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Apr 7, 2015
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On the island of Éire, among the tribesmen of Dubhlinn, a restless, disillusioned young man named Ruarcc has grown weary of the empty words and unfulfilled promises of Christendom. The ramblings of the priests and monks, their long winded tales of "miracles" could not ease the hardship in which Ruarcc's people lived. It sickened him, and Ruarcc only wished there was another way besides the passive acceptance that had been forced upon them.

Then one day, a traveler from across the sea told Ruarcc of the gods of Asgard. There were many tales of courage in the face of adversity, of bold action, and of cunning wit. These gods of Asgard were the examples by which Ruarcc could live his life, and from that moment onward he followed the teachings of Odin, Thor, Tyr and the others. When Ruarcc brought these tales of Asgard back to his people, many agreed with him, but many didn't, including the chief of his tribe.

At that moment, with the support of many of his fellows at his back, and a fire raging in his belly, Ruarcc challenged the chief for control of the tribe of Dubhlinn. The duel between them was long and bloody, and the outcome uncertain. After many blows were struck, and much blood spilled by both, Ruarcc at last drove his sword into his opponent, ending his life. His wounds barely dressed from the bloody bout, Ruarcc took his place as Chief of the tribe of Dubhlinn.

Due to his stubborn, perssistent nature, his natural will for leadership, and his affinity for the hunt, many of Ruarcc's fellows referred to him as "mac tíre" or "wolf". So Ruarcc made the wolf the symbol of his leadership: with the green of Éire, and the blue of the sea, from which the tales of the gods of Asgard arrived on Éire's shores.


(Initial game image in spoiler)

Although he was victorious on that fateful day, Ruarcc knew there would be many more battles to come, many of which would not be fought with sword or spear. The burden of leadership began to weigh heavily on Ruarcc's mind and spirit, but he could not let his doubts defeat him. By his own hands, following the example laid down by the gods of Asgard, Ruarcc had seized a new destiny for himself, for his people, and possibly for all of Éire. He could not let this one victory be fleeting.

I've played a lot of CKII before, and many times it was with a similar starting circumstance as this, but this is my first ever stab at an After Action Report of it.

Start date is January 769. All of the expansions are up to date as of this first post (may integrate more later), and I have no mods running.

This is a somewhat narrative ARR, meant to be presented in a style similar to the stories Beowulf, The Poetic Eda/Icelandic Sagas, and other Old Irish/Celtic/British myths that recount famous heroes and rulers. What this means for the most part is broad narration over slower paced times, with special narrative attention given to key events/characters at the appropriate times.

Personal guidelines I'm using:
- No major save-scumming/ruler eugenics apart from the custom ruler start.
Exceptions: if the save-file becomes corrupted, I will back it up to a point where it is fine. If I was dumb and forgot to take the necessary screenshots, I'll have to replay that part to get the footage.
- No truly "gamey" tactics insofar as they wouldn't be sound tactics in the context of the circumstances of the world and characters involved
- I'll try my best to play the characters according to their traits

I hope you're interested in seeing how this plays out: one lone Germanic Pagan Irish count surrounded on all sides by his Catholic countrymen, with no allies nearby to call upon for aid.

Here is a suitable collection of music to listen to get you in the right mood for this ARR:

After some consideration, rather than continue this ARR, I've decided to let this be its own standalone story, and end it now. It would have been interesting to continue this ARR through the expansion and development of a mighty Celtic Empire. It's been so long now though, the game has updated and I'm not entirely sure of the stability/compatibility/cleanliness of my old save files for this play-through. In addition, as it stands now, the ARR reads fairly well as a kind of epic mythic retelling of one man's life, in a similar vein as the story of Beowulf, which I used as some inspiration for this.
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Yup-a good start and I do love a narrative AAR particularly ones that are as well written at the start as this


The Wolf Bares his Fangs

Ruarcc's first order of business as Chief was to take a wife, and for that he had his eye on a bright las named Tailefhlaith. She was gifted with a sharp wit, and a sharp tongue to match. Tailefhlaith's unyielding courage matched Ruarcc's own, but she had such a passion about her that Ruarcc couldn't ever hope to match. Her words could be as gentle as a cool ocean breeze, or fierce as a stormy gale, and they would put wind in Ruarcc's sails in either case.


