Saturday, April 16, 2011

Game of Thrones & Greyhawk

Starting tomorrow, the highly anticipated Game of Thrones series premiers on HBO. Based on the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series by George R.R. Martin, this show promises to be inspiration for many a fantasy gamer. Interestingly, despite the popularity of the books, the setting itself has not generated a huge following in the RPG community even though a few serious attempts have been made well before the TV series ever came about.

 Long ago in the heyday of 3rd Edition, Wizards of the Coast published an adaptation for the Westeros setting in Dragon Magazine #307 (Co-written by Greyhawkian author Wolfgang Baur). This issue included a decent map of the world from Game of Thrones and an interview with George R.R. Martin. In addition to one issue of Dragon, there has even been a couple fully realized RPG settings published about these books. Now, I haven't played any of these adaptations mind you. As a rule I try not to run games based on popular fantasy/scifi series (Sorry no Star Wars or MERP for me). My statement that Game of Thrones is not a hot RPG is purely based on observations among online communities. I just never see it discussed. But that could change soon!
I won't go into the entire plot or format of the stories here. It's an exhaustive topic and if you've been reading this long I'm guessing most of you already have a working knowledge of them by now. The second part of this post is to comment on the synergy of Game of Throne's medieval-political drama with the similar feel of the World of Greyhawk setting. Taken as a low magic campaign without the usual mega-dungeoncrawl-demigod-nemesis backdrop, Greyhawk the political setting could be ran in much the same vein as these books. Characters in this type of campaign are all members of noble families, are their loyal knights and retainers, or are maybe even commoners struggling to get by the world. Players could conceivably be allies or enemies as this sort of game favors storytelling over loot allocation. Indeed, this set-up is exactly what the 2nd Edition Birthright setting was made for, yet it failed as well. It's a head-scratcher for sure.

I don't have any specific pointers on how to start a Game of Thrones-ish Greyhawk campaign yet, although my first impulse is to set it in the timeline of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy at its height, when it ruled 75% of the Flanaess map. Most of your major kingdoms (Furyondy, Nyrond, etc) are still distinct but serve an overall Overking. There is also no Iuz in the north yet, so more mundane bandit and nomad threats appropriately get pushed to the front. Anyhow, if anyone has ever had similar thoughts about these books and running a Greyhawk campaign I'd be keen to hear your comments. Enjoy the show!

One last thing: Martin's latest novel in the series, A Dance with Dragons, which has painfully been hung up for years, is finally hitting the public July 12, 2011. Huzzah!


Samwise said...

Allegedly hitting the public July 12, 2011.

Actually, I should start rereading the stupid series now if it is, since I've forgotten everything since I finished it 50 bajillion years ago.

Mike Bridges said...

I am in the same boat Sam. That is I've forgotten all the minor plot twists but remember all the big ones. Just enough to pick apart the TV show if it's different. And yeah, allegedly hitting the public...

Scott McMillan said...

I'm just finishing up Storm of Swords in prep for reading Feast of Crows so hopefully I'll remember enough when Dance of Dragons comes out. I'm trying to transform my game into this kind of campaign in my current Sterich game. Sterich is pretty fragmented and messed up so there is lots of room for political intrigue, civil war and all that fun stuff.

Mike Bridges said...

Scott: Excellent! I'm hoping to get at least a 1/10 of the intrigue from those books in my Sea Princes campaign. Different dynamics but nobility is still involved.