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A Game of Game of Thrones

March 31, 2014 Comments off

GRR2707_450Winter is… actually over, but almost here. Again.

This Sunday, the newest season of Game of Thrones returns on HBO. To celebrate this, our gaming group has decided to give Green Ronin Publishing’s “A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying” a try. SIFRP, as it is called, has been out for a while now and there’s several sourcebooks out to help both players and GMs play on the continent of Westeros (and beyond).

We’re going to play through the adventure included at the end of the book, which presupposes the players all being of the same house who set out to increase their fortunes at a tourney held by King Robert Baratheon. While character generation is pretty standard and straightforward, the game really shines (for me) during the House creation, which is unique in my experience.

I’ve created a House for the game to be used as needed. It could be an ally, it could be an enemy. The generation system is both simple and complex, and allows for quite a bit of leeway for the Narrator (GM) to adjust as they see fit. I followed the system as is, without making any changes and came up with the following:

Step One: Realm

You roll 3d6 and that determines which part of Westeros the house is from. The North, Dorne, King’s Landing? All are possible, but with my roll of 11, the house is located in the Mountains of the Moon.

Step Two: Resources

Defense, Influence, Land, Law, Population, Power and Wealth. You roll 7d6 for each resource and adjust it based on location. For example, The West (Casterly Rock) has all those Lannister gold mines and get a bonus to Wealth. The North is vast and gets a bonus to Land. The Mountains of the Moon is a sparse (minus to land) location, but very hard to assail in battle (bonus to Defense) and all those clans in the mountains continually cause problems (minus to Law and Population). The rolls were above average in both Influence and Power, so this tells me that the House is well known and influential… about the size of House Florent or House Frey in the books. But we’re not done yet… as all of the Resources can be influenced by the next step, History, or by a monthly Fortune roll (to increase one Resource).

Step Three: History

Rolling a d6, I got the highest result, meaning the House is very old and was founded during the Andal Invasion. That certainly explains it’s Power and Influence! A number of “Events” are generated. The six I got were: Victory, Ascent, Victory, Scandal, Decline, Scandal. Each “event” adds or subtracts a random amount to the resources. I can see why maybe nobody has heard of this House tucked away in the Mountains of the Moon. In the past, they were well known and even on their way to a powerhouse, but their more recent history is plagued with a couple scandals with perhaps a death of an heir? That could cause all manner of problems. The last step with resources is for each player to roll and add to their choice of Resource where they think it would do the most good.

Adding It Up

I rolled expecting four players and, after all was said and done, came up with the following:

Defense 48 – This is a house with excellent defenses. A castle? Soldiers? Plenty of resources to spend there. We’ll spend 40 points to have a Castle. Because: castles are cool.

Influence 43 – Again, an excellent score and still commands respect, and is perhaps well known outside of it’s Realm for one reason or another. This score they like to (as I said above) either House Frey (Red Wedding, anyone?) or House Florent in the South. With that much Influence to spend, we can have an Heir for 20 points, a second son for 10 and a first daughter for another 10. Don’t fret, if we had been in Dorne the Heir could be a daughter.

Land 13 – Small holdings. Not much room in the valley or the mountains, so this makes perfect sense. Not much to spend here, but let’s spend it all. We can have a stream for 1 point, a road for 5 and hills for 7.

Law 18 – Banditry is common and lawlessness outside of the main environs. Rampaging clans of Black Ears maybe? This has no effect except later during our monthly “Fortune” roll, and gives us a -5.

Population 19 – Small. One small town, probably in the shadow of whatever keep or tower we decide upon. Again, no effect here, but just barely enough so we do not suffer a penalty to our Fortune.

Power 31 – 20 points spent means least 1 “Banner” house sworn to the main house (maybe the player house?), and some soldiers; as well as being generally respected by other houses militarily. We can buy Household Guards for 6, Archers for 3 and Scouts for 2. We’re not concerned so much with chivalry (and horses are expensive) so we’ll stick to our scouts and archers for now.

