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If you could change anything about ASOIAF's worldbuilding, what would it be?

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Posted (edited)

As a preface, I'm not trying to insult the quality of GRRM's works. Nor am I suggesting that my "additions" are of superior quality to the original novels or if it would even be workable in the narrative. Instead, I'm just putting in what I think (heavy emphasis on "I think", as it is just my opinion) would be interesting to see in the world of ASOIAF.

Here are some of my personal "changes" I would make:

Dothraki:

With the Dothraki, I wouldn't make them civilization destroyers. As I don't think relatively under equipped and fragmented nomads like the Dothraki would have the resources for that. In my "reimaging", they are just a loose collection of nomadic tribes/khalasars. They are still a dreaded terror for small villages and weaker pastoralists, a considerable threat to traveling merchants, and have been known to devastate armies sent against them with guerilla warfare. However, unlike the novels, the Dothraki won't be conquering/besieging major cities, as they don't have the weaponry, manpower, or the logistics for such operations. In other words, the Dothraki genocide of the Sarnori and the Century of Blood wouldn't have played out in my "version" as the way they happened in the official ASOIAF timeline.

Thus, the Essosi city states consider the Dothraki to minor yet scary nuisances. They mostly leave the Dothraki alone, unless a Dothraki Khalasar raids one of their outposts/villages. In such a case, they will sent a punitive expedition to punish the offending Khalasars, and then leave. If anything, the Essosi states consider the Dothraki to be somewhat valuable trading partners. I picture the Dothraki trading animal furs and slaves to the Essosi city states, in exchange for livestock and iron tools.

Dothraki subsistence also isn't dependent on pillaging. They extensively hunt and raise livestock of their own. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Dothraki indulge in a lot of trading with other Essosi peoples. Last but not least, I would make the Dothraki much more akin to Great Plains Native Americans then to Turco-Mongols.

Ironborn:

Like the Dothraki, I would dampen the Ironborn obsession with raiding coastal settlements (though they still extensively practice it), and get rid of the taboo against trading. As no society could function without a viable source of subsistence/income. In fact, they have extensive trading contacts throughout Essos and the Sothoryosi islands. The Ironborn also don't contain any noble houses in their political system, though other Westerosi erroneously view their chiefdoms as a noble house. Similarly to how the ruling Northmen viewed the Northern Mountain Clans as petty noble houses in the novels.

On that same note, Ironborn don't have a Monarchy in the classical sense of the term. They elect their kings, who are selected from the warrior elite. Relatives of Ironborn kings nominally don't have any power, but their brothers and sons have a strong possibility of succeeding him if he proves to be popular.

Their islands would be more remote and fortified against foreign enemies. The Iron Islands would also be much larger (perhaps around the size of Alaska) and mountainous. So the Ironborn will have a sanctuary to hide in, if a punitive force shows up to wipe them out.

As with the books, they are their own kingdom in all but name (to the point of having foreign policies independent of the other 7 kingdoms), and do everything in their power to undermine the Iron Throne's authority on them. They also despise how the other Westerosi try to enforce their morals on them and their attempts to criminalizing many Ironborn traditions and customs. Like their worship of the drowned god, slavery, and polygamy.

Basilisk Isles:

I would also put far more emphasis on the Basilisk Isles then in the actual novels (I think they were only referenced in four or five passing sentences in the books, and are almost totally ignored in supplementary materiel). In my "reimagining", the Basilisk Islanders would be a tribal confederation of piratical seafarers. Most of their numbers consist of natives, but they accept outsiders from all across the known world into their ranks from time to time. They often hijack merchant ships passing through the summer seas and raid other islands for slaves. Captives and loot seized in their raids will then be sold to slave markets in the Free Cities and Slaver's Bay.

