Nathanael Cole / Alliterated Games

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A Tale of Winter and Gold: Jam Session Notes for Ice and Fire RPG

Without further ado, let me introduce to you the skeletal beginnings of House Cor of the North. Their motto is “Silent as Certainty,” because when it comes to matters of the Household, well, it just goes without saying. Based in their castle deep in the northern hills, with a stunning view of the valley from which springs the Last River, House Cor is an ancient house with a founding as old as the Wall itself. According to house legend, Bran himself gifted the house and lands to the first Lady of the house, a warrior-woman named Corlynne who was his lover (if the fairy tales of the north can be believed). The house’s years since have been many and plentiful, and marked by the following four notable events:

  • Treachery! After the founding of the house, the Cors and the Starks each ruled half of the North. Treachery by the Starks, however, one day propelled that family to greatness, reducing the Cors to bannermen.
  • Invasion! During the Targaryen conquering, all the best soldiers went south. While gone, the wildlings of the hills actually took arms and defended the locals from raiders and reavers alike. The locals grew to somewhat trust the wildlings, but when the soldiers returned, conflict again arose. Relationships have been tense but oddly respectful ever since.
  • Favor! A family ancestor was in the Kingsguard during the time of the Blackfyre rebellion, and personally saved the life of the rightful king. The Cors received much influence
  • Glory! During Robert’s Rebellion, the Cors won glory and distinction on the battlefield. The House has always favored strong, powerful women, in the tradition of Lady Corlynne herself. fifteen years ago, when the Starks rode south to aid Robert in his rebellion against the Mad King, the Cors rode with, bringing their elite archers with them. On the battlefield, the Lady of the House earned herself the nickname of The Wasp for her brilliant deployment of archers against the Targaryens.

Today, the Cors are a highly influential house that has fallen on dire economic times. The lord of the house is old and suffering from near-constant bouts of acute dementia. His wife, the legendary Wasp, now tries to convince him to abdicate power to her oldest son, who she believes she can manipulate. The son clashes with the mother, however, as he is no warrior – far from it, his few attempts at battle and war-play have been disastrous and cost the house minor fortunes in recovery. The house’s bankroll is near run dry, due to poor management by an aged Lord whose marbles have been all but smashed, and a warrior-0woman with no skill at finances.

However, the cold winds of change are blowing hard from beyond the Wall. In a peculiar turn of fortune, the Cors have discovered, of all things, actual gold mines deep in their hills. New talent is being brought in to help with managing the mines, both from the Maesters of Oldtown and the from Free Cities beyond the Narrow Sea alike. Trade is the subject of many bar-room chats in the areas, and the region has new eyes upon it again. Rumor has it, King Robert himself is even riding up from King’s Landing to seek counsel with the nearby Starks of Winterfell, which could in turn be a great opportunity to gain favor while he is in the region. Winter is coming, but this time it could bring with it the gleaming shine of fortune.

The following characters have been established, many of which may be player characters, and all of which will have definite agency within the story we will tell:

  • The Old Lord has only a rare handful of moments of lucidity. The rest of the time he is a doddering old bat. He has yet to abdicate his power, though…
  • The Lady Wasp has aged quite gracefully, and is in the hearts of all her people. She’s an old schemer with a knack for warfare, but little knowledge of economics. She wants her oldest son to assume management of the house, so she can control him. However, if he proves too willful, there’s always Mama’s Boy…
  • The Battle-failed Heir is the oldest son. He is pathetic at warfare, but fairly shrewd at politics and coin. This new gold mine discovery could be exactly the opportunity he needs to lead this House into a financial revival. If only his father would abdicate. If only his mother would stop pestering him.
  • The Young Warrior follows firmly in Mother’s wake, a solid warrior in his own right. Always Mother’s favorite, his shocking red hair has led to some very quiet rumors that he isn’t actually fathered by the House’s Lord. No attempts have been made to prove this, however, and why would they anyway? The Warrior is beloved by all: a good son, a fine house captain, and a right good looker to boot.
  • The Distant Son is middle-born, and long ago was raised as a foster in King’s Landing. He’s now in his late 20s, attempting to maintain a political presence in the south, but in truth he is but a pawn to another lord’s whims.
  • The Faithful Sister is the only girl born to the current household, and does not take after her mother at all. She is unwarlike, and has even converted to the faith of the Seven, shunning the ways of the Old Gods of the North. She is training as an acolyte to the Septon of the castle.
  • The Heir’s Right hand is a bastard of a distant cousin to the family, the exact same age as the Cor heir. He was taken in and raised as a companion to the future lord, and now serves as the Heir’s investigator and troubleshooter, of sorts.
  • The Steadfast Wife of the Youngest son. She is a demure woman of the Umber family, loyal and firm, but gentle and non-scheming. She has mothered two toddlers for her husband.
  • The Marbrand Ward is an estranged son of the Marbrand famil (Lannister bannermen), sent north to foster because “he ain’t right.”
  • The Wildling Shaman is gathering power, preparing the way for an eventual excursion from Wildling forces beyond the Wall. He is following in the ancestral footsteps of the region’s wildlings of old, trying to gain the favor of the locals with as little bloodshed as possible.
  • The Foreign Mine-Master has been brought in from overseas to help manage the mines, because the Cors would be damned before they seek the help of the Lannisters.
  • The Maesters, of which there are now two: the Old Master of the family, who knows little of finance, clashing with the Young Master sent from the south to help with the mines.
  • The Septon, who is increasingly defensive about his faith in these lands of the Old Gods.

That should be it for now. More posts will come as new ideas are introduced.

1 comment

  1. Julian Michels - May 12, 2011 2:03 pm

    Here’s a few notes! Most of these are based on the session, a few are fresh ideas I’d like to bring into play.

    We should come up with a name for the Cor’s ancestral castle in the hills at the mouth of The Last River. A few that come to mind: The Font, Hillhome, or Mouthguard. I’m joking about that last one.

    The Lady Wasp’s famous archery was not with a longbow, but with a crossbow. In fact, the ladies of House Cor have long been famous marksmen with the trademark weapon of the house, and it was the heroism of the Lady Wasp’s crossbow unit (The Wasps) during the War of the Usurper that earned her such personal fame.

    The Young Maester has arrived allegedly to provide expertise on mining, investment, and finances (of which he has the requisite links), but in fact his purpose may be something else entirely…

    The House Captain, the heir’s younger brother, commands the Hillhome Guard, the standing corps of soldiers whose older members saw service in the War of the Usurper and whose younger members have received excellent training.

    A couple of characters left out are the father and son team of crossbow artisans, most recent of an ancient line of smiths responsible for the North’s famous recurved steel cranequins. I just came up with this but I’d like the father to have another son, the elder of the two, who is in Dorne allegedly studying their crossbow artistry.

    The Master of the Hunt is another character left out, and is a member of the household and a good friend to the Shepherds and the Riverfolk. I think perhaps he used to be one of the smallfolk himself, and has risen to his moderate station through loyal and skilled service to the Cors. He is responsible for administrating the network of scouts that patrol the expansive Cor hills and the wolfswood. He also is responsible for creating the training program that teaches the shepherds and smallhold villagers that dot the hills and woods in guerilla tactics, so that they can defend themselves in the face of reavers or wildlings.

    Ooo, another idea: One of the reasons we never see House Cor mentioned in the Song of Ice and Fire is that they are basically non-participants in the North’s politics. It’s part of the chip on their shoulder, and part of what their House Words mean. They really are probably the second most powerful house in the north (second to the Starks), and “Silent as Certainty” refers in part to their refusal to play the Game of Thrones and to bow to the Starks more than they must.


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