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Lordarryn

Help with skills and abilities from BRP veterans familiar with 'A Game of Thrones'

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Hi everyone,

I'm new to the BRP system and found it when looking for a rule-set suitable for an 'A Song of Ice and Fire' campaign I'm trying to put together (that's 'A Game of Thrones', for anyone who hasn't read the books).

I know that Green Ronin have a game out, and that there's a D20 version (which I have), but looking through the BRP, Chaosium seems like a better fit.

For anyone who isn't familiar with the world of Westeros -- A Song of Ice and Fire is a story of war and political intrigue set in a low fantasy world that (at first) has a lot of historical realism. It is rarely a tale where good and evil is black and white.

People die from a single sword cut, heroes get slaughtered, noblemen and women are forced into loveless marriages for political reasons; and characters behave like real people with real motivations and often destiny altering strengths and weaknesses. The author was heavily influenced in his writing by the War of the Roses, medieval european history, and the Medici and the Borgia.

My question is about skill levels. I know that the BRP uses d100, but am I right in thinking that it is not percentile based? (i.e - characters can have skills in excess of 100).

Looking at the BRP, it lists 75% as an expert and 90% as a master. My question is how do these translate to actual game worlds? Where, for example, would Jaime Lannister and Barriston Selmy (2 contenders for greatest swordsmen of recent history) be in regards to their sword skill? 95% or 237%? Is there an upper level to skills? The same with attributes -- I think 18 is max starting characteristic and 20 is overall max? So would Gregor 'the Mountain that Rides' Clegane be a size 20? Or higher for exceptional characters?

Does anyone know if the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' characters have been statted up anywhere to give me a head start?

Thanks for any help you guys can give me!

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IMO for the gritty, deadly feel of GOT I would recommend capping abilities at 100% and characteristics at 18. Characteristics beyond that range are really intended for a super-human and pulpish style of play.

Conan, with a 100+% Dodge and Broadsword, and a DEX of 20, could have fought his way out of the Red Wedding. Mere mortals like Rob Stark end up dead.

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IMO for the gritty, deadly feel of GOT I would recommend capping abilities at 100% and characteristics at 18. Characteristics beyond that range are really intended for a super-human and pulpish style of play.

Though I agree with your point concerning characteristics, I don't see skills above 100% as "super-human" in any way.

In my view, no matter what official versions of BRP say on the subject, "professionnal" skill level begins aroun 75 to 80%, that is when you've got roughly 50% chance to succeed at a task that would be almost impossible to beginners, and I think the "real world" is full of people which have skill levels above 100%.

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I suppose it is largely a matter of taste.

I would only grant a skill of 120-150% in their respective sports to LeBron James or Payton Manning, and what percentile of the general population are big-name sport stars? Otherwise I think you get skill inflation, where a 80% skill just means 'beginner'.

But back to a GOT, I think a better reflection of the source material would be to allow legendary figures a chance to demoralize/overawe their opponents via some kind of 'Fearsome Reputation' before the lances are leveled and the swords drawn. The heraldic device on a shield then becomes a powerful psychological weapon.

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That perhaps would be some variation of the Status skill, but used to do more than a Credit Rating style roll. You could calculate it differently perhaps, based on social class, house standing, and personal deeds. Circumstantial bonuses or penalties for cross House interaction perhaps, or particular House reputations /alliances, ie " A Lannister Always Pays His Debts" , or " Starks Are True Northmen" etc

I would probably not allow any beginning skill over 65% or 70% for the sake of giving the characters something to advance in. Having said that, in the setting itself I would allow skills to be developed over 100%, and maintain that Experts are 75%+. It won't unbalance the game as it is pretty difficult to learn from skill checks at that level. It will mainly be prominent NPCs that have skills at this level, and possibly the PCs by the end of the campaign. Jaime Lannister, should have Sword over 100%, for instance, although perhaps his blade reputation outmatched his skill.

Main thing is to keep combat gritty, and healing arduous. Many combatants die from infections weeks after the actual blade strike, so no bountiful ways to heal, combat needs to be feared. As do a good many things in this setting.

I would probably use Hit Locations, they do tend to make melee combat more tactile, and suit ancient/medieval settings quite well.

Whether you use RQ or BRP it will be the flavour you give to the setting that make it feel like Westeros, not so much about the mechanics, although having said that, some mechanics could detract. Just stay clear of any pulp style mechanics like Luck Pts in RQ, or Fate rules in BRP. No way out of fumbles here. The luck of the dice roll should be enough, I don't think there should be any way for players to change that in a campaign like this. You may need to upline NPCs to PCs as the original PCs end up with grisly fates, much like what happens to a considerable proportion of characters in the novels.

