Ronin Roundtable: Useful Resources for A Song of Ice & Fire

SIFRP-thinkingRunning a campaign of A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying can be quite involved. As the Narrator, you have to breathe life into the setting with interesting Narrator Characters, keep the plot moving forward (with or without the player characters!), evolve the storyline to respond to the players actions, and on and on.

It’s great fun, but it’s also a lot of work.

Once you’ve been doing this for a while, though, you figure out some short cuts. So, to make your lives easier, I figured I might share some of my favorite resources that I use to make life a little easier.

Just click on the name of the site below to go to it!

A Wiki of Ice and Fire

Probably the first and most indispensable of these resources is the Song of Ice and Fire Wiki. These are the fruits of the labors of a huge population of dedicated and knowledgeable fans. There are timelines of what happens in the books, detailed examinations of major (and a few minor!) characters, descriptions of a variety of important locations in Westeros and beyond…there really is a little bit of everything there.

Estalia.Net

Though created for another setting entirely, the castles on this page are wonderful. They are relatively simple in design (I believe most of them were made in MS Paint!), but excellent for all that. They really capture the authentic design of a great many of the castles that inspired those in Westeros, so if your group doesn’t have someone who wants to design the interior details of your chronicle’s castles and keeps, this is a great place to turn. They even remember to include privies and jakes!

Donjon

This site has a huge and interesting collection of random generators. While many of them are more appropriate for other higher-fantasy settings, there are some crazy useful ones. My favorite is probably the Medieval Demographics Generator, which lets you enter the population of a settlement, and it’ll generate the space it takes up, details of who rules it, and provides a population breakdown by job. Great stuff.

Westeros Name Generator

Though pretty simple looking in design, this name generator manages to capture a great deal of the flavor of Westerosi names. If you’re like me, you’re always in need of some name or another, so this is a great one: generate a list of fifty mens’ names and fifty womens’ names and you’re pretty ready to go naming Narrator Characters.

House Generator

This is from one of my personal bookmarks, and it’s great for generating one of the many Narrator Character Houses in the game. This utility can be used to generate a random House, using the rules for House Generation in A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. It works quick and well, with some great history and detail all the way around.

Inkwell Ideas Online Heraldry Generator

Last but very, very far from least is the online Heraldry Generator from Inkwell ideas. It’s a nifty system that lets you set the details of the noble Houses that populate your part of Westeros, giving House symbols and colors to each of them. The nice thing about this set-up is that you don’t have to know what you’re wanting to create going in. You can browse the options and toggle those that interest you all you like.

SIFRP Narrator’s Kit, Revised Edition

We have completely revised the Narrator’s Kit for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, and it’s available now!

SIFRP Narrator's Kit, Revised Edition

SIFRP Narrator’s Kit, Revised Edition

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Narrator’s Kit, Revised Edition
Author: Steve Kenson
Cover Artist: 
Helge Balzer
Format: 3-panel hardback screen with poster map, reference cards, and 16-page booklet

As a narrator you have your hands full when running the game, but that just got easier with the Narrator’s Kit for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. This handy accessory features a 3-panel hardback screen with useful tables and charts on one side and a beautiful illustration of the Wall on the other, as well as a full color poster map of Westeros and a 16-page introductory adventure by Steve Kenson. It also includes 4 quick reference cards that put key rules at your fingertips, and a combat tracker that you can write on with wet or dry erase markers.

Kickstart your chronicle with the Song of Ice and Fire Narrator’s Kit!

Ronin Round Table: Generational Games in A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying

BalerionA Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying tends to have a distinct focus on families and legacies. It’s not surprising – the powers of Westeros are its Houses, and while they maintain their hold through economics and military, they establish their alliances and continue their legacies through family.

As such, there is a sense of importance to the families of the characters in a SIFRP campaign. So, it is perhaps no surprise that a particularly enjoyable style has come out of that sort of focus on the family: generational play.

