to battlefields, to ensure that the proper side is victorious. This has led to Arthur’s presence being recorded at several different time periods. In the 21st century it is still believed by some that King Arthur will return in the countries hour of need.
Arthur is particularly taken with the 12th century knights he has encountered in his travels. When he is back at his court he has begun introducing the chivalric code he has learned and seeks to assemble his own order of knights. So far TimeWatch have turned a blind eye to anachronisms he has introduced as their disruption to time has been minimal.
Arthur is intrigued by the myths that have grown up around him. Merlyn has advised him it is unwise to learn too much about what the future holds for him. Nonetheless Arthur has learnt enough to try and fulfil the prophecies. He is yet to find his Guinevere or wield Excalibur.
During his travels Arthur watches for any of the future technology that might be able to craft him a blade that will fulfil Excalibur’s role. So devoted is he to this idea that he shuns other weapons, particularly firearms.
TimeWatch allows this as it distracts Arthur from their true agenda in recruiting him. While he is proving a valuable asset the real reason they removed him was to weaken his influence on history. An unintended consequence of Merlyn’s training was that Arthur’s kingdom would be too successful.
Under his rule the Romano-British culture would repulse the Anglo-Saxons entirely. By removing him for longer and longer periods and returning him later and later they reduce his impact on history. Already history has reshaped itself so that King Arthur is considered only a legend or myth and not actually a historical figure.
By placing King Arthur in different time periods, before and after his actual reign, it confuses the few facts that remain about him. The anachronisms he has introduced to his court serve to prevent future historians researching him with any accuracy.
TimeWatch personnel assigned to work with King Arthur are never sure if he is the real article or just deluded. Arthur doesn’t typically challenge this but might eventually realise that there is something strange about his apparently mythical nature.
King Arthur is particularly affected with any changes that occur to Britain or to the Roman Empire prior to the late 5th century. He takes a great interest in these affairs, although he is often the first to feel the consequences of any changes.
Merlyn has convinced him that he shouldn’t attempt to change his own past but Arthur is frequently tempted to try and save his family. In his eyes this would only be correcting an alteration made by others. Yet he knows that if they were to live he might not be the same man and maybe not the king his country needs.
Involving the PCs
A PC could take the role of Merlyn, perhaps using it a code name. He could be accompanied by other agents who Arthur just didn’t encounter. They can carry out the investigation and find out who wants the Germanic tribes to conquer the entire country.
King Arthur’s Court can serve as an idyllic safe haven between adventures. Built on anachronisms and following the tenants of chivalry it can seem like a fairy tale. Over time the knights of legend can be found and take their place around the round table.
PCs could be one of these knights or just observers. In either case they’d have to see if the tales of King Arthur and his knights were accurate. Can they avoid the deceit and treachery that awaits them? Is there a lady in the lake and will a wounded Arthur be spirited away to Avalon?
You might decide that King Arthur isn’t a historical figure. He could instead originate from an alternative timeline. TimeWatch could have recruited him to seed the myths and legends that would inspire countless others. Everything that occurred could be a deception, to turn him into the man they needed him to be.
What will King Arthur do when he finds out what TimeWatch has done to his kingdom? It could be the PCs place to ensure this doesn’t happen or they could help him find justice. A solution might be to find a branching timeline where Arthur can forge his own destiny while the original timeline is left untouched.