In this blog, we take a look at the world of A Song of Ice and Fire through the lens of the hit HBO series A Game of Thrones and the game systems of A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying for some ideas on how to incorporate themes and elements of the show into your own SIFRP Chronicles. There may be spoilers for both the books and the show, so be warned!
Season 3, Episode 1: "The Tent of Mance Rayder"
After what seemed an eternity, we’re into Season Three. There’s a lot of great material to choose from for this blog, but I thought I’d use this episode, "Valar Dohaeris" to model some of the Intrigue system’s nuts and bolts. Several scenes this episode make great examples of this mechanic, but we’ll be looking at an Intrigue early in the episode that occurs featuring Jon Snow in Mance Rayder’s tent. We’ll be using the traits of a variety of named characters from the series, most of which are derived from their stats in books from our A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying line.
When the Bastard of Winterfell is led into Mance Rayder’s tent, we’re presented with two distinct Intrigues. The first, between Jon Snow and (as it turns out) Tormund Giantsbane, is best handled as a Simple Intrigue. The Objective for each participant is fairly simple: Jon’s intention is to impress the King Beyond the Wall (Friendship), while Tormund’s is to convince Jon he’s the King Beyond the Wall (Deceit). The Disposition for each is probably Unfriendly, an excellent example of an Intrigue that begins adversarially.
Of course, this exchange works in Tormund’s favor—he’ll be using Deception in this Intrigue, while Jon is careful to not actually speak any outright lies, discussing the advice his father gave him and the like, allowing him to use Persuasion. A glance at his statistics in the Campaign Guide: A Game of Thrones Edition suggests this is a good tactic for Jon, who has the default Deception, but a Persuasion 3 (Convince 1B). Clearly, hewing as closely to the truth as possible is a good tactic for him. Of course, since both of their Dispositions are Unfriendly, this means that Tormund has a +2 to his Deception attempts, while Jon has a –4.
Because Jon is here to meet the King Beyond the Wall and Tormund is taking the newcomer’s measure (and thus open to liking him), the Objectives are not out of character for either Jon or Tormund. Thus, since the exchange is just between the two of them, it’s easily handled as a Simple Intrigue. Success occurs if the single roll exceeds the opponents Intrigue Defense—there is no need to calculate Influence generated and wear down Composure.
Both men clearly decided to use Intimidate Technique for their purposes: Jon Snow talks about his father’s advice on taking down larger opponents, while Tormund sneeringly comments on the number of skeletons of smaller men who thought that he’s responsible for. The mechanics for the Intimidate are perfect for this situation: it actually increases the Disposition to Amiable of the one you are Intriguing against for a short period.
Given the outcome, it looks like Tormund’s Persuasion roll was sufficient to overcome Jon Snow’s Intrigue Defense, as the young bastard ends up kneeling and calling the big wildling "Your Grace." The outcome of Jon’s roll is a little less sure, though I’d be inclined to say that given Tormund’s sudden shifting into a more humorous, joking demeanor, Jon may have made the impression he was shooting for.
Joe is a developer for Green Ronin’s Blue Rose AGE line. He has worked in the tabletop gaming industry for nearly twenty years, during which he’s been a fiercely outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion, both in the industry and in the games we make. He is also a novelist, with his first novel Sacred Band garnering starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly. Both Sacred Band and his second novel, Shadowtide, are available now from Nisaba Press. Joseph lives in Portland, Oregon with his fiancé A.J.