Last time, despicable sorcerer Ottarr had finally died. Due to his scheming, his daughter Rögnfrið inherited both Lapland and Sweden, and so she can continue his quest to create an empire before gavelkind succession ruins everything.
Rögnfrið already has three children, and without a convenient way to murder them her titles will be split up upon her death.
She’s well equipped for the task with an excellent Martial score, but her levy strength is low due to some unhappy vassals. Nevertheless, I’m determined to get on with the task as quickly as possible. It seems like my only chance to take the 10+ counties I need to create the empire is holy wars, which let me seize several at once. Holy wars against the Catholics are a losing proposition, obviously, but the Finns to the east are weaker. I get one started against my old enemies in Karelia.
This turns out to be a fantastically poor decision almost immediately. First of all, enough co-religionists join the Karelians that they can put an army in the field that’s bigger than mine. Second, my angry vassals get angrier, and declare a revolt in favor of putting someone else on the throne. Ottarr’s money buys me some mercenaries, but not forever, and things are getting dicey.
First priority is the rebels, since they’re after the kingdom itself. My biggest advantage is having a good-sized fleet, enough to move my army around very quickly compared to marching overland across rough country. The AI is very bad at this, so if you’re clever you can run rings around them. I get the better of the rebel armies, but meanwhile the Karelians are grabbing territory left and right and apparently getting stronger all the time.
Then, of course, it never rains but it pours.
These guys want this random territory in Holland I took back when I was fighting for Zeeland. Since I’m pretty well occupied at the moment, I just surrender and let them have it, since it’s outside the empire and doesn’t count toward my total.
The rebels are brought to heel, but the Karelians have got the holy war down to -51%. I head in their direction, but they still have the much larger army. While not as catastrophic as losing the revolt, I’ll have to pay them a big indemnity if I get to -100%.
The Count of Loon comes calling for the last of my Dutch territories, which I’m happy to hand over to him. With the religion reformed, they’ve served their purpose.
The Karelians have occupied huge chunks of my territory, and have gotten the war to -91%. I frantically sail back and forth rescuing my castles. It’s only possible since, with my ships, I move much more quickly then they do, and they often siege when they could assault.
I’ve clawed it back to -71%, but my vassals are furious with me for having their armies raised this long.
Rögnfrið, however, has more architectural matters on her mind. For some reason.
By ambushing isolated detachments, freeing my castles, and assaulting poorly-defended enemy tribes, I have pushed the war back up to +26%. Rögnfrið proclaims herself the best Fylkja ever.
The stalemate can’t last, the Karelian coalition is still much stronger than I am. With my temporary advantage, though, they’re willing to call the whole thing off. So that’s one tight place escaped from, but I’m no closer to my empire.
Actually it turns out I’m a little closer, as some of my vassals have declared their own wars and snapped up loose territory. I need eight more counties, which isn’t impossible if Rögnfrið lives long enough.
Another revolt begins, this one for the claim of a guy who is already in prison for supporting the first revolt! Even though it generates some tyranny, I just chop his head off, which takes care of that right away.
Unfortunately, shortly thereafter one of my vassals becomes King of Saxony, and takes all the territory he held in my kingdom with him. I have de jure claims on it all, but Saxony is too tough for me to fight, so that about puts paid to any hope of creating the empire during Rögnfrið’s reign. Less than ideal.
My council is also being extremely annoying, since they all are very unhappy with me. I try to claw back some authority, but it’s not going well.
I finally muster the strength to start taking my land back from the Saxons, but it’s going to be a long and arduous process.
After only twelve unhappy years in power, Rögnfrið dies. All of Ottarr’s murder and scheming ends up being for naught, as the long-feared breakup of the realm happens in spite of his effort. Let that be a lesson: eating your children won’t make you happy in the end.
This is … not good. I have a claim on Sweden, so I can fight to take it back, but Rögnfrið didn’t exactly leave the new King Ingjald in a great position. Plus, I’ve inherited her war with Saxony, and that has to be dealt with first. Norway is even making a comeback down near Denmark.
Ingjald isn’t a terrible war-leader, but he’s not quite up to the standards of his mother or grandfather. He also has three children, so his realm with fragment even further on his succession.
Step one is to finish with the Saxons, as castles start to burn all over Sweden as my ex-vassals scrabble for power.
That’s something, anyway.
Next, I decide to take the plunge and try to get Sweden back. I’m desperately weak, but so are they, and they’ve got several ongoing wars to deal with. The initial stages go pretty well, and I gain an early advantage picking off some isolated Swedish forces.
My forces and the Swedish army are almost exactly evenly matched. Given that most of the terrain is rough, and thus advantageous for the defender, it means whoever attacks will probably lose. This leads to a lot of standing around conducting opposing sieges rather than risking a fight.
This scared me briefly until I remember I’m not right next to them any more, I’m on the other side of the world now.
Eh, there’s probably nothing there worth looking at.
