A Game of Thrones Roleplaying Game: A Mini Review

Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Game Book CoverThis week HBO screened the initial episode of it’s much anticipated series, A Game of Thrones. The show is based on the book of the same name by George R. R. Martin and is the first novel in the acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire. The preview released by HBO (embedded below) looks amazing and does a lot to capture the feel of the book. Seeing as  A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying (which henceforth will be referred to as SIFRP) has been on the “maybe” list for our gaming experiment, and to celebrate the release of the new series, it seemed like a good idea to do a mini review of the game and maybe inspire a few groups to get involved in a little bit of intrigue in the land of Westeros themselves.

The book starts with an introduction to the setting, with enough information to start running a game, but most game masters will have read the novels (or possibly seen the series) so will have a pretty good idea about most of this information already.

As far as the rules system goes, SIFRP is a skill-based, classless system with a dice pool mechanic that shares some similarities to the roll-and-keep system used by Legends of the Five Rings but using 6-sided dice. The first thing that jumped out at me was the complete lack of stats or attributes. Instead, characters have Abilities which are a little like a composite of skills and attributes. Each Ability has specialisations which allow further customisation and differentiation. Basically everything is an Ability test, where you roll a number of dice equal to your rank (generally 1: Deficient up to 7: Paragon) in the Ability plus the rank in any appropriate specialisation, and sum a number of dice equal to your Ability rank. e.g. A knight has a Fighting Ability rank of 5 with a rank of 2 in the specialisation of long blades. He would attack by rolling 7 dice and summing the highest 5, comparing the total to the unfortunate victim’s Combat Defense number. The higher you beat the target number, the higher the damage. Though we haven’t had a chance to play the system yet, it looks like it should model the gritty, deadly style of combat as seen in the novels.

One feature which sounds interesting is the Intrigue System which is a little like combat but for social interaction. This may sound like a horrible idea to the kind of player who likes to roleplay all interaction, but personally, I think it would be an interesting exercise to run an interaction like this: roll the dice and find out the result, then, after you know what the end result will be, roleplay how you got there. (This is an idea that we have discussed in a previous podcast). The Intrigue System works a little bit like combat and allows a character to “attack” an opponent’s composure and when they run out you get to apply the intended affect, for example, intimidating them into doing something for you.

There is a lot more to talk about – the mass combat system, destiny points (which work much like fate points in other systems), character creation (a somewhat point-based system) etc, but to do justice to the system these will have to wait until we get a chance to play the game. It does however, look like an interesting entry into the fantasy roleplaying game genre that should do a good job of bringing to life the world of one of the most popular fantasy series of recent times.

Check the links below for the free Quick Start pdf which gives a cut down version of the rules, some pre-generated characters and a short introductory adventure to when your appetite. If your group has been playing (or is planning to play) A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, drop us a line and let us know how it goes.



About Dwayne

Dwayne started his roleplaying game hobby with Dungeons & Dragons Red Box. Since then he has enthusiastically collected a broad range of games. Some of his favourites include Rolemaster, Gurps, Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and Legends of the Five Rings. He is a regular on the Dice of Doom podcast.
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