A month ago, I did two things for the first time in my tabletop role-playing career. The first thing was to organise a campaign that will be played entirely online (well, except for our next session). The other thing was to start playing the Song of Ice and Fire RPG (SIFRP) by Green Ronin. I can say that both of these ideas were good ones, and I am especially surprised by the system presented in SIFRP. Today, I want to share my enthusiasm with you and give you three reasons for trying a game in Westeros.
Reason #1 – You don’t create characters, you create a house
Alright, that is a lie. Sure, every player still creates a character, but before you get to that, the entire group creates a House. Anyone familiar with Martin’s world knows that the Houses of Westeros play an important role in the daily life and politics, and it was a great idea to give players the chance to create their own. Through a series of dice rolls and choices, the group will give birth to a minor House, loyal to one of the famous major Houses. During their adventures, the player characters will influence the destiny of their House, and will hopefully uplift it.
The House system includes rules for the management of the House and “House Fortunes”, which can be positive or negative. Players and their characters will have to decide where to take their House, and what role it will play in the Game of Thrones. It is intriguing and a nice distraction from the regular adventures and politics, and that can never be a bad thing!
Reason #2 – Combat is fast and deadly
I love Exalted. I do. I think that Exalted is one of the best games that I have ever played. But you know what I seriously hate about it? Goddamn combat. Why? Because it takes ages, and since every competent fighter is some demi-godly superhero, combat drags on and on until someone has run out of their supernatural fuel and is brutally murdered by the equivalent of a human nuclear bomb. Gosh, I hate it.
In SIFRP, combat is the exact opposite. It is fast and deadly, often done in just a few rounds. As long as a character has some competence, fights will be dramatic and exciting, yet short because of the high damage and low health points. The only problem it has is shown when two equal fighters meet each other. Then it can become the boring back-and-forth I despise so much about Exalted. However, as long as you as a GM know your PC’s, and throw the right enemies in them, combat is just a delight in SIFRP.
Reason #3 – It’s Westeros, damn it
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two years, you will know that the HBO show of Martin’s books has caused his fan base to grow by a gazillion percent. Everyone loves or hates Game of Thrones, but every geek on the planet now has an opinion about it.
I am not trying to say that you should play SIFRP because Westeros is all cool and mainstream now. No, what I am trying to say is that you should give the setting a spin because there is more source material now than ever before. Next to the books and source books by Green Ronin, you have two seasons of a marvelous TV show to refer to and use for your players to learn the setting. It is easier than ever before to discover the thrilling world of Westeros, and to create your own tales in it.
So, if you are still looking for a Christmas present for a fellow gamer, you could do worse than to buy him or her a copy of this game. Tell them that winter is coming, and what better to do during the Long Night than to roll some six-sided dice and pretend you are a knight?