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A Game of Thrones: Play By Forum Game 01 - Foes and False Friends

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Coo-ee, cobbers.

Your absentee landlord has arrived, bringing a big box of delicious posturing and admonition, seasoned with a surprising amount of bonhomie.

Just a general group raven, laying out some musings I’ve had. Feel free to offer any suggestions or open threats as you see fit.

Most of you are West of me. Many valuable territories are in the West. This is fine, because I will be happy to settle for a small section of the East, avoiding conflict wherever possible. I literally don’t actually have the free time for the logistics of a war in the West, so am happy to operate relatively passively and absolutely honestly.
King’s Landing is clearly mine, and I want Storm’s End, the Mountains of the Moon, and all of the coastal territory between them. Once I have my Eastern territories, I will happily sit in my corner, responding as needed.

To the fursome House Stark, I offer the suggestion that war between us won’t help either of us much. It really doesn’t look like the Kraken is going to be fun to deal with, especially with Lannister collusion. Mind you, if you don’t want the Narrow Sea, I will happily claim it. If you want your coastline raided from the East, feel free to agitate and posture. I can’t see anything to be gained from it.

To the darling rosebuds of Tyrell, I offer my fondest regards, as well as my commiserations on your impending invasion from the North and eventual betrayal in the South. Now, we both know that I want the Blackwater, but I am happy to let you and the Lion work out an amicable solution between yourselves. I really hope that we can be friends.

To Martell, our mates downunder, I understand that you may want to interfere with my holdings, as your hollow alliance with the Tyrells inevitably forces you North. Storm’s End is kind of my property, though, and I really don’t want a harrowing war with a house I respect. I hope this goes well.

To the maritime terror of Greyjoy, you guys are pretty awesome, and I can’t wait to see the betraying sword of ‘Damocles’ Greyjoy descend on the Lannister coastline. I don’t really need to advise you to stay out of the East. It clearly has nothing for you. Hopefully we don’t see each other any time soon, as a long-distance friendship will be safer for both of us.

To the proud House Lannister, we might have to see how things pan out. We should be fine as long as you don’t push too far East. Mind you, you probably wouldn’t want to do that anyway.

Not wanting to threaten anyone, just letting you all know that I’ve had a think, and found a peaceful solution to some of our mutual problems.

Yours sincerely,

- Barry Baratheon, Rightful King of Westeros, etc.

Also, anyone messing with King’s Landing is playing what I believe the maesters call a ‘Zero Sum Game of Thrones’.
Possibly not worth doing, but it’s your funeral.
Seriously. You’re opening a box of manticores.

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Also, I will happily work with whichever side of the Tyrell/Martell sham marriage wants to betray the other side first.
I am still an honourable man, and am not specifically trying to play you off each other, but honestly…
It’s just inevitable, and I hope that both sides keep this in mind.

My friends of the house Martell,

It seems we are being played in the most petty of ways. Baraetheon clearly wishes to expand eastward into at least The Reach and the Blackwater. Beyond that, though, I hardly see Baraetheon helping either of us eat each other alive here in the south. Lannister would use it to devour me, but would then turn to whichever of you and Baratheon seemed weakest. And, friend Martell, I don’t see Kings Landing being the morsel requiring the least chewing compared to the chokepoint our land forms here in the south.

If we instead leave one another room at the narrow neck of our countryside–the Boneway to you and the Dornish Marshes to me with Prince’s Pass requiring some negotiation and Stormfall and Yronwood clearly being your own–I see no reason we can’t then force our mutual way against whichever of Baraetheon and Lannister would most likely otherwise trouble us from the rear. Quite plainly, we either eliminate one-another in a farce of a struggle that no one else will take the bother to take part in while everyone else scrabbles over the iron throne, or we can belay that and dig into the callous heart of a land that has forgotten us.

And we’ll do it with style. So I suppose that’s the question being posed you: style or substance? You don’t seem to want to bother pretending to be trustworthy, that was made abundantly clear. Personally, that would be my impulse as well. Trust be damned, let’s be devious and paranoid. But perhaps laziness is for lions.

If the Squids turn on Lannister I’ll happily give Lannister far too much to think about. Otherwise, I’m quite content to move against Baratheon instead, supporting you into that fine territory where necessary to assure we have a mutual forward passage open to us.

