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Crusader Kings Series 5, Excluded

The Scots Crusade, Part Four

Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Last time, we finally became Scots!  Also, Ælla had a son to inherit, who had survived his childhood brush with typhus.  And he was plotting to kill his rival to the northwest, Sigfroþ, in the hopes of finally winning a war against literally anyone.

So let’s get on with that, shall we?  Come on, spider!

Yes!  Gaining the Murderer trait reminds me for all his scheming, Ælla has so far only managed attempted murder.  Good to finally go the distance.

Apparently “he died cursing my name” is enough for everyone to decide I’m guilty.  Viking courts are pretty basic.  “How do you know he’s the killer?”  “Well, the victim said ‘Screw that guy’ before dying, so it’s pretty black and white.”

So it’s time to look into declaring war on Suðreyjar and taking back Lanarkshire.  You’d think this would be straightforward, since their Jarl is now in my custody, but there’s a few obstacles.  For some reason you aren’t actually allowed to declare war on someone when they’re in your dungeons!  Honestly it kind of seems like the ideal time.

The other thing is I don’t seem to have a claim to Lanarkshire.  I’m not sure why this is, usually you get claims on land that gets taken from you.  Maybe because it was a Viking conquest?  Not sure.  Anyway, I need to “acquire” a claim to the land via “blatant forgery” first.  For some reason this is the province of the clergy, so I send my Bishop Gamall.  He probably has some spare time in between preaching and raising my son.

Meanwhile, events are afoot in the wider world. Someone must have done something over in the Holy Land, because this rather badass-looking Pope is pissed off.

“Not now, son, His Holiness is ranting!”

So we’re doing this, huh.  The pope wants either my gold or my soldiers, but I kind of need those for, you know.  All the Vikings.  I put him off with vague promises for the moment.

Speaking of Vikings, the Jarl who captured my wife eventually gives her back free of charge, possibly because he doesn’t like her any more than I do.

“See, honey?  I told you that if we waited long enough, we wouldn’t have to pay the ransom!” may be the ultimate Dad move.

Besides, I need that cash for bribery!  Everyone will be totally convinced that I am lord.  Well, everyone except the Vikings.

I honestly have no idea who this guy is but apparently I’m glad he’s dead!

Then things take a rather abrupt turn for the worse.  A band of 700 or so Viking raiders turns up and lays siege to my capital.  I only have about 500 soldiers of my own, so I hire a mercenary company to help dislodge them, but it takes a while to get the troops together.  Before we can, they’ve taken the castle and captured my son.  My army jumps them and wins the battle, but they get away with Hlothere.  Dammit.

Step one is to ransom the prince, which costs a hundred gold, leaving me close to bankrupt.  But I’ve got these mercenaries on the payroll for three more years, so it seems like it would be a good idea to get my war started before then.

Step two is to ransom Yngvild.  Then, about the time she gets back to her court …

Bam!  Step three.

“Welcome back, Jarl!  You’ve got mail!”

Step four is to use the money she paid for the ransom to hire a second mercenary company, giving me a comfortable superiority of numbers.  I lay siege to Lanark while chasing the enemy out of my land.

But suddenly Ælla is under the weather!  Save me, Doctor Lesbian!

“Just put on a sweater over your filthy nightshirt, sire.”

“That’s the treatment?”

“That’s literally it.”

“Seems dubious.”

*sigh*  “Okay.  Wear a sweater while … um … a golden-voiced child sings to balance your humors.”

“Brilliant!”

The Vikings try to sneak back to their castle, but I follow them and send them packing.

“Guys, we finally won one!  I know!  I can’t believe it either.”

More than just getting a single county back (up to five again!) the destruction of their remaining event troops has broken the power of Suðreyjar for good.  I’m now quite a bit stronger than them, even without my mercenary buddies.

Ælla is feeling better, too.  All that boy-singing!

Even his own courtiers kind of hate him though.  In addition to his garbage diplomacy, he’s also arbitrary, ambitious, arrogant, and openly a murderer, liar, and adulterer.  That’s quite a record!

Hlothere, on the other hand, is turning out quite well.  He’s got generally decent stats and a pretty good stewardship even without finishing his education.  It’s getting close to time to find him a wife.

My neighbors in Strathclyde, while they have strong allies, are pretty weak themselves.  I start forging a claim on a chunk of adjacent land, in hopes of being able to expand a little further.

“The peasants are revolting, sire!”

“I know, but we don’t say it to their faces.”

Meanwhile the Crusade is going … actually kind of well?  It’s going to take a while to forge my claim, and I have a truce against Suðreyjar, while Alba in the north and Jórvik in the south are too strong to attack.

So I send my army off to the Holy Land in hopes of securing a little loot and glory!  What could go wrong?

(Everything.  Everything could go wrong.)

My disinherited daughter has died, apparently.  This increases my stress, although it’s actually good news as far as succession is concerned…

My brave little army (including my remaining mercenaries) heads south, past a France that seems to be pretty divided.  Nice colors though!

A gift, you say?  From my mortal enemy Jarl Halfdan?  Why, bring it in and let me get a good sniff!

Hmm.  I’m no Doctor Lesbian, but this sounds bad.

Well, crap.  I guess the old saying is true: “Live by the poisonous spider in the bedroom, die by the suspiciously scented gift basket.”

The chronicler notes Ælla died of old age, so I guess I failed to gasp out Halfdan’s name.  The stuff about treachery and adultery seems pretty on the money, though.

The king is dead, long live the king!  Hlothere has two years until his majority, and his army is still en route to the Holy Land.  I’m sure nothing bad will happen!  (Spoiler alert bad things will absolutely happen.)

Year: 887 AD
Mood: Naïvely optimistic

Crusader Kings Series 5, Excluded

The Scots Crusade, Part Three

Part One and Part Two.

When we last left our “hero” Ælla Oswulfson, he had just been informed that the bastard son he had bred and legitimized at some expense had contracted typhus.  So things are going great.  Someone get me a doctor!

“Okay, sire, we have two possibilities for a doctor.  First we have this guy, who is a deceitful, wrathful schemer and also quite dumb.

“…”

“Or we have this lady, who is industrious, learned, and actually a doctor.”

“…I feel like this is not a hard choice.”

Burgflæd sets about trying to cure my son of typhus.  I contemplate seducing her, since I could use a backup son, but she’s a lesbian — unlike in CK2 you can’t overcome that just by stacking up more modifiers.  People are no longer “gay until the dude is just that hot” I guess.

While that’s underway, I take another stab at dealing with my friends in Suðreyjar.  My old enemy Jarl Ivar is dead, and his son’s heir is the teenage Freydis.  Since having the Jarl’s son in custody has kept Jórvik off my back, I try for an abduction.

…Dyflinn is in Ireland so these must be sea brigands?

Curses, foiled again!  And Freydis is super pissed.

Why are you asking me?  That’s what I pay you for!

That was fast.  Did she just wash off his eyeliner?

The war between the Vikings and Alba is going badly for Alba, though the fact that it’s dragged on this long is encouraging.  Use up those event troops, guys.

Curses, yet another foiling!  I’m starting to feel like a Saturday morning cartoon villain.

Even though my local Vikings are busy elsewhere, we still have to deal with other unrelated Vikings, who turn up and start setting stuff on fire.  In this case “stuff” means “my castle”, where they kill my Chancellor and Marshal and abduct my wife.

“When I said ‘Take my wife.  Please!’ I didn’t mean it literally!  My stand-up career has ended in disaster.”

Ælla bounces back quickly though, and is always ready to help out his wayward daughter, especially since she’s married to a damned Viking.  Also, I should absolutely not “focus on my own marriage” right now since my wife is in a Viking prison and also I cheated on her and then legitimized the bastard.

I mean, who wouldn’t like … this guy.  With that beard he has!  Classic.

Ælla screws up everything but still congratulates himself.

Also this guy is my chancellor, so this is “TFW your Dad tries to set you up with one of his work friends who is 20 years older than you and also you’re already married to his sworn enemy”.

Meanwhile, Freydis has died, so I’m now trying to kidnap her younger sister Yngvild.  Maybe I’ll have more success abduct a literal toddler.

Ahaha!  You’re no match for my cunning intellect, baby.

Although, let’s be honest.  If you let your four-year-old walk into town by themselves, maybe the kid is safer with me.

Anyway, I’ve now got the heirs to both neighboring Viking realms in my dungeon, so hopefully that will keep them out of my hair while I finish grooming my heir.  Eh?  Eh?

If Sigfrið has been in prison for nine years, where did he get that stylish hat?

With things a little calmer, I settle in to try to make some money.  The only way I’m going to be able to expand is by hiring mercenaries to jump my neighbors in a moment of weakness, and that takes cash.  Ælla switches his lifestyle focus to “money-grubbing.”

Luckily, my only significant vassal, Earl Gryth, is willing to help!  What a loyal fellow.

The Vikings who have got my wife are apparently sick of her, because they’re willing to ransom her for well below the going rate.  But I a) need that money to save up for some heavily armed thugs, and b) my wife is still pretty pissed at me for the whole “bastard son” thing, soooooo sorry honey!

Said son, Hlothere, is now starting his schooling.  I give him to Gamall (the Bishop who replaced the one I poisoned) because he’s pretty smart and I want him to like me.

Suðreyjar is now tantalizingly close to the range where I could actually win a war against them, with only 800 event troops left out of their original 5,000.  And Earl Gryth has gathered a massive tax windfall!  You are my bro forever Gryth.

I can almost afford to hire a company of 700 or so mercs, which would at least put me into the same weight class as the Vikings.  Getting there.

Earl Gryth is calling in his favor with me to cut his taxes.  I thought we were bros, man!

