Look West Desiderius: Let's Play CK2

edited 2016-08-02 23:55:30 in Liveblogs
Yes, another of these. Hopefully I will stick with this one this time!

When I was asking for suggestions as to where to play, one of them was Berlin. Well Berlin did not exist yet in the timeframe that this game takes place, and the land it now stands on is held by a fairly powerful duke which seemed just a touch too easy (we'll get to said Duke in a moment). So, instead, we got the next best thing.

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This is central Europe. Specifically, the Holy Roman Empire. Ruled currently by this man

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This is Heinrich IV, Holy Roman Emperor (also titled variously "King of The Romans" and "High King of Germany". It's complicated, I recommend you read about him, because his history OTL is actually pretty fascinating. Also he's an enormous douchebag.)

We are not Heinrich, as you might notice by the disembodied portrait in the top left corner of the screen. No no no, we're this fellow.

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Look pretty rough for 51, don't we? That's the middle ages for you. We're Friedrich von Goseck, the 8th Count of Altmark and the first of our dynasty to hold the title. Now a Count rules a county, which is the smallest piece of land you can own in CK2 and not lose the game. I will be calling him Frederick, for my own reasons.

Where's Altmark?

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There's Altmark. A small, pizza-shaped piece of land just south of Denmark.

If we switch map modes so we can look at the vassals of the Holy Roman Empire, we can see our position a little more clearly.

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Notice that Altmark is not noted indpendently here. That's because we're not independent within the empire. We answer not just to His Imperial Majesty Big Hank, but also to this fellow:

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This is Lothar-Udo II, Duke of Brandenburg (what a name). He is our immediate liege. We pay our taxes to him, and he pays his to the emperor. To recap: We are the count of Altmark, our liege is Brandenburg, and his liege is The Holy Roman Empire (The HRE from here on out).

He's a deceptive, ambitious sort, and in much better health than us. Why, if he plays his cards right he might become emperor someday! But what about us? Well, if you scroll back up there to take a look at our traits (you can see what all those icons mean here if you're interested, or you can just trust me to describe the characters accurately. Your call) you can see we're not much of any sort at all. Frederick attends mass religiously, likes food but not women, is generally kindhearted, and quite straightforward. 

Yes, there can be no doubt about it. In a kinder era, perhaps the modern one, Fred would make an effective middle manager, garden shop owner, or small-town restaurant owner. However, Fred is a noble in the high middle ages, and that kind of attitude will simply not do. Perhaps if Fred was on his own and had no legacy to foster, things would be different, but Fred has a son of a mere four years of age (also named Frederick), and a brother, Adalbert, who had managed to get himself appointed the Prince-Bishop of Bremen.

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Concerned, Frederick begins a correspondence with his ordained brother. Asking him for advice on what, if anything, he should do to provide a more secure life for his young son.

The Bishop's reply is short and to the point. In the Empire, only the strong succeed. If Frederick is so concerned about his son's welfare, he must leave him an inheritance greater than a mere single backwater county.

Frederick ponders the wisdom of his brother's words. Certainly it was hard to deny that these were troubled times, it was said that a rebellion was brewing down south in the Empire's Italian lands, and if mere dukes could stand against an empire, than surely the world was truly in upheaval. Frederick considered his advantages, and what he could leverage to acquire more territory.

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One thing--perhaps the only thing--that Frederick had that others did not was a council of competent advisors. True, base competence was commonplace, but Frederick's chancellor, a silk-smooth diplomat by the name of Baldrich, was unparalleled. As was his marshal, Michael von Walbeck (mayor of the city of the same name) and his treasurer, a Slavic heathen named Bolyzar.

Weeks later, while still pondering, Frederick looked across the river that marked the border of his territory, and, seeing the castle of Travemunde on the opposite bank, inspiration struck.

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Liubice--Luebeck to Germans such as Frederick--was a small, independent territory. Completely unprotected by liege or allies.

