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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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The Ferret
Feb 4, 2006
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Prelude




A melody is heard, played upon a flute. It is small and fine, telling of grass and trees and the horizon. The curtain rises.

Before us is Europe. It is projected onto the stage from the back, presented in meticulous detail. Scandinavia disappears off stage-north, North Africa off stage-south. To stage-west stretches the seemingly infinite Atlantic Ocean, and the vast Russian Steppe disappears to stage-east.

Three MINISTERS sit on children’s stools to one side. They are drab little men, wearing drab little suits. Behind them are a series of cages, each with a ferret inside.

Above the stage hangs a screen. Projections are made on it throughout the show, and it currently displays the 15th century cityscape of Lübeck from the title page. Just below the screen is a calendar which reads 30 May 1453.

Onto the stage strolls LÜBECK, an aristocratic dandy, a bit camp and rather effete. One hand is held at a right angle to his waist, his little finger outstretched ‘just so’. A pair of silk gloves are draped casually over this hand, more resting than held. His hair is black, long and curled. He wears a dark coat with gold trim over tight breeches and shining leather shoes. On his lapel is a badge which reads BERTOLD WITIG, BÜRGERMEISTER. He strides from side to side, taking in the audience, and letting himself be taken in by them. Finally he stops. He speaks in a flowery German accent.


LÜBECK: I am Lübeck, Qu… Where is my fanfare?
MINISTER ONE: Sir?
LÜBECK: My fanfare. Do I not get a fanfare?
MINSITER ONE: But Bürgermeister…

LÜBECK turns and exits stage-north.

LÜBECK: I shall return when my fanfare is prepared!

The three MINISTERS stare blankly at one another. After a moment, one whispers in another’s ear. The message is then passed to the third.

LÜBECK: Well?
MINISTER TWO: We’ve got it, Herr Bürgermeister.

LÜBECK strides out on stage once more, as the MINISTERS break into perfect harmony.

MINISTERS (together): Bah, buh-duh-daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!
LÜBECK: Excellent. Thank you. I am Lübeck, Queen of the Hanse. I am…
MINISTER THREE: Queen, sir?
LÜBECK: Queen of the Hanse. I am the Queen of the Hanse. It is my title. You scoff?
MINISTER THREE (stifling laughter): No, sir. Nein, Herr Bürgermeister.
LÜBECK: I should think not. You had better be nice-nice to Lübeck, poopsie. It is I who butters your bread.
MINISTER THREE: Sir?
LÜBECK: Butters your… takes your… Oh, shut up. What of affairs of state?
MINISTER ONE: Sir, the Byzantine Empire is no more.
LÜBECK: Really? You don’t say!
MINISTER ONE: I do say, sir. Crushed by the Turk.
LÜBECK: Nasty old Turk.
MINISTER ONE: Yes, sir.
LÜBECK: Still, we mustn’t dwell. This opens up some interesting prospects. We should be dispatching merchants.

MINISTER TWO turns and frees three ferrets from their cages. They go running and tumbling off-stage.

LÜBECK: With Constantinople in the hands of the Turk, perhaps we shall see Lübeck rise again. Since our founding by Heinrich der Löwe in… errr…
MINISTER TWO: 1159, sir.
LÜBECK: Very good, Minister Two. 1159, we have been one of the world leaders in the trade of all manner of things. But today, I can sense something – feel something – swelling on the air, throbbing like a…

The ministers all cringe, waiting for the next words.

LÜBECK: …warm breeze. (The ministers visibly exhale) It is a new dawn for us, gentlemen. A new day. And I’m (does a small shimmy) feelin’ good.

The calendar starts ticking over, as it will do for the rest of the show.


 

safferli

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Excellent! Count me in :)
 

stnylan

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Been a while since we had the last play. Looks good :)
 

coz1

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An excellent beginning, isca. Very funny too. Looking forward to where you go with this. Good luck. :)
 

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Ooh! This is going to be fun. An excellent start, poopsie.

:D
 

germanpeon

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Wow that was fantastic! I cant wait for the next update.
 

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Brilliant, isca.

It reminds me a bit of Tom Stoppard (more than Arthur Miller) but all the better for that. I honestly wish I could write like you. Very curious to see where you will go from here.
 
Last edited:

TheExecuter

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stnylan said:
Been a while since we had the last play. Looks good :)
We've had plays before? :eek:

Good work isca! I especially liked the stage directions for some reason...helped me get into the feel of the play.

*subscribed*

TheExecuter
 

BBBD316

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Excellent, I shall hit the archives for these mysterious previous plays!

To the liabrary
 

unmerged(53605)

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Feb 4, 2006
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The scene begins with the lights fading, leaving only a spot on LÜBECK. He looks thoughtful.

