Archive for Crusader Kings Series 2

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How Do I Vike, Part Seven

Part One, Part TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five, and Part Six.

Finally free of gavelkind!  Now we’re getting somewhere.

King Ingjald the Bewitched can relax a little, but not too much.  The relatively united Lapland forged by Ottarr has been nibbled away at, and with only three counties in my personal demense my military power is pretty weak.

Meanwhile, the earlier mess of German states is solidifying into a powerful Saxony and Poland, and an even more powerful France.  England is still a disaster of tiny realms, though.

The Queen of Saxony is too strong for me to take on, so clearing her out is going to have to wait.

On my eastern border is Karelia, which looks weak, but Rögnfrið tried to take them on and we all remember how badly that went.  They have a lot of allies.  So, Ingjald is somewhat stymied for the present.

Turns out not to matter though!  His eldest son, no doubt pissed about the succession law change, sneaks a viper into his bed.  I’m impressed that Ingjald can recognize Ake’s snake on sight, though.

So Ingjald dies, not long after securing his greatest accomplishment.  One of the annoying things about seniority succession, for storytelling purposes, is that it means the titles hop all over the dynasty and make the relationships tricky to describe.  But I’ll try.  Genealogy time!

Ormr, who founded the dynasty, had seven children: Gurli, Þordis, Astrid, Gnupa, Ingrid, Guðfrið, and Rögnfrið.  His successor was Gurli’s daughter Gloð.  Ottarr was the son of Gloð’s sister, Bothhildr, and Rögnfrið (another one) was his daughter, and Ingjald was her son.  So to this point all the rulers have been within Gurli’s line, and pretty much direct descendants except that Ottarr was Gloð’s nephew.

The new king, Guðröðr, is in the same branch of the family — he’s Gloð’s grandson, via her youngest son Hrolfr.  But after this point things can get crazy.

Guðröðr, it turns out, is already in the society of Hel!  But I no longer need to sacrifice my children to ensure succession, thankfully.  Maybe I’ll give the dark powers a miss from now on.

First order of business: revenge.

However, there’s more to it than that. Åke is a substantial landholder, and as the eldest dynasty member I’m now his heir.  Killing him will bring me his territory and substantially beef up my depleted demense.

This works out perfectly.  I go from three holdings to nine, and poor Ingjald is avenged.

Guðröðr then hunkers down, because the vassals are restless.  They’re not happy with this new succession regime.

The Sheriff of Nöttinghåm is apparently having some trouble.

Scandalous!  Something must be done.

Everyone knows outlaws can never resist an archery contest.

Isn’t this Lapland?  If they’re hiding in the forest, can’t we just wait for winter and assume they’ll freeze to death?

While all this delightful plotting is going on, Guðröðr sends his warriors to continue the serious work of setting Cornwall and Brittany on fire.

A great archer, you say?  Sounds like a useful guy to have around.

Aww.  A happy ending!

Damn.  Forget gamekeeper, I’m making Robin a general!  Although he doesn’t look much like Cary Elwes.

Marion is no slouch herself, if it comes to that.

The long-feared revolt finally breaks out, with a Catholic uprising to boot.  Fortunately, my men are on their way back from raiding, and cheerfully jump in to beating on the rebels.

Bwahaha!  Long years of biding my time have paid off!  Now I will use dark sorcery to crush my enemies!

Or not.  I didn’t really want to crush those enemies anyway.

Gyða is still more or less in the same branch of the family.  She’s also a descendant of Gurli and Gloð, a great-granddaughter of the latter via Ragnarr and Ingjald (not the king, a different one).

She’s disfigured and wears a creepy mask, and her stats aren’t great.  But you work with what you’ve got.  We’ve got a revolution to fight!

The rebels are too strong to simply crush, but my usual tactic of dancing around them with sea movement manages to outfox them.

Hurrah!  To jail with the lot of you!  Notice that the person rebelling was in fact my heir, which is odd.  She’s the next oldest, so she’s my heir, but I’m also her heir.  So … whichever of us dies first gets everything, huh…

Yeah, I think we all saw that one coming.

I’m slowly getting Lapland reorganized, keeping the best counties for my demense and farming out the rest to more loyal vassals.

With the boost in popularity from crushing the rebellion, Gyða manages to push through Late Feudal Administration, which will — in the event that one of my rulers lives long enough and is popular enough — let me change to a better succession method.

I’ve managed to stock my council mostly with sycophants, which helps get these things done.

Still too weak to attack my neighbors.  But I invest in expanded castles to generate more troops, and head out viking to get more gold.

“Your application has been processed.  Please wait six to eight weeks for your official membership card.”

This dude declares war on me…

But since all his castles are occupied by one of his other enemies, he loses the war immediately.  Good work, sir!

Seniority succession is thinning out the ranks of the elderly in the dynasty.

Gyða joins the ranks of the cat-owning elite.

Whoa!  That thing has been kicking around like two hundred years.

Aw, man.  Talk about an anti-climax.

Gyða dies, possibly of disappointment.  Lots of short reigns is the issue with seniority succession.

Sif comes from an entirely different branch of the family tree.  She’s descended from Gnupa, via Asa, Knut (the guy who everyone wanted me to help kill a while back), Ale, and Alfr.

She’s only 49, which gives me some hope she’ll last a while, but she already has chest pains, which doesn’t.  She’s also somehow both Shrewd and Slow-Witted, with ‘meh’ stats.

My work on stripping the council of its powers is slowly paying off.  I’ve got two crucial ones, now — the ability to grant titles, which the councilors always opposed if it wasn’t to themselves or their allies, and the ability to revoke titles, which I need for stripping rebels of their land.  I’d like to have war declaration, obviously, but that’s the hardest one to get.

This happens to Sif constantly.  There’s only one explanation: Gideon ninjas.

It’s been a while since I burned Venice down, but it’s just as flammable as I remember.

Sif catches one of her vassals plotting and brings down the hammer.  Meanwhile, some of my vassals have taken it on their own initiative to take back some Saxon land.  Good vassals!

Residual instincts from my Israel game make me jump when one of these pops up.

Sif continues the family tradition of general lewdness.

Somewhat against my expectations, Sif is getting healthier!

I guess those were psychosomatic.