I guess he is having trouble with Vikings, but he wants me to pay for that, too.  You gotta keep on top of these Vikings, bro.  (Says the guy whose wife is still in prison.)

Jarl Halfdan, kept at bay all these years because I’m holding his son hostage, has turned to demanding single combats.  Fortunately Ælla is a back-stabbing coward and has no trouble turning this down, because he completely sucks at it.

Everyone wants to help me with my stewardship!  Are you sure about this, Reeve Æthelwine?  You are pretty dumb, after all.

Dammit!  Who could have predicted that distributing jobs to incompetents with political power so they’ll like me would have negative consequences?

Since his heir is actually currently in my dungeon, I’m back to trying to murder Jarl Sigfroþ.  Giving him carpet sounds like a good first step.  Mwahahaha!

And my lover/spymaster Eadhburh is running around accusing random priests.

Eh, honestly, she’s the spymaster.  She probably knows best.  And I’m pretty far below water in the piety department as it is.

Ælla abruptly decides that he wants to be a whaler.  Unfortunately this uses Prowess, the same stat as fighting, which he is absolutely crap in.  We’ll let some minions take care of it.

And, finally, I get to become Scottish!  First goal of the game achieved — I’m still alive (barely) and north of the border, so all the Anglo-Saxons in my realm turn into Scots.  I get to take this decision because I’m Culture Head, mostly by default since there’s so few of us left.

My scheme to kill Sigfroþ is making progress, too.  If I can off him, with his heir captive and underage, then maybe I can finally win a war…

Year: 881 AD
Mood: Less screwed, more Scots

Crusader Kings Series 5, Excluded

The Scots Crusade, Part Two

Part One.

When we last left Northumbria, Petty King Ælla Oswulfson was facing the classic problem: no son to inherit.  Kinging is hard, guys.

Just because that’s a looming problem doesn’t mean we don’t have other problems, though.  We’re still surrounded on two sides by hostile Vikings.  The northern realm, Suðreyjar, is a little weaker now, but Jórvik still has over 4,000 event troops plus overseas allies.  Espionage is about the only area where I have the advantage.  But my attempt to murder Jarl Halfdan was a failure, and trying again would be counterproductive — if he dies, then the truce that’s protecting me is over.

However!  Intrigue is good for more than just murder.  Halfdan will be much less likely to declare war on me if I have his son in my dungeons, so I get to work trying to kidnap him.

Success!  That was surprisingly easy thanks to Ælla’s monstrous intrigue and everyone at Halfdan’s court hating his son Sigfrið.  So one flank is hopefully secure, plus I can ransom him for some quick cash if I need it, Halfdan has plenty.

Meanwhile, you know what else is covered by intrigue?  Seduction.  I look around the court and settle on my spymaster Eadhburh, who really likes me and is of childbearing age.  It’ll take a little while, but Ælla is a fantastic lady’s man so my chances are good.

In fact, Ælla is so good at this that he has an “automatic success” option on these seduction challenges.

Meanwhile, for balance, I’m going to get back at Jarl Ivar in the pettiest way imaginable.  Take that, martial harmony!

I can understand why this decreases my stress — in CK3, you lose stress for acting in character, and Ælla is a scheming asshole — but why does it increase my prestige?  Did I tell everybody about it?

The Vikings want to ransom Sigfrið, but I’m keeping him hostage to ensure his dad’s good behavior.

This girl is totally into you, Ælla.  You don’t need to go full Romeo and climb up to her balcony with a rose between your teeth.  Just ask her out.

Or … ask her to join you in the stinking privy, that works too I guess?  Gross.  You’re a master of intrigue and also king, is this really the best you could come up with?

Oh well.  You have the “continuing relationship” option and the “love ’em and leave ’em option”, and I take the former, since my goal is to have some bastard children.  Also, she’s my spymaster, so I’d probably stay on her good side.

This is real bad, though.  I guess we’ll find out how much that hostage is actually worth.

Tostig is trying for a “puppy hoping to avoid getting smacked with the newspaper” expression here?  While Halfdan is apparently checking him out.

In the interval, some weird shit is going down with the clergy.  In CK3, your head bishop has to endorse you, which means having a positive opinion, otherwise you don’t get clerical taxes and levies.  Bishops mostly hate me because I’m, you know, a horrible sinner with negative piety, but I’ve been working on getting on Wulfgar’s good side.

Ælla then decides the best thing to do is to use him as a test subject for his poisons.  Needless to say this makes Wulfgar unhappy.  I pick the second, riskier option because a) it gives better poisons and b) frankly I’m thinking repairing relations with Wulfgar may be a lost cause at this point…

So, did we poison the Bishop to death?  Yes, yes we did.  But the good news is the new bishop is a coward who doesn’t have the balls to stand up to me.  Although he still withholds his approval, so Ælla works on becoming his friend.  I’m starting to imagine this is kind of a creepy process.  “Yes, why don’t I show you my … collections …”

Meanwhile, operation Have A Son continues, and I switch my life goal to “get laid a lot” for the increased fertility.

Since the hostage thing is going well with Halfdan, I try to take Jarl Ivar’s son captive as well.  Unfortunately he’s better-liked, and someone spills the beans, so that isn’t going to fly.

Fortunately, Jarl Ivar doesn’t currently share a border with me.  Unfortunately, he’s working on rectifying that by grabbing a county off King Rhun of Strathclyde.  Assuming he wins, and he probably will, I’ll have to worry about him again.

But Operation Have A Son is, um, bearing fruit!  Now just to wait for that 50/50 die roll.

“I never thought it would come to this”?  Like, has no one given Ælla the sex talk?  “See, when a man and a woman given in to their naked lust in a filthy privy, sometimes…”

Jarl Ivar has won his war against Strathclyde and is on my border again, so I get back to trying to kill him.  Unfortunately his son is on guard against abduction now.

Son acquired!  Oh, I’ll tell you what will become of him…

That little bastard is going to be king.  Assuming he survives of course.  The clergy don’t like that I’ve admitted to adultery, but if they bother me I’ll just poison the lot of them.

My wife is understandably a little upset, but my lover is happy, and of the two it’s Eadhburh who is in charge of my private death-squads so I call that a win.  Baby Hlothere loves me just that bit more, too.

Yaaaaass.  The threat of my daughter with her non-dynastic children is lifted, at least as long as Hlothere stays alive.  That’s one problem tenatively fixed.

Aaaaaand here comes the other problem again.  How dare these Northmen just take people’s land, instead of following the time-honored tradition of forging documents asserting a claim to it?

My scheme has come to fruition, though, so we have at least a chance of taking the Jarl out before things get started…

…but no dice.  Mobs, am I right?

None of my clever tricks are getting me out of this one, even trying to distract him by burning his capital down.  These animals have learned something.

The only advantage is that rather than half the kingdom, the war is over a single county.  Still, that leaves me with only four, which is not promising.

Is this irony?  Pretty sure this is irony.

The new Jarl, while still way stronger than me, has immediately gotten in a war with the Kingdom of Alba to the north.  I hope they at least kill off some more of his event troops.  As long as no more disasters turn up…

“Bad news, sire.  Your son has gone goth.”

Oh, dear…

Year: 875 AD
Mood: Still probably screwed

 

Crusader Kings Series 5, Excluded

The Scots Crusade, Part One

Crusader Kings III is out!  Actually it’s been out for a while, the first expansion was just released, but I’ve been a little busy.  Now that I’ve finally gotten a chance to dig into it and lose a few times while I get the hang of some of the new mechanics, we can have a game for public consumption!

If you haven’t read any of my previous CK stuff, here’s an overview.  Crusader Kings is a dynasty simulator set mostly in Europe, covering 867 AD to 1453 AD.  You choose a start date and a character to play as from among the ruling nobility, and govern your realm as best you can.  When your character dies, if you have an heir who still controls some land, you play as them and keep going.  If your dynasty dies out or you lose all power, it’s game over.  It’s a game that really encourages you to get into the mindset of a medieval baron — claims, religion, and succession are incredibly important, and inevitably you end paying off your bishop to force your failure of a son into a monastic order or similar amusing shenanigans.

There isn’t really a goal per se, though you get a score based on your dynasty’s power and prestige.  I like to start each playthrough with a vague direction I intend to take the game, although sometimes I get derailed along the way.  In past games, I’ve rebuilt the nation of Israel, become a fearless Viking, and re-established the Roman Empire.  This time I’m going to recreate a game I tried in CK2 with only moderate success and try to create a Scots crusader state.

So rough goals are:

  • Become and remain Scots
  • Go on Crusade and create a crusader state in the Holy Land ruled by my dynasty
  • Probably conquer England and Ireland and whatnot, IDK

Before we get started, as usual, I offer the following caveat: the game refers to various historical people, places, religions, etc and I write these with a bit of a roleplaying flair, so please don’t take any references to e.g. setting Christians on fire at all literally.

Okay!  First things first.  How do we go about being Scots?

Well, the first problem is that in 867 AD there are no Scots, as CK defines them.  Scots is a culture, a sub-group of Anglo-Saxon, which comes into existence randomly sometime before 1000 AD if there are any Anglo-Saxons within the borders of Scotland.  So step one is to pick an Anglo-Saxon ruler in the north of Britain!

Well, it turns out we don’t have a ton of choice.  Ælla Oswulfson of Northumbria is a Petty King (in CK-world, a Duke-level title) and he’s surrounded by non-Anglo-Saxons.  Alba is still Gaelic, Strathclyde is Welsh, and Jórvik and Suðreyjar are Norse Viking states.  So Ælla it is!