LÜBECK: It is not so easy, being Lübeck, Queen of the Hanse…
MINISTER THREE (whispered): He said it again!
LÜBECK: Silence! It is not so easy being Queen of the Hanse. How best to serve one’s people, to aggrandise oneself. These are the questions which trouble all great rulers, past and present. How shall I, Lübeck, ensure my own survival? How shall I grow and prosper?
MINSITER ONE: Bürgermeister…
LÜBECK: Silence! Really, poopsies, just shut up. I am soliloquising here. It takes focus. Energy. Deter…

A pigeon flies in and lands on LÜBECK’s shoulder. It has a small carrier tube on its leg. LÜBECK takes the message out and reads it to himself.

LÜBECK: Greetings, Lübeck. Queen of… blah blah… City of Bremen here. Hope you are well… Just wanted to… yadda yadda… war with Bishopric Bremen… If you’re not busy… Ha ha! War!

The lights rise, and there is an ominous chord from the strings. The three MINISTERS stare excitedly at one another.

MINISTER TWO: War!
MINISTER ONE: I say!
MINSITER THREE: I do like a good war!
MINISTER ONE: Are we going to war, Bürgermeister?
MINSTER TWO: Please, let’s.
MINISTER THREE: Woo-hoo!
LÜBECK: Woo-hoo? Woo-hoo? No, Minister Three. We do not woo-hoo. War is serious business.

A STAGE-HAND rushes in from off-stage-east. He is an efficient, little man carrying a clipboard, and wearing heavy-framed glasses. He runs over to Minister One and puts a badge on his lapel which reads KLAUS SIEVEKING: MERCHANT.

MINISTER TWO: It’s always you who gets the badges!
LÜBECK: War, gentlemen. Now then, our armies.
MINISTER ONE: We have one thousand troops, sir.
LÜBECK: Excellent. And how many Bishopric Bremen?
MINISTER ONE: Three thousand, sir.
LÜBECK: You don’t say! Well, we need to raise at least two thousand. Carry on.
MINISTER TWO: Not possible, sir. We can raise one thousand, but it will take two months.

LÜBECK looks disconsolate. He gestures to MINISTER TWO to get on with it. MINISTER TWO walks to centre-stage in absurdly militaristic fashion.

MINISTER TWO: Raise! Inf’try! Hup!

A SOLDIER trots out onto stage. He looks a bit dishevelled, as though he’s just been thrown into his ill-fitting uniform. He is quite young.

MINISTER TWO: Troops! Mustered! Sir!
LÜBECK: Him?
SOLDIER (in a high, squeaky voice): Regiment reporting. Yer... your maj… Bürgermeister. Sir.
LÜBECK: Very well. Off to Bishopric Bremen with you.
MINSITER TWO: Can’t! Sir!

LÜBECK glares.

MINISTER TWO: Hamburg! In! The! Way! Sir!
LÜBECK: Very well. Dispatch a diplomat.

MINISTER THREE retrieves a pigeon from a cage just off-stage west. He attaches a small note to it, and off it flies. A moment later, a bit too quickly, it returns. MINISTER THREE retrieves the note. He runs it over to MINISTER TWO who consults it, and gives it back to MINISTER THREE, who trots back to his stool. LÜBECK looks increasingly bored.

MINISTER TWO: Access! Granted! Sir!
LÜBECK: Well, get on with it!

The SOLDIER marches off-stage west. Suddenly the STAGE-HAND rushes onto stage. He removes the BERTOLD WITIG badge from LÜBECK, and replaces it with a HEINRICH SIEVEKING. <Projection changes>



LÜBECK: Dead again. How goes the war?

The SOLDIER runs back on-stage. He is out of breath.

SOLDIER: We won, sir. Or they won. Bremen was already laying siege to the Bishopric when I arrived. It’s over. But they haven’t made peace yet.

The SOLDIER disappears off-stage north. At this point, the first batch of ferrets return, with little satchels attached to their collars. MINISTER ONE removes the bags and places them in a hat, which is next to his stool. The ferrets go scurrying off again.

LÜBECK: Well, perhaps we can still get something out of them. Have a diplomat demand fifty gold ducats.

The pigeon routine is repeated. It flies and returns with a conspicuous tag dangling from its ankle which reads IOU.

LÜBECK: Excellent.
MINSITER TWO: It would appear that after paying us off, the Bishopric was annexed by Bremen.
LÜBECK: Annexed? Oh, I like the sound of that. Who shall we annex?
MINISTER TWO: Sir?
LÜBECK: Annex. We must annex someone. Don’t want to be left behind, do we?
MINISTER THREE: What about Meck…
MINISTER TWO: Shut up.
MINISTER THREE: Well, he asked!
LÜBECK: What?
MINISTER TWO: Nothing, sir.
LÜBECK: No. Minister Three was going to say something. Speak.
MINISTER THREE: I was going to say Mecklenburg.
LÜBECK: Mecklenburg? I went to Rostock once. Terrible place. Nothing next to Lübeck, Queen of the Hanse! Still, we must start somewhere. Declare war.
MINISTER ONE: But, sir, we have no casus belli.
LÜBECK: Come again?
MINISTER ONE: No cause for war. You can’t just go declaring wars as you please.
LÜBECK: Watch me.