With generational campaigns, the chronicle is less about individual characters, and more about the great legend that is one of the Houses. Wars and trials by combat meet on equal ground with intrigues to establish alliances – especially marriages – between the Houses, and most of the story is told through “flashpoints.” These are important moments in which the House’s legacy is imperiled, whether because it is endangered in some way, or because it has an opportunity to make itself great (although at what cost?). Read more

Ronin Round Table: The Art of Art Direction

beastfolk

By Hal Mangold

Today’s Ronin Round Table draws back the curtain on some of the behind-the-scenes parts of creating our products. Art is an essential part of the look and feel of most games, and it’s the role of the art director (that’s me) to make sure all that art gets created. To give you all a little insight into the job, we’re going to answer a few common questions about what being an art director is all about.  

What does the art director do?

As the art director, my responsibility is to make sure that all of the art that goes into Green Ronin’s games and publications is up to the standard we’ve tried to set over the years. I select the artists, assign and approve the art, and herd cats to make sure it all comes into our hands by the deadline necessary for publication.  

How does the art direction process work?

It all starts for me with scouting out the artists who have the right style to fit the project. Games like Mutants & Masterminds have a radically different art style than Dragon Age or A Song of Ice & Fire. I contact the artists I want on the project, see if they are available during the timeframe I need them, and get them contracted if they’re interested in working on the project. Ideally, this is done about 4-5 months ahead of time, but circumstances often compress this a bit.  

The art order or brief comes next. This is a description or set of descriptions for the piece of art needed for the product. These can be written either by me or, more often, by the developer of the product, with my role being more to tweak or jazz up those basic descriptions. Sometimes the descriptions are general, sometimes really specific, and different artists work well with each type. In general, I try to art direct with a light touch when I can. I’m hiring the artist for their talents and inspiration, after all. I try to give them as much room to improvise as I can.   

The next step is to take that art order transfer it to the artist or artists. For a cover piece, this part is simple. For interior work with multiple artists, it’s a bit more involved of a process. The art assignments get broken up between the artists, taking into consideration both spreading the artists throughout the book for a unified look, and assigning the right pieces to the right artists based on their relative strengths.

Next the artists submit their sketches for the assignments. I review them to make sure the composition is as strong as it should be, that the basic look is right, that any characters depicted have the correct look, and so on. If revised sketches are needed, the artist submits them, and once everyone is happy with where the piece are going, the artist takes the piece to its final state.

If the project is for a licensed property, there’s one extra step: approval by the licensor. Most licensors require us to submit all of the original art we commission to them so they can make sure it depicts their world and characters properly. Some licensors want to see sketches, and some just care about the final result.

There was a time when there was another step: the artists physically shipping their work to us for scanning. Fortunately almost all artists today (even those working in non-digital mediums) submit digital files. Considering the international nature of the artists we work with, that’s especially fortunate today, with international shipping costs being what they are.  

Once all the art is approved, the art director gives it a look to ensure it’s in the proper color and file format, and that it will reproduce properly when actually printed. After that, the image file is handed off to layout for insertion into the product. The art director’s work is done.

Where do you find artists?

Anywhere and everywhere! The Internet is a fantastic source, of course. Sites like DeviantArt, Artstation and DrawCrowd give artists a place to put their portfolios, and I browse around on them quite often. Sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are also fantastic art resources, both for finding new artists, and building “mood boards” for how I want a particular project to look. It sometimes takes a little internet detective work to find out who created an image found that way, however. Not everyone is great about tagging sources for what they post.

Conventions are another great source for artists. Whether it’s a comic, gaming, anime or just overall sci-fi show, I always keep an eye out for creators whose style might work with one of our games. If we’re actually displaying at a show (like GenCon, for instance), portfolio reviews are another great source for me.

And finally, email submissions come in all the time, and have provided me with some great people I might not have noticed before.

Can I submit my art to Green Ronin?

Absolutely! Anyone is welcome to submit their work (or a link to an online portfolio, preferably), to art@greenronin.com.

