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!
Today’s guest blogger is Steve Kenson.
Season 3, Episode 2: "The Three-Eyed Crow Is You"
In “Dark Wings, Dark Words” we start to get our first real explanations for some of the supernatural gifts in the world of Westeros, gifts available as Qualities for SIFRP characters. In particular, we see warging in action amongst the Wildlings and Jojen Reed tells Bran some about the Greensight and Green Dreams.
How do characters in a SIFRP Chronicle learn about Qualities like Greensight and the various Warg gifts? After all, greenseers and wargs are little more than legend to most of the Seven Kingdoms. We see only a handful in all of the books, and even those are primarily in the North (where the Old Gods still hold sway). Bran Stark, a member of a noble Northern family, has only heard of skinchangers in stories, and knows nothing about wargs or greensight. Jojen Reed has the gift, but it’s clearly rare enough that he is self-taught, following his own intuition, guidance, and the stories of his people.
Greensight, in particular, allows the Narrator opportunities for side tales and omens told through the medium of the seer’s dreams. Given their symbolic nature, a green dream can involve more fantastic elements than are found even in the fantasy reality of Westeros, including beings like the three-eyed crow, or meetings between the living and the dead. It is a useful resource for Narrators to provide “hooks” for the players in the form of visionary guidance; Jojen Reed knows to look for Bran and his companions, and where he will find them, thanks to his abilities, which saves a lot of unnecessary narrative time.
Since the effects of green dreams in SIFRP are retroactive (that is, the player chooses the benefit, and then explains it through a premonition or portent) you can encourage players to help make up suitable dreams for their seer characters, to reflect how they’re using the Quality in the game. For example, if a group is trying to figure out how to find someone, and the player of the greenseer chooses to apply a portent to that task, you can ask the player to describe elements of the guiding dream, adding your own details as needed. Perhaps the player’s description will even inspire a new idea for the adventure!
Indeed, when it comes to information, you may even bypass the regular dice bonuses of Greensight and instead simply give the player an answer, perhaps couched in symbolism or a riddle. For example, when the party has to choose a direction at a literal fork in the road, and a player invokes a premonition, you might say: “The dream you had about archery practice where all your shots were veering to the left seems relevant here.”
Speaking of information, Narrators may find it useful to include a more experienced greenseer or warg in the Chronicle, someone who can serve as a mentor and guide to characters who might not be fully aware of their gifts, teaching them the basics of how to harness and use them. This character need not be a full-fledged companion of the characters. Given the nature of supernatural gifts, the mentor could be someone the character only encounters in dreams, for example, either living or dead. Indeed, it may be quite a surprise when the character discovers his or her “spirit mentor” is a living person, who may or may not resemble their visionary persona.
Lastly, given the retroactive nature of Greensight in game terms, you can permit players of greenseers to occasionally spend Destiny for a “do over” of a particular test or challenge, with the failed effort turned into a dream or vision the character had (providing the guidance to make a different choice). For example, the characters are investigating a “mad hermit” who is a former maester who may have information they need. One of the characters trips a crossbow trap and ends up impaled with a poisoned bolt. The player of the greenseer chooses to spend Destiny, saying that the unfortunate incident is, in fact, a vision about the dangers of visiting the hermit.
“Stop!” the greenseer calls out, pointing out the hidden tripwire to her companion. “I dreamed of this. Step carefully.” The companions then negotiate around the trap, although they may have to deal with others the hermit has set (to say nothing of negotiating with the madman for the knowledge they seek).