Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The ByzanPict Empire Part 3: Holy War for fun & Profit

A tiny island of doomed Jains in a sea of Catholics
It’s 1355. Kaiser Amalrich II “the Cruel” of House Uerturio is continuing his quest to reform the Roman Empire

Things haven’t been going too badly. I still haven’t solved the succession situation, since I can’t get primogeniture because I don’t have late feudal administration. I feel like this is ridiculous since I’m pretty sure primogeniture was the standard form of succession for most of the middle ages in Europe. I can’t get the council to OK the law changes required because as I mentioned in my last post they all hate me. Probably because I’m a homosexual cannibal with only 2 diplomacy points.

So for the moment I’m stuck on gavelkind. I did not think this would be a problem for Amalrich and his lesbian wife Agatha since they would be lucky to produce any offspring at all. I selected family focus to ensure an heir, and was pleased when the couple did their duty and produced a third Amalrich. Now I figured that would be the end of it, but I was surprised when they then produced a daughter. And another. And another son. And another daughter. And she’s pregnant again. Despite both Amalrich and Agatha being gay, they are cranking out the kiddies at a fantastic rate. So I guess they’re actually bisexual? Or really super diligent about filling my court with mediocre German princelings. So at the moment the title of Kaiser will go to Amalrich, while everything else goes to Werner, the younger son. Not if I can help it. That kid is going to the church ASAP. Maybe I can raise him as an antipope at some point.

Now, I have managed to build up a tidy little demesne in the last while. As I said last time, the first priority was to build a private power base somewhere in the east so as to ensure I have the money and men to fight the inevitable rebellions. I did this by declaring a holy war to take Baghdad and the surrounding territories. The fact it is on the Silk Road means I’m getting an astounding bonus to income, and the levies aren’t too shabby either. I immediately set my chaplain to converting the populace to Christianity. During the war, Amalrich’s younger brother Mathias snuffed it from natural causes, leaving him the county of Messina in Sicily and Hamburg, as well as a couple of baronies. The war was quickly resolved, despite Egypt providing support to Baghdad. This left me almost up to my demesne limit.

As I mentioned, I only need the Duchies of Jerusalem, Antioch and one more county in Egypt to form the Roman Empire. My vassal the King of Antioch (who does not live in Antioch) was fighting for one of those counties and I helped him out. Shortly after he went for the second county, leaving the independent Duke of Antioch with one county. I expect he will usurp the duchy and take the last county shortly. If he doesn’t I’ll get my chancellor to work on him and vassalise him peacefully. Or just crush him. Whatever.

Gizeh in the Duchy of Alexandria was trickier. I’d actually nabbed 3 out of the 4 counties in that duchy during a revolt previously, so it was the last county I needed in Egypt. Egypt is quite strong in this game so I waited until there was another revolt and declared war. I had to win a couple of big battles and occupy much of the Nile Delta before I won this one county. But that only leaves the duchy of Jerusalem. More on that later.

My next priority was to deal with Enudaig and Cenræd. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Nobody seems to want to help to kill them, and they aren’t rebelling, yet. Spying on them yielded no results either. Enudaig was distracted, however, by a futile claim war on Francia. I think he expected me to… I don’t know, help him or something? Not a chance. Cenræd has a claim on the Empire, so he’s started a faction to install himself on the throne. It’s not that big, yet. A more pressing issue is the independence faction that includes the monarchs of Poland, England, Sweden and Mesopotamia. If that one fires, I’m absolutely ruined.

Luckily, fortune smiled upon me. Remember a while back I mentioned casually that a Jain secret society had infiltrated Western Europe and the Khans of Avaria were adherents of it? Well, it looks like the society finally managed to take over Avaria. Great job, Jainism! Enjoy getting holy warred back to the subcontinent! The King of Poland immediately declared war for the Avarian lands to the north of the Carpathians, while Amalrich moved to annex all Avarian land south of the Danube. Now I have four counties, a buttload of cities and bishoprics to buy off all of those angry vassals. *slow clap for the Khan of Avaria* I hope it was worth it, buddy.

As an aside, I’ve been very interested in how the new Monks & Mystics content has worked in this game. A quick glance at India reveals that Buddhism is long since eliminated and Hinduism is hanging on by a thread. The Jains are dominant in India, and their reach stretches as far as Persia. The other religion which has become quite OP is Kharijite Islam. Although it hasn’t taken over any countries yet, I know there is an extensive secret Kharijite society. This is the sect of Islam that Ganant and Butayna’s kids converted to back in the day… IT’S ALL CONNECTED.
So a big problem is going to be Jerusalem. The Emperor of the Franks very unkindly destroyed the Kingdom title at some point, so there’ll be no easy claimant installing. I’ll have to either forge a claim or try and inherit the whole Empire. Either way it’s going to be incredibly difficult. Especially since I forgot about this and married Amalrich’s daughter Klara to a French prince to get a non-aggression pact when I was worried about fighting multiple wars at once.

For Amalrich III, the firstborn son, I’ve got a slightly better match. He is marrying an African princess who (with a little bit of pruning of the family tree) could inherit the Kingdom. I’m going to wait and see who else is around before I pledge the others to anyone else.

While I’m working out what to do about Jerusalem, I have a couple of options. More holy warring – into Azerbaijan or deeper into Persia, or take on the Egyptians again and take Damietta or Cairo. I think I’ll avoid the Egyptians for now, at least until my realm is a bit more stable. The other option, however, is to invite a claimant to the Georgian throne to court and bring them back under the Empire’s bootheel *ahem* protection. Then in 10 years’ time I’ll see if there’s any more Avaria left to conquer. At this point I think buying vassal loyalty with land might work out a better deal than bringing another kingdom into the mix.

