A few months ago after watching a ton of Game of Thrones I decided that I wanted to try my hand at making a tabletop roleplaying game set in the fictional realm of Westeros. For those who don’t know Game of Thrones is a popular fantasy book series written by George R.R. Martin, and a much beloved television show on HBO. I’m still working my way through the books and I haven’t seen every episode of the most recent season, but I love the universe Martin creates and it’s a very compelling setting. I’m especially fond of the houses and their heraldry. There’s something entrancing about hearing actors saying the motto of their house, families that have commanded men and lands for hundreds if not thousands of years in some cases.
There actually already are a few games based on Game of Thrones so if you’re looking for something deep and advanced I’d suggest giving one of those a try. The Noble Houses of Westeros is built to allow players who have never rolled a d20 in their life to play their first roleplaying game in a matter of minutes, while engaging longtime players as well. I tried to capture their balance of brutal action and subtle story building that makes these stories so interesting. If you’re a fan of the show but you’re worried you won’t be able to play this game without reading every book don’t worry.
Please note that this is by no means a finished product. There aren’t any notes about the Night’s Watch for example, but I’m not going to stop anyone from taking the black if they want to. I even included an example of a Brother of the Night’s Watch in the Creature Compendium just in case someone wants to use them. The Creature Compendium will be published in separate blog posts since I don’t want this entry to be any longer than it already is. Magic, dragons, and a few other things are also in the works but I think the game is ready to have a bit of a road test and see what works before bringing those things into it. True magic and dragons are so rare in the Game of Thrones universe that only a handful of people will ever encounter them anyway.
I enjoy making games and I’d be glad to hear that someone got a few friends around the table and gave this one a try. If you have any thoughts, praise, or curses you’d like to throw at me after doing so feel free. So without further delay I present…
The Noble Houses of Westeros
House Arryn– The Veil
Words: “High as Honor.”
Emblem: An eagle
Seat: The Eyrie
House Baratheon- The Stormlands
Words: “Ours Is The Fury.”
Emblem: A stag
Seat: Storm’s End
House Greyjoy– The Iron Islands
Words: “We Do Not Sow.”
Emblem: A kraken
House Lannister- The Westerlands
Words: “Hear Me Roar!”
Emblem: A lion
Seat: Casterly Rock
House Martell– Dorn
Words: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”
Emblem: A red sun pierced by a golden spear
House Stark- The North
Words: “Winter is Coming.”
Emblem: A direwolf
House Targaryen- The Crownlands
Words: “Fire and Blood.”
Emblem: A red three headed dragon.
Seat: King’s Landing, Dragonstone
House Tully- The Riverlands
Words: “Family, Duty, Honor.”
Emblem: A trout
House Tyrell– The Reach
Words: “Growing Strong.”
Emblem: A golden rose
Choose Your House
Those born into a noble house will enjoy a life of privilege and duty to their families. However even the Starks, Lannisters, and Baratheons would be of little consequence were it not for those who serve them. Choosing a house will determine which of the great families your character is bound to, and more importantly who they have chosen to serve.
When you’re creating your character one of the first choices you’re going to make is probably going to be which house does your character serve? Choosing House Baratheon doesn’t mean your a member of that house, but that is an option that’s available to players. Think about your character’s background and where they’ve spent their life. Perhaps you were born in the Vale but your family was forced to flee after one of the hill tribes burned you out of your home. Growing up on the streets of Kings Landing the words of the usurper echoed in your mind as you struggled for every scrap of food. “Ours is the Fury.” Thinking of the hill tribes who ruined your life you pledge to return to the Vale one day and make them pay.
In this example the character could have chosen House Arryn, but he sympathizes with House Baratheon because of his circumstances which influenced his choice of house considerably. This young man might go on to serve as a soldier in Robert Barataheon’s army, a member of the gold cloaks, or he might end up a thief who dreams of revenge.
The words of the house you were born into or born to serve echo in your mind day and night. Whenever you take an action supported by this creed you may add 1d4 to the dice you roll.
