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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!


Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED Series

In The Promised Land RELOADED, I play as the Ethiopian Jews of Semien in Crusader Kings II, attempting to build the Third Temple, recreate the Kingdom of Israel, and stay out of the clutches of my doctors. 

Part One: In which the Petty Kingdom of Semien becomes part of Abyssinia.

(769 AD – 779 AD)




Part Two: In which I get a visit from Death herself and acquire a few more counties.

(779 AD – 801 AD)




Part Three: In which Semien regains its independence, and I fail to achieve immortality.

(801 AD – 915 AD)




Part Four: In which I expand, fight rebellions, and fall into the hands of doctors.

(915 AD – 940 AD)




Part Five: In which my daughter is the spawn of Satan, and the Arabian Empire collapses and I reap the profits.

(940 AD – 974 AD)




Part Six: In which my borders reach the Mediterranean, I surmount a succession crisis, and face a jihad.

(974 AD – 1017 AD)




Part Seven: In which I survive further jihads and an attack by the Byzantine Empire, take Jerusalem, and go mad.

(1017 AD – 1063 AD)




Part Eight: In which I defeat my first Crusade, build the Third Temple, and create the Empire of Israel.

(1063 AD – 1095 AD)




Part Nine: In which I wage holy war, survive the Black Death, and eat people.

(1095 AD – 1123 AD)




Part Ten: In which the I wage even more holy wars but the Jews fail to take over India.

(1123 AD – 1155 AD)




Part Eleven: In which I survive a difficult regency and unite the Arabian Peninsula.

(1155 AD – 1205 AD)




Part Twelve: In which I fight the Byzantines while the Mongols approach.

(1205 AD – 1236 AD)





Part Thirteen: In which the Mongols turn out not to be that big of a deal, and I take Constantinople.

(1236 AD – 1286 AD)




Part Fourteen: In which I continue to battle the Byzantines, and my vassals take Norway.

(1286 AD – 1344 AD)




Part Fifteen: In which owning Norway turns out to be kind of a pain.

(1344 AD – 1380 AD)





Part Sixteen: In which I take Rome, a chunk of India, and the Middle Ages comes to a close.

(1380 AD – 1453 AD)

Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED #16 — Finale!

Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart Six, Part SevenPart Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part ElevenPart Twelve, Part ThirteenPart Fourteen, and Part Fifteen.

The Middle Ages are drawing to a close!  But there’s still time for a war or two … or three … or four …

Emperor Lema is now the masked head of the Empire of Israel.  Aside from a drinking problem and a lack of children, he’s doing okay.

His friend/enabler, the castrated King Berhanu the Handsome of Norway, keeps inviting Emperor Lema to parties.

Given my high level of threat after the seizure of Tripoli, five years of peace seem like a good plan.  We can dream, can’t we?

I return from the party hungover for the next year.  That’s a good party.

Also, King Berhanu apparently despises me for being a drunk, despite being the one who organized the drinking binge?

Aha!  As you may recall from last time, I hired the wiliest Jew in the world and sent him to Rome to “prove” that I have an ancestral claim on it.  That’s now paid off!  You’re living on my land, Romans!

In addition, Pope Sergius a) has a measly 7,000 troops, and b) is not part of the grand alliance against me.  So forget five years of peace.  We’re taking Rome!

I genuinely don’t know what will happen with this, I’ve never attempted it before.  But it’s good revenge for all those crusades.

I send over a boat and 30,000 men.  The actual war is … pretty short.

Rome is now part of Israel!  Meanwhile, Emperor Lema decides to devote all his time to playing wargames, which is clearly a very silly thing to do.

I’ll be ready for that killer nun when she turns up, though.

The Pope declares a war to try and get Rome back.  Fair enough, I suppose.

My heir (officially my first cousin, in reality my half-brother due to dad’s shenanigans) has come of age.  His stats are okay but he really needs to do something about that hairstyle.

The war against the Pope is weird.  The Pope still has an Emperor-class title, even though he doesn’t have any actual land or holdings for me to besiege.  So I can basically just wait around for his armies to show up and then smash them.  

Looking at his character, he’s still apparently hanging out in Rome.  Can’t we just arrest him or something?  He has a crapload of money to pay his mercenaries, too.

Eventually some substantial Papal armies turn up, but I beat the tar out of them.

That’s what you get for picking on the Smurfs all those years!

Pope Sergius still has plenty of money, but now he has to pay me some as indemnity.  Feel free to try again whenever you like, sir!

Okay, now maybe we can have peace.  Also my heir still looks like a crazed hobo.  I’m having heir hair problems.

