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30 Welsh meatshields

September 3, 2013

Following Brendan’s post and my own Celtic scribblings, here’s a quick d30 table of names from the Mabinogion and the Trioedd Ynys Prydein (“Triads of the Islands of Britain”).

Never mind the fact that many of them, in the source material, are courtiers (and in some cases relations) of King Arthur. I would use them as inspiration for retainers and other NPCs.

Oh, and I’m guessing Tathal of Manifest Treachery probably introduces himself to prospective employers as Tathal of Unswerving Loyalty.


Tathal of Manifest Treachery


Gwawrddydd the Hunchback – he comes from the uplands of Hell


Teithi the Old, whose kingdom the sea overran


Dyfnwal the Bald


Tegfan the Lame


Osla Big Knife – he carries a dagger in a sheath that can be used to bridge a torrent


Gwair of False Valour


Gwyn the Wrathful


Gilla Stag-Leg, the Leaper


Sol – he can stand all day on one leg


Brys son of Brysethach, from the top of the black fernland


Gruddlwyn the Dwarf


Pwyll Half-Man


Cynedyr the Wild


Sawyl High-Head, the Arrogant


Gwrhyr the Interpreter of Languages


Clust son of Clustfeiniad – he can hear an ant fifty miles away stirring from its bed in the morning


Gwiawyn Cat-Eye – he can cut a membrane in a gnat’s eye without harming the eye


Ol son of Olwydd, the Tracker


Neol Hang-Cock – enough said


Afan Ferddig, the Red-Speared Bard


Cadwallawn son of Cadfan, the Frivolous Bard


Geraint son of Erbin, the Seafarer


Dunawd the Shepherd – a cleric?


Caradawg Strong-Arm, the Battle-Horseman


Coll son of Collfrewy, the Enchanter


Mederei Badellfawr, the Amazon


Heledd the Wanderer


Taliesin the Skilful Bard


Gwalchmai son of Gwyar, the Fearless – he is courteous to strangers
5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2013 3:48 pm

    The paintings Alan Lee did for the Mabinogion are pretty great.

  2. September 4, 2013 4:05 am

    I would be highly interested to know what Pwyll Half-Man’s other half is.

    • September 4, 2013 10:02 am


      • September 4, 2013 10:54 am

        Being serious for a minute, I should say that “Pwyll Half-Man” is one possible translation of a problematic bit of text in the lengthy list of courtiers found in the tale “Culhwch and Olwen”. Here’s what the University of Rochester’s online Camelot Project has to say:

        Kynuelyn Keudawc, Pwyll Hanner Dyn: It is difficult to discern whether this represents one or two characters. There are two plausible possibilities. The first is that, as the Jones brothers suggest, Kynuelyn is the principal character and keudawc pwyll hanner dyn is his epithet which they, inferring a play on pwyll (sense), interpret as “half-wit” (Jones, Mab p. 106). Equally plausible, though, is that pwyll refers to the lord of Dyfed/Annwfyn in Pwyll. The considerable number of characters appearing from The Mabinogi in Culhwch’s court list lends credence to this interpretation. Bromwich and Evans translate the hanner dyn epithet as “half-man” and see it as a possible “ironic allusion to Pwyll’s lack of sense and foresight which incurred Rhiannon’s taunt at the wedding feast” (CaO, p. 103). In this vein, the epithet seems to fit well from a thematic perspective since Pwyll is a distinctly liminal character. Known as both Pendeuic Dyuet and Penn Annwn he is a character defined by marginality—he is both man and god, ruler of this world and the other.

        So, there you go. He’s either Kynuelyn Half-Wit or Pwyll Half-Man (Half-God), or a bit of both. Any of these options would work well for a retainer, I think. Or maybe he’s just a halfling.

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