People who know a lot of British history are wincing.  It turns out that Ælla was a real person back in 867, and is most famous for, um, getting horribly killed by the sons of Ragnar Loðbrók.  In fairness he had supposedly chucked their dad into a pit of snakes, which would make anyone up for some invading.  So we’re going to be trying to change the course of history here right away.

And man, is it not easy.

The Vikings have what in technical military terms we might call a ****ing gigantic army.  See, in CK realms generate troops according to the buildings and such that are constructed in them, so my smallish realm of Northumbria can muster only 717 brave men.  To represent unusual invasions, the game generates special “event” armies that just appear out of nowhere so historical conquerors can do their thing.  Since the start date is right when the Vikings attack Northumbria, we literally start the game with 10,000 angry Norsemen immediately marching into my territory to burn things down.  This seems bad.

So, what have we got to work with?  Not enough money to hire even the cheapest mercenary army.  Not enough piety to ask the Pope for help.  No likely allies. 

All I really have in my favor is that Ælla is sneaky as hell.  (Also deceitful, paranoid, and arbitrary.)  10 is a decent stat — my intrigue is a whopping 29, while have 2 stewardship and 0 diplomacy and personal prowess.  I can stab people in the back but definitely not in the front.

On the other side, I have Jarl Halfdan Whiteshirt from the south and Jarl Ivar the Boneless from the north, each claiming half my kingdom, each with an event army of 5,000 plus their usual troops.  So my first trick is to try to murder one of them — I pick Halfdan because it’s more likely to succeed.  Murder schemes take a while, though, so my castles are rapidly falling …

Well, crap.  So close and yet so far.  And the disasters keep coming.

My son has been “murdered” in the sense of “died fighting a gigantic horde of Vikings because I forgot to prevent him from personally joining the army.”  I guess if anyone is the murderer it’s me.  This is quite bad, but there’s a lot on my mind at the moment.

In a tactic that will no doubt be a mainstay of this playthrough, I go with “let’s distract the bad guys”.  While the Vikings are busy burning down my castles, my little army gets aboard ships and sails over to Suðreyjar and starts besieging their castles.  This tends to cause the Viking armies to hurry back to stop me, at which point I run away.  In CK2, this tactic was effective bordering on broken because of how quick and easy it was to take ship and escape, but CK3 has made it more fair — boarding ships costs gold and takes a long time.  So I end up losing a battle to the Vikings (in which my son dies) but I keep them off me for a while.

This turns out to make all the difference.  The two Viking armies were working together in the south of Northumbria, and I managed to distract Jarl Ivar’s forces, until the length of the war and the fact that he hadn’t taken any of his targets in the north half of my kingdom meant he was willing to call a truce.  Jarl Halfdan seizes the southern half of Northumbria, but I manage to hang on to five counties around Lothian.  So … that’s something.

At least my newly shrunken realm will be easy to keep track of?  I now have a ten-year truce with the two Vikings, but that’s not long at all, and they still have most of their giant event armies.  I have to hope they go to war with other people and use those up.  My goal at this point is just to survive until those event troops die off and the Viking impetus is spent, and then try and get off the back foot.  First, though, I have another problem.

Ælla started with an adult son (who had no children) and a daughter.  With my son dead, Blæja here is my heir.  Unfortunately, Blæja was married before the game started and has three children.  You can marry your daughters off “matrilineally”, a somewhat ahistorical concept that means their children will be part of the mother’s dynasty instead of the father’s, but I didn’t have the chance to do that.  So when Ælla dies, I’ll play as Blæja.  But when she dies all my titles will pass to her children, who are not members of my dynasty, which means game over.

I have to fix this now, because as Blæja I won’t have the chance — any further children I have will be younger and farther down the line of succession.  Fortunately, we’re on bad old patriarchal agnatic-cognatic succession, which means that boys always come before girls, so I have a chance.  Basically Ælla needs to have another son or I’m screwed…

 

Year: 868 AD
Mood: Probably screwed

 

 

 

Excluded, News

The “Help Django Clean Out His Garage” Sale!

So here’s the deal: there’s a lot of books in my garage. Most of them are stock I acquired for selling at cons and other assorted stuff. I would like to get rid of them! So, in celebration of the release of The Infernal Battalion, I thought I would dust everything off, count it up, and see who wanted it.

I have a few sweeteners to throw in, as well:

  • For starters, I’m going to charge a flat $7 for shipping every order, in the interests of not driving myself insane. (This means big orders are cheaper — get together with your friends!)
  • EDIT: I should have specified this initially, apologies, but I can only offer flat shipping to the mainland US.  I will happily ship internationally and charge whatever it costs me; be aware, if you’re in Europe, this can be a lot.
  • I will add a Shadow Campaigns and Forbidden Library bookmark to every order.
  • I will sign and inscribe your books however you want me to!
  • T-Shirts! I have a very limited number of these, left over from convention promotions. Until they’re gone, every order of at least $20 of books, I will throw one in. Specify shirt and size in your order, looking at the table below to see what I’ve got. They are black, with a BW book cover on the front and the title and year of the book on the back.

 

Pricing and descriptions of the books are as follows:

  • MMPB: Mass Market Paperback: the standard US “small” paperback. $10.
  • TPB: Trade Paperback: a larger paperback, similar in size to a hardcover. UK versions have UK covers. $15.
  • HC: Hardcover. $20.

 

Caveats:

  • Books are mostly in good condition, occasional squashing or slight bending caused by being in a box for five years.
  • No idea if they’re first editions or not.
  • First come, first serve! I’ll update this post with running totals, but I’m not at it 24/7, so it’s possible what you want may be sold. I’ll go in order I get the mails!

 

To Order: Send an email to garagesale@djangowexler.com with what you want. I’ll send you a total via PayPal. Make sure to include: your PayPal email, format of books, size/type of T-shirt, and anything you want me to write in it. (Please don’t ask ME to pick what to write, I’m terrible at picking!)

Okay, on to the books! Here’s what I’ve got (US editions unless otherwise indicated):

Title Format Count
The Thousand Names    
  MMPB 0
  UK TPB 0
  Italian TPB 1
The Shadow Throne    
  HC 3
  MMPB 7
  UK TPB 6
The Price of Valor    
  MMPB 12
  UK TPB 23
The Guns of Empire    
  HC 0
  UK TPB 10
  Polish TPB 1
The Forbidden Library    
  HC 3
  TPB 2
(*Unique art! Not reprinted!) UK HC 5
  Taiwan TPB 3
The Mad Apprentice    
  TPB 11
  UK TPB 1
Palace of Glass    
  UK TPB 3
The Fall of the Readers    
  HC 3

And, here’s what I have for shirts:

Title XS S L XL
The Guns of Empire 0 0 2 1
The Price of Valor 0 0 3 3
The Infernal Battalion 1 0 0 2
Content, Crusader Kings Series 3, Excluded, Games

Pax Romana 2: Electric Boogaloo, Part Eleven

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, and Part Ten. This is the grand finale!

The relentless march of the legions continues!  Onward to the old borders and beyond!  Emperor Ioannes commands it!

Go to your room, Young Ma’n!

Okay, but seriously.  This guy happens to be the heir to one of the larger sub-realms of the Hafizids, my eternal enemies to the east.  If I can get him on my side and press his claim, I may be able to take a big bite out of them.

Meanwhile, my forces have taken Kent.  Because England is composed of many small realms, it’s relatively trivial for me to take them in quick succession.

Mercia is next.

Noooo, there are Lollards in Fife!  England is great for silly words.

The Emperor decides to have some of his Hermetic Society buddies over for a shindig.

“Hear me out, boys — what if we made some kind of inter-net?  You know, for fishing boats?”

Bishop Ioannes is being a dickhead, and he has the same name as me.  Oh, it’s on!

That’s what I thought!  And I’m changing your name to Butt-Face!

I have to imagine this going via a Hamilton-style cabinet battle.

While Ioannes’ high-minded theorizing continues, I’m trying to kill enough people to get Prince Ma’n on the throne.

We’ve invented … a thing that measures angles in the sky … I guess.  Honestly I was hoping for, like, warp drive?  But this is … fine.

My incursions into Hafizid territory continue.  They’re weakening, but it’s still going to take a while to wipe them out.

Unfortunately, Emperor Ioannes the Hammer isn’t doing as well as the empire.

His doctors try chopping some bits off at random, but it doesn’t seem to help.

But, with another holy war, we’ve finally driven the Hafizids out of North Africa completely.

It’s Ioannes’ last achievement.  His drinking buddies/alchemist companions will miss his insight and his wine cellar.

I choose you, Konstas III!

Konstas III is … pretty lackluster.  He’s a twin, born in the purple, Augustus, kind, humble, slothful, shy, brave, and depressed, with below-average stats across the board and no children.  We can work on the last one, at least.  

On the plus side, the death of the Emperor means an early end to the truce with the Hafizids, so I can take another shot at them.  Time to finally complete my control of Gaul.

I have had it with these MFing Lollards in my MFing Fife!

Just one more county to go down at the tip of Brittany.

To keep the vassals in line, sometimes it’s good to make an example.  This guy hates my guts.

This is actually the intended result, because it gives me the chance to burn down all his shit.

Bulgaria doesn’t last long against the might of the Empire.  I don’t raise my full levy for anything short of a jihad anymore.

On the other front, I’m still pressing into the desert against my old friends the Muradids.  Unlike the Hafizids, they can still pull together a respectable army.

Aha!  While Ma’n never got with the program, his heir Isma’il is willing to convert to Orthodoxy (after I captured him as a child) and be my puppet claimant!  As soon as the truce with the Hafizids runs out, I can press his claim.

No, I don’t care if he had his fingers crossed during Mass, you are not to set him on fire!

I finish the war with the Muradids, taking a big chunk of Syria.