Tailefhlaith nursed Ruarcc's wounds during his lengthy recovery, and nursed his pride, but he could not rest for long. The other tribes of Érie, followers of the Christian faith, would not stand for Ruarcc's gumption to seize control of his tribe in the name of the gods of Azgard, and had to be confronted.

A joyous day in these dark, uncertain times!


Looking at this helpless babe, Ruarcc felt he must protect him, and by extension, his tribe, who still did not fully trust Ruarcc's leadership.

He couldn't do it foolishly though. Ruarcc could not simply gather the tribe and attack the nearest neighbor. The other tribes would band together, united by their common faith, and defeat Ruarcc simply by sheer numbers. There had to be another way, and there was...

Rather than attack the neighboring tribes at their full strength, Ruarcc in his cunning ruthlessness chose to weaken his enemies first. He gathered the tribe's warriors, and marched them across the lands of his neighbors, attacking their homes, their monasteries, and their farms. The intention was to starve their people out and disrupt their supplies, to make the tribes as unfit and unready for war as possible.


Only then, while the neighboring tribes were still rebuilding their ransacked homes, did Ruarcc declare his intentions of conquest. He didn't start a war with one tribe though, but against every single tribe that bordered his lands.


Another joyous day in these uncertain times! Ruarcc's first daughter Dub-Lenma is born!


Ruarcc remembered the traveler from across the sea had spoken of his land: a place called Sviþjod, ruled by by a king named Sigurdr, who had a son named Ragnarr. Though it was early, Ruarcc had a message prepared and sent to Sigurdr, proposing a possible betrothal between Ragnarr and Dub-Lenma.


There was little time for celebration however, as the engine of war was now ready.


Thanks to many previous raiding campaigns, which severely weakened the enemies, the simultaneous wars of conquests were brutal, bloody, and horrendously one-sided in Ruarcc's favor. It was a merciless campaigning tactic, but Ruarcc felt no remorse, no pity for his enemies. On the contrary, Ruarcc was proud of how he managed these conquests. Life is cruel, and no dead crucified god can ease the pain of that cruelty. What message is it to one's followers if the destiny of their savior, the figure central to their faith, was to die a slow death nailed to a cross?


With his sword still in his hand, just wiped clean of the blood of his enemies, Ruarcc prepared for another campaign of raids and conquests. Yet on the eve of his departure, with his warriors gathered at the village, silver tongued Tailefhlaith approached her husband Ruarcc, and presented him with a young pup.


Drawing from the tales of the gods of Asgard, Ruarcc named the pup Fenrir. A fitting name, Ruarcc thought. Just as the demon wolf of Ragnarök could not be restrained by even the strongest chains, the shackles of Christendom would not hold Ruarcc and his people back from the destiny he envisioned for them: to be one, and to be strong...


As he cared for his children, for the pup Fenrir, the doubts in Ruarcc's mind were gone, replaced now by singular determination.

For as long as Ruarcc could remember, and as long as the stories of old were told, the tribes of Éire were fractured, scattered, isolated from one another. They were their own worst enemies, always at each others' throats, never trusting one another. Not even the peaceful monks of Christendom with their encouragements of peaceful brotherhood could change that. It was an inherent weakness that Ruarcc in his ruthless cruelty could so easily exploit, which allowed him to attack every tribe at once, and bring all the tribes surrounding Dubhlinn under the rule of his iron fist. It was also a weakness that Ruarcc had every intention of eliminating in the future.


It took the better part of sixteen winters of constant raids and wars of conquest, but Ruarcc was able to bring all of Éire under his rule.