Frederick pondered. The main obstacle to his acquisition of this territory was Travemunde castle itself. 

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A mighty riverside fortress defended by well-kept fortifications, and an army almost a thousand strong. Still, it was the only obvious solution to Frederick's dilemma.

He ordered his Chancellor to find a reason--any reason--he could use to justify conquering the castle, and Baldrich set to his lord's work.

Comments

  • kill living beings
    does this game start just after the norman conquest of england?

    also, berlin is newer than i thought. weird
  • does this game start just after the norman conquest of england?

    The default start date is just before it. You can start as early as Charlemagne times if you have the relevant expansions though.
  • edited 2016-07-30 22:11:47
    YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    In the following year, Heinrich IV passes some laws that effectively give his vassal dukes slightly less autonomy. Several are outraged, most don't care.

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    Heinrich also declares war on Philipp of France over a single-county border dispute. Frederick's meager armies are not called upon during the short course of the conflict.

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    As the political machines around them whir, Frederick and his (relatively much younger) wife Hedwig find that they have more in common than they might've thought, stemming from what was after all a political marriage (Hedwig is the daughter of a baron within Frederick's lands). He dotes on her, and his beloved son, and while it will never gain Frederick a kingdom, the happy family are well-liked within The Duchy of Brandenburg. 

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    So well-liked in fact, that Frederick--who, while he knows his way around a sword, is hardly a military genius--is offered the largely ceremonial title of Commander of Brandenburg. There are several such Commanders, who lead the duke's armies in his stead, and while he must still answer to the Brandenburger Marshal, it is still a great honor second only to his own title as Count.

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    A revolt occurs later in the year. Pierre of Savoy, tired of Heinrich IV's reign, declares him a tyrant and rises up against him.

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    Then mere days later, a personal disaster strikes.

    For all of Chancellor Baldrich's hard work, Sweyn II, King of Denmark, has annexed Luebeck to his personal demense.

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    It is a deeply frustrating moment for the count. Altmark lacks other weak neighbors, and the only one he could get away with attacking, the nearby pagan kingdom of Obotritia, is far too strong for him to conquer alone.

    He will need to rethink his strategy.

    *these events fired because I have the "Family" Focus on. You can read about focuses here.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS

    does this game start just after the norman conquest of england?

    also, berlin is newer than i thought. weird

    The 1066 start date starts during William The Bastard's invasion of England.

    I'm gonna give an update on the state of Europe-at-large at the end of every decade or so. It's not usually immediately relevant but y'all deserve to know if like, Harald The Hardruler conquers England or somethin.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    1068 is an uneventful year for Altmark politically, but the same is not true of Count Frederick's personal life.

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    Pondering his existence. The already quite humble Frederick resolves to become even moreso, if he cannot leave his son an empire, he will at least leave him loved.

    Meanwhile, landless court nobles--the lowest of all of God's creatures--amuse themselves by spreading rumors that the famously sober and celibate Frederick is in fact secretly a boozing whoremonger. Outraged, Frederick forces the gossipers before him, where he reads a public proclamation declaring his eternal devotion to his wife. It makes him look a touch silly, but after being read a public statement about marital bliss for a few hours straight, the gossipers cease their rumormongering.

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    Later that year, the time comes for Young Frederick to begin his education. Frederick knows he cannot adequately teach the child all he must know to run a realm on his own, as such, he is sent with Chancellor Baldarich to learn the ways of diplomacy. Frederick hopes his progeny will become as silver-tongued as the master diplomat himself.

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    Elsewhere in the Empire, Vratislav II of Bohemia divides his titles in two to resolve a dispute among his sons. Reviving the old title Duke of Moravia, and making one son the heir to Bohemia, and the other the heir to this new title. Whether this will solve the problem or just create new ones remains to be seen.

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    Frederick raises taxes on nobles. The handful of barons under his command grumble slightly, but do nothing else.

