5ar

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Hello there,

I'm not active much on the forum. The last time I have actively participated in forum discussions was during my short lived EU3 (yes, EU3) Ragusa AAR, and even then I was more of an occasional lurker.
However, lately I wanted to try a role-play heavy CK2 run and, to both improve my own experience and hopefully entertain you, I wanted to share snippets of my game as short stories.

I envisioned this AAR to start as a collection of fragments - of letters, sermons, short chronicles etc. - until I find a good set of POV characters and story arcs to follow, hence the title Letters of the Iconoclast. The second part of the title is probably self-explanatory, I have chosen to write from the point of view of the Iconoclast heretics.

I didn't want the management of the entire empire to get in the way of me sinking into my characters so I have chose to start as Michael Lachanodrakon, strategos of the Thracesian Theme. The start date is 769, and you can find a list of DLCs and modified game rules in the following spoiler (all the recommended DLCs for the region are there, and more). The game is Ironman, however more out of habit than any other reason.

DLCs:
- Charlemagne
- Conclave
- Holy Fury
- Horse Lords
- Legacy of Rome
- Monks and Mystics
- Sons of Abraham
- Sword of Islam
- The Old Gods
- The Reaper's Due
- The Republic
- Way of Life

Game rules:
- Exclave independence: Limited (Naval)
- Devil Worshipers: None
- Supernatural Events: Off
- Absurd Events: Off
- Dynamic De Jure Drift: Restricted
- De Jure Assimilation Duration: Long
- Diplomatic Range: Restricted
- all other game rules are set to default

I appreciate any feedback you might have about either the story or game. In the beginning I'll try to not play too much ahead so that I can react in time. At the moment of writing this post I am 2 years ahead and have a couple of letters in the making to share with you. Hope you enjoy :)
 
Last edited:
January 8th, indiction 7, AM 6277 - Bishop Anatolios

5ar

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Sermon of Bishop Anatolios of Rohas
Sunday, January 8th, indiction 7, AM 6277 (January 12th, AD 769)

49785916096_7dd5e57d25_o.jpg

(…)
The Israelites have turned to worship of false idols in their moments of fear and despair.

Dark times have fallen over Romania in the past. The oldest ones among us might even remember when the walls of the City itself were threatened, when it seemed that the Lord has forsaken us, his chosen people. And before that, twenty years of usurpers, of men unfit to wear the purple, twenty years of anarchy!

For forty years have the Israelites been condemned to walk the desert. We have the mercy of the Blessed Virgin to thank for getting only half as much.


(…) and just as Moses cleansed the idolatry from his people and led them in times of trouble, so too is our Basileus Konstantinos leading us, the Romans, back into God’s everlasting grace and favour.

The Basileus’ trusted strategos Michael, our leader and protector, has been cleansing the idolatry from our lands ever since God’s Vicegerent on Earth sent him to us. Some time ago I have discovered one of his officers, the young droungarios Raphail, kissing an icon that he carries secretly around his neck while praying in this church. I have tried to help him see the errors of his ways, but he rebuffed, saying that it kept his father safe in the wars against the Saracens. A false conviction in every regard, an image cannot do any such thing, the Lord is the only one that can decide our fate, and He does so based on merit or purpose.

49785933786_052f6d3fb7_o.jpg

49785396788_9020f84ea3_o.jpg

I had written to Patriarch Niketas about this young man and he advised me to inform the strategos about the incident, which I did. I have pleaded with Strategos Michael not to be too hard on the young droungarios, iuventus - ventus, in time, he’ll see the falsehoods of his beliefs. The strategos acquiesced to my request, but noted that heresy of any kind will not be tolerated of any officer in the Thracesian Theme for it will surely bring God’s disfavour and defeat.

Additionally, as part of Raphail’s punishment, I have had to bar him from attending communion in this church. He is allowed to come pray for his soul whenever else he wishes, but I cannot risk his pollution infecting the community or desecrating the sacraments.

As you have surely noticed by now, a new man stands today where Raphail once stood. Most of you already know Leon, a capable and orthodox solider, a former hekatontarches, now the droungarios of the Thracesian Theme. He has loyally served the empire for a long time and I know no man more deserving of his new post.

