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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Dominion of the Dreki: Fires of Faith

Who knows what moves the hearts of men? The fires of faith have seemed dim, this past generation. Asatru have lived in peace with Christian; Moslems have waged only the inner jihad, and have not sought to extend the House of Submission; Christians have not attempted the recovery of the Holy Land; even the vile Suomenusko have, a few disavowed adventurers excepted, fought mainly against the mosquitoes and against their own children. A weak and decayed generation, far from the mighty deeds of their ancestors! But there is an ebb and a flow to history, and in the seventh year of Godfried, the inrushing tide of war at last reached its high-water mark: The Emperor in his wisdom, may the White Christ protect the righteous warrior, proclaimed the Crusade for Anatolia, to recover the mountain peninsula for Christendie and to prepare the way for a campaign for the Holy Land.

The warriors of the Crescent, however, were not slow in answering. The moribund sultanate of Syria (currently unplayed), it is true, did not mobilise with all the decisiveness that might have been looked for. However, the rival Caliphates of Persia and Egypt both responded with declarations of Jihad, for Frisia and France; war objectives which, if attained, would cripple the Empire and reduce it to the level of a second-rank power. (For a moment, seeing ‘Caliph’ and ‘Jihad for France’ together, I thought the long-awaited inevitable betrayal by Fimconte had finally arrived; but I had the wrong Caliph. Iberia remained scrupulously neutral, although no doubt carefully scrutinising both sides for a carelessly exposed kidney.) These Jihads brought out the old warrior spirit of the desert nomads; at one point I had over 80 “Emir X joined the Jihad for France” notifications in my message queue. That wasn’t, however, an advantage for the Muslims. The various Emirs insisted on sending all their troops in stacks of 1k and 2k, so that for a while Central Europe was covered in the banners of Islam, but the Emperor had the advantage of numbers in the decisive clash of the main forces.

The Muslim powers began their campaign with African troops invading Ireland; the Persians, having no navy to speak of, marched towards Europe through Anatolia and the Balkans, incidentally reinforcing the Syrian defenders along the way. The Crusaders, faced both with equal forces defending the difficult terrain of Anatolia, and with a direct threat to their homeland, consequently retreated somewhat rapidly. Thus Istanbul was saved for Islam; and for some time there was a real question of whether Christendom could hold Western Europe against the savage Saracen. The loss of so strategic a location as Ireland, obviously, would have demoralised the nobles of Germany, notoriously more concerned with land and privileges than with religion; and if any significant fraction of them had taken the turban to save their estates, resistance might have collapsed entirely and the Crescent flown from the Danube to the Channel. (Or, in other words, the CK warscore model is kind of gameable; occupying Ireland, indeed.)

However, with the main Crusading forces’ return to the Netherlands, the invasion of Ireland became untenable. The Emperor’s superior sealift capacity, due largely to the Norwegian merchant fleet, gave him such mobility that he was able to force his enemies to battle on unfavourable terms; and in a decisive clash in which Cross outnumbered Crescent 40 thousand to 30, destroyed their main fighting force. Had the two dozen little warbands of the various Emirs managed to be within supporting distance of their Caliphs, this might have gone quite differently; as it was, the warriors of Islam were left with quite a few troops in the field, but scattered all over Germany in futile sieges, with nothing able to stand against the hammer of the Emperor’s relieving column.

All this had, nonetheless, taken time; and more time was lost in mopping up the Emirs and their fanatical ghazi warriors, apparently stimulated by the defeat of Islam into ever-more-suicidal efforts to reverse the tide. The net result of all the bloodshed, therefore, was the status quo antebellum: The Jihads for France and Frisia failed, but so also did the Crusade for Anatolia. After five years of war the Syrians were able to say, with some justice, that if the White Christ had intended to deliver their homelands to His faithful, he’d had His chance. Recognising the point of diminishing returns, the Pope therefore called off the Crusade. This is, of course, the kind of thing that will happen when you insist on using false gods in your Holy Wars.

And what was Norway’s contribution to this clash of titans? Well, apart from the war-winning sealift capacity of our merchant fleet, someone had to keep an eye on the savage Suomenusko! The last thing the Emperor needed, at a time when he was straining every sinew in defense of the heart of his realm, was a second front opened by an ankle-biting opportunist. I’m glad to say that I accomplished this vital mission with great success; so scary were the fierce Norse faces I made in the general direction of Finland, that the Suomenusko Holy War for Uppland did not occur until after the Emperor’s great victory against the Muslims. This turned out to be a strategic miscalculation, since the defeat of the main Muslim forces left the Emperor’s veteran army free to sail north on the aforementioned merchant fleet, and crush the Suomenusko utterly. Having thus put my heathen enemies off-balance, I followed with a strategic masterstroke, declaring Great Holy War for Suomi – the heart of darkness! Unable to face us in battle, Yahmik has instead turned to assassins, presumably hoping to end the war by making me lose an election. This was, indeed, a pretty good move on his part; I lost two Doges before I realised that making an Yngling named ‘Ormr’ my spymaster was probably not a good idea, even if he did have Intrigue 25. I mean, the guy’s name is literally ‘Snake’; great indicator of trustworthiness, there. Fortunately my latest Doge was quicker on the uptake than me, saw through Ormr’s agent, and arrested him. Execution will follow pretty shortly; also, a kinsman is spymaster now. This conflict is not yet settled, but I think I may say without fear of contradiction that it is going my way. The Baltic shall be united under the Dreki! Who in turn are under the Emperor, making some kind of threesome, but it’s ok – Godfried’s nickname of “the Kind” derives from his habit of giving a reacharound.

Orm Yngling

Well, I don’t know what I was thinking.

Suomenusko plot, 1018

Then again, it’s also possible I’ve made myself a teensy bit unpopular.

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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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