Getting there.  Banishment is nice to have because you can strip money from captured adventurers, who always have at least 500 gold!  Very nice.

Finally, we’re ready to take on some small opponents again!  Viken is one county, so that shouldn’t be too hard.

Ooooor they could hire a holy order and put five thousand heavy cavalry into the field.  Well then.

Fortunately the reformed Germanic faith has a holy order of its very own, the Jomsvikings.  I bring them in, along with some mercenaries.

Only to discover Viken has brought in ANOTHER holy order!  They must be pious as balls.

Fortunately a) they couldn’t afford to keep paying them indefinitely, and b) a lot of them froze to death trying to besiege my castles.  So everything turned out all right in the end, though it cost more than I would have liked.

Next on the hit list is Kola, which controls a couple of counties on my eastern border as well as a random assortment of stuff throughout the insanely fractured east.  

Unfortunately, their scattered territory makes for a very slow war, and I can’t get it wrapped up before another set of vassals comes calling, demanding gavelkind succession.  Obviously we can’t have that, so I make peace with the Kolans and hurry back to deal with them.

This time, the rebels aren’t particularly strong, and are easily crushed.  Another set of vassals goes to jail, and now I can easily strip them of some titles.

Sif dies soon after, having reigned longer than expected and done important work raising royal authority.  The new queen, Rodelinda, jumps us back to the line of Gurli and Gloð, being the granddaughter of King Guðroðr’s younger brother.  Are you keeping track of all this?  There’s going to be a quiz.

Like many of my recent monarchs, she is profoundly mediocre, but at least she’s only 33 and not yet ill.  She is, however, Saxon rather than Norse, which is not ideal.

Lapland is still looking nibbled at the edges.  Kola and Karelia are both still strong in the east, while Saxony and Austrasia (the gray blob in the midst of France) both have holdings.  There’s a few independent realms too, though, that are better targets for expansion, particularly Westrogothia.

Grr.  One jerk who has been handing out favors dominates my council, and they refuse to declare war on Westrogothia.  That’s annoying.

Temporarily thwarted, I work on upgrading my holdings.  Tribal holdings that are sufficiently advanced and Germanic can be upgraded to feudal, which increases their tax revenues and levy contribution.  Slowly but surely, I’m dragging Scandinavia into the 10th century!

I also catch quite a few of my vassals plotting, and throw them in prison.  Unusually, I actually manage to catch most of them before they start a revolution.  This is actually kind of annoying, since imprisoning someone without them revolting doesn’t give you the authority to revoke their titles.  Also, an alarming number of my lords are becoming Catholics!

With most of my money spent on building bigger castles, it’s time for … well, you know the drill.

Another day, another count in the dungeons.

Good.  Stay generally pointed in that direction, please.

It’s always a blessing to have another viking in the family!

Burning down this Breton castle is taking a while, so I send the fleet back home to drop off the loot.

This proves to be a serious mistake.  Brittany is now owned by the Atlasid Caliphate, which controls all of Spain and chooses this moment to send a huge army north to register their displeasure with my constant arson.  My fleet returns just in time to evacuate the shattered survivors.

We’re gonna go raid in Cornwall, where it’s a little safer.

I’m trying to upgrade one of my counties to feudal, and I find out they’ve turned Catholic!  There’s Catholics everywhere.  This can’t be borne.

What I’d like is the authority to revoke titles from non-Germanic rulers at my whim, but my council of course is dead set against the idea.  Stupid council.

In the meantime, my raiders are forced to hurry home once again as my vassals rise in revolt once again.  This is getting a little tiresome, guys…

Current Year: 969 AD.  Current Status: Thwarted.


Content, Crusader Kings Series 2, Excluded, Games

How Do I Vike, Part Six

Part One, Part TwoPart ThreePart Four, and Part Five.

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.



Content, Crusader Kings Series 2, Excluded, Games

How Do I Vike, Part Five

Part One, Part TwoPart Three, and Part Four.

When we left the Kingdom of Lapland, it was still under the bloodstained thumb of King Ottarr the Brute, who was fighting his way to reforming the Germanic faith with murder and black magic.  Shockingly, these trends continue!

With control of three Germanic holy sites and sufficient piety, the barrier to my reforming the faith is getting moral authority over 50%.  Two ways to raise it (by 1% each) are successfully taking counties by “pagan conquest” and burning infidel temples, which go nicely together.  I get thing started by attacked the Finns to the east.

Also on my list of goals is creating the Empire of Scandinavia, but that’s tough — it requires controlling 80% of the counties within this area, and I’m not even close.  It would help my succession enormously though, by getting me back into a situation with one top-level title.

As usual, my doctors have no idea what’s going on.  Fortunately I’m extra-healthy from, uh, eating my children.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s where food poisoning comes from?  Who knows where they’ve been?

Odin is with me!  And I’m going to kill him!

Putting the woman I demonically possessed in charge of building me a statue?  I … um, really should have seen this coming.  Fortunately I have piety to spare now.

Ottarr still makes time for old-fashioned, non-demonic lunacy.

I’m making a little progress against the Finns and Estonians, but moral authority is going in the wrong direction.  This is because other Germanic states affect it too, and they apparently aren’t doing that well.

Time for a new plan.  The county of Zeeland is the fifth Germanic holy site, currently under the control of Catholics.  Getting it back under German rule would give me +10% to moral authority.  Fortunately, as Norse, I can fight a pagan conquest not only against bordering counties but against any coastal county, so Zeeland is a fair target.

Unlike holy wars, pagan conquests don’t draw in neighboring co-religionists.  So I only have to fight Germany, which owns Zeeland, and Germany is pretty splintered and weak.  I call in some tribal armies and start marching down through Denmark!

The King of Germany is only 15, and busy with some other wars, so my occupation goes fairly well.

Meanwhile, my efforts to secure the succession continue.  My daughter Rögnfrið has been groomed to rule, as my only surviving child, but the electors insist on choosing someone else!  I call on the dark gods to give her disease, but she only gets pneumonia and recovers quickly.  So I’m forced to rely on conventional assassins and bribery.

Success!  Germanic faithful rejoice.

And the victory, combined with some older modifiers timing out, kicked me over 50%.  Better and better.

