Posts Tagged ‘Game of Thrones’

Of the two historical Westeros settings I presented earlier,  my prospective players have chosen option one: FATE of the Dragon Throne. They want a continental, large scale campaign but don’t yet have many ideas on what issues to put in the setting. I’m going to start the ball rolling on detailing the big picture.


The basic set up is old King Aegon “The Unworthy” Targaryen was as bad at ruling as he was good at whoring. He gave Blackfyre – the sword of Dragon kings – to his favorite bastard Daemon, and gave only disdain to his lawful heir Daeron. Although his sister-wife was a pious as a nun, the king felt Daeron wasn’t his real son.

The social classes of Westeros are King as the highest, lords, nobility, commoners, oath breakers, bastards then the lowest – kin slayers. As a final fuck up, Aegon legitimized all his dozens of bastards on his death bed. The sons he had by noble women were called Great Bastards, and could now be considered full lords. Daemon, born of the king’s cousin Daena, is the grandson of two Targaryen kings!

Current Affairs of State

DAERON_IIThe year is 194 after Aegon’s Landing and King Daeron Targaryen has spent the first ten years of his reign repairing the damage of his debauched father. He’s encouraged trade with foreign nations to reduce the debts owed to lords across the Narrow Sea. There’s no time for tourneys and festivals as business takes priority over ceremony. The only familiarity most have with the king is his face on gold coins. New taxes make these a rare sight.

Issue: Its said “Distracted Daeron cares for Coin over Kingdom”

Face: Maekar Targaryen, Prince of Summerhall, 4th son of Daeron. Aspects: The Dragon must be Respected and I’m the Warrior Father Should Be.

The 20 year old prince travels the north and west lands representing the busy king and ensuring his newer laws are understood and obeyed. Maekar resents this posting as beneath him but was told he must learn diplomacy that doesn’t rely on his mace.

The King’s Hand, Riverland Lord Ambrose Butterwell, tries to buy the people’s loyalty for cheap. He’s announced numerous new holidays as an accuse for drunken festivals where his merchant allies make coin. Traveling Septon priests have been bribed to preach pro-Daeron sermons and report popular opinion. Lords critical of the Throne are ruled against in disputes and the other party is indebted for the injustice in their favor.

Issue: The Greedy Hand Sells Lies and Buys Loyalty.

Face: Ambrose “Milkblood” Butterwell, Lord of Whitewalls, Hand of the King. Aspects: True Power is a Hefty Purse and A Man who Pleases has Only Allies.


House Targaryen


Threats on the Horizon


Older lords shun Ser Daemon Blackfyre as a vain bastard. To make up for his soiled heritage, he holds himself to the utmost standards of nobility. The knight fights with amazing martial skill, many view the handsome and deadly Daemon as the resurrection of Aegon the Conqueror. He never speaks against his crowned half-brother, whom Blackfyre feels sorry for, and wishes his grace let him wed princess Daenerys – Daeron’s sister. Daemon’s noble kinsmen whisper dissent for him.

Threat: Beautiful Blackfyre rules Hearts and Tempts them to Treason

Face: Ser Aegor “Bittersteel” Rivers, Great Bastard of Aegon. Aspects: Cheated by Bastard Birth and Revenge Burns in my Dragon’s Blood.

Rivers is close to his half-brother Daemon and has his trust. Blackfyre is noble but naive, so cynical Aegor takes a protective role over him. As king, Daemon would allow Bittersteel to achieve the power he deserves, so he works to promote the youth and undermine faith in King Daeron.

If Princess Rhaenyra had won her war, she would have been the first ruling Targaryen Queen. Daena “The Defiant”, her grand daughter, would have ruled in turn. Daemon Blackfyre is her only child and her chance to set the royal line the way it should’ve been. Trained in tactics and an experienced player of the game, she controls House Velaryon – her mother’s family. The lady uses their naval power to smuggle and raid riches to secretly fund House Blackfyre. The trade King Daeron fosters is feeding his rivals, and not even Daemon or Bittersteel know it.

tumblr_m85vazBOlC1qlll6ko1_500[1]Threat: The Forgotten Queen Secretly rules the Narrow Sea

Face: Daena Targaryen, Former Queen of Baelor, King of the Seven Kingdoms. Aspects: A Woman’s Will is her Strength and My Beloved Son is the True Dragon.


House Blackfyre

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“Cool, I got these Aspects figured out. My character has the Aspect Undefeated Knight of the Black Thorn – so I can spend one of these Faith points to Invoke that to win every battle I’m in, right?”

NO, for two reasons.

1. winning every battle is boring and the point of my role-playing games is to make fun stories.

