Book Review: A Song Of Ice And Fire: Roleplaying A Game Of Thrones

A Song Of Ice And Fire:  Roleplaying A Game Of Thrones:  Adventure, War, And Intrigue In George R.R. Martin’s World Of Westeros, by Robert J. Schwalb

As someone who is at least a casual fan of the Game of Thrones series [1] and certainly a fan of tabletop role playing games [2], this book was tailor-made for a reader like myself, putting the popular fictional world of the series in a form that would not be particularly demanding for those who like to roleplay and imagine themselves as one of the noble houses within that complicated universe.  This book, to its considerable credit, does manage to create a game engine for the universe that is compelling as well as simple in terms of its mechanics, something that will interest those who are interested in the story and who do not want to get bogged down in complications of a mathematical nature.  If you want a game that forces you to think and craft a compelling story as well as immerse yourself in a world of intrigue where you are small fish in a big and dangerous pond, this game will definitely do the trick.

In terms of its contents, this book at over 300 pages is a challenging read unless you are familiar with tabletop role playing games as well as the Game of Thrones series.  The book begins with a discussion on the history and worldbuilding of Westeros and then moves to the game rules and mechanics of various classes/archetypes.  After that a short chapter on character creation follows before a longer chapter on abilities and specialties.  A chapter on the destiny and qualities of various characters and specializations as well as a short chapter on houses and lands follows.  Chapters on equipment, intrigue, and combat follow which flesh out the game and the way it is played before the author discusses a chapter on warfare giving a large-scale battle mechanic that is fairly rare in games of this type which are focused generally on the affairs of the small party and not massive and epic conflict.  The rest of the book focuses on the role of the game master/narrator of this game with two starter campaigns, an introductory campaign about a journey to King’s Landing that involves some conflict and a much longer and more complicated one on peril in King’s Landing where the character’s party have a dangerous and unseen enemy that wishes to destroy them without their knowledge and that involves a lot of the game mechanics as well as some quick-thinking role playing.  The book ends with some reference tables, and index, and a sample character sheet.

It is pretty obvious what sort of target audience this book has, and as someone in that target audience I can say that I found this game and its mechanics to be pretty compelling.  To be sure, I do not think it would necessarily be easy to get seven people with way too much time on their hands around a table for a period of quite a few hours to work out some of these longer campaigns who happen to be fans of fairly simple mechanics involving only d6 rolls as well as a lot of complicated intrigue that will test the abilities of the game master to give a stiff challenge that has the potential for a long series of campaigns where a party has to deal with powerful enemies.  There will also be some discussion as to what characters are to fit which roles, as this game cares a lot about status and there will be some characters who are needed in various roles like maester, sept, merchant, heir to a noble house, and various knights and guards that will likely require the players to engage in some political savvy in real life as well as in the game.  That’s something that many gamers can appreciate.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/06/19/book-review-a-game-of-thrones/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/06/09/non-book-review-the-wars-of-the-roses-the-conflict-that-inspired-game-of-thrones/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/30/keeping-up-with-the-targaryens/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/07/22/a-lannister-always-pays-his-debts/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/07/02/book-review-a-clash-of-kings/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/09/20/book-review-firefly-role-playing-game/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/08/book-review-pathfinder-role-playing-game-strategy-guide/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/12/11/book-review-fantasy-age/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/08/book-review-pathfinder-campaign-setting-inner-sea-races/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/05/24/book-review-dungeon-masters-guide-version-5/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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One Response to Book Review: A Song Of Ice And Fire: Roleplaying A Game Of Thrones

  1. Pingback: Non-Book Review: Game Of Thrones And The Medieval Art Of War | Edge Induced Cohesion

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