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Hootieleece

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I can guarantee that. It's a better use of my procrastination time than Football Manager and I've done far too much of that recently.
Sacriledge...one must always Tithe to the Church of Football Manager!

I must say that playing Paradox Games has come in a distant second to FM the past few years. Even did a Career Update during quarantine....
 
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DensleyBlair

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In my ended East Coast game...at one point I hired the "Philadelphia Eagles" Mercenary Band.
Not being from the US my only real exposure to the Eagles is from Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but… on that basis my feeling is they’d be very qualified. :D
 
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Midnite Duke

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I am totally new to this mod and I got 5% of the music references. My understanding is this will be standard CK2 gameplay in the Americas with a mid to late third millennium dates. Thank you for reading.
 

GangsterSynod

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Sacriledge...one must always Tithe to the Church of Football Manager!

I must say that playing Paradox Games has come in a distant second to FM the past few years. Even did a Career Update during quarantine....
I tithe! I tithe! In all seriousness, it is incredibly fun, although it's perhaps the most stressful game I've ever played and I really wish I weren't terrible at it and constantly on the edge of being fired. But then I suppose that's where a lot of the fun comes from.


I am totally new to this mod and I got 5% of the music references. My understanding is this will be standard CK2 gameplay in the Americas with a mid to late third millennium dates. Thank you for reading.
Yes, though there are some gameplay differences beyond flavor and terrain, some of which you will actually see. There is, for instance, one very important adoption coming later on...
 
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Chapter V, Part II: Join Me in LA

GangsterSynod

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Two months after the North had been won, a letter was circulated to the various outposts of Elton’s new empire and to every vassal. Few of the soldiers and nobles (who at this point were basically just exceedingly wealthy soldiers) who received the letter could read it, and fewer still could understand it, but those who did told others. Elton was declaring himself a divine personage, but in whatever terms a reader’s religion would choose to understand it. To Buddhists, he would be a bodhisattva, to Christians a saint, to Jews a prophet, to the Imamite Muslims, an imam. He had received this knowledge upon becoming “confused and forsaken after victory… unsure of what was to be gained and lost”. Elton claimed to have retreated into the great redwood forests and to have sealed himself off from the outside world for a month in order to meditate. He claimed to have seen, after ten days of hunger and thirst, Emperor Norton himself appear to him and give him his “path to walk”. Norton told him that all faiths in California had a reflection of the Truth and that that Truth was most strongly expressed by him at this time. Norton also declared him to be his descendant and successor, and ended his visitation with “Claim your title, great emperor, and abide”.

Elton declared a new religious order in his Invincible Letter (named because of the supposed logical invincibility of his arguments), but a new political order was also in the offing. Along with the letter came an exam, in five parts, to be administered in the presence of ten respected witnesses in the span of five hours. All existing vassals of the North who failed the exam would lose their posts and be replaced with those who did, and all rank-and-file soldiers who did well would gain immediate, significant promotion. This was such an assertion of top-down authority that it was tantamount to a declaration of war on the entrenched nobility. Somewhere around twenty percent of the vassals took it in good faith, as did eighty percent of the soldiers. The proportion of vassals taking it seems strikingly high and can probably be attributed to a general fear of Elton (and indeed when the vassal responses are arranged by location, there is a statistically significant correlation between them and relatively short distances from Elton’s fortresses). Around ten percent of both of those pools passed the exam. The rest of the vassals rose up, hoping to bring down Elton as the Kings of Waters had been brought down and humiliated in the past. The rebels failed in their ultimate goals, largely because they were completely unprepared for revolt and geographically spread out. Still, they outnumbered Elton’s forces by a significant margin. The conflict was immensely destructive to the North and the Winelands and it took seven years to resolve. If an outside power had launched an invasion, Elton’s hard-won state would likely have completely collapsed. The other powers, however, were busy. Sinclair was launching successive campaigns against the Sierra Nevada tribes and Death Valley warlords and was too poor to go on other offensives. Abbas had attacked Hernandez and Rubinstein had decided to align with Abbas and stab Hernandez in the back. But Hernandez ruled over the rich lands of the lower Valley and lower Gran Francisco and had narrow, easily defensible fronts on both borders, so long, grinding stalemate was looking to be the order of the day there. Raiders from Cascadia and the steppes could and would invade the North, but never in numbers enough to seriously attempt any conquest.