All that, of course, is nothing if we neither have ambitions beyond our southern spaces. I’m very nearly content to simply cultivate a garden here and let the rest murder themselves to sleep. If Lannister truly leaves a buffer between the two of us and evacuates the Blackwater under duress from Baraetheon, that vision may well be possible. I leave that to you, Martell.

Or I suppose to Stark! I’m mighty curious what Stark will do; in all like let Baratheon bully and cajole it into indifference on the east, embattlement on the West and flouted ambition on the south. But this is Stark’s season. Perhaps we will be surprised. And perhaps that surprise will open as possible yet unseen arrangements of our interests across the land.

Orders have been dispatched.

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Dear Marty, of the House Martell (it is Marty, right?),
I hope that the potential for ugliness over Storms End won’t sour our ongoing relationship.
The location is strategically important to me, so you may as well write it off, and make your home in the more centrally-located Boneway instead.
You must understand that I can’t have anyone mustering ships in Shipbreakers Bay, as Dragonstone must be protected.

Hoping this all ends well,

  • Barry Baratheon, First of His Name, etc.

Yo, Lannisters … got your lion mail. It was in very good taste, especially after a good roast. We verily did enjoy eating something besides squid for once. Even though we love our squid, and let noone tell you anything else. Moving your fleet away is a nice gesture. We appreciate it. We also saw that posturing from those flower-sniffers of house Tyrell. If you need help we surely could move some ships down there supporting you in giving them a good wallop or three.

Baratheons, I do not enjoy what you are implying. I know we have a reputation of backstabbing but it’s totally undeserved and just ill will of the other houses. When we burned those villages it was only because they were infested by rats and couldn’t be saved anymore. It was all in good faith. So stop your annoying implications you old drunkard…

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My dear squids,

Thank you for taking care of Leo, his worm problem was becoming difficult to treat. We thoroughly enjoyed your squid and appreciated the calamari recipe. You should try it with some Dornish lemon, what a treat!

Yes, as you have noticed, the Tyrell are highly agitated. I would not deride their insipid sigil, as I believe they have formed a complex over it, hence their frenetic posturing.

I would not be opposed to your navy moving into the Sunset Sea. From there it is a short sail to The Arbor, pick me up a sour red if it’s little trouble.

Don’t mind the Baratheons. They are clearly seeking to direct attention away from their comfortable and alarmingly uncontested end of Westeros.

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Lord Greyhair,
When you mentioned old drunks, I assume you were on about my late brother King Bob Baratheon, King of the Andals and the First Men, etc.
Now, this may come as a shock, but he’s actually dead.
I, King Barry Baratheon, on the other hand, am not a drunk. I’ve only had like two today, and tonight’s probably going to be a quiet one.

I make no implications, and again reaffirm that the Ironborn are really cool.
I stated what I saw to be an eventual certainty, and it was not my intent to offend you, when you should be commended for your ongoing commitment to coastal pest control.
If, say, some of the rats you feel have to burn out happen to be wearing wolves, lions or roses, then that’s your business, and I can’t fault you for it.

Mind you, if you find you have to burn rose-scented rats, it might make some of my decisions easier.
I like easy decisions.

No offense taken,

  • Barry Baratheon the Sober

Oy Barry, sorry ‘bout that, but you guys go through successors faster than a good squid goes through a seaman’s stomach. Can’t really keep up with who’s gettin’ drunk an fingering the wenches this week. But you are right about one thing. One cannot be safe enough about pest control. Rats on the ship are a sure sign that the Klabautermann is about to get you. Can’t have that.

Lannys: good thinking, my man. I guess it will be in the best interest of us all if we of house Greyjoy make regular patrols along the shore, just to be sure that nobody of the other houses gets funny ideas. If some Tyrell boats sink in this endeavor, well, accidents happen.

