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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Long, long ago, in the age of heroes and song, the three brothers Lech, Czech and Rus said their farewells and went their respective ways.
    Czech went west, Rus went east, and Lech made his home in the great Polish Plain.
    Now the sons of Lech find their ancient way of life under threat by the pawns of patriarchs and crucified gods.
    Their promises of wealth and salvation hide motives much more sinister, and the only way the Poles can survive
    is by making the gods of old their sword and shield...


    This is an AAR, or "After Action Report", chronicling the events of a game starting in Crusader Kings 2 and hopefully continuing into Europa Universalis 4 and beyond, should we get that far. Though primarily played by myself and then... reported after the action... readers are encouraged to participate either in the form of free-for-all comments or the occasional special vote. There will be emphasis on the characters and narrative elements themselves, hopefully crafting ourselves an extensive alternate history along the way. May the song of the old gods never cease to play across the plains!


    Spoiler: Crusader Kings 2
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    Mods: Self-made cosmetic changes

    Prologue: The Legendary Lechoslaw (Lechoslaw, 867-924)
    Chapter #1: Skarbimir the Unscarred (Skarbimir, 924-948)
    Chapter #2: Unholy Alliances (Mszczuj, 948-980)
    Chapter #3: The Stargazer (Bozydar, 980-987)
    Chapter #4: Parades & Poisonings (Gniewosz + Wladyslaw, 987-1002)
    Chapter #5: Of Gods and Kings (Spytko, 1002-1014)
    Chapter #6: Divine Disgrace (Nadbor, 1014-1041)
    Special #1: Centennial of the Slavic Church (1041)
    Chapter #7: A Small Step for a King (Prendota, 1041-1056)
    Chapter #8: Feudal Faceoff (Strasz, 1056-1057)
    Chapter #9: Apocalypse After Another (Strasz + Skarbimir, 1057-1082)
    Chapter #10: No Time to Lick Old Wounds (Pelka + Gaudenty, 1082-1104)
    Chapter #11: Architecture of Demise (Zelibrat, 1104-1116)
    Special #2: Politics & Estates of Medieval Poland (1116)
    Chapter #12: An Island in the Storm (Nadbor II, 1116-1154)
    Chapter #13: A Sword in a Sheath (Swietoslaw, 1154-1174)
    Chapter #14: How to Build a Well (Sulislaw, 1174-1194)
    Chapter #15: Witch & Witcher (Wojciech + Zygmunt, 1194-1240)
    Chapter #16: The Great Oriental War (Krzeslaw + Sambor, 1240-1254)
    Chapter #17: Waves in the Aegean (Niezamysl, 1254-1269)
    Chapter #18: Sword and Plowshare of Triglav (Niezamysl, 1269-1283)
    Chapter #19: Szczesny's Legacy (Szczesny + Trojden, 1283-1301)
    Special #3: The Matter of Moldavia (1283)
    Chapter #20: Sins of the Father (Trojden + Lechoslaw, 1301-1345)
    Chapter #21: Gods Save the Queen (Grzymislawa, 1345-1373)
    Chapter #22: Warlords vs. Warlocks (Grzymislawa + Dobrogost, 1373-1403)
    Interlude #1: The End of the Beginning (1404-1444)

    Spoiler: Europa Universalis 4
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    Mods: Thicker Borders and Recolored Water, TBARW Extra: White Font, handmade CK2 conversion and assorted mechanical changes

    Interlude #2: Polska Uniwersalna (1444)
    Chapter #23: Noble Intentions (Stanislaw, 1444-1459)
    Chapter #24: Reshuffling of Rights (Stanislaw + Elizabeth, 1459-1472)
    Chapter #25: Renaissance, Man (Wladyslaw II, 1472-1484)
    Chapter #26: With Friends Like These (Wladyslaw II, 1484-1500)
    Chapter #27: Noble Republic (Wladyslaw II + Wolislawa, 1500-1510)
    Chapter #28: Here's Waldo (Wolislawa, 1510-1525)
    Chapter #29: Cat's Out of the Bag (Wolislawa + Zygmunt II, 1525-1535)


    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-07-28 at 05:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Prologue: The Legendary Lechoslaw (867-924)

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    The history of the great Kingdom of Poland is seen to have started in the year 867 (by the Christian calendar), when the 22-year-old Lechoslaw Lechowicz became one of many opportunists to invade the sinking ship known as Great Moravia. This war in itself was easy, brief and unremarkable, but it saw the liberation of Krakow, previously taken by the Moravians but now the future capital of Poland, and marked the beginning of an age of glorious conquest.

    Lechoslaw was the highest of the chiefs in the region that would come to be known as Upper Poland, and his prestigious clan could trace its inheritance directly to the legendary Lech himself, ancestor of all the Poles and so-called Lechites. Despite the diligent efforts of his literal and figurative bastard brother Boryslaw, Lechoslaw managed to maintain control of the tribes and further cement his own position as something higher than a mere chief. Boryslaw himself spent the last years of his life as Lechoslaw’s prisoner after a barely defeated armed rebellion, the great leader being too honorable to be branded a kinslayer yet not foolish enough to pardon him.



    The years went by. Having dealt with these internal problems, Lechoslaw was free to leverage his ever stronger position to conquer most of the Polish Plain and unify the splintered tribes. With the support of his loyal followers, he was officially crowned King of All Poles on July 1st, 883, a ceremony which would hopefully go down in history for the birth of a great nation.

    The very image of a tribal chief, it is said that Lechoslaw was a man with little patience for peacetime rulership, intrigue or the economy, which became increasingly important in the nascent realm of Poland, but no shortage of charisma at the table or the battlefield. He personally led his hussars to countless victories against Moravian, Pomeranian, Norseman, Hungarian, Kievan and Bolghar enemies alike, earning himself a fearsome reputation across Europe. Only at the age of 60 did he finally retire from frontline leadership and grow fat on his throne, but still maintained an active hunting lifestyle, refusing to grow old in silence. And grow old he did, for two more decades.

    However, though his own fame and popularity with the chiefs was great as ever, it was clear that Poland was still just an overgrown alliance of tribes held together by his personal power. It had no real established government, no great castles or cities beyond the scant few taken from its neighbors, and a jumble of chiefs vying for power over each other. The Poles had a tradition of electing their leaders after first announcing their favorites ahead of time; however, Lechoslaw had already outlived several of his heirs-to-be, and it was less than certain how long his eventual successor could truly hold the people together.

    The Poles had remained ardent believers in their traditional gods of old even while Christianity encroached on their borders, only hardening their will to resist. Lechoslaw himself, a zealous follower of Perun, once had to beat back a Christian holy war for Silesia. Yet even as a source of power and unity, the Old Gods and their disparate local traditions also seemed to stand in the way of much-needed reform, without which they couldn’t survive much longer. Lechoslaw’s own view of the situation likely wasn’t nearly that nuanced; however, in his final years he took it upon himself to proclaim some grand reforms, with the wise counsel of his religious advisors of course.



    Some of these decrees were modest on the surface: in 924, various important legends were decreed to be written down and standardized, for which a written language obviously had to be developed. They also placed high(er) emphasis on respect towards elders, ancestors and lineage, and the importance of the ruling dynasty as the fathers of the people. He even decreed that the king should be elected by a council of revered elders rather than every single chief to ensure a wise choice. Furthermore, the office of Archpriest of Perun was established, holding authority over all the various priests, shamans and volhvs of the realm.

    All in all, it was a rather transparent attempt to secure his own dynasty, but mostly in line with the Poles’ existing beliefs, and managed to get pushed through due to the sheer respect he commanded.



    Unfortunately, King Lechoslaw ‘Ironside’ Lechowicz himself didn’t stick around long enough to see those reforms bear much fruit. He passed away the same year at the very respectable age of 79, having apparently filled his purpose in life. It’d been a life of honor, full of great deeds and void of dishonesty, with the founding of a powerful kingdom and perhaps a new religion; however, his successors had big boots to fill. Would they simply be partitioned by their neighbors and become a mere footnote of history? Or could they build a civilization that would stand the test of time?




    Spoiler: Comments
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    Hi, I’m SilverLeaf167! You may remember me from such AARs as Tibet, Novgorod and the Hellenic Empire, all of which have… tragically ended prematurely, usually due to technical issues, but have always been fun (for me) while they lasted. Here’s hoping for more of that!

    I knew I wanted to do a game in Central Europe to contrast the last one, and preferably pagan. Still, for a while I was convinced that tribal pagans were pretty unsuited to my style of AAR, being inherently more hectic, chaotic and frankly repetitive, not to mention very gamey with some weirdly arbitrary goals and limitations that I’d have trouble justifying from an in-character perspective. This here was actually one of many practice games to test the plausibility of an AAR and get used to the new mechanics, since I haven’t played in a while, but when I somehow managed to reform my religion within one very long lifespan, I decided to make the AAR about this one after all.

    Hence why this first chapter speedruns 58 years with minimal pictures; it was made completely post de facto, allowing me to effectively skip the most annoying part of tribal gameplay for the purposes of this AAR and start as a reformed pagan. Now that I’ve got Eldership succession, adopting feudalism isn’t as urgent either, though obviously still on the list. From the next chapter on I’ll be going back to my typical blow-by-blow style, with a proper overview of the world too.

    I’m looking forward to just how different the world might become with a stronger pagan presence in Europe!

    As a side note: gods I miss using Imgur for these. Every other site I've found sucks in comparison.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-07-14 at 06:16 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    I like what I've read so far, and I'll be interested to see where this goes. Although I must ask, what is going on with Francia? Did Charlemagne become immortal or something?

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Nah, the game started in 867, so he was already long dead. Karling shenanigans, but I optimistically think it's only a matter of time before they break apart. A closer look in the next chapter.

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    Chapter #1: Skarbimir the Unscarred (Skarbimir, 924-948)

    Spoiler: Chapter
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    24 September, 924

    Morning dawns on Krakow. A modest wooden fort stands on Wavel Hill, overlooking a bend in the Vistula River and surrounded by a small trading town. A rider brings Chief Skarbimir a message everyone’s been anticipating for a while now: Lechoslaw is dead. Word is that the elderly king threw one last great feast for his friends before retiring to his quarters for the night and sleeping away peacefully.

    The king is dead! Long live King Skarbimir of Poland!



    Skarbimir is the oldest of Lechoslaw’s living sons, and the fourth of his eleven children in total. Despite the old king generously handing out land and leadership positions to all his other sons and male relatives, Skarbimir has still inherited a decent number of personal estates in Upper Poland. Much like his father, he’s a jovial, hedonistic man with a taste for drink and women and zero subtlety, but perhaps even more fearsome a warrior.

    This day has been a long time coming: Skarbimir had been the favored heir for many years now, and that hadn’t changed even with the newly-formed House of Elders, though that in itself was still a work in progress, only including the king himself and the Grand Mayor of Gdansk. Letting Poland’s only real trade port organize itself as a Republic with special privileges was one of the few economically-minded decisions Lechoslaw made in his life.



    As is tradition, upon accepting his inheritance, Skarbimir must also make a sacrifice to his ancestors to thank them for it. While a large audience gathers, a thrall captured on a raid into Hungary is dragged out and pinned to a stone tablet, her throat slit by one of the local shamans so that her blood may flow into the earth and feed the dead. This manner of human sacrifice is a momentous occasion, only performed about once a decade by any given chief. The victims don't quite seem to appreciate the honor, though.





    The Archpriestess and High Diviner of Poland herself is present as well. While tradition bars women from inheritance and many high positions, one area where they’re equal or even dominant is religious authority, as they can possess quite powerful sorcery and knowledge of the spirit realm. Also, while only male chiefs can take concubines, neither priests nor priestesses are in any way barred from marrying like any other Pole.



    Speaking of Lechoslaw’s reformed Slavic Church, it’s been quite eagerly adopted by many other Slavic rulers as soon as they heard of it. Lesser chiefs and the common people themselves are being somewhat slower to accept these new ideas, or even hear of them, but with the leaders on its side the Church will surely grow and prosper.



    One of the most notable early adopters is King Thorbjörn of Garthariki – or Novgorod, as the Slavs call it. Though originally a clan of northern warlords, the Rurikids were eventually swayed by the local gods and are now in a position to become some of their strongest protectors. Skarbimir himself should probably pay Thor-boy here a diplomatic visit sometime soon.



    As usual, most of winter is spent indoors trying not to die, but come spring it’s time for the king to legitimize himself by throwing a festival for the god of fertility, Jarylo. Similar celebrations are held in every little village, but it’s a much grander occasion with the king involved. The king going out of his way to let his loyal servants indulge in their beloved traditions is a big part of convincing them that all this talk of dynasties and reforms is no threat to their way of life.





    Indeed, while the Lechowicz’ personal patron Perun is the king of gods and god of kings, polytheism plays a vital part in Slavic belief, and it’s just as important to honor these other deities as well.



    With his position looking solid, it’s time for Skarbimir to turn to his father’s favorite pastime: conquest. The chiefs are eager to get looting, too, so they rush over the border into Great Moravia. Despite seeming on the verge of collapse half a century ago, the kingdom has somehow managed to survive; still, its king is chronically weak and unable to put up anything but token resistance. A valuable chunk of well-settled territory is added to the kingdom, along with plenty of loot.



    Speaking of loot, the King of Poland’s current crown is actually something stolen from the King of Hungary (like a lot of things, apparently). While nice and all, it’s more valuable as an object than as a symbol, and Skarbimir feels the need to acquire some unique crown jewels for Poland. A call goes out for the greatest goldsmiths in the country to come and display their talents.



