The Across The Narrow Sea update has been released(better late than never).
The update adds in the continent of Essos, which is located Across the Narrow Sea, Bannermarchers, NPCs with capes and shields, Marbrand,Manderly,Tarly,Mallister,Dayne and Clegane soldiers, Several new cultures, History books, Several redesigned armors and biomes, Sellswords, Raidings and plenty more.
1.They count as characters, and as stated in the F.A.Q, characters will not be added until much later in development.
2.They were only minor tests way back in 0.1 Alpha, and i always intended to remove them.
Dragons will be added in some form soon, and it will become a lot easier now that Essos is added in. In fact, i already have a piece of paper by my desk displaying my ideas with Dragons that i'm sure will get used soon.
It doesn't seem to be all that hard to update the mod from 1.6 to 1.7.
Basically, with how the methods work and were redone, it will probably only take about a week tops of dedicated work to truly port the mod over.
Although with an entire recode being done, some changes are going to be done, features added and removed to improve the consistency and make the mod all around better.
0.7.1 Is going to formally be dubbed "The Tier Update" as it mainly revolves around the tiers of Weaponry and Armor and their consistency. And it will, of course be the first version of the mod to be for 1.7.10. And every version onwards will be on this version, permanently discontinuing the usage of 1.6.4 to utilize the mod.
Expect it to be out some time soon, and finally the opportunity to play it on the latest version will be there.