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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Greatest Warriors of the Westeros- #7 Gregor Clegane

Wait, what's this I hear you say? The Mountain that Rides is at #7 of the countdown of the greatest warriors of the Westeros? Preposterous, how can this be?

Well I'm glad you asked because when looked at from just the surface how could anyone beat out the Mountain? Well, if nothing else the Red Viper of Dorne might have some thoughts on the matter.

#7-Gregor Clegane
 For those not in the know the Mountain that Rides, aka Gregor Clegane is a massive, imposing man standing 7 feet tall and weighing in at 300 lbs. He's nasty, ill tempered and utterly ruthless; he's the type of ruthless that gives ruthless a bad name. Want an example? He raped Elia of Dorne after bashing her infant son against a wall. Further he burned his brother Sandor's face for simply playing with a unused toy of his. Further? It's rumored that he killed multiple members of his own family.

Encased in black armor and swinging a massive great sword there are few foes that can stand before him. And therein is his principal weapon: fear. His opponents know they are going to lose prior to fighting him. It's interesting to see just who is not intimidated by Gregor, namely Oberlyn Martell, the Red Viper or Dorne who casually remarks to his lover prior to fighting him "No, I'm going to kill that."

So when you strip away his advantages you are left with, reputedly the strongest man in the Westeros, a expert warrior, but also a lumbering one. The fact that the Red Viper uses to his advantage in slaying the Mountain.

Gregor should be noted that it's said he is without fear and also filled with nothing but rage. He is also so vengeful that he tries to kill the Knight of Flowers at the Tourney of the Hand in Kings Landing in A Game of Thrones for besting him in the joust. Only the intervention of his brother the Hound prevents this.

The Mountain also scores higher on the list as he has shown battlefield prowess in raiding the Riverlands and the Trident in A Clash of Kings during the War of Five Kings. The fact that it borders on extreme brigandage not withstanding. It could be argued he is only a tactician as the strategy comes from above, namely Tywin Lannister.

The Mountain serves a role in the books: that of a monster. His purpose is to be a unlikeable, un-killable machine devoid of and positive emotion. Even Tywin Lannister realizes that even noble lords have "need of a monster."

So there he is, the monster of the Westeros, The Mountain that Rides is #7 on the count down. Amazing stuff as the competition from here on out is getting tough to decide on. 

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Greatest Warriors of the Westeros- #8 Bronn

At #8 of the count down of the Ten Greatest Warriors of the Westeros we go from Robert Baratheon, the King at #9, to perhaps one of the most base-born characters in the books: Bronn. Before I get into it I know there is a huge faction who thinks he is the greatest warriors ever in the books. I don't agree with this, see below for why.  I think some of the appeal is the ant-hero vibe that is so prevalent today. Great, he's an anti-hero, doesn't mean he's "better". And as we go to through the list I don't think Bronn could win with the likes of #1-5, but more on them later.

The lean, mean, two-fisted warrior of the Westeros makes the list, cool. When we first meet him its during a Caetlyn chapter in A Game of Throne, when she hauls the Imp to the Aerie of the Vale. Being the smart sort Tyrion demands trial by combat and Bronn steps up against Ser Vardis Egen which he easily slays winning Tyrion's freedom. Getting their he helped repel an assault of the Mountain Men as well.

Bronn is  certainly not the strongest warrior and perhaps not even the quickest warrior in the books. What Bronn probably is: one of the, if not the smartest warriors in the books. Bronn above all else survives and he does this by knowing when and how to fight, but even more importantly when not to fight. Only he and the Red Viper are not intimidated by the Mountain that Rides (at least as far as we the readers know) and tells Tyrion how he could be defeated. It's also telling that he declines to champion Tyrion (a second time in fact) this time around against likes of Gregor rather then an over-matched Ser Vardis Egen; that's where the Red Viper steps in. Not that he's afraid mind you, it's there is nothing in it for him. That is probably Bronn's biggest strength: he fights for nothing, if nothing can be gained.

It's important to note that he is not above tricks and dirty ones at that. As a sellsword he is agile and fights with less armor then most. Sometimes he fights with two weapons so we can be pretty sure of his skill. Above all he is practical, formality means nothing to him. In that sense he's the exact opposite of The Knight of Flowers.