    Oddly enough, Skarbimir later encounters his chosen blacksmith Kinga showing his 1-year-old son Krakus around the workshop. While Krakus’ mother, the concubine Dobromila, is scared half to death, Skarbimir himself just laughs happily and says that it’s an excellent sign for the boy to show interest in metal and flame at such a young age. Very young indeed.



    Kinga presents Skarbimir with works of amber from Reval and obsidian from Sicily, symbolizing his realm that stretches from north to south and distinguishing him from every other wannabe king on the continent. Indeed, whatever the objects’ actual value may be, Skarbimir himself is enthralled enough that this Kinga may go down in legend as a very literal wizard of the forge.





    A couple years go by. After a very painful night, Skarbimir suspects his half-brother Wielislaw of poisoning him and, in his wrath, personally executes him with his shiny new axe. And by executes we mean “murders”. Everyone seems to think it’s fair, though, nor does another assassin ever try to target Skarbimir again.



    Even with these minor internal squabbles, his true enemies for the time being lie to the north. Despite Lechoslaw fighting and beating them a few times to clear a way to the coast, the Norse colonies of Svithjod have been a thorn in Poland’s hide for decades, jabbing right into its heartland. All agree that more war is required to weaken their grip on the area. War they shall have.



    King Björn II af Munsö rules a wide realm, but very sparsely settled and on the other side of the Baltic. Skarbimir is confident that the Poles will be a match for them as they always have been. Indeed, the first major battle goes in Skarbimir’s favor, even with both kings leading their armies in person.





    After that, though, the Swedes come back in force, and the Poles opt to move out of the way and regroup rather than fight them there. The Swedes march straight down to Krakow, ravaging the countryside as they do, and the Poles are actually forced to hire some of the Pecheneg mercenaries skulking around their border. It’s proof of Polish, uh… wealth and resourcefulness? With these fresh reinforcements, though, the viking army is finally intercepted and sent packing after a couple more similar fights.

    Even then, forcing Svithjod to actually admit defeat might take some more time. The treasury runs low and the Pechenegs must eventually be sent home, or wherever they live. At the sight of this bloody war against the pagans – different pagans, that is – some of the bravest warriors of Perun have banded together to form a holy order known as the, well, Warriors of Perun. They aren’t yet in fighting shape to help with the current war, but will surely prove their mettle in the future.



    The war goes on, and Skarbimir gets a chance to show his skill in personal combat as well. Though usually a fan of heavier weapons, like his beloved axe, he deftly wields a light dagger to disable one of the enemy generals in a single well-placed strike and allow him to be taken captive.



    Although initially full of close calls, the rest of the war is a string of victories for Poland as the mighty Swedish army is split into smaller disparate warbands, easily caught and picked off by Skarbimir’s well-led army. As 930 nears its end, after three years of war a truce is called and the Swedes withdraw from Kulm/Chelmno. Much remains to be done, though.



    In the wake of their defeat, the Norsemen seem to have followed the Warriors of Perun’s example and formed their own holy order, the Jomsvikings, in service to the suspiciously similar Thor. Opinions are split on whether this Thor himself is a lazy copy, a distorted interpretation or in fact just a different aspect of Perun. Either way, these vikings may become a problem.



    Skarbimir is just getting started, though, and decides to top off the cash reserves with a little looting of weakly protected neighbors. While scouring Pomerania, he comes across a strange-looking, heavily fortified box. Upon seeing the mighty axe within, visibly magical unlike anything he’s ever seen with a mysterious glow and powerful symbols, he immediately tosses aside his obsidian axe and proclaims this the new crown jewel. One of his soldiers respectfully hands it back and suggests he wield both. One can see a glimpse of Perun’s lightning in the king’s eyes at the idea.





    It doesn’t end at raiding, and with his divine relic in hand, Skarbimir conquers bits and pieces of those same neighbors.



    Skarbimir’s beloved cousin, friend, general and favored heir Wanko dies in 934, his limbs twisted with gout. The two chieftains had gotten incredibly close on their shared campaigns, and his death leads Skarbimir to drink. Even more than usual, that is. And less jolly. Enough to make people worry.



    He seeks catharsis on the battlefield: Svithjod is currently under the rule of the young, weak King Vagn who’s betrayed his ancestors by turning to the accursed Christian faith. The Swedes should be easy prey.

    Indeed, the war passes quite uneventfully, the Swedes failing to even show up due to dealing with other wars against their Norse brethren. A nice chunk of land is easily taken, and the Swedes are now almost entirely out of traditional Polish lands. If current trends continue, they’ll likely keep getting weaker and weaker in the near future, which the Poles are obviously happy to exploit.



    At one of his many festivals, the king gets a little too drunk (again) and decides to join a singing contest meant for bards, spellsingers and other professional musicians. No one dares stop him, so on the stage he goes. However, to the bafflement of all the realm, he’s unironically amazing. Turns out that all these years, the king has been hiding a great talent even he himself probably didn’t know of. He’ll be happy to hear about his victory once he wakes up, having blacked out on stage after the very last note.



    Given his age and his dangerous lifestyle of combining drink and war, many expect the king to drop dead any day now, but he ends up living for over another decade. In that time he does more drinking and more warring, further expanding Poland towards its natural borders. Only in late 948, over a decade later, does he finally die – and of natural causes at that. He actually was in the middle of another war, but apparently that had nothing to do with it.

    King Skarbimir ‘the Lionheart’ goes down as another great leader who managed to live up to his father’s considerable legacy and find great personal valor on the battlefield, though also falling victim to the same vices. Just like his father, he was a warlord at heart and king only second, but that didn’t stop him from being popular with the people. While it's fair to say that Lechoslaw may have founded Poland, Skarbimir surely deserves credit for keeping it together as well.





    The king is dead! Long live King Mszczuj ‘the Lecher’ ‘the Unspellable’ of Poland!


    Spoiler: State of the World in 948
    Show
    At the time of his death, King Skarbimir was just in the middle of wrapping up a war to grab some more Prussian land from the Baltic tribes that had split off of Sweden. That war itself will poses little challenge. However, Skarbimir’s conquests in Pomerania and Moravia have led to him locking borders with the humongous Empire of Francia. It’ll be a miracle if this doesn’t cause any trouble.



    Francia is currently ruled by a lovely emperor known by his vassals as ‘the Mutilator’, his capital located in Bar (what a coincidence, Skarbimir’s was in a tavern). He has spent all of his reign struggling with internal problems, and even came within an inch of being defeated and deposed by someone called an “antipope”, whatever that is, in a civil war that only ended some months ago. However, his defeat of the antipope and his ongoing defensive war against the Fadlid dynasty in Iberia seem to have earned him new favor with his vassals for the time being.





    • All of Britannia is under the rule of five competing Norse invaders. Only East Anglia and Lothian are in Catholic Anglo-Saxon hands.
    • Denmark remains (unreformed) pagan and stable, whereas the Swedish kings’ switch to Catholicism made the country a ripe target for invasion while failing to convert literally any of the populace itself. Its Baltic dominions took the opportunity to break off, and the af Munsö themselves are unlikely to even keep their throne for much longer.
    • Garthariki has tragically lost its capital to Denmark, which has clearly become the dominant Norse power with the fall of Sweden.
    • Jewish Khazaria has pushed deep into Hungary, but is currently very weak and on the receiving end of several invasions.

    Spoiler: Comments
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    Apparently it's pronounced the same way it's spelled.

    Since the Obsidian Axe is technically a ceremonial weapon, I really can dual-wield these things. And since the treasury is inherited, so can all future kings.

    The first chapter(s) will obviously have a lot more of me showing off things that’ll become more routine and unremarkable later. Gotta establish stuff about the religion and culture and such, y’know? Not that it isn’t fun to write about. They won’t necessarily be the same length, especially since I tend to split up chapters based on character lifespan.

    Something I completely forgot about, though: I now have reduced supply limit in enemy pagan lands. Gods, that hurts. Also, I decided to conquer Kulm ahead of actual de jure Poland because I needed a bit more prestige to use the de jure claim on all of Mazovia at once, but then Sweden became Christian, so the CB didn’t work anymore. Luckily I happened to have that random claimant sitting around.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-07-14 at 06:25 AM.

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    The worst part of being a tribal is that even if you get enough tech to ignore defensive attrition, your idiot vassals will happily waltz in and die by thousands.

    Oh, and this looks incredibly amusing. Do keep it coming!
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    Rockphed said it well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yuki Akuma View Post
    We should change the collective noun for crocodiles to "an abundance of crocodiles".
    Dragontar by Serpentine.

    Now offering unsolicited advice.

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    Chapter #2: Unholy Alliances (Mszczuj, 948-980)

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    15 September, 948

    King Mszczuj ‘the Lecher’. When asked about his nickname, he likes to quip that it means ‘son of Lech’, but his reputation as the kingdom’s greatest playboy precedes him. His cousin the late Skarbimir detested him for bedding one of his royal concubines, and fought tooth and nail to get the House of Elders to elect his dead friend Wanko’s son, or anyone else for that matter. He was nearly successful, but mere weeks ago the top candidate had a tragic accident – one of those classic “fell on a knife” situations – and the crown was placed on Mszczuj’s well-groomed curls after all.



    Detractors grumble that he only got elected because four out of the seven Elders are women (Polish men have a rather low life expectancy), which isn’t entirely false: Jarylo has blessed him with divine virility that makes him simply irresistible to the ladies. It’s said that even the 56-year-old archpriestess is head over heels for him. Men on the other hand like to laugh along with his antics and slap him on the back, right up until it’s their own turn to get cucked.



    The king’s had six legitimate children with his wife, six acknowledged bastards, and who knows how many more around the country. Despite his clear love for women, he’s never taken actual concubines of his own, since apparently that just ruins the fun of the chase. He does seem to love his long-suffering wife Premyslava in some way, though. Premyslava herself can’t seem to resist his roguelike charisma despite all his open fornicating.



    Though cunning and quick on his feet compared to his predecessors, and a decent soldier as well, people can’t help but wonder why the Lecher sought the throne to begin with – besides simple power, anyway. After all, he seems to lack any non-carnal desires, and surely his royal duties will just get in the way. Mszczuj chuckles to himself: of course he has ambitions.

    He’s going to party, for one thing!



    And sleep with more wives!



    And then, uh… well, he’ll think of something eventually.

    As the years go by, Mszczuj spends less and less time in Poland and more on diplomatic visits. People nudge-nudge and roll their eyes, knowing full well what he’s up to, sleeping with the concubines of Denmark and the Queen of Estonia and whatnot.



    In his absence, they’re effectively given the go-ahead for minor wars along the Polish border while the king focuses on his own “conquests”.



    However, one snowy day in January 955, the king brings home a guest no one had dared to expect in their wildest nightmares.

    The Mutilator.



    No, he’s not trying to seduce him, geez. Probably. Seeing as Poland would clearly be on the receiving end of any war between the two realms, the king has spent a lot of time practicing his Latin and making visits to the Francian court. With enough badgering, he finally convinced the Mutilator to take a detour on his way home after crushing some Moravian heretics, and pay a visit to Krakow. The castle on Wavel Hill has grown a lot over the last few decades, and while it’s surely nothing compared to the ones in Bar, it is enough to earn a snide remark that it’s "far better than expected from a filthy pagan". Everyone but the king is too afraid to react.

    To everyone’s surprise, the night seems to get off to a pleasant start, the two monarchs sharing drinks and conversing in Latin while their respective guard companies awkwardly stare at each other from across the room. The Muti... sorry, Frédéric is quite tired and a bit wounded from his recent battles, but Mszczuj figures he knows just the thing: a taste of the local ladies.



    The heaviest silence in the history of mankind follows. Both sides’ guards inch nervously towards their weapons, anticipating the bloodbath that is surely about to ensue…

    The Emperor laughs and accepts.



    Apparently he appreciates the chance to get away from Empress Elisabeth every now and then. She can be a real stick-in-the-mud sometimes, and he’s been dealing with Waldensian after Cathar after Waldensian and… you know how it is, right? Of course, he’s also drunk out of his mind, but who cares?

    Frédéric leaves the next day, and it’s less than certain whether this actually had any effect on Polish-Francian relations, but it sure was an event.



    In any case, now that the king is home for once, his generals take the opportunity to give him the full details of their recent gains in the west. They’ve moved closer and closer to their goal of the Elbe River, which many consider Poland’s natural and rightful border, and gained control over most of the Pomeranian tribes in the process.

    “So, I’m the King of the Pomeranians now, you say?”

    “Ahem… If that is how you wish to put it, my king.”

    Eventually, though, they decide that the title of the Kingdom of Poland should stand unparalleled by any other in the realm. King Mszczuj is thus styled King of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania, greatly adding to the Lechowicz’ prestige. After all, based on what the Poles have been learning from their Christian neighbors, the longer the title, the better.



    Shockingly, Frédéric actually accepts another invitation to dinner. Perhaps Poland and Francia really could be on friendly terms after all.



    Alas, to no avail: in 956 the Mutilator’s mistreatment of his vassals finally catches up to him, and he is openly murdered at the hands of a conspiracy led by his own aunt. The mood in Poland is actually… not quite sad, but a bit wistful. Better the devil you know, right? He’s succeeded by his barely-adult son Gauthier, but whoever sits on the throne, one can only hope that Francia will either collapse some time soon or stay in check for the time being.