2. There’s no such thing as Faith points unless you’re playing Priest: The Secret Keeping.


FATE points are used to create fun when Aspects are Invoked “I’m probably the best swordsmen in Westeros!”, or when Compelled “I MUST keep the secret that the king is my bastard nephew/son!” A lot of their fun comes from Aspects aiding or suggesting Actions, which give players the Power to create Tension.

In FATE Core, narrative Power is measured on the most basic level in Skill bonuses. Zero bonus is considered the untrained Mediocre talent anyone could muster. Which skills a player leaves Mediocre tells us the Actions characters are likely to perform.

Maester Luwin of Winterfell might have Impress skill at +0 because emotional appeals aren’t part of his Portrayal. The old man counsels out of reason, knowledge and sensitivity (Consider, Lore, Console).  He doesn’t drop-it-like-it’s-hot Grand Maester Pycelle style!


Another measure of Power in FATE are Stunts. I think of them as locking the +2 power of a FATE point into an Action in certain situations the character often finds himself in.  In FATE Core, PC start with 3 Refresh and 3 Stunts.

I’ll call these by the more elegant term Signatures because they’re unique powers individual characters possess. I’ll start my PCs with 6 Refresh and make them on the fly.

For this reason, Signatures usually involve a character’s top rated Skills. Under specific conditions these special abilities bonus a skill, allow one skill to be used in place of another or allow a skill to break the rules.

Jon Snow’s top skills are Fight, Will and Aware. He might have these Signatures:

Jon-Snow-jon-snow-31041300-1333-750Bonus: Spinning Parry – Once per scene when Jon successfully uses Fight to defend against a Fight attack, he imparts the one-use boost Aspect Foe Unbalanced. If his defense succeeds with style, it’s a regular scene Aspect with a two free Invokes.

Switch skill: Impressive Conviction – When Jon is speaking with warriors whom have seen him win a physical conflict, he may use Will in place of Impress or Intimidate.

Break rule: Wild and Wary  – If Ghost the dire wolf is in a scene with Jon, once per session he will point out something to Snow that he would’ve had to roll Aware or Search to find on his own.

There’s no rule against having a Signature with a weaker level skill however:

You Know Nothing, Jon Snow – Once per scene, after loosing a Mental Contest against a woman, Jon gains the Relationship Aspect Naive, but Cute with a free Invoke.


A player may also choose to use a chain of Signatures to give lots of power to one skill. This can be demonstrated with characters like Syrio Forel, First Sword to the Sea Lord of Braavos:

The Target is Small – When dueling against those wearing armor, if Syrio is not wearing armor he gets +2 to his defense against them.

Not Today – Once per scene, Syrio can spend a FATE point to add his Aware skill bonus to his Fight defense result if unarmored. If he defends with style, Forel gains the scene Aspect Awe-struck Enemies with a free invoke instead of a boost. Requires: The Target is Small Signature.

True Seeing, True Swordplay – Once per session, Syrio Forel can spend a FATE point in a sword fight to attack with Aware against his foe’s Conceal. With success, the foe takes a Moderate Physical Consequence. Success with style means they take a Severe. Requires the Not Today Signature.


A source of power outside of a character is called an Extra in FATE. Unlike Skills and Signatures, these can be bought, earned, stolen or taken away. The name Extra makes me think of a shirtless King’s Landing urchin trying to sell fruit from his dirty hands – so we’ll use the term Asset.

Common Game of Thrones Assets include weapons and armor. Most role-playing game systems have chapters devoted to detailing everything from fingernail files to spacesuits. Luckily, I’m not trying to simulate Westeros. What matters here is what’s significant to the story.

Ser Gregor Clegane cut off a horse’s head with his great sword. Could he have used a great axe? Yeah, that’s believable. What about a pair of Shae’s panties? NO, that’s fucking NUTS! 1. Shae don’t wear panties! 2. There’s gotta be some in-story reason why he can do that, OR I’m canceling HBO!

Gregor-Clegane-house-lannister-29389114-894-720HBO : Horse-Bane On steroids

Assets are like Aspects, they let you do certain things related to their purpose or give you a +2 to a skill. But, I don’t think a player should have to use a FATE point to use them every time. So, unlike Aspects, an Asset EITHER allows a skill to be used OR raises a relevant skill +2. Re-rolls? Never!

Example: Qotho, Bloodrider to Kharl Drogo, is gonna go kill that lamb witch before she does worse evil shit to his dying friend. Suddenly, he’s interrupted by Jorah, the old Andal warrior, challenging him? Moon and stars! He should’ve just gone to Vaes Dothrak Community College!

300px-Jorah_Fights_QuothoThe two cross blades. Qotho with his arahk. Jorah with his longsword. They can Fight without swords, so these Assets aren’t allowing the skill, but would give +2 to a combat skill. Who gets a bonus? Neither, there’s no clear advantage to either weapon. Why do extra unfun math?

