Category Archives: God of Our Fathers

Dominion of the Dreki: The Heathen Menace

The Christian millennium has come and gone without incident, as is only to be expected; it is, after all, a false religion. However, the Kaiserfriede which holds from the Bay of Biscay to Lofoten, and which I most loyally and wholeheartedly support, proves that it is possible to live in peace with the followers of the White Christ. Even the Serkmen, whose betrayal is of course as inevitable as the sunrise, have kept their treaty with the Emperor for two generations now – as indeed they had better; the things that are in short supply in Serkland include manners, trustworthiness, and soap, but not enemies.

On the other side of the Baltic, however, other gods hold sway: There, the dark spirits of the Suomenusko grip the hearts of men, and daily demand the sacrifice of a child, a puppy, and a thousand mosquitoes. The mosquitoes, of course, form a competing set of dark spirits which daily demand a river of blood, although in fairness it must be said that they do not grip the hearts of men and are thus rather an improvement on the Suomenusko pantheon. Worse, however, than the daily killing of children on stone altars – after all the cute little tykes are heathens themselves, and nits make lice – is that these accursed heathens indulge in commercial competition! Indeed they have several trading posts on the Baltic coast of the Emperor’s German lands; for his own wise reasons, the Emperor has not yet had them put to fire and the sword, even though these foreign infidels are literally taking the bread from the mouths of Norse children by selling their inferior amber and furs at sweatshop prices. Clearly there can be no peace with this kind of evil.

Baltic Republics
Baltic Families

Trade zones in the Baltic. Note the four (!) Virumaa trade posts on the German shore, right in the middle of what should be a Dreki zone stretching from the Kattegat to Öland. Note also the two different “Virumaa” families; they do that to confuse predators.

They know it, too, the dark-hearted fishmongers; every day they work for our downfall. Just consider: When mad King Styrbjørn, he that was crowned Emperor of Denmark and ruled a few valleys in Sweden, died, his successor naturally wished to unite the Norse peoples by rejoining his lands to the Republic. The prestige and pride of the Dreki blood, however, forbade this to be done without at least a little blood shed; what is the worth of a throne that was not paid for with men’s lives? So there was a symbolic war, a clashing of shields to mark the reunification; and while the Swedish fighting-men were away, the Suomites sent their armies into the Gastrikland valleys, and stole by subterfuge what they could not have taken in open battle. This is not the act of a friendly power. This is the act of a people who know perfectly well that there can be only one hegemon in the Baltic, and intend it to be them. Well, they can’t be blamed for that; but they can be destroyed, their armies scattered, their fleets sunk, their homes and crops burnt, their women taken as slaves and their children subjugated. And that is precisely what will happen, as soon as the Emperor comes to his senses and realises that there can be no peace or compromise with the Heathen Menace.

Baltic Borders

Borders after the unlawful aggression of the Suomi. Come on, now! That’s clearly my sphere of interest, in fact it’s my back yard!

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The Dominion of the Dreki: Colourful Characters

No great events in this session, except that I recovered the Fylkirate by pressing my brother’s claim and then getting him elected Doge, so I thought I’d have a look at some characters instead.

Emperor of the West

Pippo Groningen

He destroyed Rome in order to save it. He gave the Dreki the honour of bestowing the kiss of friendship on both his cheeks, and distracted them so they didn’t read the fine print. He has survived three wives, but nothing was ever proved to the judges he appointed, and besides, they knew the job was dangerous when they took it. He is The Most Interesting Emperor North of Paris. He doesn’t always drink wine, but when he does, he ensures that his courtiers have a glass too.

Merchant Prince

The most powerful vassal of the Emperor Pippin is sometimes referred to as “The Taxes”, as in the two immemorial scourges of mankind, death and taxes. The Emperor, a formidable warrior in his youth and the scion of a dynasty that has been known to hang the heraldry of exterminated bloodlines on their bedroom walls and gloat over them to ensure potency, is thus cast in the role of “The Death”. But most people are quick to recall, when making this half-in-jest identification, that death, at least, doesn’t come every year.

Pirate Caliph

Yes, he does have a red beard, and he does execute anyone who calls him Barbarossa. Or mentions the inevitable betrayal of his alliance with Frisia. Or looks at him funny. But although his rule is perhaps a touch harsh, you can’t say he’s unfair or arbitrary; it’s easy to avoid being executed if you just follow the rules he has laid out, and are a subject of a completely different kingdom on the other side of Europe. India would be even better.

