Sunday, 5 May 2013

Welcome To The Wall - ASoIaF By Way of 2e AD&D...

So, the weather outside is frightful, and it recently snowed in Glasgow for about two weeks straight. Between that, and playing Skyrim and watching the new season of Game of Thrones, snow has been on my mind for a while, and I decided to follow through with one of my New Years Resolution to try a game I have never tried before.

Put all these together, and you get... The Wall.
HBO's A Game of Thrones
"Welcome to the Wall, boys. You are here not as a punishment, but to perform a great service to the Kingdom. The fact you are thieves, rustlers, liars, cheats, bastards and outcasts, who have been sent to the frozen arsehole of the Kingdom is coincidental, surely. This Wall marks the end of our hold on the land. Beyond it, there are savages, The Restless Dead, and creatures you thought only lived in your grandmother's scary tales. The Black Watch's job, our job, is to man this Wall, and keep those fuckers out."

The game borrows liberally from both A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones and Skyrim, to create something almost entirely unoriginal, but at the same time a lot of fun. Hopefully, at least.

Players have been inducted into the Black Watch - once seen as an honour, one of the highest accolades a warrior can receive, to protect the Kingdom from the weird horrors of the Frozen North. As these Horrors stayed quiet for a few generations, many believe them to be gone (or to have never existed in the first place), leaving many feeling the Black Watch is an artifact of an age of superstition and unenlightened men. Hence, instead of sending great sending of criminals (mainly traitors to the crown, the dishonoured, bastard children of nobles, and those who want to be shown as an example).

I am currently swithering over which races will be available - I am considering sticking to Humans only. I can maybe see Half-Orcs, Half-Elves, maybe even Mul (Half-Dwarves) and Half-Giants/Half Ogres (the Wildlings in ASoIaF did have Giants among their numbers,after all...).

Players can choose from the Fighter, Ranger, Thief, and Wizard classes. Fighters will be most common,with Thieves and Rangers not too far behind. In order to help differentiate these relatively limited roles, each class will have a list of Kits (and optional rules) available to them.
  • Fighters get the Tight Weapon Groups Proficiency, Style Specialisation/Fighting Style bonuses, and the following Kits:
    • Barbarian (Wildling only), Berserker, Myrmidon, Noble Warrior, Savage (Wildling only), Wilderness Warrior (Wildling only)
  • Rangers gain access to the following Kits:
    • Explorer, Falconer (redone as the Crow Keeper), Feralan (Wildling only), Justifier (Black Watch only), Pathfinder, Stalker
  • Thieves gain access to the following kits:
    • Acrobat, Assassin, Bandit, Scout, Thug

However, to emulate the low-magic feeling of the ASoIaF universe, and to make the game that little bit more challenging, I am thinking about proposing a few rules for the use of magic - though I am not sure what yet. Ability checks to cast spells, a strict enforcement of material components (though they might be changed from the originals), limited access to spells, maybe even limited advancement - any NPC spellcasters will be low-level, maybe even with limits on their Intelligence scores to help keep higher-level spells out of reach. This is a game where the day is won by grit, determination and steel - not with a flabby sorcerer throwing a few spells around.

I also imagine that there would only be one (or no) Magic-Users in a group-after all, they are a valuable resource that can't be wasted. After all, most mages who commit crimes are either press-ganged into more valuable military service, or else sentenced to death. You really need just the right combination of military uselessness, lack of honour, and circumstance to end up a Wizard in the Black Watch.

Those caught practising unlicensed necromancy (using a few of the rules from the Complete Book of Necromancers) are always a good option. Their abilities to control and affect Undead creatures are much-valued when facing the Restless Dead beyond The Wall.

More on this setting as I think about it...
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