Two rounds of getting killed in India are apparently not enough for the high priest and my vassals.

Emperor Lema is having crippling phantom nose pain.  

I mean, I already don’t have a nose, how much worse could the surgery make it?

Good work, doctor!  My lack-of-a-nose is feeling much better.

“Hey, I’ve been a little out of it, and … you guys conquered where?”

C … Can I have an elephant?

While celebrating at one of Berhanu’s parties, someone apparently set me on fire.  First of all, can we not find out who and, I don’t know, chop off their head?  Second of all, no more parties for me, this is getting out of hand.

The wound healed almost immediately, leaving me even more horribly scarred.  On the plus side, I’ve managed to have two daughters.

Israel now definitely has the biggest font, followed closely by Chawda.  (Which will always make me think of that Simpsons episode about pronouncing “chowder”.)

Yeah, no.  The last party I got set a bit too much on fire.

Why are all my vassals suddenly such party animals anyway?

Another adventurer.  Where are my damn ninjas?

Hey, it actually worked for once!  That makes me like 2 for 500 in terms of peace.

Well, crap.  I was hoping that taking over Rome would dissuade them somewhat.  Oh well.

Pope War IX: The Pope Jedi.

Adventurer-dude helpfully turned up around the same time.  Fortunately I’m now wise to the clever Christian plan to take over Jerusalem by invading Norway, and dispatch some troops there ASAP.

Large battles still break out in Greece, but I’m more on top of it then last time.

The armies invading Norway are pretty small, so 40,000 angry Jews makes quite an impression.

This brings the count to two for Greece and seven for Jerusalem.

Does this woman have the best name ever?  It’s possible!

With my threat down to 49%, I can declare war for those two stray Mongol counties and only have to fight the Mongols and a few co-religionists.  I have false claims, too, so it shouldn’t stir things up too much.

The Mongols are clearly past their prime and quickly surrender.

Now only the county of Antioch remains in the middle of god damn it the Curse of Archa has struck again!  Where the hell is Scooby-Doo when you need him?

Fortunately, my vassals are on the case, quickly launching a holy war to take it back.  Good work, Count Negasi.

Another Shia jihad?  Make it quick, I’m trying to watch this!

I tell my daughter Abeba to become ambitious, even though it will make her hate me.  Parenting is hard sometimes, but it’s all worth it when you take control of a child with good stats after you die.  I assume this is how it works in real life too.

They didn’t even get close to Arabia this time.

The conversion of the empire to Judaism is mostly complete, though I’m going to have to speak to the mapmaker about that terrible kerning.

Even some of the Norwegians are getting with the program!

The Cursed County falls, again, this time to my vassal.  Just stay put, would you?

Princess Abeba has turned out … not terrible, but not ideally.  She’ll need a high-stewardship husband for sure.

I recruit Chainai of Diksmuide for the job because a) he has good stats, and b) he has a silly name.

One of the past adventurers is causing trouble again, so I decide he should be done away with.  Apparently everyone at his court agrees.

Ah, the viper trick!

I guess some collateral damage is to be expected.

Noooooo Chaninai of Diksmuide!

She remarries Shabsai of Yotvata, which is a pretty silly name, I guess.  To add insult to injury, though, she managed to have a daughter with the aptly nicknamed Duke Merille the Unchaste.

Dammit.  What in my history makes these people think this is a good idea?

Geez, Rabbi.  That sounds bad.

I like this rabbi!

I mean, I still have cancer, but at least I’m well-fed.

Brave Sir Robin Emperor Lema insists on rolling the dice.

Hey, that’s not new at all!  We literally tried that hundreds of years ago.  Seems to work, though.

My adventurer friend turns up and finds a huge army waiting for him.  Honestly I shouldn’t bother having them killed.

Even ground-up hobo scabs can only keep cancer at bay for so long.  Long live Empress Abeba!

She’s still only so-so, but at least she has a legitimate son now.

Unfortunately, childbirth was difficult.

The rabbi thinks I have syphilis.  Is that … a common problem caused by childbirth?

Rabbi Negasi’s treatments may not work, but his diagnoses are right on the money.

My old friend Beruhana the Handsome of Norway has been replaced by King Beruhana II, Son of Satan.

We seem to be moving back toward traditional remedies, here.

The empress has been understandably distracted, but the war against the adventurer finally comes to an end.  I dig in and wait — it’s about time for the vassals to get unruly.

Unfortunately, the ongoing progress of her disease has driven Empress Abeba mad.

Is is really paranoia, though, when they really are all plotting against you?

I catch one of the dukes at his treason and order him locked up.