Concubine

She isn’t conventionally beautiful, although her blue eyes are striking, but Aliken has that feminine allure, that je ne sais quoi, that undefinable charisma of some women that makes men unable to keep their hands off. She has been the concubine, and the power beneath the throne, of three successive Dreki Lawspeakers. Obviously, a woman in such a position attracts whispers even more easily than she attracts men. She is variously said to be the agent of the Emperor, for keeping the Dreki under control; of the Caliph, to subvert the Dreki for the inevitable day of betrayal; of the Pope, to convert the heathen; of the Zoroastrian witch-sisterhood with an agenda that varies with the speaker; or any of the eleven possible combinations of double- and triple-agentry. She is rumoured to be a man-eating and man-hating Valkyrie, her strength-sucking bed arts the cause of the early deaths and senility of the two previous Doges, and the premature greying of Ingemar. (“But,” the whisperers invariably continue, “what a way to go!”) She is the Emperor’s illegitimate daughter, exiled from his court after one too many escapades with the serving maids; or she was thrown for a bone to the throne of the Norse wolves to keep them busy; or she escaped from the sack of Rome and has worked her way to a position of power for revenge against the Caliph. But Aliken keeps her own counsel.

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The Dominion of the Dreki: Restoring the Republic

This seems to belong before what I posted last week, going into more detail about the restoration of the Republic which was a given in the previous post.

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The Dominion of the Dreki: Peace and Profit

I noted last week that, in the resistance against the Christian faith, I have tried several different strategies: Successively, Holy War has failed, alliance has failed, treaty has failed, and dictatorship has failed. Consequently I restored the old Republic – but not purely for roleplaying reasons. Crucially, the Grand Republic of Ireland is a kingdom, not an empire; it can, therefore, swear fealty to the Emperor of Frisia. After two generations of failure at war, I am turning to a new strategy: To bow the stiff necks of the North, and make peace. This does have the disadvantage (or is it?) of aligning me with the current proto-hegemon, which is not good for anyone’s popularity; but as the counter-hegemonic alliance has signally failed to protect the independence of small powers, my remaining option was to make the best terms I could.

Knut Dreki

Knut Dreki, the Doge Who Did Not So Much Kneel As Bend Over.

The counter-hegemons did have a damn good try this session, with a Jihad for Aragon that, surely, made the average colour of pants in Iberia move somewhat in the direction of brown. Although I did not follow the fighting closely, it seemed to me that it was going somewhat against my new Iberian friends (that is, they are the allies of my overlord). However, Fimconte, with his usual nose for sharp gameplay, was able to defuse the situation by converting to the Ibadi heresy of his attackers, invalidating the jihad CB and ending the war without any land changing hands. I opine that this act will surely rebound against him in the end; apart from the human badboy it cannot have done his credit with Allah any good.

Jihad for Aragon

Jihad for Aragon!

The result of these varied shenanigans and accommodations is some scary-looking blobs:

Europe, 983

Immense empires of the West.

The eventual and inevitable betrayal – Fimconte can clearly be trusted roughly as far as you can see him, and on the Internet you can’t see him – will be epic in scope, and lead to a shattering war. Unless, of course, it is resolved by invalidating the CB.

Internally, a quiet session for me; I’m effectively rebuilding my republic from scratch, including (sigh) House Dreki. In fact, it wasn’t until I got the Dogeship again and could use my accumulated tech points to bump up Bergen’s trade tech that any of the Irish patrician families could actually build any trade posts! I got a nice sequence of four creating a trade zone in the Kattegat and the Sound, and now just need some upgraded cities for them to improve. Lacking CBs, I wasn’t able to do much to reabsorb Old Denmark, though I’m currently pressing my brother’s claim on the Fylkirate, which will return the important tactical option of Great Holy War to my control as soon as that brother inherits.

The oak breaks, the willow bends. “Cities and Thrones and Powers / stand in Time’s eye / almost as long as flowers / which daily die”; but profit is eternal, and so is the good name of peacemakers. Let us make peace, then, and profit.

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Dominion of the Dreki: Emergency Powers Activated

The situation has developed not necessarily entirely to my advantage. Because the PvP is depressing, I will first relate the only amusing thing that happened during the session, namely the way I took over the kingdom of Svithjod. It turned out that I had enough bits and pieces of Sweden to do a Usurp of the kingdom title; however, you can’t usurp while the target is at war. The war in question was a revolt, which the Swedish AI had effectively won; the rebels were reduced to a 20-man stack hiding out across the border in Lappland. Now, if I were leading a revolt that was down to its last twenty men, against a kingdom that could get together a thousand easily, I think I might have traveled east and south and seen whether the Sultan of somewhere warm was hiring blond mercenaries; but the AI was just sitting there slowly attriting away. It’s true that banditry “in aid of the cause”, and calling it guerrilla resistance, is an old and honoured occupation, but it’s not as though they could even have been finding much to steal in Lappland. However, the Swedish AI, displaying a nearly human level of metagaming – don’t let anyone tell you the Singularity is not near – refused to send its stack north to finish the deal. After all, what did it care if twenty former rebels slowly starved to death? That war was the only thing keeping it independent. So I offered it help – a classic offer you cannot refuse; in fact, while the player gets a choice in these things, I’d be unsurprised to learn that the AI has been coded to always accept offers of help in war. In any case, I sent my retinue north into Lappland, it duly crushed the rebels, the war ended, and I usurped Svithjod. You’re welcome, Swedish AI! Oh, and would you like to be my vassal? It turns out he would. (If he hadn’t, of course, I would have DOWed for the de jure CB.) So Scandinavia, at least, is now united under my rule.