Once the war was won, there were more than eight hundred vacant slots ready to be filled by a class of educated, loyal, enthusiastic young men (and they were only men; women's rights were better than the norm in California, but they still weren't anything we would recognize today as good). Some of these young men went on to do nothing very much, managing a minor office out in the middle of nowhere and receiving no promotions. Others spawned great families. Two of the four Fractured Empire Period Kings three hundred years later were directly descended from those first batches of successful test-takers. Elton’s goal was nothing less than reshaping California in his own image, and the first seeds of the Empire’s sprawling bureaucracy were sown here. At this stage, Elton’s Empire was still mostly an army with a state attached, the populace felt little attachment to the new leadership (though this was still a step up from their general revulsion towards the old), and Elton himself was looked at as a crazy man trying to foist a religion that no one understood particularly well onto the populace. It is important at this stage to talk again about inevitabilities.

Given the absolute disparity economically between the Winelands and every other part of California, it was likely that their owner would be able to, once unified, project power to all other parts of the region (thanks also to its advantageous location). It was not inevitable that this person would be Elton Yudkow, or that it would happen in the early 24th century, or that the Celestial Empire would form as a result. Even if Waters had been killed in the exact same way and Elton had done the exact same things, it was not inevitable that he would crush Chu and Flores or do so as quickly and resoundingly as he did. It was not inevitable that he would break the back of the vassal rebels. For a few decades yet, in fact, we are not short of possibilities. We must always remember that history is at once a game of odds and an accretion of the small. Occasionally there will be fluke results. Often things get more likely with time, and occasionally some paths only have one necessary outcome. But that is not so all the time. If there is anything you take away from my work, it should be that. Elton was a genius, a brilliant leader. But there have been a hundred thousand other brilliant leaders and geniuses in the history of the world, and most of the rest had their heads rotting on pikes in the end.

But this is a history of this world and not of other worlds, and we must discuss what Elton did do. After the Exam Revolt, the North was not just unified on the map but unified in administration and intent, with efforts being made to unify it religiously. Yudkow was ready to push outward once again.
1601179162706.png



Hernandez had made quite a start to the war. King Kendrick Hernandez realized that a vigorous response was needed if his desperate situation was to be rectified. Instead of trying to protect all fronts, he struck at only one. Emulating to some degree Elton’s methods, Hernandez withdrew all his forces from the Socal front, knowing Abbas would take quite some time to gather his forces, and smashed Rubinstein enough for them to withdraw having gained nothing and lost time and men. Elton and Kendrick came to an understanding over Rubinstein. Elton was to seize all of it in exchange for state subsidies towards Hernandez in the ongoing war against Abbas (which was later amended to include Sinclair, who had been persuaded to join three months later). The war was swift, and Rubinstein was destroyed.

In discussing Elton’s rise, we neglect Kendrick’s. Historiographically, the difference is sharp (only six academic works have been published about Kendrick's life, as opposed to at least 1200 about Elton's). This is unfair. Kendrick was an extremely competent, important ruler, with comparable ambitions and interests to Elton (and was reputedly a kinder person) who happened to make one understandable mistake. Worried about overextension, he left Rubinstein to own all its lands and consented to a Yudkow takeover. Had he been bolder, had he reached more, there is a chance we would be speaking of the Celestial Empire of California headed by and linked inextricably with the Hernandez family. But Rubinstein fell, and, while the united armies of Sinclair and Hernandez were rampaging through Orange, Yudkow’s armies crossed the border into Hernandez-controlled Santa Cruz. By the time they frantically pulled back, it was essentially all over. One large battle was fought near Carmel, a crushing ambush in the hills. Abbas took the opportunity to push into Sinclair. By 2363, there were only two powers of note in California. Some Hernandez cadet branches remained independent in the southwest, but they were not to last long.


