Deep, complex intrigue lies at the heart of A Song of Ice and Fire, and this adventure is jam-packed with it! Featuring a complex plot designed to cast the characters and their House in the worst possible light while advancing another fellow to high position in both his own House and the land, there is absolutely no chance for any character to sit on the sidelines and observe. A Royal Tournament is to be held in King's Landing, a chance for young men of mettle to impress... while in the background nobles of all ages plot and connive for position no less fiercely.
The plot, albeit complex, is laid out very clearly for the GM in the Introduction, and a range of ideas are provided to get characters even more embroiled than they will be anyway including suggestions for mystical foreshadowing of events (coupled with ideas of how to present both foreshadowing and event effectively). As it is a very plot-driven adventure, another useful section explains ways of dealing with both characters who fathom the plot too quickly and those who stand looking puzzled and let the 'Bad Guy' run rings around them. There's also advice on how to make the core adventure work with groups of characters less likely to succeed, such as ones that are weak in combat skills or with an unusual range of classes - the adventure works best if you have a couple of knights, if only to have them participate in the tournament that provides pretext and backdrop for the main action, but other options are possible, even the delightfully off-beat one of a group of youngsters sent to observe proceedings!
So, on to the actual events. Chapter 1 deals with the journey to King's Landing and events along the way - some, but not all, are germane to the plotline. Myriads of NPCs are detailed to bring even a journey to life: making it more than a mere interlude to get the characters to where they have to be. With Chapter 2: Welcome to King's Landing, they arrive and settle in. Despite there being plenty going on, the GM is encouraged to weave character-specific events in at this point, another example of how the whole adventure is presented as something the GM can personalise for the characters concerned, rather than railroad them through a plot regardless. However, the main plot is not forgotten with comprehensive detail of who is up to what and a timeline to help keep everything on track. There are also hints as to how best to introduce any characters from the books on which this game is based, yet another nice touch.
Chapter 3: The King's Tourney details events once the tournament proper begins, beginning with the formalities of parades and a banquet. The game rules for jousting are given, clearly distinguished from 'real' fighting - while accidents do happen nobody is supposed to be killed! Again there is plenty going on, both on and off the field, and much for characters to get involved in, whether their interests lie in intrigue, combat, gambling or anything else.
Finally, Chapter 4: Poisoned Words introduces yet more twists to the plot even as it is resolved. Many permutations and possible outcomes are laid out to aid the GM in determining what happens, and what the consequences will be. Put it this way, nobody will forget the closing feast in a hurry!
As an appendix, there is a Guide to King's Landing, useful during the course of this adventure and whenever your characters might happen to be in town. While there's a fair bit here, even more detail is to be found in the SIFRPG Campaign Guide... but you have sufficient here to make the city come to life in your game. There are also copious notes on all the major players that your characters will encounter during this adventure. And, should you wish to jump straight in, some pre-generated characters.
This adventure is exciting and filled to the brim with intrigue. While there are plenty of opportunities for combat as well, you need players who enjoy plotting and conniving, who will relish complex politics - but if you do, this will make a memorable game.
Return to Peril at King's Landing page.
Reviewed: 5 May 2010