Creating “In Defense of House Stark” – Part 2

Happy GURPSDay, and welcome to the second part of creating the convention one-shot, “In Defense of House Stark”!

I ran the game three times this past weekend at Gateway 2017 and had a total blast every time (as did the players, if they are to be believed). I’ll talk a bit more about that in the post-con wrap-up post, but for now I want to finish looking at the final steps of putting the game together.

First, here is the download link for the complete package.

In Defense of House Stark | Downloads: 1,124 | Size: 3.3 MB

The 42-page file contains:

  • Title Card (p. 1)
    To help players find the right game.
  • The Adventure (pp. 2-16)
    Background and intro, eight story scenes, maps, and enemy stat blocks (note that these are color-coded so multiple NPCs can roll simultaneously).
  • GM Control Sheet (pp. 17-19)
    Full details on all four pre-gen PCs, including attacks, advantages/disadvantages, skills, hit points, etc.
  • GM Screen (pp. 20-24)
    Maneuvers sheet with combat options, streamlined notes on injury, range, assisting, hit locations, custom Critical Hit and Miss tables, etc.
  • Character Sheets (pp. 25-36)
    The four pre-gen Stark household PCs, each including a Phoenix character sheet, character-specific handout, and a summary page.
  • Player Handouts (pp. 37-38)
    These are the same for all PCs and go in their packets: maneuvers list and a bit of useful GURPS info.
  • Character HP/FP Summary (p. 39)
    Checkboxes for the PCs’ Hit Points and Fatigue Points, along with applicable rules.
  • Player/Character Signs (pp. 40-41)
    ID signs for each pre-gen, so I and the other players can tell who’s playing who.
  • Character Minis/Figures (p. 42)
    Tri-fold figures for the four PCs.


So, picking up from where we left off…

Step 4 – Adding Detail

The broad strokes of the game were in place at the end of the first three steps. Here, my goal was to turn those broad strokes into actual, concrete notes I could use at the table to GM the game.

I made a few minor changes — Rickon, being only 3 years old, is left behind at Winterfell (Step 1); Ser Gregor Clegane leads the kidnappers himself (Step 2… he and Jaime Lannister both are just way too crazy tough for a four-PC group to take on) — but mostly it was just a case of adding detail to the existing ideas.

Taking the story outline from Step 2, I created eight scenes to get from “there’s an attack on Winterfell and the girls are kidnapped” to “the PCs must fight The Mountain That Rides to get them back.”

  • Attack on Winterfell
    The PCs are awoken by the sounds of battle as the kidnappers breach the walls of Winterfell and make off with Arya and Sansa.
  • Lady Catelyn’s Command
    As much as she wants to, Lady Stark cannot risk sending out her entire force to rescue her daughters while Winterfell remains in possible danger. That task will fall to the PCs, the first loyal bannermen she sees.
  • Crossing the White Knife
    After 3/4 of a day in the saddle pursuing the kidnappers, the PCs must cross a stone bridge that seems a perfect spot for an ambush (spoilers: it is).
  • Ramsay’s Hunt
    During the first night on the trail, the PCs hear a woman’s scream. If they investigate, they discover Ramsay Bolton and a few of his Bastard’s Boys engaged in one of his vile “hunts.” Will they intervene?
  • The Dreadfort
    Following the kidnapper’s trail to the Dreadfort, the PCs discover that the Bolton are mobilizing to march, apparently, on Winterfell.
  • To the Shivering Sea
    A small company rides south from the Dreadfort with the Stark daughters as the Boltons march west.
  • Wildlings Ambush (OPTIONAL)
    Sometimes, players progress through a game much quicker than anticipated. If there is time, the PCs can encounter a small group of Wildlings left behind by the kidnappers; otherwise, it can be ignored.
  • Final Battle
    Having tracked the raiders for two days from Winterfell, the PCs must face off against Ser Gregor Clegane, Iggo (a Dothraki with the Brave Companions), a Lannister man-at-arms, and five battle-hardened Brave Companion mercenaries in order to rescue Arya and Sansa.

Step 5 – Finalizing the Characters

With a better idea of the possible story beats they would be hitting, at this point I went ahead and created four pre-gen characters for the group. They came in at a beefy 275-points, a pretty powerful group! As previously mentioned, they are all warriors of one type or another, and all with strong ties to House Stark.

  • Darick Umber
    A member of the Winterfell guards for the past five years, from House Umber. Fights with a two-handed sword. His secret is that he is greedy, and has been known to accept bribes in the past.
  • Lanell Mormont
    A proud member of House Mormont, spending the night in Winterfell before returning to Bear Island. Fights with an axe and shield (I removed the “U” stat from parrying with an axe as being a bit too fiddly for a con game), and also has some skill with brewing herbal potions. Her secret is that, deep in her heart, she doesn’t *really* accept the “weak” Tully women as being true Northerners.
  • Ser Jarden Manderly
    One of the few actual anointed knights in the North, from House Manderly of White Harbor. Has been a member of the Stark personal house guard for nine years. Fights with a sword and large shield. His is the darkest secret of the group — after a Winterfell kitchen wench threatened to reveal their tryst, Ser Jarden got rid of the woman… by giving her to Ramsay Bolton to do with as he wished.
  • Wyllem Foler
    The only member of the party not born of a great house, Wyllem has made his way in the world due to his amazing skill with a bow (the Heroic Archer advantage allows him to usually fire an arrow every turn). He has been a valued hunter for Winterfell the last couple of years, and his skill at Tracking will help them stay on the trail of the kidnappers when the time comes. His secret is that he is addicted to Milk of the Poppy.

Each character has a reason to become involved with the adventure (they are loyal to House Stark), skills that will allow them to be effective on the adventure, and a secret that could come into play and complicate the adventure (Darick’s greed makes him susceptible to Lannister bribery; Lanell’s distaste for the Tullys could interfere with the rescue; Jarden’s past dealings with Ramsay makes him vulnerable to blackmail and coercion if they come upon the Hunt; and Wyllem’s addiction could compromise his effectiveness as a party member).

Step 6 – Final Details

At this point, it was time for the last-minute final touches — a few maps, the stand-up PC signs and tri-fold minis, rules likely to come up in play, GM Control Sheets, that sort of thing. I also put the (very evocative) “Game of Thrones” title theme on my phone so I could play it as the game opened.


And that, from start to finish, is how the GURPS adventure “In Defense of House Stark” came to be. I’d love to hear what you think now that you can download it and poke around, and also if you have any suggestions on either the final product or the creative process I’m using. Especially if you GM it somewhere, let me know how it went!


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