Another pigeon is dispatched, and a slow drum beat starts which grows louder and faster.

MINISTER TWO: Sir, we haven’t enough soldiers.
LÜBECK: Details! Always spoiling things with insignificant details! We shall hire some.

LÜBECK snaps his fingers, and a MERCENARY comes stomping onto stage from stage-north, together with the SOLDIER. The MERCENARY is a very rough looking sort, with a stubbly beard, and wild, angry eyes. The SOLDIER is clearly intimidated.

LÜBECK: Get me Mecklenburg!

The MERCENARY grabs the SOLDIER by the scruff of the neck, and they head off together stage-east. There is a loud commotion, of swords and gunfire and pots and pans rattling around. <Projection changes>



The drums mix in the cacophony. The two come back on stage dragging MECKLENBURG, a tall and lanky nobleman. They toss him before LÜBECK.

MECKLENBURG: Hi, Lübeck. How… how are you?
LÜBECK: It would appear, noble Mecklenburg, that you are at my mercy.
MECKLENBURG: I have enough troubles with Pomerania, Lü. Perhaps we could work something out? I can’t fight two wars.
LÜBECK: We shall annex you.
MINISTER TWO: Uh, sir?
LÜBECK: Can’t you see that I’m busy?
MINISTER TWO: The Emperor isn’t going to like that.
LÜBECK (suddenly gloomy): Damn the Emperor, and the Habsburg horse he rode in on.
MINISTER TWO: He won’t let you annex Mecklenburg.
MECKLENBURG (brightening): ‘Tis true!
LÜBECK: Why?
MECKLENBURG: Yes, why?
MINISTER TWO: No casus belli. You have no claim on Rostock.
MECKLENBURG: That’s the one. No. Claim. Ha!
LÜBECK: Well then, what do I get? I won. Fair and square. I won. I must get something.
MINISTER TWO: You could make them our vassal.
LÜBECK: Excellent. And fifty gold ducats please.
MECKLENBURG: But I need money to fight Pomerania!
LÜBECK: You should have thought of that before.
MECKLENBURG: But you invaded me!
LÜBECK: That is the way the biscuit bounces on this occasion, my friend. Excuse me. My vassal. Away with him!

He is dragged back off stage-east.

MINISTER TWO: There is still a problem, sir.
LÜBECK: What is that?

A pigeon flies in.

MINISTER TWO: This. Pomerania has annexed Mecklenburg.
LÜBECK: But they had no bacchus billy.
MINISTER TWO: Casus belli. That’s true. But they don’t seem to mind.
AUSTRIA (booming from off-stage): GIVE IT BACK!!!
LÜBECK: Yes, you listen to the emperor. Give it back, Pommy poopsie! Naughty boys. They should know better.
MINISTER TWO: The Pomeranians have freed Mecklenburg.
LÜBECK: Splendid. Let’s declare war again, hmm?
MINISTER TWO: Sir, we have a truce in place.
LÜBECK: No, we don’t.
MINISTER ONE: We do, sir.
LÜBECK: From when?
MINISTER ONE: Two months ago, sir.
LÜBECK: But three days ago, Mecklenburg didn’t exist. One can’t have a truce with a non-existent state.
MINISTER TWO: Apparently one can. And one can not then declare war on said state with said truce in place.
LÜBECK (winking at audience): Watch me.

The drum beat roars in again, then quickly fades, along with the lights. Exeunt all.


 

coz1

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Ah yes, the ever present demands from the Emperor to give annexed land back. I say ignore him. Of course, tiny Lubeck might have some issue with the piling on to follow, but perhaps the Queen of the Hanse might like that. ;)
 

stnylan

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Ah excellent. Though Lubeck does seem to be chanelling Mad King Ludwig :)

@The Executor - there are a few plays in EU2, and I seem to recall reading one in HoI one time, though whether that was 1 or 2 or just a figment of my imagination I could not honestly say. Though thinking about it CK probably best lends itself to the format - and I suspect Rome will too given what we know. IIRC MrT did one - look up his AARs in the EU2 librAARy to see.
 

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A most promising beginning for what already takes the shape of an excellent play. With all credit due to the playwright. I shall be following this :)
 

milt

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Are you waging these wars to gain spending cash?

Consider going after some of the other free cities, as they have nice buildings. Frankfurt especially. You probably put them there, so what am I saying!

This looks like a relaxing way to write, and an enjoyable piece to read. :cool:

Sweboy: This is a Magna Munid AAR. If you've never played the mod, you ought to check it out.
 

canonized

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Haha , a play !!! how entertaining ! Thank you , I feel like I'm in the audience now XD . - Eats some popcorn - by the way , the quirky commentary on the game mechanics was excellent !