So the reformed German religion was created, codified, and led by a man who secretly worshiped Hel.  This is a bit like finding out that the Apostle Paul was actually a Satanist all along.  But you can’t argue with results!

It’s time to hunker down for a while, though, because my vassals are pretty angry.  I get started quieting them down.

The next goal is becoming feudal instead of tribal, which among other benefits will allow me to finally change away from the gavelkind inheritance that has made my life miserable from day one.  Reforming the religion was a prerequisite, as is upgrading my holdings, so I’ve done that.  I need to increase my legal authority a bit more, which means quieting my vassals down and waiting a while.  I just need to hope Ottarr lives long enough and/or his succession issues get smoothed over.

I summon a cat familiar, LORD OF ALL BEASTS, to assist me!

Halla is currently standing in my way, succession-wise.  She’s lunatic and possessed, so maybe the electors just don’t want to rock the boat?

A major revolt finally breaks out, but I’m ready with tribal armies and mercenaries, and the rebels are crushed.  Enjoy rotting in the dungeon until the next Great Blot!

Unfortunately, both sorcery and assassins have failed to rid me of Halla.  I turn to my third option, which is just to bribe the electors and make sure Rögnfrið gets the nod.

Honestly, if the worst I get after a lifetime of human sacrifice and dark sorcery is a stutter then I’m kind of okay with that.

Another claimant to the throne pops up.  I try to have my minions abduct her, but they fail miserably.  Honestly what is even the point of being an evil wizard anymore?

Fortunately, bribery works wonders where more dastardly methods have failed.

This charming fellow is the King of Frisia, who has declared a holy war for Holland.  I don’t really need Holland, at this point, but I’m not giving in without a fight.

I appear to have acquired two additional counties in Holland without noticing?  That’s odd.  Also, good lord, northern Europe is a mess.  Why is Italy in there?

The king of Frisia dies and is replaced by a two-year-old, who agrees to cool it with the holy war.  Yet another adventurer is targeting my kingdom, though.

However!  My own vassals are quiet enough that I can raise tribal authority, and I’m ready to convert to feudalism.  This will weaken me a bit in the short term, especially since I lost the ability to hire tribal armies with prestige.

In the long term, though, it’s great.  Not only can I finally start working on changing the succession, but feudal holdings produce enormously more income, and my vassals no longer get a choice about whether they contribute troops to my wars.  

At 59, Ottarr is not quite the general he was at his peak, but still head and shoulders above almost everyone.  He’s a brilliant strategist, a falconer, a hunter, diligent, ambitious, arbitrary, cruel, lunatic, and a drunkard.  He’s got one legitimate daughter and five bastard children, all of whom have now been given titles.  Plus, of course, the … other children that we don’t talk about.

I’d like to change the succession to primogeniture, but that requires “Late Feudal” authority, which I don’t have yet, plus I’d need to do some work pleasing my vassals.  But it’s on the agenda.

Being feudal gives me access to a bunch of new upgrades for my holdings, which of course requires money.  And we all know where we get money!  So it’s off Viking once again.

Mellowing in his old age, or perhaps with just more to lose, Ottarr starts turning down these requests for random mayhem.  No need to rock the boat.

Now that I’m feudal, another goal is to increase the power of the ruler at the expense of the council, slowly moving toward absolute monarchy.  The problem is the council has to sign off on this, so you need to get them on your side first.  Bribery works, of course, but it helps to stock the council with loyalists and sycophants too.  (If you’ve read my Israel game, this was never a problem, since I started with absolute authority and never gave it up in spite of many, many revolts.)

I also start a war to get Kemi back into the empire.  My goal is to get to the 55 territories I need to create the empire during Ottarr or his daughter’s reign, before gavelkind succession comes to bite me again.  I’ve got about 35 at this point, so it’s going to be a long haul.

My vassals want to change from Elective Gavelkind (where the primary heir is determined by election) to ordinary Gavelkind (where the eldest child is primary heir).  Ordinarily I fight all revolts, since winning gives you an opinion boost and a chance to revoke titles.  But I’m totally fine with this one, since I’m not popular enough to change succession law anyway.  This means I no longer have to worry about Rögnfrið being displaced!  (Retroactive apologies to all those people I killed, I suppose.)

Yes, it would be terrible for any … dark influence to come into our lives.

This is a slightly more serious consequence for the use of dark magic, I have to admit.  Ottarr is on his last legs, but I’m still working toward getting the empire.

One step closer!

But still a long way to go.

Fortunately, there are still some small realms I can pick off fairly easily.

Once that’s done, I declare Holy War against Denmark to pick off their counties in the west, something I can do now that I’m reformed!  There aren’t many Old Germanic rulers around to help them out.

?Holy War theme song is back!?

While the war goes well, one of their counties rebels against Denmark, which means I won’t get it when I win.  Boo.

Ottarr’s time is definitely running low.

Unfortunately, while I beat Denmark, my vassals are all very angry due to their levies having been raised too long.

Only at 43/55.  Rögnfrið is going to have a lot of work to do.

On the plus side, the new Germanic religion has mostly supplanted the Old Germanic remnants.

Back in Brittany, Ottarr finally earns his Viking card!

He seems to show some remorse for the unspeakable acts he committed.  Which causes him to become possessed?

Ottarr’s long and bloody reign finally comes to an end.  Whoever writes his summary seems unaware of his dark side!  In spite of being a demon-worshiper, dark sorcerer, child murderer, and all around supervillain, Ottarr managed to get the Germanic religion reformed and convert his people to feudalism, two essential tasks on my checklist for this game.  Good work, I suppose!

Meanwhile, the new Queen Rögnfrið is an excellent general and a passable administrator.  She’s brawny, scarred, zealous, ambitious, kind, gluttonous and greedy.  Her vassals are not very happy with her, either.

(Side note: I say “queen”, though the game prefers “Fylkir” or “Fylkja”.  These are the titles of the head of the Germanic religion, the equivalent of the Pope, which I now also hold!)

While all of Ottarr’s scheming and murdering to pass the kingdom to Rögnfrið intact worked great, Rögnfrið herself has three children, so when she dies things are going to be bad.  If I create the empire before then, it’s not so terrible, but if I don’t make it then Lapland and Sweden will go to separate heirs and, at minimum, I’ll have to fight a war to get them back together.  It’d be great to change the succession law, but that requires at least ten years reign and for your vassals to like you, something Ottarr could never manage.  

