Blood and Thrones

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Blood and Thrones

Postby Charlie_EN » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:54 pm

I was chatting with a friend about my newfound love of A Song of Ice and Fire (part way through Storm of Swords right now and already calling myself a fanboy for it). We were talking about the books as he'd just started A Game of Thrones. The concept of using Pendragon for a Game of Thrones game came up, set before the first book, starting shortly before the revolt against the mad king.
Pretty much organically it came up that Blood & Honour would be a perfect fit. You'd have a minor house and their motto, their aspects, their lord and then themselves. You've got tournies, diplomacy with the other houses, major and minor. If you take some of the samurai aspects and replace them with chivalry, it wouldn't be so difficult to transpose it.
Existing Houses might have to be built, like Aerys Targaryen II, who would be a Mad Lord (daimyo). Something like the motto might count as the equivalent of the meaning for the Clan name, such as "Blood and Fire" for Targaryen, "Winter is Coming" for House Stark and so on.

Seasons might be a difficulty, as winter could last a person's lifetime. That I'm less sure about, unless it is just a case of having a rough amount of time and then having ANOTHER winter phase, and ANOTHER.

Honour and Glory are both equal in Westeros as they are in Blood and Honour, or at least are tacitly so, with, for instance the glory held by the Knight of Flowers and the lack of Honour which Sandor Clegane has. Firearms don't happen (as far as I've read), magic is as scary and alien as B&H, single combat and mass murder are as deadly and as equally timed, potentially. Single combat might be over instantly but is more described and interesting, compared to mass combat where people drop left and right.
I'm less sure about Ancestors, maybe something to do with the gods, like the Lord of Light, the Old Gods, the Drowned God (*cough* Cthulhu *cough*) and so on.
Many swords have names and that could be a nice addition, giving them an Aspect or the like.

What am I missing and should factor in? What suggestions do people have for Houses, maybe for different names for some of the Aspects, if indeed that's necessary.
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Re: Blood and Thrones

Postby basil montebanks » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:29 am

FYI. HBO is doing a Game of Thrones series in spring!! How cool is that!
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Re: Blood and Thrones

Postby wunderworks » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:48 pm

This is brilliant! :)

Now if I can only figure out what game to use for my Tron RPG....
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Re: Blood and Thrones

Postby aprogressivist » Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:01 pm

Pretty much one of my first reactions when I read HotB was, "This would be an awesome system to play Song of Ice & Fire in."
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Re: Blood and Thrones

Postby Charlie_EN » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:41 pm

I've just had a Session Zero of Blood and Thrones. Here's the simple conversion rules:

Naming: Clan = House, Daimyo = Lord, Samurai = Knight/Maester/Noble. Easy enough.

House Creation:
They have the House Name, the House Motto (instead of the meaning of the name) which gives the +2 dice bonus, and a coat of arms but that's not got a rules benefit.
We debated about Holdings and have the following conversions:
Blacksmith = Blacksmith
Buddhist Temple = Sept
Dojo = Academy
Gambling Den = Gambling Den
Garrison = Garrison
Geisha House = Taverns and/or brothels (not ideal but the closest we could think of)
Rice Farm = Farm/Mine (producing Gold Dragons instead of Koku)
Sake Works = Brewery/Vineard
Shinto Shrine = Godswood (or church to other freaky gods such as R'hllor)
Stable = Stable
Sumo School = Gymnasium (again, inideal, but the closest we got)

The little thing is still that, but we just don't title it meibutsu.

Character Creation has only a couple of changes:
With the Name, to replace the meaning there's a Nickname (eg; Imp, Hound, Kingslayer, Lord Snow, Maid of Tarth, etc) which is an Aspect. I ruled it as that instead of a +1 bonus, but I don't know, I might make it a Tag instead.
Roles are the same, Seneschal could also be considered "Hand" and Spiritual Advisor could be a Septa or a Maester.

Swords are still powerful, terrible things, duels can happen, and anything else from Blood and Honour.

So far, that's all the conversion I've had to do.

