Game of Checkers, Part 2: a tiny drama in CK2's Game of Thrones mod


Marching Orders

With King Robert dead, there’s a sudden lull in the world. Clearly, somebody is going to have to step forward and take the Iron Throne, and that somebody will probably be several somebodies all trying to sit on the throne at the same time. It’s like when a single parking spot opens in a crowded lot and three drivers spot it at once. Before everyone jams on the gas pedal, there’s a moment of hesitation.

Before everything kicks off I take a look at my own small, boring strip of land. Wycliffe sucks. I think it’s time to try to increase my holdings a bit. There are two islands off the coast of The Fingers, one called Pebble and another called The Paps. Pebble is closest to Wycliffe, and I think I want it. I've got sons now, and I need to acquire some new property to give them.

The lord of Pebble, one Cadwyl Pryor, only has a single ally he can call on for help should I try to take the island. One the one hand, Pryor’s ally has a considerably larger army than I do, but he’s way over in Green Fork, which lies west of The Vale. Even if he marches on me I might be able to claim the island before he arrives. I decide to send my Master of Laws to Pebble to fabricate a claim, and I send in my Master of Whispers to build a spy network. I don’t want assassinate Pryor, or fabricate evidence that he’s a traitor, or anything like that. That’s something Littlefinger would do. But I do want that little island. I just want it legitimately.

Finally, there’s some movement down in King’s Landing: following King Robert’s suspicious death, Arrec Baratheon takes the Iron Throne. Arrec is Robert and Cersei’s 17th and final child. I’m not sure why he was chosen: he has two surviving brothers who are both older and, one would think, in line for the throne ahead of him. Either way... good luck, kid. I hope the Iron Throne has a seat belt: something tells me it’s going to be a bumpy ride.


Before the inevitable war can erupt over this news, another battle begins, over The Sisters, the islands to the north. This is getting tiresome. It’s Lord Eldon starting trouble, the kid I ransomed out of my prison. Maybe I can capture and ransom him again? With no real tax base, this may be the only way I can make money until I expand my holdings. If I could just capture Eldon every few years and sell him back, I could actually make some decent money.

While I’m off at war on The Sisters, another son of mine is born. Unfortunately, it’s a son with my new mistress. Also unfortunately, he’s stillborn. Granted, in the long run, it’s probably better this way: you don’t really want a bunch of illegitimate children running around. Still, bastard or not, he was my son. I name him Deaddrick. When I return home, Leyla quickly bears another son of mine, who is also stillborn. I name him Dieddrick. Leyla dies of an illness soon after. News flash: adultery is depressing as hell.


The war for The Iron Throne begins. Who is claiming it against King Arrec? None other than Daenerys Stormborn. In this reality she never married Khal Drogo and has no dragons to speak of. She’s still got a lot of support, however, including my own liege, Andar. He’s throwing in with Daenerys, and since he’s my boss, so am I. Exciting!

We march south, way south. With my 900 soldiers, I’ve joined Ser Symond of the Vale and his 16,000 men, and we’re sacking a province called Sow’s Hord, just north of King’s Landing. While in the middle of this pitched battle, I get word that my Master of Whispers has fabricated a claim on Pebble Island. That would be great news if I weren't hundreds of miles from home with my tiny army getting tinier every second.


We fight out way through Sow’s Hord, then clash with the Throne in Edgerton, at the very doorstep of King’s Landing, though we’re beaten back and have to retreat to Rayonet. In the middle of the battle, after cheating on my wife, impregnating my girlfriend, fabricating a claim on my neighbor’s island, and rebelling against the new king, the game notifies me that I've been given the trait “Kind.” I’m kind? Well, maybe comparatively.

We lose in Rayonet, badly. I’m captured by Edmure Tully of the Riverlands. He’s Catelyn Stark’s brother, and Neddrick’s future-wife’s uncle. Since we're sort of almost related, Edmure likes me. Maybe he’ll give me the less-maggoty pieces of bread and let me sleep on clean hay in his dungeon.

Rather than trying to buy my way out of prison, I decide to just chill and see how things play out. After all, even if I take out a loan to pay my own ransom, where would that leave me? I’d probably just have to take up arms again immediately, which would probably land me right back in prison. The war doesn't seem to be going our way, anyway: maybe I can just ride it out for a couple months.


Turns out, I don’t even need to wait that long. The war promptly ends, and it was basically all for nothing. Arrec Baratheon is still King on the Iron Throne, and Lord Andar, my young liege, is first imprisoned and then stripped of his titles and lands. He agrees to serve on the Night’s Watch at The Wall in the North. Dress warmly, dude. Daenerys herself, meanwhile, remains safely on another continent.

On the plus side, Littlefinger, right hand to the traitorous Andar, is plopped back in Midlor Point. No vassals, no allies, no titles, no nothing. I may be in jail, but I’m still Keeper of the Swans. I'm actually doing slightly better than Littlefinger!

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.