song

How Jaime Lannister got on my good side

Before you read any further: spoiler alert. This text contains massive spoilers about the A Song of Ice and Fire books, and especially the events in A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. If you still want to enjoy those books, better read something else on this blog. Please, stay on this blog. It will be worth your time.

With that out of the way, let me tell you something about Jaime Lannister. Ah, what hasn’t been said about this smug-faced sisterlover already. With his good looks and his charming ways, he conquers many Westerosi hearts, but his own only beats for his twin sister. While being the father of a bunch of incest children, he still does his best to be the awesome member of the Kingsguard everybody thinks he is, despite the fact that he already killed a King he had sworn to protect. He has so much to hate, and many viewers of the HBO show and readers of the first two books really hate this arrogant tool. Until a few days ago, I was one of them.

You see, if you make it to the third book of the A Song of Ice and Fire saga, you will discover an entirely new side of Jaime. While trying to make his way to King’s Landing with Brienne, the two get caught by the rather brutish and primitive Brave Companions, and in a sadistic turn of events, Jaime Lannister loses his sword-hand. That’s right: this great knight loses what makes him so feared and famous, and he sure has a serious internal crisis about it. However, instead of turning into a wimpy idiot who just complains about how cruel the world is, Jaime makes up plans to get the most out of the situation, and even starts to appreciate the companionship and bravery of the female knight Brienne. When he gets a safe escort back to King’s Landing without Brienne, he decides that he can’t just leave her behind, rides back to Harrenhal and saves her from a bear, which she had to fight with a blunt tournament sword. Of course, he keeps his cool through all of this, almost never complaining about his lost hand, while risking his life and safety for a woman he could just as easily hate.

Ladies and gentleman, Jaime Lannister is, officially, my new favourite character of the entire saga.

Seriously, it’s impressive how Jaime goes from charming jerk to handicapped good guy in just a few chapters. Even better, the entire transformation feels plausible and is well-written. It’s great to see a tough, badass character like Jaime developing soft spots, and that almost makes you forget that he is the father of several incestuous children and the member of the family responsible for Eddard Stark’s death (though you could write that one up to Joffrey’s sheer madness). It also makes him believable, and that was just the thing he needed after being my favourite character to hate (next to Joffrey. God, I hate that brat).

So, next time you meet a fictional character that seems to be a prick, don’t judge him too fast. Snape turned out okay, and Jaime Lannister seems to be a semi-good guy as well. Hate and despise them while you can, but respect them as soon as they find redemption for their douchery.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I got books to read.

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Riverlands Saga – My Song of Ice and Fire

“The Iron Throne, GRR Martin” by MarcSimonetti. Click the picture to go to his awesome gallery

 

Judging by all the TSW posts you’ve been seeing so far, you might think that all I do is playing one MMO when I’m not working. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to start a monthly SIFRP game with two of my long-time players. Next to this campaign being my first time using the SIFRP rules and Westeros setting, it is also my first time playing via Skype. Yep, the times where my friends and I could just meet to game are gone, as we decided to spread all over Europe. I raise my mug of Dornish wine in honour of modern technology, allowing us to play through the world-wide web.

Anyway, the campaign, which is titled the Riverlands Saga, focuses on the minor House Yannor, bannerhouse to the Tullys in the Riverlands. Taking place just a few months after Robert’s Rebellion, the player characters have been tasked by Edmure Tully to investigate rumours of trouble in House Dulver. It seems that the lord of the House is preparing for war, and the last thing the recovering Riverlands need is another vendetta between rival Houses.

The main characters are Jonas Yannor and his twin brother Gavin, along with the bastard and ward from House Bolton, Dana Snow. Jonas, as heir of the House, is being groomed against his will to rule the Yannor lands one day, while his twin brother shows far more interest in such a function. Dana, a talented huntress and reluctant noble lady, dreams of a stranger from the North and longs for roaming the wild lands one day. This unique combination of characters is an interesting mix, which has already shown to offer some great stories.

Next Sunday, we’ll play our next session, and I will post recaps of all the previous sessions on this blog as soon as possible. In the mean time, I’m curious to hear about your experiences with roleplaying in Westeros. What stories can you share from any corner of the Seven Kingdoms?

Three reason why you should give the Song of Ice and Fire RPG a spin

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?