Friday, October 14, 2011

A Song of Ice and Fire RPG: Part 2

Game Premise

Adventure, War and Intrigue in George R.R. Martin's World of Westeros.

You are allied with one of the many noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms, drawn in by choice or against your will into the political intrigues and eventually, outright conflicts that will shape the world. There may be a tentative peace after the overthrowing of the incestuous Targaryens and the swearing of fealty to Robert Baratheon, but there are already murmurings of new conflicts taking shape. Remember, it doesn't matter whether your weapons are sword, coin, magic or word, when you play the game of thrones, either you win or you die.

Game Overview

So, last time we created an entire new House using the rules presented in Green Ronin's Song of Ice and Fire RPG: House Strongtooth, based in the Riverlands and the product of many years of leadership struggle and internal strife. Lord Holgar Strongtooth seeks specialists from far and wide to help increase his House's standing, with the help of his not inconsiderable personal fortune.

Now that we actually have Step 1 of character creation out of the way, let's get on with creating the actual character!

The Character

Step 1) House & Lands

Already done! House Strongtooth of Murthorpe, situated in the Riverlands. House words: To the Bitter End

Step 2) Character Concept

Now to determine who I am going to play. You're generally supposed to play either a member of the household or someone associated with them. I've outline a few possibilities in my last post, but I am going to settle of Brigardi Alesso, the half-Braavosi Steward, hired for his skill with managing the affairs of a noble household. He's the bastard son of one of the famed Iron Bankers and appears to have inherited his father's head for sums. He came to Westeros after the Baratheon uprising to seek his fortune, assuming that the new peace would leave many lords wanting to get their financial affairs in order, and was quickly snapped up by the ambitious Lord Strongtooth.

I have to pick my Age. Age is actually quite a significant stat, because it determines a whole bunch of other stats down the road, like how much XP you have to spend on abilities, how many flaws you have, how many fortune points and so on. Generally, the older you are the more abilities you have, but also more flaws. I think that Brigardi should be an Adult, but getting on towards Middle Aged. (which starts at 30 in the game). So I'm going to set his age at 27.

Next up is Starting Status. Status in this game is an ability that reflects your social standing among the nobility of Westeros and is used primarily in social conflicts. Like all abilities, it begins at a default of 2. I'm going to raise it to 3, which is the maximum status anyone of House Strongtooth can have as defined by it's Influence Resource. This is a bit annoying, because there's a table in this section that contradicts the maximum status section in the House Creation Guidelines. I'm going to stick with the guidelines here.

Next up is my Role. Roles don't really serve any purpose other than being a broad classification of your character's archetype and a way of ensuring there's a good spread of abilities among the party. I think Brigardi fits the Expert role quite nicely, specifically that of stewardship.

The final part of this step is Background, where you figure out your character's motivations, goals and defining traits. For Events, I'm going to pick the obvious, 'traveled across the narrow sea for a time'. Brigardi is a foreigner after all and has visited several of the islands. For Motivation, I'm going to pick Excellence. He takes a lot of pride in his work and wants the House to prosper, not out of any real loyalty but as a reflection of his skill. Finally, I'll define his Virtue as Wise (he's like Syrio Florel with less swords and more pocketbooks) and his Vice as Arrogant (He's the best there is at what he does and what he does is money). None of these have any mechanical effect, but they're good when thinking about how the character might act.

Step 3) Assign Abilities

In SoIaF RPG, skills and stats are kind of rolled into one thing called Abilities. Characters start with a 2 in all of them by default, meaning they roll 2 dice for everything (unless they have a flaw that reduces it to 1).

As an adult, I have 210 points to spend on abilities, with a maximum of 7 in any ability (only adults can reach that level, otherwise you're too inexperienced or too over the hill to be that good).

I have to start out by buying the Status I set for myself in step 2, which means I've already spent 10 of my points, 200 left. I want to have an awesome Cunning score, and later you'll see why. I'm going to sink 70 points into it, giving me a Cunning of 5, meaning Brigardi is in fact one of the most cunning folks in the world. My character should probably be able to speak the Common Tongue as well as Braavosi, so I'm going to spend 40 points so that he has Language (Common Tongue) 2 (experience costs for languages work a bit differently for normal skills). With my remaining 90 points, I'm going to spend 40 to give me a Knowledge 4 and 10 points each in Awareness, Deception, Persuasion, Will and Warfare, raising them all to 3 and making him generally shrewd, persuasive and knowledgeable in a number of areas, which any good steward should be.

Step 4) Assign Specialties

As I said in the last post, Bonus Dice allow you to roll extra dice, which aren't kept but give you a chance at a higher total. You get these primarily through your Specialties, areas of your abilities that you character is really good at. As an Adult, I have 80 points to spend in specialties, each 10 points giving you a bonus die. I'm going to start with spending 20 points in the Status specialty Stewardship, which seems pretty handy considering I'm a steward. I'm going to spend another 30 points in the Cunning specialty Memory. Brigardi is really good at recalling obscure facts and knowing obscure people, something his Lord has delighted in. What he can't recall from memory, he can use his 2 dice in the Knowledge specialty Research to figure out. Those final 10 points will go in the Deception specialty Bluff, because every steward needs to stall for their lord sometimes.

