Song of Ice and Fire Fate Core Guidlines
These are guidelines I made for converting the Song of Ice and Fire setting (also known as the HBO show Game of Thrones) to Fate Core. There may be a set of rules that will work better for you, but I thought these might be helpful for some people. I have reworked a few of the skills, made guidelines for how houses should work, suggestions on how to deal with armor/weapons, rules for Valyrian steel weapons, magic, and more. This guide is designed for those who have read the books, or watched the show so there may be spoilers, and you might not understand all of what I say without context, If you're new to SOIF and you don’t mind a few spoilers, or being slightly confused keep reading.
1. Group House Creation:
First step is basic details usually done as a group, or if you want your players to have a specific house it could be entirely done by the GM. A house is almost a character of its own. Just like players the house has 5 aspects, although they are not often as much use as the players own aspects. Each aspect must take up a slot below.
House words- House words are a saying or family philosophy that may be invoked or compelled by the players without paying a fate point, once per session. Good examples of house words are “winter is coming”, or “a Lannister always pays his debts”.
Asset- This aspect will be an important character such as a trusted maester or valuable warship. The character sheet of these things will be decided by the Gm. The purpose of making it an aspect is so the players decide on it together and may invoke it for effect in certain situations so that all the players feel invested in it.
Trouble- An unsolvable problem that always threatens the players house. The Vales hill tribes, the Starks harsh winters, or the Lannisters Joffrey would qualify, because there is no easy solution. This will often be used by the GM to compel individual players to cause them trouble.
Location- An important location that is decided by the players and will often come up in the game, players might find ways to invoke it for effect but it is mostly to give flavor to the players house. Examples are Winterfells godswood for the Starks, The wall of the nights watch, or Old Wyk for house Greyjoy. The location is iconic, and will naturally come up in the game in some important scenes.
Secret- Something mysterious for the players to discover about their own house or lands. There should always be a little mystery for the players, even at home in their own lands. Examples would be the hidden passages in the red keep, the magic wards in the wall, or possible unexplored treasure buried in the crypts of Winterfell.
2. Make character: Characters get 3 free stunts, and 3 more refresh to spend as they please, just like in fate core. Skills should be done much like the default skill list in fate core, as almost all of the skills work well in a Game of Thrones campaign, but with a few differences. Some skills have specialties. Specialties are stunts that you get for free at certain skill ranks. If you want more specialties than your skill rank will allow, simply buy additional specialties as stunts with your refresh. I have also made some alterations to some of the same a basic skills in Fate Core, occasionally just changing the name for flavor, or clearer understanding of what they would mean or be referred to by in the seven kingdoms.
Thievery: (Burglary in Fate Core) Unchanged.
Contacts: Unchanged. Varys’s favorite skill. Very useful for any campaign in Kings Landing.
Trade: Replaces Crafts in Fate Core as a single skill with multiple specialties. For every 2 points in trade, the character gets a specialty.
Smithing- Forging, or repairing metal tools, weapons, armor, or leather. A very high skill could reflect the ability to make beautiful artistic armor and the like, which may fetch a greater price or even give bonuses in some situations. A character gets a +2 bonus when using this specialty. When reforging Valyrian Steel you must first learn the technique from a smith that knows the secret, or learn it yourself by taking the ritual magic specialty.
Animal Handling- Working with animals of all kinds, dogs, horses, ravens, direwolves, shadow cats, whatever. I would suggest it works equally well for any animal whether the character has dealt with one of its kind before or not. You could use it to reflect knowledge about animals, communicate with them, or teach them things. I would make this the skill the Starks used to command their direwolves, or the Targaryens used for their dragons. If you buy them as an Extra it should take into account that they will only understand the player based on this skill. The Stark’s dire wolves were not always obedient, and felt more real when they sometimes misunderstood a situation or ignored their masters . Actually possessing them as a skin changer should be bought separately as the warg extra. A character gets a +2 bonus when using this specialty.
Sailing- The knowledge of how to sail a ship, know a storm when is forming, and navigate by the stars, A character gets a +2 bonus when using this specialty. In addition anyone with the sailing specialty will get a +1 bonus to their defense when fighting in the water or on a ship due to their familiarity with the motion of the waves.
Warcraft- The knowledge a lord passes down to his heir. Warcraft is used for making advantages in tactical combat when you are in command, managing a war, building castles, sizing up a rival military, and keeping your lands well protected from brigands, and wildlings. A character gets a +2 bonus when using this specialty.
Survival: The mastery necessary to track game, hunt, find food and shelter, and predict the weather. Survival is also used for declaring that you know someone on the road, or have already been somewhere like an old abandoned keep that has a secret cellar for a good hiding place. A character gets a +2 bonus when using this specialty.
Treachery: The same as Deceive in Fate Core, Littlefinger’s favorite skill.