Shockingly, this actually works instead of starting a war.  One down, twenty to go…

Thankfully, China isn’t included in the game, so they can’t invade me.

I’m in need of a new doctor, what with the ongoing syphilis.  

Sure!  That sounds promising.

…if he served many rulers before, what happened to them?  

Our “pope” is an incurable gossip.

It’s … possible that this is the insanity talking.

Okay, Shanoi, work your magic!

Well, that made me paranoid and possessed.  How about trying something that doesn’t drive me more insane?

Okay, that one burned my hand off and made me really angry.  I think maybe enough with the magic?

Let’s try some actual medicine, please.

He cut off my face?!  Do I look like fucking Nicholas Cage?

That’s it.  To prison with this asshole.

I’m making my mom court physician.  She may not have mystic knowledge but she doesn’t cut off people’s faces.

Mom doesn’t get to do much, though, because Empress Abeba immediately dies, sad and mutilated.  Long live Emperor Bekele!

Bekele is only six, so we’re in for a long regency.

At least he’s learning to take bribes properly.

My vassals are seriously restless.  In an effort to subdue them, I find the sneakiest Jew in the land, and make him spymaster in spite of his questionable choice in hats.

Yeah, that doesn’t work.  Notice how there’s no list of vassals on the second line?  That’s because there’s so many they wouldn’t fit.

That’s, um, all of them, isn’t it.

On the plus side, Rome is now Jewish!  Maybe I should move there.

Ooooookay that’s a lot of guys.

Is this really the time?

I mean, gout seems unlikely to me, but I’m not going to tell grandma that.

Grandma?  Did I do something wrong?

This war seems completely impossible.  If there were a final boss of wars, this one would be it.  I am reduced to guerilla-style tactics, keeping a single army in the field and shuffling it around between three or four major rebel armies, beating them when they’re isolated and hurriedly freeing the castles they’ve taken to keep my warscore up.

The only thing that makes it even possible is the monstrous treasury Bekele inherited from his mother and grandfather, over 25,000 gold.  That means I can hire tens of thousands of mercenaries, although it still doesn’t come close to making up the numbers, and the gold starts disappearing rapidly.

Bekele comes of age as a warrior, unsurprising since he spent his formative years in the midst of the biggest war ever.

What do you think, grandma?  The flu?  Maybe some chicken soup is in order?

A good portion of my blood, grandma?  Dear lord!

The treasury is getting low, and I’m starting to think I’m going to need to concede the war and finally give the damn council some authority.  I make a last-ditch effort, assaulting the rebel capital and getting the war tipped temporarily in my favor.  Apparently unaware of my weakness, the rebels agree to peace.  

After half a decade and 20,000 gold in mercenary fees, the realm is restored!

Sorry, rabbi, we were all a little busy.

Bekele’s wife, Empress Mahrene, is insane but an excellent steward.

Some time passes in peace.  I have one more county I want to take from the Byzantines, but first I brace for the inevitable.  And there it is.

Pope War X: Indiana Pope and the Last Crusade.

The levy of Syria is so large (over 75,000 men) that there’s literally nowhere I can summon it where it won’t immediately start to starve.  (Hilariously, Syria owns the Orkney Islands north of Britain — I summoned troops there to quell a local revolt and all 75,000 turned up, somehow…)

No, once again I draw the line at vials of my blood.  Mom’s experience with the mystic arts was not a positive one, either.

The Christians invade all over the place, but aren’t very strong anywhere.  It’s more like playing whack-a-mole then a proper war, although of course they’re bothering Norway again.

The French turn up and making a sporting try for Constantinople, but I’m ready for them.

My troops are used to this sailing-to-Norway business now, too.

Not the best war for the Christians, all things considered.

Final score of the Crusades: Jews 10, Christians 0.

My final target is Antioch, the last outpost of the Byzantines in the middle of my realm.

(I note with some pleasure that the Curse of Archa appears to have been broken.)

Surrounded by my troops on all sides, it’s not much of a war.

Now I just need to survive another fifteen years or so.  I’m sure this cheese-eating eunuch will help!

This week on As The Empire Turns, Emperor Bekele’s illicit lover China reports that High Priest Berhanua is trying to seduce Empress Maharene!

Emperor Bekele makes his lover China marshal of the Empire, but not out of favoritism.  She’s just the fightingest Jew in the land.

Nobody is even plotting against me!

Uh … lesson learned, I guess?

Joke’s on you, Tewodros, by the time you’re ready to attack the Middle Ages will be over!

Emperor Bekele even has an heir, who is frankly pretty bad-ass.  The future looks bright.