Will Rögnfrið be able to create her empire or change her succession before she dies?  Will she resort to eating her children like her father?  We’ll see…

Current Year: 905 AD.  Current Status: No Longer A Murderous Psychopath!



Content, Crusader Kings Series 2, Excluded, Games

How Do I Vike, Part Four

Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Queen Gloð continues her reign, and her immortal hellhound Faithful continues his reign of terror!

Gloð acquires a new heir, the old one having died.  Nothing yet indicates that Ottarr will become the most legendarily batshit king Lapland is ever likely to have.

Well, okay, maybe there’s a little foreshadowing.  He is a lunatic.  And also a brilliant strategist and all-around awesome military leader.

“Moooom,” says Hafrid, “will you help me murder my husband?”

“No, dear.”


Knut must be just the worst, because I seriously get a half-dozen requests to help murder him from various conspiracies.

As my raiders loot Brittany, again, Gloð’s sister dies of scurvy.  I know we’re in the frozen north, but you have to eat some fresh veggies…

Faithful, who came to me as a puppy in 816, is still happily eating children around my court forty-three years later.

My chancellor forges a claim on a county in Sweden.  It seems like a good time to attack the Swedes, inasmuch as their army currently consists of precisely 5.19 soldiers.  I’m not sure that 19% of a guy is going to do much good.

In fact, due to some clever intermarriage, my grandson actually has a claim on the Swedish throne.  However, it wouldn’t do much good to fight for it — even if I won, he’d still be independent, since a king-level ruler like Gloð can’t have another king as a vassal.  If I were an emperor, it’d be another story.  So I just go after the county.

Something weird happens, though — Sweden gets a new king, and my war is cancelled.  (I think the old king got overthrown and became a vassal of the new king.)  The new king is much stronger, so I’m okay with this.  A false claim won’t be inherited unless you press it at least once, even unsuccessfully, so now I don’t have to worry about Gloð dying before I get the chance.  I start forging more claims against Sweden, so I can press several at once.

Ottarr, my lunatic son, decides that a trumpet brigade would be the ultimate weapon and manages to deafen himself.

After forty-six years, Faithful is worshiped as a minor god and my courtiers offer regular sacrifices.

Money and prestige are running low again, but there’s always more of both to be had over in Devon!  I’m using the prestige mostly to build up my primary holdings, so they’ll provide more troops.

Normally I never grant these requests, but since Ottarr is heir, why not?

Gloð finally finds her purpose in life, which is apparently to hunt a mysterious white bear.  

I mean, I know a white stag is kind of a mystical thing.  But isn’t a white bear just, like, a polar bear?  They have those in Lapland, right?

This is the third time I’ve had this happen in a few years time.  Why are the caravans of India using me as a dumping ground for their surplus eunuchs?

That wacky Ottarr!  He definitely will be a laugh riot as king.

What did poor Knut do to all you people?

Finally, after a long and successful reign, Gloð dies.  Faithful stalks off into the woods, where they say you can still hear his dreadful howling to this day.  Long live King Ottarr!  He is sure to be admired by his subjects.

Hmm.  He’s not admired by Hrolfr.  Apparently Ottarr slept with his wife.

Ottarr starts his reign much as Gloð ended hers, raiding the southwest to build up money and prestige.  Then things get … weird.

Um, okay.  Go cats, I guess!

Great!  Ancient cults and forbidden secrets, what could go wrong?

I put on my robe and wizard hat.  Cthulhu fhtagn!

At the last minute, though, Ottarr realizes this might be hazardous to his health and changes his mind.

Ramming speed!

Uh, wow.  Apparently fighting Cthulhu makes you awesome.  I regret nothing!

This may actually be more ominous.

In more mundane affairs, Oppland is looking like a tasty target, and I’m just getting ready to attack when some jerk calls in a favor to force me to press his claim to part of Iceland.  Sigh.

There, we’ve got Iceland.  Are you happy now?

Gah, and of course by the time I get back Sweden has taken it.

At this point, my proximate goal is to reform the Germanic religion, in preparation for converting from Tribal to Feudal and then finally getting off of gavelkind succession.  To do this, I need to control three of the Germanic holy sites.  I have one, and two more are held by Sweden.  Abandoning my approach of aiming at adjacent counties, I start forging claims on the holy sites specifically, hoping to launch a war against Sweden with multiple claims.

Meanwhile, Nordland, which became independent during the transfer of power, needs to be reminded who is king in this vicinity.  Fortunately, you get a claim on any breakaway realms, so it’s not hard to do.

I contemplate going after Sweden with what I have, but they’re still too strong.  So it’s back to raiding Brittany, where they’ve just finished putting together some lovely towns for me to set on fire.

Ottarr is apparently stumbling drunk at council meetings.  Is being a drunkard really all that much worse if you’re already insane though?

Uh, hmm.  To get back at Godi Ofeig for acting superior, Ottarr is apparently willing to join the Society of Hel and traffic with dark powers.  Sure, why not?  Screw you, All-father!

I’m not worried about my soul.  I took out Cthulhu, how bad can Hel be?

These evil secret societies sure do love their melodrama.

They’ve sent me a femme fatale, apparently.

I like where this is going.  I think.

Yeah, so this is some Eyes Wide Shut material right here.  But hey, dark power is dark power!

All right!  I’m a Spæmaðr!  I get a cool robe and everything.

Maer is always up for a good time.

Stupid happy family.  How I hate them!

Uh, wow.  That got dark really fast, huh.

But, hey, +20% bonus taxes!  For some reason!  Bring on the Blessing of Baalberith.

Can we get back to politics?  The old king of Sweden has died, leaving this new king, who is shockingly weak.  Finally time to take my shot.

So, now I’ve got a choice.  I can press the claims I have against Sweden, which will net me three counties if I win, including one of the holy sites I need.  Or I can go for subjugation, will will get me everything.  That war will be harder to win, but not much harder.