    Not much later, Emperor Gauthier is excommunicated… by the Pope… at the request of a Norseman who just invaded a chunk of Italy. Christendom really is a strange place.



    Meanwhile in the east, the Jewish hordes of Khazaria have fragmented into a number of (still Jewish) successor states, the largest being the Khanate of Jabdertim, which the Poles soon invade to drive them out of Belz.



    A foolhardy member of the disgraced and dethroned family af Munsö decides to try and claim the freshly founded Grand Duchy for himself. Also, King 'Bloodaxe' seems to have earned himself a new, probably ironic nickname. He does own two very nice axes inherited from Skarbimir, but they haven’t seen a drop of blood in years.



    To pass time, Mszczuj continues his attempts to strike up a friendship with Gauthier the way he did with his father, but with little success. While Gauthier holds him no personal ill will, he’s simply too busy dealing with the same heretic uprisings over and over as Frédéríc was. It seems that all these antipopes, looters, jihadists and whatnot have shaken the core of Catholic authority to the extent that Francia is constantly fraught with Cathar, Waldensian, Fraticelli and Lollard sects, many of them militant. Mszczuj has no idea what most of those words mean, but he nods along and pretends to listen. The man clearly needs to vent a little.



    These heretics, however, have never been an actual match for the massive imperial army. August 964 brings a very different uprising: King Aimery, from another branch of the Karling dynasty, has spent a long time consolidating power inside the empire and now finally raised his banners in rebellion. Onlookers hold their breath: will this finally be death of Francia as we know it? Will it merely change hands? Or will this all fizzle out, just like the civil war the Mutilator had to face? Whatever the case, it’s likely to be another close call.





    Of course, the actual details of the war are of little concern for the Poles, who are perfectly happy in their own corner of Europe, drinking with one hand and pummeling Lithuanians with the other.



    These minor skirmishes are only a prelude to something greater: the Norsemen of Denmark threaten the Slavic lands, just like the Swedes before them, and their presence this side of the Baltic Sea must be removed before it can dig its roots any deeper.



    Again in the west, Emperor Gauthier is already on the losing end when his civil war suddenly gains a third party, a relatively lowly Duchess of Ferrara who has nonetheless rallied herself a decent number of supporters to support her claimant of choice. Quite a strange character, she’s called both ‘the Beguiling’ for her witch-like charisma and ‘Empress Nun’ for her zealous faith and vow of celibacy. Francia really has become a royal – no, imperial mess.





    If the integrity of the Catholic Church seems to be faltering, the Slavic Church is looking stronger than ever. The Poles make enough noise about driving out the (wrong type of) pagans that the combined wrath of all Norsedom descends upon them, only to be sent back as quickly as it came. Even a pathetically small band of those so-called Jomsvikings is spotted on the battlefields of Lithuania, singing themselves a nice rousing song before throwing themselves against the Poles and dying in droves.

    It may not be enough to truly cripple the Danes, but perhaps this first step will provide the other Slavs with the opportunity to fight back themselves.



    The Poles for their part take the only mildly traitorous opportunity to go and pillage some juicy Francian land while the rebel lords are too busy fighting elsewhere. Whoever ends up winning will never notice a couple burnt churches all the way in Brandenburg, right?



    The civil war ravaging the empire has also created perfect conditions for a massive epidemic of smallpox to spread across its heartland, slaying untold tens of thousands in areas already devastated by battle. Largely due to their far lower population density, Poland’s own lands have seemed quite resistant to disease so far.



    The rebel Aimery himself is killed by the pox, but his son Waldemar manages to force Gauthier’s surrender. Gauthier is allowed to remain King of West Francia, but Waldemar is now Emperor. However, he still needs to deal with Empress Nun, and there are plenty of other elements within Francia who might take this opportunity to rebel against their effeminate, Jew-hugging liege…



    Poland feels, perhaps foolhardily, emboldened by this weakness in the west. The state of Great Moravia has still clung onto life despite having lost all of actual Moravia; now the city and fortress of Prague, the center of the Duchy of Bohemia, is finally lost to the Poles as well.



    Speaking of lost glory, the 60-year-old King Mszczuj has been doing his best to maintain his youthful lifestyle, but it’s shamefully apparent that the years are making themselves known. He can no longer hold his drink like he used to, and even his own sons can’t resist mocking his pathetic demeanor behind his back. Well, guess who’s not getting Prague for his birthday, jackass!



    This old man still has some fight left in him, gods dammit! As a result of his… well, his chiefs’ recent conquests up north, he declares himself the Grand Duke of Lithuania. He might not realize it, but while all these fancy titles do make him seem fancy by proxy, they can also become something for his less loyal vassals to lust after…



    He also personally joins in on a sacking of the Jomsvikings’ precious Castle Jomsborg, just to prove he can. Our dear king may be having something of a delayed midlife crisis.



    With the fall of Prague, Poland’s very own High Chief of Moravia decides to finish the job and take the rest of Great Moravia for himself. There is no longer anything resembling a buffer between Poland and Francia, but truth be told, that ship has long since sailed, and probably wrecked somewhere around Brandenburg.



    Moravia isn’t the only Great thing to fall in 977: Zegota ‘the Undefeated’ of Kuyavia, a 7-foot-tall “gentle” giant who served as Marshal and Champion of Poland (and “most competent horse-tamer of Krakow”) for a full fifty years under both Mszczuj and Skarbimir, finally dies in his home. The sages always said that men like him are blessed by Radogost with great strength at the cost of a shorter time in our mortal realm; however, Zegota proved all doubters wrong by living a full 71 years at the height of power. He was a great national symbol, the pride of all Polish soldiers (most of whom have never known another marshal) and a close personal friend of the king (who slept with Zegota's wife at one point but later made amends). A moment of weakness leading him to Catholicism in his final days may have been what finally caused the gods to withdraw their favor; however, there is no doubt that it’ll be forgiven and he’ll get his well-earned seat drinking with the ancestors. Feast in peace.



    In 979, at the same time that the Poles are dealing with a quick and easy border war against Sweden – and the 68-year-old King Mszczuj has indeed decided to reclaim his youth by leading from the front – they receive the first offensive declaration of war since the days of Lechoslaw. The Duke of Saxony’s holy war for the High Chiefdom of Lausitz. Of course, just looking at the numbers he should stand no chance, so either he’s seriously overestimated Poland’s distraction with Sweden or is hiding some ace up his sleeve.



    Duke Minigolf over here does end up getting a couple other lords on his side, but still nowhere near enough to actually threaten Poland. Nevertheless, in these uncertain times (what other kind is there?), the Slavic faithful need all the moral support they can get. As such, the new and youthful Archpriest has been riding around the kingdom, proclaiming that this fight against the Christian menace is a holy war in itself. Once they’ve been driven back, more will follow in the future, until all of Slavdom stands unthreatened by any foreign god.



    The power of Poland is brought out in full as the foolish Christians proceed right into a risky crossing over the Elbe and into their laps. Polish archers dye the river red before they even make it across, and then the rest of the army crushes the survivors with overwhelming force.



    King Mszczuj ‘Bloodaxe’, finally earning his title, marches right for the Saxon capital of Braunschweig and the war is over less than a year after it started. The invaders and their already wobbly church are humiliated even further, and while the fighting itself was a relatively easy victory, this unprovoked (?) Francian aggression will surely leave a lasting mark on the Polish spirit, as evidenced by the Archpriest’s grand anti-Christian campaign.



    Indeed, as the King turns his attention back to them, the Norsemen prove a numerically and morally far stronger foe despite their weak showing in the last war. Though the Poles seem to have the initial advantage, something goes horribly wrong and the royal hussars get stuck in an unseen quagmire. An arrow to the chest knocks the king off his horse and he hits his head on the way down. When he wakes up… who knows how much later, the battle has already moved elsewhere, and his only comfort is a fellow dying soldier lying nearby. “Go with Perun,” the man barks. “Go with Perun,” the King mumbles in a haze. They do the closest thing to a handshake they can muster, and with Perun they go.



    Against all odds, as of 980, Mszczuj ‘the Lecher’ has earned the dubious honor of being the first King of Poland to die on the battlefield.





    The king is dead! Long live King Bozydar of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania and Lithuania!


    Spoiler: State of the World in 980
    Show
    Despite his personal contribution being quite minimal, Mszczuj’s life saw a fair bit of expansion especially in the north, and the symbolically important founding of the two Grand Duchies. The purpose of the current war was to drive the Swedes out of Werle, their last foothold in Pomerania, but we all saw how well that’s going.



    Despite its vassals looking quite cranky, Francia failed to do anything resembling a collapse, though the comparatively tiny Friuli and Gelre did manage to split off. Currently the empire is fighting a holy war to push the Shia Caliph of Aghlabid out of Benevento, Italy, and should have little trouble with it. Could it be that the empire has simply exceeded that critical mass where its military might is just too great to fail?



    • The Lollard Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of England has been established in the southeast of the isles, but the great majority of the isles is still a battleground for the Norse (who to their credit have still managed to stay pagan and actually proselytize a bit).
    • Garthariki’s promising expansion has been completely blocked by Denmark, and their attempts at reconquest have been unsuccessful.
    • Khazaria has truly and thoroughly broken down, giving the unlikely black horse of Estonia (with a Norse king) space to expand.
    • The state of Galilee in the Levant, established by Bolghar invasion, has proven surprisingly resilient, even conquering the holy city of Jerusalem. On the other hand, despite their ethnic and cultural differences, they’ve been quick to adopt Sunni Islam and are thus not seen as a religious threat by their neighbors.

    Spoiler: Comments
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    Goes to show that for all this talk of emperors, the Norsemen are the true enemy after all…

    Ah, what a refreshing change of pace. For me, anyway. Those new “Sway” events are stupid in the best of ways. I also love characters like Zegota… distinctive NPCs who stick around for multiple generations and forge memorable relationships with the player and the world. *sniff* Even if I only remember to mention them at their deathbed.

    It’s nice how Eldership allows me to take all the land and make all the babies I want, unlike Gavelkind, while still leaving a degree of choice, randomness and politicking around the election, unlike Primogeniture. I actually wouldn’t mind the throne passing out of the dynasty (like with plain Elective), but meh. You could say this makes Eldership a fair bit better than any of those, but as far as I’m concerned, it was necessary to make this AAR work in the first place.

    Also, in case someone’s wondering, my northern, western and southern borders are now just about where I want them, besides a couple more counties in Pomerania. From now on our expansion (which doesn’t get a lot of detail due to being pretty simple so far) will preferably be directed towards the east, perhaps all the way to Crimea; however, it’ll be slower going, since a lot of the land is held by fellow Slavics, and there’s no way I’m using holy wars on the Jews, either. Besides, we’re looking pretty nice, visually speaking... except for Bohemia. Ignore Bohemia.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-06-16 at 05:10 AM.

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Ouch, that Francia looks quite threatening. Hope they don't get into the mood for a holy war.

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    Wow. You really got that emperor drunk.

    Do you have plans for empire, or are you going to be king of Poland forever? Also, did you mod the game to use the new crusade mechanic for slavic great holy wars, or are you using the old style great holy wars? Maybe after you supplant catholics as the dominant european religion you can change to using crusade style great holy wars. I haven't actually played with the new crusade mechanics yet, but they look awesome. And somehow the crusader state of Sinai keeps forming.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wardog View Post
    Rockphed said it well.
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    We should change the collective noun for crocodiles to "an abundance of crocodiles".
    Dragontar by Serpentine.

    Now offering unsolicited advice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mythmonster2 View Post
    Ouch, that Francia looks quite threatening. Hope they don't get into the mood for a holy war.
    Yeah, they're... a problem. I want them to break apart for variety's sake as much as anything, but yes, they'd also whup me if we ever came to blows. I'm worried that they've reached the point where it'll take all their vassal kings breaking off at once to make a difference. These civil wars are pretty massive, but as long as they're just fighting for the throne rather than independence, may not actually affect them long-term.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockphed View Post
    Wow. You really got that emperor drunk.

    Do you have plans for empire, or are you going to be king of Poland forever? Also, did you mod the game to use the new crusade mechanic for slavic great holy wars, or are you using the old style great holy wars? Maybe after you supplant catholics as the dominant european religion you can change to using crusade style great holy wars. I haven't actually played with the new crusade mechanics yet, but they look awesome. And somehow the crusader state of Sinai keeps forming.
    I didn't mod anything about the Holy Wars (all my modding so far is just a couple flags and title names, like the Grand Duchies) but now that you mention it, I should see how much work that'd be. Who knows, could be a simple yes/no flag in the files, but I doubt it.

    And I may form an empire for mechanical reasons if it comes down to it, but if I do, it'll still be Poland.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2018-12-23 at 04:23 AM.

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    Chapter #3: The Stargazer (Bozydar, 980-987)

    Spoiler: Chapter
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    13 November, 980

    How Bozydar managed to get elected is actually a bit of mystery: the second-eldest living son of old King Skarbimir, the only honor he had to his name was Castle Stargard near Szczecin, taken from the Jomsvikings some years ago. Though well-learned in tactics, he tends to be a little withdrawn, and a bit too bookish for Polish tastes (books being a new concept in general). On the other hand, perhaps this helped endear him to the also-bookish Elders – or perhaps he seemed like a nice change of pace after three decades of the Lecher.



