Being a semi-coherent collection of ideas springing from the thought: What if the players right from the start got to be participants and decision-makers of Game of Thrones political-military faction/domain mess, while also leaving for OSR-style adventuring? Default rule system used is the excellent Worlds Without Number by Kevin Crawford; base ruleset is available for free here. The basic idea is a feudalistic quasi-Byzantine realm torn apart by strife between the noble houses. The players are scions of one such house, and set up their family through a series of prompts, choices, and questions. Tables are presented so they can be rolled on, or results picked as desired. This has not been playtested or put into practice; consider this post a thought experiment that went too far.
What’s The Situation?
The heartlands of the Empire of Thrasos are in turmoil. The last emperor of the Panaphratzes dynasty, Baiannes VI, is dead, killed at the hands of his own Imperial Grandees. For decades, the Panahphratzes have been growing lax in their duty to organize resistance against the seeping influence of the Ur-Abyss and its demonic progeny. Now, with no heir to the throne, it seems the Empire has finally lost its mandate as rulers. The imperial noble houses look elsewhere while the threat of the Ur-Abyss grows ever more acute. Independence is, for the first time in memory, a valid option – if your House can scramble to the top in the chaos of strife, that is.
Start at Cunning 1, Force 1, Wealth 1, Magic Low. Starting attributes can never exceed 3; re-roll if a result would increase an attribute to that.
Your House is based in… (1d6)
- The Cradle of Kings, where three rivers meet and the crops are plentiful. (+1 Wealth)
- The Gold-Bone Coast, where ships from beyond bring their wares. (+1 Wealth)
- The Highlands of Caiamedes, where the sheep grow crimson wool and wyverns roam the night. (+1 Force)
- The Perimeter Fiefs, where demonic beasts stalk the stony moors and rocky hills. (+1 Force)
- Old Saurametes, where philosophers and haruspices debate among the ruins of a fallen people. (+1 Cunning).
- A (Former) Imperial Throne City; roll 1d4 to determine where. (+1 Cunning)
Your House ancestors were… (1d6)
- Impeccably Thrasoan, with impressive genealogical records to show for it.
- Mercenaries from the Hypo-Steppe, giving nobility for their service in the demon wars.
- Originally petty lords of the kingdom of Drevnic, adopting Thrasoan customs after their lands were annexed by the Empire.
- Caiamedeans, the people the Empire could never break and thus allowed self-governing territories.
- Philosopher-kings of Old Saurametes, folded into Imperial nobility.
- Refugee merchants of a faraway land, who came to Thrasos as exiles and eventually earned noble titles.
Your House motto is… (1d8)
- “By Bow and By Sword.” (+1 Force)
- “Uncowered, Undeceived, Unbeatable.” (+1 Force)
- “Patience Unending.” (+1 Cunning)
- “Let Others Perish.” (+1 Cunning)
- “Sow, Reap, Grow.” (+1 Wealth)
- “Our Coin Is Justice.” (+1 Wealth)
- “Suffer No Evil.” (Magic to None; Gain Informers Asset)
- “With Boundless Knowledge.” (Magic to Medium)
Your House follows the religious precepts of… (1d4)
- The Court of Wisdom, whose many saints provide insight and guidance.
- The Cult of the Goddess-In-Iron, who teaches strength and courage.
- The Neo-Dualist Mysteries, which reveal the constant struggle between Eternity and the Abyss.
- Thrasoan Aniconism, which cautions that idolatry is a tool of the Ur-Abyss.
Your House Seat is… (1d4)
- A villa complex in the countryside. (Gain Base of Influence and Farmers Asset)
- A fortified tower on a hill. (Gain Base of Influence and Infantry Asset that counts as Force 1, but cannot move)
- A bustling trade town. (Gain Base of Influence and Monopoly Asset that counts as Wealth 2, but cannot move)
- A temple-fortress once belonging to a heretical warrior-cult. (Gain Base of Influence and +1 Force)
Your House is recognized for… (1d10)
- Its record-keeping informant-chroniclers (+1 Cunning; Gain Blackmail Asset).
- Its mystical induction rites (+1 Cunning; Gain Petty Seers Asset).
- Its tradition of chivalry (+1 Force; Gain Fearful Intimidation Asset).
- Its deep ties to the common folk (+1 Force; Gain Guerilla Populace Asset).
- Its trade connections with the Mercantile Guilds (+1 Wealth; Gain Caravan Asset).
- Its patronage of Saurametean philosophers (+1 Wealth; Gain Dragonsman Asset).