Green Ronin in 2016

By Chris Pramas

Happy New Year, gaming comrades! I hope you all had a good holiday, and got some quality gaming in with friends and family. As has become a tradition here at GR, I’m here to spill the beans on our plans for the coming year. Last year was a bit awkward because in January I could not yet announce Titansgrave or the fact that we were designing D&D books for Wizards of the Coast. This year will be much less cryptic! So what’s have we got in store for you? Rather a lot, actually!

Read more

Ronin Round Table: GaymerX (GX3)

Steve's Icons players

Steve’s Icons players

As I write this, members of Team Ronin (Joseph Carriker, Donna Prior, and I) are finishing up the weekend in San Jose, CA, at GaymerX (or GX3). It’s our first time at the insurgent game convention, initially funded on Kickstarter to provide a dedicated space for LGBTQ gamers to do what we do: get together, geek out, and play games. It has since expanded to encompass this year’s theme, “Everyone Games,” welcoming all gamers to the table.

It has been a terrific con. I ran two games for the tabletop program: In “Shadows of the Singer and the Star,” for Blue Rose, a small group of Aldin envoys of the Sovereign’s Finest investigated the disappearance of two young men from a town and uncovers a far greater threat.

Donna's Titansgrave players

Donna’s Titansgrave players

In “Whatever Happened to Stonewall?” for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying, a team of randomly generated heroes (Lineage, Heavyweight, Insectoid, Insight, and Mantis) helped save the legendary lesbian hero Stonewall from the armored Invictus and protect some of New York City’s queer monuments from his destroyer robots. Both groups of players were enthusiastic and really threw themselves into the games.

It was my second time running Blue Rose using the Adventure Game Engine rules system at a convention, and it underlined just how well the system will work in the forthcoming edition. There were also games of Titansgrave and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying on-offer from Donna and Joe, along with a room of Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons tables.

Queer as a Three-Sided Die panel

Queer as a Three-Sided Die panel

GaymerX offered a robust panel and seminar selection. We were able to bring the popular “Queer as a Three-Sided Die” panel we started at GenCon a few years ago to this con, where it found an enthusiastic audience. “Queer Divinities” talked about real world and fantasy mythology and theology and even got quoted in online coverage of the con. Sunday morning, Joe Carriker, Paizo’s Wes Schneider, and I ran a three-hour workshop on game-mastering skills, tips, and techniques, covering a wide range of topics, fielding questions, and sharing experiences along with our audience. The time flew by! GaymerX has a YouTube channel where they plan to share recordings of many of the seminars and panels.

Tim Mottishaw runs Star Wars for the game guests

Tim Mottishaw runs Star Wars for the game guests

Of course, the con wasn’t all about work. Our host, tabletop coordinator Tim Mottishaw, treated us to a game of Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars: Force & Destiny RPG and there were parties galore, from a VIP get-together to the cosplay prom and a drag show. By all reports, tabletop events and offerings did well at GaymerX. I certainly hope so, as I’d like to see them continue to grow and remain part of the vibrant, inclusive, fun-loving, creative community where everyone has a place at the table.

Looking forward to plans for next year’s GaymerX!

Ronin Round Table: Using Chronicle Creatures in SIFRP

woodland-creaturesOver the past year-and-change, we here at Green Ronin have introduced a line we call our “Chronicle Creatures” – a series of PDF supplements featuring all sorts of creatures for the Chronicle System, the rules “engine” that powers our A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.

Of course, these creatures are not from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire setting. Though that series has a handful of creatures both mythic and terrifying that have appeared in its pages, these never have. That said, there’s no reason a creative Narrator can’t make use of them for their personal chronicle, of course. One of the great pleasures of A Song of Ice and Fire is when its lost magic and myths make an appearance, often to the confusion and fear of its characters.

Here are some suggestions for using some of the content of our Chronicle Creatures PDFs in Westeros. Please keep in mind that these are very much non-canon, of course.

