I'm easing up as we hit the six month mark, when my spymaster brings me news of a plot. Shit! A plot! After so long spent mentally willing Ned to spend more of his time dressed in full plate armour and hiding in bushes, the p-word is enough to send me over the edge. I click on the plotter's tiny face and bring up the diplomacy menu. I have a set of options: I can revoke his land and claim it for my own. I can arrange a marriage to bring him to heel. Or I can imprison him.
I consider taking his land and scolding him for his impudence, but I convince myself he'll take offence and stab me in the night. To the dungeon with you, plotter.
Immediately, another of my vassals asks for his release. Are you in on it too, you capon-botherer? To prison with you, too!
"I congratulate myself on a guy well killed."
A mild panic grips me: what if they talk of their plan in my cells? I don't know yet how deep CKII's simulation runs. I'd better remove one of the problems. Diplomacy menu. Choose option 'execute'. I bring the interred out into Winterfell's yard, and as befitting the ruler of the north, chop his head off myself with my sweet Valyrian steel sword. A show of force, to deter future plotters. I congratulate myself on a guy well killed, take off my sword-handling mittens, and remind Ned to stay away from sharp objects.
Who was that guy I killed, anyway? I never checked. I bring up my message menu. 'Howland Reed'. Hmm, why do I know that name? I Alt-Tab and check the Song of Ice and Fire wiki, search for Howland Reed.
“He is one of Eddard Stark's closest friends and fought alongside him in many conflicts during Robert's Rebellion.”
Ah. I suppose it's tough to see who someone is when you're wearing full plate armour so as not to be stabbed, but I'm feeling a little embarrassed when I get news of yet another plot. I've learned my lesson this time, though, and I check to see who it is before clapping them in irons.
It turns out to be some minor vassal from the far northeastern isle of Skagos. I read a little further: his plot involves paying someone a bit so they like him more. Jesus, is that what Howland Reed was doing? Howland, buddy, you didn't need to pay me, I already liked you. And you could at least have mentioned that you weren't planning to kill me before I cut your head off.
"Breeding a generation of hyper-angry children: this is not the way to stay alive, old Neddy."
I let the Skagosi man go about his plotting and sadly mouse over Howland Reed's old land, now ruled by his eight-year-old daughter. She's called Meera – hang on, I know that name – and she is pissed off. She's eight, and her disposition toward me is already -100. I dig deeper into CKII's menus, and see that she has 'sworn vengeance' against me. She's just learning her times tables, and she's already dead set on killing me as soon as she can.
Killing your best friends and breeding a generation of hyper-angry children: this is not the way to stay alive, old Neddy.
Ned's particular way of drowning his sorrows at killing his mate does ensure the continuation of his legacy, though. A short while after, my wife Catelyn pops out a baby. I'm a slave to canon, so I name her Sansa. She joins her brother Robb and half-brother Jon in Winterfell's baby-cage or whatever they have, and I don't have to worry about her until she's old enough to need a teacher – or I need to sell her off to some other lord to preserve an alliance.