Next up is the session.
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Re: Blood and Thrones

Postby Charlie_EN » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:11 pm

Right, now we've had the conversion, here's what the players did with it.

I told them they were in The Vale. It's 281, which in the future will be the Year of False Spring. I told the players about how next year House Arryn rebels against the ruling House Targaryen and they're in the middle of it. This is 17 years before the books, which is how I'm getting away with not spoiling it for the half the group who only know the LCG.

Daimyo: Dangerous. Kind was out instantly. It was a toss up between Cruel, Cunning and Dangerous. Danger won, just for the fun of jumping into life threatening threats head-first.
Virtue: Prowess. I kind of guessed, but there was a lot of thought which went into it.
Aspects: I forget the names, but one which makes them seductive but slutty, one which makes them glory hounds and one which means they don't think before jumping into danger.
Holdings: The talk of "We've got to take X for logic's sake" quickly led to them doing the opposite. They have a gambling den, a garrison, taverns and an academy. No farms, no steady income or gifts. This isn't a bug, it's a feature.
A Little Thing: It's more of an absence. They decide that the little thing they do better than anyone else is a good time. They provide NOTHING to society and without people visiting they'd be out of money quickly. They don't make their own food as they're in a bad bit of the Vale, they just gamble and whore and encourage others to follow suit. This... well, look at the first truth.
Truths: They're in Debt. That's how they afford to keep their dangerous Westerosi Las Vegas intact... they can't. Next is that the lord had a bastard by a servant who's now in a local brothel. They have attractive women. There was an assassination attempt on the Lord which was thwarted, but no one knows who arranged it.
If I remember correctly their motto is "We make our luck"
After the longest time, they settled on House Baldwin. It was the best they had, and who doesn't want to be a Baldwin?

Next we have the characters. I'll put in what few notes I had. We had a lot of fun and I was page-flipping, so I didn't get everything down yet:

Symeon Baldwin, The Sapphire Sword. General, brother to the Lord. He's been training all his life to be in this role. In second place. His son is one of his two guardsmen and he has a jewel-encrusted sword renowned to be lucky.
Caleb Baldwin. Executioner. The lord's cousin, his own family have died (life fast, die young should be their motto in this family). He has the House Sword, and will get back to me on its' name.
Hector Stone. Spymaster. The previous Lord Baldwin's bastard. Hector holds a cursed sword but cannot use it in combat. His father refused him any lessons with the sword, instead letting him use his low status to digout secrets from the land.
Maester Cyril Vasilikos, The Bronze Hand. Spiritual Advisor. Before anyone says anything about the hand, the only other player who knows much about the game is playing Symeon (hence the name) and this is pure coincidence with a certain gold-handed person. Cyril's a coward and a womaniser (Beauty 2 but he pays for a lot of whores). His sword has a reputation of being better at maiming than killing.

It was nearly 11 when we finished the characters and had a priliminary tree drawn up.

The background to the area is that Lord Baldwin serves Lord Arryn who in turn serves King Aerys Targaryen, who was kidnapped last year. The family who took him, the Darklyns, have been killed, but the King returned unhinged. He's been going a bit mad. House Ryker now have the Duskendale, which Darklyn held and Baldwin bordered.

We had a quick risk to show the newer player how it worked and the older ones could have a reminder.
It was a hillside on the Mountains of the Moon, the group's cart was tipped over and tribesmen charged at them. I made it a simple risk with no mass murder, no honour rules, just to keep it easy.
I explained privilage and wagers.
Symeon said he'd guard people, mainly weak Hector.
Cyril fled.
Hector hid, tagging the fallen cart.
Caleb charged at them like a crazy man.

Caleb had an f-ton of dice, wagered only three and got privilage.
"I challenge the leader to single combat." Cool. "And..." No. Not yet. We looked at Hector's player. "I hide behind the cart." Fine. "They launch arrows at us and I..." No. Again, no. "Let me reword that. They fire arrows which I," Still no. He got it there, and he gained them an honour for putting them all in danger. Cyril didn't even get 10 on his two dice. Then Caleb, "an arrow hits Cyril" Cyril takes a rank 1 injury, no honour's given as it's not a player harming themselves. Symeon says, "I slice the arrows out of the air." Then it's all on Caleb who says that the tribesmen are frightened away.