49786254787_a4f1c3023b_o.jpg

Let us pray for the safety and health of the Basileus, the Patriarch, our strategos, and for young Raphail, may he see the Truth and join us soon.
 
Last edited:

JSB217118

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Ooooh this is a really interesting way to do an AAR. I've always been intrigued by the primary sources in the history book AAR's and CK2 is great for roleplaying. Good luck with what looks like a promising AAR.
 

HistoryDude

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An AAR set in Byzantium? Subbed.

I wonder how the Empire’s famed intrigue will affect you...
 

HistoryDude

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In-game does Byzantium really have more intrigue than other realms?

It was more of a joke based on how Byzantium is stereotyped, so I don’t think so.

I haven’t really played much CK2 that wasn’t as Byzantium, though, so I’m not certain...

Civil wars are mysteriously common in it, though
 

stnylan

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Interesting concept
 

5ar

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Ooooh this is a really interesting way to do an AAR. I've always been intrigued by the primary sources in the history book AAR's and CK2 is great for roleplaying. Good luck with what looks like a promising AAR.

Thank you! :)
I've also been always intrigued how primary sources can really bring wildly different perspectives on events, that's the main thing that inspired me to try this approach on an AAR. And I agree, CK2 really seems like a great engine for such a thing.


An AAR set in Byzantium? Subbed.

I wonder how the Empire’s famed intrigue will affect you...

Constantine V has been ruler for a long time at the start of the game so for now things seem pretty stable, but he does have a lot of sons and I just had a glance at the succession... it could get really interesting.


In-game does Byzantium really have more intrigue than other realms?

In my experience, empires in general can fell like they have a lot of intrigue going on (just try playing a non-Muslim duchy in the Abbasids, it can get intense at times), especially if the succession is some form of elective. Byzantium's imperial elective system is just nuts compared to others, it can feel more like a republic at times than a monarchy (which is kind of the point because of Rome's political legacy) which then brings a lot of plotting even on the AIs side.


Interesting concept

Thank you! :)
 
February, indiction 7, AM 6277 - Startegos Michael and Basileus Konstantinos

5ar

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Letter to Basileus Konstantinos V from Strategos Michael Lachanodrakon
Monday, January 30th, indiction 7, AM 6277 (February 3rd, AD 769)

My most pious kyrios, Basileus by the grace of Christ, God’s Vicegerent on Earth, I wish to humbly express my suggestion for your daughter's, Nobilissma Anthousa, hand in marriage to my firstborn Kyrillos once they both come of age.

Your humble servant and friend,
Strategos Michael Lachanodrakon

769_01_01_bethohal_offer.jpg


Letter to Strategos Michael Lachanodrakon from Basileus Konstantinos V
Wednesday, February 8th, indiction 7, AM 6277 (February 12th, AD 769)

My friend and strategos Michael,
I accept your suggestion for my daughter’s hand. From what my logothetes has told me, your boy seems to be developing into a sharp minded and diligent young man, much like his father.

The formal introduction and announcement of the betrothal will have to wait however. The Slavs that have infringed on Roman lands in Achaia continue to reject the word of our Lord and defy imperial authority. Ready your men for an expedition to cleanse the lands of our forefathers from these pagans.

May this letter find you in good health,
Basileus Konstantinos

769_01_18_bethohal.jpg
 
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March, indiction 7, AM 6277 - Theophylaktos

5ar

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From the writings of Theophylaktos, droungarios of the Thracesian Theme
March, indiction 7, AM 6277 (March, AD 769)

We had started preparations mid-February in the seventh indiction, as soon as strategos Michael informed us of the Basileus’ plan. The men were not as eager to march to liberate “the lands of our forefathers” as the Imperial Court expected them to be and I did not blame them.

Our homeland was in Anatolia and in Thrace, our forefathers settled these lands and enlisted to protect Christianity from the Saracens, not to go off to some long forgotten pagan lands in the Peloponnese. What did the bureaucrats of the City think, that the average theme solider reads the heroic exploits of Hellenes from the heathen poleis? Most the men know of those lands only from what the clergy has told them of the missionary work Saint Paul and his students. How it took long to divert the people who lived there from their wicked ways, to see the light of the one and only true God and the glory of the Son, both divine and human. Not much sympathy for the people of those lands could be derived from those tales.