The real problem is that subjugation will create an instant succession problem.  Right now, I have only one kingdom, so regardless of how the counties get split up everyone is at least still my vassal.  But if I subjugate Sweden, I’ll have two kingdoms, guaranteeing that gavelkind will split them up between my heirs.  So I’d get Sweden, but possibly not for long, or at the very least my heir would have to fight for it again.

What the hell.  Ottarr doesn’t seem like the type to go less than all out.  Subjugation it is!

The war, as expected, is actually pretty easy.  I’ve got plenty of money for mercenaries and prestige for tribal armies, courtesy of the peasants of Brittany and Cornwall, and the Swedes are weak.  As the fighting goes on, Ottarr takes time off for an impromptu orgy.

Yikes, Ottarr is losing muscle tone!  That’s some orgy.

I mean, at this point, I can hardly pass judgment on witches.  I could give witch lessons.

Poor old Knut eludes the assassins for good.

Well.  That was easier than I expected.

Greater Lapland is born!

Now, to reform the Germanic faith, I need 750 piety and 50% moral authority.  Getting the piety is just a matter of time, but the moral authority is going to be tricky.  I can raise it by winning holy wars or county conquests, or burning infidel temples, so I get started on that.

Ottarr takes up … theological pursuits, to get his piety up.

But the clock is ticking, since Sweden will be lost on Ottarr’s death.

Level up!  I can’t pronounce it, but I’m sure it’s great.

This is that witch who turned up at my court.  At this point why not?

The new Swedish vassals are unruly, and I’m forced to crush several of them in revolts.

Meanwhile, Ottarr is offering his hospitality to his fellow Hel-worshipers.

This playthrough is definitely rated a hard R.  Also, how was Ottarr not Cruel already?

The Fellowship assigns me the mission of demonically possessing this woman.

Wait, driving her insane was “exactly as planned”?

It works, though, because they make me head of the Fellowship!  Look at my badass goat skull mask!

So, now I’m running the Fellowship of Hel.  What exactly does that get me?

Well, here’s where Ottarr’s career takes a really dark turn.  As you’ll note, he currently has four legitimate children, as well as three bastards.  The bastards aren’t a problem, but the four children are an issue because of gavelkind — as long as I have more than one either, Lapland and Sweden will be split up, and my counties will also be divided.  What’s a king to do?

Well, if you are a completely demented, sadistic, Cthulhu-slaying, Hel-worshipping king like Ottarr, the obvious example is to sacrifice your children to the dark gods and consume their organs.  This has the side benefit of revitalizing Ottarr, but the main effect is to remove the excess children from the line of succession.  The nice thing about having the bastards around is that they can be legitimized in an emergency, so if I cut myself down to one heir and that heir dies by accident, it’s not a disaster.  So Ottarr starts cannibalizing his own brood as fast as he can build up dark power.

The funny thing is that the theological events don’t take into account that I worship Hel, so I still get stuff like this.  Perish these blasphemous thoughts, indeed!

Another big revolt breaks out, and while I’m in the middle of fighting it some foreign adventurer comes in to try to claim Sweden!  There must be something I can do about that.

There’s always assassins, but I have … other methods now.

Mwahahaha!  Sure enough, Hroðulfr dies soon afterward, and his war is cancelled.  Chalk one up for the bad guys!

Soon after, the revolt is beaten.  Ottarr is now a spectacular general and masterful schemer, though still an insane drunkard.

Oh good, another snack son!

I am, however, plagued by man-sized gophers.

Maer, my partner in crime/orgies, wants to summon a demon lord.  Sounds good!

It keeps warning me of potential consequences, but everything always comes up Ottarr!  

He’s now a general on par with Genghis Khan.

Faithful II isn’t quite as immortal as his namesake, so I build him a pyramid at the bottom of the garden.  I’m shocked Ottarr didn’t try to bring him back to life or something.

Another revolt crushed.  The Swedes are slowly coming into line.  And my threat, which was kicked up to 50% from taking Sweden, is wearing off, meaning that all my neighbors won’t form a grand coalition against me.  Finally, I can think about expanding.

The succession problem is not totally licked, though.  My chosen heir, Rögnfrið, still has rival claimants from other families that I can’t simply devour.  So it’s time to start thinning them out, too.

I chose Rögnfrið because she’s awesome, incidentally, almost as good a commander as her father without the benefit of various dark powers.  Note that she only has one surviving full brother.

A Godi is a Norse priest.  As always, the clergy gets shit done.

One fewer claimant for the throne!

Yes, clearly Ottarr has spent quite a lot of time paying attention to … myths and stories.

I think she’s upset I’ve been sacrificing her kids to the dark powers?  Or maybe that I won’t put the laundry away.

Finally!  Now the conquests can begin again, as my quest to raise Germanic moral authority and reform the religion continues…

Current Year: 882 AD.  Current Status: Almost Unspeakably Vile.


Content, Crusader Kings Series 2, Excluded, Games

How Do I Vike, Part Three

Part One and Part Two.

This time I’m going Viking for real, dammit!

When we left Gloð, she was a Danish subject, and was attempting to build up her money and power by sending troops off into Europe to steal whatever they could find.

While they’re on their way, Gloð conspires to try and kill her aunt Þordis, who is heir to a dangerous number of titles.

The raiders stop off in Ireland first, which is an easy place to raid due to being divided into a dozen feuding countries.  Note the army standing next to my raiders and not helping.  However, there’s not all that much to steal there.

Although we do manage to find … something?  Huh.

Gloð has only the one son so far.  I’d actually love it if she had a few bastard children — they can be legitimized if needed, but otherwise don’t clog up the inheritance.  And besides, we don’t suppress our worldly urges in this family!

At some point in 816 or 817 AD, Gloð acquired a puppy, which she named Faithful.  Faithful almost immediately turned out to be kind of a mean dog, though Gloð loved him dearly.  What I didn’t realize at first was that he was possibly a hellhound spawned by Satan himself.

Literally everyone in Þordis’ court is in on the conspiracy to try to kill her.

I mean, look at him!  Who could resist?

Þordis, last surviving child of Ormr, still has Gloð as her official heir.  So it would be really nice if we could kill her.

God damn it.

There we go.  I inherit one of her counties and claims on some of the others, and her threat to inherit some of my counties on my death is removed.  So much for the seven children of Ormr.

Apparently I’m having Snorri’s baby.