Short, simple, and people started getting the wording of it down after their first goes. It's a bit of a weird thing to figure out at first but once you're in, you're in. I was working at a disadvantage as I've got the pre-order copy I printed back in my old job, but I can't print that big file out at my new work and I cannot find my limited edition at all. Despite that, Symeon's player used paint to re-title the House and Character sheets with the rules from my above post, and all in all I think they liked it.

Their homework now if those three things true about their characters, nicknames invokes & compels if they want one as an aspect, and combining any background stories. That's it for now, I'll try and report in once the dust and blood have settled.
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Re: Blood and Thrones

Postby wunderworks » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:06 pm

This sounds totally sweet! :)
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Re: Blood and Thrones

Postby Charlie_EN » Thu Jan 20, 2011 4:50 pm

Session One.
We're short a bastard. Hector Stone's player isn't able to make the next six weeks, so I'm figuring we'll do this for six weeks, then it's Symeon's turn to run and he'll do L5R for us. I explain to the players that it'll be two sessions per 'season'. I still need to work out what to call a season as they're fricking long in Westeros.

We have some more information from the players:
* Caleb Baldwin is also known simply as "The Blade". With no Cunning, he accepts most things as they are and thinks all people are as honest as he is. He has a wife and daughter. Caleb succeeded in preventing the assassination on Niklas and that's one of his three truths, the one he won't shut up about. His dad is the second in command, and an oft-neglected family member, often kept outside of the main business until the lord's away.
* Maester Vasilikos, The Bronze Hand, keeps things like poison in the fake hand. His siblings were killed by House Rykker, who now hold Duskendale, during the "Defiance of Duskendale" on which Rykker and Baldwin fought on the same side. His Blood Oath is to kill House Rykker.
* Symeon Baldwin earned the group an honour by making the coat of arms. I'll post that in the future. He was a hero in the Defiance of Duskendale and has no intention of becoming the Lord, he just likes to battle. He has a wife, Alys, three sons and a daughter. Two sons are his foot soldiers (ashigaru).

After more faffing with the family tree, adding names, adding truths, I don't have the heart to stop them as it's all plot gold, but I do anyway.

It's the morning after a party. Each have to state a truth or event which happened.
* Cyril - People 'donated' silver to his cause, so he's flush with a little coin.
* Symeon - Argued with Hector Stone publicly and tactlessly.
* Caleb - Showed off saving Niklas from the assassin. Again.

A servant, nervous, stuttering and listing the terrible fates he's suffered since waking up harrasses the Maester. Cyril demands an answer and threatens the idiot boy, Grubb. Eventually the news is let loose.
This morning, a spy was caught.
[Yes, I'm using this hook to start things, I thought it could be interesting to try, and it was]
Cyril's angry at Grubb, but dresses, puts his bronze hand on and goes down to the cells. Caleb and Symeon are there, as are Symeon's sons, acting as guards.
The truths about the spy:
* She has long, brown hair.
* She's courageous (her main Virtue is Courage)
* She's not said anything.

Using a Cunning Risk to appraise her, Caleb can't make the risk, Symeon fails and Cyril declares:
* Her bone structure shows Rykker blood.
* She's four months pregnant.

