The introduction of a new child to the family has seemingly upset the existing kids. Jon – my bastard son, already disliked by Catelyn – is begging for more toys in recompense. I have a set of options to quiet his mewling, and I choose to make him play outside. As is perhaps understandable when your back garden is where your dad regularly executes his best friends with a big sword, this choice makes Jon immediately cynical.
To really stick it to Jon and the other kids, I retaliate by having another child. This one's a boy, and I name it Bran because I am a Game of Thrones nerd. He will, I decree, have cushions strapped to his body until he reaches the age of 18, have his legs massaged by a team of court physiotherapists, and won't ever be allowed to climb anything on pain of wedgies.
Bran's birth signals the end of my first year in charge of the north, and I'm finally starting to relax. Robert, too, seems pleased to have seen out the year without being gored to death, and decides to celebrate by holding a massive feast. I attend, and eat so many capons that I'm sick.
"I retaliate by having another child."
Trotting back to Winterfell, I figure it's time for a new goal. Ned is one of the mod's better characters, lacking the massive personality flaws Crusader Kings II will often give its denizens. Robert, for example, is a drunkard, while Tyrion Lannister is ugly, reducing some of their stats. Ned is brave and honourable. My 'accidental' execution early in the year gave him a tiny bit of 'tyranny', but an innate kindness trait balances that out. Ned's strength, however, lies in war: he's a superb commander, and great in a scrap. Surviving the year has given me the taste for something more than merely existing. I want a fight.
But who? And how? The north has trouble with boats, the version of the mod I'm playing goes haywire whenever a northerner tries an amphibious landing. That takes an offshore invasion off the table. Going further north is pointless: the Night's Watch has a gigantic ice wall blocking off the tribal Wildlings up there.
The only way is south, and the only thing blocking my descent is the Twins: two castles across a river held by one of the Song of Ice and Fire books' most important families – the Freys.
This can't be a quick strike. The Twins are famously fortified, and notoriously difficult to capture. They're also the only way to travel between north and south. The Freys are pivotal to Martin's stories because they control these castles. Anyone who wants to pass has to get pally-pally with them.
I could choose to get pally-pally with them, to marry Sansa off to one of their countless number, but for many reasons, I can't bear to do it.
Walder Frey is the current lord of the Twins, 78 years of age. I bring up his character pane. Wouldn't it be terrible if something happened to this poor old man? It's time to do something Ned never did in the books or on TV. As I select CKII's 'intrigue' menu, I decide to play the game of thrones.