Monday, June 8, 2015

Initial Impressions: A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying Game, Part One

This cover is simply beautiful. That's an
objective fact.
Last Saturday, I was invited to join a new campaign being played at the FLGS I frequent. This campaign would be set in George R.R. Martin's Westeros setting and would be using the A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying Game released by Green Ronin Publishing. I've owned the PDF for the A Game of Thrones edition of the game for awhile now, but I've never had the chance to use it until now.

Today, I made my way down to the store to participate in the House & Character Creation session for the game. I thought I'd give my initial impressions of that process today and my thoughts on the actual gameplay next week once we have our first, true session.

As one would expect of a game based upon Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire series of novels, the aristocratic house one belongs to is just as important as the character and is the first thing the group creates when they sit down at the table.

When we sat down at the table, our group knew that our house would be located in the North. With that part decided, we began the actual creation of our family. This is done through rolling a number of d6's based upon the specific situation. We began by rolling 3d6 to generate our starting scores in Defense, Influence, Lands, Law, Population, Power, and Wealth. Initially, we actually managed to roll some pretty decent scores for these stats.

Those scores quickly changed when we began to roll the events that happened to our house during its history. Depending on how old your house is, it will have a number of special events happen to it which can be good or bad. Unfortunately for us, the majority of our events were negative in nature. We lost an battle during the Andal invasion, we had a lord go mad and a horrible scandal, we were at the middle of a treacherous situation, and finally invaded by Wildlings from north of the Wall.

These events left our house as a pale shadow of it's former glory, just barely holding on to a single keep known as the "Lonely Hall" located within the cold wetlands near the northern coast. Although we had some extraordinary bad luck with our dice rolls, I really enjoyed the process, how it brought us all together to tell this rather tragic story of a house of nobles who once were on top of the world, but have fallen so far.

Once we finished creating our house (which we named Bifrost), we began creating our characters. A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying Game uses a point-buy system for creating characters, giving you a certain amount of points to spend on your abilities and the specialties you have in those abilities based upon your character's age. Although I'm usually not the biggest fan of these kinds of systems, the process wasn't super complicated and I managed to finish it rather quickly.

When you finish spending your points, you can then receive a number of "destiny points". These points can be used like fate points during the game and can be spent to gain qualities which are like feats or edges in Dungeons & Dragons and Savage Worlds, giving you bonuses when you use certain abilities in certain ways. However, you have to be careful how you spend those destiny points because if you ever run out, your character becomes an NPC. I honestly kind of like that because it gives you as a player a tough decision to make and restricts you from picking too many great qualities and if you want to do that, you will have to take some series drawbacks that will hamper your character to do so.

While character creation and house creation where pretty simple, I do have one complain: the book itself is organized horribly. When we were trying to purchase equipment, we had difficulty finding the tables with the actual prices because they decided to put them in weird places, like at the end of the chapter after describing the equipment at the beginning of it. While we managed to figure everything out, it did cause us a serious headache at times.

With that being said, I still rather enjoyed the process overall. I just wished the writers of the book would have organized it better. It would have made things so much easier.

At the end of the day, I ended up creating the first born daughter of House Bifrost, Astrid Bifrost. Although her twin brother will most likely inherit the throne, she realizes he might not be the best leader due to his love of fighting and combat. She hopes to "help" him when he eventually becomes Lord Bifrost after their father's death, advising her sibling with the help of her younger brother who seems to be more like her than her actual twin. Although she never learned how to fight or the art of war, she has learned the ways of the court and has developed a strong silver tongue. She hopes to use those skills to raise the standing of her house and help her family (while making a name for herself).

Next Monday, I'll discuss my impressions of the actual system and how it plays out at the table.