Friday, March 20, 2015

Oh Boy!

Finished modifying the Pendragon chargen system for my Crowns of Blood concept. Looks pretty darn good. Long...but good. The notes are crammed into a half-dozen spreadsheets in Excel (that's a literal half-dozen, mind you), but I'm thinking I probably need to re-do the "outfits" from Knights Adventurous to make it more "Westeros specific." Those guys wear a LOT of full plate armor, after all.

Yeah, I'll get to that today. And I'll try to get the first installment up and posted sometime this afternoon, also (probably after the boy goes down for his nap). Unfortunately, everyone's sick and vomiting (again). This fucking place. Food spoils so fast here, it takes a steady stream of alcohol to keep my digestive system sanitized. Unfortunately, my kids don't have that luxury.

Ugh. Vomit.

O By The Way (and moving away from that topic)...I think I've hit upon an idea for re-conceptualizing the Pendragon Glory system so that it works for Crowns of Blood. The basic gist is that instead of worrying about personal Glory (watching that knightly ego hard at work), the game's going to be all about working for the Glory of your noble House/family. Winning tournaments and getting showered with honor on the battlefield is still good. So is having famous traits and passions and being a chivalrous ("True") knight. But marrying well, and making sure your siblings are married; taking care of (and avenging) family members and slights to the house honor; helping defend your lands and increase your own holdings, not to mention conducting oneself as befits a noble and forming alliances...all THAT stuff is going to add up to a tremendous heap of Glory, too.

The quest to elevate one's house (whether the characters are lords, banner men, sworn swords, or foot soldiers serving said house) is what will force characters to interact in the political machinations of the realm. In some ways, the Glory rules need to be simplified and streamlined, because there's a need to track the Glory gains of other house members, not just your own PC. It'll all culminate in the Big End Game for the campaign: Robert's Rebellion. At the end of the civil war, the family/house that has accumulated the most Glory will be the one that lays claims the Iron Throne. Check it out:
Ser Elys Westerling and Lord Crakehall and others of his father's knights burst into the hall in time so see the last of it, so there was no way for Jaime to vanish and let some braggart steal the praise or blame... 
"The castle is ours, ser, and the city," Roland Crakehall told him...he had not seemed surprised to find Aerys slain; Jaime had been Lord Tywin's son long before he had been named to the Kingsguard. 
"Tell them the Mad King is dead," he commanded. "Spare all those who yield and hold them captive." 
"Shall I proclaim a new king as well?" Crakehall asked, and Jaime read the question plain: Shall it be your father, or Robert Baratheon, or do you mean to try to make a new dragonking? He thought for a moment of the boy Viserys, fled to Dragonstone, and of Rhaegar's infant son Aegon, still in Maegor's with his mother. A new Targaryen king and my father as Hand. How the wolves will howl, and the storm lord choke with rage. For a moment he was tempted, until he glanced down again at the body on the floor, in its spreading pool of blood. His blood is in both of them, he thought. 
"Proclaim who you bloody well like," he told Crakehall. Then he climbed the Iron Throne and seated himself with his sword across his knees, to see who would come to claim the kingdom.
- From Storm of Swords, George R. R. Martin

There's nothing the players can do to stop the war or forestall the killing of Mad King by his youngest Kingsguard, Jaime Lannister. Fate has got that part written: the Targaryen dynasty WILL fall in the 283rd year after the taming of Westeron by Aegon the Conqueror and his two sister-brides. But what comes after that?

I don't really care.

Oh, is going to happen.
Crowns of Blood isn't about Robert Baratheon's ass getting fatter as it warms the Iron Throne for fifteen years. It's not about Eddard Stark's betrayal and beheading, nor about the fates of his half dozen children, nor the death and resurrection of his good Lady Wife. It's not concerned with the "mystery of the Others," nor about the War of Five Kings, nor the castration and torture of Theon Greyjoy, heir to the Iron Islands. And it is ESPECIALLY unconcerned with whatever Dany the Targaryen is doing with dragons and Dothraki and slave liberation on the the eastern continent of Essos.

All that "stuff" makes for good (well...watchable) television...and I'm happy to see it unfold over the next couple years on Ye Old HBO. But for playing an RPG? Nah, not interested.

I've got a beginning and an end for the saga...MY saga. And that end is a kingdom in flames and up for grabs. And whichever PC has accumulated the most Glory for his house over successive generations is going to get to claim the this case the crown of Aerys II...for their liege and family, or whichever family they designate as the "worthy" successor.

See? Objectives of play. How cool is that? to take a look at these equipment lists....


  1. Excellent idea, transferring personal honor to house honor.

    I've been looking here throughout. I was with you until you said "nothing" can forestall the assassination.

    My initial thought is, that's not really a RPG element, is it? I shrank from the idea of removing player agency to that degree.

    Then I thought a little. It feels more like a wargames premise or straight fiction. But-- there's nothing inherently wrong with your plan to have it happen. It would set up an awesome late game domain management skirmish game.

    So I like it. But think carefully about planning events that are immutable.

    1. @ Scott:

      "Removing player agency?" What are you talking about?

      An NPC is going to die, killed by another NPC. He could as easily perish from old age, or a venereal disease, or set himself on fire. This has nothing to do with "player agency." I'm not railroading the players into anything, it's simply an event of the the fact that the ruling House's personal dragons died out a century before the start of the campaign.

      This is still an RPG. It's still (for the players) about what their characters do, how they act, what they achieve...for themselves as individuals and for their families.

      "Immutable events" are part of every RPG campaign. The Tomb of Horrors was created by can't change that. Blackrazor and Whelm and Wave were stolen by Keraptis...period. And some day your campaign world will explode in a ball of fire. The date just needs to be set by the DM.

  2. Thought I'd drop by and say I've been following your Crowns of Blood development with some interest.

    My "Game of Thrones" lore is basically stuck at the 1st book and like 20 minutes of the TV series but seeing how other people approach game design is always of interest.

    Darkening Pendragon is actually a pretty spiffy idea.

    The BRP engine is rock solid with few bugs (limb HP mostly) and Pendragon's passions should suite the world of Westeros nicely with changes,

    Looking forward to the gear lists. Covering the anachronisms in Westeros, the Bravosi blades especially the benefits of Water Dancing combat style , the advanced optics and the incendiaries, err Wild Fire I think its called might be challenging.

    I do know some of the newer BRP books cover it such tech nicely though if you get stuck which I doubt

    1. @ 5Stone:

      Thanks for the interest. Pendragon doesn't use the limb HP rules of some Chaosium systems (at least, not the edition I'm using) reminded me of all the maimed elves running around the campaign back in my EQ days.
      ; )

      I wasn't planning on doing a "gear list" or worrying about the cultures outside of Westeros, mainly because the Pendragon game as written (not historically accurate for the 6th century) has everything I need...wildfire, I suppose, being the exception.