Saturday, April 8, 2017

Character Creation: A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying

So, you might have heard that Green Ronin is running a talent search to find a writer for a new RPG line. The catch is: They're looking for a woman or non-binary person. Dudes like me need not apply.

Know what? GOOD.

I frequently have occasion to hire new writers, usually for Onyx Path but sometimes for Growling Door, too (my company publishes one book a year, so my need for writers is sadly minimal, so I totally use OPP as a way to get new people into the industry). And when I'm reviewing submissions, I read the ones from women first (where possible, I read the ones from POC and trans/nonbinary folks first, too, but it's not always easy to tell that).

The reason is not because I want to make a political statement or exclude white men or whatever. The reason is because when you have a diverse group of voices in a project, it makes the project better. It's because I am really good at writing about the experience of growing up in the Midwest in the middle class, and I have a little bit of skill at writing from some other perspectives, but even if we're generous there's still most of the goddamn planet that I'm better off asking for someone else's brain on.

So, hats off to +Nicole and +Chris and the other GR folks. And now, I'm gonna make a character for one of their games.

ETA: Actually, upon further reflection, I have some concerns about the talent search, but it has nothing to do with how it's being run or the fact that they're not accepting submissions from men. If you want to know more or you're thinking about applying, PM me or email me and I'll be happy to give you more context, but it's not something I feel like getting into publicly. Again, this has nothing to do with the way the talent search is set up.

The Game: A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying
The Publisher: Green Ronin Publishing
Degree of Familiarity: Some. +Michelle ran a game of it some time ago. I have neither read the books nor seen the show that the game is based on, nor do I have any particular desire to.
Books Required: Just the one. I have a copy of Night's Watch because Michelle worked on it; dunno if it'll be helpful, but what the heck.

So! I have not read any of the Game of Thrones books. I started to, got as far as Bran getting through out of a window, tossed the book across the room and went "nah." Likewise, we watched the first ep of the show in preparation for this game (which, coincidentally, ends in the same place) and I don't feel a strong urge to continue.

Like, no judgement. Fantasy is not my favorite genre in general, and so it's a hard sell. But, with that said, I remember really liking the game and the system, and of course the nigh-Shakesperean family drama we came up with for our game was fun. So, with that in mind, let's kick this pig.

Well, if I had a group, the first thing I'd do is create a noble house (we did this for our game, it was lots of fun). I do not have a group, however, and the process is pretty involved, so I'm gonna go ahead and do what I often do in these situations: Use the example in the book (and kudos to +Joseph and company for showing the process in action). So my character is a member of House Orlych.

So, back to the actual chargen section, we're at Character Concept. Um. Oh, wait, thank god, there are random tables to determine some things. Scuse me, gotta get dice. Or...wait, it's all d6s. Entropy it is!

Rolling for age makes me an adult, 18-30. That means my character might have found in the War of the Usurper (which my House has some history with, I think). Interesting. Let's move on to Status. Rolling for that, too, I get ranking member of the household, Status 4, Position 16, whatever that means.

The book asks me to think about a role; it's not an official part of character creation, just something to work for. My last character for this game was somewhere between Fighter and Expert. Hmm. I was just thinking yesterday it might be interesting to apply this song to a character in a fantasy game:

To me it suggests a hired gun or an outlaw, which is a little at odds with my status. But then again, the house was formed by people who told the truth and stood up for it, and were rewarded. So that's a place to start - maybe this guy married into the house? I think I'll use Rogue as a basis, but without the sneaky moral flexibility that usually comes with that.

OK, Background! More random stuff! I should come up with three background events, so I'll start by rolling one and see if I want to keep doing that.

First one I roll is "present at a significant tournament," which, eh. No, you know what, I can roll with that. My guy was present at a tournament where he watched nobles fighting with swords, and was taken with how a big, strong guy could just crush the smaller men. If you're small, you rely on speed and taking opportunity. Good lesson.

Roll again? Nah. We'll say that during the way, my character made himself useful and excelled at sneaking up behind people, knocking them off of ledges, setting traps, making diversions, that kind of thing. In particular, he assassinated an enemy leader, but did so in such a way that the guy wasn't even discovered to be missing for a full day, giving the opposing forces time to regroup and set their position.

One more. "Involved in a villainous scandal." My character was involved in a scheme to steal a bunch of equipment and sell it off. He (correctly) guessed, however, as he walked into the sale that it was a sting. Before the other side could yell "halt in the name of Robert" or whatever, he did the same thing, claiming to have been leading the thieves into the trap himself. Of course it took some fancy social maneuvering to get out of that, but he managed. His neck had never been that close to the noose before, and he swore that after that he was going to stick to the truth. And here I'd like to have him marry into House Orlych, simply on virtue of their motto and reputation, but I'll wait and see if that's really doable.

Well, we need a Goal. I think his Goal is Security. He wants to die happy and warm. His fixation on truth is a way to get to that, because he's seen what happens if the webs get too tangled.

His Motivation is Stability, for the same reason. His Virtue is that he's Honest (though he has his reasons for it), and his Vice is that he's Amoral. Truth really does conquer all, he feels, so might as well stay on that team.

Oof, good Concept stage. Now on to Step Three: Assign Abilities. I get 210 Experience to build the character, but I have to buy Status first. I'll stick to Status 4, making me a landed knight. I'll say that I did marry into the house, marrying one of the daughters of Brandon Orlych. My wife died of a fever three months after we were married, though, which leaves my character in a kind of awkward position; he's never going to really be an heir unless a lot of people die, which he's got the skill to engineer, but he doesn't do that kind of thing anymore.

Well, Status 4 costs me 40. Let's look at other stuff I need.

Animal Handling 3 (10)
Athletics 3 (10)
Awareness 3 (10)
Cunning 3 (10)
Deception 4 (40)
Fighting 3 (10)
Knowledge 3 (10)
Marksmanship 3 (10)
Persuasion 4 (40)
Stealth 4 (40)
Thievery 3 (10)
Warfare 3 (10)

That'll work. Now on to Specialties. I get 80 points here. Each bonus die in a Specialty costs 10. So, I think I want 2 in Notice (20), 2 in Bluff (20), 1 in Short Blades (10), 1 in Crossbows (10), and 2 in Sneak (20).

Cool. Step Five: Destiny Points and Benefit. I get 4 Destiny Points and I can take up to three Benefits. Let's check it out. OK, so I can invest Destiny Points in these. Ooh, I want Adept Negotiator. Seems appropriate. Likewise, I think Treacherous is just too cool. And I think that's good.

Step Six: Flaws & Drawbacks. Unlike most games, you get more of these as you get older, but they don't give points back (well, except you get more points if you're older, so they kinda do). I just need to take one, so I'll take Nemesis. The thief that was planning on taken stolen weapons and selling them with me is still alive (bribed his way out, maybe?) and has been looking for me ever since.

Step Seven: All the derived stuff. At the end, as it should be. I note that my Will is perhaps too low; maybe should have raised that. Ah, well. Inner turmoil caused by being honest as a matter of policy, not inclination.

I'm not gonna worry about gear, because it's generally boring. I will, however, get myself a name. Hmm. Ser Remlin Orlych (of course he took his wife's name, she's the one with the title. Also, he really wanted in on this house).

And I think that about does it!