    He was chosen over his older brother and former master Twardomir of Pomerania, most likely because he has more of a reputation for stabbing backs than shaking hands, and isn’t exactly popular in the realm.



    Bozydar receives what could be called a battlefield coronation, being present at the Battle of Werle when a warrior informs him of Mszczuj’s death and basically goes “well, I guess you’re King now”. He doesn't seem that excited, and said battle isn’t going terribly well either.



    The Poles are forced to retreat, ultimately taking only slightly more casualties than the enemy, but those casualties happen to include the late king as well as a high chief. The generals blame their fellow chiefs for not reinforcing them in time and running around somewhere in Silesia instead.



    While that was a tragic embarrassment, the war is far from lost if they can just manage to regroup. Bozydar remains on the front to avenge his predecessor and thus legitimize his rule. Still, despite his theoretical knowledge, he doesn't consider himself much of a fighter. The next summer a rematch is sought just west of Werle, and goes quite differently than the previous fight to say the least.



    A few battles of similar scale and success follow. This seems to get the famously zealous Archpriest a little overexcited, as he declares the First Great Holy War in December 981, urging all the faithful to arms against the Estonian holdings in Ruthenia. This seems like a questionable decision at best, since not only is the royal army still busy in the west, surely Denmark, which is currently far weaker and has far more land in the area, would’ve been a better target…?

    Sure, the temple of Kiev has been under Polish protection since the days of Lechoslaw, giving a foothold in the area, but the Estonian lands are currently a battleground between them and the Kozar Khaganate, which has mostly taken Khazaria’s place as the dominant horde west of the Urals.





    In any case, Bozydar forces another battle to wrap things up in Werle and then head east. He hasn’t really had time to get his bearings as King of Poland, having to ride straight from battle to battle so far.



    It’s about time he stopped in Krakow to take care of certain rituals, though.



    However, before he even has time to pack his things and leave for the front, it seems like the other Slavs – including the Warriors of Perun themselves – have this quite well under control. Some shout that it’s a disgrace for the King of Poland not to participate, but to the contrary, Bozydar argues that it’s about time for the others to pull their weight and prove that this is the Slavic Church we’re talking about, not merely a Polish one. Unless something truly dramatic happens, he opts to sit this one out…



    As more and more chiefs raise their banners to go to war on their own, Bozydar does something else unprecedented by starting the construction of an observatory in Krakow based on some fuzzy drawings, vague western stories and a lot of lucky guesses. He’s a believer in the school of thought that the gods’ will and movements can be read in the sky, but that truly understanding them requires some specialized equipment.



    He’s missing out on some really good fighting, but oh well.



    The king digs up a simple telescope looted from who-knows-where and gets to work, trying to get a comprehensive idea of the starry sky before making any further conclusions. To his great surprise, some of the stars don’t seem to be acting… naturally. Or the way they should, whatever you want to call it.



    While he's busy stargazing, the war goes just fine without him, and in late 985, the King of Estonia finally gives up his relatively meager holdings and the First Great Holy War is a grand success! Though the Warriors of Perun really shone on the battlefield and would be happy to take care of these lands, in the end the Archpriest decides that they should go to the High Chief of Kiev, their rightful ruler.



    The newly crowned King Vasilko is what one could call a “valiant brute” at best, but as a sign of good will and piety, Bozydar is happy to hand over Kiev itself. It’s been nothing but a bother, anyway. Tends to get looted every couple years or so.



    Many chiefs had been hungering for these eastern lands for years now, causing some outrage. To appease them, Bozydar promises to try and take care of the unclaimed border regions in the near future. In the end, though, isn’t it good to have another strong Slavic kingdom covering their flank?

    The chiefs go about their routine conquests, but Bozydar just can’t stop thinking about the stars. There’s something… wrong out there. Could he in fact be watching the gods with his own eyes? Or perhaps... some other gods? He spends every waking hour investigating this matter, and a vague rumor eventually drives him to depart Krakow almost unannounced and head far into the Khazar steppes, where he finally finds the right man sitting in a secluded cave. Bozydar must have this book he speaks of, this… Necronomicon…



    That’s when things really start to go downhill.



    Needing to clear his head, he takes a walk around Krakow, and happens to befriend a charming woman who turns out to be a Christian nun. Bozydar has no interest in turning away the only comfort in his increasingly disturbing life, though, and allows this Eugenia to stay in Wavel Castle as his guest.

    However, later that night, Eugenia comes to quarters (where he hasn’t slept an eyeful). After eliminating the first and most obvious explanation for visiting someone’s room at night, the sleep-deprived Bozydar finally realizes what’s going on…

    Eugenia is a messenger of the goddess of death Marzanna herself. This is about the book, isn’t it!?



    It’s an insane idea, but, well, in Bozydar’s quickly deteriorating state of mind it sounds reasonable enough. Bozydar isn’t going to go so easy, though, not when he’s so close to his greatest breakthrough…! He challenges Eugenia to a game of this “chess” he’s had imported from the south.



    The time that he spends playing this game for his life is, fittingly, the longest hour of his life. However, it truly was a desperate gambit, as he’s only played a couple matches of this damn thing…!



    Bozydar loses the game, and thus, his life.



    His death is a true mystery, as he is found in the morning with no external wounds of any kind. Given his bizarre behavior as of late, there are rumors afoot, including a claim that his heart had been missing from his chest when they found him. How anyone could notice his heart missing if there were no external wounds, the story doesn’t say. He leaves behind quite a strange legacy, letting his chiefs do most of the fighting just like his predecessor, but spending most of his short reign cooped up in his study rather than chasing women. His ramshackle little observatory will likely go neglected and rot where it stands, assuming someone doesn’t just loot it. No one else knows of the strange horrors he experienced, so to them, it must’ve seemed like he didn’t really do much. And yes, indeed, no one knows to look for it anyway, but the Necronomicon has also vanished into thin air…





    The king is dead! Long live King Gniewosz of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania and Lithuania!


    Spoiler: Comments
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    …Well, that was certainly a chapter. Short one, too, but I feel like I’d rather maintain the chapter-a-character format for the time being.

    Our eastern expansion seems to be checked for a while, as long as Ruthenia doesn’t just collapse or turn hostile, but I’m honestly fine with that. If only they fix their damn bordergore…
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-06-04 at 10:37 AM.

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    Chapter #4: Parades & Poisonings (Gniewosz + Wladyslaw, 987-1002)

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    17 August, 987

    After the seemingly unremarkable reign of the unremarkable Bozydar, people have high hopes for King Gniewosz. As the grandson of good old Wanko, who himself is remembered more for his death than for his life, he’s only a distant cousin and quite a long leap from any of the previous kings. However, the youngest king since Lechoslaw has absolutely charmed the realm with his skill on the battlefield, hard-working nature, absolute devotion to the kingdom over all else, and sheer competence. Given all this, people expect a long and glorious reign.



    After getting the usual formalities out of the way, one of the first things Gniewosz does is petition the Archpriest for authorization to settle some claims in Volhynia and make sure they won’t cause any trouble with their new friends the Ruthenians. Though the Archpriest considers such worldly matters a bit untasteful, he sees his point and grants him the blessing he asks.



    The Volhynians are fellow Slavs, but they’ll be better off as part of Poland. Gniewosz is first over the border, as is his duty, and the few warriors foolish enough to resist are summarily crushed, the region annexed in months.



    Despite his earlier misgivings, it seems like the Archpriest might be a member of Gniewosz’ fan club after all.



    With that out of the way, though, Poland doesn’t have a lot more places it can reasonably expand, which is a first. To the west lies good old Francia, to the east is now Ruthenia; Estonia just plain doesn’t seem worthwhile; the south has some easy targets ripe for the taking, but the Poles generally consider the Carpathian Mountains a natural border they’d rather not cross too much. Besides, the so-called government of the kingdom feels a bit overextended to begin with, and the more land and ranting chieftains it has to deal with, the less effective the whole mess will become.



    As such, initial signs seem to point towards Gniewosz’ reign being one of peace after all. Knock on wood.

    The same may not be the case for Francia, as the third Pope in a row excommunicates the current emperor. The emperors and capitals keep switching so often that the Poles have stopped bothering to keep track, but this Giselbert has actually been doing surprisingly well, all things considered…



    Not that the Pope himself seems too secure these days. Christendom really has become a free-for-all since the foundation and expansion of Francia turned its external conflicts into internal ones.


    (Not sure what happened here or if it even did anything)

    Even if Poland is nominally at peace, the chiefs will get bored with nothing to do, so Gniewosz agrees to lead a daring raid over the Francian border. Nürnberg, the capital of Bavaria, has been looking deliciously prosperous for a while now…



    In fact, the castle turns out to be hiding a Christian relic: the finger bone of a saint! Very holy, and also kind of gross. It’ll look great in the treasury – we can put it right next to the mummified tongue.



    The predictable counterattack arrives days later, but even as his cackling chiefs are preparing to run off with their loot, King Gniewosz shocks them all by declaring that they shall hold their ground. Even more shockingly, the decision actually pays off, and the Francians are driven off with comparatively small losses on the Polish side. Quite cunning of the king to find such opportunities to prove his mettle even in, uh, “peacetime”.



    After having their fill, the Poles leave the whole county a smoldering ruin and ride home singing, happy to spend that gold on drink and castles of their own. Better to leave while they’re ahead and before the emperor can bring his full force to bear. The finger has no special value to them, other than as a hunting trophy, but a fine trophy it is. The dutiful king just grins contently.



    Everything seems to be going swimmingly, until 992, five years into his reign. At one completely ordinary royal dinner in Krakow, Gniewosz is handed a drink by his Steward Twardomir, whom he thanks politely as usual. However, everyone at court seems to have forgotten that this is Bozydar's brother, that same old Back-Stabbin’ Twardomir we’re talking about here. When the king keels over dead minutes later, everyone immediately knows where to look.



    Feast in peace, Gniewosz. You were too good to last.





    The king is dead! Long live King Wladyslaw of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania and Lithuania!



    No one knows what sort of motive Twardomir could’ve possibly had – spite? – but against all odds, he somehow manages to flee back to his holdings in Pomerania. When Wladyslaw comes to administer a summary execution by blunt force trauma, he resists in an act of desperate rebellion, but there’s little he can do against the king’s honor guard. Tragically, said guard also stops the king from simply charging at the man and advises him not to become a kinslayer himself; instead, Twardomir will rot under Wavel Castle for the rest of his hopefully short days.



    As for King Wladyslaw himself, he’s yet another distant cousin from yet another branch. Compared to these last three oddities, he’s a return to the traditional Lechoslaw and Skarbimir brand of Polish king: big, loutish, most happy with a drink in one hand and a woman in the other, but a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield.

    His options for expansion aren’t much wider than Gniewosz’, but he’s eager to take what he can get with little care for the consequences. The Pope has somehow come into possession of Znojmo in the rightfully Polish lands of Moravia, and despite many warnings that attacking the Pope of all people might draw the ire of other Catholics – out of principle if nothing else – Wladyslaw pays them no heed.



    Unfortunately, yes, the Pope is indeed joined by the Emperor of Francia (another new one, since Giselbert died a while ago, big surprise). Let’s hope Wladyslaw can replicate Gniewosz’ miracle…



    The day he goes to war, though, one of his concubines – Kaarina, ominously nicknamed ‘the Cleansing Flame’ for whatever reason – gives him a child. And what a special child he is. The Archpriest himself claims that young Niezamysl’s destiny is written in the stars, and it’s an omen of great glory for all of Poland. Wladyslaw doesn’t really understand the gravity of the priest’s words, only quipping that hopefully it’ll bring good luck for this current fight as well.



    The king does seem to have the gods on his side, finding personal honor on the battlefield.



    Still, trying to fight the Francians head-on might be a bad idea to say the least, so he sets his sights on the much weaker Papal army that has somehow managed to wander deep into Poland.



    They are easily dealt with, and with some help from his more careful commanders, he manages to find a defensive position in the Carpathian Mountains to lure one of the Francian armies into. During the massive, pitched battle, he takes it upon himself to chase down the enemy commander – an entirely incompetent fat man pushing 60 – and with his heirloom Axe of Plusdwa in hand, it really isn’t much of a fight. He takes the sniveling man captive, just so he can mock him some more on the way back.



    The rest of the battle is a great victory as well, but it’s worth keeping in mind that it involved nearly the entire Polish army against only a third of Francia’s. Apparently the emperor has some rebellions to deal with back west (as usual), seeing as his great armies depart the area mere weeks later and leave the severely outclassed Pope all by himself.



    Wladyslaw is in a hurry to end the war before the emperor can return, and as it turns out, his banners are just about looming over the horizon when the Pope finally decides to just be done with the whole thing.

    It’s not a massively important victory territorially speaking, but it is highly appreciated proof that Poland can face the massive Francia in open warfare and still prevail due to superior leadership and tribal unity. They probably still shouldn’t make a habit of it, though.



    The king doesn’t have much sympathy for those who fail to appreciate the glory of conquest, especially if they try to imply that he’s to blame for their losses somehow.



    Forced to return to domestic life, for lack of targets if nothing else, the great conqueror spends a little more time following the antics of his so-called Child of Destiny. There are even rumors of the infant Niezamysl once strangling a snake, and the rest of the court seems to view the boy with confused awe, but Wladyslaw is still convinced that it’s nothing.



