Not An AAR: Seventh Session

  • Eclipse of the Old Gods: In spite of massive raiding against the target kingdoms, I failed to make my vassals’ invasions of Denmark and England succeed; as for the invasion of Dragoon’s vast Ukraine-Poland blob, forget it. Consequently the moral authority of Norse paganism was precisely zero for most of the session. These are dark times for the faith of fighting men.
  • Island Fortress: No, not Britain, nor England. For the second time, the Orkneys have held off a county conquest; and although they were nominally fighting one of my vassals, which might have been a fair match, I joined the war (since I had an army raised and nothing better to do with it), so the single-province Orkneys were facing the full might of Norway. It turns out that it’s really difficult to shift a Holy Order defending a hilly island. In truth the AI also had some difficulty; early in the war I managed to land in the Orkneys while the Holy Order was off besieging Caithness. That was before I knew what I faced; thinking I was fighting only the Orkneys, I just put a stack of 2000 men in, enough to siege the island down, and went off to look at what my raids in Sweden were doing. The next thing I know, I have a popup saying that my 2000 men just held off 5000. Unfortunately they took such damage in doing so that when the HO had recovered they managed to kick me off; and from then on I couldn’t win a single battle. (No doubt due to that zero moral authority – clearly, Odin was off in a sulk.) From here on, whenever I have occasion to refer to the Orkneys, it will be as “the Island Fortress of the Orkneys”.
  • Am I My Sweet Brother’s Keeper?: Sweden, under the rule of the Traitor-Kings, is succumbing to the internal rot that will eventually make all Christian kingdoms fail; the process is particularly fast here in the north, where the people have no painfully-acquired immunity to the worst excesses of the religion of slaves. No less than six of my vassals (not counting human-played Finland) declared war for various counties, and they all won, too – possibly with some involvement from the King’s armies, it’s true. There is not much left of Sweden, now.
  • Triple Telemark: Of the six vassals who declared war on Sweden, three did so for the single county of Telemark. It follows that two of their wars ended inconclusively. Fortunately this does not count as a failure for purposes of moral authority.
  • The Friend Zone: One of the more pernicious effects of the religion of slaves is that it forbids concubines. This makes it very difficult to get a proper Yngling breeding program going; I’ve been forced to select concubines more because they were available than because they had attractive traits. On the plus side, this does mean that my armies are full of horny teenagers taking out their frustrations on the rest of the world.
  • Sisu Transformation: The successful conquests put me over the realm limit of 150; at Ranger’s suggestion I cut Finland loose, and the Saars once more face the world without the protection of Odin. On the plus side I suspect that nobody wants to stick their army in crazy.
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    Not An AAR: Sixth Session

    The death of Kings. The ‘Gout’ thing is silly; Anund died in the middle of leading his troops in battle. The ‘suspicious circumstances’ one is also silly, if slightly less so; Valdemar died in the same battle, leading the right flank. I admit that the arrow did not necessarily come from the Swedish lines.