And with the dawning of the year 1453, the game finally draws to a close.  My final score apparently compares favorably to the Capet dynasty.  Hooray!

The rulers of Semien/Israel.  (Top to bottom, left to right.)  Clear standouts include King Aman and Emperor Gebereal, who took Jerusalem and crated the Empire, Emperor Ogbae, Empress Berta, and Emperor Lema.  Emperor Bekele technically takes the high score, but his is padded somewhat by my creating a bunch of titles in the final days.  Emperor Fethee gets the record for shortest reign with 24 days, Empress Berta for the longest with 51 years.  Not a bad 700 years!

The final state of Israel, including Norway, Rome, and a chunk of India.

The final state of religion.  Judaism spread far and wide from where we started, including to India and Iceland!  Amazing what seven hundred years of ceaseless holy war can do.  (I’m also curious about all these Hindu steppe peoples.)

Thanks for reading, everybody!  I had a great time with this, and I hope you all did too.

Current year: 1453 AD.  Current Status: About Ready for the Renaissance.





Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED #15

Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart Six, Part SevenPart Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part ElevenPart Twelve, Part Thirteen, and Part Fourteen.

The penultimate edition!

When we left Empress Berta, she had chest pains and an infected wound, but was gamely continuing with her hunting career all the same.  Like so many of her ancestors, she was obsessed with catching the mystical white lion, which serves as a metaphor for the unattainability of —

Never mind, she actually caught the damn thing!  It only took five hundred years.  I consider letting it live, but it gives a pretty sweet bonus, so we’ll do the wall/head thing.

Adventurers are like roaches.  Stomp on one and two more turn up.  Do I have a good XP reward or something?

Let’s try having him killed.

This always bothers me.  The fact that, as Empress, I’m trying to kill some guy who has announced his intention to seize my throne seems like … pretty obvious?  Most people would say, “Yeah, that’s about what I’d expect,” right?

Owning Norway has actually turned out to be kind of a pain, what with the Catholic revolts and all.

Having caught the mystical lion, Berta’s old hunting wound finally heals.

All right, maybe we can head this one off at the pass.

Or not.

Well, crap.

Guifre takes his sweet time about actually showing up to the war, though.  In the meantime I recruit a new doctor renowned for immense wisdom.

He’s actually … ridiculously awesome.  Wow.  If he wasn’t celibate I would marry him.

Fortunately, while the adventurer armies scale with the size of your realm, they seem to top out around 40,000 men, which is much too small to bother me now.  Guifre and his host are duly crushed when they finally show up.

The new Basileus is not super impressive, and my threat is getting low, so it’ll be time for another war against the Byzantines soon.

Except, of course, one of my vassals in Norway dies, bequeathing me some territory and a war against Svea Rike at -60%.  If I lose, I have to pay thousands of gold in indemnity.  I’m going to have to go to Norway, aren’t I?  Dammit.

All right, boys, everybody on the boat!

Compared to actually getting there, winning the war is ridiculously easy.  The King of Svea Rike looks kind of disappointed, possibly because of his dumb mustache.

Then I realize, argh, winning the war kicked my threat way back up again!  The Byzantines are safe for a while.

All right, everybody back on the boat!

(Well, only my retinue.  The levy soldiers just sort of melt into the ground when you dismiss them on friendly territory.)

Helpfully, the high priest calls a Great Holy War for a kingdom in the middle of India, and all my lemmings vassals immediately sign up.

While they’re doing that, I’m dealing with the county of Archa.  If you’ll recall, I conquered it before, and it mysteriously reverted to its former allegiance without a fight.  Now there’s a revolt there, so I’m conquering it again.

The actual conquest is pretty easy, but there’s something weird going on.  The barons are independent, which almost never happens.  I have to fight three more (very short) wars to restore them to their proper relations with the count.

Better.  You all work for me and don’t you forget it!

The big purple blob.  Still picking away at the remnant Byzantine and Mongol territories, though it’s slow going due to the world-wide alliance against me.

I am … not sure what’s going on with this event.

Empress Berta’s reign is going well, she deserves some me time.

Also, did Bogoris really need to burst into my study to tell me to relax?

The “pope” is apparently up to something unsavory.

A little too unsavory for his own safety, I guess.

My heir, Prince Gebereal, has outlived a second wife, although the first one was was kind of an accident.  He’s going to need some help with stewardship, so I go shopping abroad.

Misrak is gay, but Gebereal already has two children so lower fertility isn’t crucial.  Otherwise she’s ideal!

These are way less impressive then they used to be.  “Yawn, another jihad?  Wake me up when they get here.”

Never did figure out what was causing those, but I guess it doesn’t matter!