    The king aims to kill time by raiding the south some more, but some of his vassals have grander ambitions: in 999, the Republic of Gdansk decides to invade Denmark, which is already struggling with all sorts of other wars. If successful, this would be quite an interesting development; not something the Polish crown would have directly pursued, but still. On the other hand, king after king has been bothered by these Grand Mayors getting a little too snobbish for their tastes, even if never rising up in open revolt, so them grabbing too much land might cause trouble in the future.



    He doesn’t live to see what becomes of the war, though, nor of his son. One night in January 1002, he dies the same way as his predecessor Gniewosz, though his poison comes from a viper rather than a goblet. Maybe he should’ve let Niezamysl sleep in his bed like he asked. Much like his pre-predecessor Bozydar, his death isn’t discovered until the next morning, and there are no obvious suspects to blame.



    While rather unpopular, Wladyslaw still goes down as the first King of Poland – hell, perhaps one of the first people in general – to win an open war against the Empire of Francia, even if the emperor wasn’t really trying his hardest.





    The king is dead! Long live King Spytko of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania and Lithuania!


    Spoiler: State of the World in 1002
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    Even with people’s insistence to the contrary, Poland’s borders seem to keep creeping outward little by little, whether by the hand of the king or of his diligent vassals. At this point, though, they don’t really have anywhere to go but north.



    • Denmark is losing ground in the east, yet has… somehow managed to conquer a large chunk of Iberia, including Cordoba itself?
    • A couple more minor states have broken off of Francia, while others were reabsorbed. The most notable so far is Carinthia, but its position is shaky as well.



    • While the Shia Caliph reigns in Africa, the Sunni Caliphs of Abbasid have been pushed all the way back to the Gulf of Persia, with the Tulunids of Egypt isolating the two from each other.
    • India is almost entirely dominated by the two massive empires of Pratihara (Rajasthan) and Pallava (Deccan), with Bengal stuck as a permanent tributary of the latter.


    Spoiler: Comments
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    Yeah, screw chapter-a-character, this would get dumb.

    Eldership really is a weird dynamic, since the Elders are constantly cranky and tend to elect odd, usually older heirs, especially if I have a somewhat shorter reign and don’t have time to convince them about my own candidate.

    Is it just me, or am I getting an abnormal amount of supernatural events these days? Anyway, happy holidays! I should look up some more Slavic festivals...
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-06-04 at 10:47 AM.

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    So the good news is that Children of Destiny tend to go conquer themselves a nice new kingdom somewhere. The bad news is that they tend to convert to the local culture and religion. You might end up with a sunni egyptian branch of the family.
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    Well, we'll still get to live vicariously through him, knock on wood. And whether we end up allies or rivals down the road, it'll be interesting either way.

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    Chapter #5: Of Gods and Kings (Spytko, 1002-1014)

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    27 January, 1002

    Spytko Lechowicz is a somewhat unorthodox but sensible choice for King of Poland. He himself has the air of an Elder – more than that of a King, some detractors argue – but he’s seen a lot in his day, and should be a very good leader, well-spoken and intelligent even if not necessarily charismatic. He’s also fought in at least two dozen duels, eventually forced to put that hobby on ice after it cost an eye and a leg, but after this series of short reigns and assassinations, he wants to take good care of the throne without much lust for personal glory. Of course, his reign might still end up short due to his old age if nothing else.



    Despite having trouble running or sometimes even walking, Spytko can still ride, and tries to stay out and about by adopting a form of hunting that allows something else to do the killing for him: falconry.



    He’s heard the stories about Wladyslaw’s son Niezamysl, too, and decides to keep a close eye (singular) on the boy, allowing him and his mother to stay in Krakow. The Archpriest seems to be quite unnerved around the child, fully convinced that he’s some sort of divine vessel; problem is, he can’t tell of which god. Spytko insists on the boy getting a decent spiritual upbringing from the High Diviner, though, and after a little journey to Kiev, the Archpriest reports the boy having some sort of intense, spasmatic vision at the grand temple that seems to have changed him somehow…



    With almost suspiciously good timing, a shaman arrives from the western provinces to speak with Spytko about the state of the Slavic Church, and how it could play a part in the great future Niezamysl has ahead of him. The way he says it, it almost sounds like there’s some sort of cult forming around the boy. Spytko sternly commands him to cut it out; whether the boy is “divine” or not – the King is a faithful Slav himself, after all, and doesn’t deny the possibility – fanning the flames like this is going to make the 8-year-old lad grow up twisted if he hasn’t already.



    Not all have a positive view of the littlest avatar, though. One would-be assassin – and a big brute of a man at that – sneaks into his quarters, only to get himself killed in one decisive strike from an improvised weapon before the boy, completely unflustered, walks downstairs and informs someone of the dead man on his carpet. Obviously he must be given better protection, but at this point, it almost doesn’t seem like he needs it…



    What’s that book he’s reading? The… Necronomicon? First off, what even is that, and second, when and where did the boy learn Latin?



    Spytko was elected to be King, though, not a babysitter! Though unable to lead from the front, he sends his chiefs to continue the process of rooting out Norse influence in the Baltics. The Swedes aren’t nearly the terror they used to be, struggling with just as many problems as their friends the Danes (though Gdansk’s war in particular was a failure), and really not much of a problem for the weathered Polish troops.



    With yet another piece of land added to the realm, albeit a small one, King Spytko decides to finally deal with an issue that the more politically aware Poles have been throwing around for a while now. While the rise (hopefully without the fall) of Poland has been a time of great glory and prosperity for all, it’s been getting too big for its britches, as even King Gniewosz acknowledged. The crown struggles to maintain direct control of its most distant border areas, and High Chiefs often lack the power to do so themselves. The sheer number of complainers and petitioners of all sorts is too much for the King to personally handle, too, especially as he has to constantly travel around the realm.

    As such, Spytko does something unprecedented: he decides to name another man Grand Duke to serve as his direct representative, though in this case the new Grand Duchy of Galich-Volhynia is created rather than the King giving away one of his own.



    However, this raises some eyebrows: many people were under the impression that “Grand Duchy” was just a term used for the King of Poland’s secondary titles, not something granted to a lesser chief under him. Is it truly appropriate for Grand Dukes to be under the service of a King? After all, the Poles have been quick to learn that the semantics of noble titles are a critical part of modern statecraft.

    Tut tut! Spytko clarifies that in addition to this, the King of Poland shall now be the High King of Poland, a much more accurate show of their power. The country will still be called just a Kingdom, though, and don’t worry about getting the name wrong a couple times. Better get used to it, though.



    In a sense, the simple change from King to High King makes the monarch of Poland equivalent in rank to an Emperor, as he can now comfortably have King-equivalents serving as his vassals – of course, Francia for one is unlikely to recognize this any time soon. It also has wider implications, though, as the state of Poland has now been been placed far above any other kingdom in terms of prestige. How much this will go to their heads remains to be seen. Though some obviously view this as a power play they wouldn’t have expected from Spytko, it’d be at least moderately treasonous to imply that Poland isn’t deserving of this honor.

    It does open up Grand Duchies as something for individual vassals to fight over, though.



    Speaking of empires, there’s been an unsuccessful “Jihad” or two in the past, but rumors arrive from over the steppe saying that the Aghlabid Caliph (isn’t he all the way in Tunis?) has called one against the massive Pratihara Empire, which has been creeping farther and farther west from its heartland in India. Something similar to the Slavs’ own Great Holy War, it seems? It doesn’t exactly concern the Poles in any way, but seems to be a matter of great import in the Muslim sphere down south.



    The Godling is already carrying himself like an emperor too, and certainly getting treated like one. Despite being only 14 winters old, he could easily pass for a grown man twice his age in terms of both looks and behavior. Spytko himself is far past certain that what they say about the boy is true; he’s just opted not to take a public stand on this matter, trying not to make things worse.



    On the 7th of February, 1011, the long-awaited day comes as Niezamysl turns 16 and is finally a full-grown adult in the eyes of gods and men. His name, meaning “the Unthinking”, has become sort of a title in itself, as he seems to be an utter natural genius at everything he gets up to, especially combat; the rumors (more like legends) say that in a sparring match, he can routinely beat dozens of men at once. There’s no way a young man of his divine talent will be content to just serve the Polish crown, especially as he has proven more than aware of his special status. What on earth will become of this son of Wladyslaw…?



    It’s in the air: the Lechowicz clan seems to be on the verge of something great. With that in mind, Spytko – perhaps hoping to stop Niezamysl from stealing all his thunder – decides that he should write a short history of the dynasty’s deeds, one of the very few “books” written in Polish so far and perhaps the very first non-religious one.



    He’s aided by a recent arrival at court, Scholastyka, well-versed in all things… well, scholastic, and actually said to be a very powerful sorceress.



    However, his health was been deteriorating rapidly, and progress on the book slows down before stopping entirely. On the 14th of February, 1014, he finally succumbs to old age, dying peacefully in bed surrounded by his court.

    While a very competent King, and in fact the first High King, the eyes of the realm really seem to have been focusing on Niezamysl over him, a fact which made him rather bitter despite his seeming disinterest in such things. Indeed, history may end up viewing him as more of a regent than the true ruler. Even his death just makes those eyes turn to the Godling once again. What will he do now, especially once he finds out that he’s been overlooked in favor of another youngster far less qualified than him…?





    The High King is dead! Long live High King Nadbor of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania and Lithuania, Liege Lord of Galicia-Volhynia!


    Spoiler: Comments
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    Told you we’d still be Poland.

    I think I want to keep these supernatural elements at least mildly ambiguous, as to whether they’re real or just rumors and superstitions. It’s a bit harder at times, especially with something as potentially important as the Child of Destiny (I sure wish he doesn’t just fizzle out), but things like the Axe of Plusdwa etc. might only be “glistening with magic” due to having an iridescent sheen or something.

    When do you think it might be best to try and adopt feudalism, either mechanically or thematically, whichever you prefer? We’re already kinda proto-feudal, but it’ll be a process taking several decades, upsetting vassals and thus making us vulnerable to rebellion during it, and then greatly weakening us for a while when finally finished. We’ve been making decent use of the tribal Conquest CB, but not really anything else, and it’s becoming less and less and necessary anyway.

    Also interesting to see the Shia doing decently for once. It’s been a while since I even saw them manage to get independent in a CK2 game. If their Jihad works out (and they’re currently winning), it'll be a major power boost.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-06-04 at 10:53 AM.

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    I'm almost surprised you didn't get Niezamysl elected as the next High King. Then again, it is more fun to watch something like that develop without your interference. Also, 137 personal combat skill! I half expect to see him take the Byzantine throne with those stats.

    As for adopting feudalism, I'm never sure when to give up tribalism. Do you have any feudal vassals yet? Maybe after Niezamysl goes a conquering Poland will feudalize to show that their branch of the family is better than Niezamysl's.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockphed View Post
    I'm almost surprised you didn't get Niezamysl elected as the next High King. Then again, it is more fun to watch something like that develop without your interference. Also, 137 personal combat skill! I half expect to see him take the Byzantine throne with those stats.
    Yeah, I actually had the opportunity to elect him, but decided that it felt both like cheating and a waste of a good narrative. If you look at his traits, the elders do have good reason not to elect him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockphed View Post
    As for adopting feudalism, I'm never sure when to give up tribalism. Do you have any feudal vassals yet? Maybe after Niezamysl goes a conquering Poland will feudalize to show that their branch of the family is better than Niezamysl's.
    Not a bad idea. As for vassals, I do have a couple feudal High Chiefs in the conquered parts of Pomerania and Bohemia. Thematically speaking we're far enough into "feudalism", especially with the introduction of the Grand Duchies and such, that we're effectively halfway there.

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    I'm fairly certain the big loss of power from feudalization comes from hitting high tribal authority, not from the actual feudaliziation itself. At high tribal authority, you get vassal levies instead of being able to call vassals in to wars. This makes fighting more predictable, since your vassals won't decide to wonder off and try to siege a harsh winter province with 10,000 men, but you only get about 10% of the troops your vassals could produce, instead of 100% when you call them in to war.
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    I'm saving this until it hits eu4. You're doing great.

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    Chapter #6: Divine Disgrace (Nadbor, 1014-1041)

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    14 February, 1014

    Though it comes as a shock to many, the House of Elders had its reasons not to elect Niezamysl. Even if he already has a huge number of supporters and seems almost terrifyingly qualified to be High King, the side worried rather than excited about him has been gaining traction. These years of what amounts to godlike worship have made him exceedingly callous, arrogant and deaf to dissent, which no electoral organ in the world could consider a virtue. There are worrying rumors that he routinely humiliates, beats or even kills his fanatical followers, who even thank him for the honor, or commands them to do the same to each other. Furthermore, while most are still convinced of his divine blessing, the idea of him actually being a god or even a demigod has been denounced, and the Elders don’t want to encourage such dangerous ideas about someone so… well, dangerous.

    High King Nadbor, on the other hand, is Niezamysl’s opposite in many ways. Though very bright, well-educated and dutiful, he’s quite modest and physically frail compared to the young god of war over there. However, the fact that Nadbor is the exact same age as Niezamysl just makes him all the more furious, since the Elders can’t even use his youth as an excuse.



    Nadbor is married to the almost equally young Adelajda, very talented herself and a very rare sight as a female High Chief who managed to inherit due to a lack of male siblings. Not only does she rule wealthy coastal Prussia, she’s also taken control of Poland’s small foothold in Bârlad in the south and managed to expand it farther north to almost reach back to the Polish mainland.



