Knights of the Grail is a sourcebook detailing Bretonia (in the Warhammer fantasy world), a dark reflection of French medieval feudalism and Arthurian tales – with some dark humor thrown into the mix. I’ve gotten the impression that Bretonia has been described in multiple very different ways in the Warhammer game line (taking the wargame also into account), and that this book pushes things more in the Arthurian myth directions than the previous books did. In any case, it’s well-written and quite different from the Empire, so the potential for PC party shenanigans is huge here.
First off, I have to say that I’m not sure I could ever use this myself. Not because the book is bad (quite the opposite), but because the amount of Monty Python jokes flying around would be just too much to handle. Bretonia is a feudal system, rules by an aristocratic class which includes knights, especially the so-called “Grail Knights” – knights who have encountered the elusive goddess of the region, the Lady of the Lake. She is apparently real, and she changes knights she deigns to meet with significantly. On the other hand, the book quite clearly hints that the Lady is actually some sort of scam run by the Elves. The real truth isn’t ever laid out here, so the GM can make his/her own decisions about the nature of the Lady.
Below the knightly orders are the vast teeming hordes of peasantry. In theory, the peasants toil in the fields, giving most of their produce to their lords, and lords in return protect them from all harm and make sure their lives are reasonably decent. The first half of that almost always comes true, the second half… not so much. For every knight who actually cares for “his” peasants there are many others who view them as sub-human scum, good only for terrorizing and working to death.
Returning to the Lady… while women are strictly stay-at-homes here (women PCs need to disguise themselves as men, in most cases, a practice common in Bretonia), the Lady apparently takes come girls as children and trains them into Grail Damsels, combinations of priestess and low-level sorcerer. What exactly happens to the children after they are kidnapped is left as a mystery, much as the final identity of the Lady is.
There’s a lot of info in the book. Laws, a gazetteer of the region, customs, details on how knighthood works, etc. There’s easily enough here to run a game in the region, or at least get started with decent amounts of background pre-generated. The book ends with a short adventure, “Ill Tidings”, which is intended as an intro for foreign PCs arriving in Bretonia. It’s quite fun, and should work nicely as an intro.
Overall, a very good supplement. Lots of information about an interesting region, written in an engaging manner.