The Dothraki uses his Leaping Charge Signature, which lets him use Muscle to Create Advantage versus the target’s Agility. Further, the horse lord decides to use an Asset. Jorah’s “steel dress” makes him less agile, so Qotho uses it to his advantage in this case.  The Muscle roll is 3 +2 from the armor, for a 5. Mormont’s Agility roll is 1 and he’s bowled over! Even though he gets to his feet quick, there’s now a Rattled Aspect on him with two free Invokes.

The knight devises a way to make use of his own armor. Jorah is going to trap the arahk between his breastplate and spaulder! He uses Fight to Create Advantage with a +2 from armor versus Qotho’s Fight. They get 6 versus 4. The Dothraki uses the free Invoke from Rattled to tie, but Mormont still has Arahk Trapped as a Boost.

JorahQothos tries to Overcome his trapped weapon with Strength versus Jorah’s Strength. He gets -1, then  Invokes Rattled for a re-roll to get 6. Mormont gets a 5, BUT the arahk is curved so it’s hooked around his arm – that’s 7! The Bloodrider is no longer more worried about Drogo.

Ser Jorah attacks a disarmed Qothos. He rolls Fight with a +2, cause he can still use his sword which is now an advantage, and he uses Arahk Trapped for another +2 to get 11. The horse lord can’t use Fight to parry so rolls his Agility to dodge for a 2.

If he had more back story, Qotho could have been a PC with several Consequences to reduce the damage gap. He didn’t, so …

tumblr_m1pyp3qPVl1r95o4qclick to see “Sword for Dinner”

Extraordinary Abilities are another Asset. FATE Core balances having these powers by requiring Permission (justification for having the power) and Cost (character resources that must be sacrificed to use the power). Both these terms are ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! What weirdness does Westeros hold?


Visions of the Future are mainly plot foreshadowing. Daeneyrs has visions about the dragon eggs coming to life. The Permission & Cost is an Aspect that reflects Targaryen’s having future visions: Sharpened Wisdom Aspect – A Dragon’s Dreams Come True. Players can Invoke to get hints of what’s coming. The Gamemaster can Compel that to offer possible futures that require a narrative price, like your husband, unborn son and a sorceress.

Jojen Reed can be handled the same way with the Aspect Afflicted Green Seer of the Old Way. Invoke to convince Summer not to rip your throat out. Seizures is caused by Compel.

For a Signature, Daenerys’ player  can choose: Fire cannot Kill a Dragon and be immune to heat at the cost of 2 Refresh FATE Points.

Being a skin-changing Warg, is a bit more involved. Permission can be simple Aspect justification. No, it doesn’t require paralysis. Orel the wildling might have SkinChanger blood Runs in my Tribe.


Cost seems to be a skill because it creates a whole new kind of Action. Skinchange skill takes up a slot and can strengthen over time like any other skill, we see Bran Stark developing it.

How do we determine Overcome difficulty for the skill? Well, Bran can jump into Summer before he even has the skill at Average, so this looks like a relationship thing. If you’ve raised an animal from near birth, difficulty is Average. Knowing the animal for years is Fair; a few months is Great;  a day is Epic +7 difficulty. To jump into people would require a Signature and the Overcome difficulty will be raised by the target’s Will bonus.

1016600_534752073248463_1984713052_nIn physical Conflicts, a Warg must roll Skinchange to Overcome the number of Stress shifts an animal suffers to stay connected. If they don’t, Emotional Stress is suffered equal to the animal’s physical stress and they’re ejected. The animal runs off. If the creature dies while connected, the Warg will take an Emotional Consequence one level less than the last one the animal took because they actually glimpse death.

From the books (no spoilers), the longer you’re in the animal, the more it’s nature influences you when you’re back in your body. This may be a minor or serious cost of failure and may result from prolonged connection. There’s mention in the books of skin addicts starving to death cause they prefer the animal body.

 Jaqen H’Gar, a Faceless man, has Deceive at a supernatural level. Since it’s an enhancement of a skill, this would be a special kind of Signature: I am No One – You assume the look and mannerisms of someone else. Any Deceive or Conceal roll is +4 to keep up the illusion. Cost is 3 Refresh points. All that super killing is just normal skills used expertly.


Finally, Magic Rituals are best represented by Challenges, a chain of different skill rolls that contribute to a greater effect. Permission would be an Aspect like Sultry Red Priestess of Asshai (Magical MILF would also fit, but not the right style).

As the rolls involved are for regular skills used in a new way, the Cost would be a Signature with a variable Refresh cost 1-4 pts. Every extra Refresh point spent on the Signature beyond the first grants one Ritual Aspect that can be Invoked during the Ritual Challenge. Each gives one free Invoke and should share a theme based on the magic’s source. These also suggest the actions required for the ritual.