A far more effective boost of morale have been the stories that I sent my kentarches to deliver to their men. The stories about how the Slavic tribes led by Mijat raided our churches in the ineffective and lazy Theme of Hellas, how they denied Christian practices to Romans that were left in their lands, trapped, and how the Slavs in Thessaly provided safe harbours for Saracen pirates. Those should keep them eager for battle during the long march west.

The Imperial Protostrator, Strategos Michael Melissenos, has assured us that they will be no intrusions in our lands from the east as the Saracens are preparing to march their forces north this season, towards Abkhazia and possibly Chaldia. The Protostrator’s Anatolic Theme will be able to handle any leftover Saracen forces coming from Tarsos so we can commit our full force to the war in the west. This is something that will also keep the men at ease in case of a longer campaign, as we have recently received reports that the Archon of the Serbs, Vojislav, has announced his support for Chief Mijat.

769_03_24_war_for_achaia.jpg
 

5ar

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Another great AAR to follow! I really appreciate the fragmentary style and your effort to get into byzantine intrigue.

Thank you! :)

I'm trying to do the period as much justice as I can with the limited time I leave aside for writing and the "Wikipedia scrolling" style of research, while still trying to keep things familiar in the CK2 context.
 
March, indiction 7, AM 6277 - Theophylaktos pt. 2

5ar

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From the writings of Theophylaktos, droungarios of the Thracesian Theme
March, indiction 7, AM 6277 (March, AD 769)

Riding through narrow mountain passes always give me an uneasy feeling, even when moving deep in Imperial territory. The most ambitious and foolish of the Saracen raiders have not passed through the lands north or east of Sardeis for over two indictions, yet I still could not keep my eyes from examining every shadow on the slopes.

I’ve noticed the Samos theme scouts at the moment they started tracking us, six miles before we hit camp. They were sloppy. I knew where to look and there was no reason for them to conceal themselves from us, but still, shadow-mimicking should be second nature to a good theme army lookout, whatever the situation. It definitely did not help to disprove the rumours of Strategos Theodoros Krateros being a priest in military uniform - good at propaganda, but lacked a leader’s ability to inspire discipline.

Once we hit camp, Petronios Skepastos, the Komes of Smyrna and tourmarches in the Theme of Samos, arrived with half a dozen of his bucellarii to escort us the remainder of the way to Pergamon. My father served as a droungarios in his father’s tourma, before the Basileus created the Theme of Samos and assigned to it the coastal parts of the Thracesian Theme. A lot of men knew these parts well, the ones that we picked up at Sardeis even have family members at Pergamon and would surely want us to make a full day stop there. However, Startegos Michael has informed us that we won’t be stopping any longer that we did at Philadelphia, when we just did a small resupply after being on march for three days. The strategos decided to travel light on supplies until we passed the Hellespont. This would enable us to move at a good pace while conserving our strengths. In his words, we were the real protectors of Smyrna and Abydos, not the sailor themes that lived there, supplying us while moving through their land on imperial orders is the least they could give back in return.

Komes Petronios greeted me with more warmth than was expected of a man of his station and birth, and definitely more than one would expect at the first sight of him. He had stern look on his face, with a scar going from below his right eye into his bushy beard that he probably grew to cover it up. He was powerfully built, but one could see that he was not accustomed to traveling light on supplies. His gaze was constantly shifting, as if he was searching for something while lost in his thoughts. Military life can really take its toll on men in different ways.

We set camp about 55 miles form Pergamon, on the third day since we left Sardeis, ninth since we left Laodikeia.


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5ar

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You really put a lot of effort into showing the irl history in this story.

Thanks, I'm trying to push in a lot of real history snippets in these first postings so that everything kind of gets put into context and feels like a realistic continuation of history.
I want to set the atmosphere right so that I don't get sucked into viewing the world through a CK2 player lens, which tends to happen to me sooner or later in my role-play campaigns. My goal is to use CK2 to provide me with direction where the historical narrative should go and how the broad view of the world looks, while explaining those events in a more realistic and complex way than just through game mechanics. Restricting myself by having to check some historical and geographical data keeps me "honest" in that goal, plus I get to learn new things, win-win :D



Nice and detailed impression with both historical and roleplaying value, i would say.

