Great Game VI

With additional troops from my new vassal, I was able to finish the Swedish war decisively, extending Norwegian rule over all the south of modern Sweden – the richest lands in Scandinavia, although dirt poor by the standards of the rest of Europe. As it turned out, this may have been a mistake, because of the game mechanic called ‘badboy’; more on that in the post for the next session. At the time, though, I was well pleased. Today, the first screenshot, a political map showing the expansion of Norway. Note also the chat from our Castille player, which brings up an interesting point. At this point we were playing with the 1.03 or perhaps 1.04 patch of Crusader Kings, in which attributes – Martial, Diplomatic, Intrigue, and Stewardship skills, and two hidden ones called Health and Fertility – were inherited from parents to children. This meant that an important part of the game was a breeding program, where you would try to find females with high statistics to marry your dynasty to, so that the next generation would be even better. Since the game goes over 400 years – maybe twenty generations, life being short for these people – and only about a third of the characters get married and have children, this produced a massive selection pressure over a long enough period that you can actually see an evolutionary effect. Mid- and endgame characters were noticeably stronger, faster, and smarter than their immediate ancestors! They are also healthier and more fertile; the practice of marrying someone’s daughter so a grandson of your dynasty would inherit their land, which I did with great success in the midgame, became increasingly difficult as we neared the end, because by then everyone was descended from people with high fertility, and had plenty of sons available to inherit their lands – and high Intrigue scores to defend them from assassins!

This is, of course, quite unrealistic, and was eventually removed in the newer Deus Vult expansion to the game. I do agree with this, it’s rather silly to see such a strong evolutionary effect over a mere 400 years. But I have to say, sometimes I miss the old breeding-program mechanic. It’s just not the same to marry someone with a 17 Intrigue if she’s not going to pass that on to her children.

We also had a new player joining us this session, playing the newly-created Kingdom of Jerusalem. Vanilla Crusader Kings (that is, before Deus Vult) tended to have all-or-nothing religious wars. If you were at war with a fellow Christian, you needed claims if you were going to annex his lands – that is, you might be occupying, say, Paris, but to add it to your demesne lands you had to have some sort of legal claim to it, or you would be merely an occupier in the sight of God and Man. Now, claims could be manufactured at the cost of prestige, but prestige isn’t that easily come by either, so at least in the initial stages wars between Christians tended to be quite limited. Since claims are inherited, this doesn’t apply so much in midgame and endgame, when hundreds of the dang things would have accumulated; still, there is no way to just blitzkrieg the whole of Poland. Fighting against Moslems and pagans, though, this didn’t apply; occupation was the same as annexation. What’s more, the AI at this time didn’t realise it was losing the war unless you were occupying its land. And against a Moslem, if you were occupying it, that was your land… so the Moslem AI never realised it was losing. Hence, if you got into a religious war, you weren’t getting out again short of total victory or absolutely crushing defeat. Thus when the first Crusades were called – while a Crusade is in effect, you lose prestige every month you are not at war with a pagan, and gain huge amounts for capturing Moslem land – the Western powers, especially Poland, quite rapidly took over the Levant. But ruling such a distant land is difficult, and anyway the other players would have objected lethally on balance-of-power grounds, so the Kingdom of Jerusalem was created as an independent nation, with a Piast on the throne. Which also gave us an opportunity to put a new player in the game. And since this player was new to CK, he asked me for advice, which I gave – just “Go to a Consanguinuity succession law, and expand before Byzantium crushes you”. (The former means that the eldest son won’t necessarily inherit, but rather the one with the most titles, men, and prestige.)

YNGLINGA SAGA

18. END OF THE WAR WITH SVEARIKE (1123)

King Inge of the Svear was a mighty warrior, and no man could stand before his axe; but yet he could not drive the Norwegians out of his forests. King Erlend had gathered a vast host, and in battle after battle drove the Svear before him; Isle-men and Flander-volk alike fought in his ranks, and the Svear, however valorous, could not match their number or skill. So at last King Inge was forced to beg for peace; but Erlend was not minded to be as merciful as his father had been. Quoth he : “Let the Svear learn their lesson once and for all; twice they have attacked us, and a dog should get only one bite.” So Västergotland, Öland and Närke were taken from the Swede-king, in addition to the lands his chiefs had already lost. For this peace King Erlend was widely praised in Norway.

Mainland Norway and the Baltic after the peace :
The Baltic after the peace with Sweden

19. THE KING OF JERUSALEM ASKS FOR ADVICE (1128 )

King Erlend had great renown for his wisdom and good counsel. One day an emissary from Konrad, King of Jerusalem came to his court, asking advice on how to best make his kingdom prosperous and peaceful. King Erlend sat long with this emissary, asking how the affairs of Jerusalem were managed, and in the end he gave three redes :

First, that the law of succession should be changed, so that not the eldest but the strongest son should inherit. For the eldest is not always the best king. At this King Erlend’s brothers smiled, for Erlend was the oldest among them, and they were pleased to hear younger brothers praised.

Second, that the Moslem sheikdoms outside Jerusalem’s borders should be brought to submission and Christ, much as Harald Hårfagre and St. Olav had done for Norway. Such work would greatly strengthen the kingdom. At this the priests nodded, for King Erlend showed great modesty in not mentioning the work of himself and his father in expanding Norway’s borders.

Third, that the two elder sons of Konrad be re-baptised, for they were both named Mszczuj. And it would be unwise to expect vassals to be loyal to a chief whose name they could not pronounce. At this all the court laughed; but Erlend only smiled, for he felt it a serious matter that a King should have a name that could not be used in a battle cry.

With these redes the King of Jerusalem’s envoy pronounced himself well pleased, and he gave Erlend costly gifts of incense and oils, and they parted with many friendly words.

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