Game-of-Thrones_105443Signature: Empowered Servant of R’Hllor’s Light – You may undertake sacred rituals to evoke the Lord’s favor. His blessings are Born of Light and Shadow, Nourished with Blood’s Life and Fill the Night with Terrors. Cost 4 Refresh points.

The character performing the ritual first decides on an intended effect. Effects are measured in shifts like with any other skill. The Ritual Challenge is made up of Overcome difficulties that together equal the shifts of the effect. Rituals follow three phases: gathering power (ingredients), conjuration (incubation) and evoking (triggering). Any failure is a success at a serious cost, which will be reflected final effect.

Example: At the command of King Stannis, Melissandre is going to evoke the Lord of Light’s power to kill the pretender king Renly Baratheon. Anyone with a knife could kill Renly, but she wants to do it with stealth and at a distance with magic.

Renly has an Aware of 2. His highest physical stress box is 2. He has a Mild, Moderate, Severe and Extreme Consequence, which together avoid 20 stress. So, the overall intended effect of Taking Out Renly’s character requires 24 shifts.

file_185605_0_Game_of_Thrones_Renly_Baratheon24 at BEST.

The Challenge is best split up in Scenes so it doesn’t drag on and other players can do their thing.

Scene 1 Gathering power. The priestess needs some of Renly’s blood. Remember Nourished with Blood’s Life. Failing that some royal semen of the same bloodline will do. What! Stannis is his brother?! How lucky! Stannis has a Will of +4. Convincing him will be a Contest in itself.

She Creates Advantages I’ll Give you a Son, Your Wife is Sickly, Check out this Red Bush; then rolls Impress & Deceive versus Stannis’s Will over three rounds. She wins the Contest easy and gets the Baratheon brew, plus a map of Dorne imprinted across her ass. Defeating Stannis’s Will +4 three times counts as 12 difficulty she’s Overcome. 12 to go.

stannismelisandreScene 2 Conjuration. Melissandre is growing a shadow within her over the next week. She must roll Will+4 versus 4 difficulty to shape the cold formless malice swirling in her womb. The priestess fails with a 0. The 4 difficulty counts towards reducing the last 12 shifts, but there will be a serious cost. 8 left.

Scene 3 Evoking, aka the Birth. This will require an exertion of her Endure+2 versus three checks. Two Fair +2 and one Great+4. Her dice rolls here are bad and she must use all the Ritual Aspects to make it through. Born of Light and Shadow gets Invoked cause she’s in a cave with a single lantern. Nourished with Blood’s Life applies because of Stannis’ “donation”. Fill the Night with Terrors can give a needed +2 because she’s literally birthing a terror into the night.

Game-Of-Thrones-Smoke-Baby-1335165344The shadow pulls itself out and goes on it’s dark mission. There’s still the serious cost of the Conjuration failure though. The Gamemaster decides with her player that it will reach Renly and kill him, but Brienne and Catelyn Stark will see it and know Dark Magic killed a King. Also, Ser Davos is Certain the Red Lady is Evil.

Two complicating story Aspects equal a serious cost. If they had 4 serious costs, it would’ve torn her open and killed Davos then gone through Renly’s camp horrifically killing anyone with an R name. This would mark Stannis as a demon-worshiper. No serious costs and it would have smothered Renly in his sleep with no witnesses or sign of dark arts.

OR, she could have just spent a Faith point to invoke Magical MILF if this was Priestess: The Secret Keeping!


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“So, I’m playing Eddard Stark of Winterfell. He cares about justice and all that shit so he’s Lawful Good.”

Would he lie that Joffrey is the true king – selling out the memory of his best friend – to save his innocent daughter?

“Hmm … that depends. After she’s dead, could I get a Revenge feat to boost his damage bonus when fighting Lannisters to avenge her? I’ll call it For Sansa!


In lots of role-playing games, role is a package of skills and character is just the color of the box these skills come in. FATE Core focuses on character first, skills are simply the tools they use.

Step one of Character Creation is actually Setting Creation cause it gives context. Someone could truthfully say Game of Thrones is medieval political intrigue with a few fantasy notes. They could also call Star Wars a coming-of-age sci-fi faerie tale – but these are the descriptions of an uncreative nerf-herder.

nerf-herder<witty reply>

Descriptions make a world, threats make a story and Aspects express Descriptive Threats. Remember how Aspects work? They’re so important I bold AND italics them!