Step 5) Destiny Points and Drawbacks

In the SoIaF RPG, every character has Destiny Points. These serve two purposes. Firstly, in the game you may spend a point to get a minor bonus to rolls or alter the narrative of the story, or you may burn them, getting rid of them permanently for greater effect. The second use is to invest them in Benefits, which reflect special merits your character has or skills they posses, such as special maneuvers with an axe, a knighthood or even the powers of a Greenseer. As an adult, I start with 4 destiny points and may invest up to 4 in benefits.

I'm going to start by snatching up Head for Numbers. This benefit, with a prerequisite of a Status of 3 and at least 1 bonus die in stewardship, allows me to add my cunning rank to house fortune rolls and also re-roll a number of 1s equal to my bonus dice in stewardship when attempting to generate coin for the House.

The second one I pick will be Courteous, with a prerequisite of Persuasion 3. I get to add half my persuasion rank to deception tests (so, +1), and my full cunning to my passive deception whenever a target performs the Read Target maneuver during an intrigue, which would be them attempting to get a bonus against me by sussing out my motives.

I'm going to leave it there for now. Having a reserve of 2 Destiny Points seems handy.

Step 6) Flaws & Drawbacks

Every character of adult age or higher has at least one Drawback, some kind of mechanical penalty. In my case, I only have one, being an adult. I'm going to pick Flaw (Agility) , which gives me a -1 die penalty to agility tests. Brigardi may be smart, but he's certainly no Water Dancer.

Step 7) Starting Possessions

Firstly all characters get a set of clothes appropriate to their gender, some boots and a dagger. This next bit is actually pretty interesting, because I get to showcase the system to you. I roll a Status test, which determines the number of gold dragons my character has to buy equipment with, half of which I have to spend. Rolling my three in status, I get an 11.

Unfortunately there's not much to spend on in the book if you're not a warrior in need of some good armour and weapons. I'm going to start with a good Courtier's outfit, setting me back 100 Silver Stags (almost half a dragon).I'm going to grab a Myrish lens ( a piece of glass you can use to magnify writing, start fires and stuff) for another 20 stags, a far-eye (spyglass), that was a gift from his father for 300 stags. I still have some 4 dragons to spend, so I think I'll go with 'a whole lot of ink and parchment' to make the difference.

Step 8) Derived Statistics

Finally, we determine Brigardi's derived stats, similar to how it works in WoD.

First, there are his Intrigue Stats, the primary stats he will use in social interactions. His Intrigue Defense, the target number opponents need to beat if they want to persuade, intimidate or seduce him, is equal to the sum of his awareness, cunning and status, for a total of 11 (he gets a bonus to this when someone attempts the Read Target maneuver, remember). His Composure, which opponents wants to reduce to zero to achieve their goal of influencing him, is equal to his willx3, for a total of 9.

Now we have his Combat Stats which he will use in combat, an arena he is far less skilled at. His Combat Defense is equal to the sum of his agility, athletics and awareness, minus any armour penalties he may have (he has none), for a total of 7 (note, his flaw doesn't apply here, that only applies to tests when he is rolling agility). His Health (f this gets to zero, you are defeated) is equal to endurancex3, for a total of 6. Brigardi doesn't have an Armour Rating(which would reduce damage inflicted on him), because he only wears ordinary clothing and his Damage Rating for his dagger is equal to his agility-2 for a total of 1. He had best hope he not get in many fights.

The Finished Product

Brigardi Alesso

Adult Expert


Agility 1

Awareness 3

Cunning 5; Memory 3B

Deception 3 (+1 for bluff); Bluff 1B

Knowledge 4; Research 2B

Language (Common Tongue) 2

Status 3 (+5 for house fortune); Stewardship 2B

Persuasion 3

Warfare 3

Will 3


Destiny Points 2

Courteous, Head For Numbers


Intrigue Defense 11; Composure 12

Combat Defense 7; Armour rating 0

Health 6

Attack: Dagger; 2; 1 damage, defensive +1, offhand

How I'd Run It

This game I'd run pretty much straight. Have my group make a house, get them right bang in the middle of the War of Five Kings (although probably involved in some background action, or stuff could get weird), and hopefully rack up a body count to make George RR Martin proud. This is one game where you might get ahead for a bit, but no happy ending is guaranteed.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds a really awesome game, especially characterful in the massive influence that chance seems to have on character gen but still allowing for a structured and thoughtfully built character (unlike rolling dice to determine stats).
    Nice to see talky characters being made, too many stabbers in any given rpg universe, a very interesting choice given the seemingly martial history of the house you generated last post. The roll and keep system seems similar to AEG (Lo5R, 7th Sea).

    A pleasure to read as always