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Ronin Round Table: A GenCon 2012 Recollection by Joseph Carriker

This GenCon was a great experience, for a variety of reasons. One of my personal favorite parts of the whole convention, however, was getting to meet so many of our supporters and fans. So many people dropped by the booth to say hello and share their experiences in the games we've made with us. It was really fantastic, and we're grateful to everyone who dropped by to share the love!

Among my duties at this convention was the running of short, hour-long demos of A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. I have to admit to really enjoying the experience, setting up a scenario and watching all sorts of players with differing levels of experience both in the setting of Westeros and in the mechanics of our game.

We set the scene with a handful of pregenerated characters, all of them taken from the Peril at King's Landing adventure. The playtest scenario setup itself was fairly simple: The lord of the players' House had called them together and sent them to represent him to his liege lord, Lord Wisent of Wisenwood (a name I took from my own home game, naturally).

The scene was a fairly simple one—as it turns out, the wagon that included the PCs' house tribute to their liege lord had gone missing, according to Lord Wisent. The scenario starts with Lord Wisent's desire to keep the young Heir as a hostage. I had a vague notion that Lord Wisent was lying, that he'd received the tribute but hidden it and was claiming otherwise, in order to fund his overly-large military, but was happy to let the PCs lead the story revelations.

One group immediately intrigued with the lord, showcasing the Intrigue system, and talked him into letting them investigate things. They then launched their investigation in town while supposedly waiting for the resources to "look for bandits" outside the town. When they discovered the guard bearing steel made by their House's smith, they fought him, forced him to admit that he was one of the guards Lord Wisent had sent out to ambush the caravan and then fled Wisenwood, bringing the guard to the Starks as evidence of Wisent's perfidy.

Another group relinquished the Heir immediately, much to the chagrin of that poor player. While they did some investigating, that player met the daughter of Lord Wisent and won her over, playing her masterfully with talk of true love. In the end, he reconnected with the group, who'd already found possible evidence of Lord Wisent's deceit, and they absconded with his daughter as a hostage!

Another group Intrigued their way out of a hostage situation and rode out almost immediately hunting for bandits, and got a good faceful of the combat rules. The Bastard and his Knight uncle comported themselves well in combat, aided by tactical advice from the Maester, and arrow-fire from the Heir.

In the end, none of the scenarios ran longer than an hour, and they focused on the elements that the players wanted to see, based on the decisions they made. Some leapt right into Intrigues, and others were less interested; some (those knowing the setting, it seemed) tended to avoid violence unless it was a last resort, while others leapt into combat with the gusto of seasoned adventurers.

Of course, not everyone got to see every element of the game, but that's the nature of such demonstrations, really. In the end, though, folks got their appetites whetted, and a good time was had by all—the mark of a successful gaming endeavor, in my mind.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to all those who joined us at the Green Ronin demo tables this past GenCon! Hope to see you folks next year.