Fortunately my husband is very stupid.  Although in retrospect I should have just admitted it and had fewer legitimate children…

I launch a war for the ever-troublesome eastern counties with the claim I inherited from Þordis.  It goes quite badly at first.

Gloð takes comfort in Snorri’s arms, aided again by the stupidity of her husband.

Eventually I’m forced to give up the war against High Chief Bijás the Repulsive.  This is a good example of why it’s hard to judge strength among tribal leaders — he looked weak, but was strong on prestige and allies.  Gloð’s prestige is back in the negatives again, sigh.

New plan.  Gloð pursues a healthy hunting lifestyle in an effort to live as long as possible, while building up money and prestige via raiding until I reach the point where I can expand again.

“Eh, honestly doc, I have enough kids.”

To help with the prestige problem, I decide to hold a Great Blot, which is the Norse version of a feast.

Although, possibly with more human sacrifice then in other places.

Praise Odin!  Importantly, while executing prisoners for no reason gives you tyranny penalties, offering them up for sacrifice to the gods does not.  So it’s a great way of clearing out the dungeons.

I feel more pious already.

With the favor of the gods assured, I gather my raiders.  The Queen of Denmark choose this moment, irritatingly, to revoke one of my titles!  I briefly consider fighting it out with her, but ultimately I’m just not strong enough yet.  She’ll get hers one of these days.

I decide to stop messing around in Ireland — if you want to make money, you have to go where the money is.  To Rome!  Rome is rich and as a single-county realm has no real way of fighting back against this.  You’d think the Christians would get pissed off about a bunch of vikings burning down their holy city, but apparently not.

I’m not strong enough to take the castles of Rome, so once it’s well looted I head to my next target: Venice.  Also a single-county realm, also rich.  And since it has a city as county capital, its defenses are weak enough that I can lay siege to it!  That is some good looting.

Back home, Faithful is still causing problems at court, in the sense of trying to eat people.  He’s, what, ten years old now?  I’ll let him live out his days in peace.  (Not that I have a choice, there’s no Old Yeller button.  You can execute your children, but not your dog.)

After pausing to drop off the loot, my raiders next hit the island of Sardinia, which — dammit Faithful would you stop that!

The death of a petty king has split up a few of the non-Danish provinces into separate realms, so I take the opportunity to gobble some of them up.

Faithful, at 13, continues his reign of terror.

“Once again, doc, a few kids more or less, who would even notice the difference around here?”

The Queen of Denmark is attacking someone called “Mstislav the Gentle”.  I gather another raiding party in the meantime.  My prestige and treasury are both growing, and I’m starting to think about breaking away from Denmark.  Ideally, I’d start an “Independence” faction and get some other nobles to help me, but someone else has already started it, so I’d be beholden to their timing.  Instead, I wait and build up, hoping Gloð lives a bit longer.

In spite of her advancing age, Gloð is still churning out the babies with depressing regularity.

Unfortunately, she’s getting a little sickly, which means dealing with doctors.  Isn’t this the same guy who cut off Ingrid’s leg?

O…kay.  I’m cautiously on board.

I mean, that’s not measles, but all right.

Sow urine is definitely the answer to food poisoning.

The flu too, eh?

That’s a new one.  Anselm must be on the cutting edge of medical research.

Everyone’s always down on Faithful, just because he’s always trying to eat them.  They don’t see his cuddly side?  He’s like 16 now, I’m sure he’s settled down a bit.

I let this stupid priest hang around my court because he said he’d be cool about it.  Who’s cool now, eh?

(Not him.  Because I lit him on fire.)

Gloð is 100% down for any sort of amorous adventure, especially with craggy dudes with soup-strainer beards.

Still such a comfort to have Faithful around.  He’s … 18?  That’s pretty old for a dog.

While looting Brittany, someone dropped this sweet purple!  

My husband vanished without a trace, for some reason?  Possibly Faithful ate him.

Now I feel like I’ve gotten the hang of viking, and the money and prestige are rolling in.  I’m keeping a careful eye on the Independence faction and Danish strength.

First, though, my chancellor has forged me a claim to Hedmark, so I grab it before someone else does.  Small realms are more or less going extinct.

Faithful, still at it after … twenty-one years?  Also, apparently he broke into the dungeon to attack one of my prisoners.

I hold another Great Blot, which my stupid heir Ragnarr just ruins, ugh.  Ragnarr, in this family, we keep our tireless promiscuity behind closed doors, no one wants to see that.

Finally, I get the moment I’ve been waiting for!  Denmark is weak after several wars, and I’ve claimed the leadership of the Independence faction.  I use my accumulated favors to pull several other vassals into it with me, and then deliver the ultimatum to the queen.  Is it going to be freedom or war?

I mean, war, obviously.  It’s always war.

Fortunately, my prep work has paid off.  The revolt includes many of the most powerful vassals in Denmark, and I’ve got prestige for tribal armies and money for mercenaries.  Bring it on.

Allied armies flock to my banner.

Sweden takes advantage of the chaos to launch a war of their own against Denmark.  This is a little awkward, because it makes us mutually hostile, but I’m able to dodge them and let my enemies batter each other.  (Some of my allies are too stupid for that though.)

If after twenty-five years Faithful hasn’t learned to heal, Gloð, I don’t think he’s gonna.

Cousin Asa is tragically cut down leading her troops as the war continues.

Hafrid, the Queen of Denmark, dies just as I fight my way to the capital.  Another revolt has broken out, and Denmark is generally falling to pieces.

Finally!  Our time in Danish bondage is over!  

The Duchy of Nidaros is back, but not for long.  As before, I need a kingdom-level title to make sure that gavelkind doesn’t split my realm into pieces.

Fortunately, this time there’s plenty of money in the mercenary fund to create the necessary titles and declare myself Queen of Lapland!

Queen at last.  And Denmark is a mess, too.

The County of Finnmark, now called Suomi, was the one revoked from me by the Queen of Denmark and is now conveniently independent.  I still have a claim on it, so a quick war restores them to their rightful place.

Heir-wise, my son Ragnarr is looking pretty good, in spite of his somewhat problematic taste in leisure activities.  While physically weak, he’s Just, Ambitious, Diligent, Cruel, Lustful, and Cynical, with good stats.  Unfortunately, with five siblings, gavelkind will leave him with a weakened inheritance.