    • Where Kings Go To Die: I fought a war with Småland, which had broken free of Sweden and thus become ripe for incorporation in the Greater Yngling Co-Prosperity Sphere. There was a battle fought, in Öland; in this battle king Anund took his bane-wound. Also his eldest son Valdemar who succeeded him, and was King of Norway for just long enough to lead a charge for the Red Lion banner, under which stood Gudfrid, the Smålander king. And though Valdemar fell in that charge, Gudfrid’s men were beaten and the king was captured, and he gave submission to King Bagge of Norway, the younger brother of Valdemar, the third to hold that title in a day. For this reason the war is called the War of the Four Kings and Two Kingdoms. After these events no king of Norway has set foot on Öland, nor will they while men remember.
    • Twilight of the Old Gods: Both Denmark and Sweden have had kings who follow the White Christ; only Norway has remained firmly a bastion of the worship of Odin. Worse, when brave men have sent out the war-arrow to gather sea-kings to their cause, to take the crowns of weaklings, seize broad acres, and become land-kings by right of conquest – they have, so many of them, failed; the corpses of would-be kings litter the beaches from Estonia to England. Men say that Odin does not give victory as in times past; men say that the White Christ came not to bring peace, but the sword, and that he wields it right well. The moral authority of Norse paganism has not been over 30% in a generation.
    • The Silent Oaks: The kings of Norway have gathered Uppsala and Mære under their rule; they have torn down the churches that were built there, raised once more the holy howes, and hanged the priests from young oaks recently planted, with shimmering flaxen ropes around their necks and spear-wounds in their sides. Thus hung Odin, once, for nine days and nights, for the knowledge of seid, rune-magic; and indeed it is clear that one may gain wisdom by doing so, for no hanged priest has ever been heard to babble of the White Christ again. The war for Lejre is underway, and goes well; the weak kings of Sweden do not seem to find strength in their new god.
    • Holy Smoke: So that men may respect the old gods – and also so that maybe a prepared invasion could succeed once in a while, how about it Odin? – I have taken to raiding extensively in kingdoms that are the targets of my vassals’ wars. This has the dual effect of reducing their armies and burning their churches. Much of England, for example, is smoking ruin. Unfortunately the Orcadians wasted their prepared-invasion army on a battle before I could get there, and now they have about 200 men left, which makes for slow progress even when what you’re besieging is a smoking ruin.
    • Yngling Blood Runs True: One of my vassals and kinsmen, Jarl Hrolfr of Østlandet, has managed to show the mettle of our bloodline by launching a prepared invasion of Denmark, currently held by a child of the von Britannia dynasty. I wish him much luck in this endeavour, and suspect he’ll find it; because I was, as it happens, campaigning in that area anyway. It could be that there won’t be very many Danish armies to oppose his righteous claim.

    Southern Scandinavia is a cauldron of war. Sweden is at war with me, and also four of my vassals have various one-province CBs that they are pursuing. Denmark is at war with an adventurer, a revolt, and another of my vassals who is doing a prepared invasion.

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    Not An AAR: Events of the Fifth Session

    • Finnal Alliance: Finland is now a vassal of Norway; this brings advantages to both sides. The Finns are no longer the target of every Germanic adventurer with two ducats to rub together and ambitions to build a kingdom, and Norway can call on two thousand heavily armed, violent drunks.
    • Toujours en Vedette: Of the roughly twenty years of this session, Anund was at peace for two months – just long enough to get the Finnish vassalisation and bring the levies home from Scotland. In particular: I finished the Brothers’ War, imprisoning Tyke. I lost the Conquest of the Orkneys after the one-province count managed to attract a Holy Order to his cause, giving him about twice my army. I won the brutal Irish Holy War for the Nordreyjar, in which the Faeroes changed hands three times and Ireland was burnt to a crisp by Norse troops and their wild Finn confederates; the blot-trees hung heavy with Irish highborns for years after the peace. Even the French and the Scots learned not to interfere in Norse business; for two years a King of Scots languished in a Norse dungeon, though the peace treaty unfortunately specified that he should escape the blot-trees. There was a minor Catholic rebellion, and then the big one: I went after Sweden for Uppsala, where Bjørn the Traitor-King cut down the Great Grove, and a church of the White Christ stands where there were houghs and holy stones. As one might expect, that war goes well; Odin favours his faithful and there is no strength in the faith of slaves.
    • Toujours en Toilette: Like his grandfather, Anund survived multiple diseases. In his case, however, they were Nausea, Diarrhea (twice) and Malaise. Nowhere near as dignified, especially on campaign.
    • As Below, So Above: I, too, have been struck down by Fever, Nausea, and Diarrhea, as indeed have the Queen of Men, Crown Princess of Men, and Prince of Men. The next patch should definitely reduce the spread and harshness of these events. But as we’ve gone ten thousand years without a serious patch, just mods that let the players improve the experience themselves, I’m not holding my breath. Anyone want to mod stomach bugs out of this?
    • Into the Monk: I’m not going to make fun. I’m just going to say that this is actually a name/nickname combination that a Finnish Messalian can acquire. It’s just as well he has Martial through the roof.
    • The Stubborn Englishry: Hadogei, having hammered England into one, intended to invade Denmark – or so he thought. But Odin, as noted, protects his faithful; England-south-of-Thames, and Cornwall and Wales, are in revolt. There will be no vengeance for the Great Heathen Host in this decade.
    • The Orders of Chivalry: In the pursuit of balance we activated all the Holy Orders for the played religions. I opine that the Jomsvikings, all 750 of them at full strength, are not really a balance for five Christian HOs each several thousand strong, but I’ll take what I can get; the Christians were already active.