If a merchant ship doesn't want to be boarded, the captain would have to pay for the chieftain's (or "corsair king" to outsiders) permission to sail his waters. Basilisk Islander Chiefdoms also form overly convoluted and two faced arrangements with the warring Free Cities. Often times, Free City states will commission Basilisk Islander tribes to disrupt the shipping lanes of a rival. These "alliances" tend to be tenuous at best, and break and form on the drop of a hat. When a client Basilisk Islander tribe falls out of line, a Free City will send an punitive expedition to stamp them out.

However, the Basilisk Islanders are far more then just over glorified pirates and privateers. Basilisk Islanders have been known to engage in peaceful trading with Essosi and Westerosi kingdoms and city states. They are also agriculturalists, and a primary food source for them is their own crops.

In addition to the indigenous tribes, there are a number of rouge settlers (mostly criminals and runaway sailors from all across the nine Free Cities, but especially from Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh) that make their home in the isles. As with the natives, the settlers frequently attack passing ships and indulge in slave raids. The relationship between the settlers and the native Basilisk Islanders varies considerably, depending on the circumstances and individuals involved. Sometimes they collaborate in piratical endeavors rather seamlessly, but bouts of violence between settlers and native tribes do occur from time to time. Unlike colonial era Euro-American settlers in our world, settlers from the Free Cities don't have the manpower, equipment, or support to uproot the endemic powers.

I will add more, if I can think of anything else.

If you could add or change anything in ASOIAF's world building, what would it be?

 

Edited by Mysecondaccount

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Posted (edited)

Loose hair. No 'respectable' woman ever wore her hair down before the '60s, and yet GRRM would have us believe they have ways to make locks look shiny in Westeros 299 AC. 

Edited by Lady Dacey

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Just tie that hair up! fArya would never RIDE A HORSE with her hair loose about her shoulders!! 

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I would have made the old gods more prevalent south of the Neck. Maybe have at least one or two major houses of each region in Westeros be old god worshippers (apart from the Iron Islands). House Royce would be the most obvious example. They really should have been old god worshippers based on how closely connected they still are to their first men roots.

They go on about how the old gods are still worshipped south of the Neck, but we never really see an example of that beyond House Blackwood. It makes one wonder why the Andals ever bothered to actually keep the weirwood trees if nobody seems to be using them. 

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Ironborn does not exist. After all they had raided lands around Sunset Sea thousands of years. So I do not believe that there had not been any kings among their victims who had decided to use final solution to fix that problem. In fact that should had happened many times until those islands became deserted bc most people living there either died or left somewhere else and many people would believe that those islands are cursed.

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Posted (edited)

Hmm... some of OP's points are, depending on a point of view, already fact. The Dothraki are really just a minor nuisance to the free cities. They're cheap to buy off as Illyrio pointed out, and aside from Sarnor have never made a move against the larger settlements in Essos. I agree their culture could do with even more depth, but they get pretty fleshed out, and they DO raise their own horses. I'm sure Dothraki horses are some of the best in the world

 

But I like the spirit of the post so:

 

Make horses realistic. Horses do not make you much faster. Horses make an ARMY faster because they help carry everything the same as pack animals. Unless you have more than one mount, a horse isn't faster than a messenger on foot. Horses sprint in short bursts or they trot. Humans have stamina miiiiiles beyond most animals because we 1) sweat and can basically walk forever without tiring if you're reasonably able. You can walk down deers in a forest if you can track them, because they're only fast in a sprint and can't pant or sweat. So really, horse travel is only faster with multiple mounts to share the weight of the burden, which is the rider!

Edited by Leonardo

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More signs of historic or current tension between followers of the old gods and the Seven. These are supposed to be intolerant times and yet everybody seems remarkably OK with people worshipping who they want. I would have thought that at some point a king or high septon would try to convert those heathen northerners, or failing that descrimate against them through legislation or taxation. 

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6 hours ago, Leonardo said:

Hmm... some of OP's points are, depending on a point of view, already fact. The Dothraki are really just a minor nuisance to the free cities. They're cheap to buy off as Illyrio pointed out, and aside from Sarnor have never made a move against the larger settlements in Essos. I agree their culture could do with even more depth, but they get pretty fleshed out, and they DO raise their own horses. I'm sure Dothraki horses are some of the best in the world

I sort of agree with the points your making here, but you somewhat missed the mark. However, I feel like that is more of me not clarifying myself here.

