Thorns, not thrones.
I know, I know but stick with me here.
Way back in early 2013, my game group started playing Pathfinder in a home-brew setting I had made in my free time. I was pretty underemployed at the time, and had a ton of free time to spend in making the world whole and complete, with tons of little details and a sprawling history and lore.
I didn’t expect it to last long, it was a text-only game over Skype, and up to that point every D&D or Pathfinder game I’d played over the internet had ended fairly quickly. Interest dwindled, schedules had changed, or life just got in the way, and the game ended up scrapped after about a month. This one didn’t end though, in spite of several schedule changes, new jobs, and moving to new cities. It lasted for about a year and a half! There was a player who started at the beginning who had to leave within a week, and another who joined only to leave due to school obligations, but the game kept going with the three players who’d stayed.
Over the course of a year, the game transformed from a fight between nobles over a simple patch of highlands, to a sprawling epic that saw the players treat with gods, old and new, to fight an evil so old that even elves knew only vague details.
Gai’al’tung, the King of Thorns.
I put my players through the wringer too. The bard lost his father and his favorite uncle went mad due to the machinations of the King of Thorns. The rogue lost her father, and was forced to give up her own first born child in order to bring peace to the land.
The barbarian highlander took on a curse of immortality that left him a stranger to his own people, and even to mankind as a whole, leaving him nothing but to walk the earth and watch it crumble.
But in the end, they triumphed, and I have never been as proud of myself as a DM, or of my friends as Players when they did.
One of my friends, T, is an artist. You may have seen their work before as I’ve been retweeting all their orc related artwork for the last year. They usually make at least some artwork for every game they play in, but the amount of art they made for Game of Thorns was probably the most for any game I’ve played with them. I thought I’d share some of it with you here today.
You can check out more of their stuff by following them on twitter @Uncouth_Peasant
Starting alphabetically with Aden Caderyn, a bookish fellow, too far down the line of succession of house Caderyn to consider a play for power, dedicated himself to studying under his father, an brilliant diplomat, and his uncle, the family spymaster. Over the course of the campaign, he acquired the attention of several dark gods (he wasn’t particular about the shrines he prayed at) which eventually got him a talking cat summoner companion. He also established quite the network of spies across the land. He ended the campaign blessed by the God of Games and could never lose a game of chance. In the epilogue he settled down in a cottage in the highlands, but not before destabilizing a rival nation on a whim.
Next is Tora Caderyn (T’s character), middle child of the Lord of the Highlands, very much a wild child who wanted to do more than be a pawn for a political marriage. She ended up defending a city under siege, commanding a battalion of knights, and defeating a green dragon before finally confronting the King of Thorns. Ironically, she did end up marrying the man her father wanted for her, the Prince Henry of the Reislanders, after she saved him from political assassination and saved his city from a cursed army. In order to get the final blessing the party needed to defeat the King of Thorns, she was forced to give up her first born child to the God of the Seas (not to be killed, it was a plot thread we left dangling in case we ever ran a sequel game). She ended the game as Queen of the Ladwrack and the heroine of her people.
Kiril was a simple man, starting the game as a bodyguard to Tora, he ended the game a champion of his people’s most ancient gods, immortal and nigh unbeatable in combat. His story arc was mostly based around divided loyalties. As part of the lore, the region the campaign was set in (the Ladwrack river basin) was dominated by the Reislanders, who had conquered the region three hundred years prior. While the other two players were Reislander’s themselves, Kiril was a Ladwrack native. He was often confronted by his own people on why he would fight for the House Caderyn, often against his own people. He ended the game as a part of neither culture, cursed to be alone forever. In the epilogue, he simply walked into the highlands, and was never seen again, save in vague rumored sightings.
That was a super fun game! I wish we still had the transcripts – maybe editing out or hiding the out-of-character silliness
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Also, I think one of the best parts of the game was the intrigue and asides. Quite unique among most RPG play styles is that we constantly split the party – and it was awesome. All of the side plots and deceit were really well done.
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