England, unfortunately, is rather closer to being united under the rule of Voldemort – excuse me, Oddman. (“Unity is strength! Division is weakness!”) Following his obvious best strategy, as soon as the truce ran out he (and separately Fimconte) attacked me, holy wars for duchies. Pavski sent an army; but his navy was too small to transport the amount of troops we needed to challenge Oddman’s 45k. (Logistical constraints, in Crusader Kings! Who would have thought it?) We lost the decisive battle, and the war ended with my capital being ignominiously moved inland; in this exigency, I have assumed emergency powers and Denmark is no longer a republic. I am sad about this, because republics are fun to play, but it must be admitted that the “emergency powers” thing is not entirely a euphemism; I’ve spent quite a bit of time in this game waiting to become Doge. (Not to mention those two elections that didn’t stay bought.) A reasonable certainty that I’ll still be in charge if – to take a completely unlikely scenario – some two-bit AI with a coded grudge should manage to give me poisoned wine is worth quite a bit of money. I will attempt to restore the republic as and when convenient, but right now we need a single strong hand at the helm, and every man to his oar!

I still retain a few English provinces and most of Ireland, but at this point it’s clear that my most important assets are Scandinavia, the Muslim alliance, and the unquenchable optimism of the man who knows the gods are on his side. Oh, and my Yngling vassals. It’s true that unleashing these weapons of historical destruction is a move of desperation, and in truth I’m not yet quite desperate enough to go there. But it’s good to have something in reserve; and I have not yet begun to fight.

England, 934

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Dominion of the Dreki: The Dutch in the Medway

I’m beginning to think I should have suggested “England’s on the Anvil” for the naming theme of this game, rather than “Recessional”. Kipling’s telling phrase, “little bits of kingdoms cannot stand against their foes”, keeps recurring to me as I write these AARs; a splendid description of the blobbing phase of a megacampaign, in which those players not lucky or skilled enough to grow big are ground out of existence. Unfortunately it applies just as much to republics.

England’s being hammered, hammered, hammered into one; but not by me. Rather, I’m the iron clanging from the Severn to the Tyne. However, before getting into that, a recap of relevant geopolitical events on the Continent. Oddman, playing Frisia, had more-or-less united Charlemagne’s empire, from the Oder to the Bay of Biscay, with bits missing in the south where Fimconte as Iberia had taken a bite. He had two fairly powerful player vassals in Synario and Alexei, Bavaria and Aquitaine respectively. He had several times fought against Fimconte, attempting to contain Muslim Spain south of the Pyrenees. Now, however, he turned this longstanding foreign policy on a dime. (Well, perhaps not on a dime – no doubt there were lengthy negotiations of spheres of influence.) When Fimconte DOWed for some land that belonged to Alexei, Oddman promptly surrendered; he then vassalised Fimconte, revoked Alexei’s capital, imprisoned Synario, and handily won the resulting revolt. Where there had been two polities with four players, there was now a single united empire stretching from Gibraltar to the aforementioned Oder, with two players in it. Fimconte then went independent again, taking the south of France with him. Then both of them (and separately an AI vassal of oddman’s) declared holy wars on me.

There wasn’t any question of fighting two humans that individually outnumbered me two to one; I surrendered promptly so as to retain my army for the fight against that vassal. But it’s clear that this is a stopgap measure at best; truce timers end, and oddman’s character could keel over any moment. (Indeed, I feel confident that the RNG will cause him to die at the worst possible time for the English Resistance; why should the lifespans suddenly become convenient now?) Unless, then, a diplomatic revolution occurs, it appears that I will be taking the Dreki back to Scandinavia whence they came. Admittedly, going into exile and plotting revenge for the next millennium is kind of my thing in these games, but I was hoping to avoid a second iteration. Besides, Scandinavia is full of snow and Ynglings, and dignobbit, I’ve played that position already. Three times. But needs must when the Dutchman drives; with our house rules, it would be very difficult for anyone else to come to my aid. Without a good claim, the best that could be done by any of oddman’s neighbours – who in any case have their own problems – would be to declare holy war for a duchy; and quite apart from his possible ability to just fight on two fronts, oddman could simply surrender, beat me senseless, and return to the Continent later on.