 

Alright, sure they actually are just minor nuisances to the Free Cities in the current timeline of the books. Where I diverge from the books, is that the Dothraki would never have been responsible for the Century of Blood or carried out the Sarnoi genocide the way they did in the books' official timeline. Beyond horses, I envision them also raising animals like Sheep, Goats, and maybe even Cattle.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Lady_Qohor said:

More signs of historic or current tension between followers of the old gods and the Seven. These are supposed to be intolerant times and yet everybody seems remarkably OK with people worshipping who they want. I would have thought that at some point a king or high septon would try to convert those heathen northerners, or failing that descrimate against them through legislation or taxation. 

Yep. 

 

13 hours ago, Mystical said:

Multiple languages in Westeros. It makes no sense for a continent of that size to only speak one language. These used to be separate kingdoms for forever yet they all have the same language? Makes no sense.

Maybe make it so that the Old Tongue is also spoken in the North? Rhoynish in Dorne?

16 hours ago, Floki of the Ironborn said:

They go on about how the old gods are still worshipped south of the Neck, but we never really see an example of that beyond House Blackwood. It makes one wonder why the Andals ever bothered to actually keep the weirwood trees if nobody seems to be using them. 

I know, right? I'm pretty sure FaB states that a dozen or so houses still worship the old gods, but the only one we hear about is House Blackwood.

 

Edited by Jaenara Belarys

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I’d add more war within Westeros or war between the Seven Kingdoms and an external force. I love how the War of the Nine Penny Kings basically realistically defined the relationships of generations of nobility, the effects of which you clearly still see in Robert’s Rebellion.

 

But also we’re to consider Tywin, Stannis and Tarly as top generals when they fought like 5 battles combined. The Mountain is some unstoppable monster that sat on his ass for 17 years. Jamie is an extremely skilled knight but barely seen war. These folks need some action for their characters to truly make sense. 

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51 minutes ago, Davjos said:

I’d add more war within Westeros or war between the Seven Kingdoms and an external force. I love how the War of the Nine Penny Kings basically realistically defined the relationships of generations of nobility, the effects of which you clearly still see in Robert’s Rebellion.

 

But also we’re to consider Tywin, Stannis and Tarly as top generals when they fought like 5 battles combined. The Mountain is some unstoppable monster that sat on his ass for 17 years. Jamie is an extremely skilled knight but barely seen war. These folks need some action for their characters to truly make sense. 

I agree with this. And as a solution I'd offer Andals in Andalos.

Just like the Ionian Greeks drew the mainland Greeks into constant conflict with Persia in antiquity so Andals in Essos could pull Westeros into wars in against powers in Essos. Both with Andals being the majority population in Westeros as well as the king being the "King of the Andals".

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Create different level of titles rather than just King, Prince, Lord, and Knight.

i.e

King: House Targaryen

Crown Prince: House Targaryen on Dragonstone

Prince: House Martell

Duke: House Stark, House Lannister, and House Arryn

Marquess: House Baratheon, House Tully, House Tyrell, and House Greyjoy

Earl: House Bolton, House Manderly, House Redwyne, House Hightower, House Florent, House Royce, House Frey, House Mallister, House Harlow, House Yronwood, and some other houses of similar level.

Viscount: House Umber: House Blackwood, House Bracken, House Tarly, House Dayne, House Tarth, and some other houses of similar level.

Baron: House Clegane, House Grover, House Seaworth, House Connington, and other landed knights.

Then the general mix of household knights, stewards, and so forth.

 

 

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Lack of navy in centuries  for the North is weird and makes no sense. They have one of the biggest cities of Westeros in the coast with Bravos, they depend on them to trade.