This, Ruarcc knew, was the way to bring the people of Éire together, not coddled by the empty words of Christian priests. Time had already proven that notion false, as the monasteries had been on Éire's lands for hundreds of years, and the people were only made weak and complacent by them. The people of Éire had to be defeated by bold action, and shown by brutal example that the way they need to live their life, the way they will thrive, is the way of strength, and through strength, they will find unity.



From northeastern shores of Ulaidh, King Ruarcc gazed across the Sruth na Maoile. Though faint through the mists, he could just see the other side: the land of the Picts. Ruarcc had news that Pictish people were also in desperate need of unity, that they were divided among themselves much as Éire had been for so long.

Now older, wiser, but no less ruthless, Ruarcc resolved to show the squabbling Picts his way to unity.


ed: And that's how all Ireland was united in just fifteen years!
This first part is essentially built around an incredibly aggressive strategy I've developed that is pretty much the only way a Pagan Irish count-level chief can survive in this time period. Constantly raiding neighboring counties really is more a survival tactic than a money-grab in this case. Most of the counties in Ireland would band together and gang up on the one Pagan chief at the first sign of trouble, completely demolishing him in the ensuing war. Screwing the levies with raids doesn't stop them from banding together, but it weakens them to the point that it really doesn't matter anymore, allowing Ruarcc to pretty much conquer with impunity as you saw here.

So that's the first part of the ARR. Any feedback you can give me is appreciated; what you liked, didn't like, would like to see more of, formatting ideas I might not know about; anything.

Thanks again!
A bit more narrative with the wars wouldn't have hurt, but I understand that you are trying to set the stage for later updates. Sometimes the mess behind the curtain must remain behind the curtain. ;)
Ah, a Irish game, good start, congrats on making Ireland, now you must consolidate and expand as well as turning counties and lords to Paganism.
A bit more narrative with the wars wouldn't have hurt, but I understand that you are trying to set the stage for later updates. Sometimes the mess behind the curtain must remain behind the curtain. ;)

Yeah agreed some more narrative behind the wars unless you are getting to a specific point at which you will flesh it out more

Good update though
Blood on the Highlands


King Ruarcc Mac Tíre, c. 784, after years of personally leading bloody and brutal conquests to unite the tribes of Éire.


It had been a long and difficult road for King Ruarcc, from claiming the tribe of Dubhlinn, to uniting the entire Island of Éire under his rule. Though he now stood as one of the most powerful leaders among the British Isles, Ruarcc knew that if he stopped now, all the progress he had made would be undone. If ever the Kings of Mercia, Northumbria and other Anglo-Saxon Lords united, they would become a dangerous threat. For the time being, however, the Anglo-Saxon kings were preoccupied warring with each other.

Ruarcc found it amusing, that despite their superior society and higher culture, and their common faith in Christianity, the Anglo-Saxons were just as divided and fractured as Éire had been just fifteen winters earlier. Amusement aside, they were a threat Ruarcc needed to begin planning for. Bringing the lands of the Pictish tribes under Ruarcc's rule would be an excellent way to strengthen Éire, and he knew just where to start...


An Anglo-Saxon King named Ealhmund had taken territory just on the other side of the Sruth na Maoile form Éire, and was currently occupied in a war against a weakened, fractured Pictland to seize more land. A sound strategy, Ruarcc thought, but Ealhmund should have learned to watch for other threats while his army was away fighting his war.


Ruarcc sent word across Éire to gather all warriors ready to serve at the land of Ulaidh, and those can must bring boats. As the King oversaw preparations for the crossing, as more warriors from across Éire arrived, there was another fellow among them: a Christian priest, escorted by some of Ruarcc's men, but the priest was not one Ruarcc recognized from Éire...

"Father Ru arrived in Dubhlinn demanding to see you, Ruarcc," the warrior escorting him began, "I told him ye weren't there, and that I could take him to you."

"Thank you for bringing him here, brother." Ruarcc thanked the warrior, and turned his attention to Father Ru, "And to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit, Father?"

"Your well-being, and the well-being of your people," Ru answered.

"I'm touched by your concern, Father, but I'm doing quite well, as are the people of Éire now that they're united."

"But at what cost?" Ru asked.