1601179128273.png



Some idea of the resulting Yudkow-Abbas conflict may be gleaned from this map. Abbas now had a long, awkward border, much of which they had newly acquired and were totally unfamiliar with. Elton had a much shorter front (albeit also in newly-conquered territory). Elton’s base of power was also much closer to much of the frontline. It is a testament to all of that that Abbas fought as well as they did. The war dragged on for eleven years, Elton consistently losing every battle of note that came his way (though often very narrowly) but still making slow, consistent gains. The resulting Peace of Los Angeles was in many respects a peace of exhaustion. Both sides were in utter disarray and operating at less than a tenth of the strength in which they both started. Still, if Elton came to a draw in the field, he achieved a modest victory at the negotiation table. Abbas would become part of the Celestial Empire but keep control over Socal as a King, retaining significant autonomy. The Sinclair lands were not to be included in that deal and would be administered by bureaucrats and vassals of Elton's choosing (a recognition of reality). Abbas was to retain full religious control "without molestation in any way" and Elton was to renounce his and his descendants' claims to the Imamate in perpetuity. It was a relatively poor peace for both sides, but it was peace, and it was badly needed. California was unified at last. Precariously unified, but unified all the same. Now a state had to be built, an infinitely more difficult task.
__________________________________
Here we are, finally. an update. I can now get back to reading other AARs and responding to comments on this one without feeling incredibly guilty.
I do have a couple of questions, though. First of all, does this sound like a plausible peace, given the circumstances as presented? Second of all, I realize not all of my readers have written AARs before, and perhaps not any CK AARs, but if you have, do you have any tips on how to write battles? I realize this isn't a narrative AAR and my focus is never really going to be on wars, but I'm finding it really annoying to just go "side X won a bunch of battles" and leave it at that. Thanks to all for your lovely comments and to @DensleyBlair for his ACA vote. Not that I'm fishing for those or anything. Those things are cool, and even if you're not voting for this AAR (or you hate this AAR with a burning passion for some reason, in which case why are you reading it?), you should vote.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Ck2 battles are entirely at the behest of the author, since the game gives you nothing to work with. You want to describe them? Fine. You want to focus on wars overall and strategic movements? Also fine. Often preferable with history books.
 
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DensleyBlair

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King Kendrick Hernandez realized that a vigorous response was needed if his desperate situation was to be rectified.
Tech bro Elton will surely be no match for Kung-Fu Kenny

Elton and Kendrick came to an understanding
Ghetto Gospel remake when?

Worried about overextension, he left Rubinstein to own all its lands and consented to a Yudkow takeover.
I remember he was conflicted, misusing his influence:D

That alternate Celestial Empire under King Kendrick sure does remain a tantalising what if.

The peace seems perfectly fair enough: if everyone’s exhausted and no one’s really one definitively, there’s little reason to do much overly controversial that would require a massive amount of energy to uphold. Abbas and Yudkow coming to terms feels pretty reasonable.

As for battles… personally speaking I hate writing battle scenes because military history/lore just isn’t my thing at all. So if I have to cover warfare I usually keep it geopolitical, or maybe a strategic overview of the campaigns at most. Some idea of political aims and repercussions, as well as what each side is setting out to do in the field and whether they achieve it. But I don’t think here we need cutscene level detail about who struck what blows, unless maybe there’s some significant event to highlight that contributes to the Elton myth. (“It was at the Battle of San Diego that we find the first attestation of the Legend of the X, where Y did Z.”)
 
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Specialist290

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As others have said, if you're worried about your ability to write battle scenes, feel free to keep things vague about the battles themselves and just write about the events that led up to and followed from them. Sometimes just presenting the barest outline or skeleton of an event and letting the reader fill in the details with their own imagination can give you a lot of mileage, at least from what I've read.

"Claim your title, great emperor, and abide" is a wonderfully pithy phrase, by the way :)
 
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HistoryDude

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Well, Elton did well. It's a decent deal for both sides. Not preferable, but we don't always get what we want...

As to battles, my general view on historybook battles is "before, after, and significance". It could give detail, but it isn't needed. Personally, I think that works better for narrative (*cough, cough* my the War Against the Sassanids Reaches Its Climax arc in A Narrative History of Byzantium *cough, cough*).
 