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    Later that year, and to the surprise of all, the Pope, The Head of All Catholicism, Alexander II, catches pneumonia, and dies not a week later.

    He is succeeded by a young Tuscan surnamed Moncana, who takes his predecessors name in his honor.

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  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    Eurupdate 1070

    Europe is still mostly the same as it was at start, but there is a crucial difference here in Italy

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    With Papal support, Matilda of Tuscany has thrown off Heinrich IV's rule, rejecting his imperial claims over Italy. Time will tell if this holds.

    Also of note is Robert de Hauteville's unification of Apulia. Popular rumor is that he plans to move on the muslim Emirate of Sicily next.

    --

    In between correspondence with his Bishop brother, Frederick learns that Bozydar has died.

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    While his heathen ways will not be missed, his skill with coin certainly will. And perhaps against the man's own wishes, Frederick orders him given a Christian burial. Frederick's brother Adalbert administers the ceremony, giving Frederick peace of mind that his pagan acquaintance perhaps made it to Heaven in spite of his beliefs in life. Another steward--the fifth son of a minor noble from Austria named Gunzelin--is found, but he is no Bolyzar.

    Not long after the funeral, Frederick invites Adalbert to his castle to spend some time with the rest of the family. Crucially this means Frederick The Bastard, the only son (illegitimate or not) of Frederick's deceased brother Dedo von Goseck.

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    Frederick The Bastard puts Count Frederick on to falconry, soon, he and his bird Wyvern are inseperable.

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    Another revolt hits the empire in 1071, as Rudolf of Swabia attempts to overthrow the empire. His rebellion is swiftly crushed, and he is left to rot in a dungeon for the rest of his natural life.

    Later that year, Frederick's chancellor nearly loses his life during a bridge inspection. 

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    Then, unexpected, but happy news comes.

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    Followed immediately by unexpected, and very bad news.

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    Tensions between Lothar-Udo and the Emperor had been long-brewing, as Lothar-Udo had given financial support to several other rebels. Now, Heinrich had attempted to invoke his rights as Emperor to revoke one of Lothar's counties. This did not sit well with the Duke, who refused, causing Heinrich to formally first, revoke his liegeship, and second, declare war.

    In the middle of all of this, was humble Frederick.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    In the midst of the fighting, Frederick's second son Burchard is born.

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    Sadly, Hedwig passes away not long after. 

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    Her death hits Frederick hard, and he swears an oath of celibacy to honor her.

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    Misfortune continues to pile on Frederick, who later is wounded while defending his castle from the Emperor's soldiers, a German bowman sniping him from the ground only narrowly misses his eye, leaving a nasty gash on his head.

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    Finally, as if to confirm that his world is upending, Frederick recieves news that the Pope has died unexpectedly. He is succeeded by Andreo Palizzi, who rules as Hadrianus IV.

    The sole good news to come out of the entire war--which ends quickly, with fully half of Lothar's demesne now annexed to Heinrich's--is the knighting of Hartmann von Helbestedt, a scholar-turned-soldier who distinguishes himself in the battle.

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    As the war ends, his wound begins to heal, scarring over and giving him no small amount of respect from his soldiers.

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    Young Frederick comes of age, he is very much not his father's son. Forever envious (though good at feigning humility), with a mean streak, an insatiable craving for fine quail, and very very big dreams.

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    Only a few years into his reign, Hadrianus IV passes away. Replaced by Honorious II, who is just as quickly replaced by Eugenius III.

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    But Eugenius' election does not go undisputed. A group of cardinals who support a rival candidate approach Emperor Heinrich and ask for his support, which he pledges, setting up Siegfried of Mainz as his own Pope, Lucius II.

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  • I was wondering how long it would take for an antipope to show up.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    one who is a real historical figure no less!
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    Eurupdate 1080

    While much of Europe remains as it was, there are some interesting situations starting to pop up.