    Norwegian Revolts for Increased Council Power: 3. I let this one through as it came at an inconvenient time.

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    Not An AAR: Fourth Session Events

    As noted, I’m not writing an AAR. These are just some things that happened during the session, given names and described in, I hope, moderately amusing language.

    • The Oak Breaks: Wrestling the giantess Eld, old age, even mighty Thor had to bend the knee – or so the Elder Edda claims; it is not clear whether the pre-Christian Norse told this tale. Be that as it may, Harald finally died in 923, at the ripe old age of 73. While leading his troops in the field.
    • The Brothers’ Quarrel: In accordance with immemorial custom, Harald’s estate was split evenly between his sons; in particular, Tyke called “the Holy” gained the fertile valleys of eastern Norway and the title of King, and Valdemar “the Just” was given the bleak north, which is still, however, rich in fish and furs and fighting men. So when Valdemar gathered the great men of Norway to his cause, and demanded that the King title should be his, Tyke swallowed his pride and agreed. (I had a look at the two brothers, and Valdemar was way better.) But Tyke did not forget. (We had a rehost somewhere in here and I switched to playing Valdemar).
    • The Brothers’ War: Tyke did as his brother had done: He gathered the chief men of Norway to his cause, one by one; after a year or two there were many who forgot why they had supported Valdemar’s claim to the throne, and remembered that he had not given them land or gifts or women. Or perhaps they thought that men who made a king had a right to unmake one as well, and wished to establish for time to come that the kings of Norway – a title that had not existed before Harald made it – ruled only with the consent of their chiefs. In any case Tyke demanded, after a year or two of Valdemar’s rule, that the crown be given back to him. But Valdemar did not do as his brother had done; he called out the levies of the north – for all the south had risen against his rule – and sailed to restore his father’s kingdom to obedience.
    • King of Rags And Patches: At about this time the Ladejarls, the dukes of Trondhjem, succeeded in their long war to subdue Denmark. (Which had become independent of Sweden due to the same immemorial custom that split Norway in two.) Splendid, we all cheered – but it took a major source of manpower out of the realm when every man was needed. With the out-islands joining Tyke’s cause, and the Christian Orkneys in revolt against pagan rule, this left Valdemar as king only of the North – Lappland and Finnmark, in effect. Now ‘Lapp’ is actually an insult; it means ‘patch’ – presumably in reference to ragged clothes; which is why nowadays the people who were formerly called so are referred to as ‘Sami’, their own name for themselves. Hence the rebels’ mocking name for Valdemar, the King of Rags. But his ragged fighting men, who patched the holes in their clothes with strips of birch bark, drove the southerners back and back, from Dovre to the mouth of the Mjøsa. Let them call what names they like, if they obey.
    • King in the North: Valdemar died, like his father, at the head of his troops; his son Anund inherited the throne of Norway – or at any rate, as much of Norway as the birch-leg fighting men happened to be standing on – at the age of eight. His father had never ruled the whole kingdom at peace; so when the time came to write of his memory, those who were loyal to him called him the King in the North. For that was indisputable. To be “King of Norway” is, in this year of wolf and raven, a form of words which many men lay claim to. But Valdemar had gained the hearts of the northmen, and led them through thick and thin (“and Loki be my witness, there was more thin than thick on the Dovre front”), and that is the essence of kingship.

    There was a Council revolt in there somewhere as well, which I mention only so I can increment the counter:

    • Norwegian Council Revolts for More Power: 2.

