As part of the session zero for the Song of Ice and Fire RPG, the players are tasked with building a noble family to be the centre of the game – they can be attendants, young nobles, venerable maesters, and so on.
The catch is, they are any of the big noble families we pay much attention to in the Game of Thrones TV series or the Song of Ice and Fire novels – they’re building a family of bannermen.
The bannermen are the minor noble families, the families that tithe to the larger nobles but still hold their own sub-domains and so forth. The players take a series of decisions that they can hang roleplaying hooks on top of, and build a family that is tied in to the setting neatly, and to other outside pressures from their higher-ups and lower-downs easily.
So why am I bringing this up here?
Well, what if we apply some of this prep to other games or settings?
The obvious rules set that this ties in to is FATE – in the same way that we can build a city in the Dresden Files or the central elements of the campaign setting with the Fate Core rules, we could easily use the same idea to build the elements of the noble family, and hang player characters, aspects and NPCs from them.
Let’s look at applying it to some of my settings.
It works well enough with Twixt Flower and Thorn as above, since that’s a FATE setting itself. The Old Crown has several noble families, so it would be easily adaptable there as well.
I’d also probably like to use it for Beyond the Pale, since that involves journeying away from orderly civilisation and into fantastical faerie land the further one gets from the cities.
I’ve not selected a rules system for the latter yet. I might try it out with a few different ideas before I’m happy.
Maybe I can use the Song of Ice and Fire rules in some way? One to think on.
I’d also like to think about how I’d apply this to D&D settings I’m working on. There was an idea in 4e D&D that the party was an established (or in the process of being established) adventuring guild of sorts, and the Acquisitions Incorporated supplement obviously ties the heroes together as a franchise of the successful adventuring group.
Eberron: Rising from the Last War gives us some tools for patrons of all types, though it doesn’t enmesh the group as truly to the setting as the Song of Ice and Fire rules do.
With Ostromarka, the adventuring party is protecting the land or braving the Wastes to fight terrifying monsters and possibly find great treasures, but a huge otivation for that would be if they were tied in to the political life of the Landgraf as well – in fact, given there’s a theme of danger within and danger without, it would be useful if they were at least vestigially connected to these powerful groups.
With Sky Islands Saga, the adventuring group is nominally out for themselves, but having a patron at their side who will protect them come what may could also be very useful – and complicated, if they decide to throw the party into the deep end of a dangerous adventure.