Incensed by the Rykker connection, Cyril holds her face to his while he talks. She spits at him and draws a knife. Caleb runs in like a shot and knocks the blade aside. It looks like the kind of weapon a noble should hold.
When Cyril shares the pregnancy news, Symeon threatens the kid and the girl slips in her defiance, referring to the intended victim of an assassination as a 'her'.
Sudden flashes hit the group. Caleb thinks of his wife and daughter. Symeon thinks of his daughter and his wife. Cyril thinks of Symeon's wife. One of his truths is that he's in love with Alys Baldwin (nee Redfort).
With this news, the sons of Symeon are sent to guard the wives and children, Symeon runs out to find where Lady Nesta Baldwin has gone and Cyril leaves Caleb to kill the spy. A knight, Rickon Wexley, is on his way to inspect the value of the minor houses for House Arryn. Cyril wants to make the place look cheap so the tithes paid won't be much.
Symeon finds out that Lady Nesta is walking in the woods outside the castle (Cyril's player spends an Honour to add "alone" to the description). He runs off, but bumps into Rickon Waxley, whose truths are:
* He is large in every direction, tall and fat.
* He has a huge, bushy tash.
* He is allegedly incorruptible
He's here for the inspection and I boom my voice, yelling "wot?" at the end of each sentence, waffling a little and with my hands on my hips. This is a man who's used to taking up the room, and Waxley's motto is "Light in Darkness" making them very much an opposite to the loud, debauched, dangerous and sword-happy Baldwins.
Symeon takes two guards and Waxley to follow his Lady's tracks. She went into Duskendale, which is technically Rykker land since it was taken over by them last year. Alarm bells ring.
Caleb and Cyril search the castle for anything else. They make Wisdom Risks and:
* There's a map in the basement.
* Neither of us recognise the guard in the room.
They secretly check the map out. By they I mean Cyril, as Caleb can't read. There are secret passages everywhere and a red circle is around Alys' room. Symeon's player points out that it's his room too, but that's not a priority for Cyril.
Caleb hangs back and they follow the guard into a secret passage.

Back in Duskendale the search gets just one success on a Cunning Risk. "She's surrounded by men from the Mountains of the Moon."
Cool. Mass Murder time. I had the print out bookmarked to this point just in case. Yes, I still can't find my limited edition copy, so I'm relying on the preorder pdf print out I did at my old work and hoping not much has changed since then.
Things get a bit risky here, no pun intended. Symeon drives his horse into the mountain men, killing two. One foot soldier takes an axe to the chest, another takes an arrow as Waxley slices a guy apart. Symeon's player has a sad moment between winning the fight or risking his/Waxley's death in return for Glory. Prudence wins for now. With two dead foot soldiers there's at least one spare horse for Lady Nesta.

Cyril waits for the guard to open a secret door and lunge at Alys before he strikes. Cyril's player points and yells "surprise!" then rolls with enough wagers to rip the guard's sword arm off. Alys recoils in fear, sheltering her kids (even the guard one, as he's only a kid). The rug given to Symeon as a thanks from the Targaryens in the Defiance of Duskendale is ruined with blood. Rather than try to choke him one-handed, Cyril puts his foot on the guard's neck.

Outside, Lady Nesta is returned, only to have Cyril charge out and throw the dismembered arm at her.
The group recoil in horror, Cyril's player spends an honour, "Lady Nesta wrote the notes on the map." We don't know where he gets this stuff from, neither does he. It's brilliant, it's horrid. It's very Ice & Fire.
Nesta is dragged off to a cell. They ask about the secret passages and without thinking I say the cell and garrison don't have them, but then add that with a Wisdom Risk, they can say where else doesn't. Cyril's player says there's an oubliette on there. Not the answer I was looking for, but why not.
Lord Niklas is outraged. My voice hurts from speaking his voice as nothing but yelling. He's dangerous, he's angry and his wife's been accused of attempted murder.
The group are allowed to interrogate her, but if a hair is out of place on her, then... well, Lord Niklas is feasting with Alys and all of Symeon's children. And a host of guards. Well armed guards.
They assume she was meeting someone in the woods, not really lost, not really with a twisted ankle. Nesta insults Cyril's bronze hand and I compel his nickname, making him lash out irrationally because of his freakish hand.
Cyril smacks Nesta as hard as he can with the bronze hand. She hits the floor with a crack and blood goes everywhere. That could have been all she wrote, but a Wisdom Risk later and it's only a broken jaw. That does mean no confession any time soon. Not a useful one. And who knows how Lord Niklas will take this.
With a Beauty Risk (Cyril's not allowed to try, but he's got a weakness in Beauty so that's okay), Symeon calms her down and can just about make out her saying something about Cyril's sister being alive!
Dun dun duuuun!