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Idhrendur

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I picked a good time to get caught up, with two updates and most of California consolidated.
 
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GangsterSynod

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So I'm not very organized. I had a feeling it would hamper this AAR somewhat, but I think I've been too inconsistent and slow on updates thus far, and it's annoying me that I'm starting to run out of odd material for teasers to plug the gaps. An update is coming soon, certainly by late Sunday my time at the latest. Hopefully I can get this on a more regular schedule after that. But, though I am low on strange teasers, the tank is not quite out of gas. Ladies, gentlemen, and those who identify as neither ladies nor gentlemen, presented for your delectation, a picture and a word, both of which will feature in the next update:
1602222637138.png

Sacramento.
 
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DensleyBlair

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Well, I did ultimately get it from that Varda short you posted, so I suppose you could be farther off...
You know, I was going to ask if it was involved with Yanco…
 
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Chapter VI: Capital, Gentlemen!

GangsterSynod

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Building a state is difficult. Building a state in one generation is harder. Building a state in one generation that stands the test of time is harder still. Building a state in one generation that not only stands the test of time but commands longstanding cultural persistence is quite another thing altogether. How did Elton do it? How did he build out of the fragile Peace of Los Angeles a system that by the time of his death had not only preserved internal peace but had made a collection of disparate peoples begin to feel included in its project, as Californians, as subjects of the Celestial Empire, and (to some extent) as Cetics? It is embarrassing to admit, given the relative wealth of Imperial bureaucratic documents that have come down to us, that we may never fully know the answer, never explain completely the Empire’s formation. Going on at length about the ruler-as-deity discourse which Elton had tapped into is not an explanation, helpful though it perhaps might have been in the process. Neither is Elton’s effective control of state violence through his numerous Imperial Reorganizations. Elton’s material improvements in peasants’ lives through lower (though still high) taxes and public works projects of varying scale (generally constructed using an often-brutal corvee system, though functionally enslaved prison labor was also involved) also are helpful in explaining this (Bernard Choudhury’s recent work studying irrigation system construction in the lower Valley is particularly enlightening) but cannot account for everything. One factor, however, has been long-neglected when considering Imperial formation. More than anything else, Elton was a master of iconography. He understood symbols and, most importantly, he read what few books existed on the pre-Event world (we know him to have read Antoni’s 2202 History of the Catholic Popes, for example).

Elton issued a rather unimportant-seeming Imperial Decree a year after the Peace of San Francisco. The decree set up an Imperial Arts Endowment, “for the bounteous dispersal of beauty throughout the realm”, funded surprisingly well (in the years 2376-2381, it made up a shocking 13% of the Imperial Budget). Along with all that beauty, of course, came government and religious propaganda (though the terms of the Peace of San Francisco were kept, and all of the more overtly Cetic productions of the Endowment were kept out of Socal). While some artists of genius were recruited for the program (most notably Tristram, Gomez, and Nguyen), in the early years especially, the artworks and their messages were not particularly subtle. One particularly egregious example was Michael San Bernardino’s ink-on-parchment series of 2377, which was quite literally just a depiction of Elton and Jesus shaking hands against a celestial backdrop (in the more Mormon-influenced areas of California, Joseph Smith was also present, placing a crown on Elton’s head). Traveling players and bards funded by the Empire wandered the land with regularity, reaching areas that were too distant or poor for artworks, and Cetic Teachers (Elton’s new clerical class) followed them into the countryside to preach. But Elton felt that, to truly emulate the Pope and create a sociopolitical structure of longevity, Imperial glory beyond the Imperial person had to be displayed in a physical structure of longevity. In 2379, he started a search for an architect.