Sweden pulls some allies into the war, but they don’t coordinate well, and I get the jump on the main Swedish armies while they’re off laying siege somewhere else. That gets the war, briefly, to 100%!
Whew! Okay. That’s better. But it’s now clear that I won’t be able to create the empire if I have to re-subdue breakaway vassals every time there’s a succession. I need to change my succession law, even if I can’t get it all the way to primogeniture.
Ingjald is now known as “the Bewitched” for reasons that escape me.
Taking Sweden back kicked my threat way up, so expanding is out of the question for the moment. Ingjald needs to settle in, get people to like him, and work on glad-handing his council.
This will not be easy since some of his vassals are extremely angry. I’m actually hoping for some plots or rebellions, because then I can revoke some titles and expand my demense again.
On the plus side, I can now declare crusades of my own! Crucially, since I am the Germanic pope rather than simply commanding the pope, I get to pick where they go. Unfortunately, I’m surrounded by Catholics, so any attempt at a crusade is probably going to get squashed until I get a lot stronger.
Ingjald focuses on stewardship, accumulating prestige, and generally being a good king and getting people to like him. The vassals are still pissed off, though. In order to switch succession, they all have to be at positive opinion, and some are as low as -100.
Apparently Rome has fallen? The Pope figures that since everyone else is crusading, he might as well get the party started.
Bizarrely, Rome has fallen to a Jewish Kingdom of Italy! Good work, guys.
My wish is granted and not one but two simultaneous revolts break out, with another threatening. Fortunately they don’t cooperate, so I get the upper hand fairly easily.
Kinging is hard, guys.
On the plus side, now I welcome death!
I’ve got revolt #1 up to 100% warscore, but since his territories are now partially occupied by enemies who have declared war on him, I can’t claim the victory! Come on, ref, this is bull!
Ingjald, at least, is feeling better.
Turns out the people attacking the revolt are my old buddies the Karelians, with a rather large army. That makes it tricky to take the revolt castles for myself and end the war.
However! Kettilmund, the revolt leader, concedes his war to the Karelians. This means one fewer county for me, but I’ll take it, since I can now claim victory over him in turn.
One revolt down. But my doctor now thinks I have cancer. I don’t take that too seriously, since he’s just some random dude I appointed, not a real doctor. (I can’t afford a real doctor at this point.)
I think Ingjald is bipolar.
Both revolts pacified. Lapland is nibbled a bit at the edges, but still basically together.
Ingjald has now reigned for ten years, so it’s time to look into changing the succession. I can’t use primogeniture, my preferred method, because I don’t have Late Feudal administration — basically the king isn’t enough of an autocrat. But I can use seniority if I can get my vassals onboard. Here we go.
Step one is the Jarl of Bergslagen, who hates my guts with a passion. Some people you bribe…
…some people you don’t.
The Christians are going to get Rome back. Anything that’s not coming after me is fine.
The next step is to go through my more pliable vassals and bribe the crap out of them. Fortunately, I seized quite a bit of land from the rebels, and that’s my best tool for getting people on my side — granting a county is +40. Money also helps, and with the latest expansion I’ve discovered you can give artifacts too for an additional boost. By hook or by crook, I get them all on my side.
Getting there! Of the available systems, gavelkind sucks, and elective monarchy means constantly obsessing over keeping your dynasty on the throne. Seniority it is.
Unfortunately, this is only half the story. That’s Lapland — Sweden has its own set of succession laws, which need to be changed to match. (This is why I wanted to create the empire first.) But changing the succession pisses off various vassals, especially the ones who were going to inherit.
This guy, for example, hated me even after every bribe I could muster. So I tried to kill him, and now he really hates me.
Which, honestly, leaves me few options.
Sadly Jewish Italy didn’t last long.
Judicious murder and another round of bribery leaves me poor and stripped of land, but limping across the finish line. Henceforth, Sweden will have succession by seniority as well, and this means Lapland and Sweden will no longer be separated at succession.
I can’t express what a relief this is. It removes the ticking clock that hangs over every reign, where the ruler either needs to jigger the succession, Ottarr style, or have his successor fight all of their siblings. Now I can build something without worry it’s all going to come apart.
Seniority isn’t my favorite succession method, but it has its advantages. In seniority, the oldest member of the dynasty inherits all titles. This tends to concentrate titles, since the oldest member will be heir to many people in the family at once. More importantly, it means when the ruler dies all their titles stay together. It also makes it much harder to lose the game, since a non-dynast can only inherit if your dynasty goes entirely extinct. On the negative side, you have very little control over who becomes heir, and you generally don’t get to educate them. You also tend to have a lot of short reigns, both because rulers tend to be old and because the entire rest of the family will happily assassinate them.
But I’ll take it. Now that this is sorted out, we can work on our other problems, and see about that empire.
Current Year: 936 AD. Current Status: Feeling Much Better.