My local troops handled this by themselves.  Basically we just called the cops on the invaders.

Okay.  Now this is a hell of a lot more worrying.

Pope War VIII: Rogue Pope.

“Don’t worry, guys, we’re on the way to help!”

Considering that the Pope declared a crusade for Greece, I concentrate my forces in Greece.  Like a chump, it turns out.

Halfway there, the Norwegian forces decide to stop off in Rome and give the Pope a taste of his own medicine.

This doesn’t go particularly well, but it gives me ideas.

Even in the middle of war, life goes on.  Empress Berta secures herself a sexy new high-stewardship husband as Christians lay siege to Constantinople.  

It’s a tough fight.  The challenge is that the armies can’t gather in one place without starving.  Fortunately, this means you can feint — I move forward, and the enemy moves to crash-concentrate, gathering all his forces but abandoning some of his sieges, and then I cancel my move.  This helps buy time and cost the enemy troops as I move more of mine up.

It’s hard fighting, but I’m getting the upper hand.  Unfortunately, two problems crop up.

First, Empress Berta dies, after one of the longest and most successful reigns in my history.  Fortunately, her son is already an adult and quite competent.  Long live Emperor Gebereal II!

Second, all my hard fighting in Greece is being undone by a bunch of Crusaders laying siege to the castles of Norway, which count against my warscore.

How did they even get there?  

“The Pope’s declared a new crusade for Greece.”

“Great.  Boys, we’re headed to Norway!”

Emperor Gebereal II recruits a talented pilgrim as his new doctor.

The final battles of the campaign for Greece play out.  In the meantime, we check in on Prince Lema, our new heir.  He’s got excellent stats, one son, and his wife has died, so he could use a new one.  He’s also scarred and disfigured so he wears a creepy mask.

I secure an excellent wife, Kelile, for him from abroad, but he refuses to marry her.  Since his original wife was a countess, their son is now a count, and is acting as his father’s direct liege.  And since Prince Lema loves his son, he refuses to leave his court for mine, where I could force him to marry.  Grr.  I get him a wife he will agree to marry, and poor Kelile hangs around my court, lonely.  More of her later.

The battle in Greece is effectively won, but we’re still at -1% warscore because of all the lost holdings in Norway, so the pope won’t make peace.  I heave a sigh and load up a ship with 40,000 men to go sort things out.

I didn’t even know I owned … whatever these islands are.  Part of Denmark I guess?  But apparently I do.

After disembarking a huge army and storming a few castles, Pope Leo IX the Confessor finally agrees to quit it.  That’s seven crusades for Jerusalem and two for Greece you’ve lost, guys.  Take a hint.

Without the threat of the Christians to unite them, the vassals pull their usual hazing of the new monarch.

This revolt is not so bad, considering.  Crucially, Syria stays loyal, and they’re enormous.

In the middle of the war, Emperor Gebereal II engages in some … stress relief.  Note that Alaworld is my daughter-in-law, married to Prince Getachew, who is Gebereal’s second son.  It’s good to be the Emperor, I guess?

The revolt armies gather near Semien and get crushed.

Uh … hmm.  This would concern me a lot less if I wasn’t sleeping with his wife.

…who is now giving birth to my sons.

Also, I’m pretty sure I just got roofied by a witch.  No wonder Gebereal is stressed.

The rebels are finally beaten.  Look, Iskinder, I know you’re disfigured, but maybe try a mask that doesn’t make you look like Darth Vader?

Also, check out Iskinder’s stats!  Yikes.

Okay, god damn it.  Archa has mysteriously left my control again.  I swear that county is cursed.  Or possibly bugged.  Either way I’m calling the Ghostbusters.

Pro tip: discovering that your lover has syphilis does not automatically cause you to stop having sex with them.  You have to do that manually.

The Byzantine Basileus has left the defensive pact against me, so it’s time for war!  Not holy war — first I’m going to deal with the annoyingly little blob of red hanging out in the middle of my domain, which I have a de jure claim on.  That has the benefit of raising threat less, too.

Emperor Gebereal II’s recent experiences have soured him on humanity.

The war goes well.  The Byzantines seem increased disinclined to fight to the finish for little bits of land, so once I’ve occupied them they just give up.  Fine with me!

A period of peace follows as I wait out the truce and threat.  In the west, Francia is having issues with Hispania that look like some kind of rash, and Italy and England are separate again.

And kids love dogs!

Hmm, I feel like that kind of does make you a coward, right?

My threat is below 50%, so I can claim the Cursed County of Archa and trigger only a war with some Muslims, rather than the entire world.  This time I’m claiming it on behalf of vassal, maybe that will help.