Lord Greyhair,
For servants of a drowned god it is perhaps appropriate to seek death at sea, but you would overreach greatly if you wished to seek death on land as well. Between Stark and Lannister there are enough claws to tear your home away from you. Your watery hold then would serve you primarily against Lannister. Lannister’s ambitions would have to lie South and East for you to be of any great assistance and Martell will not give up either land or sea easily. You do not have the strength to crash though two navies and resist Stark while still leaving your vassals anything against Lannister but pleas of mercy. Even so, the ambitions of Lannister must lie South and East if they are to bother more with South than with North or West. You’ll have no easy time crashing through two navies in order to merely pat Lannister on the back while the lion paws at the castles of the remaining South but neither will Lannister have strength to crash through two houses on land alone. This puts Lannister in a horrible conundrum if you take the seas, Lannister honors your truce, and Lannister bothers my borders all three together.

Our networks of spies, informants, turncoats, and poverty-stricken ear-bearers are far too great for much discretion. War is to be open and terrible if it comes. The question then is: do you seek what many would deem the only possible victory? Do you seek claim over the Iron Throne? Do you seek an appropriately iron grip on the seats of power and influence in the land? Fancy you a whole bevy of castles at your beck and call? Or fancy you Greyjoy in stasis–the garden of which I’ve no doubt you know I’ve discussed with Martell?

You and I will see no peace, I fear. I have no love for Lannister and should Martell not turn on me I will be riding North, aiding them against Baratheon or Lannister at their choosing. Martell is a banner I could bow too; the Iron Throne is such a dreadfully pointy and abrasive thing. I prefer swords loose and ready for dueling and battling than swords bent into terribly uncomfortable chairs. I prefer swords embellished and sheathed to either. You seem determined not to antagonize Lannister either our of fear, respect or genuine disinterest. I have not cause to ride far enough North to give you trouble unless you ride through Lannister to meet me and we’ll both have ample time to see that coming. If you throw your lot against me Lannister may well seize the opportunity and slide South instead of North or East.

Regrettable. May our sailors find equal footing among the dead should they not among the living. Should we find that footing sooner, though, our impasse would leave Lannister a rather nasty choice all pinned up at port.

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Hahahahahaha. Ha ha. Hahahaha. Haha. Ha ha ha ha ha haha. Ha ha ha.
Nothing like a good chuckle over a hearty breakfast. Apparently there’s a Baratheon who thinks they can tell people what to do.
sigh
Careful where you tread, Baratheon. There’s some long grass in your so called land, and it’s a perfect home for Vipers.

No matter. Embedded in flowery prose is occasional common sense. I will allow Tyrells room to deal with their footling kittens and rousting krakens. And would certainly support them in the heartlands whenever viable.

I do however like this idea of distant pen pals on the other side of the world. I would advise those far far North wolves to be wary of advice from gilded stags. Your seas are more important than you can imagine. When you span a continent, you need to protect both sides of it. If the Kraken really does lie with the Lion, then you are likely in a certain proverbial creek, covered in squid. I suggest acquiring a lot of paddles. Best of luck.

House Martell speaks well, Stark, with sound council.

House Martell also speaks kindly toward my proposition; appreciated immensely, of course. What thinks House Martell of the Prince’s Pass situation or is it it too early to consider?

Greyhair, a few more thoughts. It is quite possible that Kracken and Kitten are well and truly allied. It is ultimately no less peculiar that Lannister would leave Greyhair unmolested as that I would not–as my dear proud and honourable kitten would speak it for me–set my boot as firmly into the throat of House Martell as I could. Peculiar as an alliance or not, it is of course facetious to suggest war in the south would be so one sided were it to occur–either in pretense or in practice. In any case, as Lannister would have it Tyrell and themselves have both our beds in peculiar places, but where Tyrell is accustomed to various bedfellows in various beds, Lannister has a habit of sleeping in it’s own. Trust or distrust the appearance of a lion tamed to a gentler, more promiscuous lifestyle at your whim.

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Sorry Tyrell, forgot that detail. Was a particularly fine breakfast.

To me, it looks like Prince’s Pass is on my side of the river. If its occupation by my people would leave you nervous, then I could easily (almost happily) leave it empty, as a show of good faith. If the pass was filled up with flowers however, that could be unsettling for us all.

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To Lord Tony of the House Stark (it is Tony, right?),
I hope this letter finds you well.

