Why you can’t build an
A Song of Ice and Fire community without Bronn:
The role of First Followers in building a community
On the Table Gaming
The A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin has plenty of examples of courageous leaders. Jon Snow, Ned Stark, Stannis Baratheon, and Daenerys Targaryen, all exhibit countless positive leadership attributes. When looking to set forth to build your A Song of Ice and Fire Miniatures gaming community, it can be tempting to look to these heroic characters for inspiration. After all, if Robb Stark can rally troops to march against the Lannisters, how hard could it be to get a few people together to push around units from the popular A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game?
For anyone who has ever set up a demo night, only to have no one show up, you know that even if you are well equipped, well trained, and ready to seize the moment, without other players it is hard to build momentum and establish a community.
“She relied so much on the little scribe that she oft forgot that Missandei had only turned eleven.”
—thoughts of Daenerys Targaryen, Dance with Dragons – Danenerys VII
The Importance of First Followers
It’s important to remember that throughout the ASOIAF series, the most successful characters all have one thing in common; they have supportive followers. The characters in leadership positions are often aided by advisors, allies, and bannermen.
When the leaders first take action, progress is often only made when these “first followers” step up to support the leader – whether it’s Samwell Tarly, vouching for Jon Snow, Messandei advising Daenerys, or even Peter Baelish stepping in to ofter his backing and resources. Many of the main Point of View characters in the series would be lost if not for these followers.
What is a “First Follower”?
A First Follower, is the first individual who steps up to follow a leader. They give credibility to the leader and model for others how to follow. In the A Song of Ice and Fire setting, leaders who successfully embrace their first followers, treating them as equals and with respect, successfully expand their power, while those who lead through fear or ridicule often find their power base shrink.
After mismanagement of his followers, Joffrey Baratheon’s only support ends up being his immediate family and even that dwindles, whereas Daenerys is able to embrace her advisors and, in turn, they help to champion her cause. The actions of devoted first followers, people like Jorah Mormont, help make it easier for others to follow, and in turn generate momentum. In the case of building an A Song of Ice and Fire Miniatures Game community, helping build a community may entail taking the role of the first follower. If you know someone trying to build a scene, your role in stepping in and supporting that individual is crucial for its success. Conversely, if you are in a leadership position, it is important for you to find and support your first follower. No growth is possible without that individual!
Once a First Follower joins in, it is much easier for a third member to join in, and from there each member who joins makes taking part easier and easier. The fear of ridicule and rejection are minimized and pressure will build to be part of the “in-crowd.” No one wants to be the only person at their gaming store who isn’t playing this A Song of Ice and Fire game!
These principles are best summarized in the following video:
- Your actions must be public
- You must be easy to follow
- Embrace your first follower(s) as equals
- Remember: Leadership is over-glorified
- “It is the first followers who turn the lone nut into a leader.”
- Your actions show others how to follow – remember, other followers emulate you, not the leader.
- There is no growth without the first follower
- Take a risk and support things you value
What character from A Song of Ice and Fire do you feel fits the description of “First Follower” the best? How can you apply this concept to helping grow an A Song of Ice and Fire:Tabletop Miniatures Game community in your area?