Victory.  For now…

My heir Prince Lema has become a drunk, and still doesn’t have any children.  Troubling.

My second son Prince Getachew has died of syphilis.  He has two children, both of whom are really mine, and they come after Prince Lema in the line of succession.  So no cause for worry yet.

This is the point at which I discovered I was still sleeping with Alaworld.  Awkward.

My vassal King Berhanu the Handsome of Norway has gotten himself castrated somehow.  He seems to have managed to have six children first, though.

In the meantime, I’ve taken a new lover, Kelile, who was supposed to be married to Prince Lema.  Emperor Gebereal just has a thing for his sons’ wives I guess?  She’s zealous, wrathful, and paranoid, so I can see why having her around is relaxing.

In the meantime, I’ve been pondering.  I’m really sick of being crusaded at, so I’m wondering if something can be done about it.  I’ve come up with a plan.  Step one is to hire Menashe, who is the Most Diplomatic Jew in the World.

Step two is to send him to the Papacy to forge a claim on Rome.  That seems plausible, right?

I’m starting to think Emperor Gebereal II may be Typhoid Mary here.

Although he still has the “Thrill of Illicit Love” modifier … after his lover died explosively vomiting …

Let’s not think too hard about that.  Hey, look, a Byzantine revolt!

Time for a holy war for Tripoli, avenging my one and so far only defeat in battle, all those years ago.

?Holy War theme song!?

Having launched the war, Emperor Gebereal II dies, possibly of Ebola.  Long live Emperor Lema!

If you compare to earlier, you can see that becoming emperor gets Lema a mask upgrade.

Emperor Lema’s stats are solid.  He hides his face because he’s scarred and disfigured, but he’s also brave and diligent.  Also a drunk, but you can’t have everything.  Still only the one, dead son though.

He quickly brings the war against the Byzantine rebels to a satisfactory conclusion.

Much better.  And the vassals aren’t plotting against me too badly yet.

Next time — the exciting conclusion of The Promised Land RELOADED!

Current Year: 1380 AD.  Current Status: Full of Ebola.

Content, Crusader Kings Series 1, Excluded, Games

The Promised Land RELOADED #14

Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart Six, Part SevenPart Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part ElevenPart Twelve, and Part Thirteen.

Another day, another duchy.

Empress China the Bewitched, in spite of her bewitchment, is Israel’s longest-serving ruler.  Under her enlightened, speaking-in-tongues leadership it is more powerful than ever.

An event finally triggers that I’ve been shooting for for a while — Sinai is the only holy place without a temple, so I need some new land to build one on.  It only took like three hundred years!

Now all the holy places of Judaism have their own proper rabbis.  Moral authority is maxed.

There’s a new Basileus of the Byzantines, who is married to a extremely creepy-looking woman.  I guess she’s blinded, but she really just looks like a zombie.

Anyway, he is no longer part of the pact against me, so that means ?Holy War Time?!

Unfortunately, our buddy the pope has to spoil everything.

Pope War VII: The Pope Awakens

This turns out to be an extremely serious crusade — instead of dribbling in by ship, the crusaders arrive by land and attack Constantinople.  And the Byzantines are still fighting in force.  It quickly becomes clear that I can’t take them both, even with mercenary and holy order support.  

Fortunately, the Basileus is willing to make peace, possibly because he’s replaced his creepy wife.  Cue ?Holy War Theme Song, Bummer Remix?.


Even then, things look pretty dark for a while.  That’s a lot of crusaders.  I try to get them to fight at a disadvantage, and distract them from their sieges.

In the middle of this mess, Empress China dies, exhausted, at 71.  Long live Empress Zauditu II!  She’s going to need that military skill.

There’s an enormous battle for which I somehow get no credit at all.  Warscore is weird that way.

After some extremely tense fighting, I finally get the crusade under control and chase them out of Constantinople.

One downside of this style of recap is I can’t recount how tense some of these wars are.  This one was a nail-biter, believe me!

Empress Zauditu II has excellent stats, although her diplomacy is lacking.  What she doesn’t have is any children, and since she’s 48, it looks like her brother Fethee will inherit.  Of her four brothers, the two middle ones have already died.

Ominously, her treasury is nearly bare after the long, expensive crusade.  Hopefully the vassals aren’t revolting…

Of course they are.  They’re always revolting.

I hate it when that happens!

Urgh.  Stay away from the fish.

This guy just cannot get enough of these leeches.

Can’t argue with results, though!