    In particular, Harald Hardrada has emerged victorious in his conquest of England, driving back both the saxon Harold II and the Norman invader William The Bastard. After several years of unrest he seems to have finally cemented his hold on the isle. But it remains to be seen if the same can be said of his descendants.

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    In Eastern Europe, the Rurikid slavic princes continue to vie for control of the region. One in particular, Vsevolod, has proclaimed himself "The King of All Rus". Hungary expands also, King Saloman The Wolf conquering the Orthodox Pechenegs and pushing eastward.

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    --

    The time has come for Burchard to begin his education. Sadly, it appears that by the standards of his time, he will never be fit for duties such as marshalry or treasuring. As such, Frederick hopes he might find his true calling in the Lord, and hires a priest named Gunther to instruct him in clerical ways.

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    Around this time, Frederick, very reluctantly, takes a second wife by the name of Gerhilda. She lives in the castle mostly to perform "house duties", and Frederick is not shy about unfavorably comparing her to his first wife. The two do not get much along and rarely even spend time together, and as the years wear on it becomes unclear why Frederick remarried in the first place.

    Other things change too, and Lothar-Udo II passes away. Replaced by his son Heinrich as Duke of Brandenburg. The entire Duchy having fallen on hard times, he inherits what is generally considered to be the weakest major fief in Germany.

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    Opportunity can arise in strange places. And upon recieving news that The Obotritians are now ruled by a weak child-king, Frederick makes one last attempt to expand his influence. He borrows money from a Jewish merchant league and raises an army of mercenaries--displaced Pechenegs who have made their legendary cavalry available across the land--and goes to war.

    Not long after, Frederick's health takes a turn for the worse.

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    Much worse.

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    He dies a bitter, disappointed, unhappy man. Young Frederick inherits Altmark with gusto as the war still rages across the river.

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    Sadly, the war proves far more costly than either Frederick realized. And after two solid years of fighting, the Altmarker treasury has simply run dry, and a white peace is declared. Young Frederick loses nothing except his dignity, and first impressions of the new Count are far from favorable. Frederick is a hard man to hate but an even harder one to like. 
  • do counts not get numbered? huh
  • I guess they just

    aren't worth counting
  • kill living beings
    nobody gives a fuck about counts. i'm surprised you can play this game as a count.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS

    do counts not get numbered? huh

    Nope. Only Dukes and higher.

    nobody gives a fuck about counts. i'm surprised you can play this game as a count.

    it is admittedly very much Hard Mode, which is why I'm doing terribly.
  • Jane said:

    do counts not get numbered? huh

    Nope. Only Dukes and higher.
    I guess I never paid enough attention to any counts to notice.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    for the record if we don't expand our land at all by 1100 we'll start over elsewhere in Europe. Probably somewhere else within the HRE but not necessarily, I'll put it to a vote.

    Updates forthcoming later this evening.
  • edited 2016-07-31 22:51:27
    YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    NOTHING TO SEE HERE MOVE ALONG
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    We hit 1100 and nothing has changed, so we will be starting over.

    Willing to take suggestions for our next campaign. This is a good place to look if you don't have anything specific in mind but I want to start in 1066.

    Anything Duke level or below. So no Kings or Emperors.

    I don't want to play a Mongol nation after their revamp for the Horse Lords patch since I don't have the DLC to make them, you know, interesting.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    bump
  • kill living beings
    that Dmitar-Zvonimir Trpimirovic mother fucker
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    any other suggestions?

    if not I'll go with Dimmy Zivvy.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    Alright, in the 1066 start Demetrius (who is here just called Zvinomir for some reason tho I'm pretty sure it's the same dude) is a duke vassal under King Kresimir.

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  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    Looking at the Independant States map mode there are some interesting opportunities at this start.

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    we would own the northern half of Croatia at game start and could probably take the whole kingdom with a little luck and good play. Then it's an open question though.

    Remaining completely independent borders on impossible, and I think it might be an interesting idea to pledge fealty to either the HRE or the Byzantines, and then try to play them against each other while we build up our own powerbase from within one or the other.