Also, seriously, what is up with the heraldry of Lappland, on the left?  “Guy with club wearing green underwear, rampant”?

Just as I’m beating Suomi, they swear loyalty to Estonia, which cancels the war and forces me to start over.  That’s super annoying, dammit.

Hey, man, not cool!  

Gloð becomes friends with her own son.  At least they didn’t drunkenly tumble into bed together, I wouldn’t have put it past either of them.

Faithful, still comforting his mistress in his twenty-eighth year.  I mean … that’s probably normal, right?  

The queen’s hunting dog has become a dark legend at court, stalking the corridors at night with slaver dripping from its jaws.  Courtiers whisper nervously that it cannot be killed.

What should have been a quick little war drags on as the Estonians refuse to give up.  I sail over to their country and burn down their tribes until they get sick of it.

Finally!  Irritatingly, Kola is now controlled by Ruthenia, a large kingdom in the south.  But my former allies who broke away from Denmark are looking tasty.

For some reason, there’s an outpost of Orthodox Christianity in the middle of Scandinavia.  Conveniently, this means I can declare a pagan conquest against them without a claim.

Getting there.  Hoping to absorb as many of these small states as possible while they’re disunited, but I need to fabricate some claims to fight fellow Germanic worshippers.  Instead, I decide to try to fight Ruthenia for Kola, which I still have an ancestral claim to.

At age thirty-six, Faithful is a dark specter that haunts the nightmares of the court.  When he attacks a courtier, others simply hurry past, leaving his chosen prey to her suffering.

I’m still fighting the Ruthenians when this shows up.  What the … what?  What the heck is going on here?

Damned if a largish army doesn’t show up to try and fight, though.  I end up making a white peace with Ruthenia, once again thwarted in my attempts to regain the counties that Þordis took with her when she broke away. 

My treasury and prestige have been depleted by the unexpectedly long wars.  Unfortunately the independent states created by the breakup of Denmark have been snapped up by Sweden and Norway, so good targets are also lacking.  Once again, it’s time to look overseas for loot and glory!

As my raiders approach Cornwall, Faithful celebrates his upcoming fortieth birthday by making a snack of someone’s poodle.  They say his paws leave burnt impressions on the flagstones.

Cornwall makes for good raiding, now that I’m strong enough to lay siege to their castles.  It takes a while, but there’s good money to be had.

Oh good!  It’s these guys again!  With that thing they do!

Finally, after dedicating most of her life to pillaging, Gloð gets the one thing she’s always wanted: official Viking status.  (Is there like a union that hands out cards or something?)  Mothers warn their children about the terrible Gloð, her undead warriors, and her hellhound Faithful.

Current Year: 857 AD.  Current Status: Finally A Real Viking!


Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Crusader Kings Series 2, Excluded, Games

How Do I Vike, Part Two

Part One.

The ongoing slapstick adventures of a band of serial arsonists in the frozen north!

When we left off, I’d picked off some of the surrounding counties, but Denmark was growing dangerously large on my southern border.  But there’s also some matters of succession to deal with.

My eldest daughter, Gurli, is turning out pretty damn well.  I set her for a stewardship education, in hopes that she’ll pick up Midas Touched from Ormr.

Unfortunately, Gurli has three siblings, including the depressed 6-year-old Astrid.  With Gavelkind succession, this is going to cause serious issues.

There’s still a few easy targets to pick off, though.  As Duke of Nidaros, I have a de jure claim on the County of Nidaros, which is currently held by an 11-year-old.  My troops make quick work of the war, and my not-yet-kingdom expands further.

Gurli, at 14, is known for her bravery!  Ormr despairs of teaching her to be a coward like himself.

When she finally achieves adulthood (after acquiring ANOTHER sibling) she has very solid stats, with Cynical, Brave, Ambitious, and Diligent, though sadly only a so-so administrator.  I find her a husband ASAP.

Meanwhile, I continue my expansion against the heretics to the east, usurping a High Chiefdom (Duchy) from them.  That gives me two duchies, so all I need to do is accumulate enough gold to declare myself King of Lapland before Ormr dies.

Unfortunately, the quest for more money takes its toll on the body.

And people are conspiring to kill my wife.  Which is … fine, actually, since I need her to stop having children I can’t afford to give land to.

Ditto when someone, probably one of her siblings, tries to kill my daughter Astrid.  Go forth, children, and slaughter one another!  I’ve also managed to grab the missing county out of my duchy in the east.

Once again it’s time to debase the currency!  You’d think people would stop falling for that.  It puts Ormr, at 51, tantalizingly close to his goal of becoming king.

Sadly, though, it’s not to be.  Ormr’s currency manipulation is discovered, and soon afterward he dies of sheer embarrassment.  As you can see in the “lost titles” section, this is not a good thing for the new Duke.  (Petty Queen, technically, which is a Duke-level title.)

Gurli (who has already outlived one husband) has severely reduced resources, having only one county to her name along with the primary duchy.  Worse, while her various siblings who got counties have mostly become her vassals and will thus at least contribute to her wars, the Duchy of Kola has broken away entirely.

In retrospect, I probably should have immediately declared war on Kola and settled the matter.  Instead, I decided to try and be clever — Queen Þordis (pronounced “thordis”) has no heirs of her own, which means Gurli is her heir by default.  So, I try to have her assassinated.

Meanwhile, Gurli manages to fall in love with her husband, and produce a son shortly thereafter.  So at least succession is more or less going in the right direction.

And suddenly great events are afoot!  The Viking Age beings, which means that every Norseman suddenly wakes up to find he knows how to build ships.  Finally I can get on with some proper viking, instead of just pillaging my neighbors.

To address the issue of my highly negative prestige, my mother takes it upon herself to build a giant statue of me.  Aww, thanks, mom.

Irritated by my inability to kill Þordis, I launch a war for Kola, but she swears loyalty to Karelia, a larger kingdom further south.  They send enough armies north that Gurli’s much-reduced forces can’t handle it, and I scrape out a white peace.  Thwarted, I keep the assassins coming.

Gurli manages to improve her mediocre administrative skill on a trip to the far-off Isle of Man.  Not Midas Touched, but it’s a start.

