16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The Game of Thrones RPG is based on George R.R. Martin's internationally bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series (planned to run to seven volumes, with four currently available). In this world the seasons last for years at a time and the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are troubled by dynastic struggles between one another and the unifying King on the Iron Throne. The novels depict the outbreak of civil war and the gathering forces of opponents across the sea whilst a supernatural evil descends from beyond the northern frontier. The RPG allows you to take up arms and join the struggle for dominance in Westeros.
This is the biggest and best-designed D20 RPG I have yet seen. It is huge, nearly 500 pages long of mainly medium-sized type. Whilst AGOT is set in a medieval fantasy world, it is no D&D knock-off. The D20 rules have not so much been adapted as ripped apart and rebuilt from the ground up. Combat is more tactical and brutal (and far more dangeorus), knowledge is something to be craved and magic kept to a minimum. No power-gamers or munchkins here. A good GoT campaign relies on complex roleplaying and cooperation between the player characters. The PCs are meant to be members of the same noble houses (or different houses with common goals) but they can also play mercenaries, sellswords or explorers. New influence and wealth ratings bolster player stats and the starting level for PCs isn't defaulted to 1 like other D20 games. Instead, only children start at Level 1. Adult characters would start at around Level 3-5. Levelling up is more tricky than in D&D as the stupidly generous XP system has been made much less forgiving. Players are also rewarded for achieving goals rather than just killing everything in sight.
The background info is excellent for bringing newbies up to speed and there are some new tidbits gleaned from George R.R. Martin's notes (ever wondered what the War of the Ninepenny Kings was about? Or why the Brackens and Blackwoods hate one another so much?). The book is also home to some astonishing artwork, both old (Amok's long-revered character illustrations) and mostly new. There are numerous huge two-page spreads covering the first novel in the series with some brilliant depections, none more so than the chilling sight of the Others killing Ser Waymar Royce. The book also comes with the best map of the Seven Kingdoms yet realised.
Some niggles. George R.R. Martin ordered that a scale bar be removed from the map, which makes it virtually useless in planning journeys and encounters. You have to remember that the Wall = 300 miles and use that as a scale bar. A couple of the pictures aren't up to the standard of the rest. There is no handy centralised area where all the (numerous) changes from standard D20 rules are listed. These problems are minor and can be safely ignored.
If you enjoy roleplaying, then you MUST play AGOT. It's as simple as that.