What details define the character of Westeros? What disturbing issues are at the core of the saga? Everyone playing brainstorms and discusses these answers until agreed upon by the group. Once listed, combine the descriptions with the threats, shorten them and give them a punch:

  • Competing Families bonded by Lies, Gold and Sex,
  • The Cuckold King is as Lusty as he is Stupid,
  • The Dragon’s Children struggle in the Savage East,
  • Cold Horrors stalk the Forgotten North,
  • Winter is Coming … With Death for All.

THAT sounds like a Song of Fire and Ice! Compel any of those and you have a novel-length adventure scenario, or just a scene:

“Your new husband is a from the Savage East, and it is your wedding night. This goes wrong when …

Daenerys-and-Drogo-daenerys-and-drogo-29371643-1280-720“… OUCH! Take an extra FATE point.”

Now the players decide what kind of characters they want to create in a world like this.

FATE Core players characters (PCs) have five starting Aspects that dramatically flesh out what’s unique and important about them. These are categorized as High Concept, Trouble and the three of the Phase Trio (one to describe your coming of age and two to define relations with other PCs). I want to customize these for the feel of GoT as I explain them.

The first Aspect is the High Concept, its a bite sized summary of who the character is. What immediately makes them unique? When they first meet Arya, what’s the first thing she’ll rudely ask about? I love the idea but don’t like the term “High Concept” for this game. Any piece of art has a high concept.

I think of this central defining Aspect as a kind of “Character Portrait”, but it’s more than what they look like – its also their actions. I prefer the term Portrayal cause its the action of displaying who a character is.

To determine Ned Stark’s Portrayal, lets look at how he relates to the setting.

Competing Families bonded by Lies, Gold and Sex,

  • His own family is pretty nice and his vassals respect him. He’s got a bastard son his wife hates but Ned cares for Jon like his legit kids. Even Theon is well treated, and he’s an enemies son.

The Cuckold King is as Lusty as Stupid

  • Eddard is a Stark 😉 contrast to Robert Baratheon. Disciplined, serious and faithful.

The Dragon’s Blood struggle in the Savage East

  • He’s glad the Mad King is dead – Aerys murdered his father and brother – but the dishonorable means bothers him. The killing of innocent Targaryen children disgusts and saddens this lord.

Cold Horrors stalk the Forgotten North,

  • Ned has respect for Knights Watch, especially cause Wildlings raid his lands. He wants to take Benjen’s warnings seriously but there’s other priorities at hand.

Winter is Coming … With Death

  • “Winter is Coming” reminds the lord that preparing for the worst is what’s most important. There’s no room for pettiness and conniving. The cold doesn’t care how rich you are.

Lets shave down each of these five observations to their core points:

  • Kind & just
  • Serious
  • Honorable
  • Priorities
  • Grounded

Let’s mix these into a statement that captures the Truth of Ned: A Grounded and Good Man of Honor Who’s Serious enough to Know what’s Important.

Accurate but a bit long. Let’s cut out the redundant: An Honorable Lord who’s Grounded and Focused.

Tight, but kind of dry. Its impersonal too, more like an outsiders point of view. To capture the character we should get into his voice. Show who Ned is, don’t tell who he is. Take out saying “serious” and “focused” – instead, focus on making it serious:

EddardStarkPortrayal: “An Honorable lord Must Focus on what’s Right.”

This Aspect can be Invoked to help Impress upon his grieving wife that he MUST leave to protect King Robert as his Hand.

It allows a single FATE point to declare a new story detail like Tywin Lannister must Answer for the Mountain’s Atrocities.

The Portrayal can be compelled to have him choose to warn the Queen of Robert’s wrath to save her children.

Speaking of which, the next character Aspect is Trouble. FATE Trouble can be external or internal, but in GoT it should be something internal because its more dramatic. I prefer the more active alternative, Struggle.

This is a deep personal issue they seemingly can’t separate themselves from. The Portrayal gives us a foundation to launch from. A Struggle can come from a problem the character has because of their Portrayal. What are the ramifications of An Honorable lord Must Focus on what’s Right?

What the fuck is “right”? Ned is the lord of the entire north. He’s gotta reign in these Viking farmers. Sometimes he has to cut off heads, personally.

He’s a father to six kids: a pretty boy, a depressed bastard, a slow-witted prom queen, a tomboy assassin, a wall-crawling peeping tom and the pirate foster kid.

In his off time, he’s a caring husband trying to make up for the sullen dark-haired oopsie he had 17 years ago.

Oh! I forgot Rickon – like everybody else does. There you go!

eddard-ned-stark-1024Struggle: A Lord’s Duties Neglect Family

That fits. Just ask Bran, once he wakes up from a coma without a Dad. Ask Sansa when he betroths her to Prince Bitchy Sadist, first of his name.

Now that we have the core duality of the character represented, FATE moves to the Phase Trio of Aspects. One describes your coming of age and two define relations with other PCs.