To be continued!
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Re: Blood and Thrones

Postby Charlie_EN » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:09 pm

I've finally found my notes for session two, after a short session three and an upcoming two-week haitus.

We have a new Spymaster, Ser Andrew Baldwin, the Underhand. The youngest of the group, nephew to our Baldwin cousins. And so the family tree grows again. Hector Stone is missing.

We begin around where we left off. Andrew overhears the group's interrogation and beating of Lady Baldwin. He suggests the Maester calm down, wash the blood off his bronze hand and get some milk of the poppy for Lady Baldwin. He abides and things calm down a bit.

Andrew checks her over while she sleeps and finds (Cunning Risk). A sealed letter with the Rykker sigil, talking of Meera Vasilikos' presence in the Rykker lands.
The Maester and Caleb do a Wisdom risk and a Strength risk as they locate a secret quarters, used by maids in the past but forgotten now, then carry Lady B there, making sure that the guards on her door are loyal to Symeon.

The next course of action is… well, what to tell Lord Niklas (who, after this session, we determined will be played by Jeremy Irons and his amazing overacting in Dungeons & Dragons). Dude's a Dangerous Lord for a reason.
The following Cunning Risk determines:
* He's drunk.
* He's fine that she'll stay in custody with Symeon's family.
* The Lord's fine with not seeing her
These had me worried that the group were turtling and getting all defensive about their characters and NPC's, but…
* He will, however, place spies to keep an eye on her.

Nothing was mentioned of Maester Cyril breaking her face. In fact, because of his part in these lies, he loses his Reputation for "Tells the Ugly Truths" and will have to work at getting it back.

The group decide to scout the Rykker lands, along with the loud Ser Waxley, who has them next on his list. While they ride, he explains that the Rykkers are interested in buying out the Baldwins if they're not able to meet the king's growing tax rates. The only success on a Wisdom Risk for what they encounter through Duskendale shows that their land is barren (like the Baldwins).
There are chalk cliffs and a few small fishing villages near Dunfort, where the group arrive. Maester Orin greets them. His truths are:
* He served the Darklyns before the Rykkers
* He has arthritis
* His chain is huge.

They banter, talking about needing to visit their neighbours more often. Uncomfortably, Waxley's happier to greet the Rykkers than the Baldwins, and to share his findings of the Baldwin lands.
The following is determined:
* He denies knowing a Meera Vasilikos
* His head twitches towards a window in the castle
* He offers them a place in the guest tower, separate from the main castle.
* They have a new privy, and are proud of it.

The Lord Rykker is in, along with his sons Jaremy (greasy hair, cunning and not trusted by his family) and Dickon (married to Meera, almost half her age, good hunter). It's night, though, so the group are offered bread & salt, then go to their quarters. Andrew finds one of Hector's spies acting as a servant, discovers the marriage between Meera and Dickon, that they have a child and her former children are or were somewhere with the smallfolk. He gives them a map to the servant's quarters for easy access.

There's much talk of sneaking in, the next day. Cyril takes the map, but they all decide to have breakfast with the lord instead. It's a tense meal, with Meera unable to look Cyril in the eye. He gets up and storms out, she does the same in the opposite direction. Andrew and Symeon catch up with Meera, who's talking to the spy from earlier. She hands him a note and Andrew calls the guards. Symeon kills the man, but Meera escapes.
Cyril dons servants robes to find Meera alone. The others read the letter the spy had, which was her checking in with her 'uncle', it also bears the sigil of the Darklyns. Andrew pretends to burn the letter.

