Thursday, March 19, 2015

Getting' Down To It

We have to have a confrontation with our housekeeper today over a pile of missing cash, which I'm not looking forward to. It's a situation really outside my realm of experience...I never had "servants" growing up (nor do I back in Seattle), and I'm not used to working with cash so much that I have bunches of it laying around (or, rather, "squirreled away") at home. But Paraguay and developing countries are's very "old timey" when it comes to having hired help and a cash-n-carry economy.

*sigh* I now understand why people have safes in their homes. I'm probably going to have to buy one, too.

Anyway...I get to put that off for the moment, however, so I might as well get to writing. The knowledge of the upcoming confrontation kept me up a while last night, and I had quite a few brain-thoughts about Pendragon and my adaptation of it.

First off: I went back over my abbreviated skill list, and analyzed it in light of the actual systems they cover. I see now why the game authors made flirtation and romance two separate skills, and got a closer look at how they're used, not to mention the whole concept of "the romantic knight" and its associated Glory. And I've decided I need to just axe the whole thing from the game. The skills, the ambition, the system for love affairs...gone.

I know that longtime fans of the Pendragon game might think ill of me, but the fact is this isn't going to be a Pendragon game. This is not a fairytale, 6th century England with an enchanting queen creating a tradition of fine amor. This is A Song of Ice and Fire...and romance, sex, and love just don't work like that in the setting. Marriages between nobles are arranged affairs, for wealth and politics, not love affairs. There ARE love affairs...and the consummation of those affairs...but there's no waiting around for years, mooning over each other, and bringing gifts. When people have an attraction, they jump in the sack and do it. It ain't Guenever's idealized world.

[and while there ARE instances of romantic longing in Martin's books...Petyr Baelish for Catelyn Stark, Brienne for Renly, etc...they are all of the "unrequited" variety, never culminating in anything, and simply ending when one party dies]

Anything that appears to be fine amor (i.e. "courtly love") is simply a's the stuff of Westeros fairy tales. If there's an attraction, there's an invitation extended, and either accepted or rejected. After the proverbial "roll in the hay" folks might develop a bond of love...see Tyrion, Lysa Arryn (on her part, at least), the Stark brothers, Dany, for least as the characters are portrayed in the television program. But the "attraction" part needs a different system.

[maybe something akin to "recognition" in another Chaosium game: ElfQuest]

In the books, there are nobles who marry for love, rather than political alliance...the children of Aegon V, for example. But that happens after they've been betrothed for political alliance and often ends up starting wars/rebellions...these are exceptions that lead to adventure hooks. No, we don't need a system for exceptions...and we don't need flirting and Glory for romantic knights.

Besides, the whole "romantic knight" thing really only works in one direction (male to female), and as I've stated before, part of the reason for using this setting is that it's more inclusive. If you want to play a female knight...or a homosexual knight (like Ser Loras Tyrell) should have the same chances at Glory as anyone else. And it's difficult (if not impossible) to make the "courtly love" thing work if it ain't strictly Arthurian.

"What's your feeling on beards?"

Nope...axing it. As well as any "seduction" skill I was thinking of adding. There's intrigue (used find out secrets and what people want) and there's marrying and there's attraction (based on traits and APP) game doesn't need these extra skill rolls.

[Pendragon, for those who don't know, already has a system for producing arranged marriages: within, below, and above one's social class. They involve courtesy skill checks with your Lord (since the Lord is the one who needs to arrange-approve the marriage match) and works just fine as is. Anything else should come down to role-playing...probably involving personality traits like "lustful" and "reckless"]

The other major change is that I've decided to add a sixth statistic after all: Intelligence (INT). I can't see any way around it, as it's just too useful a measure. For one thing, it can be used (as DEX is) as a catch-all check for mental pursuits: in place of recognition (another Pendragon skill that I axed), or for opposition to an intrigue roll in a one-on-one conversation (the same way an animal's avoidance check is used in opposition to a hunting roll). Intelligence will have an impact on the number of starting skills a character has, and set maximums for those skills...but only with regard to non-combat skills. Being stupid doesn't affect one's ability to fight...that's a lot of practice, repetitive muscle memory, and combat experience.

Plus, these are knights we're talking about.

Tywin: cunning AND evil.
For a point-buy method of character creation, this will give PCs an extra 12 points to spend (72 total). It allows for a little extra distinction between characters, highlighting the difference between cunning types (like Tywin Lannister) and brutal meatheads (like the Cleganes).

Okay, that's it for the moment. My next post(s) should have the step-by-step of chargen for the Crowns of Blood campaign. Hope-hope!
; )


  1. Love the use of Pendragon for ASOIAF.

  2. Tell the servant you'll give 3% of the money you misplaced and see if that helps the servant locate the money you "misplaced" ...

    Sometimes the chance to be trusted after doing something untrustworthy can turn a person around. If it doesn't work let them go because you can no longer budget the expense of their employment.

    1. @ JD:

      Our initial thought was something like that, but now my wife wants me to buy a mousetrap to ward "the stash" (something about catching our thief red-handed).

  3. I lived in Chile for several years and there too it's common to have maids, often live-in maids. Could never get used to it myself. Good luck, anyway...always tough to have to confront someone about this sort of thing.

    1. @ Gordon:

      It's not that I can't get used to someone making the beds and doing the dishes...I can't get used to bossing people around and exploiting folks (our friends already think us silly for paying our maid the country's minimum wage...which ain't much).

      *sigh* I could write a whole post on the topic, but this IS supposed to be a gaming blog.