I want to stick to the general framework of the Phase Trio but spice it up for GoT. Because the sword is such a symbol of the genre, we’ll make the character’s origin story emulate the forging of a sword. I’ll collectively call these three the Forging.

First is the Family Formed. It represents the substance that a character comes from based on his family, or lack thereof. Eddard is a Stark who have the blood of the First Men, worship the Old gods of the north and are hard and vigilant. Aspect: Hard as Ice & Steely like a Dire Wolf . (Don’t feel the need to use metallic metaphors, I’m a hacky writer)

Tyrion’s Aspect for this phase might be The Lowest Lannister is Still a Lannister.

Come at Me, You’re Dead would fit Bronn’s mysteriously awful childhood – he did kill a woman at 12!

Next is the Tempering Hardship. This comes from a tragedy that happened early in the characters life.

Ned’s father and brother were burned to death when they demanded his abducted sister (who later died) be returned by the Mad King. Yeah … that’s a tragedy. It led to him joining Robert’s Rebellion.

Stark and Baratheon were long time friends but this was the darkest point in young Eddard’s life. Aspect: Killing Corruption saves the Innocent.

Mix up ideas with another player to determine a hardship you went through. If your group has an odd number then bring in another player too. This is also when your characters bonded. Maybe the PCs helped each other through it. The other players involved draw their own Aspect from this shared experience.

Robert’s player chooses Love Died with Lyanna.


The last phase is the Sharpened Wisdom. This is a piece of insight that guides the character. If Portrayal is what they present themselves to be, this Wisdom is how they approach problems.

Being from the distant north, Ned is a kind of a wild card. Unlike the vain lords of the south, he isn’t proud or flashy. His player explains this to another player he hasn’t collaborated with before to derive the final Aspect. The other PC could have given him this idea, as Ned could have demonstrated another lesson to them.

Jaime Lannister’s player looks over Ned’s character sheet and decides he could use just a little guile – which Jamie showed when he killed the king he swore to defend. He suggests Stark choose the Aspect: Never let’em Know What You can Do.

Even though he ended the Mad King’s reign , and saved the people of King’s Landing from being burned alive, Jaime is a villain and Eddard is a hero of the realm?! He learns from this hypocrisy. Lannister’s Sharpened Wisdom is Reputation makes the Best Armor.


We have the Aspects that define a player character. By considering the character’s place in the setting, and relation to other important characters, we come up with something way richer than Lawful Good:

Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North, Hand of the King

  • Portrayal: An Honorable lord Must Focus on what’s Right.
  • Struggle: A Lord’s Duties Neglect Family
  • Family Formed: Hard as Ice & Steely like a Dire Wolf
  • Tempering Hardship: Killing Corruption saves the Innocent
  • Sharpened Wisdom: Never let’em Know What You can Do

Now that we know who we’re playing, we know what skills to give him. Some Fighting, tons of Disapproval, good Discipline, NO Aware at all; and yes, you can take the Rage feat For Sansa! but Robb will have to inherit it.

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“So, Jon Snow is a level 4 Fighter and 3rd level Bastard?”

Doesn’t matter! In FATE Core characters are mechanically defined by their Skills and Talents (Talents/Stunts to be discussed later). Much more importantly, they’re defined by their Aspects.

Aspects are true descriptive phrases that can give power to the character’s actions, suggest complications to reaching their goals and enable players to add more detail to the story. They do this whenever a player chooses to spend or accept a FATE point – which is a unit of player currency used to activate Aspects that describe the setting, objects and characters in the story.

“How the hell does this weird story-fate shit work?”

Like this:

Tyrion Lannister is imprisoned in a Sky Cell under Lady Arryn’s keep. He wants to overcome Mord the Jailer’s suspicion and get a message to the lady. His player (Ron) gets a 1 result with his Impress skill versus the 3 Mord (Gamemaster character) got to defend with his Discipline skill. That’s a FAIL!

tyrion_and_mordBUT, there’s an Aspect in the setting which says A Lannister Always Pays his Debts. Everyone has heard of this Aspect – its almost their house motto! Ron explains to the Gamemaster as Tyrion explains to Mord: “I am a Lannister and A Lannister Always Pays his Debts, SO if you deliver my message I will OWE you GOLD!”

Ron pays the Gamemaster a FATE point to use or Invoke this relevant Lannister Aspect. The GM accepts the point since the Aspect can reasonably help in this case. Now, Ron can either re-roll or add +2 to his effort to Impress – he chooses to add 2 to the original 1 result.

Tyrion-Mord-tyrion-lannister-22920725-500-255The 3 Impress now ties Mord’s 3 Discipline. When you’re trying to overcome something and tie, you overcome with a minor cost. Mord will deliver Lannister’s message, but Tyrion will have to give Mord his purse and be broke for a little while.