Wealth 36 – A surprising good roll means that there is something on the land or in the past that makes the house prosperous. 10 points buys us the presence of a Maester. Another 10 buys us a mine, which gives +5 to our Fortune roll for a net of 0. Another 10 and we can have a Marketplace. Makes sense… with our road and stream, trade is brisk in our little town.

My Kingdom for a Shield

The final step is heraldry. I rolled randomly for house colors (blue and silver) and followed the directions and got something completely unworkable. Therefore, I took some of the books other advice, which is to come up with something on my own. Swirling those around with all of the information rolled previously, I’d ended up with the followng:

 

silverstream

House Durant of Silverstream

Formed shortly after a decisive victory during the Andal Invasion of Westeros, House Durant has been a fixture in the Mountains of the Moon. Sworn to House Arryn, they comported themselves with great honor in their antiquity, being granted lands north of the Eyrie and a silver mine as well. However, when the Targaryens conquered Westeros, they attempted (perhaps unwisely) to stay out of the fight and were called to task for their cowardice. That led to a long period of decline. In what could have been a fatal blow to the House, twenty years ago the last Lord contracted greyscale and the only children left were a bastard and several distant cousins. Jon Arryn took pity on the ancient house and raised the bastard to Lordship, married him to one of the cousins, and let him keep his father’s mines and titles. The current Lord Durant hopes that the tourney he and his household are attending will be a turning point for the family.

 

So there we have it: an interesting House generated almost entirely via the rules of Green Ronin’s SIFRP to use in our latest game. We’ll have to wait and see if the players have what it takes to win the Game of Thrones, and which house will Fortune favor?

Heraldry – History and Hooks

November 28, 2011 1 comment

Courtesy of westeros.org

Disclaimer: This post is heavily influenced by me just finishing the book Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. If you haven’t read it, do so immediately, it is one of my all time favorites.

A coat of arms can provide depth to a back story and compelling story hooks, even if your character isn’t a knight in shining armor. In fact, Heraldry has been used to enhance D&D since the early days of Greyhawk.

In Game of Thrones, each of the noble houses has a crest with an animal, colors, and words, which act as a sort of motto for the house. For instance House Stark has a grey dire wolf on a white background. Their words are Winter is Coming. House Baratheon has a black stag on a field of yellow, with the words Ours is the Fury. House Lannister, a golden lion on red, with the words Hear me Roar. All of these are used to great effect on the battlefield as units are easy to recognize by their colors and symbols. Also at court, a knight or sworn sword could be identified by the colors he was wearing, or the crest on his helm or shield. Adding these details to your character can do a lot to breathe life into a collection of stats.

In the Greyhawk Boxed Set, Gary Gygax used coats of arms not only for regions, cities, or noble houses, but also for nomads, bandits, and even some tribes of monsters! When a foe has a symbol, and a little bit of history, a DM can strike fear into his party once they spot a banner or flag of a group of enemies.

From the Greyhawk Boxed Set

In our recently completed dwarven campaign, our clan had a symbol, colors, and some backstory to what the different objects in our crest meant. Our new pirate campaign may require us to create a flag with special meaning to our particular pirate crew, but symbols don’t have to be adopted by the entire party. For instance, a rogue could have a tattoo of the thieves guild he belonged to, or the wizard could have some symbol on his spellbook from a particular school of magic. Clerics usually have holy symbols associated with their faith, but they could have a special symbol for their particular sect. Fighters could have a variety of symbols, even if they aren’t a highborn knight. A barbarian could have a symbol of his tribe, a sellsword could have a symbol of his guild of mercenaries. The possibilities are endless.

Inkwell Ideas hosts a Java program that can help you create your own unique crest. Any particularly awesome stories of how heraldry is used in your games? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories: 4e, DnD, Lore, RPGs, Tips Tags: , , ,