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    Not An AAR: Events of the Third Session

    This week I’m feeling particularly lazy, and am just going to post some bullet points of things that happened in the session – that is, events I found amusing, interesting, or otherwise noteworthy; I’m not going to list every poxy little war against random one-province pagans just to make 500 words. (No, really. It was 600 words even before I wrote this intro.) I did go to the trouble of making up a name for each event, in the style of such famous events as The War of the Tapestry and the Malmø Rising.

    Events in Norway:

    • The Perkele War, ca 900-910: Although gaining its nominal war aim, the county of Agder, and burning a large part of Sweden to ashes (which is always a worthwhile goal), Norway fails to accomplish Finnish independence.
    • Tough As Old Oak: Harald survives, successively: A duel, pneumonia acquired during the duel (I literally got the cough event between the starting and ending duel events; presumably they had gone out in a midwinter storm dressed to settle their differences), camp fever, food poisoning, and dysentery; also three court physicians.
    • A Surfeit of Lions: Multiple people mistake the banner of the Duke of Skåne, which is gules a lion rampant or crowned or, for that of Norway, which is gules a lion rampant or crowned or bearing a halberd or bladed argent. The halberd is important, people! (Admittedly it’s not very visible at the scale of CK2 banners.) Much hilarity ensues; the piteous plea of Finland not to march Norway’s army in Halland into the (nominally hostile) Finnish army in Viken is particularly amusing, except to the Finns. The more so when you know that this was Finland’s third or fourth army, which they couldn’t really afford. Norway’s response: “What army?” Fortunately for Finland, the Scanians headed for Scotland (which at that time was having two civil wars, an adventurer invasion, and was at war with Norway) rather than helping out their liege.
      The Scottish Ploy: While Norway is at war with Scotland, a band of adventurers shows up, roughly the size of Norway’s and Scotland’s combined royal armies. They swiftly seize control of a county in Moray, upon which the king of Scotland recognises their adverse possession and they become his vassals while still having their troops. Scanians and Norwegians both beat a hasty retreat. Fortunately the ticking warscore catches up with the Scots before they can siege back their counties.
    • Lapp It Up: The last few independent domains in northern Scandinavia are conquered.
    • Killing the Shrew: The third time I caught my wife, the Witch-Queen of some obscure barony in the Ukraine, plotting to kill my sons by other women, I decided that there were limits to what I’d put up with for a Quick trait that hadn’t even passed on to her children. There is now a new queen in Norway.

    Events elsewhere (just the ones I noticed):

    • A Kingdom Once Again: Unification of Ireland.
    • Little Bits of Kingdoms: England is split between five different independent nations (and Scotland is two, plus the Norwegian possessions); Jorvik, which once looked set fair to conquer the whole island, has been hammered down to a few provinces which retain their independence because they are occupied by different invaders none of whom have 100% warscore.
    • March to War on Rome: Mark, our Italian player, became the first to run afoul of the 150-holding max-realm-size rule. In the interest of minimising GM work, we enforce this rule by a triggered modifier (for humans only) which gives a large malus to vassal relations. Mark, unfortunately for him, expanded his realm by means of a large AI Duke winning a war (and who pays attention to the doings of large AI Dukes?), and didn’t notice that all his vassals hated him until two-thirds of Italy was in revolt. We will change the realm-size limit to be implemented by events, so that they are more noticeable and also more gradual.

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    Not An AAR: Poetic Eddy

    You try to parse this text as prose, but then you see how the scansion goes, and now you’re stuck with singing it, so screw ya! It’s definitely no AAR, it doesn’t pass the poetry bar, it’s just some words that scan like Hallelujah! (Hallelujah, hallelujah…)

    Becoming king is the easy part, you gotta show some guts and heart, and Wessex with no levies seemed to draw me; they did find plenty of allies though, I sailed back north with naught to show, I looked about to raise another army. (‘Nother army, ‘nother army…)

    I did my best, there wasn’t much, my vassals thought I’d lost my touch; they said, “In truth, the Wessex AI fooled ya”. But even though that went all wrong, their army wasn’t all that strong, I raised a mercenary Hallelujah! (Hallelujah, hallelujah…)