I’ll take a minute now to talk about Amalrich’s personal development. He’s turned into a bad dude. He was never really nice, but since he was cooped up in the Imperial Palace while camp fever ravaged the land he’s been a real horror. He ended up eating his sister, his court physician and also a random lowborn courtier. This earned him the nickname Amalrich “the Cruel”. As a result, I’m just role playing him now as the biggest bastard possible, even converting to Greek culture just to allow him to blind and castrate people who piss me off. He’s really not a nice guy.

I need to fix the Jerusalem problem, stat.

Friday, August 11, 2017

More tales of the ByzanPict Empire – Saved by surprise gavelkind!

OK, so it looks like I might have saved the empire after all, but in doing so I made a couple of sacrifices and created a couple of other problems I’m going to have to deal with further down the line.

So I finished trouncing the Serbia/Croatia revolt and revoking those two titles while beating down the Avarian duke and his claimant to a white peace. I also dealt with an annoying adventurer, but since banishing him and confiscating his 500 gold (along with a 350 gold loan from Jewish merchants and a couple of ransoms) is all that is keeping me solvent right now.

That done, I was able to deal with the succession issue. Domelch, despite waiting patiently in the wings for all of Uirup’s long reign, was going to be very disappointed. I switched my primary title to the Byzantine Empire and destroyed the Empire of Pictland title, effectively merging the two empires into one giant, purple blob, all of which would go to Amalrich “the Just” of Hamburg. I admit that was a hard call to make. I’ve placed a lot of care into maintaining the Pictish identity of my empire, even foregoing turning Scottish and getting decent retinues. And now after scuffling to turn parts of Italy and North Africa from purple to blue now I’ve turned them purple again. It kind of hurts to look upon it. I have to keep reminding myself that my Empire has not been defeated, merely morphed into something else.

Domelch then died of an infected wound, meaning that this action could actually have turned out to be pointless.

Uirup “The Holy” finally died, aged 78 years old, having been, on the face of it one of the most successful rulers I’ve ever had. But I will admit I was not sad to see the back of the incompetent A-hole. A man literally nobody liked, he still managed to join the two largest empires in the world. However, he couldn’t resist one last fuck up on the way out the door. In destroying the Empire of Pictland, he ensured both empires would go to one man. Unfortunately, that man was a German. Germans can’t use Tanistry succession because they’re not from the right culture group. That means that the Empire has gone back to default succession settings. And that means…



Before I realised what was happening, I had lost everything. Uirup’s death caused all of my kingdoms split between his sons, creating the two single most powerful vassals I have ever had, whilst simultaneously reducing my demesne to one single county (Constantinople, but still). The stress of dealing with all this while secretly practicing Islam killed poor Amalrich immediately, the Empire and Constantinople passing to his son, Kaiser Amalrich II, the third ruler in under five years. So, to more clearly explain what is happening, I lost a number of the titles that were on tanistry due to elections, and the ones that defaulted to gavelkind were split among my heirs in a grotesque clusterfuck that left me virtually landless.

Despite this, I’m down to a more manageable five vassals over my limit, I’m back up to 63 gold a month coming in, and my troop levies are finally getting back to normal, currently sitting at around 60,000 men. So… the empire is stable now.

What is NOT stable, is Amalrich II’s position at the top of it. And oh my god, you thought Uirup was an incompetent. This guy is… not good. No stats above five. Total schlub. On top of that, he’s gay, and so’s his wife, so getting an heir is going to be a problem. For now, his vassals seem to like him and there is minimal plotting against him, even with the council not over their new-monarch jitters. Cenræd “The Son of Satan”, Uirup’s Anglo-Saxon child by the disfigured Duchess, now reigns as King of Sicily, Wallachia, Croatia and Serbia, while his genius half-brother Enudaig reins as King of Scotland (*sob* he changed it to Scotland), Mauretania, Andalusia, and Ireland. I also have four king titles, but each is only titular i.e. has no actual lands attached to it.

So, aims going forward:
1)      Neutralise Cenræd and Enudaig
2)      Enlarge demesne
3)      Conquer remaining provinces needed to create Roman Empire
4)      Change succession to anything except gavelkind

The first one should be tricky. How to do this? Assassins are out of the question due to Amalrich’s lamentable intrigue stats, so I suppose I shall have to trick one of them into rebelling and use the other’s forces to crush them. Then I revoke their titles, take their armies and use them to wipe the floor with the other one. I may concentrate my efforts of Enudaig, since he is the more pertinent threat than his rather dull-minded brother. Sadly, Enudaig had a claim on Francia I was going to use, dating from when he was back-up heir to Domelch but I think giving him MORE power would be a very poor idea at this point.

Point two: I am inundated with options in this regard due to my new position in East giving me a wad of holy war options. I think my first move will be to grab Baghdad and its surrounding counties from the Sheikdom that owns it. If I get there quickly with a lot of men I should be able to get them without any bother. The other option is to take Famagusta on Cyprus from the Georgian Revolt. Other possible easy targets include Antioch, which is an independent duchy.

Which leads us on to point three: I need Antioch, Jerusalem and one more county in Italy to reform the Roman Empire. Antioch won’t be a problem, and neither will the county in Italy (probably a vassal will take care of that before long). Jerusalem, on the other hand, belongs to France, and I would like to avoid fighting them if at all possible. Spoiler alert: It won’t be. Eventually I’m going to have to fight them, probably a few times to get Jerusalem away from them.

And on the succession issue: I can’t use tanistry anymore since I’m no longer in the Celtic culture group, so I’m going to switch to primo as soon as Amalrich’s ruled for 10 years.That means I'm stuck as a German for now. Going to try and get a Pict to educate my heirs.

All right. Let’s try this out. Death to Enudaig and Cenræd! SPQR!