The Gamemaster could Invoke another relevant Aspect to raise Mord’s defense. Anyone can invoke any relevant Aspect once per roll. Maybe the Jailer has a belief Aspect that Prisoners Always Lie! He doesn’t, and beating Tyrion would just block this interesting turn of events. The dwarf wants to CONFESS?!

That’s how Aspects when Invoked give power to a character’s actions, BUT they can also complicate a character’s life when used against them or Compelled:

Tyrion is to have a Trial by Combat to prove his innocence against the accusation that he plotted to kill Brandon Stark. Ser Egan of the Vale will fight for his Lady Arryn but doesn’t want dwarf blood on his shin guards. Lannister needs a champion now!

800px-Tyrion_on_trialThe Gamemaster turns to Kobe, the player who is playing Bronn the Sellsword. “Kobe, Bronn has the Aspect Have Gold, Will Kill, which implies you’d decide to fight for the dwarf. This will go wrong when you become known as a Lannister Lap-dog?” The GM offers Kobe a FATE point to Compel Bronn to accept this.

Kobe could buy off the Compel by not taking the FATE point and giving the GM one of his own. He feels Bronn would rather watch the imp fight the knight. Maybe they’ll be fair and have Tyrion fight a couple of hungry dogs instead?

The gods have smiled on the little lord though. Kobe spent all of Bronn’s FATE points fighting Hill tribesman on the road to the Vale.

Kobe must accept the Compel and take the FATE point to have Bronn fight for Tyrion and take a side in the upcoming war, which complicates his life by cutting potential clientele in half at least! Then again, helping the dwarf could start him on the road to riches.

BronnFEEYou see now how Aspects can create interesting plot twists and earn you more FATE points to empower characters later. Since they’re true statements, Aspects can also allow you to add details to the story – possibly new Aspects.

Tyrion and Bronn are ambushed and surrounded by Hill tribesmen. Usually Lannister would throw money at a problem like this, but their leader Shagger ain’t interested in gold – proving their barbarity. On the bright side, the dwarf gave his purse to Mord so he doesn’t have any.

514420-episode_08_14_superRon, playing Tyrion, offers up a FATE point. “Tyrion has the Aspect A Lannister of Casterly Rock the Richest House in Westeros, which implies that he has access to the greatest smiths in the realm. So, he would have beautiful jewelry – like a gold lion’s head ring worth more than everything this tribe owns. I want to add this as an Aspect.”

Ron could’ve rolled Wealth to Create an Advantage to make the new Aspect, but he gave his money away. The GM accepts the FATE point and a new Aspect Beautiful Lion Ring is created with one free Invoke. Basically, Ron transferred the power of his FATE point into a piece of the story.

Tyrion-and-the-Hill-Tribes-500x261Next, Ron sets up a deal: “Tyrion offers to give the Hillsmen REAL steel so they can conquer the Vale of Arryn.

” I’m spending the free Invoke of Beautiful Lion Ring to let me roll Wealth even though I’m broke right now. It proves the quality of Lannister smiths and our riches.”

The GM and the other players agree.

“Sweet! I’ll roll Wealth to Create Advantage … I got a 5! Know what – I’ll spend another FATE point to Invoke A Lannister Always Pays his Debts to further assure them. Now, I’ve got a 7!”

Shagger has a Discipline of 1 (barbarians – you know), SIX less than the 7 Wealth. Ron succeeds with style – TWICE!

The dangerous scene Aspect Surrounded by Hills Tribe Killers is changed to Hills Tribe Killers Fight for the Half Man on Credit – and he has THREE free Invokes with this Aspect!

Tyrion-and-hill-tribes-house-lannister-29623879-1920-1080This is way that Aspects are used in FATE Core, my favorite table-top RPG.

Does this make sense? Remind you of other cool RPGs? Share.

BTW, there were some season 1 spoilers in this.

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“Alright, you’re characters have fought hard in the Riverlands but now it’s time for some fun festivities.” announced the game master.

“The King’s uncle, Lord Tully, invites you to attend his wedding to one of Walder Frey’s daughters at the Twins. Hopefully, the union will restore strength to the army of the North!”

The players look at each other with absurd faces. GAME OF THRONES OVER, MAN!

The worst part about running in the setting of a great story is the damned great story! Thanks Mr. Martin for your beautiful art, which has sparked my own creativity – now, get the hell out the way.

A Song of Fire and Ice is still being composed and I don’t want it to drown out my own li’l melody. I can’t really add on until it’s done and I don’t want to tarnish such a saga. The future is still in motion – like Yoda said while he popped open a can of Pepsi to earn Lucas another few million dollars.

This leaves us the rich history of Westeros, where only a few nerds such as myself have delved.