Thanks, I was worried that things are a bit too dry and the character (i.e. roleplay) aspects of the story are not being delivered well enough so it means a lot to hear that some of that is also getting through. :)
 
March 17th, indiction 7, AM 6277 - Leone Galbaio

5ar

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Letter from Leone Galbaio to his brother Giovanni
Friday, March 17th, indiction 7, AM 6277 (March 21st, AD 769)

Egregio fratello,

I write to you on my last day in Pergamon. However, as much as you may protest, I will not be leaving for the ports of Smyrna and board a Serenissima ship. I have acquired some extra funds in the last two weeks of my stay in Pergamon (of which I will speak about later in this letter) and have decided to travel towards the City of the Emperors by land and do some business along the way.

There is no need to fear for my safety caro fratello, I will be a guest of Strategos Michael Lachanodrakon and his host until we reach the Via Egnatia. He is traveling with the full might of the Thrachesian Theme towards the lands we do business in, therefore making his acquaintance will be an important asset to secure our Theban post. You may have heard rumors of the unforgiving and zealous nature of this strategos, but worry not, as our friend Comes Petronios assures me of the strategos’ nobility and honour. Besides, Lachanodrakon would be foolish to act against a son of the Doge while marching west where our Armada could make or break the outcome of the conflict.

It seems that what our father’s agents have been reporting for some time is finally confirmed, the Emperor has decided to move against the Slavs in Greece. That being said, the primary focus of the aggression is not the same as they have reported. This might be old news by the time this letter gets to you, but the Emperor called war against the Slavs of Miljat of Achaia, not Vuk of Thessalia or Budimir of Epirus that were considered to be the most likely targets. This makes little change in what’s to come, as my new friend Ioustinos informed me that Budimir will soon be receiving a declaration of war as well, and Vuk will be lucky to keep his lands for a little longer if he strikes a truce with the Emperor in the current war. As far as our interests are concerned, move a few of our family’s slave ships to Corinth in a couple of months. It’s likely that a siege or a great battle on the Peloponnese will yield a considerable amount of fresh slaves for the Roman soldiers, that many would probably want to get sell of before having to march through the mountains again.

Finally, about the business that I mentioned at the begging. It was a joint venture with Ioustinos, who I’ve already mentioned. He is Comes Petronios’ secretary, the private secretary they call mystikos. He has correctly assumed that Lachanodrakon will be using the fact that his army is passing through peaceful lands on imperial orders to travel low on food supplies, carrying only as much is needed until the army reaches the next larger settlement. As you know, when at war, theme troops can buy most goods at fixed low prices and have precedence over regular citizens. This often causes a sudden surge in price for certain goods after a particularity large army has left the area and drained its resources. Now, if some goods were scarce to begin with, the army does not have to be that large for this scenario to apply. For the past few weeks, our merchants have been buying food and wine in Pergamon and stockpiling them in nearby Smyrna, while also minimising the transfer of any goods from Smyrna to Pergamon. Once the Thrachesian Theme leaves, the local market will be in high demand for the goods we’ve stockpiled. Our merchants get a high return in resale over a relatively short distance, Ioustinos gets his cut for providing us with agents and extra warehouses, Petronios gets a higher tax income from the assessment of goods coming into the Pergamon marketplace, and I get compensation for taking the blame for “taking advantage of my generous host Komes Petronios Skepastos and his people in times of war”. Not that it matters, Petronios approved the plan and will be taking no real actions against our merchants, and I will be long gone once the accusations start.

The Romans are as every bit as cunning as our father had described them. It’s good that they avoid mercantile business, otherwise they would prove worthy adversaries. Their snobbish attitude towards us is a nuisance, but a tolerable one as long as they bring us profit.

Time runs short and I have some errands to run before I leave in the morning, therefore I cannot write more. I will send to you another letter as soon as I reach a city that has our countrymen operating in it, but cannot say for certain when that might be. Do not expect me to say much until I leave from Lachanodrakon’s care. From what I’ve heard, he keeps capable agents among his men, and makes an effort to gather as much information as he can.

Once I reach the City of the Emperors, you may write to me again. Until then, I hope that this finds you in good health.

Your loving little brother,
Leone Galbaio

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HistoryDude

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It seems as if this war could be good for Venice as well… Hopefully, these Venetians’s actions do not echo those of their real life counterparts...