- Its well-funded irregular militia (Gain Armed Guards and Thugs Assets).
- Its terraced gardens and excellent lotus crops (Gain Farmers and Smugglers Assets).
- Its finely-honed sense of business (Gain Useful Idiots and Front Merchant Assets).
- Its regiment of House Grandees (Gain Cavalry Asset that counts as Force 2, not 4).
A pivotal part in your House’s history is… (1d10)
- Its acceptance of renegade demon-blooded who rejected the Ur-Abyss. (Characters of your House can take the Xenoblooded Focus to simulate their Abyssal heritage)
- The Inheritance of Maximines Raxos, a wealthy magnate, whose treasury was bequeathed to your House. (Start with 2 additional Treasury)
- House head’s tenure as State Magister helped establish dynastic influence. (Gain a Base of Influence in a settlement in the Cradle of Kings.)
- Family tradition of educating heirs at an Academy in Old Saurametes. (Gain a Base of Influence in a settlement in Old Saurametes.)
- Its securing of an arcane stockpile during the Third Abyssal Incursion. (Gain two occult exemplars worth 40,000 sp each)
- The Imperial gift-giving after your House remained loyal during the Half-Brother’s Rebellion. (Roll a random Major magical weapon that gifted to your House as an heirloom; name it).
- Shameful secret dealings with Abyssal cultists, where dark arcane was gained for gold and silver. (The first Asset that has Low or higher Magic requirement that your House purchases costs half.)
- Its custom of organizing delves into pre-Imperial ruins. (Gain two randomly determined magic items.)
- Its eager patronage of art and music. (+1 Wealth; the first Court Patronage Asset your House purchases is at half price.)
- Its association with the illicit lotus trade. (Gain the Smugglers Asset.)
One faction of the collapsing Empire is your hereditary foe, another has always supported you… (1d6 twice; re-roll duplicate results).
- House Paulonos, the foremost family in the Cradle of Kings. Always have they craved the Imperial throne and the trappings of Empire. Will you help them reunite the Empire, or oppose their brazen power-grab?
- House Areistes, a cadet branch of the Panaphratzes based in the Perimeter Fiefs. Fierce Aniconists, they are the sworn foe of all demons and Abyssal monsters. Will you help them in their quest to contain the Ur-Abyss, or let them bleed dry before you pick them off?
- House Zenob, the gilded masters of the coastal town of Rymnos. With the Imperial navy destroyed in the turmoil, their mighty navy now counts as the finest in Thrasos. Will you assist them in their defense of trade and prosperity, or will you resist these falsehood-spewing coinclippers?
- House Kryne, greatest of the slayer-clans of Caiamedes. Proud warriors that will suffer no insult, nor compromise their autonomy in the face of turmoil. Will you join forces in their defense of their ancestral lands, or will you make sure these stubborn provincials are finally folded into a proper kingdom?
- House Mendicar, inheritors of Old Saurametes. Before the Empire, there was the city-states and kingdoms of Saurametes, and House Mendicars are the most powerful curators of this ancient legacy. Will you help them restore their land so that philosophy and reason may rule again, or will you crush their nostalgic dreams and force them to face the future?
- House Runaides, border princes of Drevnici descent. A stern family that has always kept a low profile, the Runaides now see their chance to break free and carve out their own polity, vassals of neither Drevnic nor Thrasos. Will you join their fight for independence and recognition, or will you break the will of these dissident half-barbarians?
The upheaval caused your House to suffer misfortunes… (1d6)
- Divided loyalties among commanders and knights resulted in a deadly scuffle. (Highest Force value unit starts at half HP; if multiple units are tied for value, both start at half HP.)
- The unrest has caused several ledgers and records to be destroyed and lost, significantly affecting economic efficiency. (First two Faction turns, gain only half Treasure.)
- Your rivals have taken advantage the turmoil and struck first against your connections and estates. (All Wealth Assets start at half HP.)
- Several informants have been executed or have defected, leaving a significant intelligence gap. (Your House cannot buy Cunning Assets for 1d4 Faction turns).
- The muster roll has been gravely affected by the turmoil. (Your House cannot buy new Force Assets for 1d4 Faction turns.)
- A spot of Ur-Abyssal influence has been left unchecked; a particularly large and vile monster has entered your lands, threatening your Assets. (Must be dealt with! It’s a demon mini-kaiju!)
That’s all for now. More to come to cover thoughts on character generation, adventures, and projects.