And I’m salivating at the prospect of taking over Isma’il’s claim in Spain.  Almost there …

The King of France, on his own initiative, is finishing off Brittany.  GJ king!

Blah blah blah, we want “rights” and “powers” and “some kind of say in literally anything”.  Hasn’t anyone explained the concept of rule by divine right to you guys?

Well, consider it MFing explained, MFers.

With Brittany taken by France, all of Gaul is at last Roman once again.  Caesar, you are avenged!  (I know that makes no sense but it sounds cool.)

Still waiting for the truce to expire, but there’s a rebellion in Spain, so I can grab some land off the rebels.

And multiple Muradid revolts give me the same chance in the east!

The King of Jerusalem calls in a favor to get me to help press his claim on some sultan, which honestly is the kind of thing I do anyway.

The borders are expanding, east and west, although now my label is kind of messed up.

Konstas has been doing some serious conquering, if you know what I mean.  And what I mean is that he has syphilis.

Fortunately, his doctor is here to help with sweet, healthful mercury!

And now it’s finally time to launch my war for Prince Isma’il’s claim —

Wait.  God damn it, guys, what did I tell you not to do?

Set Prince Isma’il on fire.

And what did you do?

set Prince Isma’il on fire.

Now I have to conquer Spain the old-fashioned way, one duchy at a time with holy wars.  Bah.

Fortunately, they’re getting weak enough that my larger vassals like Italy and France will take shots at them.

I take over York to console myself.

“Whosoever pulls this sword from the stone, and has the backing of 100,000 Roman legionaries, shall be King of England!  Or queen.  Whichever really.”

Rapid cleanup ensues.

This seems a little bit late.  I discover the problem later — in order to claim an old province, every holding must be my vassal.  Even if all the counts are mine, sometimes there’s an independent baron or a temple owned by some random dude causing problems.  This caused a lot of carefully clicking through each county.

But, anyway, woo!  Roman order marches on!

I’ve subdued all the independent realms in Britain except for the Kingdom of Wales, so it’s time to start grabbing stuff off them.

My doctor has a new and exciting syphilis cure to offer!

I’ve taken over enough in the east that I look up where the old borders were so I know what to aim for.

I also have a nice juicy claim to Pomerania, which technically isn’t within the old borders, but close enough.

Konstas’ illness is getting to him.  Syphilitic madmen are traditional Emperors!

I’m going to have to take Brunswick at some point.  It just look untidy sitting there all gray.

Catholicism has been almost entirely wiped out.  The Shia are making a bit of a comeback, surprisingly.

An Imperial Reconquest and some revolts gets me most of the Kingdom of Wales.  Still a few bits left to mop up.

Konstas’ son Gabriel has a stupid hat.  He’s a reasonable steward but a crappy diplomat, so I grab him a high-diplomacy wife to compensate.

As a bonus, said wife has a claim on that untidy duchy of Brunswick…

My doctor finally takes care of my syphilis problem for good by cutting out my eyeball.  Unfortunately, I’m still crazy.

I take some more land off the Hafizids, and one of their vassals is rebelling, so I get a bonus round!

Sadly, the Hafizid ruler dies and the rebellion ends.  But he loses the truce on his death, so I get another bonus round!

Nom nom nom.

I now own a 51% stake in Wales, so I get to be king.  This has the happy side benefit of splitting up the remaining Welsh territory until several easily-gobbled sections.

Konstas applies his awesome legal mind to the most pressing problem of the day: ventilation.

Nearly there!  Just have to grab that long pointy bit.

At this point, the old boundaries are in sight.  I need to finish off the Hafizids, grab a few pieces of territory in the east, and finish England.  I may take Ireland also just for kicks.

Also, my gold has gone totally bonkers.  The empire has always been rich, but now I have waaaaay more than I can spend coming in, and the treasury is up over 20,000.

This … was never a province, honestly.  But I’ve taken the Scots Isles.

Konstas himself is still pretty mediocre, but he managed to have a hell of a lot of sons!

“Philaretos the Noble?  What could we possible blackmail him about?”

I get my wife Brunswick as an anniversary gift.

With my threat pinned at 100%, even my own holy order is constantly fighting against me, and they’re probably my most annoying remaining opponent.  Fortunately, it occurs to me that I can simply press a claim to them on behalf of one of my vassals, and then they’re out of my way!

With a little border cleanup, Illyricum (Greece and the Balkans) rejoins the fold!

The Shia caliph declares a jihad, which is … not very threatening.  Hardly anyone shows up.

There’s also a fresh outbreak of the Black Death, but the great hospital at Rome keeps the Emperor safe.

He is having phantom eye pain though.

Devon, the last holdout in Britain, finally gets its turn.

Hooray!  Another province!

Wait, the province of what now?

Emperor Konstas dies of confusion.

I choose you, Gabriel!

Gabriel the Wise is not particularly wise, although at least becoming emperor has relieved him of his stupid hat.  He’s also in the middle of a war for Holstein.

That doesn’t last long.  I do like a tidy border.

I investigate the problem with Britain.  Italia getting completed was coincidence, it turns out, and the issue is that there’s some baron in Leicester with delusions of grandeur.  I send ten thousand men to camp on his doorstep until he changes his mind.

Much better.  Welcome back, Britons!

Similarly, Furstenburg has both a delusional baron and and uppity bishop!  Who gives these guys crazy ideas?

Eat my dust, Trajan!

*taps Holy Roman Emperor on the shoulder, clears throat*

The conquest of the Hafizids continues amid revolts as their power dwindles.

Things are a little slow, because I have to wait out truces with the same few enemies so I can finish off the last little bits of the old empire.  To cheer myself up I press a vassal king’s claim to Denmark.

Getting closer…

Ireland, Gabriel decides, should really be a part of the empire too.

The Irish object, but not very effectively.  Here, though, I actually have to forge claims, because it’s Orthodox and outside the old empire and thus not subject to reconquest or holy war.

Eventually, I’m able to create the Kingdom of Ireland, which gives me de jure claims on all the remaining counties.

In the east, I push my borders out a bit against the Muradids, who are once again united.

Fortunately, I don’t need to wipe them out, just get to the edge of Mesopotamia.  Another province off the shopping list!

There’s a revolt in Iceland!

…when did I even get Iceland?

With most of Norway under my control, it seems impolite not to take the last little bit.

One of my duchesses wants to be marshal.  Unfortunately she’s a drooling imbecile.  Does this count as Dunning-Kruger Syndrome?

Almost done!

In Syria I have to root out one of the Muslim holy orders and take their castles to complete my province.

Shazam!

Sadly, Gabriel can’t quite go the distance.  They’re not kidding about the fabulous riches, though, my treasury is now over 50,000.

I choose you, Gabriel II!

Now that it’s mostly irrelevant, Gabriel II is actually kind of awesome stats-wise!

He gets to work right away subduing the last few bits of Ireland.

There.  A nice, soothing red.

Also not actually a province, but sure.

The emperor got mugged in the woods.  Just like his great-to-the-nth grandmother!  I wonder if the family will ever find that chalice…

Weirdly, now the Arabian Empire collapses!  You couldn’t have done that two hundred years ago, guys, and saved me some trouble?

The crimson tide is rising.

Ah, what the hell.  One last civil war for the road!

Well that’s a mess.  Fortunately, if I need to I can hire literally every mercenary in the world.

Ultimately it doesn’t come to that.  I slap the rebels down, and clean up the last few counties in Spain.

One last war against an upstart baron…

And we’re done.  My most inveterate foes the Hafizids are vanquished, the last province is recaptured, and the ancient borders of Rome are restored!

 

Actually waaaay more than restored.

Here we have our emperors.  Surprisingly few, with long reigns!  Thank goodness for primogeniture.  Standouts include Chrysgone Ironside, who built the Kingdom of Anatolia; Tiberios the Usurper who used it to become emperor; Methodios the Glorious who mended the great schism, restored the Roman Empire, and then descended into dark sorcery; and Ioseph the Wise who heeded the voice of Jesus to become the greatest general who ever lived.

Restoring the old borders was a fun challenge!  It got a little tedious at the end, just because the various mechanisms the game has to stop you steamrolling everything break down one by one, until it’s a matter of fighting out a hundred tiny wars.  There’s actually 300 years left in the game, too — if I could tolerate the tedium, I could probably take over the rest of the map.  But I’d rather move on to other things.

Thank for reading Pax Romana 2: Electric Boogaloo!

Current Year: 1165 AD.

Current Status: Maybe just one more war…

Content, Crusader Kings Series 3, Excluded, Games

Pax Romana 2: Electric Boogaloo, Part Ten

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, and Part Nine.  Updates Wednesdays!

We left off with mad Emperor Ioseph the Wise having just conquered France and receiving new cures daily from his crazed dwarf doctor.  Onward!

He must have mixed the red powder better this time, because it actually works.

My heir Ioannes has survived consumption, thankfully.  At age eight he’s looking pretty good.

I launch a war for the Sinai.  At this point, every war means fighting the entire world, and at first things go rather badly as poorly-defended frontier castles fall to the allies.

However, once I blitz the actual war target, the Caliph changes his tune and surrenders at a measly 33% warscore.  I think what’s happening is that the castles held by the allies contribute to the overall war, but don’t affect the target’s calculation about whether he’s winning or not.  (Which makes sense.  News that distant allies have taken a castle in Germany is small comfort when I’m burning down all of Arabia.)

At 42 Ioseph is an extremely solid emperor with middling-to-good stats.  As I transition to ruling the Roman Empire, stewardship has become less important, since my personal demense is a tiny minority of the realm as a whole.  Diplomacy is now more critical because it affects my vassal limit and relations with the lords.

