Faction Profiles: The Major Houses of Westeros
“Blood and Fire”
Hailing from the ancient, and now doomed, freehold of Valyria, the Targaryens have ruled Westeros for nearly three centuries.
Ever since Aegon I Targaryen forced the kings of Westeros to kneel or be destroyed by his dragons, his descendants have ruled as kings from the Iron Throne in King’s Landing by the power of their dragons and their swords.
The Targaryens have preserved their High Valyrian blood by marrying brother to sister for over five hundred years, even at detriment to mental stability of their line. Now their dragons are all dead and only sharp blades and minds will preserve the legacy of Aegon the Conqueror.
“Winter is Coming”
For an unbroken eight thousand years the Starks have ruled the North
from Winterfell, the castle originally built by their House’s legendary founder,
Brandon the Builder, first as Kings in the North, and then as Wardens of the North
after King Torrhen Stark bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror.
The North breeds cold men, and the Starks are among the coldest;
they are loathe to involve themselves in the affairs of the South
and instead keep one watchful eye on the seasons.
“Family, Duty, Honor”
A noble House of long tradition, though never kings, the Tullys gained prominence when Edmyn Tully became the first of the Riverlords to rise against the rule of Harren the Black and declare for the Targaryens.
After Harren and all his sons were burned by Aegon Targaryen’s dragon, Edmyn was elevated to Lord Paramount of the Trident.
Through disaster and dark times the Tullys have remained loyal to their benefactors but as time goes on their loyalty may grow weaker and they have already once risen up against a tyrant.
The first, oldest and purest of the Andal lines, the Arryns were among the first of their kind to arrive in Westeros, and became Kings of Mountain and Vale when Ser Artys Arryn slew the Griffin King and took his crown, six thousand years ago.
When the Targaryens came the Arryns chose to submit and lose their crown, rather than be destroyed by the dragons.
They were allowed to remain Defenders of the Vale and obtained the title of Warden of the East.
The Arryns hold their honor dear, and if forced to choose between that and loyalty, there is no doubt they will follow the path laid down in their House’s words.
“Hear Me Roar!”
Founded by the legendary trickster Lann the Clever, who tricked the Casterlys out of Casterly Rock and took their crown, the Lannisters ruled the West for thousands of years until the coming of Aegon I Targaryen. At the Field of Fire, King Loren Lannister witnessed the power of all three of Aegon’s dragons unleashed at once, and fled back to the Rock, later kneeling to Aegon and taking his place as Warden of the West.
The Lannisters are the richest House in Westeros, and have only increased their wealth as time has gone on despite (or perhaps because of) their reputation for always paying their debts.
“We Do Not Sow”
When Harren the Black burned in dragonfire along with his sons at Harrenhal,
the men of the Iron Isles lost their last grip over the Riverlands along with their king and his House. In exchange for their loyalty, Aegon I Targaryen allowed the Ironborn to choose the man to lead them, and they selected Vickon Greyjoy of Pyke.
But the Ironborn have never had good relations with the lords of the green lands,
and some may even keep the Old Way of raiding and pillaging and the Greyjoys
may even hope to once again rule huge swaths of Westeros as overlords.
When the last House Gardner King was burned with all his heirs on the Field of Fire, Harlan Tyrell, Lord Steward of Highgarden,
surrendered the castle to Aegon Targaryen rather than be obliterated. For his good sense, his line was elevated to rulers of Highgarden and Wardens of the South. Some of their bannermen still resent the Tyrells’ position and inheritance of Highgarden but they rule with the Targaryens’ approval, and are perhaps the most loyal of all the Houses in Westeros.
Beautiful and dangerous, the Tyrells choice of sigil is a golden rose and anyone thinking to pick it had better remember that some roses have thorns made of steel.
“Ours is the Fury!”
A scion of House Targaryen, House founder Orys Baratheon is said to
have been the bastard brother of Aegon I Targaryen.
He slew the last Storm King, Argilac the Arrogant, and then took
Argilac’s daughter to wife and Argilac’s House sigil and words for his own.
Since then the Baratheons have ruled the Stormlands on behalf of the
Iron Throne but as times passes old links grow weak. What was may come again
and the Baratheons have never lacked courage or power.
“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”
Alone among the Great Houses of Westeros the Martells of Dorne never bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror. They were once conquered by Daeron I Targaryen, but after his death, they rebelled and became independent once more. They have been Targaryen bannermen for little more than a century, after a marriage agreement between the two Houses secured the Targaryens dominion over Dorne. The Martells retain their title as Princes and Princesses of Dorne, one they have held since the warrior Queen Nymeria led the Rhoynar across the Narrow Sea and, with the help of her husband Mors Martell, conquered Dorne from the Andals. In keeping with their Rhoynar blood, the Martells (as do all Dornishmen) allow the eldest child, regardless of gender, to inherit their titles, in stark contrast to the other lords of Westeros.