Like Imhotep, Sinan, or Olmsted, sometimes the man cometh along with the hour. Elton could not have picked a better time to seek an architect. Ideas of meritocracy were spreading fast and social mobility was increasing at an incredible rate, thanks in large part to the Exams, and Elton’s bureaucrats were proving proficient in locating talent in unusual areas. Three hundred ninety-seven applications were received by the central bureaucracy, with seventy-two being judged worthy enough to be shown to the Emperor. Of these, Elton was only interested in one. Bellis Dunne’s sketches echoed the pre-Event ruins he saw around him in Los Angeles, with their gentle curves of concrete (the buildings were made out of other materials, but only their concrete components had survived), which he married to the Imamite architectural traditions present in the area (Dunne himself was a believer). Dunne’s designs were particularly focused on marrying interior with exterior seamlessly, transitioning from courtyards and gardens into airy and open halls of state and back. Elton summoned him to the capital, and suddenly a merchant’s son from Socal in his twenty-fifth year was commissioned to build Elton a palace grander than anything before seen, and not only a palace. Dunne was given total authority over the planning of the city of Sacramento.

Sacramento pre-Dunne was a standard medieval city of no real note. It had been made the capital of Elton’s empire for the simple reason that it was the largest city nearest to his base of power in the Winelands, perfect as a home base for the movements of the war with the Imamate. Elton charged Dunne with making it a truly Imperial capital- and he paid lavishly for the privilege. 49% of state revenues went towards Dunne’s plans for Sacramento for the next thirty years. Military expenditure by this point was very much in the minority, a remarkable transition from the very recent past, and one that was not without its troubles. While Elton’s brood of “new men” owed their positions and prospects to the regime, many were troubled by the cuts to the military Elton had instituted in order to pay for statemaking efforts (credit was available at reasonably acceptable interest rates, but Elton was suspicious of bankers and preferred not to take a loan unless absolutely necessary). There were several small attempted coups and risings in the years to come, all ultimately traceable to the cuts and all quashed relatively quickly. But the money still flowed out of the Imperial treasury towards Dunne and his builders, more and more every day.

In order to put his plans into action, all residents of Sacramento bar the Emperor, Empress, and his closest retainers were driven from the city and put into extraordinarily basic but functional accommodations, huts really (plans to forcibly drive them away to other locales within the Empire were scuppered because of their practical usage as cheap labor). Dunne planned a comprehensive sewer system for the city, emptying out into the Sacramento River, as well as roads laid to a grid plan, wide enough for an army and two sets of walls, each sixteen feet thick and thirty feet high, and studded with towers. There was nothing of the small scale in Sacramento; all was meant to overwhelm and overawe the viewer. Year on year, the costs went up (mostly due to materials; California possessed local granite and limestone, but expensive marble and obsidian had to be imported from Arixo and Deseret respectively) but so did the buildings. By 2390, it was clear Imperial Sacramento was truly taking shape. These architectural achievements were reflected out in turn through the Imperial Arts Endowment, helped along with a change in how the Endowment operated. At this point, artists were no longer turning out unique works that they would copy or iterate in limited series. Rather, they would make one work and several hundred artists in San Francisco would copy and recopy that work, allowing for mass distribution. This primitive print system allowed for images of Sacramento and Imperial glory to be distributed beyond courts and fortresses and into the middle class of urban traders and wealthier peasants.




1602455969281.png

Herman Angeleno’s 2392 piece, a miniature depicting a portion of the Southeast Wing of the Imperial Palace, deliberately and imaginatively conflating the Palace with his impression of the idealized pre-Event city.

The Imperial propaganda produced by the Endowment not only commemorated the buildings of Sacramento, but also its designer. In Socal especially, Dunne’s importance to the imperial project as an Imamite Socalian and loyal subject was commemorated in art (none of which survives) in Elton’s attempt to link North and South together. The glorification of Dunne marked, if any one event can be truly said to, the beginning of political Californianism, the attempt to turn a thousand disparate dialects and ten thousand disparate customs into a coherent identity bound up with the Yudkow regime. From Elton’s perspective, any price was worth paying and any scheme worth trying for its development, and the history of California cannot be understood without it.
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An update at long last, though a bit shorter than I'd wanted. I'm also never quite sure if I've hit the right ratio of longwinded pomposity to clarity in these things. Hope you guys enjoy!
 
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TheButterflyComposer

The Dark Lord Kelebek
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This is still excellent.
 
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