Duke Abai the Merry sounds like a jolly old soul, but he’s actually a syphilitic lunatic.  He’s also plotting against me, so I try to throw him in prison.  This fails, as it almost always does.

Shortly thereafter, a blind guy declares a revolt as well.

Thaaaat’s a big one.  And the treasury is still empty…

Meanwhile, I have pneumonia.

Again with the god-damned leeches!  Not all problems can be solved with leeches, Afework.

You know what?  I changed my mind.  Go back to the leeches.

Again, though, the man gets things done.

I’ve smashed several rebel armies, but my forces are getting weak and they’ve got more men in the field.  Fortunately, Mengesha the Blind loses his nerve and asks for a white peace, which I eagerly accept.

This sounds like a song lyric.

With the larger rebellion over, Abai the Merry will now be perpetrating his zany shenanigans in prison.

One of my nephews is both “Slow” and “Midas Touched”, with I think makes him like Rain Man?

Since I didn’t actually take any territory, my threat is still down, and I don’t have a truce with the Byzantines.  You know what that means: ?Holy War time?!

The Byzantines put up a stiff fight but without all of Christendom turning up mid-war I’m stronger than they are.

Victory!  Only a thin strip now separates the two parts of my empire.

Four parts, I guess.  Or five.  I always forget about the others.  Unfortunately I am once again super threatening and so I have to wait a while.

Here’s a weird one.  King Dawit III dies, and is succeeded by …

…King Dawit II.  Are they counting down?  Was there an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine?

Actually, I think what happened is that the Syrian and Mesopotamian monarchies combined.  The result is my largest vassal, and bears watching.

In Western Europe, France has almost absorbed Spain, and the combined Ireland/Italy kingdom is now called “England”.

I meant to send my spymaster to Damascus to scheme, but I accidentally send my court rabbi there to preach instead.  Oops.

Empress Zauditu II, now 60, decides to try for five years of peace.  In my experience this virtually guarantees war.

Ah, there is it.  Wait.  Who is this guy again?

Turns out he’s the Ecumenical Patriarch, sort of the Orthodox Pope.  I, uh, hope he’s got some allies or something, because he’s outnumbered about thirty to one.

Another adventurer headed my way.  Let’s see if we can head this one off at the pass.

He’s not very popular, so we have a shot at him.  In the background, you can see the Ecumenical Patriarch’s tiny army getting pounded into paste.

She looks a bit like that nun that’s always murdering me.

That’s how we deal with adventurers in my town.  More evil overlords should learn that lesson.

This baffling war ends with the Patriarch paying me a considerable ransom.  Were you just in it to ruin my five years of peace, jerkface?

I hold a seder just to check something.  Apparently we still say, “Next year in Jerusalem”, even though the capital is now in Jerusalem.

Empress Zauditu II is reaching epic levels of martial prowess in her old age.  Three of her younger brothers are now dead, though.  Fortunately they have plenty of children of their own.

My husband gets the flu, has his treatment horribly botched, and dies.  Fortunately I can always entice a fresh one in from abroad.

Once again we’re ready to take a swing at the Byzantines without the whole world getting involved.  But they’re allies with the Empire of Francia, which gives me pause.

Never mind.  Francia is in the middle of a revolt and the emperor has only twelve thousand troops to his name.  ?Holy War time?!

Irritatingly, some of my troops muster near Constantinople and get jumped by a big Byzantine army.  But the war overall goes pretty easily.

Basileus Eustratios the Confessor has had a very long career consisting mostly of me kicking him in the teeth.

Constantinople is finally connected by land to Jerusalem and Semien.

Okay, this time surely we can manage five years of peace!

(Right after I stop those raiders from burning Constantinople.)

Nope.  A tasty chunk of Khotan revolts, and I jump at the chance to grab it, unprotected by the grand defensive alliance.

It wouldn’t have mattered in any event, since Empress Zauditu II died shortly thereafter.  Since she had no children, she’s succeeded by her younger brother.  I like the sound of “fabulous riches”.  Long live Emperor Fethee!

Honestly Fethee only had about three thousand gold.  Disappointing.  His oldest daughter is 17 and fortunately not yet married, so I don’t have to murder an inappropriate husband.  

She’s also a lot whiter than her father?  I guess she takes after her mother.

I secure the services of Nissim of Horodnia for her in the traditional fashion.  (That is, inviting him over for dinner and then forcibly marrying him on pain of death.)

Turns out to be a good thing, too!  Emperor Fethee apparently couldn’t take the excitement.  Long Live Empress Berta!

Berta’s stats aren’t ideal, since I didn’t get to raise her.  But at least she’s young.  I hire an insane rabbi just to be on the safe side.