    What does Niezamysl do? Well, storm out of Krakow, ride south into the mountains, and leave the country altogether. Nothing is heard of him for a few very worrying months, until eventually news arrive that he has found patronage in the court of Nitra and is now planning to invade Poland with his personal army of zealots. The Polish reaction is one of terror. It appears that by scorning their gift from the gods, they have only managed to turn it against themselves. They can only wait, and prepare.



    Word also arrives from the south that the Shia Caliph has in fact succeeded in his Jihad against the Pratihara, securing himself a strong domain right next door to his Sunni counterpart. The Poles really couldn’t care less on the best of days, and this certainly isn’t that.



    As always, the High King has plenty of people around telling who they’d like him to attack, but with the Niezamysl question still up in the air, he’s too worried to actually send his armies anywhere. However, the wait grows long, and in January 1016, Archpriest Czcibor decides to call a second Great Holy War for Volga Bulgaria: a barely inhabited wilderness way, way east near the Urals, far outside traditional Slavic lands. While weakening the Kozar Khaganate is an acceptable goal, such a dubious war with dubious timing is incredibly worrying to say the least. The previous Archpriest was relatively anti-Niezamysl, but he died some years ago and left this man in charge; could this be just a treasonous plot to divide the Polish forces, leaving a clear path for Niezamysl to walk right into the capital and take Nadbor’s head!?



    Nadbor certainly thinks so. The gates of Wavel Castle remain shut tight until further notice, please leave a message, we’ll get back to you.



    A tragically large number of powerful chiefs are taken in by this frivolous distraction.



    However, no attack ever comes. Nadbor sits shivering in his fortress while the world carries on around him. In fact, in late September 1016, his wife sends him a letter: Niezamysl has shown up in Bârlad, without an army (certainly not for lack of volunteers), looking very sheepish and asking to be allowed back into the realm. Understandably confused, Adelajda has taken him in and let him train the troops or something.

    Nadbor is no less baffled, and finally comes out of seclusion to go meet with Niezamysl. He still hates the High King’s guts, but deeply regrets his previous behavior and wants to serve the clan the best he can. He claims to have never heard of any invasion plans, but whether that’s true or not, Nadbor has the creeping feeling that Niezamysl might be more than a little unstable, and decides not to rock the boat. The man still has an army eagerly awaiting his return, after all. Better let him stay here, in the farthest reach of the realm. Nadbor is forced to make the nervous promise to ensure that Niezamysl be at the top of the election candidates, though.

    But in the end, it seems that sitting still just really isn’t for him. Only a few years later, he declares that he’ll be departing to the east to seek his fortune far abroad, across the steppes, where his clan or Poland can’t stop him from chasing his destiny. He makes this statement out loud in the Krakow market square, and word travels quickly, attracting an army of thousands of zealous warriors to accompany him. There’s little doubt as to what sort of fortune he’ll be pursuing. The High King bids him farewell, both mildly wistful to have lost such a man and just happy to be rid of him. Perhaps the Slavs will hear of him again one day.


    (Stats reduced by the loss of modifiers upon departure)

    Some years pass with the realm in relative peace, even though several chiefs are still running around in Volga Bulgaria. At the request of the High King’s older brother, the Grand Duchy of Bohemia is founded and then delegated to him. His own wife, meanwhile, is made the High Chieftess of Moldavia as well as Prussia.



    The High King’s troops make another brave raid into Bavaria, the Poles’ personal storehouse, but for once the Emperor of Francia manages to respond with overwhelming force and convince them to retreat while they still can.



    While Nadbor himself hasn’t been too active on the military front, he has proven a masterful administrator when not cowering in his basement. Trade and agriculture around the capital have prospered greatly, leading to a lot of land being cleared that will be useful for centuries to come.



    The second Great Holy War ends up fizzling out just like Niezamysl's invasion – in 1026, a full ten years after it started, nothing has been achieved. The High King probably could’ve settled it by actually participating, but he may have been feeling a bit spiteful, seeing as he still believes it started as a plot to get him killed.



    Still, his mastery of home front politics, decently long reign and popularity with the chiefs allows him to push through a lot of other reforms. He starts steadily ramping up the amount of control he has over his realm; however, to keep his chiefs happy, the Crown Council that previously served a purely advisory role is given explicit voting rights on legislation and other matters of national importance.



    At the suggestion of his niece Wszebora – another conqueror Chieftess, curiously enough – he does agree to send his troops north, to push the Polish border to the Daugava River and Gulf of Riga. Of course, this means that Swede-held Riga itself looms just across the river, and then they’re already at the Estonian border… if they keep following this line of thought, they’ll be in Finnmark before they know it.



    While the Poles have little sympathy for their northern neighbors, the fact that the Danes have finally decided to embrace Christianity as of 1031 is still a loss for pagans as a whole. The Norse faith has already been losing ground in the British Isles, but at least it’s still holding strong in Norway and Sweden… for now.



    Nadbor’s reforms continue, establishing concrete laws for more and more things that used to be handled through simple tradition or gentleman’s agreements – some of them seemingly frivolous, but others quite critical, such as the supplying of soldiers in wartime. While the chiefs deserve some credit for their loyalty so far, his long-term goal is to make it so they’ll be obligated to serve the realm at all times whether they like it or not, but he obviously can’t say that out loud. He also isn’t above quietly replacing people on the Council to steer the voting in his favor.



    Around his 40th birthday, the High King starts to suffer from health problems – soon identified by his healer as the great pox, or “syphilis” – and for fear that his reforms might go unfinished, decides to write a book that’ll serve both his eventual successor in implementing them and other chiefs in obeying them in practice.



    While he lives on, pained but mostly alright, the illness also spreads to his wife – as the pox tends to do – who seems to be much more strongly afflicted, all the way up to the illness gnawing on her mind.



    In 1040, the Warriors of Perun request permission to construct a castle on an empty plot of royal land. The High King is more than happy to grant it, as that spot is perfect for a fortress but useless for much else. The Warriors already have four such castles within Poland, but they’ve continued to perform admirably in the holy wars and are universally honored for their devotion.



    Despite Adelajda being less than lucid at the moment, and people snickering about the High King taking orders from women, her request to Nadbor that he take control of the Galich Corridor (as it’s come to be called) and connect her southern holdings to the rest of the realm sounds quite reasonable. The land used to be held by Ruthenia, which is supposedly a “traditional Polish ally”, but recently broke off and can now easily be gobbled up with little consequences. Also, don’t mind the fighting on both sides of the corridor, that’s just some local feud again.



    Ah, Poland’s borders are looking a lot better. It now controls a direct path down the Dniestr River east of the Carpathians. In fact, it’s very close to acquiring a port in the Black Sea; quite an interesting thought…



    However, just as Nadbor had feared, in September 1041 the pox takes his life before he can finish his reforms; that duty will be left to his successor who, as expected, doesn’t have Nadbor’s book to help him. Everyone starting their work on their damn deathbed must be the real reason there’s no Polish literature. The epic rivalry between Nadbor and Niezamysl ended up having quite an unsatisfying ending as Niezamysl simply exited stage left, but Nadbor’s own reign still became long and prosperous enough that he got himself titled ‘the Great’. It’s a shame that his potentially greatest legacy might be credited to whoever succeeds him.





    The High King is dead! Long live High King Prendota of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania and Lithuania, Liege Lord of Bohemia and Galicia-Volhynia!


    Spoiler: State of the World in 1041
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    No matter how many times the Polish monarch goes “fine, we’ll move the border there, but no farther!”, some vassal of his goes and does it anyway. See: Latvia.



    • Francia just keeps on going, I’m afraid. Small individual vassals keep breaking off every now and then, only to get reabsorbed by those who didn’t, or on very rare occasion a foreign neighbor.
    • The Umayyads of Toledo have managed to reclaim most of Iberia for Islam. Denmark grabbed Sicily, but is now at the receiving end of multiple competing conquerors.
    • Britannia remains culturally Norse-dominated, but most of them have adopted Catholicism.
    • Long-suffering Sweden finally got subjugated by Norway, but then again, they have Gavelkind succession, so it can only be temporary…
    • Despite trying and trying to make a comeback, Garthariki just keeps getting beat back down, now to the point that the actual Russian tribe of Novgorod has broken off from the kingdom.
    • The promising Shia Caliphate lost to a decadence revolt and fell into pieces. The Tulunids of Egypt remain the largest and most stable Muslim state by far.
    • The Bolghar invaders of Galilee managed to expand into the Khanate of Syria.



    • The fall of the Shia Caliph also doomed his holdings in Persia, many of which got reconquered by the Indians.
    • The Western Protectorate of China has… somehow… managed to establish tributaries all the way at the Gulf of Persia and the Caspian Sea.
    • Don’t even ask about that random Polish province, because I don’t know.


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    Gods dammit, Niezamysl! The game definitely bugged out somewhere in there. I saw him try to invade Dulafid Yemen... problem is, the Dulafids hold no actual land in Yemen, and the CB was instantly disqualified. Bummer.



    His departure to China still leaves some options for EU4, though, should we pursue them... Speaking of: the hell is up with the Western Protectorate?

    Also, I quite seriously misremembered how raising Tribal Organization works… the opinion malus is for unreformed pagans only, and the cooldown timer a lot shorter than I thought. But at least that means we managed to achieve something this chapter. Almost.

    Often during long periods on inactivity I think “man, this is going to make for such boring reading”. Then I realize I simply don’t need to write about it. I guess. It’s easy to forget that we still have 403 years to go, especially when I look at the map and wonder how I’m going to convert it to EU4. If the Francian blob still remains at that point, I might end up turning it into some sort of massive HRE… It’s certainly got the instability to match, without ever actually collapsing.

    Quote Originally Posted by HMS Invincible View Post
    I'm saving this until it hits eu4. You're doing great.
    Hey, that's great to hear! I might even message you once we get there, if I still remember.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-06-04 at 11:06 AM.

  21. - Top - End - #21
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    Special #1: Centennial of the Slavic Church (1041)

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    Over a hundred years and seven monarchs have passed since King Lechoslaw ‘Ironside’ of Poland announced his new plans for the Slavs’ traditional faith, founding the Slavic Church in 924 (no exact date is known, but will likely be made up sooner later). Due to his death later that year and general lack of spiritual knowledge, the actual process was left in the hands of what passes as clergy in the Slavic realms, most importantly the Archpriests of Perun: some of the only Slavic priests with any official status beyond personal respect.

    Due to being naturally sculpted over millennia and existing almost exclusively among the native Slavs themselves, the Slavic faith is what some future scholars might call an ethnoreligious community that can’t be cleanly separated from the local culture as a whole. However, it’s worthwhile to take a closer look at what the Church actually means, and how it may have developed over the last century.


    Geographic Spread
    The Kingdom of Poland can be considered the “center” of the Slavic Church, being the most powerful Slavic state by far, the original reformer of the faith, and the home of the Archpriest of Perun. However, it still has notable Christian, Baltic and Norse minorities, which it has tried to deal with in a variety of ways.

    Established minorities exist along the Baltic coast and the great inland rivers, regions with a history of foreign rule, but generally speaking the Slavs north of the Carpathians have been very successful in maintaining their traditions. Curiously, the resurgent Khazars recently promised to join the church, but no one got too excited, as they predictably turned back to Judaism a few years later.

    The South Slavs are the big exception, having been subjugated by a variety of invaders and thus forced to adopt Judaism, Catholicism or Orthodox Christianity, depending on the invader in question. As a result, the more traditional Slavs to the north feel increasingly detached from them, even if not necessarily spiteful, and tend to refer to their fallen brethren as “Carpathians” – or anything other than Slavs.




    Tenets and Organization
    Compared to the Abrahamic faiths, the Slavic Church could be said to have little interest in moralizing, but as mentioned, it’s inseparable from local cultural values. There is only one afterlife, Wyraj, domain of the death god Weles: a lush, green, ultimately quite happy place where all souls go after death, regardless of their deeds in life (though similar to Norse pagans, there’s a widespread idea that particularly grand individuals get to go and feast with the gods). The concept of eternal reward or punishment is thus somewhat foreign to the Slavic mindset. However, those who severely violate the nebulous concept of “honor” by committing crimes such as murder, kinslaying (even in self-defense) or other treachery will get their just desserts here in the mortal realm, up to and including execution. Presumably the other souls in Wyraj also get to beat them up or something.

    The most central spiritual tenet of the Slavic Church is to not deny the existence of any gods or spirits acknowledged by the Church, even the “evil” ones. The Church exists to maintain tradition and divine the truth, not to make it more pleasant or convenient, and trying to ignore some gods or conflate them with each other is a large, dangerous step towards Abrahamic monotheism. Not only that, many of the less tasteful gods also have their important positive sides, such as Weles being the god of music, or Marzanna the goddess of rebirth.

    Other than that, the Slavic Church tends to highly value certain “masculine” traits such as bravery, strength, outspokenness and sexual virility; while these traits are valued regardless of gender, women are barred from most leadership positions. Only men may take official concubines, and most women only have what little power their husband gives them; as a side note, male homosexuality is considered unusual but acceptable as long as you’re the “dominant” half, whereas female earns a shrug at best. However, women are considered naturally “wiser” in a spiritual sense, and hold equal power in religious matters (or sometimes greater, due to more women than men pursuing this path). The so-called clergy so far consists of a hodgepodge of wise elders, sages, witches and shamans, most of whom have accepted the Slavic Church’s reforms. While they certainly exist as a separate social class, they have little real organization, and also aren’t expected to abstain from carnal desires or marriage like most Abrahamic priests are. The only prerequisite to be considered a Slavic priest is the possession of spiritual power and knowledge.