    So I'm willing to strongly consider Mr. Trpimirovic. Other suggestions are also open of course. I'll ponder things until at least midnight my time (so about 3 hours from now).

    If anyone has other suggetsions (or wants to second Klino's) lemme know.
  • That guy sounds interesting enough to me, but I don't have strong opinions on this subject tbh.
  • Splat Charger Specialist
    Have you ever played a game as Byzantium? You could give that a shot :o
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    I have.

    Also:

    Anything Duke level or below. So no Kings or Emperors.
  • Splat Charger Specialist
    Are there no lesser Byzantine Nobles to play as?
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    Plenty, but none I know of that are interesting either mechanically or historically.

    Also most of the Byzantine vassals are what're called Thanes, which means your liege can take your title back any time he wants it. It's annoying.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    We will be playing as Zvonomir.

    Will post updates either tonight or tomorrow.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    Hi again. Let me introduce you to our new jump-off point.

    This is Croatia, a small, ethnically-Slavic kingdom in the balkans. Right now, it's independent and if we let history proceed as it normally does, that would not last for long. We are nestled in quite the position, sandwiched between the Holy Roman Empire, its Greek brother The Byzantine Empire, and Hungary, who are not an empire but are a good deal more large and stable than we are.

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    But we don't control Croatia. We control Slavonia, which is a ban, or vassal duchy, within Croatia.

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    Or in more easily-digestible terms:

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    We own a little less than half of the country. Most of it north of the river that cuts Croatia in twine. The Hungarian Border, essentially.

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    And this is us. Demetrius Zvonimir, that first part is omitted because it's the name he took upon becoming king (we'll get to that in a moment). 

    You can read all about the historical Demetrius here. In-game we're a pretty good dude! We're good with money, we're hardworking, honest, generous, and quite religious. Also, if this (real!) portrait is anything to go by, we carry around a big book with some Old Church Slavonic written in it, and have a gaze that can turn lesser men to stone.

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    Historically. Zvonimir is chosen as the successor of the current king (both historically and in-game: Kresimir IV), but funny thing about that, CK2 doesn't model appointed monarchies that well. Which means that after this King Kresimir The Great dies, the throne will go to his daughter.

    Historically, Zvonimir and King Kress got along pretty well. Funny thing about history, but, before we get too ahead of ourselves, I'm going to lay out some long-term goals for this campaign (which I intend to take at least until game end in the 1400s, we'll see about conversion to EU4 when the time comes).

    • Become King of Croatia: Not necessarily with Zvonimir, though that would very much be nice.
    • Swear fealty to a larger realm. We're probably going to do this with the HRE. Historically, many of the balkan kingdoms made the mistake of trying to be 100% independent all the time, this meant that they were vulnerable to invasion and in-game, it makes us vulnerable to anyone with claims, nearby Muslim and Pagan rulers who can Holy War for our titles, etc. etc. We want a safe position for further expansion
    • Own as much of the balkans as possible, all of it would be ideal. 
    • Owning as much of the Mediterranean in general as possible would certainly not be unwelcome either.
    • And the ultimate goal? Form Yugoslavia, 900 years early. If we own enough of the balkans I'll attempt to create a custom empire title of that name. Uniting the southern slavic peoples under one banner. This'll be hard, since it will require throwing off the liege we swear fealty to in Point 2, but I think it's doable if we end up in a good position. I won't cry if we can't do this, but it would really be nice.
    Let's get into the meat of things, shall we?
  • kill living beings
    old croatian books must have been really huge if they only had like seven words per page.

    anyway medieval yugoslavia = lol
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    So let's talk immediate goals.

    Historically Zvonimir was a pretty upstanding dude. That doesn't work in CK2. No, this Zvonimir is an upstanding dude on the outside. On the inside, he is the same vile scheming drkadžija that every CK2 character is.

