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 7: "The Emissary from Yunkai"
In Episode 7, “The Bear & the Maiden Fair,” Daenerys and her new army of Unsullied are bivouacked outside the walls of Yunkai. She’s sent a message to the Wise Masters of the city, giving them the terms of their surrender, and in response they have sent Grazdan mo Eraz, an emissary to speak on their behalf.
The tense negotiation between Grazdan mo Eraz and Daenerys is a perfect example of an Intrigue in the A Song of Ice & Fire Roleplaying system. For today’s blog, we’ll use this scene as an example of the use of Environmental Qualities for Intrigues. Environmental Qualities can be the edge that makes a difference between winning and losing an Intrigue, and the concept of “home field advantage” is a very real one in such circumstances.
Daenerys has clearly very carefully arranged the scene in which she receives the Yunkish emissary. Let’s take a look at some of the elements of that scene.
The Gauntlet of Unsullied: Target receives a -2 penalty to Disposition Rating against all Intimidate Technique and Convince Technique used to get the city of Yunkai to surrender. First and foremost, the emissary was forced to traverse a gauntlet of some of the most feared warriors in Essos, a tunnel of hardened soldiers standing in battle-ready stance the entire way to Daenerys’ encampment. The emissary would no doubt remember that promenade with every threat Daenerys uttered, and desire to avoid battle if possible.
Lavish Surroundings: The owner gains a +1 bonus to all uses of Persuasion in an Intrigue. Surrounded with reminders of her wealth and station, Daenerys seems to be a gracious figure even when threatening war.
The Queen’s Dais: The owner goes first in an Intrigue. It might be argued that being seated upon a throne upon a dais is the social equivalent of having higher ground in battle, and Daenerys is only too happy to take advantage of the authority it seems to lend her. Her position is that of an authority receiving a supplicant, and so it is only natural that she be accorded the right to speak first.
The Herald: Gain a bonus equal to the Herald’s Language Ability rating to the Shield of Reputation action. Having a herald proclaim one’s titles and dignities is a great way to enact the Shield of Reputation action, and the better-spoken the herald is, the better it works. Missandei is nearly as well-spoken as they come, a fact that Daenerys recognized (among other things) when she demanded her along with the Unsullied.
Bribes: The wielder gains a bonus to Intrigues; this bonus drops by 1 for each exchange following the offering of the bribe. The exchange of wealth in exchange for service or favors is a long-standing tradition, a fact that the Yunkish were clearly aware of when they offered Daenerys boxes of gold and as many ships as she desired. Among the great powers of Westeros, a bribe gains a bonus equal to the Wealth rating that bribe would equal (remembering that a point of Wealth is worth about 200 gold dragons). As an Intrigue continues, however, the bonus that bribe offers drops by one per Intrigue exchange; a bribe may make a dramatic impact when it is offered, but soon loses its lustre as intriguers vie for their goals.
Dragons: Gain a +1D to uses of the Intimidate Technique in an Intrigue. An excellent example of using an Animal Cohort in a non-combat capacity, Daenerys allows her dragons to make her threats for her, gaining a bonus dice to those threats.
Summary: To sum up, Daenerys has set up her negotiation with the emissary distinctly in her own favor:
• Grazdan mo Eraz loses 2 points from his Intrigue Defense against Intimidate and Convince Techniques intended to get Yunkai to surrender.
• Grazdan mo Eraz gains a bonus of +5 (roughly) when he presents his bribe; this bonus drops by 1 point per exchange thereafter.
• Daenerys gains a +1 bonus to all Persuasion tests.
• Daenerys goes first in the Intrigue.
• Daenerys gains a bonus (probably +4 or so) to her use of Shield of Reputation.
• Daenerys gains a +1D bonus to Intimidate when she uses her dragons.
In the end, it’s fairly simple to see why Grazdan mo Eraz chose to Quit the Intrigue – he was distinctly outclassed, and probably in danger of giving in to Daenerys’ demands (assuming, of course, that he ever had the actual authority to do anyway).