From the Diary of Diadohos Skantarios, 1450 AD...
- Opening Line
The year is 1450 AD. The Byzantine Empire
- henceforth refered to as Basileia ton Romaion, "Kingdom of the Romans" - the last remnant of the glorious Roman Empire of the age past, is on its last legs. Surrounded by hostile neighbors who can crush what little land it has left and put an end to the lingering legacy of Rome for good, it seemed that there is little the the Basileia can do except for surrendering its arms and step down...
Because against the hordes of Muslim holy warriors
, greedy Catholic rivals
, and the heart of Constantinople
, stands one man who will soon take history into his own hands
and attempt to revive the Roman Empire of ages long past. Will he emerge victorious and revive Rome to its heyday, or will he be crushed beneath the weight of all her foes?He is Skantarios
, and he's not exactly the most chivalrous one out there
, but he will do what needs to be done by whatever means necessary
, and looking like a great hero while he does it
Look for this completed work here
at TW Center.
The author also made a sequel, called Legacy Of Skantarios
, and a prequel, Pagan Vengeance
This work provides examples of:
- A Father to His Men: Skantarios
- After Action Report: One of the finest examples.
- Allohistorical Allusion: Plenty. For example, thanks to Skantarios's actions in Italy, Martin Luther reformed the Catholic Church from within instead of starting the Protestant movement.
- Alternate History: This is Medieval II Total War...
- Alternate History Wank: To a degree; the Byzantine Empire expands considerably under Skantarios' guidance, even reaching places it never conquered in real life. And that's not getting to what his family and allies try to do after his death.
- Anticlimax Boss: In-Universe. The final confrontation between Skantarios, representing the Orthodox Church and the Pope is... underwhelming, to say the least.
- Antihero: Skantarios is frequently downright cruel to his enemies. His acts of
genocide righteous retribution are implied to be mostly forgiven glorified by his people, who more-or-less worship him as a living saint, and since their enemies would do pretty much the same to them should he fail anyway. Skantarios' less virtuous acts include:
- Combat Pragmatist: Specifically targeting, ambushing, and ruthlessly executing enemy generals, isolating them from their armies and cutting them down, in order to break the enemy's morale.
- Kill It with Fire: Burning entire units of enemy soldiers to a crisp with his flamethrowers/siege weaponry, and showing no remorse for it, to counterbalance his constant disadvantage in numbers.
- Leave No Survivors: Executing
pretty much all of the prisoners he captures to ensure that he doesn't fight the same units twice. On the rare occasions he doesn't do this, it's usually because he's using them as bait for another enemy force. This comes as much from him as his enemies, who refuse to pay the ransom nine times out of ten.
- I Shall Taunt You: Taunting enemy soldiers, particularly Muslims, to get them to sally out and attack. At one point he claims himself the father of the next generation of the city. When that doesn't work, he presents what he claims to be the ashes of the Prophet to a Turkish garrison, and puts it inside a pig's corpse. The Turks go berserk.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Killing said prisoners in sight of their comrades, in order to demoralize the remaining enemy armies.
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Using his spies to infiltrate every city in his path and open the gates to his armies, mercilessly executing the garrisons within, in order to reduce casualties among his forces.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Sacking said captured cities and looting everything of value within to fund his war machine. He does, however, spare a few towns that he needs for future campaigns.
- Shoot the Dog: Exterminating every Muslim who crosses his path, tearing down the Dome of the Rock, torching the Kaa'ba (and the faithful Muslims still inside with it), and burying the caves where Muhammad received his revelations, in order to make sure that Islam never threatens the
Byzantine Restored Roman Empire again.
- We Have Reserves: Mercenary units are deliberately used to draw out enemy soldiers, take hits from enemy arrows, block cavalry charges, and to wear down enemy numbers prior to elephant assaults. Skantarios even worries about this somewhat, as overreliance on mercenaries is one of the reasons that the original roman Empire failed in the first place.
- Artificial Stupidity: A few battles were won owing to this, including many of the countersieges of Constantinople. Getting their men fried by Greek Fire? Forgivable. Charging cavalry through a row of stakes? No excuse.
- Author Avatar: Inverted. It is more likely that the author's user ID is named after the character than vice versa.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Skantarios gets one when his father is killed by an assassin. A rather inept one at that, for he gets hunted down and murdered by his network of (usually) insanely effective spies almost immediately thereafter.
- Badass / Determinator: Both meta- and in-universe example - Skantarios the character and Skantarios the author. Look, if half the world hates you, your army is starving and close to desertion, and your only major city is besieged from the get-go, you have to be both of the above to even survive, let alone turn the table. The author gets plus-points for being the one who actually plays in that impossible setting.