Bronn so far has not really beaten anyone that could be called dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that he is really going to have a hard time dispatching them. Bronn is too smart for that; one could say however that he only fights foes he is sure that he can beat as well as if there is something in it for him.

Bronn is brave, but his survival instinct makes him a curious case. The interesting thing is that fact that he fought well at the Battle Blackwater. Clearly he could have slipped away, but there he was leading sorties along with the Hound.

Again, in closing: I personally have nothing against Bronn. Bronn is probably not the best warrior in the Westeros (hey he made the list), but he is probably #1 or 2 when it comes to smarts as a warrior. He has a critical eye to see the weakness of his foe and capitalize on them. That's why he is here, against some of the later that will appear on this list his smarts would probably not save him.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Greatest Warriors of the Westeros- #9 Robert Baratheon

Continuing from the last post it's time to list another warrior on the Top Ten countdown of the Greatest Warriors of the Westeros in the Song of Ice and Fire. At #9 is: Robert Baratheon: King, drunkard and warrior. Lets get something straight beforehand, it's obvious that Robert Baratheon is King Henry VIII of England turned up to 11, ok, with that out of the way onto Robert.

#9-Robert Baratheon
While other knights use sword and lance, Robert uses a hammer to absolutely smash his foes into submission. Presumably he's trained in the others, but he really doesn't need it. Want proof? Ask Rhegar on The Trident where Robert wrests the crown from the Targaryens if he's any good as a warrior. While others might shirk from danger, he tackles it head on to the point of rash foolishness.

Living up to his family's words "Ours is the Fury" is just part of his character; he's as tempestuous as they come as the Lord of Storm's End. Probably fitting that he should wed Cersei Lannister who is as volatile as he. Anyone who can stand up to that, uh woman... is pretty damn tough.

The series of books that Martin writes all hinge on The War of the Usurper or Robert's Rebellion as it is also known as. It's the focal point of before and after. It is the fact that many of the lords rise up in rebellion against the mad King Aerys after the mad king murders many of the leading noble lords and their sons (including Ned's father and brother Brandon) that sets the stage for the events of the current time line culminating with Robert slaying Prince Rhaegar on the Trident.

The fact that Robert is past his prime by the time of A Game of Thrones is doubly sad as we see him as the hollow shell of what he once was and greatly unhappy for it.  For him, striving for the crown was more of challenge and more rewarding. Actually governing bores him to he tells Ned that "that damned chair will rub your ass raw". Of all of the warriors in the book Robert has probably fallen the farthest from what he once was. When he fought Prince Rhaegar  he crushed his chest and armor; smashing the very ornamentation off of the Prince's armor as well. And by all accounts Prince Rhaegar was a stout warrior. By the time of A Game of Thrones instead, we get a worn and spent Robert.

Just like every character is Martin's pantheon Robert is flawed: His is a drunk and above all a womanizer sleeping with any women around so it seems. His bastards are numerous, his appetites legendary, but its clear that Robert was never cut out to be King. His character is such that he would have been better served drinking, fighting and wenching his way to oblivion across the Narrow Sea. He even laments this to Eddard. That was he first, best destiny, sadly it was not the story fate would have in store for him. It's Robert's death in A Game of Thrones that leads to the  War of the Five Kings.

Robert makes the list at #9 as a powerful warrior in his prime and for being such a catalyst to the overall story. Robert was relentless, his power faded to the shell that we see him in before his untimely death.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Greatest Warriors of the Westeros- #10 The Blackfish

Starting off, if you didn't know: I'm a huge fan of GRR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire (or ASOIAF as us fans call it.

Within the pages of the four books, soon to be five, there are awesome combats depicted and amazing, cunning and downright devious warriors.

So with this in mind I'm going to count down the 10 Best Warriors of A Song of Ice and Fire starting with #10. For criteria I selected only warriors from the time-frame of Robert's Rebellion going forward on the current timeline (generally speaking). I did this to avoid the comparisons to the "Great Knights" of lore in the deep history of the Westeros. Too much about them is Ipso-Facto as to how great, manly or fierce warriors they were. It's too tough to reliably and accurately gauge their prowess.

I should add that I'm also taking into account tactics on the battlefield as consideration. It's one thing to be great with a weapon individually or even with a unit. It's entirely another thing to be able to lead in tactics and strategies. Some few possess all of them. It's not the sole, overriding factor, but it does matter.

