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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

TomosCaerllion

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I'm a fairly new member to the forum, but I have been a lurker on here for some time. I've always read AARs to get inspiration for my own playthroughs, and often get hooked on the good ones. After enjoying the work of others, I can't resist the temptation to have a go myself.

I shall be playing as the Palaiologoi, starting in September 1066 as Nikephoros Palaiologos, Doux of Epirus. I'm playing will no mods and all DLC except Sunset Invasion. The narrator will occasionally change but this will be noted in Italics at the beginning of each part.

I originally intended on writing all dates as Anno Mundi(A.M.), but it would be extra work for me and confusing for readers, so I've stuck with Anno Domini(A.D.).

House Rules:
I. No cheats.
II. No reloading.
III. Most decisions will be made for roleplay purposes, but some will be made to spice up the story and later justified by RP.
Ordered Objectives:
I: Establish a powerbase and secure the future of the Palaiologoi.
II: Seat a Palaiologos on the Imperial throne.
III: Recapture Egypt and the Levant from the heathens.
IV: Attempt the conquest of Persia.

Contents:

Prologue
Part I - Barbarians at the Gate
Part II - Divine Providence

Book I
 
Last edited:

TomosCaerllion

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Barbarians at the Gate

Prologue - Part I: Barbarians at the Gate


From the 'Apologia', by Nikephoros Palaiologos:

"I shall endeavour to be honest in the words that follow, and recount the events to which I bore witness exactly as I saw them at the time. In accomplishing this task I hope to preserve the truth so that it may be studied by posterity. I hope that readers of the following account will see through the accusations of my opponents and see that, although maligned by some, my actions were made in the best interest of the Roman Empire and out of devotion to Christ, not in the interest of the Emperor or out of lust for power. During the dark days in which the Great Turk, Alp Arslan, seized many Roman provinces in Armenia and committed many atrocities, the fractious realm proved true the old adage of "unhappy Greeks, barbarians to each other". During the chaotic reign of Constantine X, we Romans were more of a threat to the Empire than the Turk could ever be, and in order to bring stability and good government back to the city of Constantine it was necessary to oppose his namesake and commit a foul act in the pursuit of the greater good.​


It was clear by February 1067 that the Turkish incursion into Armenia was no mere raid. As the head count soared ever higher and word was received of the sacking of many cities in Vaspurakan, Emperor Constantine finally took action and began to call up as many fighting men as he could muster. However, it was not until May - 8 months after the invasion began - that Constantine could muster a capable resistance force. Perceiving this lethargy as an inability to lead, many factions within the realm began calling for a change in leadership. During this time Ioannes Komnenos, brother of the Emperor Isaakios, put forward his name as a capable alternative and began to gather supporters. I myself chose to ignore this suggestion of treason and remain loyal for the sake of unity against the Turk - it was unthinkable for me to turn on my own Emperor while the heathen Turks were threatening our borders.​


Constantine sent his most capable generals and a large dependable army to combat the Turks. I have no doubt that after such lengthy preparation an army of good men and capable leaders should have, under no circumstances, been defeated by an inferior force of tribal nomads. This seemingly impossible outcome, however, was exactly what occurred in February 1068. Whether the forces were split, outmanoeuvred or ambushed is still a matter of debate. By the time the news reached me in Epirus, it was apparent that the numerical superiority had been lost and a decisive battle had been won by the Turk in Koloneia. On the very same day I heard news of the death of a close friend of mine - my personal Magistros - in Campania.​


Saddened by this delivery of twin omens I was paralysed for many weeks. During this time it transpired that the growing number of governors and generals had lost faith in the Emperor Constantine and had pledged loyalty to the brother of Isaakios - Ioannes Komnenos. At the beginning of August 1068 the realm erupted into civil war, with the Turks still at the gates of our cities, and my lands were invaded by forces loyal to the Doux of Athens.


Finding the lands of my vassals being pillaged by my fellow Romans while the Turk was left unabated to continue marauding Armenia, I was acutely aware that this was a moment of great peril for Christendom and civilisation. I found myself serving a lord unworthy of his many honours and incapable of ruling his own subjects, let alone repelling an invading force as terrifying as the host of Alp Arslan. It was at this moment that the light of hope penetrated the darkness, and I was granted a glimpse of destiny.