- Badass Army: Skantarios can be proud to say he owns the world's leading Badass Army about ten turns in, and he eventually gets several of these. The Imperial Army is still the best, as they demonstrate repeatedly during his genocidal campaign against Islam, but the campaign against the Ottomans and Rus show that his subordinates have some utterly invincible troopers as well.
- Badass Grandpa: Skantarios continues kicking ass well into his sixties. By that point, he's a literal grandpa to boot.
- His story started in 1450 AD, this means he lived to 113 and still rode his horse the last day of his life.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Tiverios ek Konstaninoupoleos, the Bishop of Thessalonica, has odd habits, but he does his job very well.
- Byronic Hero: Skantarios
- Can't Stay Normal: Late in the story, Skantarios tries retiring to Constantinople, only to find that he can't handle a peaceful life. He attempts to grow a vegetable garden in the royal palace, to... decidedly mixed results.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Skantarios for the Muslims. He deliberately cultivates his reputation as the bane of Islam in order to provoke acts of blind hatred from his foes, and fear when appropriate.
- The Charmer: General Vitos, who manages to seduce two foreign princesses.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: The French armies fought are less than impressive. Skantarios gives Worthy Opponent Godefroy the highest praise he can think of: "He did not fight like a Frenchman".
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Playing on Very Hard is asking for this to happen, naturally.
- The Conqueror: Skantarios.
- Cool Versus Awesome: Several ten star generals including the best the Mongols have to offer, giants of the late medieval world themselves, crumble in the face of the even more formidable Skantarios and his generals.
- Deadpan Snarker: Skantarios
- Death Seeker: Skantarios, in his later years.
- Determinator: Skantarios
- Disney Villain Death: Skantarios falls to his death in the Alps after being knocked off his horse by an earthquake.
- Double In-Law Marriage: Skantarios marries Maria Arpadhazi, a Hungarian princess, while his brother Vasileios marries her sister Judit Arpadhazi.
- The Dreaded: By the time Skantarios is in his mid-40's, the Dread meter is maxed out. In the epilogue, a historian notes that Skantarios' name remains feared by the Muslims for generations, and that even speaking it aloud or writing it down might summon him. This reaches the point where any Muslim who states his name is lashed, and any Muslim who writes it is stoned to death.
- Duel to the Death: Near the end of the story, Skantarios has one of these with the Pope.
- The Empire: Everyone surrounding the Byzantines, especially the Turks and Fatimids. By about midway through, Byzantium itself, especially given Skantarios' murky modus operandi.
- Expy: Skantarios is essentially Lelouch Lamperouge born several centuries early.
- Fail O'Suckyname: Skantarios says that "ibn Mahbub" (the name of a Moorish general) is "more of a joke than a name".
- Famous Last Words: A soldier of the Jihad carved a signpost on the road to Constantinople when the Muslim armies are losing badly. When Skantarios discovered it, he asked a translator what it meant. Turned out that the poor soldier wrote on the signpost: "The place where Muslims go to die". Sniff, sniff...
- Femme Fatale: Arguably Anna Laskaris. Although she is far, far more patriotic than your average Femme Fatale has any right to be.
- Freudian Excuse: Skantarios' hatred of Muslims is catalyzed by the murder of his father by an Egyptian assassin.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Skantarios was originally just a cavalry soldier.
- Game Breaker: The Siphonatores are treated as such In-Universe. Having a unit of these at the gates of a city ensures no one gets in.
- Harem Seeker: Vitos
- Heir Club for Men: Skantarios is continually frustrated by his inability to produce a son.
- He Who Fights Monsters/ Pyrrhic Villainy: Hundreds of thousands of dead enemies, dozens of massacres and sackings, and years and years of warfare reduce Skantarios to a man filled with nothing but hate, even for himself.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: Some time into the war, Skantarios struck a deal with Hungarian cavalry mercenaries. These mercenaries become the core of his Imperial Army, and repeatedly turn the tide of battle for him.
- The Horde: The dozens of Muslim armies rushing Constantinople give this kind of impression. Unfortunately for them, all they do is expand the burial pit outside the city.
- Hot-Blooded: Skantarios
- Idiot Ball: A Doge of Venice strolling into the Balkans hundreds of miles from Venice with only a small bodyguard to be fought and captured may be an Acceptable Break From Reality, but his successor doing exactly the same stupid thing one year afterwards is too much.
- Immigrant Patriotism: Benedek is Hungarian by birth, but is extremely devoted to Byzantium.
- In Name Only: Skantarios' opinion is that the Golden Horde are not really Mongols.
- Insistent Terminology: Like in real life, the Byzantines prefer to call themselves the Roman Empire.