In spite of the thirty-year age gap, she wastes no time.  Meanwhile, the war decreed by her aunt goes on against the Khotan rebels.

I’m never super-upset by this, but especially not now, since I’m expecting a vassal revolt at any minute.  Emperor Fethee may be the only ruler who didn’t have to fight one.

It took a lot of death, but we got there.

And we have a son!  Definitely a good start for Empress Berta.

Duke Kifle is plotting something, so we go through the whole farce.  Guards, rebellion, war.  Can’t we just skip to the part where you end up in jail?

What is it with these mayors?

Damn it, romantic poetry is hereby outlawed!

As I crush the Duke of Axum, the other vassals are surprisingly quiet.  Good vassals!

The spread of Judaism is coming along nicely, too.

Hmm.  Duke Afework’s romantic poetry apparently worked better on my sister Princess Falasha.

Why are so many of these dukes called “The Ill-Ruler” anyway?

Empress Berta is doing nicely — brawny, brave, and charitable, with two sons so far.

There’s a new Basileus, but he’s still in the pact against me, so no holy war yet.

However, a Mongol Empire revolt offers a tempting target!

We can’t do … somewhere even vaguely nearby?  No?  Okay, Norway it is.  Have fun storming the castle.  I’ll be here where it’s warm.

Unfortunately, the Mongols work out their differences before I can win my war, and their revolt disappears.  I consider going to fight in Norway, but what would I even do with Norway if I had it?

Instead, I take advantage of another revolt to grab the county of Archa.

There, that was much easier than going to Norway.

Enthusiasm for the northern adventure is strong among my vassals, though.  Good luck, guys.

There’s a lot of them helping, but Charles II the Monster (which is my new band name) is helping on the other side.  Francia is still surprisingly weak.

Huh.  That’s going … better than I expected.

Goddamn if they didn’t take Norway!

So, the Empire of Israel now includes the west coast of Scandinavia and half of Iceland.  Awesome!

In revenge, the pope declares a crusade for … somewhere else, for once.

Aw.  I guess owning Norway wasn’t as fulfilling as she expected.

This view shows my vassals.  Syria has gotten kind of alarmingly large.

Speaking of Syria.  No, you may not have more vassals.  You have such a large … realm already.

Empress Berta takes up hunting on the theory that judicious murder might cheer her up.

My husband, Emperor Nissim, promised to build me a statue.  Turns out it’s a grand monument to fuckin’.  Teen boys across the realm rejoice as I decide not to tear down the Emperor’s erection.

That’s the way to Empress Berta’s heart — not through romantic poetry, but grand public statuary.

Emperor Nissim, having completed his masterwork, dies almost immediately thereafter, though not before impregnating me one last time.

I remarry someone closer to my own age, after checking out his stats, of course.

Wait.  I took that county over, right?  Was that a dream?

Apparently I took it over, I granted it to a guy, and then a foreign king inherited it and … somehow the same guy got it back?  Huh.

My son and heir, Gebereal, has turned out quite nicely.

Unfortunately, in my haste to get him a wife with good stats, I accidentally marry him to a 66-year-old woman.  She can teach him some tricks, I guess.

Okay.  For realsies this time, five years of peace.  I can do this.  I’m strong.

Nope.  I’m weak.  Simultaneous Mongol and Byzantine revolts!  Time to get to work.

Mongols first.  Om nom nom.

The Byzantine’s war is only at 12%, so I try for them too.

?Holy War theme song?

A quick victory!  Slowly moving toward my goal of taking all of Anatolia.

Prince Gebereal’s wife dies, shockingly.  I find him someone a little more suitable this time.

Empress Berta is feeling better.  Maybe she was sad about being left out of the Norway trip, and some more holy war is what she needed?

Another revolt means another opportunity!  I actually have a real (that is, forged) claim on Taron, so I don’t even need to get all holy on them.

Considering their land is mostly occupied by Hindu kings and Mongols, I would imagine so.

Empress Berta is still merrily having kids at 41.

Honestly I can have five years of peace whenever I want, guys.  I’m really more of a social conqueror.

A surgeon-poet?  Well, poetry is banned, but I suppose I can make an exception.

So, is the prescription poetry?  Because if it is I’m not sure I can take it.

It’s super effective!

In addition to chest pains, Empress Berta now has an infected wound from a hunting expedition.

It’s making her somewhat cross.

But hey, we finally made it!  

Any wars going on?  Anybody got any wars?

Spreading Judaism continues apace.

And seeing all of Israel now requires maximum zoom!  

Current Year: 1344 AD.  Current Status: Peace Is Constant Agony.