    So to that end, here are the three provinces we own:

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    Notice how we are flanked by two provinces that we do not own, but could probably take fairly easily. As shown on the map below:

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    Note Slavonia, shown in lime green, and Soon-To-Be Slavonia, shown in orange. Also note Future Conquests, scribbled out in blue.

    Zvonimir will opt to target Veglia--to our west--first. Why? Because it's a port. Given the choice between a coastal and a non-coastal province of otherwise equal value, you go coastal every time. Ships are good.

    There are several ways we could go about this but sometimes the simplest way is the best. 

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    With Chancellor Ljudevit going to work, let's quickly review our relatives, then we'll finally unpause.

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    Ilona here is significant. She is A) our wife and B) a princess of Hungary. This will let us negotiate an alliance with the Hungarian king (Salamon, who sits on the throne at the ripe old age of 13 at the moment) provided he stays in power, which will be a huge help later on if we make our bid for the throne in this lifetime (which I do hope to do).

    We have two children who are not worth mentioning right now because they're both infants. Young Klaudija is 2, and her baby brother Radovan (our heir) is 1.

    Also our relative?

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    Yes! King Kress is our "kinsman" (an in-game term that just means anyone more distantly related than a grandparent). It's not really significant for a gameplay perspective unless we try to have him killed, but it does add that extra little bit of knife-twistery if we manage to seize the throne from him. The Count of Veglia, the very man whose title we are trying to seize, is also a relative of ours.

    With our immediate pursuits lined up, we'll pick an ambition (for now, to become chancellor. We have a good diplo score and we don't want to give Kresimir a reason to be suspicious of us just yet by declaring our intent to become king), and a lifestyle focus. I'm thinking Family, how about you?

    Let's unpause.
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS

    old croatian books must have been really huge if they only had like seven words per page.

    anyway medieval yugoslavia = lol

    well what do you want me to call it mr. smartypants |: |
  • kill living beings
    the name isn't the point, just the idea of a balkan state, given how incredibly stable a state it is

    anyway so uh... stupid question... you can just fuck up other duchies? i mean you and veglia are both vassals to king tween here, right?
  • YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    Whether or not you can fight other vassals depends on what the kingdom's crown authority is at. Infighting is only forbidden at very high Crown Authorities and almost everywhere starts with "Autonomous Vassals", ie. "basically no crown authority at all".
  • kill living beings
    feudalism is awesome.
  • edited 2016-08-03 01:54:16
    YOUR TELEPHONE IS LINKED TO MY WEAPON SYSTEMS
    In 1067, in what will become the first of several disagreeable acts, King Kresimir passes a law imposing new restrictions on his vassal nobles.

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    There are grumblings of rebellion, but nothing serious for the time being.

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    Elsewhere in Europe, William The Bastard becomes William The Conquerer, taking the crown of England from Harold Godwinson*.

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    Throughout the year, Zvonimir secures several alliances with various dukes within Hungary. All of them princes of the kingdom, and all of them relatives of his wife.**

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    Later in the year the mayor of Cakovec approaches Zvonimir asking for a decrease in taxes upon his citizens. Zvonimir is able to pursuade the mayor that the taxes are necessary for the welfare of all, and the mayor leaves contented.

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    In April, Kresimir performs a rather astounding overreach of royal power. Revoking the Count of Zadar's rights to his lands, and confiscating them for himself. Count Budec takes refuge in Zvonimir's court, where the two begin to formulate possible routes for Zvonimir to take power. While Kresimir was highly regarded for much of his life, they agree that his mental facilities are perhaps slipping in his old age.***

    Privately, Zvonimir just thinks that the king is playing right into his hands.

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    *I accidentally started at the William The Conquerer bookmark lolwhoops, meaning he technically already had the crown when the game started. It's literally like four months difference so I'm not going to bother starting over.

    **And this is because I forgot that a quirk of the new(ish) alliance system means I can't ally King Salomon. Not off to the best start in terms of me being aware of things!

    ***Of....47!
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