- Invincible Hero: Skantarios never loses on the battlefield, despite frequently unfriendly odds. At the end of the first Jihad, Skantarios tallies up the thousands of fallen Jihad warriors in the burial pit outside the city. Recalling the Islamic tradition that every fallen Jihadi receives 72 virgins upon entering heaven, he calculates that Allah will need to find over a million virgins to satisfy that fallen warriors' needs.
- Kill It with Fire: The Byzantines have Greek Fire, and use it to devastating effect.
- King in the Mountain: These kinds of myths are raised about Skantarios after his death in an earthquake.
- Laser-Guided Karma: By mid-story, both and we and Skantarios realize that Skantarios never actually got a biological son and had to adopt his lieutenant because of his lack of empathy and his morally questionable decisions.
- In fact, Skantarios' job as Emperor dooms his chances of a normal, happy marriage. Near the end of the story, he admits to his wife Maria that his constant absence due to his military campaigns made him a terrible husband; she agrees, but recognizes that it was necessary for the survival of the Empire, even if she was upset that she could never have a son.
- Last Stand: So, so subverted with multiple successful defenses of Constantinople. By the time the Jihad rolls along, the city of Constantinople has survived so many along those lines that it is rather expected.
Skantarios: I ask my interpreter with some curiosity if this is how you write "Constantinople" in Arabic. He looks at the sign for some time and shakes his head.
Skantarios: He says, "No... The rough translation is: 'The land where Muslims go to die.'"
Skantarios: I think that is as fitting an epitaph for the Jihad as any I could write.
- page 8: "Picking up the Pieces and the End of the Jihad" - February, 1492 AD
- Unsurprising, considering that the fact that Constantinople had never fallen to enemy arms was used to justify its status as a Holy City, moreso than Jerusalem.
- Leave No Survivors: Skantarios wins his battles by doing this. All the time.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Many battles are won because of the enemy general charging headlong without waiting for the rest of his troops. Many other units are eliminated piecemeal in this fashion.
- Modest Royalty: Deconstructed. Due to spending most of his life on campaign, Skantarios feels more at home in Spartan surroundings, even preferring a rough cot to a comfortable bed. Unfortunately, this makes it very difficult for him to transition to being a "stay at home" emperor.
- Necessarily Evil: It's a cruel world, Skantarios knows this, and he is not afraid to do grievous bodily harm to those in his way ''repeatedly'' to make his point.
- Never Found the Body
- Not Me This Time: Skantarios first suspects the Byzantine nobility in is Father's assassination (which makes sense, considering they'd been involved in many intrigues throughout Byzantine history), but he realizes they're blameless when the Egyptians start celebrating their assassin's success.
- Old Soldier: Skantarios himself becomes this over time as more and more of his contemporaries start dying around him.
- The Pope: Several popes take a role throughout the story.
- Reality Ensues: In his report, Skantarios discusses that he'd like to say that his duel with Pope Nicolaus IV was the stuff of legends... but his opponent was nearly eighty, had never handled a sword before, and could barely ride a horse, so he barely put up a fight.
- Also, during Skantarios's raid into the Egyptian heartland, he doesn't know what's going on in the rest of the world, unlike the games the series is based on. Of course, you'd expect that from going behind enemy lines in the days before modern communication.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Skantarios and Vasileios, respectively.
- Rousing Speech: Skantarios and his family are the Basileioi of this trope.
- Theodoros matches his son in the field of oratory, as he demonstrates in this speech just before the first of many sieges of Constantinople:
The emperor strode out before them and spoke in a clear, calm voice:
“You have all been judged and sentenced to death.”
A murmur of incredulity rose up from the ranks. Numerous whispers could be heard from the ranks: “Why?!?” “For what?” Was it a joke? Had they not heard him correctly?
Theodoros continued, thundering now above the murmurs: “You may be asking yourself for what crime you are accused and then sentenced. Your ‘crime’ is being born a man and being conscripted into this army. Your crime is that you belong to a nation at war. There is no judge, procedure, or appeal to this sentence. This sentence is final."
“There is hope, however. You can gain clemency by defeating your foe. Pass your sentence onto the enemy. Buy your life by taking his…for yours is already forfeit. By crushing him and driving him back to the steppes that spawned him. For, if you fail, you are dead. If my own men don’t kill you, the enemy surely will. If you fail, you not only condemn yourself to death, but your wives, your children, and all that you hold dear. Death, enslavement, and ruin are all that await you should you falter or fail today. The enemy will have no mercy and neither will we. Better to die here than to run."