The words of a house are a powerful thing, they carry the strength of their houses and these creeds can inspire or terrify depending on who utters them. When you think your character’s words could be applied to a roll ask the GM if they’ll allow you to add the bonus die to your roll.
Assign Ability Dice
Your abilities are divided into three broad categories: Mental, Physical, and Social. Your one of your ability dice to each, these include 1d6, 1d8, and 1d10.
Mental: Your mental ability represents your intelligence, wisdom and insight. Characters with a great deal of mental ability are among the most learned people of the seven kingdoms, and they often rise to positions of great power. Mental die are also used when commanding troops in combat.
Examples: Researching, investigating, detecting lies
Physical: Your physical ability represents your strength, agility, and vitality. Characters with a high score in physical ability are often great warriors, legendary athletes, or stealthy thieves.
Examples: Running, jumping, climbing, sneaking, fighting, swimming
Social: Your social ability represents your ability charm, deceive, or bully those around others. Characters with a high social ability often rise to positions of prominence in Westeros while enjoying a great deal of personal influence over everyone around them.
Examples: Threatening, bribing, charming, seducing, deceive
Everyone in Westeros is expected to perform their own role to keep the seven kingdoms running smoothly, from the lowliest craftsman to the richest lord. You gain a +2 bonus whenever you make a roll associated with your trade.
Examples of Trades
- Sell Sword
Below are a few examples of when you could apply your trade bonus for various trades.
Butcher: On the run from Bannerman of the lord of Lannisport you stumble upon a goat. Stealing the bleating beast you and your fellows continue to flee. Your skill with a knife lets you salvage enough meat from the animal to keep your bellies full for at least three days. You may die but at you won’t do it hungry.
Blacksmith: Under orders from the Master of Whisperers you’ve presented yourself before Sir Loras Tyrell posing as his new squire. He decides to test you by ordering you to prepare him for a tournament he is to take part in within the hour. Your knowledge of armor aids you as you fit him into his armor and make certain it is in good repair. Impressed with you he agrees to keep you on as his new squire for the time being. The Master of Whisperers will be pleased.
Hunter: In pursuit of a poacher trespassing in the woodlands around Winterfell your years of hunting and tracking prove invaluable. The obvious footprints left behind by your quarry are far easier to spot than those left by the deer you usually stalk.
Specialties are unique characteristics that make your character more distinct while providing them with additional skills. Remember that specialties should be created so that they remain unique to your character, however the examples provided are a useful starting point.
After all why choose Swordsman when you could have King Slayer or the First Sword of Bravos?
All characters begin with at least two specialties, these specialties help player character to distinguish themselves from many o.f the NPCs they’ll interact with throughout the course of the game
Examples of Specialties
Attractive: Your good looks enhance your natural charm considerably. Increase your Social die size by 1 when dealing with someone who is attracted to you.
Brave: Your courage is a rare quality and it allows you to face down the coldest winter without bending to the terrors that it brings with it. Increase your Social die size by 1 when attempting to resist Intimidation.
Cunning: You possess a mind that delights and terrifies others in turn with its complexity. Increase your Mental die size by 1.
Giant: Your abnormal size and strength have served you well, whether it was on the battlefield or a trade. Increase your Physical die size by 1 when lifting, carrying, breaking, or attacking.
Horseman: Some jest that you’re more at home in a saddle than you are on your own two feet. Increase your Physical die size by 1 while mounted.
Light Footed: You are stealthy and quick on your feet. Increase your Physical die size by 1 when running or sneaking.
Manipulative: You excel at getting others to do your bidding, while making them think they’re really doing their own. Increase your Social die size by 1.
Marksman: Few men are as deadly as you with a bow in your hand. Increase your physical die size by 1 when making an attack roll with a bow.
Rich as a Lannister: Coins flow freely from your hands and you don’t bother to watch where they fall. Your wealth allows you to purchase common goods and services readily.
Swordsman: You have mastered the sword and learned to use it with deadly efficiency. Increase your physical die size by 1 when making an attack roll with a sword.