Iospeh is (deep breath) shrewd, Augustus, brawny, zealous, charitable, paranoid, craven, cruel, lustful, humble, possessed, lunatic, and consumptive.

With a demonstrated ability to win wars vs. the entire world, the only limit on my expansion is truces — after each war, there’s peace for ten years, unless one leader or the other dies.  I pick off smaller realms like the Taids while waiting out truces with my largest enemies: the Muradids in the east and Hispania in the west.

So much for humble.

This is weird.  So there is already a Kingdom of Jerusalem, and one of my vassals is king of it.  However, as a Christian, I can create a special Kingdom of Jerusalem, too?  It gives a massive amount of prestige and piety so I do it and award it to the same guy.  He’s double-king now!

This apparently causes the Lord to take notice, because next thing I know I’m being negged by Jesus.

On the plus side, after literally decades, my consumption has been cured!  Praise the PUA Christ!

While in this timeline the Arabian Empire has never truly collapsed, it does undergo periodic crackups and reconsolidations.  These are opportunities for me, since I don’t have peace treaties with the rebels, so I can grab territory off them.

The voice of Jesus has tempered Ioseph’s zealous cruelty.

Making progress!  Gaul is still pretty ugly though.

Through the usual means of bribery and packing the council with my toadies, I have achieved absolute rule.  Soon the council will be abolished, and the last vestiges of the Old Republic will be swept away.

Fear will keep the local vassals in line.  Fear of my extremely overpriced assassins.

Hispania has become the Hafizids, but they remain my greatest obstacle, since a proper Roman Empire should include all of Spain.  Also, my invasion of England has begun!  Londinium is back under Roman control after six or seven centuries.

Jesus is still back-seat Emperoring.

Whenever the truce runs out, my legions push west along the North African coast, taking it back from the Hafizids duchy by duchy.

A second ancient province is complete!  I’m not paying too much attention to these for now — I’ll clean up the bits later once I fill in the broad strokes.

My heir has come of age, and he’s quite good!  Unfortunately he hates me, because he’s ambitious and that makes me his rival.  Well, bring it on, son!

With Jesus’ help, Ioseph has lost craven, and his stats are edging up into “great” territory.

He did, um, seduce the 17-year-old wife of one of his cousins.  Sorry about that.

Fortunately any problem can be solved with a large enough sack of gold!

Bloody comets are considered a positive sign, right?

It’s time to clean up Gaul.  I’ve picked off most of the small realms, so now I start on the bits held by other Christian kingdoms, using the Imperial Reconquest cassus belli.

This apparently pleases the Lord, because Jesus starts dishing out the dirt.  Who knew Jesus was such an awesome general?

So, at fifty, with Jesus’ help, Ioseph is a reasonable diplomat and steward and the best general who has ever lived, far above pikers like Genghis Khan and Ottar the Unspeakably Vile.  Predictably, my wars go well!

A little charity is a small price to pay for Hax Jesus.

Huh.  According to Jesus the Church hasn’t got everything straight …

Fortunately my daughter is able to talk me back around to Orthodoxy.

“Don’t you think maybe a little democracy …”

“Sorry guys.  Jesus says I should be in charge.”

Jesus also tells me to stop sleeping around.  Man, why are you such a buzzkill, Jesus?

Can’t argue with results, though.  Look at that martial!

The North African frontier takes another lurch westward.

Saxony holds an annoying amount of widely-separated land, making reconquest slow.  Fortunately this guy a) is the younger brother of the king and b) despises his brother with the fire of a thousand suns, making him willing to join my court, be appointed King of Aragon, and then launch a bid for the Saxon throne.

Noooo lord why have you abandoned me!  Now all I have to rely on is my crushing military superiority!

Fortunately, that’s enough.  Another chunk of France and Germany comes under my rule.

More progress.  France is much tidier.  My vassals can make headway on their own against the smaller states in the north-east, but only the might of the full empire can take on the Hafizids.

What’s that, Jesus?  I should stop boning entirely?  Yikes.

This apparently spurs Iospeh into the decision that he doesn’t want to visit the kingdom of Heaven yet.  I’d be quite happy for him to live forever, he’s pretty awesome.

I send out my spymaster, since he’s ridiculously awesome at spying.

Did you really have to sneak into my room at night to ask for money?

Whiiiich he promptly spends on hookers and blackjack.  So much for that plan.

This heretical mystic is now my court doctor.  I’m sure he’s just as good as the crazy dwarf, right?

Hmm.

Well, though he only lived to be 56, Ioseph had a good run.  With Jesus’ help he led the legions to victory, vastly expanding my domain in both the east and west.

Ioannes, I choose you!

Ioannes is 24, with excellent stewardship and martial but lackluster diplomacy, which causes problems with his vassals.

He hires a witch to be his doctor!

The witch gets married and leaves him in the lurch.

His wife gets him a dog!

The dog eats the holy remains of John the Baptist.

And the peasants are revolting.  Good times in the Roman Empire.

Once they’re dealt with, another holy war secures this annoying green dot in the middle of my field of peaceful red.

The vassals are unhappy with the new emperor, as usual.  Commence the traditional revolt sequence!

Except, somehow, it doesn’t happen!  I imprison a few nobles and my Mystikos gets the rest under control.  Score!  To celebrate I hit the monastery.

Drunken sot?!  Come on, I had one beer.

Drunken or not it’s time to take more territory off the Hafizids.  This is becoming more or less routine at this point.

Creeping ever closer to Gibraltar.

Then the nobles decide they do want to revolt after all!  At least they politely waited for me to be done with my war.  That’s, what, four kings and four dukes?  I can take ’em!

These civil wars are getting to be somewhat large affairs!  But I bring the rebels to their knees and peace is soon restored.

Briefly.

Oh come on.  I refuse to believe there’s such a thing as a Szekesfehervarian.

Emperor Ioannes is feeling sorry for himself.

The bad news is that the Muslims have gathered a huge army.  The good news is that they can’t feed it out in the desert, so I just wait around for them to starve to death.

Once they’re whittled down to a more reasonable size, I jump them.

Eventually, the Caliph pays up to end the war.

A triumph for Ioannes!

At 34 Ioannes is a crappy diplomat, but still improving as a general.  No word yet from Jesus though.

A Hafizid revolt gives me a chance to blitz some more territory in the west.

About time I did something about this ugly purple blotch, too.

Much better.

Brittany is next on the shopping list, along with another chunk of Egypt.  I lose so few troops in these wars I can run them continuously, letting the levies of some vassals recover while I use others to fight with.  Italy, France, and Africa are all good sources of troops.

My vassals have been pushing at the northern border, too, including grabbing a random county in the middle of Scandinavia.

The cleanup of Gaul continues with Loon and Alsace, where nothing bad will ever happen again.

Another war with the Hafizids follows.  Almost to the coast!

Meanwhile, as a distraction from constant war, Ioannes has decided to become an alchemist.  This is another secret society, though a little less malicious than the Satanists.

Now he must face his most difficult opponent: a term paper.

When building a laboratory for esoteric science, it helps to be richer than God, which I now am.

On the war front, I’ve managed to enlist a claimant to the duchy of Thoringia, which will go a long way toward cleaning up northern Europe.

I am the Emperor.  (And my prestige is over 10,000.)  I don’t accommodate anybody.

I have prepared a paper on … fermentation.  It will help with the preparation of, um, alchemical elixirs.

Are they buying it, bro?

WOO they bought it!  Barkeep, another round of alchemical elixirs!

I’m Emperor of, like, the world.  Can’t I tell them not to do this?

Thoringia falls, pushing my northern border up to the Baltic Sea.

Then somehow the Duke of Gelre (that brown bit next to gray Brunswick) inherits Paris?  That shouldn’t be legal, but who knows.  Fortunately, this is not a catastrophe, since my vassal King of France gets a claim on Gelre in return.

A quick assassination takes the King of Gelre out of the game, putting a child on the throne.

And I take both territories back in the counter-attack.

Fortuitously, a claimant to the Kingdom of Alban drops into my lap, and I launch a war for that even though it’s really beyond the old borders of the Empire per se.  Ioannes, though, is more concerned with his alchemical shenanigans, breaking into a rivals library to steal his secrets.

This goes poorly.  You’d think “I’m the Emperor!” would be a pretty good trump card, but apparently not.

Fortunately, he’s willing to let me go for a sack of gold.

And Alban has fallen.  Soon it’ll be time to get serious about occupying the rest of Britain, which will not be terribly difficult.

First, though, another stab at the Hafizids gets me, finally, to the west coast of Africa.  They’re weakening — hopefully soon they’ll be small enough my vassals can bite off pieces.

A simple war to grab this purple county in Gaul turns out to be much more annoying than I planned.  This is partially because France has the plague.

Mostly, though, it’s because this is what’s left of Aquitaine, which now consists of like four randomly scattered counties all over the world.  So subduing each one (while the rest of the world fights me) is a bit of work.

But we’re going to petition the Divine Being!  I have some … interesting flasks … of elixir?  I hope the Divine Being likes Bud Light.

The Divine Being proves less than completely helpful.  Should have given him the box wine instead.

I’m so busy stargazing that I drift off in a council meeting, and when I wake up I’ve fired someone called Exarch Evangelos the Evil.  So that’s probably a net win.

Finally, Ioannes discovers a new star, which he generously names after his wife instead of himself.

He is extremely pleased with this result.

And the war against Aquitaine finally, finally ends!  I celebrate by starting a war against the Muradid Empire, which is ironically much easier.

Roman power is now pushed all the way to the southern border of Egypt!

And another ancient province is reclaimed for the Empire.  Getting there!

 

Current Year: 1077 AD.

Current Status: Stargazing.

