I walked away from GenCon with the newest edition of A Song Of Ice And Fire RPG. Since then, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around running the game for friends. How do you put a series so detailed and beautiful into a sandbox for players? It’s not as if I’m lacking for materials, but the flavor and voice of the series is so nuanced and addictive I almost don’t know where to start in order to do it justice.
So, I’m putting together a plan. I’m going to create the perfect ASIF game for my friends and they are going to have the most fun anyone has ever had imagining they were doing something, ever. And I fully intend to write about soon, but not today.
Today I want to talk about rereading A Game Of Thrones.I first read the book some years ago when my dad threw it at me and said it was good. I was like, “Whatever, old man. I’m gonna replay KOTOR until the sun rises.”Eventually, I did come around to opening the pages, and I must say, I was really, really… bored. I quit two chapters in and went back to video games.
But six or so months later, I found the book and decided to give it another go. This time I read the first THREE chapters before I quit. I didn’t have time for this shit.
About a year after that, I decided to give it one last chance. Maybe I had low blood sugar or was especially poor, but I got over that three chapter hump and started to really enjoy the book. There is just something about the way George R. R. Martin describes his characters and settings that enthralled me.
So, I read the whole series… up to A Feast For Crows and then went on with the rest of my life . I haven’t looked back until now.
But I need (and it is a need) to run this game, and I haven’t even read A Dance With Dragons. I’m trying to run a game in this world, and I’m not up on anything that’s happening. Seriously, I can’t even remember what happens at the wall for the entire series.
Clearly, I needed to go back to the source material.
But now I’m more than half way in, and we’re getting to one of the two deaths I’ve been dreading.
For those that haven’t read the books/watched the show, what I’m about to talk about is the brutal murder of what we were lead to believe was the main character of the book. At least, I had always thought Ned Stark was the protagonist because his family made up most of the POV characters.
Ned Stark’s death hurt my soul when I read it the first time, and now that I have the advantage of hindsight, watching him barrel past the shrewd wisdom of everyone in King’s Landing on his way to a beheading makes it so much worse. I can’t even say what bothers me about it so much. His honor is such a fault that it gets him killed and leads to a five-way war, the death of his wife and son, and the sacking of their castle. Actually, it pretty much destroys the seven kingdoms.
In the few chapters before his death, I read no less than four different plans people came up with to help him sieze power, much less avoid his own death. People are literally walking up to him and asking his permission to stop exactly what he is trying to stop, but they want to do it with sneaky court intrigue. All of them point out how doing it the honorable way will not only endanger his life, but also the entire realm.
I really should have titled this post “Ned Stark Is A Selfish Dick” because real honor would necessitate the sacrifice of one’s own values to save lives and keep the peace. Ned got caught up in this idea of legitimate succession that didn’t matter. Robert Baratheon got his throne by violence, as did the line of kings he rebelled against. Did it really matter who’s DNA sat on the Throne?
So now I have to listen (bought the book on Audible for when I drive) to Ned set himself up for death, and I don’t even know why it bugs me so much. Tyrian and Baelish are infinitely more interesting. Even Jaime Lannister gets super fascinating once you learn why he killed king Aerys.
At least if my players prove this honorable/dumb, I know it will be easy to keep them waylaid in their own castle.