Weaknesses represent flaws in your character’s personality. Perhaps they’re overly fond of their drink or they have a terrible temper? For every weakness you take you gain 1 additional specialty.
Examples of Weaknesses
Bastard: Those of noble birth and substance will always look down on you as the product of an illicit affair. Reduce your Social die by 1 when speaking to anyone of noble birth.
Coward: You tremble at the sight of your own shadow. Reduce your Social die size by 1 when attempting to resist intimidation and your Physical die size by 1 when making an attack.
Cripple: Whether by accident or birth you have suffered some form of disfigurement which hinders your physical abilities. Reduce your Physical die size by 1.
Drunkard: Your fondness for wine and ale overwhelms your judgment more often than not. When offered drink you will partake.
Dwarf: Looked down upon by most and pitied by the rest dwarves are not well received by any. Even more daunting than their social stigma though are the physical challenges they face every day of their lives. Reduce your Physical die size by 1.
Fear: Something terrifies your character beyond all reason. In the presence of this thing reduce your Mental, Physical, and Social die size by 1.
Greedy: Power, wealth, and possessions hold sway over your actions. Reduce your Social die size by 1 when attempting to resist a bribe.
Simple Minded: Cleverness and cunning are strangers to you. Reduce your Mental die size by 1.
Weak Willed: You bend to the wishes of those around you like a reed bends in the wind. Reduce your Social die size by 1.
Whoremonger: Women, especially those of easy virtue, are of special interest to you. Reduce your Mental and Social die size by 1 when in the presence of someone you find attractive.
Health is calculated using your Physical ability die. Double the maximum value of your Physical die, this will be the number of hit points you possess.
During combat characters each roll their Physical die in order to determine the order of initiative. The character with the highest roll goes first proceeding until each character in the battle has taken a turn. To make an attack a character rolls their Physical die in addition to any bonuses they may possess, the defending character does the same. Whoever rolls higher wins the exchange, if the attacker is victorious the defending character takes damage, but if the defending character prevails they fend of the attack.
The attacker and defender compare the rolls after a victor is chosen, in the event that the attacker won the value of his roll exceeding the defender’s roll will be deducted from the defender’s hit points as damage.
When commanding forces in battle a leader’s mental abilities are often far more important than their physical prowess. In place of an attack a character in command of at least five others may make a Mental ability roll and add the result to the Physical rolls of anyone under their command.
When you play the game of thrones you win or you die. When your character is reduced to 0 hit points they are dying. Other characters may attempt to heal you by making a Mental ability check. On a result of 8 or better you survive, although this often leaves your body marred in some way. Failing a heal roll means your character succumbs to their injuries.
A character may attempt to seduce another character by making a Social die roll, the opposing player would need to make a Mental roll to resist the temptation and avoid being lured astray. If the defending character fails to resist the attempt by 5 or more they are seduced and will aid the victorious character by answering questions or carrying out their orders in the hopes of a tryst. Most NPCs will not however carry out any action which they know is likey to result in their own death.
Ax +2 to Physical attack rolls.
Bow +2 to Physical attack rolls.
Crossbow +3 to Physical attack rolls.
Dagger +1 to Physical attack rolls.
Lance +2 to Physical attack rolls.
Long Sword +3 to Physical attack rolls.
Metal Spear +2 to Physical attack rolls..
Pike +2 to Physical attack rolls.
Short Sword +2 to Physical attack rolls.
Staff +1 to Physical attack rolls.
Trident +2 to Physical attack rolls.
War Hammer +3 to Physical attack rolls
Wooden Spear +1 to Physical attack rolls.
Valyrian Steel weapons double the bonus to Physical attack rolls.
Leather Armor +1 to Physical defense rolls.
Chainmail +2 to Physical defense rolls, however it reduces Physical attack rolls by 1.
Plate Armor +3 to Physical defense rolls, however it reduces Physical attack rolls by 2.
Shield +1 to Physical defense rolls.
Valyrian Steel armor doubles the bonus to Physical defense rolls.
Flint and Steel