Content, Crusader Kings Series 3, Excluded, Games

Pax Romana 2: Electric Boogaloo, Part Nine

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, and Part Eight.  Updates Wednesdays!

All hail Sibylla, Empress of Rome!

Unfortunately, she’s not great, with pretty terrible stats.  She’s already infirm, though, so at 53 I don’t expect her to last that long.  Fortunately her son survived to adulthood, incidentally making all of Methodios’ abduction and Satanic sacrifice a bit pointless.

People are not terribly fond of Sibylla, either, mostly as carryover from the terrible opinion her father had accumulated by the end of his reign for openly worshiping Satan.

This definitely sounds like someone I want as my doctor and not locked in a padded cell a long way away.  Ew.

Sibylla’s husband dies almost immediately, and I replace him with this guy, an ambitious genius paranoid lunatic with one hand and amazing stats.

With that done, Sibylla brings the still-ongoing rebellion to a speedy conclusion.  The timing on this actually works out nicely, as she gets the “crushed a revolt” modifier, plus the bonus for confiscating and redistributing rebel titles.

I make my son Exarch of Jerusalem and put him on the council, which gives me a sympathetic vote to help pass more powers for the crown.

Said son is pretty good stats-wise but is craven, possessed, and lunatic, which doesn’t bode particularly well for the dynasty.

Let’s definitely get involved in his screaming fights with his wife, that’s sure to end well.

Not a bad empire, but we’ve got a ways to go.  My goal is the reclaim the borders of the old imperium, which presents three major obstacles.  In the north-east, France is big enough to be at least a little problematic.  More difficult are the two big Muslim empires, Hispania in the west and the Muradids in the east.  The old borders include all of the former and a big chunk of the latter, so there’s quite a lot of work to do.

To continue expanding into Gaul, we need to attract people with claims on big chunks of land to my court.  This guy is promising — apparently his liege humiliated him, so he’s open to joining my team and has a claim on Aquitaine.

I make him Exarch of Bulgaria, and marry him to a young wife to breed some children to inherit those claims, since he has cancer and may not last.

Sibylla the Gouty.  I’ve had better nicknames.

Unfortunately, my expansion plans have to be put on hold, as the Sunni Caliphate comes calling.

Various Christian leaders help out by sending their thoughts and prayers, and sometimes the occasional soldier.

The opposing armies gather around Antioch and Constantinople.

As usual, good use of fleets is critical for getting me superiority in the big battle.

Unfortunately, Sibylla is losing her grip on reality.

Her pus-licking, scab-eating holy woman doctor manages to revive her briefly with a swarm of bees.

The war is going well, but big Muslim armies continue to stomp around the Holy Land.

Sadly, even bees can only do so much.  Sibylla didn’t have much of a chance at being Empress, since she was already sick on taking the throne.  At least I’m now another generation removed from Methodios’ horrors.

Ioseph, I choose you!

For some reason this causes the jihad to come to an end?  This is actually sort of annoying because I was winning and hoping for a big indemnity.

Meanwhile, I’ve inherited Ioseph’s own holy war, which is going quite badly.

Ioseph hasn’t improved much in five years.  His stats are good, at least, and he’s got a son already.

For the moment, anyway.

Speaking of physicians, I need a new one.  A forest dwarf sounds like a better bet than scab/bee woman.

Because he’s crazy, Ioseph gets to name his dog Lucifer.

Buuuut he draws the line at actually worshiping Satan.  I’ve heard stories about granddad.

Another revolt breaks out, as usual.  This one isn’t much of a big deal, though.

Not sure why this turns up now since I’ve held Cyrenaica for a while.  These provinces (there are fourteen of them, though two are not technically provinces) are my ultimate goal.  Controlling them all means restoring the ancient borders of the empire and claiming victory.  There’s a ways to go, though.

Aha!  It showed up now because one of my vassals grabbed some bits of the southern Mediterranean coast.  That’s looking tidier, anyway.

There’s actually a large Russian kingdom forming in the north, but they’re still tribal so they’re weak.

Around this time, these start turning up in my mailbox.  I believe Raymond de la Tour du Pin is the husband of one of my aunts, but everyone in the empire hates him, because I get invitation after invitation to have him killed.  Raymond, what did you do?

What the … what?  

This boils down to a tiny little duchy declaring war on me.  Since my threat is still high enough I can’t launch any conquests, it’s a welcome distraction beating the stuffing out of them.

Seriously Raymond, they wouldn’t be this mad for no reason.

Ioseph is following in granddad’s footsteps again…

Guys, look how old he is.  Just wait a few years.

My threat crosses the crucial threshold, which in this case is 75%.  Above that, I have to fight everyone; below that, Christians won’t join wars against non-Christians, so I only have to fight the Muslim world.  That, I can handle, so I launch another holy war against the Muradids.

I’m also working on killing the king of Aquitaine, so that I can install my own claimant.

My wacky schemes worked for once!  Unfortunately, the effect was for Aquitaine to fragment into little pieces, which is not what I wanted.  I’ll get back to them later.

Look, if you all can’t manage to kill him without me, you can’t be very good murderers.

Victory!  Another chunk of Egypt returns to Roman rule.

My threat is still too high to deal with the Aquitaine situation, but a revolt almost immediately breaks out against the Muradids, so I take advantage of that.  Revolt leaders don’t join coalitions, so they’re easy targets.

That dwarf is all right!

second Muradid revolt gives me the chance to grab even more land, although doing this kicks my threat back up to 100%, again.

When the Despot of Sicily dies childless, I have an excellent opportunity to finally take advantage of my Aquitanian claimant.  I make him the new king of Sicily, and then move to press his claim.

Burgundy is the biggest remaining chunk of Aquitaine, so I go for that.  Once again I’ll be fighting literally everyone.

It goes considerably better than you might expect.  This war makes me realize I basically don’t have to worry about threat anymore — while everyone forms up against me every time, most of them aren’t really in a position to help.  What happens is various armies lay siege to castles at the edge of my empire, while I assemble my forces by ship and blitz the target, assaulting their castles and smashing anyone who gets in my way.  It’s expensive in manpower but much faster than laying siege, and I have manpower to burn.  Typically, the target surrenders before their “allies” in the rest of the coalition can intervene.

This is … a dangerous realization, because it means the only things standing between me and constant war are truces and actually having claims on territory.  And as Roman Emperor I have a lot of claims.

My vassals have been doing solid work, too.  Gaul is really coming together.

Still working on stripping the council of having any say whatsoever over policy.

Fortunately, I can always count on loyal Glitterhoof’s vote.

Sadly, she dies not long after, having gone mad from syphilis.  G…glitterhoof, what were you getting up to?

At 34, Ioseph is now “the Wise” in spite of still being possessed and insane.  He’s managed to have a string of children, including at least one boy born in the purple, who is now heir.

Waaaait a minute, I’ve already seen this episode!

Sure enough, the Black Death is back, though we must have develop some immunity because it mostly stays in western Gaul.  Inspired by this, though, I start building a hospital in Rome to help protect the emperor, which eventually becomes the largest in the world.

The emperor does get sick, but it’s just food poisoning, and Dr. Dwarf is on the case.

Unfortunately he follows this up immediately with consumption.

This time, my little friend is less helpful.

Ioseph doesn’t let illness interfere with his … um, rabid dog beating.

Butt stuff: not always the answer, especially to lung disease.

But!  I have a new Despot of Africa, who happens to have a claim on the Kingdom of France!  I wonder how that happened…

War with France (and everyone else) quickly ensues.

Third time’s the charm, I guess, eh Demetrios?

France quickly falls before the might of the legions.

Definitely looking a bit more empire-y.

Orthodoxy is spreading nicely, too, with the few Catholic holdouts mostly concentrated in England.  Don’t worry, their time will come …

 

Current Year: 1035 AD.

Current Status: Insane but it’s not all that bad, really.

 

Content, Crusader Kings Series 3, Excluded, Games

Pax Romana 2: Electric Boogaloo, Part Eight

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, and Part Seven.  Updates Wednesdays!

I am the Emperor of Rome!  All former Imperial possessions please form an orderly queue.

No?  Well.  We’ll see about that.

First, though, I decide to try for five years of peace, to let my threat decline a little bit.  

I also move the Imperial capital back to Rome, which only seems appropriate.

Here’s one of the main benefits of reclaiming the empire — I get access to the “Imperial Reconquest” Casus Belli.  This is basically like a Holy War, but it works on anyone within the old boundaries of the empire, and they don’t get to call in co-religionists to help.

The problem with peace is that it’s boring.  Having both mended the Great Schism and restored the empire to its former glory, Methodios needs new adventures.  Random trysts while hunting are nice, but that’s not going to cut it.

His thirst for novelty leads him down different paths.

Darker paths.

After all, having conquered the Church and the secular world, that means there’s only God left to fight …

Hilariously, Methodios’ stated goal is to cure his daughter, who just has, like, the flu.

“Dad, I have a sniffle!”

I will sell my soul to the dark powers!

“Dad, I’m feeling much better, can we –”

“Not now, sweetie, carving a pentagram into my flesh.”

Where does Lucifer get these femme fatales?

The refuse option here is a little weak.  “I’m a married man!  If I was unmarried, sure, I’d be totally down for your weird Satantic sex-initiation.”

So, now I have a cool black hoodie and worship Satan.  Good times!

You know what that means — orgy time!

Did … did we orgy some dude to death?

Satan demands virgin sacrifice!

Fortunately, my dungeons are well stocked from various wars.  This seven-year-old girl should do.

What?  It’s like sacrificing children is bad or something?  Jeez.

On the plus side, even though I’m at peace, my vassals are doing good work pushing the boundaries outward.  The old province of Gaul is a mess of several different kingdoms, so that’s going to need some sorting out.

