Primeval Games Press

Graal chalice


Trials of the Grail is a game about questing. It borrows themes from classic Arthurian literature, like Morte D’artu, Percival, and The Quest of the Holy Grail. Players take on the roles of daring knights searching for the Holy Grail, which will heal their king and their land. One of them will be a talented neophyte: the best equipped to succeed but also the most vulnerable. The rest will be hardened, well-tested men: ready to do their lord’s bidding and prove their own skill. Together they will ride through barren wastes, do battle with horrible foes, and ponder the riddles of strange maidens. They will face temptation and evil both. And in the end they will be judged by God.

But Trials of the Grail is not just about the one and only Holy Grail: it’s about searching for something in general and the spiritual quest that accompanies that search. It’s about virtue, redemption, temptation and attaining potential. It is these common themes of play that are important, and therefore TotG can be run in any kind of setting, modern or Medieval.

The point of 'Trials of the Grail' is to create an environment in which to explore one's characters, their development, and what it means to seek the Grail and its symbols of enlightenment and spiritual renewal... If you've got skill, creativity, and like to explore the hidden or higher meanings of stories, this is definitely the game for you.

–Travis Lee, Gaming Report Review

The Quest

In your game of TotG, the questors could be:

Abolition-era FBI agents searching for a big witness—code-named Grail—who can take down one of the biggest mob bosses ever...

A bunch of rural American kids undertaking a Huck-Finn style adventure to seek out a mythical traveling salesman who peddles an amazing wonder-drug...

American GIs in France during World War II. With enemy units all around them, a small group of soldiers sets out to find a secret grotto which local legend says was the dying place of a great saint...

Stunt pilots in a traveling air show. Recently their great idol, the greatest pilot ever to fly through a barn, has gotten the willies: he’s suddenly afraid to fly. Although he’s old, the questors can’t accept that he’s washed up yet. They set out to track down the pilot’s long-lost love, in hopes that she can snap him out of it.

The System

Trials of the Grail features a unique rule set, tailor-made to promote a certain kind of gameplay. It includes:

  • Group planning: Customize TotG to your own group’s preferences. The first chapter provides guidelines for planning your game, from theme to mood to game length. Throughout the rules, your’e given options for reinterpretting ideas like virtue to fit the game to your own needs.
  • Player narration: Take control of the unfolding story with narrative points, introducing facts and events wholesale. Decide what your character sees over the next ridge, what the Baron is guilty of, or how the fight unfolds! Make narrations to help your character or to adjust the story as you see fit...either way you’ll need to use your points wisely.
  • Flexible conflict resolution system: TotG considers character’s larger intentions to resolve whole conflicts at once, for fast gameplay, but also scales down for more detail. Every critical situation is handled through the same universal mechanic and basic variations on it.
  • Rules for concluding the game: Games of TotG are always given focus by the central quest. TotG gives you rules for handling the final encounter with the Grail and for concluding the game smoothly.
  • Virtue and character sacrifice as the driving mechanic: All major action in TotG is driven by the characters’ moral imperatives. By doing good deeds and making sacrficies, they prove their own worth. But there are temptations as well.
  • Lead and supporting characters: Every game contains a neophyte questor, untested but amazingly talented. He begins his adventure as a vulnerable block of clay, to be shaped and protected by his more experienced comrades; molded into someone capable of seeking and obtainng the Holy Grail.

Of course Trials of the Grail has many other rules as well, dealing with ancient relics, mysteries, grave injuries and more. If you're looking for some strong thematic content in your gaming, Trials of the Grail may be the answer.

The Book

Trials of the Grail is 78 pages long and available in pdf format and as a 8.5x11 perfect-bound book. It has B&W illustrations throughout and is formatted in two columns.

Numerous asides appear through the text with tips for better play, further explanations, and possibilities for customization. Examples also appear after every rule demonstrating its use.

The contents are as follows (chapter lengths in parentheses):

  • Introduction (3)
  • 1. Preparation (6)
  • 2. Questors (15)
  • 3. Trials (11)
  • 4. Infirmities (3)
  • 5. Virtue (6)
  • 6. Relics (4)
  • 7. Narrative Points (7)
  • 8. Wisdom (6)
  • 9. The Grail (5)
  • Appendix A: Glossary
  • Appendix B: Rules Flow Chart
  • Reference Sheet
  • Character Sheet

You can download a sample chapter (10 pages, ~1 MB) and view two sample pages:

page 17 sample page 47 sample

Purchasing Trials of the Grail