Dorne being a targ loyalist now, even though Aerys and Rhaegar pissed on them, dragged them into a war and lost, they were the ones that resisted the Dragons the most, the last to join the seven kingdoms and may be argued the one with the most grievences against the Targeryans past and recent. We have people still looking down on the Freys and Tyrells after centuries, Dorne being fine and supportive of they main enemy is weird.

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Oh, another change I would make in the world building would be to drastically rewrite the Bracken/Blackwood feud so it isn't completely one sided.  Have there be some noble Brackens and villainous Blackwoods.  Maybe have it so the Blackwoods became devoted followers of Maegar out of desire just to murder followers of the Seven, while the Brackens supported Jaehaerys.  Maybe, have it so Otho Bracken fought with Dunk during his Trial of Seven.  That could cause an interesting contrast with Egg's distaste for the houses that supported the Blackfyres.  Heck, have it rather than marry a Blackwood that Egg marries a Bracken (out of love and against his father's will, thus setting up his own sons rebellions) causing Bloodraven to push for Aemon to follow Maekar as part of push for Bloodraven to be sent to the Wall.  Just anything to make the feud not so remarkbly one sided.

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I agree that some more linguistic diversity would make for a better setting. I'm also not a big fan of the author's pointless favoritism in the Blackwood-Bracken feud.

Some other changes that I'd introduce:

  • Reduce the time spans. The Rhoynar should have come like 500 years ago (200 before the Targs). The Andals should have come at most a thousand years ago.
  • Make Westeros smaller. Like, reduce its size by half. You could reduce the size of the armies by the same amount, if you wish. This reduced size would work better with the idea of a culturally homogeneous Westeros, and would make it easier to swallow that the Targaryens could keep the realm together without dragons for more than a century.
  • Reverse the coasts. Put the Stormlands and the Vale (isolationist, with more remaining influence of the First Men) on the western coast. Put the Reach and the Kingdom of the Rock (most Andalish kingdoms, with coastal trading cities) in the eastern coast, with KL and the Blackwater Bay between them. The Iron Islands would switch to the eastern coast too, allowing them to keep their pillaging culture on other nations of the Narrow Sea.
  • Try to make the setting more consistent with the irregular seasonal pattern of Westeros. The food storages should be strategic locations, there should be mass migrations every long winter, etc.
  • Make the Wall lower. Again, reducing its height by half would put some sense to the idea of killing someone at the top with arrows, or scaling it with primitive equipment.
  • Make the Iron Islands bigger. It would make them more credible as a naval superpower.
  • Introduce some major changes across history. The most prominent houses now shouldn't be the same ones that were prominent centuries ago. A couple of the Seven Kingdoms could have formed a dynastic union at some time. One of them could have invaded another for a few decades. Dynasties could have changed. Great houses could have disappeared (not only in the Wars of conquest). Etc.
  • Fix the rivers. Put the sources of the rivers on mountains and vales, instead of marshes and plains. Make some of them flow north instead of south.

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On 4/29/2021 at 6:18 PM, Minsc said:

Oh, another change I would make in the world building would be to drastically rewrite the Bracken/Blackwood feud so it isn't completely one sided.  Have there be some noble Brackens and villainous Blackwoods. 

Bloodraven IS a villainous Blackwood as far as I’m concerned. Others have posted here about what an unethical man he is, and how he very well could have been responsible for a lot of bad stuff happening, and I wouldn’t dismiss those claims out of hand. 
And on that note, I’d say Bittersteel is way less evil than people seem to think. Sure, he’s violent and antisocial, and he nurses grievances way beyond their expiration dates, but he’s also determined, resolute, and he single handedly created the greatest mercenary company in the history of Planetos.

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On 4/22/2021 at 3:35 AM, Loose Bolt said:

Ironborn does not exist. After all they had raided lands around Sunset Sea thousands of years. So I do not believe that there had not been any kings among their victims who had decided to use final solution to fix that problem. In fact that should had happened many times until those islands became deserted bc most people living there either died or left somewhere else and many people would believe that those islands are cursed.

To be fair, you could say the same thing about the British Isles, given all the trouble they caused in world history.

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