Father Ru continued his impromptu sermon for what felt like hours. A few of Ruarcc's men seemed to have been taken in by Ru's impassioned speeches, but the king's ears were deaf to the empty words he'd heard so many times before before.

After a time, Ruarcc turned to a group of his warriors nearby, and told them, "Have the holy father bound and gagged."

"What?!" Ru said in shock, "This is blasphemy! You are all doomed to an eternity of--" he was cut off when one of Ruarcc's warriors tied a length of cloth over his mouth, and another bound his hands.

"Stay and listen a while, Father," Ruarcc told the priest as he went to where his warriors had gathered, "I have a few words of my own I'd like to say."

There were hundreds of them, well over a thousand, gathered on the shore with their boats nearby. All of them stopped and looked when their king stood high, and prepared to address them all.

"Not long ago, we set aside the differences of our tribes and came together as brothers, and that's good enough for ourselves, but what of our cousins in Pictland? They bicker among themselves like children under a weak king, and they find themselves under attack from Anglo-Saxons from the south. You would think their common faith in Christianity, in the peace it purports to teach, would allow them to see each other as brothers. It does not. For all the good intentions of Christ's followers and preachers, it does not stop greedy kings from attacking their fellows, and only weakens those who adhere to their beliefs. Just as I showed you the way to unity in Éire, we shall do the same with our Pictish brothers. As we cross the Sruth na Maoile to face our foe, we cross a new threshold to face our future, and a future for all Alba!"

The gathering of warriors on the shore erupted in enthusiastic cheers. Many banged their weapons against their shields, or their boats. Some already began loading up and pushing out to sea.

With a smug smile on his face, Ruarcc turned to the infuriated but mute Father Ru, saying, "Bring this message to King Canuall: Unity is coming, and it will be brought by Ruarcc of Éire."



The battle on the other side of the Sruth na Maoile at Whithorn was an absolute rout. The paltry force of soldiers left by King Ealhmund were completely overwhelmed by Ruarcc's army. There were no survivors.

So went the rest of the conflict: every army King Ealhmund fielded was destroyed. Every city, castle and church was sacked, until at last, Ealhmund was forced to capitulate and accept his defeat.


It wasn't all good news however, as Ruarcc discovered on his return to home.


Although his son Glún-Iairn had come of age, becoming an even more capable commander than Ruarcc himself, there was tragedy waiting.


Silver-Tongued Tailefhlaith, the spirited Queen of Éire, had passed away during Ruarcc's campaign for Galloway. Though Ruarcc's heart was made heavy by the loss, he would have to mourn in battle, as other disturbing news soon reached him...


Another warrior, another by the name of Ruarcc, had risen up in defense of the Christian faith.


The rebel's army was fierce, and potentially a threat, but ultimately no match for King Ruarcc's forces. The rebel Ruarcc had intended to take advantage of the other wars being fought at the time, a cunning tactic, but flawed. King Ruarcc's forces were of such strength at the time that pulling them back to put down rebels was no great hindrance to the war effort in Pictland. It wasn't long before the rebel Ruarcc found himself in King Ruarcc's dungeon.


In a moment of ironic amusement, Ruarcc remembered what he'd told Father Ru from Pictland, that unity was coming, brought by Ruarcc of Éire. If things were different, if this uprising were stronger, it might have been this rebel he was talking about then.

Nevertheless, this incident served as a grim reminder of how fragile King Ruarcc's progress was. Most of the people of Éire were still adherents to the Christian faith, and have yet to embrace the lessons taught by the gods of Asgard. In time they would, but for all its empty words, there was a strength behind Christianity, and it had nothing to do with it's God or the stories in their bible. It was in its organization, its politics, and institution.

The gods of Asgard had no such advantage of organization. In many ways, they were not unlike the ancient gods of Ruarcc's ancestors: scattered, fractured, each with their own interests....

Then it it Ruarcc: Unity If there were a way to unite the faith the way he united the land, then maybe, there was a chance for all the effort Ruarcc had put forward to not be in vain.