Chronicle Creatures are divided into three categories: “Beasts,” which are large and ferocious animals, like the direwolves of Westeros, without any overt sentience or magic; “Horrors,” like the dragons of Westeros, with distinct ties to magic and/or some measure of intelligence; and “Legends,” like the Children of the Forest or the Others, entities of magical potency whose existence has fallen into legend…until they make a come-back in your chronicle.

Woodland Creatures

Our first bestiary PDF, Woodland Creatures focuses on creatures that dwell in wooded or forested areas. It opens with some new rules, including Domain Drawbacks, a set of rules for training animals, and some basic stats for the sorts of regular animals that might be found in woodland areas (including bobcats, elk, hawks, owls, and the like).

The Beasts of this supplement fit very easily into Westeros. Many of the “dire” creatures fit very nicely into the wildernesses north of the Wall, where other giant beasts roam; the Battlehorn, a giant caribou or reindeer, the Devourer, a massive weasel-like beast, and the Dire Wolverine might all easily be found in those wintery expanses. Butcher Birds, massive carnivorous flightless birds, and Claw-Wing Lizards, which might be mistaken for small dragons, all fit nicely into southron climes, whether in the hazardous wilds of Essos around Qarth, or perhaps even in the hot mountains that separate Dorne from the rest of Westeros. Rounding out the Beasts is a handful of giant insects, from ants to spiders to wasps.

The Horrors of this supplement also have some excellent fits for Westeros. There are several strange fungi, plants and even diseases, such as Black Web fungus, the Cocoon Tree, Scavenger’s Rot, and the insidious Skullwort, all of which cause various forms of strange maladies and afflictions (including a weird zombie-like state for victims of Scavenger’s Rot). Mighty beasts such as Barghests and Gryphons (including a Greater Gryphon variety for truly majestic creatures) are found herein, as are the Weirdlings, the strange entity that results when a victim wanders into one of the pockets of old, strange forest magic in the deepest forests.

The Legends of these woodlands are frightful. Terrifying intelligences, such as the Crossroads Guardian, the Headless Knight, or the Hag of the Dark Woods await unwary travelers in any forest. Creatures closely tied to the forces of death and the otherworld, such as the Corpsehorse or the Tall Man make excellent terrors in places that have seen a great deal of death or that lay under curses. In contrast, the River Wardens are massive turtles that would be very at home in any large river – particularly the rivers of Essos that were once the home of the Rhoynar.

Mountain Terrors

This supplement focuses on mountainous areas, from icy places such as the Frostfangs beyond the Wall, to the hot dry mountains one might find north of Dorne. The introductory section (a free PDF) includes some normal animals of these areas, as well as animal training rules and some rules that focus on the hazards of high terrain, such as landslides and avalanches.

Its Beasts range from the cold-dwelling creatures such as Avalanche Wolves, whose howls bring down torrents of snow and stone from the ledges above their prey to the massive Stonehorns, dire rams whose horns are made of the minerals they eat from their environs. Flying creatures pose a risk here, as well, including the Needle Roc, a massive eagle with porcupine-like spines that sweeps past and evicerates its prey and the Skullcrackers, massive flying lizard-beasts who drop heavy stones onto their victims with frightening accuracy.

The Horrors here include strange creatures, from the Cloud Leopards that haunt fog banks and low cloud-cover becoming almost invisible and only partially solid within them to the slithering Snow Eels that worm their way through snow banks to the Thunderbirds that hunt when it is storming.

Finally, there are two Legends of the mountain heights. The first is the Alpingast, a beastly meat-eating humanoid that haunts high mountain passes and hunts with cunning ferocity. The second is far more mystical – the Devourer’s Shadow, a great two-headed vulture-like bird-beast whose body is almost never visible, though it’s great shadow gives its hunt away.

Ronin Round Table: Game Master’s Kits Are Coming!

One of the most common questions we got after the release of Fantasy AGE was, “Are you going to do a GM screen?” At the same time our screens for other games had been going out of the print over the past couple of years. We have not had GM’s Kits for Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, and Mutants & Masterminds in stock for some time. We’ve been waiting for the right time to get these going again, and happily that time is now!

