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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Did 'Game of Thrones' Start as a GURPS campaign?


(In honor of today being Game of Thrones day, I'm reposting this relatively recent post, which was surprisingly popular.  If you haven't read it before, enjoy!)

Gentlemen, I present you the evidence:  first of all, we know for an absolute fact that George R.R. Martin is a gamer, and that his favorite game in the world is GURPS.    We know that some of his other novels began as direct inspiration/play-report from one of his campaigns.

Now, I haven't actually seen any direct confirmation from Martin (or a reliable source of some kind) that "A Game of Thrones" started out as a GURPS campaign.  One person I discussed the matter with recently decried the notion that GoT might have started as an RPG game as "wishful thinking".

We do know for a fact that Martin was influenced by the War of the Roses. And we know you can make the War of the Roses into an RPG setting: I've done it, with my "Dark Albion" campaign/ free setting.  But its true that it might be too much to hope for that one of the most popular franchises of recent years has direct RPG-roots.

Maybe so, but at the same time as an historian I'm trained to study text for historical clues. And I think I've discovered something everyone else has missed.

First, presume that IF Martin had started Game of Thrones as a campaign, it would have been with GURPS. Second, we know that characters created with different systems sometimes have a different look.   In GURPS' case, it is heavily affected by its being a point-buy system for people that love radical "character optimization".  Random-roll old-school it ain't.

With those two points in mind, something fascinating reveals itself:  pretty much with every character in Thrones you can see them as GURPS Fantasy guys complete with having seriously minmaxed on their disadvantages.  Consider:

"I want to be the best fucking swordsman in the world.. shit.. better take 'incestuous relationship with sister' and 'murdered the last king'"

"I want to be even better at swordplay than that other guy! Damn.. i better take "excessively tall", "social disadvantage: female", and "flaw: falls in love with idiots""

"I want to be crazy smart and really socially competent... ah well, 'midget' here I come"

"I want my character to be King! Damn.. I'll have to take the 'complete asshole' disadvantage"



"I want to have 'contender for the throne' and be the only player who didn't pay it off with 'complete moron'.  Yeah, I know I'll need to pay it off somehow.. how about 'sold his soul to a religious cult'?"

"I'm the badass strong mean knight.. fuck, well, "facial burns" and 'phobia: fire' it is.."

"I want dragons!! You're saying I'll have to take what?? And that's still not enough? I'd also need to.. shit.  Oh.. well.. ok!"

"I want to be the most awesome character in this or any other campaign ever. I'll have to take 'little girl'?? But I did that exact same thing already in the 'Kick-Ass Supers' campaign! Well, whatever..."

...And then the guy playing Littlefinger doesn't char-op at all and ends up running circles around everyone else anyways by sheer Roleplay, because he's used to playing Amber instead of GURPS. Which is why the char-opers all despise him.

RPGPundit

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4 comments:

  1. That's a GREAT article Thanks!!!

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  2. Many years ago I was playing the old "Hundred Years' War" game on the old GEnie network (which will let you know how long ago it was). I played a French noble, and because the French crown screwed me over, I decided to betray them. I made contact with the English side, specifically the Crown Prince, who was the military leader. I built huge estates up, gathered, resources, raised armies, and then transferred them to English players.

    This was all coordinated by the English Crown Prince. The player was George RR Martin.

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