I start organizing a raid to go seize some treasure.  In the meantime, I grab another county in the west, inching toward the tip of the peninsula.

My half-sister cheerfully proposes that she should marry my son.  Um, ew.  We’re Norse, not Valyrian.

My first proper raid!  Five hundred brave men in nine ships make their way down to the Channel, looking for easy targets.  The ideal is to find single-county realms — once your army is there, they can’t raise troops, so they can’t really fight back effectively.

We land in Sussex, which is its own country at this point, and start taking everything that’s not nailed down.  This being Crusader Kings, “things that aren’t nailed down” actually has a specific numerical value — if you look at county description in the bottom left, there’s a line representing how much of the loot is available to steal and how much is hidden within fortresses.  I don’t have the manpower to besiege the castle yet, so I settle for what’s easily portable.

The chief of the county I just finished subjugating rebels against me, so my Kid’s First Viking gang comes home to deal with him.  Fortunately it’s not difficult, and this time I get to revoke his title instead of just making him a vassal.  I’m back up to two counties!  I head back out, this time to Ireland, looking for more loot.

Then this shows up in my inbox.  That’s the Queen of Denmark, and it turns out she’s declared a full-scale subjugation war against me.  This is definitely not good.

My raiding party hurries back, and I call in my tribal allies.

Unfortunately, Denmark is a lot stronger than I am.  My underdog strategy from the Israel days — avoiding battle and freeing recently-captured castles — works poorly here, because most of my holdings are unfortified tribes, and the terrain is harsh.  If the enemy were Christians, I’d have more options, but these are fellow Germanic tribesmen.

In the “seriously, who cares” department…

Well, crap.  I do what I can, but it’s not enough.  Ex-Queen Gurli is now officially a Danish vassal.  Worse things can happen, I guess.  The Danish queen seems well-disposed to me, and even offers me a council seat right away.  Let the plotting begin.

Burn the witch!  You’d think the Byzantines would have closer problems to worry about.

Okay.  If we’re going to get out from under the Danish yoke, we’re going to need to reconsolidate power a little.  I plot to kill my youngest sister, Rögnfrið, since she has no heirs and the county she inherited from Ormr will thus come to me.  Everyone is eager to help!

This may alarm my remaining siblings.

On the plus side, you can’t argue with results.  That’s three counties.

Gurli is heir to quite a few titles, as it happens.  Five siblings left.

Before I can do anything about that, though, there’s the small matter of surviving the flu and whatever insanity my doctors come up with.

Eh, I’ve seen worse.

Whew.  Okay, what next?

Apparently not very much.  Gnupa, one of Gurli’s brothers, apparently took exception to her “murder all the siblings” policy and decided to strike first.  Because the succession is by election, rather than the eldest, the youngest brother Guðfrið takes the throne.

He’s Zealous, Brave, Temperate, Proud, and Homosexual.  At least his fighting and stewardship are reasonable.  Unfortunately, I’m back down to two counties, one inherited and Guðfrið one already had.

I decide to stop playing nice, and revoke the title from Gnupa, who killed my big sister.  He rebels, of course, and the war is briefly interrupted by some weird political change in Denmark, but ultimately I throw him in prison.

With Gnupa’s two titles now mine, I move against Ingrid of Westrobothnia, another sibling.  She doesn’t have enough troops to put up much of a fight…

Oops.  Apparently I forgot to tell Guðfrið that he shouldn’t fight in the front lines, and he got himself killed in battle.  The electors choose Ingrid as his replacement.  Of the children of Ormr, only Ingrid, Þordis, and the imprisoned Gnupa are left.

Ingrid, unfortunately, is just terrible stat-wise, and she already has syphilis.  Fortunately for the dynasty’s sake, she has two children and one bastard.  She’s also managed to get up to five counties due to running out of siblings.

The electors decide the traitorous Gnupa should be heir.  Ingrid says the heck with that, and has him hanged on the spot.  At this point, I notice that while being tyrannical is going to piss off my vassals, I don’t have all that many vassals worth mentioning.

With Þordis not part of the realm, she has no supporters, and the succession is between Ingrid’s two children.  I can live with that.

Given that she has syphilis, Ingrid asks her doctor to do what he can.  Always a smart move.

He decides that “what he can” means “amputate one of my legs”.  This is a well-known treatment for syphilis, I’m sure.

Ingrid dies almost immediately thereafter.  However, the electors change their votes at the last minute, so the throne goes not to one of Ingrid’s young children, but rather to the adult daughter of her elder sister Gurli, High Chieftess Gloð.  Once again titles are scattered to the winds and the realm is a mess.

This has to stop.  Gloð has only three vassals — Ingrid’s two children and one stranger — and they’re all weak.  It’s time for a Reign of Terror.

I revoke all their titles at once, leading them all to rebel against me.  But everyone’s weak from the constant wars, so I bring in a gang of foreign mercenaries and smash them, one by one.

This takes a while, so I have to keep busy.  Burn the witch!

Finally, everyone is subdued, and I’ve got the five counties that comprise my realm back together again.  My cousins are in prison, and the Queen of Denmark is busy fighting a bunch of wars.  Paying my mercenaries has drained the treasury completely, so Gloð rounds up what troops she can and sets out to burn and pillage!  Once I build my strength, then we’ll see who’s the vassal…

Current Year: 815 AD.  Current Status: Honestly Still Not Much Of A Viking

Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Crusader Kings Series 2, Excluded, Games

How Do I Vike, Part One

People seemed to enjoy my last Crusader Kings II write-up, The Promised Land RELOADED, so now that I’ve finished Persona 5 I thought I’d do another one.  I asked Twitter what I should play, and the response was in favor of being a Viking, so it’s time to figure out how to vike.

Some of the same caveats as last time — I usually don’t play CKII to “win” but for fun, so my decisions are often sub-optimal by hardcore player standards.  This is actually my first time playing as a tribal, pagan ruler, so I’ll be learning on the job more than usual!  I’ve also never played with the Monks & Mystics expansion, so there’s probably some new stuff there as well.  Lastly, it’s a historical game, so real-world stuff pops up — please don’t assume I’m actually in favor of burning Christians in the name of Thor!