Saturday, March 15, 2014

Game of Thrones: The Wall & The Night Watch

I believe there is an old saying that goes "Late to the Party" or something along those lines. When it comes to watching the series based on the George R. R. Martin books, Game of Thrones, I'm well behind. I just finished watching season two of Game of Thrones and while normally I'd babble on about this or that, I just wanted to touch on a moment on 'The Wall.'

History and role playing games in particular touch on the symbolic if not actual importance of fantastic monuments designed to keep enemies out, to act as fortifications, and as a symbol of power. One of history's most famous is probably the Great Wall of China but there are others like Hadrian's Wall for example. Heck, even the comedy South Park got to make fun of the whole Wall bit with their own wall keeping out the Mongol hordes.

In terms of Game of Thrones though, George R. R. Martain may have taken inspiration form the later, but his own creation, The Wall has its own bits.

Green Ronin, and others before them, have already done role playing games based on the series, which includes a free quick start rule set found here. Strangely enough, Amazon seems to show that everything is sold out and only available from second hand sellers.

I just wanted to point out how handy something like the Wall would be in a role playing game with a low powered set of rules like 1st or 2nd Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, especially if emulating low magic settings.

1. Character Origin Points: The characters can come from a wide variety of backgrounds. The Wall includes murderers, sons that are bastards, and a wide variety of other types that essentially go into exile. In a game system where characters are killed frequently, its great to have a quick way and reason why characters can come and go into the game.

2. The Wall is Not Independent. While the Wall has a singular purity of purpose, it has to interact with the whole of the setting. It is not nearly as self sufficient as it needs to be. They need supplies, they need men, they need information. All of these things require them interact with the world.

3. The Wall is Not The End: There are whole swathes of land to the North of the Wall and to those who live there, all those South of the wall are Southerners. This isolation allows a lot of variety to be thrown into what should normally be a barren and isolated wasteland.  Depending on how far characters search in those areas, there are all manner of ruins to explore and clear out and all manner of 'Wildlings' to encounter, some which may be friendly and some foes.

4. Uniformity: Depending on which run of say, X-Men you've read, there was a point where the X-Men decided to ditch the costumes and go with almost uniforms. In the Night Watch, they all have similar clothes, supplies and teachings. Everything however, is not so ingrained that there is no room for individual styles or options. For example, Rob uses a sword. Others uses axes. Most can use a bow, but not necessarily all are skilled with them.

In terms of art, there's a nice job over here:

I'm looking forward to watching season three and seeing the dreaded 'Red Wedding'. Yeah, I read up to book four I think and then, like I did with the Wheel of Time, stopped. I'm waiting till George R. R. Martin finishes the series so I suspect by season five or so of the HBO series, which I hear they hope to get eight seasons out of, that I'll start to be surprised.

I myself haven't played in Westros but seeing the shows and the great character work, especially on the imp, does inspire me. Anyone else picked up the RPGs based on watching the show or are you just using Fate or whatever other RPG you've got lying around to do it?