Bear in mind I don't think everyone will agree with my choices, but you'll have the opportunity to make your case here on the blog. So without further delay it's time to kick things off with warrior #10 on the list.

#10- Brynden Tully, "The Blackfish"

It seems that all of the cool warriors of Westeros have great nick-names and Brynden Tully is no different. Gaining his nickname for defying his family (namely is older brother Hoster Tully) he garners the name "Blackfish". Brynden takes this supposed insult and adopts the black fish as his personal emblem. Eventually "The Blackfish" leaves the Riverlands of his home and eventually by the time we first meet him in A Game of Thrones he is in the service of the Vale.

Brynden makes the list not just for his list of exploits in the book, but for perhaps one reason alone: When the forces of the Lannisters have Riverun under siege its the Blackfish that is guarding the place as his brother Lord Holster is dying in bed.

In A Feast for Crows, Jaime Lannister of whom I'm sure I'll write more about later rides to parley. The Blackfish rides out and coolly meets him and is largely unimpressed with the Kingslayer. Jaime engages in a fair bit of banter and all the while the Blackfish sits there and sizes up the Kingslayer with barely a concern. That right there puts you in the realm of bad-ass. The Kingslayer who is one of the finest swords in the realm and your not concerned in the slightest? And on top of that he inspired Jaime to be a knight in the first place after fighting in the War of the Ninepenny Kings. The Blackfish is even willing to let his nephew Edmure die by hanging thus calling the Lannisters bluff. In short the Blackfish doesn't bend a knee to anyone.

We do not get any scenes of the Blackfish in battle (at least not yet- here's to hoping that it happens in A Dance of Dragons), but everyone who talks about him all comes to the same conclusion that he is one of the better knights and warriors in the Seven Kingdoms. His actions speak loudly and people know of him in the same breath as Ser Barristan Selmy.

And if that were not enough he stubbornly refuses to give up the war even after Robb is killed at the Red Wedding. He still is ready to go to war and not bend even after there is no need to. If you looked up uncompromising in any dictionary there would be his face. When Riverrun is surrendered he swims out through the Water Gate rather then give up!

The Blackfish ranks at #10 and is perhaps the best well-rounded of any of the characters in the books, certainly the knights.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Icebiter Games Publications is now on Facebook

I'll still update the blog here as this is more my musings on things but Facebook has a tremendous amount of reach. So with that in mind you can now find information (its still pretty basic right now) on Facebook at: Icebiter Games Publciations

Help me get to 25-30 likes as this will really help the cause!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Dawn of Icebiter Games- Module W2 Assualt of the Hill Giant Raiders

I think I've mentioned it a few times on various websites, but I've been ever so slowly expanding my written modules for 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons modules. The ultimate goal of this is to get a number together for sale and make them available for print-on-demand at Lulu.

Eventually I think I might include some 1st edition ones as well but well have to see where this takes me first. One idea for 1st edition I've been mulling over is a Tiamat inspired adventure. Plus as time and creatively allows I'm re-writing the Planar Webs of Lolth (in place of Queen of the Demon Web Pits). The Tiamat one could be sprawling and like the redo of the Webs is planar. Maybe I should key them as modules OP2, and OP3; after all I don't think there were any that I remember of after OP1...

As of right now I've got my first one W2- Assault of the Hill Giant Raiders well underway, but at the rate I'm going it still could be a while. The reason it's W2 and not W1 is that W1 is mammoth and is taking forever to write, what I need to do is focus and finish on something. W2 is the closest to being done as I ran in my 2nd Edition AD&D game a few months back.   I'm at the point where the layout is largely ready and its finally down to art being needed. And therein lies the tough part: As I've said at I'm willing to meet an artist(s) in terms of "talking turkey", but the costs I've heard so far are way up there. Bear in mind this is a old school hobby individual (me), not a major or even mid level publisher we are talking about. At a hypothetical budget of say $200 for art I've got to sell 28-30 @ a price of $7-10 each to break even on the costs of the art alone. I'd like to hear whose interested before I proceed further.

So I'd keep an eye out for Icebiter Games in the future, but just don't hold your breath for things being quick unless I see a high level of demand that is.