Cyril confronts his sister, unaware of the letter, and is told that she's no more than a captive. She desperately wants to flee and Cyril gives her the map. He says he has something to do and she should seek the others at the guest tower. From there he makes his way to the bedroom of Lord Rykker. Now, remember he has a Blood Oath to kill House Rykker. They killed two of his siblings and forced marriage on another. He opened the door and saw steam. Lord Rykker was in a hot bath and called out, "I'm ready!" Cyril took the lord's sword and plunged it through his chest. Then fled.

When he reached the others, then the guards were starting to panic in the background and Meera was nowhere to be seen. She hadn't gone by the guest tower, and the group remained in place to avoid suspicion. To make his reputation worse (I'm tempted to have it go into minuses until he hits a rank of reputation for lying), Cyril lied about who killed Lord Rykker, then they left tactfully as Jaremy was returning from a hunt.

The Lord Niklas Baldwin was made aware that Meera killed Lord Rykker, and had some part in the assassination attempt.

Things are a bit sketchy though, as it'll be a season before Lady Nesta's wound gets better, and then it'll still be pretty rough. She can't speak yet, and the group don't know why she was involved with the Darklyn/Vasilikos plot, although it's worked out pretty quickly how the Vasilikos' could have been an offshoot of the deposed and despised Darklyns.

Right, this isn't a huge session as people weren't in the right mindset and I was hungover, so herding the cats would have been more difficult than usual. We just did season actions.

We determined that there were three season actions (Lord, Province, Academy), so the players took the following:
* Maester Cyril gained the Aspect "Lordslayer" which we all decided would have an Invoke of "When opposing a lord" and a Compel of "easily led to treason". That came from the Academy.
There was an argument about which location to make. To keep knowledge even I told the group about it being a couple of seasons until Robert's Rebellion, so some people wanted a Blacksmith for weapons and others wanted a Vineyard to give their people some courage. They settled on both in the end, rather than upgrade any Holdings.

Next came the gambling. They did gamble and got extra Gold Dragons. This will be a flush few months. One of the truths of House Baldwin is "They are in debt" so it'll never last long.

From the Tavern came the following rumours:
Cyril's Player: Lord Rykker's said to have killed himself
Andrew's Player: The road to the north is blocked by wolves
Andrew's Player: The Rykkers are in a power struggle (I say that the brothers and their uncle, Renfred)


Okay, a couple of quick things.

My biggest bad, plot-wise was saying that House Baldwin was in The Vale, but next to Duskendale. A Song of Ice & Fire fanatics will know (as Tower of the Hand's maps showed me) that it's in the Crownlands. Whoops. Good thing is that I'm the big fanatic, one other's read the first book (and wiki'd the rest) and everyone else is a fan of the LCG, so they didn't notice. I explained that, and instead of answering to Lord Arryn in the Eeyrie, they have to answer to the royal family, the Targaryens of Dragonstone. This makes taxes a more painful issue in this era and puts them right near to King's Landing in time for the war.

The group... They're all of different skill levels with this game, and it's not experience. A lot aren't used to and don't like having the GM's reins so slack. I find it weird, especially as many of my NPC's don't have stats and therefore don't roll. It's quite easy for the players to get 10's, so when a risk is involved I'm not doing much. I found the USB stick with my pdf copy, so I'll go through that at some point as I'm sure it's tightened a lot from the preorder copy I had the joy of printing out at my work before they clamped down on that sort of thing. Some of them are finding they've got wagers to spare (I've explained Glory to all of them... maybe not Andrew Baldwin, so I'll try and do it again next session).
Another gripe is the potential lethality. It's my belief that lethality is more a threat than anything else. Generally a player has privilige and generally they won't kill each other (friendly game).

One of my players is a little quiet now that we've got four people playing, so I've asked for help from... Maester Cyril. This dude is playing the game. He's doing some of the maddest things, hindering himself, the players, the house, the world, with his actions, and all in good, dramatic ways. I think the freedom's helped him loosen up and realise he's not on a tight leash (or ever was) and that he can act out for good, instead of for wankery.

If people have any advice from play, I'll be starting a re-read of B&H for two weeks time when we return. If I manage to find them, I'll try and get the house sigil on here, but not the family tree, that thing's massive.
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