Ride: Replaces Drive in Fate Core. Ride should be used for movement, creating an advantage, and defense on horseback (both for the horse and the rider). If the character is using a lance also use Ride for the attack roll. When attacking with a lance you completely bypass armor, including the extra consequences armor offers. Lances can only be used on horseback. When on horseback your character gains a +2 bonus to defend against any kind of attack, +3 against an unmounted opponent. If an opponent instead attempts to attack your mount there is no extra defense bonus, and your character is thrown from his horse taking physical stress equal to their failure to defend with their ride skill if the mount is hit.
Empathy: Unchanged. Tyrion has a high empathy.
Arms: Replaces Fight as a single skill with multiple specialties. Arms is used to attack, and can also be used to defend instead of athletics, except from ranged attacks. For every 2 points in Arms, the character gets a specialty.
One handed- Daggers, maces, swords, and hand axes. Any weapon that can be held in one hand, and used along with a shield. One handed weapons get no extra damage bonus, but gains a +1 defense when fighting this way. When a one had fighter succeeds with style during a defense they may immediately use the amount of their succeeded roll as a free attack. These benefits apply whether the character is using athletics or arms to defend, as long as they are using a one handed weapon.
Two handed- Great swords and axes, mauls, and heavy war hammers. A successful hit does an additional 2 damage.
Polearm- Halberds, spears, and long weapons like scythes or pole axes. Pole arms may be used a against another zone touching the zone you are in. They get a +2 bonus to hit mounts.
Exotic- Anks, Braavosi blades, whips, dual wielding, or other strange weapons that rely on skill and training. All such weapons negate the effect of the the opponents specialty while they attack you, or you attack them, and give you a +1 bonus to use your arms skill to create an advantage.
Throwing- Any weapon designed to be thrown. Such weapons gain a +2 bonus to the attack, and can be used as against a zone touching your zone, Weapons must be retrieved to be used again. A character may only use the thrown weapon skill once per scene.
Concealed- Small weapons like daggers and knives. If your character successfully attacks with a hidden weapon they do an additional 3 damage, and creates the aspect “surprised” on the target even if they fail to hit them, that can be freely tagged once. The attack must first roll against the defenders wary skill with their treachery as a supplemental action, to see if they can pull the weapon fast enough to remain hidden. If your opponent fails to defend with his wary skill, his defense against your arms skill is mediocre. Attacking with a concealed weapon can only be done once per scene.
Ranged- Throwing spears, bows, and crossbows. May attack from 4 zones away. A character without the ranged specialty may use ranged weapons to attack up to 2 zones away.
Brawling- Unarmed combat. Gains a +2 bonus to attack against another unarmed foe that does not have this specialty. Also add a +1 bonus to any attempts to grapple your opponent.
Investigation: Unchanged. Poor Ned Stark.
Lore: In A Song of Ice and Fire campaign the Lore skill made me think of Jorah Mormont. Lore is a social survival skill. With this skill your character will sometimes roll to know things about foreign and local cultures, trades, superstitions, religions, legends, public figures, and history. For languages your character is not fluent in, simply role lore against a difficulty based on how strange and obscure the language is to see if they understand. A character with a good or great lore should be able to converse in any language to a practical extent.
Alchemy- The knowledge taught by the famed pyromancers in Kings Landing. Besides making wild fire, alchemy can produce acids, glues, lamp oil, poisonous or colored smokes, change the appearance of materials (like making lead look like gold), and craft flame resistant materials. A character gets a +2 bonus when using this specialty.
Medicine- Used for beginning recovery, and reducing a consequence to a lesser consequence if the healer succeeds with style. This is also the specialty you would need to when making poisons, drugs, and potions. A character gets a +2 bonus when using this specialty.
Ritual Magic- A practitioner of ritual magic would use this specialty to read omens, learn the secrets of supernatural beings like the children of the forest, or the white walkers, and perform rituals that allow for the casting of spells. Many spells are only possible by using blood or special materials like weirwood, a ritual bronze or obsidian dagger, blood, a plant known as the shade of the evening, or even some sort of terrible sacrifice... While possible to use magic in an ethical way in the world of ice and fire, magic is more often dangerous or malevolent than safe and wondrous. A character gets a +2 bonus when using this specialty. It is possible to use magic without this specialty, but the GM should require a penalty and a high degree of unpredictability to the outcome. Magic is very mysterious in the world of a song of ice and fire. When a PC decides to use magic he should tell the GM what he is attempting to do, and based on the roll and what the GM thinks is possible with the ingredients or sacrifice of the spell the GM should allow the result or change it to properly make it fit the setting.
Wary: (Notice in Fate core) Unchanged. Arya has a high Wary.
Provoke: Unchanged. Tyrion’s Favorite skill.