In the first quarter of next year, we’ll be releasing Game Master’s Kits for Fantasy AGE, Mutants & Masterminds, Dragon Age, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. They have some common features. Namely, all have a sturdy, hardback GM screen, four double-sided rules reference cards, and a combat tracker. The latter is a card for keeping track of initiative and other combat considerations, and you can write on it with dry or wet erase markers. The Fantasy AGE one (which has only the above contents) is brand new, of course, but the other three are revisions of our previous GM’s Kits.

The original Mutants & Masterminds GM’s Kit included a 48-page booklet featuring the Quickstart Character Generator. This proved so popular and useful that we put it in the Deluxe Hero’s Handbook. It didn’t make sense to include the booklet when that info is in the game’s core rulebook, so the reference cards and combat tracker replace it.

The Dragon Age GM’s Kit also needed a revision. The original was done when only Set 1 had been released, so the screen was out of date. We’ve revised it to reflect Dragon Age Core Rulebook, and we’re also replacing “A Bann Too Many” with a brand new adventure.

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying’s GM’s Kit will have the same basic content (short adventure, map of Westeros) plus the reference cards and combat tracker. We may replace the screen art (that isn’t nailed down yet). The adventure is the same, but we are going to duotone the art and print the booklet in color this time, just to snazz it up.

The GM’s Kits for Fantasy AGE and Mutants & Masterminds are at print now and should release in January. Those for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying and Dragon Age are scheduled for March. Since both of those are licensed games, I’ll just issue my usual caveat that an approvals process is involved and this sometimes affects release dates. This is less an issue with the SIFRP screen, as it’s a largely a reprint, but the Dragon Age screen has a brand new adventure and associated art, which need a sign off from BioWare.

It is thanks to Dragon Age that all the new GM’s Kits are getting handy reference cards. That game was originally released as a series of boxed sets, which allowed us to easily include such things. Now that the Dragon Age Core Rulebook is out, we needed a new way to get reference cards for stunts and other things into people’s hands. The GM’s Kits proved the perfect place for the reference cards and the new combat trackers. Look for them all in the new year!

Two New PDFs: Tripper Root and IGT-92

Today we present two new PDFs for just $1.29 each, Mountain Terrors: Tripper Root for the Chronicle System, and Rogues Gallery: IGT-92 for Mutants & Masterminds.

Mountain Terrors: Tripper Root (Chronicle System PDF)

Mountain Terrors: Tripper Root (Chronicle System PDF)

Tripper Root

Not all the predatory dangers of the mountains are beasts and animals. The tripper root grows along narrow paths and beside sheer cliffs, waiting for prey to come stumbling through its ground-covering vines. The tripper root then reacts with whip-like precision, snagging men and beast alike and hurling them over the side, slamming them into mountain faces to kill and consume them.

Mountain Terrors: Tripper Root is a bestiary PDF for the Chronicle System, the rules engine that powers our popular A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying game.


Rogues Gallery: IGT-92

Rogues Gallery: IGT-92

IGT-92

Smuggled to Earth in a bid to make some money for alien criminals, things would have been fine if they hadn’t turned IGT-92 on to make sure it worked. Now escaped and on  the run, IGT-92 is executing its programming to “soften up” the planet to prepare the way for its alien masters–even if they never come.

Get Rogues Gallery: IGT-92 today—just $1.29!

Mountain Terrors: Thunderbird (Chronicle System PDF)

Mountain Terrors: Thunderbird

Mountain Terrors: Thunderbird (Chronicle System PDF)

Sudden mountain storms may rise up out of nowhere, bringing the possibility of flash floods, mud slides, lightning strikes and similar dangers. Those who know the mountain peaks know to fear these storm, and not simply for the threat they bring: some mountain tempests have at their heart a mighty thunderbird on the hunt, and anything that moves is fair game.

Mountain Terrors: Thunderbird is a bestiary PDF for the Chronicle System, the rules engine that powers our popular A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying game.