Games I want to play: Chivalry & Sorcery – A Song of Ice and Fire

One of the games I own but haven’t played is Chivalry & Sorcery. I have three versions of it:

The games are sorted above from most rules heavy to least. In truth, even Chivalry & Sorcery proper is not so much “rules heavy” as it is “complete”. There’s a lot of detail, but the rules themselves are not terribly complicated to use. Although the game has a distinct 90s feeling to the layout, all the tables and options and details make me enjoy thumbing through the books and think wistfully about playing. Almost all “serious” gamers I know have several games they have never played in their collection, in addition to several they will never play again. I’d really like to play C&S. While these books are currently in that “games I have never played” section of my collection, I’d really like to change that.

One of the regular players in my King Arthur Pendragon campaign made the observation not long after we started to play that the game system could be adapted to be a pretty fun A Song of Ice and Fire roleplaying game. While I am inclined to agree, and spent a few weekends working on a conversion, I eventually stopped working on it for a few reasons:

  • It was hard coming up with regional traits and passions for most regions of the world, frankly.
  • Pendragon’s “killer mechanic” is the personality trait system. In principle this should be great for A Song of Ice and Fire, however, I feel that most players would emphasize the “negative” traits (perhaps because of how salacious the Game of Thrones TV show is), and there would really be minimal social penalty and next to no “literary penalty” to doing so. The world of ASoIaF is more cynical than Arthur’s Britain. In play I suspect there would be less conflict between “positive” and “negative” traits and more simple indulgence of the negative traits.
  • Pendragon also has a defined “downtime” in the Winter Phase. Each session should be 1 year of the campaign, speaking generally. This would mean the whole of the events from King Robert visiting Winterfell to now, for example, would take only a few sessions depending on whether you preferred the book’s pacing or the TV show’s pacing.
  • Pendragon is about playing knights. You can also play ladies. There are more characters from more backgrounds than just those two in ASoIaF.

The more I think about it, the more I think a Pendragon version of ASoIaF would be fun, but not particularly faithful to the source material, which would be one thing if it was D&D, but almost sacrilegious to do to a game so perfect for its source material as Pendragon.

However, C&S seems to address these issues for me rather nicely! I can neatly side-step my difficulty in selecting regional traits etc by leaving those personality details up to the players, the personality trait system would not be present to be abused (replaced with some useful mechanics instead for influence), downtime is more flexible, and you can play any character from any social background. C&S also has a suitably low-key magic system (which would lend itself to tweaking to match the spell casting seen in ASoIaF), so I wouldn’t necessarily need to rule-out player character magicians as Pendragon 5th edition encourages.

So maybe A Song of Ice and Fire is my best shot to find players to play Chivalry & Sorcery with me… we will see!

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