Posted by higgins
Having been reworking the Edges & Flaws lately, we’ve discovered that the section is ever-expanding. With every rewrite, we keep coming up with new entries that broaden the character customization options for the prospective Song of Steel players.
One of the core design principles that we adhere to, is that no Edge can exist for the primary purpose of providing benefits in combat. There are a few Edges that grant combat benefits, but the mechanical advantages are far outweighed by the character defining traits that those Edges bring. Sure, a Giant of a character receives a couple of extra dice in combat, but it’s their massive size that defines their character. Similarly, a Southpaw Slayer will most likely beat any left-handed opponent in the game, but it’s their lefty skill-honing sparring partner that that really impacts the story. Even being Ambidextrous lacks any direct combat benefits — that trait mainly allows a character to retain their fighting ability with an injured dominant arm.
In addition, we decided that with the exception of a few Combat Pool adjustments, no Edge would modify the number of dice to be rolled by the player. No +2 or -2 type of traits whatsoever. Having a Perception pool 4 with the Sharp-Eyed Edge just had to be fundamentally different than simply having a Perception pool of 6. And now it is.
Needless to say, such self-imposed restrictions severely limited our options. We could no longer draw inspiration from other games, as “special combat moves” and “boosting success chances” tend to be the main type of benefits that most RPGs offer. In the long run however, we believe that it was a beneficial move, as we were forced to completely change our angle of approach and draw inspiration both from fiction and history itself.
We hope that taking such a route will further drive home the historical focus of Song of Steel.
Battle of Bosworth by JayT47
Here’s one of our latest write-ups:
Claim (Major or Minor)
Your character is legally recognized as born into the reigning dynasty or having descended from a previous sovereign. Having a claim is almost like being a wildcard Heir from another branch of the family, but you’d need an army behind you when the time comes to assert that. We hope you have an army, or means to raise one. It’ll be fun. We promise.
The minor version of this Edge means that your character has a claim over a title that is equal to, or below their current station. The major version of this Edge represents a claim over a title that is above their current station.
The main benefit of picking Claim over the Heir Edge is that with a Major Claim, your character can aim to inherit above their station. In addition, Claim is a great Edge to pick when you want a bloody battle over the kingdom. The Edge also is useful in case your character isn’t entitled to the position due customary laws — picking a Minor Claim would make a viable heir from a female character even under the male primogeniture. Or you can simply choose Claim because for whatever the reason, you don’t want your potential king of a character being a part of the current royal family.
Note that in a feudal society, having a claim is the most crucial prerequisite for waging war over land. Declaring war on someone without possessing a claim over the disputed property first would be considered “unjustifiable”. Basically, it would be seen as an act of rebellion and no noble stands for undermining their own authority. Declaring an unjustifiable war would gain the defendant a huge number of allies, no matter their previous track record and reputation. As such, forging documents to conjure up legal grounds for a claim was extremely common in medieval times. And of course, there’s no need for a Claim if you want to wage war against pagans or infidels — those kind of wars are always “justifiable”.
Keep in mind that while the Edge writeup focuses on kings and royalty, the Edge can also represent claims over lesser titles.
As you can see, we don’t balk at giving out powerful tools even for the starting characters. It is quite possible to build a greater noble with a stronghold, an army and a claim to the throne right off the bat. And we can’t wait for the players to start combining all that — having them create powder-keg situations such as a male character with an Heir Edge, and adding an elder sister with a Minor Claim, trying to supersede him. Or combining Claim with the Outlaw Flaw. Or with Young. Or Naive. Or having a sick and depraved prince define their own sister as an Asset and trying to barter her for an army, as witnessed in A Game of Thrones.
Now add multiple player characters with similar, but opposing goals and the stage will be set for the goriest ascension war in RPG history!
This is but one of the Edges in Song of Steel.