    Polytheism
    Indeed, polytheism is central to the Slavic Church, which upholds its traditional belief in a multitude of gods and spirits. There exists something of an ur-god, Rod, supreme creator of all things; below him are the "ultimate good” Bialobog and “evil” Czarnobog; all other gods are aspects of one or the other. These top-level gods are somewhat abstract and distant, and the highest actively worshipped deities are Tryglaw, Swarog and especially Perun, each an aspect of Bialobog.

    This view of deities as aspects of each other makes it easy to integrate foreign gods and traditions in a way that doesn’t threaten the foundations of Slavism. This syncretism is most notable between Slavs from different regions, or between Slavs and other pagans (the Slavic Church includes a lot of Norse and Baltic influence), but there have also been attempts at reconciliation with Christianity. The Slavs are perfectly happy to think of Jesus, the Crucified God, as a benevolent god of mercy, healing and rebirth, but to loyal Christians this obviously reeks of high blasphemy: they refuse to acknowledge the Slavic gods as anything but maybe demons in service to Satan. A small number have tried to meet the Slavs halfway, though, by admitting that some of their pagan gods might be angels or at least saints. Without direct contact with Papal authorities, what remains of the Christian minority in Poland is developing some interesting heresies of its own.

    Ancestor worship also plays a role, overlapping with the worship of spirits in general. It tends to be performed in the abstract, with offerings made to the vague entity of “the ancestors” rather than any specific individuals, but the royal Lechowicz dynasty of Poland in particular has a growing collection of tomb-shrines devoted to the personal worship of previous kings, perhaps in an attempt to justify why the family gets to stay in power. Respect for one’s elders and predecessors is universally valued, though, and local traditions may take it further: some, especially in the distant northeast with Finnic influence, believe that people only truly die once they’re forgotten, and stick around to protect their descendants as long as they continue to pay their respects.




    Missionary Work
    First and foremost, Christian missionary work in Slavic lands has virtually ceased. This was the Slavic Church’s main goal from the start, so they can definitely pat themselves on the back for this great success. The Slavs’ own conversion work has focused on rural practitioners of “Old Slavic” traditions who were either resistant to or simply ignorant of the Slavic Church’s reforms, before moving onto other pagans on the Baltic coast, and finally the Christians of Bohemia. The latter originally saw very little success, only for a wave of conversions to occur in the last couple decades.

    The Slavic faith could be expected to be poorly suited to evangelism: it has no great salvation and very little clear-cut dogma to offer, so while the shamans can recite the legends all they want, it’s understandably hard for people to see why they should go and convert. It can be assumed that the conversions in Bohemia are a combination of steady cultural assimilation, weakened Papal authority, and the Bohemian Slavs simply returning to their roots - they were forcefully converted to Christianity only a century ago, after all.

    Also, despite the peculiar precedent set by the Great Holy Wars, religiously motivated warfare (other than in the general sense of warriors being favored by the gods) has little basis in Slavic tradition. The Great Holy War for Ruthenia was fought to liberate Slavs from Norse rule, not to aggressively spread the Slavic faith beyond its own borders; Volga Bulgaria was just a farce no one can really explain. While the Slavs are often seen attacking other faiths, this is usually about sheer opportunism or “preemptive self-defense” with religion itself being a low priority at best. Of course, this is subject to change at the drop of a hat, and people who are going to war anyway don’t mind getting the gods involved.




    Rituals
    Many everyday rituals are performed by laymen and rulers even more so, but the more important ones require a representative of the clergy. In the Slavic mindset, there isn’t necessarily a difference between a prayer, a ritual and a spell; only less and more powerful magic. Priests go around casting all sorts of spells, and are expected to pull double duty as healers through magic and medicine alike. However, one doesn’t need to be a “priest” to learn magic, nor does knowing magic make you a “priest” if you don’t consider yourself one. Of course, as with any other religious ritual, some (be they Christians or simple cynics) see this so-called magic as mere superstition.

    As with most pagan traditions, nature-related themes such as the seasons play an important part in Slavic rituals. On the winter solstice, bonfires are lit in cemeteries to warm up the dead and divinations made for the coming year. In March, an effigy of Marzanna is drowned in a river to signify the end of winter, after which a great feast is dedicated to Jarylo and the start of spring. More bonfires are lit for the goddess Kupala on the summer solstice. The harvest begins with a tribute to Swarog, and ends with yet more feasting.

    However, one would be amiss not to mention that certain rituals are exactly the part of Slavic religion that others find most questionable. It’s not unusual for warriors to take prisoners during raids or warfare, refuse to release them without a ransom, and then use them for human sacrifice. Supposedly the ancestors consider it a rare treat to feed on blood instead of the usual beer. These sacrifices are relatively infrequent, grand occasions, performed by great men to seek guidance from the spirits, but it’s only a honor for themselves; the involuntary sacrifice has all the dignity of cattle. To the Slavs, taking someone prisoner and then killing them later is no more or less heinous than simply killing them outright, but this little tradition is something that non-pagans find understandably difficult to swallow.




    Language
    Though not directly a part of the Slavic faith, the need to create written versions of various texts and documents was what led to the standardization of written Polish, and they are thus closely intertwined. It’s clearly a work in progress – they’re still trying to figure out vowels, for one – and not many Polish works have yet been written, but it’s still a major leap forward for the culture and government of a purely oral language. Of course, literacy is still extremely marginal, but on its way to becoming a part of the broad knowledge expected from clergy and nobility.

    Due to their cultural conflicts with the west, the Poles found the Cyrillic alphabet developed by their southern neighbors more palatable than its Latin equivalent. Though Polish has predictably become the lingua franca of the Kingdom of Poland and some of the surrounding region, other groups – including Poland’s own Pomeranians, Lithuanians, Bohemians, Ruthenians and so on – are also likely to want written languages sometime soon. The Slavic languages form a long continuum with very hazy boundaries between them, but one of them being standardized will quickly lead to others doing the same to reaffirm their own identity.






    Niezamyslism
    Last but not least, given recent events, the strange case of Niezamysl Lechowicz merits some mention. Growing up in a period when Poland was rapidly rising in power and even managed to beat the Francians on the battlefield, Prince Niezamysl – son of King Wladyslaw (r. 992-1002) – showed extraordinary talent in myriad fields from a very young age, something which the Poles soon labeled supernatural, and a major cult developed around the prepubescent boy. The Slavic Church’s “official” position was that he was divinely blessed but not divine himself, but they were far from united in this matter, and even Archpriest Czcibor himself was a suspected Niezamyslist. When the 19-year-old Niezamysl failed to be elected High King, there were widespread fears of him attempting a coup with his army of fervent followers, but it never came to fruition, and may indeed have been just a false rumor spread by said cultists or their opponents. In the end, the only title Niezamysl ever held for a short time was Marshal of Prussia, and in 1019 he ultimately took his army and ventured east. Nothing is known of what happened to him since.

    As time goes by, skeptics and opponents are likely to keep downplaying Niezamysl’s divine powers, while his remaining followers get more and more outlandish in their beliefs. Though he took his able-bodied warriors with him, many others were left behind, and still maintain their little cult of personality within the Kingdom of Poland. They seem to believe that Niezamysl will return one day to strike down the Christians, expand Poland and turn it into a thousand-year paradise on earth; however, the Slavic Church criticizes this not only as a clear form of Abrahamic messianism, but for supposedly undermining the elected High King’s right to rule.

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    Quite the wall of text, but personally I love writing these worldbuilding interludes. As usual, requests for topics of interest are welcome.

    It was fun to try and picture what an organized pagan (and not neo-pagan) religion might look like. While it’ll likely develop in a more rigid direction over the years as we adopt feudalism and a stricter hierarchy, the basic tenets will remain the same. I also tried to find a balance between its more and less enlightened aspects, as our society in this story is quite religiously tolerant but still very violent and very patriarchal. Kind of like another Roman Empire, come to think of it?

    Standard disclaimer that the narrative doesn’t reflect my personal views of Slavs, Christians, pagans or any other group, this is strictly fiction, do point out anything that strikes you as offensive, etc. etc. Paradox games are kinda fundamentally forced to deal with matters of culture and religion.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-06-27 at 01:42 PM.

  22. - Top - End - #22
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Okay, you should add a Niezamyslism Heresy to Slavic. Well, probably not since he decided to go off to china after accomplishing nothing of note, but if he had gotten himself killed or had actually taken a kingdom I could see a heresy forming around him.

    And I love the occasional world-building post. They make this seem like a glimpse into another world, rather than simply a recounting of strange events.
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    Rockphed said it well.
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  23. - Top - End - #23
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    Well, some Destiny that was. But, loved the worldbuilding post; it's always nice to see the world beyond the throne room and the battlefield.

  24. - Top - End - #24
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    Chapter #7: A Small Step for a King (Prendota, 1041-1056)

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    27 September, 1041

    High King Prendota, one of the late Nadbor’s best commanders, has spent most of his life as the chief of a small domain in the Carpathian Mountains, harsh and poor but very close to Krakow. Nadbor is relying on him and his decisive nature to finish the job he couldn’t. One could almost think that the Polish people are getting tired of indulgent, brutish rulers, but worry not, it’s just that the High Kings themselves are given more of a say in who their heir should be.



    However, after the great statesman Nadbor dies, his cranky council immediately starts testing its limits, and Prendota has trouble getting them to do something as simple as assign chiefs to the conquered Galician provinces without ending up in an electoral gridlock. It’ll take at least a while longer before he can obtain the political clout his predecessor had.

    He rolls his eyes and decides to give the childish chiefs some time to cool their heads. Meanwhile in the south, the Catholics and Shia have been fighting over Sicily for a while now, only for some Norse lords from Karelia to now roll up on shore, kick everyone off the island and declare it theirs. All sides are confused enough by this turn of events to cease hostilities for the time being. The islanders later end up rebelling, sending away the Norsemen and gaining their most likely brief independence.



    In terms of conquered islands, Poland’s getting some too, as the High Chief of Rügen has decided to take his bite of the Danish pastry and conquer the kingdom’s capital isles in Sjaelland. They’re an unexpected addition to the realm to say the least, but also potentially valuable as they control the only straits between the North and Baltic Seas, as well as the main crossing between Scandinavia and continental Europe.



    This impressive conquest, while unauthorized by Prendota, is the perfect pretext for him to appoint Rügen to the Council in place of Galicia-Volhynia, which can’t even keep its own lands in order (and keeps arguing with the High King no less). With that, he finally manages to get the ball rolling.



    And so, though there’s no individual decision significant enough to give an exact anniversary or even register in the councilors’ heads, 1044 marks a year of great change in Polish politics: the High King wishes to push it away from tribalism, and closer to the feudalism prevalent in the rest of Europe. In this system, the vassals are bound to the ruler through a web of loyalty and legally binding obligations rather than simple tradition (though having that is a plus), and a detailed chain of taxation exists from top to bottom. And the centerpiece of feudalism… is the lord’s castle.

    Of course, getting the chiefs to build bigger and fancier castles doesn’t exactly take a lot of convincing; in fact, many in Poland already more than rival Krakow's own Wavel Castle. The conquered regions in the west and coastal regions in the north have already gone a long way towards modernizing their estates, the Republic of Gdansk being the oldest and most famous example of a Polish (Pomeranian) city.



    It’s all the rules that follow, and the cities that surround these castles, and the people who live in those cities. If the Poles are to grow powerful, populous and prosperous enough to live without the nagging fear of Francia declaring war any day now – which it only miraculously hasn’t done yet – then an increasing number of them will have to move away from their small villages, away from their ancestral holy groves, and perhaps most importantly, hand over their farmland to feudal lords. The High Kings certainly have no interest in weakening Polish traditions or the Slavic Church… but they’ll have to figure out a compromise with the unstoppable march of time.

    The transition may be rough. If the gods have mercy, all will be well, and this speech just rambling paranoia.



    One of the more concrete things that place this switch in 1044 specifically is the number of massive renovation and construction projects begun in the capital region. Wavel Castle itself undergoes some major upgrades, with the last remaining wooden palisades being replaced with higher-than-ever stone walls, and the interior rebuilt to match the High King’s prestige. Foundations are also laid for the brand new temple of Bialaskala, which is to be the official seat of the Archpriest of Perun and the finest in the realm, embellished with sparkling stone from the recently opened salt mines nearby.



    Similar undertakings take place in the crown’s other holdings, hoping to bring security (and with it, control) to the oft-lawless countryside as well.



    Of course, in the vein of following tradition, much of the funding for all this comes from “involuntary donations”.



    While everything seems to be going swimmingly, it’s only due to High King Prendota’s constant efforts. Years of work with very little time for yourself are enough to make anyone a bit stressed.



    In late 1048, a major civil war erupts in the west as the King of France rebels against the Emperor of Francia’s (wait, those aren’t the same thing?) attempts to consolidate power at his expense. While the malformed Emperor still holds the advantage, the King does get some other major lords on his side. As usual, the Poles will metaphorically sit in the audience and hope that this war might weaken the realm, but at this point, Francia has a rather unshakable reputation.



    Yup, no such luck – the Emperor dies “of severe stress” mere months later, leaving the throne to his son, who has no interest in continuing the conflict and lets the King of France keep his counties. Both sides’ armies go unkilled and the status quo unchanged.

