Crusader Kings II

Game of Thrones diary part three: staying alive in Crusader Kings 2's Westeros

Rich McCormick at

Rich's rules: 1. Play as ruler of the North, Ned Stark. 2. Don't die. 3. No honour, only backstabbing. 4. I'd really like not to die, please.

Welcome to the Game of Thrones diary, in which Rich plays as Ned Stark and tries to stay alive in the excellent Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. The diary may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones book one and season one of the TV show. Missed the start? Here's part one, and part two.

For the Old Gods’ sake Robert, can you please let someone else have some fun? No sooner have I re-rallied my northern forces (for the second time in as many months) with the express intention of crushing Mace Tyrell’s bid for kingship (also the second in as many months), than Robert beats him up in battle and puts him in his castle. The last time Robert did this, he let Mace go after a stern telling off, patting him on the Tyrell posterior and asking him nicely not to rebel again. Mace, being head of one of Westeros’s most powerful families and ‘Ambitious’ by nature – by character sheet anyway – immediately made another bid for the kingship.

Robert isn’t going to make the same mistake again. Out comes old headlopper, and Mace is no more, executed on Baratheon turf for his repeated treasons. My armies, raised from local peasantry and armed with northern steel – and some sticks and pitchforks – have to once again lay down arms and go back to their respective villages, their swords and pointy objects boringly blood-free. I feel bad. I promised these guys a war – several, really – but my remoteness in comparison to the rest of Westeros means I’m always the warmaid, never the warbastard.

I’m back at Winterfell a few days later when I get a notification that Jeor the Old Bear has been killed. Jeor wasn’t an actual old bear – at least I hope he wasn’t. Instead, he was my Master at Arms, the man (or bear?) responsible for maintaining my armies and garrisons. I would be OK with his death, he was old after all (and also maybe a bear), but the tooltip mentions he died in a suspicious accident. That’s Crusader Kings-ese for ‘someone’s done a plot’. I wonder if it’s one of my bloodthirsty peasants, annoyed at me for making him dress up in all his armour and then take it off again before he got to stab anything. Time to make shifty eyes at everyone in Winterfell’s streets and to swing my sword arm around menacingly, just in case anyone else has plotty plans.

The Old Bear’s death (seriously, I would’ve noticed if he was a bear) seems to have awakened strong feelings in Ned: suddenly I realise – by means of popup window - that I love my wife Catelyn. It’s probably for the best, given that I’ve had four children by her already and have been married for years, but it also helps give my relationship some spice and buffs to fertility. Those buffs manifest themselves quickly: Catelyn is impregnated by my now-loving Ned.

"Bolton’s people are being terrorised by something called an ‘Army of Pate’."

While I’m revelling in my newfound adoration for the woman I’ve been sleeping next to for the past ten years, the north is going a bit wrong. Peasants on Bear Island have started revolting against my rule. The problem is, I don’t really know how to stop them. I stroke my chin and consider their motivations for kicking off, coming to the conclusion that they’re probably angry because of all the bears. I know how you feel, Bear Islanders, I had one working for me until recently! Those duplicitous eight-foot killing machines. I resolve to help my people, and click around my council menu until I find the option for ‘subdue revolt’, sending one of my closest men over to pacify my peasants.

I’m getting more worrying news from the lands of Roose Bolton, lord of the Dreadfort and my Spymaster. Bolton’s people are being terrorised by something called an ‘Army of Pate’. Bears I can handle, but an enemy made entirely of coarse meaty paste is scarier than anything that could come over the Wall. I decide to leave this one to Bolton and co, and resolve to stay away from the Dreadfort. It doesn’t take long before the clinical Roose smashes the army apart, imprisons their leader, and, presumably, spreads his remains on toast.