"Make no mistake, there are no other alternatives. Win today, or die today. It’s an easy choice. You are already dead. Today, tomorrow, ten years from now; we all wind up in the same place. Buy your life today and that of your family. "
- page 1: "War with the Turks Begins" - June, 1455 AD
- Parodied in the Third Battle of Ankara. By this point, we're accustomed to Skantarios' eloquent speeches. He goes to the men to deliver a speech to get them in the right frame of mind. It consists solely of "Kill them all!"
- The Strategist: Skantarios.
- Suicide by Cop: Al-Khawalanis demise is like this, the man being a 70 year old general who marches out of cover into a Byzantine arrowstorm after seeing his entire bodyguard shot to pieces.
- Too Dumb to Live: Several enemy commanders make incredibly stupid mistakes.
- Took a Level in Badass: Some of the generals and Skantarios' sons prove themselves to be very competent figures over the course of the story. Vitos in particular goes from simply being a casanova to becoming one of the Empire's best commanders.
- The Usurper: Theodoros overthrew the previous emperor and founded his own dynasty.
- Vestigial Empire: Best sums up the state of the Byzantine Empire at the beginning. Of course, a certain protagonist named Skantarios Laskaris decides that he'd rather not watch Byzantium fall the way Rome did, and it shows.
- To show just how well Skantarios reverses this, look at the two maps of the Restored Roman Empire in the section titled "The End". For comparison, the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire fell in 1461. According to the epilogue, the Restored Roman Empire survives for several more centuries, and only falls when civil war divides it into multiple successor states.
- War Elephants: Byzantium fights some of these, and eventually gets a herd of their own.
- War Is Hell: There is much description about the ongoing war and its impact on Constantinople and its enemies. It's not a pretty sight to behold. Oh, and there is Greek Fire somewhere in the middle too. Do the maths.
- Warrior Prince: Skantarios
- What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Skantarios remarks often at the waste of so many good men in the Egyptian generals ranks, but a particularly heart-wrenching one is the pointless death of seventy year old al-Khawalani, who charges out in the face of withering arrow fire and actually makes it to the safety of the gatehouse... only to turn around and see his entire bodyguard lying dead. With nowhere to run, he simply marches out into the Byzantine arrowstorm... the general remarks at the unworthy death of this old man.
- Wham Line: My... father... is... dead.
- And much, much later: The Army of the West has been destroyed.
- Worthy Opponent: Skantarios's opinion of the French King Godefroy.
- Also of Yahya, an old general defending a city with only his bodyguard. The man kills no less than four of Skantarios' own bodyguards, who later reflects that the Sultan did not deserve such a man fighting for him.
- Zerg Rush: Attempted once by a Mongol Jihad corps comprised of ragtag soldiers. Skantarios isn't amused. In fact, the entire Jihad is built around this strategy... with predictable results for the armies of the Prophet.
Tropes for Legacy Of Skantarios
- Allohistorical Allusion: The Roman empire is finally ended in the 19th century by a Roman general by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte, who took it over and was killed shortly after.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Ioannis. While his talent is recognized by his peers, he's still not as good as Genessios or Vitos.
- Bittersweet Ending: On the one hand, a bloody civil war has cost the empire Genessios, Vitos and Ioannis. On the other hand, having a young Emperor at the head of the vast Empire allowed nearly-worldwide peace for far longer than Skantarios ever did.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Taken Up to Eleven compared to the previous AAR, not one battle against the French goes by without going on about their cowardice.
- Egopolis: Several conquered cities are named after Skantarios.
- Evil Uncle: Vasileos to Skantarios' adopted sons. Everyone knows he's behind Genessios dying of natural causes.
- Foreshadowing: On meeting the new Hungarian king, Vitos remarks that he's cunning and opportunistic, and bears watching closely. The Hungarians turn on the rebels in the final battle.
- French Jerk: Evrart.
- Manly Tears: Shed in the aftermath of particularly wasteful battles.
Efthymios: I cried many tears that day. Tears for my brother, for father, and for the thousands of valiant soldiers led astray to their deaths. Mostly, I cried for our great failure to live up to Skantarios’ dream. If Skantarios had been here, I know he would have wept with me.
- Stop Helping Me!: In-Universe. Genessios and Vitos do not appreciate Vasileos getting the Pope to order a Crusade against the Mongols when they'd done most of the work already, and finish off their empire before they arrive to prove their point. The Hungarian king, aware of the dissension between the two, tells Genessios that as an ally of the Romans, he will not stand in his way if he makes a bid for the throne.
- Tempting Fate / Famous Last Words: Really, Ioannis? Calling yourself "the Invincible" in battle against Genessios?
- What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Efthymios gets hit with this hard in the aftermath of the final battle against the rebels.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Markianos the Bastard.
- Wham Line: The death of Genessios.
From the Report of Troper, 2010 AD...