Oh, and I’m still trying to wipe out the entire Muradid dynasty.

The things I do for love political power.  Doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Wait, he flew off like an ostrich?  I mean … I guess that works …

Only two Muradids left!

I already worship Satan, how much worse can dealing with witches be?

Waaaaait a minute.  That was just vodka!

Damn it, hold still while I’m trying to wipe out your entire family!

Hurrah!  Five years of peace!  Now we can get back to warrin’.

Satan tells me to burn things.

Climbing the ladder!

What kind of a name is Herbert for a high priest of Satan?

Also, that witch totally ripped me off!

Given my predilections, I’d be shocked if it did anything.

Satan demands blue blood!

Whatever you say, snicker Herbert.

To cure my food poisoning, my doctor has switched me with my evil good twin!

Still worships Satan, though.  He’s just more humble about it.

Time for plotting.  This fine fellow has claims on Austrasia, Germany, and Saxony, and he’s willing to come to my court.

I marry him to the young princess of Italy.  His claims are heritable, so if they breed I’ll have some useful children, too.

They’re weak claims, though, which means I’ll only be able to press them if the current monarch is female, a child, or otherwise weakened.  Fortunately, the heir to the throne is five.  So if I can kill this guy …

Somehow, I assume through a wacky sit-com mixup, I have become lovers with my own wife in addition to my Satanic sister.  I’m looking forward to the episode where they almost meet at the restaurant.

Come on, bandits!

Bah.  Stupid bandits.

Hmm.  Until now my oldest daughter Sibylla has been heir.

Aha!  In Agnatic-Cognatic Primogeniture, a daughter with a son outranks a daughter without a son, regardless of birth order.  Your move, Sibylla!

Come on … carriages?  

Nice!  So that’s the Austrasian throne up for grabs.  I’ve got some time, though, since the heir is young.

My buddy is dead, but not before he managed to have a son, who has inherited his claims.  Perfect.

Meanwhile, this guy has been plotting against me.  And I still need a ruler to sacrifice to Satan …

Guards!

He rebels, of course, and I get to work burning down his castles.

Another bonus: if you’ll recall, in order to take Italy/Lombardy, I had to grant a kingdom to a claimant and press the claim.  (Much as I’m planning to do with Austrasia.)  Unfortunately, that leaves the claimant as a Despot (a hereditary ruler by right) as opposed to an Exarch (a ruler appointed by the Emperor).  When the Despot dies without an heir, though, the kingdom reverts to me, and I can bestow it on someone useful as an exarchate!  (The other way I can convert it is by having the holder rebel and stripping him of his title.)

This lady is the new ruler and as you can see she’d very fond of me, in spite of my craven, slothful, drunken murderishness.

I like that craven, slothful, drunken murderer adds up to -25, whereas “attractive” is +30.  “He may be a drunken lazy coward murderer, but man is he easy on the eyes.”

Satan’s commands alternate between horrifying and petty.

“I totally peed on that dude and held a decadent feast in his name!  WOO GO SATAN!”

Sibylla’s back in the lead!

It’s all tied up at one son each!

With the revolt successfully concluded, the unfortunate Duke finds himself on the Satanic altar.

Satan rewards me with total insanity!

My threat is down below 75%.  When I attack Austrasia, I’ll be fighting pretty much everyone (since they’re Christian) but with less than 75% the Christians won’t join in if I attack a Muslim.  So, first step, holy war against the Muradids!

Things go pretty badly at first.  Those are some big armies they have there.

I distract myself with another Satanic orgy.

Wait, Satan already has a dwarf, I just met him!  What is it with dwarfs?

My wife doesn’t love me anymore.  At least I still have my Satanic mistresses.

In spite of some early setbacks, I get the war moving in the right direction.  The AI is really bad at using sea travel, which means I can generally run rings around it while it marches overland losing men to attrition.  Also, it gets distracted attacking whatever holdings are closest, whereas I go straight for the war goal, which counts more toward the total score.

The AI also runs out of money to pay its mercenaries before its army even arrives.  Bad planning right there.

Before too long, the few defeats I had back in Anatolia are outweighed by my victories in the field and control of Cyrenaica, and the Muradids call it a day.

Sure.  I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

See!  Azazel is totally chill, guys!

The raven is black like my soul.

Psh, people, who cares about them?

Can we please make it a law not to set the Emperor on fire?!

I’m still smoldering, but it’s time to get this party started.  I make little Merigo King of Croatia, and then launch my war to press his claims to Austrisia, which control a grab-bag of land through France and Germany.  With my threat high, this means fighting almost the entire world.

This turns out to be pretty hard.  At first I make the mistake of trying to do it conventionally, fighting the enemy on the battlefield, but they have a lot deeper manpower reserves than I do, even if they’re bad at getting them to the field.  So I win some battles but lose a lot of troops.

The problem is, winning battles doesn’t actually help, since you don’t get warscore for battles against the target’s allies.  So I switch things up and sail around taking over Austrasian castles, while letting the enemy slowly besiege my own.

After a few tense years, this works out pretty well, and the Austrasians finally surrender.

God damn that’s an ugly border.  Don’t you people know how to draw maps?

My new best buddy also has a claim on Germany, which would fill in some of the gaps.  

We need to wait a little while, though, since the last war took so long my vassals are pretty pissed.

Orthodoxy continues to spread.  Although of course I now reject God and all his works, I do like seeing maps filled in with one color.

Still trying to nail down those last few elusive Caliphs.

Oh, a tricky one, are you?

Satan wants me to possess some random woman.

Unfortunately, I only succeed in driving her mad.

Now, however, we have succession questions to worry about.  Here’s the problem.  Leontia’s son has died, so she’s out of the succession sweepstakes, and Sibylla will be the next empress.  She’s already quite old, though, so I’m looking to her children.  She has one son and three daughters.  If the son lives, he’s heir, but if he dies the eldest daughter becomes heir.  And she has inconveniently gotten married non-matrilineally, which means her children will not be part of the dynasty.  We can’t have that.

Eat black magic, grandson-in-law!

Cursing people just always makes me smile, somehow.

Unfortunately, the oaf recovers from his illness.  My attempts to kill him conventionally don’t go well either, so I ask my fellow Satanists to try and abduct him.

This works out great!  Once he’s in my dungeons, I sacrifice him to the Dark Lord.

Then I make sure Alexia’s new marriage is on more appropriate terms.

The Muradids are having problems, though they have bred enough new dynasts that I reluctantly cancel my plan to wipe them out.

My wife is 74 but she has aged fantastically.

See, Zenon is a better name for a high priest of Satan.

Damn it, Alexia was pregnant before I sacrificed her husband to Satan!  Now she has a non-dynastic son.  That’s not acceptable.

I give the infant smallpox and wait to see if he dies.

Meanwhile, before Merigo grows up too much, it’s time to press his claim on Germany.  This means another war vs. the whole world, but I’m getting better at those.  I dodge various armies and sail around demolishing German castles.

Note that my council nearly stopped me from going to war, and I had to bribe them.  We’ll see about that …

I expect my new chancellor to be much more reliable.

Satan wants another virgin, apparently.

This woman is in her forties, but has been in my prison since she was seven years old.  So I sacrifice her, but it doesn’t work.  Apparently there’s some shenanigans going on in the dungeons.  (Apart from me sacrificing the prisoners to the devil.)

Another little kid for the Dark Lord, then.  He’s so picky!

But he rewards me with demonic possession!

Also crippling illness.

Methodios is losing his grip, but the German war is finished, adding another swathe of territory to the empire.

Still a little fragmented, but looking better.  Hopefully my vassals can clean up some of the smaller states.

Both smallpox and my assassins have failed me, so once again I turn to my buddies in Satan to rid me of inappropriate heirs.

Unfortunately, sacrificing little Michael to the devil is a step too far.  The priests have caught on.  While they can’t burn me at the stake, they kick me out of the church and everyone now hates me.

Methodios, alone in his castle, grows ever more deformed and strange.

Even my council hates me.  All except loyal Glitterhoof, who will stand by his master to the end.

To cheer myself up, I dose random tavern crowds with hallucinogens.  Love that Joker!

Everyone may hate Methodios, but he has one last thing to accomplish.  The defeat of his final enemy: pants.

Pants are hereby forbidden in the empire!  We we all be happy again!

Man, central Europe is kind of a mess.  Someone should clean that up.

The Patriarch decides that since I haven’t sacrificed any children to Satan this month, I can come back to the church.  Everyone else still hates me though.

This includes my new wife, since poor Blanche finally died.  She’s a chaste genius, and they’re in love, but love doesn’t outweigh “Known Demon Worshiper”.  I kind of feel like this is a horror story now?  Chaste young genius marries elderly murderous demon worshipper?  

…still got it…

For very weird definitions of “it”.

Finally, predictably, the vassals have had enough of Methodios’ madness.

Civil war begins, Italy vs. Anatolia.

“An artifact, you say?  I will send my most loyal servant to search for it!”

“Sir, that’s your horse.”

“My most loyal servant.

(Honestly, I’m impressed Glitterhoof attends council meetings.)

Unfortunately, she’s not great at searching for artifacts.

Methodios’ feelings toward Glitterhoof are mixed.  He doesn’t like that she failed at the search, that she’s a horse, or that she’s stupid.  On the other hand, he finds her sexy, and she has accumulated some prestige.  And he’s grateful for some reason?

At the end of his reign, Methodios looks back and decides that all in all, it was pretty great.

With that happy thought, and the empire still riven by rebellion, Methodios dies.  He united the church, recreated the Roman Empire, and sacrificed children to Satan, but according to his biographer the real issue was that he cheated on his wife.  (With Satan.)