    As for Poland’s reforms, in these few short years they’ve been quite enthusiastically adopted everywhere but Galicia-Volhynia, which is apparently just too much of a backwater. There is the occasional peasant revolt – apparently some chiefs’ attempts at “encouraged migration” have been veering more into “forced relocation”– but they’re easily put down as usual.



    Prendota’s fame as a military leader helps him in convincing the chiefs to grant the royal army greater levies, in exchange for lower taxes.



    In 1052, the… apparently less than stable King of Estonia sends messengers to the Polish court, saying that he’s very impressed with the Slavic Church and would like to convert his little (newly conquered) kingdom forthwith. While highly unusual, Prendota sees no reason to deny his request, perhaps ushering in a new age of Slavic expansion.



    ‘Tis a glorious day for so many people to voluntarily embrace the faith. The nomads a while back don’t count. There are even some ambitious ideas of developing the Church into an united community of all pagandom, but that sounds a bit sketchy to say the least. King Kezhevat is also wed to a young Lechowicz soon after, cementing good relations with Poland.



    The late Nadbor realized that he required the support of a council of chiefs to legitimize his reforms, but now that the new system is mostly in place, they and their squabbles are frankly just inconvenient. Prendota manages to pull some strings and make enough promises for them to willingly give away some of their less important privileges; hopefully, he and his successors can eventually revoke enough of them that the council can’t disrupt the kingdom when it matters most.



    However, much like those dogs biting the hand that feeds them, a dog… bites Prendota’s hand while he’s feeding it. The royal healer concludes that this hunting dog of his had somehow contracted rabies out in the woods, and now it has spread to the High King. He’ll do what he can, but this particular illness doesn’t exactly have a high recovery rate, and they should probably prepare for the worst…



    The late king’s wife High Chieftess Adelajda on the other hand is somehow still kicking, and indeed managed to secure Belgorod, a notable port in the Black Sea. Of course, now it’d be in Poland’s best interest to grab some more land to strengthen its grip on what it already has… Why must conquest be such a slippery slope?



    She’s not the only warrior spirit around, however. As one of her first deeds in office, the 22 years old and clearly very zealous Archpriestess Smiechna has decided to call a Great Holy War against Francia to settle this century-long cold war once and for all. If East Francia – the part bordering Poland – can be taken, the Slavs will be so greatly strengthened and the Francians so weakened that they’ll never be a threat again. The King of East Francia has been one of the more loyal ones, so if he can be taken out of the equation, the western and southern rebels should hopefully have free rein. The Emperor is at the weakest he’s ever been, she argues, and if they miss this opportunity, there’s no telling when the next one will come.

    Rise, for the Old Gods! Down with the Crucified! Our ancestors shall judge us!





    Whatever the case, unlike those previous wars in the east, this one is too high profile and too vital for the High King of Poland to miss. His involvement will make or break this war, and hopefully Francia with it. Poland wouldn’t be able to defeat the Empire alone; however, with the combined strength of the whole Slavic Church, he just might do it, majorly shake up Catholic Europe, and prove that he can do it again if needed.

    As of the 19th of July, 1056, Poland declares war on Francia for the first time.

    Alas, Prendota himself will be unable to see it through, as his illness is long past the point of no return, and he dies in his beautiful new castle while the armies are still mustering. The Polish chiefs have always had some trouble appreciating the efforts of talented administrators rather than warriors, but as High King Prendota was both of those, he will be fondly remembered as ‘the Wise’. His reforms themselves may have gone almost unnoticed in their subtlety, but what the Poles didn’t miss was the prosperity they’ve already brought. As his successor will be in charge of the Great Holy War, we can only hope that he’ll prove even greater, despite first impressions…





    The High King is dead! Long live High King Strasz ‘the Lewd’ of Poland, Grand Duke of Pomerania and Lithuania, Liege Lord of Bohemia and Galicia-Volhynia!


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    Welp. There you go. It’s do or die now, boys!

    …Not really, since even losing this war can’t actually backfire on us in any major way, which I’d say is one of CK2’s bigger weaknesses. But still, read the mood!

    If we do get East Francia, there’ll probably be a vote on what to do with it, so the next chapter might be pretty short, and with a longer gap before the next one (oh, the horror). Wait, why is it always Germany we’re voting about, no matter the game?

    Speaking of posting rate, I know it’s kind of ridiculous that I’ve averaged a post a chapter a day so far, but that’s just because I’m on winter holiday with nothing better to do. There’ll be at least a week’s break starting on the New Year since I’m going overseas, and things will obviously slow down eventually. But, in my experience, ain’t nobody ever complained about too many chapters.

    Nice to know that the world-building is popular, too. I'll keep 'em coming every now and then, when I figure I have a good topic.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-06-04 at 12:17 PM.

  25. - Top - End - #25
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    Chapter #8: Feudal Faceoff (Strasz, 1056-1057)

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    10 August, 1056

    It’s been over a century since the election of King Mszczuj ‘the Lecher’, so no one really remembers the specifics, but if they did, they’d probably be getting some flashbacks right about now. Strasz ‘the Lewd’ is a notorious womanizer, and while a decent soldier, his imposing eyepatch and rakish charm may or may not have been the deciding factor with the female-majority House of Elders. Still, if he can put his hobbies on hold for the time being, he’s also a fiercely devout follower of Perun; a suitable High King to lead Poland headfirst into a Great Holy War.



    The first Slavic armies cross into East Francia in early September 1056, led by High King Strasz and Poland’s greatest warriors. Though the crown should be able to put together some 23,000 troops, the Warriors of Perun around 11,000 and the other Slavs who knows how many, they’re all eager to be the first ones over the border.



    The Emperor, meanwhile, is left with far fewer allies due to the sheer lack of Catholics outside Francia.



    By spring next year, the Slavs have already made great headway into enemy territory, and are now gearing up for the battle of a lifetime that just may set the course of this war.



    One of the Francian armies ends up (perhaps wisely) chickening out, but that just seals the other's doom at the Battle of Roth, which would go down as the most famous battle of the war, or more accurately the only one people remember.



    This trend continues, as the quarrelsome Francians coordinate their armies much more poorly than the Slavs, and are thus outnumbered in basically every fight they have, at least by the time reinforcements arrive. The Slavs are making quick work of the area: grabbing whatever loot they can and, as no one will ever let them forget, inflicting some incredible cruelty on the local populace. It can only be assumed that in spite of the Slavic Church’s usually relatively soft rhetoric towards other religions, this sudden holy war must really have brought up some built-up zeal in the Slavic warriors, as there are even reports of them crucifying many Christians in a mockery of their feeble god. Indeed, the very meaning of a Great Holy War in Slavic theology will come into question in the aftermath of this war: it involves no Slavic populace to liberate or immediate threat to defend against.

    On the 19th of September, 1057, as High King Strasz himself is almost knocking on the gates of the imperial capital Vermandois, Emperor Theodorich II ‘the Bold’ decides to prove he’s not worthy of his name and send a messenger with an offer of full surrender. No one had expected him to give up such a massive amount of territory without a far harsher beatdown, but the Third Great Holy War has ended barely a year after it started, in an overwhelming Slavic victory.



    The fact that they’ve already won doesn’t stop the jubilant warriors from wrecking the place even more before finally heading home for the real party. Were he just a regular soldier, Strasz would likely be among them; however, now the future of Germany – let’s be real, we’re not calling it East Francia – is left in his and the Council’s hands. And boy, do they have a lot of work to do…


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    The good news: if the Poles’ most optimistic estimates prove true, the loss of Germany will cripple Francia to the point of impending collapse, and even if not, it’s still a great blow in itself, not to mention a moral victory for Poland. Of course, the Christians will likely view them as a barbarian horde pouring over their borders rather than a righteous kingdom proving the power of its faith, but still.

    The sad truth: this conquered territory, though far smaller, has almost the same population as the entire Kingdom of Poland, except completely Christian (whether Catholic or heretic) and very much German. They have little knowledge of and even less sympathy for their new Polish overlords. They can’t be simply annexed into the kingdom without shaking it to its very foundations, something which no one has any will to do. Not to mention how horrible it would look on a hypothetical map.



    In a meeting even more secretive than usual, the Crown Council discusses several options with the help of additional advisors brought in just for this highly critical question. Obviously, many of them hadn’t even considered the possibility of doing anything but annexing Germany. Whether zealous, greedy, simply expansionist or perhaps simple-minded, they considered it obvious that Germany would remain part of Poland just like every other conquest in the past. Why would they spend all this time gazing wistfully over the border, only to immediately give it away after first spilling the blood of thousands on both sides? Perhaps it’ll be granted full or limited independence in the future when the situation is more stable, but for the time being, Germany should become another Grand Duchy and a jewel in the High King’s crown.

    Others acknowledge that Germany is too vast and different to be ruled from Krakow, and the seemingly most popular option is to crown a Lechowicz as King of Germany, grant them independence from Polish rule and then maintain an alliance rather than direct vassalage. As King against High King, Germany would still be the junior partner in the relationship. Of course, a single look at the Karlings will tell you that simple dynastic links do not ensure lasting cooperation, but it’s certainly better than nothing. Local titles would be distributed to other Polish nobles and accomplished soldiers.

    Whether pro-Archpriest or just secretly anti-Lechowicz, some suggest that since the Archpriestess of Perun (who's somehow managed to die of food poisoning) was responsible for starting this war, and the gods themselves for winning it, all of Germany could just be placed under the authority of the Archpriest to create the Priest-Kingdom of Germany. Giving all power to the wise shamans should discourage dynastic instability, even if some are worried about this making them grow too worldly.

    If this option were chosen, the Warriors of Perun would likely be given some authority within the realm to add to its military arm and reward their contribution to the war. However, some suggest putting them in charge of the whole thing as Perunic Germany. Of course, this would hugely transform their role from an independent holy order into a very much political kingdom, but surely stronger than any of the other options. (Since gameplay-wise the kingdom title would supersede the holy order, I’d create a custom kingdom for them to fix this. And yes, this may or may not end up buggy.)

    The Council… may be getting a little too excited. Other suggestions keep being tossed around, more outlandish by the minute. Obviously this whole discussion is already dancing around the issue that whoever gets this prize, the Slavic Church is being forcefully imposed on several million people who have nothing to do with Slavs, something it was never meant to do. All of Poland's previous conquests have been either fellow Slavs or closely related pagans. Everyone is either forgetting this in their zeal or all too willing to ignore it, but then again, handing the land back to Francia or even installing Christian rulers isn’t exactly on the table…


    So, the question remains: who shall rule Germany?
    • High King of Poland
    • Lesser Lechowicz
    • Archpriest of Perun
    • Warriors of Perun
    • Other (please specify)



    There are also some smaller details to discuss: so that Poland doesn’t come out completely empty-handed, if Germany is taken by someone other than the High King, many are interested in still keeping the duchies of Saxony and Bremen on the west bank of the Elbe River. This would give Poland a valuable port in the North Sea, and of course liberate the small Pomeranian minority in the area. They really are thinking like modern statesmen these days…




    [That’s two separate matters to vote on: the future of Germany, and of Bremen-Saxony. Please vote, ask questions and/or discuss in the thread!] (CLOSED)

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    "Vote on your phones! And everyone voted so hard that the palace caught on fire and burnt down."

    Maybe somewhat anticlimactic, but that’s warfare for ya. It’s not about the process, it’s the results!

    This is very much a coincidental repeat of the Hellenic Empire’s German question, albeit 200 years earlier under vastly different circumstances, and unfortunately fewer options: breaking it apart or creating the Germanic League isn’t on the table if Francian reconquest is to be prevented, or at least not among the default options. Feel free to still vote under “Other” if you want, I suppose.

    And remember, vote your conscience. The “mechanically better” or “sensible” choices may be obvious, while some are pretty out there, and one or two somewhere in between, but you should vote for what you want, however you happen to decide that. I wouldn’t give options I’m not willing to go through with, even if I find them unlikely to be chosen, so go ahead and surprise me. You’ll have at least a couple days to vote.
    Last edited by SilverLeaf167; 2019-06-04 at 12:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Oh, wow. That went much better than expected. Um, wow. Are you sure we can't just find a bunch of Cathars to install as counts across Germany? They all hate us just as much as the Catholics? Hmmm.

    Isn't the Archpriest of Perun currently our vassal? If we grant them the kingdom, would we keep them as our vassal, or would they become independent?
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    There's assorted heretics all over Europe, namely Waldensians, Lollards, Fraticelli and Cathars (from most to least common), but we have no way of getting them into our country, and yeah, they hate us even more than each other. Catholic moral authority is at 16.5 after the war, by the way, so there'll probably be more and more heretics popping up.

    The Archpriest of Perun is our vassal, but there's at least the button to Grant Independence (and I checked that it's available and works). Failing that, we'd just give Germany to plain old priests, I suppose.

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    In that case, my vote is for Give Germany to the Archpriest! The Archpriest's predecessor started the war for Germany, let the Archpriest figure out how to handle all the Catholics and their various heresies.
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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Granting the priests control of Germany sounds like it'd be interesting. Don't think I've ever seen a particularly large theocratic realm. But, of course, Poland should be recognized for its efforts and keep Bremen-Saxony

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    Default Re: Paradox AAR - Saga of the Slavs

    Keep Bremen-Saxony, with the promise to gift it to the Warriors of Perun as soon as you conquer Holstein and its environs

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