Skeletal Ideas

2 Comments
RPGs

Starting with some preliminary ideas about how to handle an alternate ruleset for A Game of Thrones.

Premise: Any A Song of Fire and Ice campaign should be about nobles. The characters must be nobles or other near-equivalent figures. While many characters in the books may not necessarily be nobles, or may at times fall from high social status into the underclass, fundamentally the focus is on nobility and their machinations.

Drawing from the two worlds of the novels, Westeros and (for lack of a better term) Valyria, the contrast I see between the two is that Westeros is a land of infinitely complex betrayals, plots, and ambition. While Valyria is largely concerned with these things, the example that it gives is that a certain nobility of spirit conquers petty politics.

What do we need for this?

Ultimately it seems like we should have a characteristic called “Nobility” which we should probably break down into subcharacteristics. Honor, Justice, and Mercy are the characteristics that come to mind as components of Nobility, although they do not necessarily model everything. Stannis, for example, is clearly an example of Justice without Mercy. Eddard is Honorable in the extreme. Daenerys seems to have all three characteristics.

This seems like a good starting point, although there are some problems with it. How does Robert Baratheon break down along these lines? Slightly troubling, but perhaps we will find a way to accomodate that sort of personality later. There are also potential difficulties I see in applying these things to Maesters and Septons, who though usually tangential are important enough to the setting that they must work with the rules.

In essence these traits must work along a sliding scale. Someone like Eddard is highly respected but ultimately ends up suffering for it, whereas Gregor Clegane is largely successful because of his own ignoble actions. What we need our mechanics to do is to force players into choices which may compromise their “Nobility” for the sake of pursuing their goals.

2 Responses

  1. If you ever get a chance, you should check out Pendragon, which does the whole nobility, chivalry vs. cold reality thing rather well. I imagine with just a few tweaks you could definitely do the R.R. Martin stuff rather easily.

  2. Thanks for the heads up, I had spent some time with Pendragon (I’m assuming we’re speaking about the same thing). Will be checking out a few of the gaming stores around here later this week to see if I can find it and look it over.

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