Sibylla, I choose you!

 

Current Year: 1013 AD.

Current Status: Burning in hell.

 

 

Content, Crusader Kings Series 3, Excluded, Games

Pax Romana 2: Electric Boogaloo, Part Seven

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six.  Updates Wednesdays!

New Basileus Methodios is finally an adult, and is ready to start racking up the piety in order to mend the Great Schism.  Are you ready for some humble prostration before the Lord?!

Step one: Theology focus, hoping for some good events.

Step two: Continue trying to convert Jerusalem to trigger the formation of my holy order.

My high-stewardship wife is a Catholic, but fortunately she’s willing to convert.  Why her title is “Khatun” I don’t understand, though.

Methodios is very down on the heathens.

Huh.  I guess we can add “God” to the “medieval stress relief” list alongside dogs, murder, and cheating on your wife.

Must … become … pious …

Step three in my piety plan is to win holy wars against heathens.  Fighting someone named “King Vukasin the Monster” seems like a good place to start.

“Hey, guys, have you ever actually read this thing?”

The Muslims have gotten the jihad ball rolling, but fortunately not in my direction.

“I mug the monk and take all his piety!”

Aha!  The holy city is holy again!

This, in turn, triggers the formation of the only Orthodox Holy Order, the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre.  They’ll join my team for future holy wars, but that’s not the most important reason I’m happy to see them.

Speaking of holy wars, this one turns out well, and I grab two counties of coastal Serbia.  Granting the temples to fresh bishops gives me MOAR PIETY.

And I now have a better claim to Serbia than its former “king” does!

Slowly but surely, I’m subduing the Balkans.

Here’s the real reason I’m happy to see the Holy Sepulchre.  Donating money to them grants me piety on a one-for-one basis, which is a far better return on investment than anything else I can do.  And it’s repeatable, immediately.

So, basically, being rich equals being pious, now.  And I’m very rich.

Oh, yeah.  I am pious as balls.

With the world convinced of how god-damned holy I am due to dropping a wagon full of gold on the doorstep of the Holy Sepulchre, it’s time to mend the Great Schism!  We’ve got plenty of moral authority and I still control all five sites of the Pentarchy.

Sorry, Your Holiness.  That’s check and mate.

Much of the Christian world immediately converts to Orthodoxy, Catholic moral authority is shattered, their holy orders disappear and there’s no longer any danger of being targeted by a crusade.  That means this will be my first playthrough without having the Pope come after me!

Methodios is now known as “the Saint” for his holiness.  With piety accomplished, I switch him back to family focus to try and add some more children.

Not that I’m done with holy war!  There’s still land to take in the Balkans.

Time to look toward my next goal, which is proclaiming myself true Roman Emperor, heir to Caesar and Constantine.  Taking Lombardy has brought me a long way toward that goal, but we’re not there yet.  I still need Venice and the rest of Croatia, which are controlled by small Christian nations and should be easy enough.  But parts of Antioch and Alexandria are still in Muslim hands, as is the entire Duchy of Tunis.  That’s going to be a little harder.

I’m going to try and get this done in Methodios’ lifetime, though, because he already has the 3,000 prestige needed.  Prestige is easier to get than piety, but it’d still be convenient.

One holy war down, anyway.

My brother has decided he would like to have my daughter killed, which is actually kind of convenient because I wanted his county back anyway.

Perfect!  Have fun in prison, bro.  That’s what you get for messing with my kids and also having land I want.

The empire is growing nicely, especially in the far east where my vassals are pushing out the frontiers against the heathens of the Caucasus.  

I set my chancellor to forging a claim on Venice, while some of my vassals continue the fighting in the Balkans.  I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Tunis is conveniently held by the Talalids, who are relatively weak.  However, they have an alliance with the Muradids, who are extremely strong.

The best way to cause trouble there is to assassinate the Muradid Caliph, so I start trying that.  No shortage of eager helpers in his court.

This works poorly.  Not only does he refuse to be assassinated, the Muradid Caliph quickly takes over Tunis.  So we’re going to have to fight him one way or the other.

And, to make my job even more fun, there’s a plague coming!  I’m not sure why Methodios thinks he predicted it though.

A Muradid revolt breaks out, and I decide to use the opportunity to grab the county of Archa, which is the last piece of Antioch I need.  Hopefully between the plague and the revolution they’ll be too busy to fight back.

And, as an added bonus, I get a shot at the Caliph!  Come on, viper, I believe in you!

Nice.  Anything that sows confusion in the ranks of my enemies.

Because he’s paranoid, Methodios is convinced that the plague is here for him personally.

Honestly, judging by its trajectory, he may not be wrong.

My war-plan is a success, though!  Soon after I seize my target, plague sweeps through the region, killing everyone and making it impossible to keep armies in the field.  So I continue to hold Archa by default as the warscore ticks up.

Methodios wisely decides to seal himself in the palace to keep the plague away.

Probably a good plan, to be honest.

Get me some adorable fluffy cats!  For … um, examinations.

I asked about the plague, and Strategos Fluffykins says he didn’t do it.

I declare her official cuddlebug of the Empire!

Poor Belisarios’ love is unrequited and he has to settle for being “friends”.

Okay, seriously guys.  Cats are not the problem.

Enough with the cats!  I am the god-damned Emperor around here, and I say Boots is Grand High Patriarch!

Food is running low, though.  High Patriarch Boots, bring me back some rats or something!

Who’s a good kitty?

The new Caliph, who is eleven, finally gives up the fight since basically everyone is dead anyway.

Oh, so hiding in my palace while the people suffer and die makes me a coward, is that it?

Good times, good times.

While most of Europe is still pretty plagued, Anatolia is recovering, and I cautiously emerge.  Everyone is mad at me for some reason.

Hmm, promising you say?

Holy crap!  I make him chancellor and send him to forge a claim on Venice, which he accomplishes immediately.

I’m still threatening enough that attacking Venice is going to piss off the rest of Christendom.  However a) most of them have the plague, and b) Venice is a single-county realm so it should be easy to storm.

As predicted, it’s a short war.

Getting there!  Venice and Antioch are off the shopping list.  That leaves Alexandria, Croatia, and Tunis.

Croatia’s going to be annoying, since it’s held by three different people.

One of them is a single-county realm, though, so in spite of high threat I can rush it down like I did Venice, before any allies get involved.

Progress!

Taking Tunis, meanwhile, means fighting the Muradids, who I still have a truce with.  The easiest way around that is to kill off the Caliph.  That’s an expensive poisoning, but it’s good to be the Byzantines, who are basically the Lannisters of medieval Europe.

I have to assume we poisoned him with pure gold.

With bureaucratic niceties out of the way, the holy war can begin!  Fleets and armies from across the empire converge on Tunis.

The first Muradid counter-attack gets bushwhacked by a peasant rebellion army on the way over.  That’s just embarrassing, guys.

I get my score to 99% without any Muradids actually coming out to fight.

The Caliph isn’t required to surrender at that point, but he does anyway.  I’m getting the feeling the Arabian Empire is kind of a paper tiger here.

See this is how you crush a peasant revolt.  It’s all in the wrist.

I choose my new rulers from dynasty members who don’t already have land and have the highest opinion of me.  Since Methodios is attractive, this tends to mean the gay ones.

Prince Sabas is ready to be introduced to the realm!  He’s turning out okay so far.

Since I need to take more territory off the Muradids, that means killing off yet another Caliph.  I’m really thinning the herd here.

Unfortunately my threat is getting ridiculous.  The Muradids are big enough that they only join the defensive pact at the highest levels, but we’re getting there.

Man, you’d think the Caliphs would invest in some anti-snake defenses.  Mongeese or something.

In fact, it’s possible I could wipe the Muradids out completely.  There are only four male dynasts left.  I’ll give it a shot, on the theory that if they fall the empire might splinter and make things easy for me.

The chief of Hum, in the Balkans, is inexplicably not part of the grand coalition against me.  I take the opportunity to jump on him.

Chalk up another Caliph.  I’m not sure anyone in the empire believes the story about “bandits” at this point.

At last we have triumphed over the Humians!  Next stop, the Isle of Man.

Hooray for health-dogs!

Hmm, last time this happened they worked it out and became the best of friends.

Not this time.  That cat chases the dog somewhere and presumably devours it, since we can’t find any trace.

Oh well.  Cats, amirite?

But apparently my dog is still growing up … somewhere …

“The Emperor has the flu!  I need 20 pounds of toad, stat!”

My heir has come of age and immediately gone bald.  I secure him a wife who doesn’t mind.

Meanwhile, my vassal the Patriach has won a war against the remnants of Croatia, bringing them under my control!  Someone is getting a Christmas bonus this year!

It’s down to just Alexandria.  The Muradids have dropped out of the defensive pact, and they have two of the counties I need, so I go after them first.

This doesn’t take long.  Now there’s only one county to go, owned by the Talalids.  They are part of the grand alliance against me, but because the territory I need is so small, I should be able to rush them before anyone else intervenes.

The prince has rabies?

Did he find my dog?

What about the dog, damn you?  What do you know?!

Well, shit.  At least I foresightfully got Sybilla a safe matrilineal marriage to guard against this possibility.

Anyway, back to the Talalids!  It’s me vs. literally everyone, but literally everyone is a long way away.

As expected, the province falls long before the combined armies of the world can intervene.

There we go!  That’s the lot.

SPQR, MFers.

At 44, Methodios is now “the Glorious” and bears the ancient title Augustus.  Not a bad run at all.

But we’re not finished yet, by a long shot.  After all, the Roman Empire used to be much larger than this …

 

Current Year: 986 AD.

Current Status: Veni, Vidi, Vici.