When King Ruarcc brought these concerns to the Godi's of the Temple, and even corresponding with Scandinavian allies across the sea, they were all intrigued, and admitted they hadn't really thought much about a unity between faith. It was around this time when the others gave Ruarcc an additional title:


King Ruarcc the Pious.

Ruarcc himself thought it somewhat ironic that he, who'd so cynically rejected Christianity in his youth, would now be refered to as "the Pious" in his old age, albeit for the gods of Asgard.

Not long after however, more terrible news arrived from Ruarcc's allies in Scandinavia:


This incident was all the more reason for Ruarcc to be concerned about the future of his adopted faith, about the future of Éire, built by the example of Asgard. He couldn't let Éire that he spent his whole life building go back to the weakened, fractured mess it was under Christianity. For the time being however, there were other pressing matters.


After many years of preparations, of much smaller wars to gain footholds on the mainland, King Ruarc 'the Pious' of Éire was finally ready to make good on the promise he made to Father Ru: that he would bring Unity to his Pictish brothers,

Progression of invasion war in spoilers:

It took several years of campaigning, of siege after siege, and going toe-to-toe with many of the Anglo-Saxon and Welsh armies, but total Victory was achieved. Every last one of King Conuall's holdings were seized and held by Ruarcc's forces


With the strength of his army, made strong by the unity of Éire, King Ruarcc the Pious brought that same unity to a Pictland that desperately needed it. From this greater unity, Ruarcc knew there would be that much more strength: strength enough to confront the Saxon kings, or even greater threats. There were some major decisions to be made for King Ruarcc: whether to invest in long-term stability at great risk, or in short term safety.


More to come soon!

Thanks everyone for the feedback you've given. I took what you said into account when I did this part, made the presentation of events more streamlined (hopefully). I hope it was all the better for it.

Also, some game-related questions for everyone watching. At this point in a campaign like this, I normally set things in motion to reform the Germanic faith, seizing territory of holy sites. At this point, I can go after them alright, and there is a character precedent for it as well now. I just wonder if that's a process you'd like to see played out in AAR form.
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Are you making any head-way converting the Catholics, or no?
I've converted a few vassals and courtiers, but not even one county yet, not even Dublin. This is part of the reason I, at this point in a campaign like this, will start working to reform the Germanic faith ASAP. If I don't, the uprisings will keep right on going, becoming a real nuisance and threat, not to mention holding down my levies with the conflicting religion modifier.
Great update. Would still like to see a little more exposition for your campaigns and what are those blue blobs in Pictish Eire?

Great conquest by the way :D
Great update. Would still like to see a little more exposition for your campaigns and what are those blue blobs in Pictish Eire?

Great conquest by the way :D


Those unsightly blue blobs in Pictish Éire are the last vestiges of the Saxon King Ealhmund's holdings, who had been in conflict with Canuall of Pictland over the course of this session. I've been tearing territory from King Ealhmund county by county, going to war as often as the truce timer would let me.

In these early stages, I'm really not quite sure how much or what kind of exposition I can give for the wars that would be interesting. It really is just hyper-aggressive expansion, using simultaneous conquest wars on highly vulnerable single-county rulers who barely have a stick and wooden board to defend themselves with. It would essentially amount to "Ruarcc sees a vulnerable target, marches his army into the land, slaughters the enemy, sacks the holdings, and claims a new piece of territory," only it would be like, five of these at once. the cherry on top at the end of it though is the prepared invasion of Pictland, which really speeds up territory acquisition.

Since this is my very first AAR, maybe you guys can help me out. Namely, what sort of information would you like to see? What sort of embellishments/elaborations to the information you'd be interested in me writing out.
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If you can describe some of the battles using screenshots from the wars that'd be good. If not no worries as this a highly enjoyable AAR already.
Unify the faith, generic Paganism is awful when it comes to conversion, plus as you mentioned you willl soon have Catholic revolts sprouting like weeds. Conversion therefore should be done ASAP. Also as Asantahene mentioned a impoved description of battles would be nice.