It seems that Kipling will have all sorts of applications in this game; but then, history is long, and empires rise and fall. This week it is “The Dutch in the Medway”. Next month, who knows? Perhaps “Cities and Thrones and Powers” will be the poem of the day.

If wars were won by feasting,
Or victory by song,
Or safety found in sleeping sound,
How England would be strong!
But honour and dominion
Are not maintained so.
They’re only got by sword and shot.
And this the Dutchmen know.

Some maps:

England, 910

England, 910. The green blight is in Wales; incidentally, Fimconte has converted his family to Welsh culture, presumably for the archery tactic. The whole of England-south-of-Thames is in Dutch hands.

Western Europe, 910

Western Europe. Note Iberian gains in southern France, where Aquitaine used to be; presumably the quid pro quo for oddman’s adding England to his domains. Note also that the Roman Empire no longer rules Italy.

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Dominion of the Dreki: Gameplay 889-898

The path of the righteous continues to be strewn with thorns. In particular, the RNG seems to have it in for me with respect to lifespans: My good Genius character died in prison, while m’liege – an idiot in all respects except for his damnable Intrigue score, which incidentally is completely unrelated to why I was in prison – goes on and on like the damn Duracell rabbit. (Perhaps I date myself; do CK players still catch that reference? If you don’t, just substitute “like a thing that goes on for a very long time”, and then get off my lawn.) He outlasted my next head of household as well, not that this was a great loss, and looks like he’s settling in to reach his eightieth birthday. Or perhaps he’ll keel over just the day after my current head dies, leaving me bereft of the Respect I need to get elected and without time to pump up the election fund.




My three Fylkirs this session: Kjartan, Starkard, and the current incumbent Kol; and their common liege. Why, oh why, can the RNG not see that this deadwood needs to go, and let the fresh new shoots reach the lifegiving sun?

That is as the RNG wills; I have, actually, larger problems. As I prophecied last session, the powers of Europe have begun to take an interest in this strategically located island with the many good harbours. Little bits of kingdoms – in this case, the petty-kingdoms of England-south-of-Thames, namely Essex, East Anglia, and Hwicce – cannot stand against their foes; unfortunately I wasn’t the foe in question. The Mussulman is at the gates! No doubt Fimconte plans to dominate the entire western seaboard of Europe, taking the entire colonisation game for himself. True, he’ll have to subdue a powerful Frisia to take the French coast, but he’s got four hundred years of CK to do so; why not pick up England while it’s cheap?

The evolution was rapid. Here is England in 889; all is quiet except for the usual state of quasi-civil war. (That is to say, I’m very polite about picking up Lincoln; everyone else behaves like football hooligans. Not a civil war in the sense of being internal to a polity.)

891, and the green blight is far inland: Fimconte’s doomstack of 5000 (a vast host, by island standards) has hammered East Anglia and Hwicce into submission, though Hwicce survives by dint of having more than one Duchy available. The invasion continues into the Welsh mountains; my stack of a little more than 4k is about to intervene.

894. My intervention did not go well. Fimconte pulled another 3k warriors out of nowhere (he’d moved his capital to England in the interim; perhaps they were mercenaries), his liege the Caliph sent another doomstack of 8k, and I suspect that with even numbers I’d still have lost, just not as badly – Spain being more technologically advanced than England. There was nothing for it but to end the war and watch Fimconte absorb his gains.

On Wenlock edge the Norse are troubled;
his bearded flank the Serk-king heaves…

My bearded enemy, the Serk-king!

896. Oddman has decided to absorb those bits of England that Fimconte didn’t get to, to keep them out of Muslim hands. Yay for the balance of power. It’s more amusing when someone else is the apple of contention. Note also the colour change; Fimconte, getting wind of a Christian coalition forming to invade Iberia, strategically switched his allegiance to another player, over in Egypt. Taking on the AI Umayyads is one thing, even if they have a powerful human vassal (in fact, Fimconte was about 80% of Spain by this point); taking on a human Egypt is something else entirely. The coalition dissolved. “To defeat your enemy without combat is the acme of skill.”

898, and England is neatly divided into three parts: Norse pagan, Frisian Christian, and Iberian Moslem.

I did manage to expand a bit, using take-county CBs on my neighbouring Christians. This does lead to quickly hitting my demesne limits; I was handing out baronies like candy, and getting so desperate for adult courtiers that at one point I gave one to an Yngling. As Fivoin pointed out, not giving land to that dynasty is Scandinavian Governance 101; but needs must when the devil drives. In any case I got a fair return, for he taught wisdom to the Fylkir Kjartan, and now all the Dreki know an ancient rune-song, handed down from Frey, the ancestor of the Yngling line. It does not translate well into the vernacular, losing all its magic power for calling vengeance-spirits down onto the heads of those who have wronged you; this is just as well, since why should I give away secrets of power? But the sense of it, without magic, is clear enough: It is intolerable. It shall not stand.

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