Rapport: Unchanged. Renly’s favorite skill.
Wealth : (Resources in Fate Core) Those who are not of an important part of a noble family will often have mediocre, but may still find treasure which can count as a temporary wealth skill. GM’s should allow one free specialty to all characters, regardless of how high or low their wealth skill is. For every 2 points in wealth, a character gets a specialty.
Light armor- Armor made from leather, hide,mail, or a coat of steel scales. Such armor reduces damage by 1 and can soak up 1 mild physical consequence. It will not be compelled for any environmental hazards, and can be slept in without difficulty. After the armor has taken a consequence it retains damage reduction, but must be repaired to take another consequence.
Heavy Armor- Strong plate armor. Such armor reduces damage by 2 and can soak up 1 moderate physical consequence. Whenever fighting in a unfavorable environment for heavy armor like a desert, a boat, or a marsh, the heavy aspect will be compelled. Heavy armor will cause a mild consequence to the character if slept in, and cannot be put on in a fight until the character spends 2 of his actions donning the armor. If another character helps him it only requires 1 action from each of them. After the armor has taken a consequence it retains damage reduction, but must be repaired to take another consequence.
Gilded Reputation- When your reputation is attacked, or you are openly mocked all social attacks stress damage you take is reduced by 1, and you may soak up an extra mild mental consequence due to the advantage of your wealth and status.
Servant- You can afford to pay a bodyguard, squire, or personal body servant. This servant has a 1 good skill, 2 fair, and 3 average, but no fate points, or extras, and a single aspect (HODOR!). The servant will serve you loyalty, but will rarely operate outside of their duties. More powerful servant characters can sometimes be acquired temporarily in play, but often have their own agendas (such as Bronn). Animals can also be servants, for more effective animal servants see the Warg abillity. If your servant dies it is assumed you hire another at the first opportunity. You may take the servant specialty multiple times, and your servants benefit from all the rest of your wealth specialties as if they had them themselves.
Breeding Stock- You have access to valuable animals such as hunting hounds, white ravens, and war horses. Your animals get a +2 bonus to whatever they are bred and trained to do. For example, a war horse would give a +2 bonus to your ride skill. Alternatively the animal could perform a special feat, like a white raven being able to deliver a message to a specific person.
Will: Unchanged. Eddard Stark's best skill.
3. Extras and stunts: Extra’s cost refresh, and can be worked out with the GM for anything the player wants to do, so long as it fits with the setting. The extra’s I made are guidelines, most likely if you are running a song of ice and fire campaign you will not allow some of these based on the plot, but I thought these might still come in handy with certain exceptional PC’s or NPC’s. As for magic… well, magic is tricky in the song of ice and fire world. On one hand magic is very rare, on the other it can be very clearly magical (like Melisandre’s magic), or occasionally subtle (like warg magic, and greensight), but magic is always costly, otherwise everyone would use it. Sometimes magic can just cost refresh, but other times it should also cost the player during play through fate points or consequences.
Affliction- You bear a affliction that causes you physical or mental disadvantages, and often shame among your fellow man. This works like an anti stunt. You must take an aspect that reflects this, and some sort of stunt that causes you negative results or penalties in certain situations. You gain 1 extra refresh. This sort of extra reflects things like Tyrion’s dwarfism, or Jamies lost hand. A very severe version of this extra will be like Bran Starks loss of his legs, and will justify getting 2 extra refresh. Your aspect may also be compelled, or invoked, but certain parts of your affliction will always work the same way without rewarding you fate points, such as Bran not being able to walk. Situational compels still reward fate points as usual.
Heirloom- You hold a very valuable heirloom such as an ancient set of bronze armor (that is reputedly enchanted), house Daynes sword of morning, Arya’s needle, or a valyrian steel weapon. Such a item must also be taken as an aspect for your character, and such aspects to do with the item will have special effects in specific situations. For example valyrian weapon aspect be invoked to kill creatures such as wights, the others, and even dragons after a successful hit, a mystic bronze set of ancient armor could be invoked to protect the wearer from magic, and Arya’s needle could be invoked to find its way back to her when stolen, and give her extra will when dealing with intimidation. Such weapons do give an additional +1 to attacks, and another +1 damage with a successful hit. This stacks with whatever weapon specialty applies to the weapon. If the heirloom is not a valyrian weapon but armor or some other item the player and GM should decide together how the item works. Cost 2 refresh.
Status- Your character is a member of a noble house, or in a powerful position. This means that those below your station are often easily influenced by your higher rank. When dealing with anyone below your status, such as a lessor highborn, or any of the small folk you gain a +1 bonus in all social skills, unless they are clearly your enemies. This extra is not required for highborn characters, it is intended for characters with prominent names or reputations. Cost 1 refresh.