    Comrades, I’d been there before; but now there was that ticking warscore; I needed something fast to keep things going. The siege was close, but two days slow; the offer came, a king brought low; my salty curses rapidly were flowing! (Curses flowing, curses flowing…)

    All-Father Odin sits above, and when the putsch came to the shove, the Council found they didn’t have his favour; but civil wars are of no use, for even when you win, you lose; I gave him no atrocity to savour. (None to savour, none to savour…)

    Prepared invasion was in vain; the ally swarm was too insane; I looked for softer targets for expansion.
    Against the pagans to my north, I swiftly marched my levies forth, and that concludes my Hallelujah scansion! (Hallelujah…)

    Timeline of events in Norway this session:

    Unification of Norway: June 10th, 879.
    Norwegian Invasion of Wessex: May 881.
    Battle of Lindsey: June 881.
    Norwegian Retreat from Wessex: July 881.
    Second Norwegian Invasion of Wessex, Now Also With Mercenaries: May 882.
    Siege of Lindsey: May 882.
    Ticking Warscore Peace of Lindsey: July 3rd, 882.
    Hypothetical Surrender of Lindsey: July 5th, 882.
    First Norwegian Council Revolt for More Power: August, 882.
    First Norwegian Crusade Against the Lapps In Search Of Easier Targets: May, 883.

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    Not an AAR: First session

    So I said I wasn’t going to write an AAR, and I’m not. This is not an AAR. It’s just a couple of random thoughts I had, which I admit are at least loosely related to the latest megacampaign – otherwise I’d post it on my other blog – but which do not form any sort of cohesive narrative. So, to start us off, a dank meme:

    That’s two campaigns as the Ynglings, one as the MacRaghnalls (whom I intended as a Scots dynasty, but I lost the war with the English player and ended up as King Over the Water), and now this one as the Ynglings again. (That is, a custom dynasty named ‘Yngling’, not the historical ones.) I have not decided whether these Ynglings are an independent timeline, with no relation to the quantum-travelling ones except for the usual Many Worlds one, or if my starting character is from a different timeline. If the latter, he is here as a private individual on a theme holiday, having some fun with axe, shield, and longboat before returning to his regularly scheduled oppression of strils and invasion of other technologically-advanced timelines. Thus, no introduction of high-tech bioweapons this time around, thanks. He may have brought some pheromones and libido increasers for the concubines he no doubt expects to acquire, but that won’t have any game-visible effects.

    Harald Yngling, 872. Not outside the range of normal human variation; but also not incompatible with being the product of some centuries of eugenics and formal education in both war and personal combat.

    Because the editor of our savegame is an idiot who made a save that crashes on saving if more than a year has passed, the start of the session was long delayed as we scrambled to reintroduce our custom characters and realms. Our actual play time was only five years; all I managed to accomplish in that period was to accumulate some money from raiding my immediate neighbours (who were conveniently busy invading England) and oppressing my peasants. I do have an actual plan, however: The first step in conquering the world is obviously to unite Norway, currently split into eight petty kingdoms including my own. (“Little bits of kingdoms cannot stand against their foes”.) I have therefore taken the King of Norway ambition and attacked the historical Yngling ruler to my north, after seizing his petty-King title to give me a de-jure Duke claim; I have beaten his army and the siege is about half over. The rest of the wars will be subjugations.

    Once the nation-building project is complete, I will follow the traditional Yngling strategy of “Omnidirectional Opportunistic Aggression”, attacking whoever makes the mistake of turning their back on me. Sweden cannot be allowed to be a threat; England is a traditional hunting ground for Yngling imperialism; so is Germany; Finland is our rightful possession; so is Denmark; and there is no particular reason that strils in other parts of the world should be allowed to keep their stuff, either. The Yngling version of the old conundrum about trees falling with nobody to hear goes: “If someone cannot defend his possessions against a raiding party, did he really own it, or was he just taking care of it for us until we found it convenient to come get our things?”

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