Before I pop off for my hunt, I feel that I should directly communicate with you, just so I can reaffirm my good intentions.
The North is large, but you seem to only have a few directions in which to expand. You already have guaranteed war to your South-West, which suggests an obvious target for any aggression.
I have no interest in making things harder for you. My interests are in the East, and my claims are modest.

If we need to discuss appropriate boundaries, that would certainly be fine.
I would like to hold The Fingers, but I have no interest in moving further North.

Warm regards,

  • Barry Baratheon, Friend of the North

House Martell: I’m inclined to agree that it is more on your side of the river than our own; however for now let us leave it be. As our relationship proceeds I will entrust it’s proximity to a proper host of your forces. For now rest assured it shall neither host the banners of Tyrell nor it’s tithes be diverted either to myself or local baronies. Send all manner of influences short of soldiers, for now.

King Barry, your claim form Storm’s End to The Fingers and out from Dragonstone to Blackwater is indeed modest. One might instead set eyes as far as Bravos.

Okay all orders received except for Stark, however as this is their first game I am happy to give a substantial grace period to learn the rules and strategy.

Potential Rule Change! - Please Read

Re: Randomisation of decks

I was reading through a PbF game on BGG (it's a fun one, worth the read if you have the time) and they used a different system to manage the random decks (Westeros & Wildlings) to what I had planned to use. I had intended to create a private spreadsheet with each deck randomised within it, when a draw was required I'd just check that and give the top card. The new system I saw was based around assigning numbers to every card and rolling a die/using a random number generator to select which card is on top when that is called for (and of course removing that card from the pool of future rolls). Both have a very similar result (a random card comes up when you need it) but there are some subtitle differences. I would like to propose switching to the dice system Pro: This means I won't know what the next card is until it's called for, At this stage I haven't randomized the decks as I want to minimize my knowledge so that I can give unbiased advice if need-be. Using this system this may continue all game. Con: The BGG forums have an inbuilt dice function so everyone could see there was no funny business. If we adopt the new model you will just have to trust me. I hope you do that already as right now I could easily feed privileged information to any player but that would break the game.

Does anyone have any objections to this change?

I don’t see any problem with doing that.
There’d be no point playing if I didn’t trust you.

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To Lord Terry Tyrell (it is Terry, right?),
I’m concerned that you may have misunderstood my intentions.
I have suggested a preference for exactly six Eastern coastal provinces. This is certainly not ridiculous, considering that these provinces are some of the closest to Dragonstone.
There is a fair chance that I may not even take Storms End, as long as the ever-dangerous snake (which you have gleefully clasped to your breast) is willing to work amicably.
I can’t say I’ve even mentioned the Blackwater, except to announce my willingness to leave it be.

Cheers, - Barry Baratheon, Maritime Lawmaker, etc.

My Lords, I apologize for the late arrival. While the wolf slept, it seems that the West has not hesitated to stir the waters. I can but hope that better judgement can curb the seduction of a sharp tongue as winter comes our way.

Honorable Barry Baratheon, I have no quibble with your claim to the East. Our houses have long been allies, and I hold highly of our loyalty to King’s Landing. Though in good faith, I request you support our control of the Narrow Sea. As the cats toying with squids may choke our passage West, it is of utmost importance that we maintain tranquil routes to the continent. In return, I shall give no thought to your incursion towards the Fingers, and together we can make sure the Lannisters and Greyjoys don’t encroach on the East. I would be happy to discuss these terms further on, once I am assured the Kraken understands not to overeach its tentacles. Again.

It is with great joy (no pun intended) that I receive from the winds from the South of talks of peace between the Martell and the Tyrell. We must not lose focus of the real threat that comes with the cold breath beyond the Wall. I share your concerns for what might brew in the bowels of our land, so we must remain vigilant, both North and South.

Lord Greyhair and Lannisters, we foster no animosity towards you. We respect your names’ right to the lands to the West. But be not mistaken: though the Greyjoy might have short memory, the North is strong, and no leash will hold our direwolf’s bite if threatened.

with cautious hope,

  • Anthony Stark

Thanks for the nickname, @Prosworth‌! :smiley:

I will send orders shortly, just want to clear up some rules here and there before I do.

EDIT: add banner… sorry!

orders sent. sorry for the delay!