Prophetic Dreams- You have dreams that give you knowledge of events to come, most often in symbolism and metaphors, cost 1 refresh. When you encounter an event from your dream you get a free invoke while interacting with the event, or person your dream was predicting. You also get a plus 1 bonus to your will, lore, and empathy when dealing with subject of your dreams. If you also are a warg, and have an animal companion you may experience dreams of seeing through their eyes every time you sleep.
Animal Companion- You have an animal companion that knows you well, and will protect you if you are threatened, cost 1 refresh. You may command an animal with the trade skill (animal handling specialty very helpful). This can be any sort of animal, direwolves, shadow cats, horses, etc. An animal companion has 1 great skill, 2 good, 3 average, and 1 aspect. Such an animal cost 1 refresh. Animal companions with a special trait such as Jon Snow’s direwolf Ghost with his senses that can detect the supernatural, Daenerys fire breathing baby dragons, or even Orell’s bird (since it can fly) cost an additional refresh, special animals gain a free tag once per session. If you take an animal companion you must have an aspect that reflects this animal or animals. If you have more than one there is no need to take an aspect for each of them.
Warg- Best taken with the animal companion extra, cost 1 refresh. You are a Warg, also known as a skinchanger. You can go into a trance and slip into the mind of an animal, or even another person, controlling their body as though it were your own. Doing so puts your body into a trance, leaving you vulnerable. Doing so is done by rolling your will skill against the creature you are trying to control. If you have animal companion you get a +2 bonus to control your animal companion, controlling a human cost a fate point and is done at a -2 penalty. If you fail your will roll you take 2 points of mental stress, or lose a fate point. If it is a special animal companion that cost you an additional refresh such as ghost, you may enter without a rolling your will. If you take warg you must have an aspect that reflects this.
Glamor- You may roll your treachery or will against opposing detections skills to create a magical illusion. The way you may use a glamor is restricted thematically by your aspects. For example a faceless man may use it to change his face, while a priestess of R’hllor could use it to manipulate light and shadow. The glamor can look, or sound, real but has no real physical effect, such as lightbringer lighting up but giving off no heat. Cost 1 refresh.
Flaming sword- You can use a rite of R'hllor to light your sword on fire. Whether this is a miracle or magic from another source should be discussed with the GM. It is good to know if it is intended to be unclear or not since we don’t really know in the novels. To do this you must draw your own blood, this counts as a minor physical consequence. If doing so would bring you to a higher consequence than a mild instead take the temporary aspect “distracted by pain”, that your opponent may tag once as they witness you cut yourself. The flaming sword counts as a free invoke to any attacks you make for the entirety of that scene. Cost 1 refresh.
Undeath- Your body is clearly mortally wounded, cold to the touch, or rotted. You do not need to eat, sleep, or breathe, and cannot feel pain (other than fire, supernatural means, or perhaps valyrian steel). In most cases this should mean you automatically pass any physique rolls to do with any kind of endurance. You gain an 2 additional mild physical consequences, and one of your aspects must be “undeath” to reflect your lost humanity. The GM may compel this aspect to reflect that you have lost your human sense of mercy for others, and no longer feel any remorse, although you may still have principles and care for some people. Cost 1 refresh.
Blood of the Dragon- You have the blood of old Valyria, giving you pale skin, silver, or platinum hair, and blue-violet eyes. You may be a distant relative to the Targaryen's, or a foreigner from Essos, but your exotic and noble appearance forces others to take you seriously. As a result you feel you have a special destiny. Choose a specific goal or dream that motivates your character beyond all else, whenever you invoke an aspect while trying to realize that dream you get an additional +1 bonus to your invoke. Cost 1 refresh.
Blood of the Giants- You are far larger than most, and some think you may have a giant way back in your family tree. Possible characters in SOIF that may have this trait may be Gregor Clegane and his brother the hound, Ser Duncan the tall, the Umbers, and Hodor. You must have an aspect reflecting your great size or strength. When using your physique skill you get a +3 bonus, when attacking you do an additional 2 stress on a successful hit. Cost 2 refresh.
Guidelines for resurrection- When a character is resurrected with some sort of magic it should require the person performing the magic to make a lore or will roll, and pay a fate point. In addition the character must either have an aspect reflecting their ability to use magic (like Thoros of Myr), or instead sacrifice something (like Daenerys did). If the person is resurrected they will not come back the same however. They must permanently lose one of their aspects to be replaced by the undeath aspect (does not need to buy the undeath extra unless they wish to be clearly undead). If a person is resurrected a second time they must replace another aspect with the aspect “blurry memories” so that character is even less who they were, although this doesn’t mean they lose all of their memories. Basically each time a person is resurrected they must replace an aspect with a new one to reflect their loss or identity until they are effectively hollow of the person they were.
That's it for now, I will be rebalancing this later, and fleshing out some of the rules more.