That might not sound like rollicking fun, but its sure closer to Martin's grim setting.

Edited by Mankcam

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But above all remember that you do not always roll at full percentile. When you aim for an unarmoured location or split your attention between two foes your % is halved. And then you see those 100% swordsmen miss, and understand that there is still room for them to improve.

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And 100% is only 100% is it is unopposed. I much prefer higher skill values because of narrative. If my PCs are missing all the time, they get discouraged. If they are hitting but their attacks are being parried they feel much better about the whole thing.

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Yes, beyond char gen, I certainly agree on not capping skills as this will just discourage players. The setting itself should be challenge enough. Martin doesnt display any sense of fairness to his characters in the stories, in fact being harsh with them is what hes brilliant at. So a GM for this setting just needs to do likewise to capture that feel. This doesnt mean that the GM has to be cruel or be on a mission to persecute the PCs. Just by not cutting any slack should be enough, no pulp mechanics, no re-rolls etc.

I think if the setting reacts how you think Martin would write it then you'll capture the callous flavour of Westeros. Your master swordsman may take out the local rogue with ease and flair, but if that rogue was a favoured squire of a local lord, then discover retribution in the form of soldiers returning to apprehend. This would make use of the modifiers associated with multiple opponents, which can easily overpower the greatest single swordsman. I think if you allow setting responses to be harsh then you will capture the feel of the campaign, and it wont make too much difference how high individual skill levels are.

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Where, for example, would Jaime Lannister and Barriston Selmy (2 contenders for greatest swordsmen of recent history) be in regards to their sword skill? 95% or 237%?

I would go for 99%.

So would Gregor 'the Mountain that Rides' Clegane be a size 20?

According to the size table (in GORE) Clegane would be SIZ 25.

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I would go for 99%.

According to the size table (in GORE) Clegane would be SIZ 25.

Bloody heck. No wonder he floors people with a flick of the wrist.

I'd give Jamie 95% Sword in my game before he lost his hand, and then he'd be at half skill with is off hand thereafter.

But there are others I'd give more to, since I quite like the Magic World level of game, and althoug it maybe a touch too ueber for GRR Martin, I like good characters in the 100-150% ranking.

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Nick, thanks for the links to Jason's stuff. As far as I can see he didn't stat anyone, but I'll definitely borrow his character sheet.

Thanks for all your input guys, Having not used the mechanics yet, I value your insight. As an update:

I am planning to allow PC's to start with attributes up to 18 and skills up to 75%, as usual. I'm also planning to add a skills cap at 120%. This should allow the characters room for progression, and make sense of the upper-echelon characters in GRRM's world without allowing things to get out of hand. And for the record, I've decided that those upper-echelon guys (like Barriston, Jaime, Arthur Dayne, Garlan Tyrrel, et al) will all be statted with their prime skills in the 90s.

I'll probly end up writing up house rules and character stats for some of the big names, and if I do, I'll put them up here so that other people looking for ideas with an ASOIF campaign can find them.

Thanks again guys.

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Nick, thanks for the links to Jason's stuff. As far as I can see he didn't stat anyone, but I'll definitely borrow his character sheet.

Thanks for all your input guys, Having not used the mechanics yet, I value your insight. As an update:

I am planning to allow PC's to start with attributes up to 18 and skills up to 75%, as usual. I'm also planning to add a skills cap at 120%. This should allow the characters room for progression, and make sense of the upper-echelon characters in GRRM's world without allowing things to get out of hand. And for the record, I've decided that those upper-echelon guys (like Barriston, Jaime, Arthur Dayne, Garlan Tyrrel, et al) will all be statted with their prime skills in the 90s.

I'll probly end up writing up house rules and character stats for some of the big names, and if I do, I'll put them up here so that other people looking for ideas with an ASOIF campaign can find them.

Thanks again guys.

If it helps any - In the original Stormbringer 1 - 4 editions, where Attack and Parry skills were separate, and skills were capped at 100% (without magic), Elric had 90% in attack and parry without the aid of Stormbringer, and was considered one of the best swordsmen in the world. In Elric!/Stormbringer 5th, which is the basis for Magic World, and skills can rise above 100%, he is given an attack of 150% without Stormbringer. Again, he is considered the first or second best in the world.

Ian

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