Option 1 – FATE of the Dragon Throne

A hundred years before Danerys married Kharl Drogo, King Aegon Targaryen IV, the worst king in the history of Westeros, legitimized his bastards on his deathbed. This created dozens of heirs in royal line. Shortly after, one of his royal oopsies made a play for the throne. It becomes known as the Blackfyre Rebellion.

The events are far enough from the series to have narrative freedom, but still feel like GoT. I didn’t make this up. I read this in the Hedge Knight series. George R. R. Martin is spilling over with fucking talent.

A game requires conflict and this is a good one. Player characters need a Trouble or Struggle to define themselves against. Daemon Blackfyre is this great warrior with lots of charisma. The crowned king Daeron Targaryen is a bookish administrator trying to focus on fixing the damage his father did. Uber jock versus Super nerd on an epic scale!



The players I have lined up are mostly unfamiliar with the setting. A few think of GoT as “D&D with lots of talking”. There’s only a little magic in Westeros and few other tropes of medieval fantasy games. How can I run GoT AND fulfill comfortable expectations?

Option 2 – FATE of the Seven Lands

Six THOUSAND years before the death of King Robert of the House Baratheon – ruler of the First Men, the Andals and the Rhoynar, the first Andals conquered the Vale of Arryn. They brought with them the Seven Gods and steel to the wild spirited First Men with their many Old Gods. The invaders aim to spread the Faith to the seven lands of Westeros, civilize hundreds of clannish kingdoms and destroy the wierding powers of the Great Weirwoods with their inhuman keepers.

Whether the players play First men, Andals or whatever else, this mythic age holds only potential. I see it as sort of GoT with classical Roman flavor. The Andals as the Romans battle with their steel spathas ringing against bronze scale armor of the “barbaric” First men.

Add in the Crusades with the themes of old tradition versus alien ideas.

This is a vaguely detailed setting in GoT’s past where there was magic and sorcery. This is where the supernatural powers that Brandon is learning about were much more common. The Children of the Forest used dark magic to destroy a peninsula! Snarks and Grumpkins REALLY do prowl the dark woods doing evil faery tale shit! Dire wolves? Dire bears, boars, mammoths, dire EVERYTHING!

orcmountWhich would you choose? Why?

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My gaming imagination has been recently rekindled … actually, has been set a FUCKING BLAZE with the release of the FATE Core Role-playing Game by Evil Hat Productions.

“Why is the hat evil?” Doesn’t matter – focus!

“What’s a Role-playing game?” This.

“… … that’s weird.” Check ya later.

“Cooooool!” Keep reading.

FATE Core takes awesome ideas like When You play the Game of Thrones, You Win or You Die and makes it a game Aspect that shapes the whole story, one scene or the fate of a single character.

Obviously, I want to run a game in this setting and have sketched out some ideas.

Skills – I need to make these tie in to what the characters in Game of Thrones go through and excel at so the players can feel like they’re in a book or on the show. Couldn’t/Wouldn’t represent the sex, but came up with these:

Physical Skills

Agility, Aim, Conceal, Endure, Fight, Muscle & Ride

All self-explanatory. Endure and Strength are separate. Tyrion can’t lift a boulder like Hodor (Muscle), but could drink him under the Wall (Endure).

Social Skills

Command, Console, Deceive, Impress, Intimidate, Mock & Wealth

When he learned of his father’s death, Jon Snow would’ve become a traitor to the Knights Watch. Good thing Samwell had Console to help his grief.

Since Aspects are true, Deceive attempts that contradict obvious Aspects always fail.

Tyrion tries to Impress upon Cersei that they need to work together, yet all she does is Mock him.

Mental Skills

Aware, Connections, Consider, Lore, Medicine, Search & Will

Aware is used for perceiving your surroundings – so it can defend you against concealment. It can also help you see past some deceitful tricks that rely on misrepresentation.

Connections is the ability to know the right people for the right purpose. Lord Varys and Lord Baelish use this to gain secrets from their spiders and little birds. Does this eunuch really have a gash down there? To learn who’d know, roll Connections against a HIGH difficulty.

Consider represents the ability to deduce subtle details. It helps you unravel a deception or look beyond a shallow impression. It can oppose Wealth to help you reach a fair deal.

Will is defense against Intimidate or Mock, that’s why they call Tywin Lannister “Ole Will Face”.

Lore is recalling anything you could’ve read in a book or heard around a camp. The more obscure or secret the fact the higher the difficulty of the roll. It covers rumors, legends, actual history or even trivia – like Catelyn Stark’s recipe for lemon cakes or the number of relatives Queen Cersei has slept with (at least two).

What a I missing? Lock-picking? Use Consider.

What do you think? This is a good time to share.

stark1LOW Aware skill.

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