A Crovan AAR
Referred to in-game as the Duchy of the Isles, the real-world Kingdom of the Isles, or sometimes Kingdom of Mann and the Isles, has a centuries-long history of viking influence, beginning with the sacking "of all the Isles of Britain" in 793 according to the Irish annals and hosting the appearance of several named vikings such as Soxulf in 837, Turges in 845 and ah screw this crap.
This is me, Duke Gudrod Haraldson Crovan of the Isles:
I'm a fairly good diplomat but mediocre in everything else. Also, I am a Norwegian and my vassals are all either Scottish or Irish, all of them hate me and each is about as strong as I am. Furthermore, The Isles are de jure a part of the Kingdom of Scotland, so King Malcolm hates my guts as well. My only redeeming quality is wedding the daughter of King Harald of Norway, making anyone think twice before attacking me.
So what can I do?
Werewhale's Crusader Kings 2 Tip #1: In order to resist expansion, one must expand himself.
The primary target is the Isle of Mann, a de jure county of the Duchy of the Isles, ruled by an independent and friendless Count. After that, the obvious path to glory is the conquest of Ireland, one independent ruler at a time, while minding the network of alliances that so often appear in such clusters.
Of course, all this speculation is rendered totally moot by the fact that I can barely field enough men to siege a single castle.
And with a monthly income of 1.11, it's going to take a while to build up the infrastructure to be able to invade much of anything. So in the meantime, I kill time by taking a look at the Council screen:
At least I have a good Marshal, whom I send to Train Troops in my only province. The Steward will be sent to Collect Taxes in the same, while the Spymaster and Chancellor go to my more disloyal vassals in order to improve relations or, failing that, discover plots. The Chaplain will research Cultural Tech until I feel like sending him off to kiss the Pope's arse.
This happens all the time. I 'Ignore' it every time, so I won't bother to post it again.
My daughter Helga is peddled off like a cheap whore as soon as she turns 16. Earl Domnall is the Count of Oriel, an Irish province. I think I was hoping to get some sort of claim that way. Or maybe I was just getting rid of her before she would have the time of whining about her single status and all the major players Want Better Alliances.
That I actually chose this option goes to show how awfully boring October is in the Isles. 7 months of income for Religious Flexibility? Gudrod, how many heathens do you see around here? Bah.
The leisure time offers me an excellent opportunity to watch the intrigue of my vassals, however...
Turns out that Carrick and Galloway are owned by close relatives, and Count Mac Congáil is ruthlessly getting rid of his kinsmen in order to move himself up the inheritance ladder.
Werewhale's Crusader Kings 2 Tip #2: When your vassals are fighting one another, they aren't fighting you.
Hmm, oh look! My Spymaster has a bit of a frowny-face, let's fix that.
Werewhale's Crusader Kings 2 Tip #3: Honorary Titles cost nothing. Use Them.
At least I'm gettin' some, right guys? C'mon guys, yeah!
Also, the succession is secured. I'd hate to give it up to my half-brother, who is an even greater buffoon than me. I name the kid Harald in honour of his grandfathers. Yes, both of them.
Hey, how's the military situation, anyway? Maybe I should think about invading Mann, eh?
Well damn. I'm not sure what happened here but my guess is that the Count of Mann was the father of this guy Fingal, who inherited the island when he died. Furthermore, our friend Mac Congáil is Fingal's son, but Fingal has another son, Gofraid, who will inherit Mann when he dies according to Gavelkind law, while Mac Congáil gets Galloway. But Mac Congáil wants the whole cake, so he's sending all he's got at the kid.
Finally, in 1074, I decide to take up hunting to keep me sane. I really see no reason to pick the other options in this event-chain, except for getting the 'Falconer' trait. You get a good trait and an opinion bonus with everyone who shares it.
Now, a look at how my finances are doing:
Ah, excellent! A 40% increase over nine years! If I can keep this up, I'll hit my target of +10/month in just under 50 years!
My wife decides to plop out another son. Which would be great except my Gavelkind succession means that even if I manage to get another fief, my holdings will be split up between my sons. This is also the reason I haven't created the Duchy of Galloway, of which I control 2/3 counties. If I would, my heirs would be split into two separate states. This way, they will at least be united. Somewhat.
Mac Congáil is up to his old tricks, succeeding in offing his baby brother. This pisses old man Fingal off something fierce, so he asks me to deal with the situation. I give him a claim to his boy's titles, deeming it the most appropriate way to pour oil on the fire. I'm not too bothered about the opinion malus. If Mac Congáil succeeds, he is going to have a devil of a time keeping his barons and bishops in check.
Meanwhile, I busy myself with raising my heir Harald.
I am not raising a fat-ass, and luckily for him he loses the 'Gluttonous' trait. As a general rule, the seven deadly sins are bad traits and the virtues are good.
I teach him bravery so that his vassals may respect him.
What am I, a saint? 'Proud' gives a prestige boost with no downsides except an opinion penalty from 'Humble' characters.
I'm so proud of him! 'Deceitful' gives a boost to Intrigue.
He becomes 'Just', 'Charitable' and 'Zealous' as well, providing considerable boosts to vassal opinion and piety. Seeing that my boy is turning out to be a strong and solid man of integrity, I trust him to continue on his own.