Lately I've been running a game of Crusader Kings II, and I feel that it's gotten unusual enough that it ought to be turned into some form of LP/AAR/Liveblog/whatever you want to call it.
I suppose I should explain the game first, though. Crusader Kings II is a strategy game made by Paradox Interactive, in which you play a feudal lord in medieval Europe. You have to deal with vassals who have their own agendas (which frequently involve taking over your realm), other feudal lords (who also want your realm), and your own family (who also want...you get the picture). The interesting thing about the game, though, is that it doesn't end when you die. When you die you take control of your successor, and so forth until either your family runs out of counties (there are baronies in this game, but you can't play a barony unless you own at least one county) or the game reaches its end. You can start in any year from 1066 up to 1337, and the game will automatically end on January 1, 1453.
Anyway, here's what's happened in my game so far:
I started as King Boleslaw the Bold of Poland, and in the early game things were pretty standard. I beat up the Pagans of Pomerania and Lithuania, married Duchess Matilda of Tuscany (the single most eligible bachelorette in Europe in 1066; she's got good stats, a fine inheritance, and she's only 20). Everything seemed to be going normally until I was looking through my ambition/plot list and saw that Matilda was listed as the Sultana of Poland rather than the Queen, having converted to Shia Islam.
A bit more looking revealed what had happened: the Holy Roman Empire somehow disappeared while I wasn't looking. This allowed the Fatimids, who had just won a jihad for Apulia, to conquer up into central Europe. Luckily a crusade was called to free Bavaria, but I couldn't participate because I was busy with a civil war (the duke of Swabia won, IIRC).
Eventually Boleslaw kicked the bucket, leaving his son Kazimirez "the Just" to take the throne. I don't remember much about his reign, except that it was pretty similar to Boleslaw's (and that the game kept trying to get him to lead the center of my army despite him having the "Flanker" trait).
My third ruler was Boleslaw the Cruel. He wasn't half the man his predecessors were, possessing a Martial score so pitiful that you'd think he wasn't a Piast. He was a Scholarly Theologian, though, and he managed to get High Crown Authority long enough to institute Primogeniture and ensure that the Polish crown would remain with the Piasts. As such, I can't really hate him.
All this time I had been expanding into Empireless Central Europe and improving my personal demesne, making me the most powerful Catholic lord around (I actually won several wars with nothing but the troops levied from my capital of Krakow). There was a crusade for Italy at one point, but it ended inconclusively before I could send my troops down.
My current king, Trojden I, came into power after Boleslaw died of depression in 1165. He has high Martial and Intrigue, but his other stats are lacking, including a rather pitiful 0 Stewardship. Even after lowering crown authority, he had trouble with potentially rebellious vassals. Fortunately for him, a chance to become rather beloved among his fellow Christians arrived when the Pope called for a second crusade for Italy. During the crusade, Trojden gained enough Prestige to fulfill his ambition to become exalted among men, and he is now known as Trojden the Great.
Anyway, the crusade was won with my help, and I ended up the primary contributor. As a result, I gained the entire de jure Kingdom of Italy, most of which was handed off to various vassals. At present it's July of 1183 ingame, and I'm not entirely sure what I'll do next.
Some other interesting things that have happened:
- William the Bastard won his war for England, but a couple generations down the line the Godwins took it back. They still own it.
- The previous king of France married the queen of Castille, uniting the two crowns under House Capet. The current king then proceeded to make Castille his primary title (or his mother died first), turning France yellowish-brown.
- At this point, both the Fatimids and the Seljuks have been overthrown after their decadence topped out. I've forgotten the names of the new ruling families, though.
- The Ethiopian Christians are gone. What did you expect from a bunch of Orthodox heretics right next to the most powerful Muslim nation in the world?
Now, some pictures:
- King Boleslaw the Bold◊. He was Strong, Brave, and Wroth, all good traits for a military leader. His other traits weren't half bad either.
- Kazimirez the Just◊. Another fine leader, Kazimirez was Just (of course), Ambitious, and Gregarious, among many other things. Unfortunately he sustained some serious injuries while fighting the Pagans, becoming Maimed (though as you can see he lived for a long time).
- Boleslaw the Cruel◊. You can tell from the difference in Piety between him and Kazimirez that there weren't any Pagans left to wage holy wars on by the time he took power...though judging from his Martial score he probably wouldn't have enjoyed it in spite of being a vicious fanatic.
- Trojden the Great◊. Most of that Prestige and Piety was awarded for his crusading efforts, which are also what got him Scarred and Maimed. I actually had to remarry due to his total lack of a Stewardship score, though.
- My grandson and heir apparent, also named Trojden◊. His father Trojden would've been the heir if he hadn't killed himself, but there's not much I can do about that. Also, Countess Bozena's a Midas Touched (the level 4 Stewrrdship education) so he should be able to avoid the demesne size problems that Trojden Senior has. I don't like that she's made him Gluttonous, though.
- Poland itself, in all its glory◊. To the south you can see the Bohemians engulfed in a civil war, presumably stabbing each other with Bohemian earspoons.
- My massive, but useless, Italian holdings◊. They're mostly Shia, which complicates maters by making it take longer for them to start generating any income or levies. I've got my Court Chaplain down there converting Pisa (the only Italian county I kept for myself), though.
- The Holy Roman Nonentity and Spanish France (which is dealing with a civil war)◊. You can also see a war between Bavaria and Bavaria, along with the kingdoms of Frisia and Lotharingia.
Hopefully that'll give you an idea of the current situation. As I said I'm not entirely sure where I'll go from here, though I might try to restore the HRE.