How could I bring myself not to sponsor a work so clearly guided by the hand of God? I had never parted with my gold so gladly. I am sure now that this icon of St John the Baptist was a sign from the Lord, but at the time it took many hours of prayer and contemplation before I came to this realisation. During this time the Emperor Constantine chose to accept a cowardly surrender to the Turk Alp Arslan, preferring to maintain his crown and defeat Ioannes Komnenos to defending Christendom and civilization. When Constantine sold thousands of his subjects into Turkish servitude I knew that I could no longer serve such a man. Without the external enemy, I no longer saw any wisdom in remaining loyal to a captain who would sink his own ship in order to remain captain of its flotsam.


It was no coincidence that the saintly figure now hanging in my chapel bore the name of John, and when the future Emperor Ioannes Komnenos (another saintly John) came to me in person to beg for my forgiveness and explain his motivations, I was left in no doubt that Divine Providence was on the side of Komnenos.


I accepted the call to arms of the man I now believed could bring our Empire back from the brink, rekindle the light of Rome and perhaps even bring us revenge for the great defeat we suffered at the hands of the heathen Turk."

------------------------------------------------
Continued in Part II (coming soon)
 
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TomosCaerllion

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Sorry for the lack of activity after one post, guys. I've gone home for the summer and my parents router has died. It'll be at least two days before the new one arrives, after which I have played far enough ahead to have daily updates for a while.

Thanks, Jarren. Alexios is a great start, and I had one of my favourite campaigns starting as him (after reading your AAR). I chose the Palaiologoi because they offer a good historical parallel with Pyrrhus in the likely event of invading Sicily and I feel I'd enjoy charting the rise of a great dynasty (not to mention the very nice dynastic shield).
 

Wilkey

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This is some good writing, I can't believe I missed it so far. Its great how you have shown the doux's internal struggle about weather to stay loyal or join the rebels.
 

TomosCaerllion

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Prologue - Part II: Divine Providence

Prologue - Part II: Divine Providence

From the 'Apologia', by Nikephoros Palaiologos:

"The war for the Komnenian claim on the Imperial throne had already had already degenerated into a wide series of small conflicts by the time I joined their cause. The Roman Empire had suffered huge losses against the Turk, due to the poor leadership of Constantine. Upon reaching an agreement with the honorable Ioannes Komnenos, the forces of Athens were withdrawn from the siege of my vassal, the Count of Arta, and Nikephoros Melissenos could deploy his men against the forces of Constantine. I immediately showed my dedication to the cause of Ioannes by raising levies in the county of Epiros. The counts of Arta and Cephalonia were not asked to provide men as the level of conflict did not require such a large host, and the Count of Arta had already suffered a hostile incursion from the hands of our new allies, the Athenians.


My part in the war mostly consisted of a repeated pattern of skirmishing and pursuit. Small bands of a few hundred men would harry my allies and slow their advance. My men were employed in hunting down and routing these bands, who would often resort to unusual strategies in the hope of escape. One band of approximately four hundred of Constantine's men even crossed the Danube frontier in an attempt to end my pursuit. This did lessen my resolve in the slightest, as I had full confidence in the ingenuity of my engineers and the dedication of my men. We followed them across the Danube and into Bulgaria, taking the force by surprise and spilling their civil blood in a foreign land. Despite the danger of being seen as a threat by local lords and ambushed ourselves, I ordered that the defeated enemies be given a simple burial and a Christian service. Once the dead were buried and the prays were done, I returned to Roman territory and continued to rout the remnants of the enemy army, while my allies captured more cities and prepared to march on Constantinople herself.

Upon returning to Roman territory I discovered that my wife Ioanna had given birth to the son that was conceived at our parting before the campaign. In honour of the Baptist and of the rightful Emperor, I named him Ioannes.​


My eldest son, Giorgios, had also reached an age at which he could be given a command of his own, and he joined with my host to function as my second in command. I am certain from the promise he showed on this campaign and the education he received during this time that he shall grow into a capable commander as well as a virtuous and pious man.


I hesitated getting a wife for Georgios as there were few matches befitting my son and heir, but after a few months of campaigning and with the war drawing to a close, a perfect match was made. To cement our alliances with the Komnenian faction and to strengthen the future of the family, Georgios was betrothed to the young Sophia Komnenos. Sophia was daughter to Doux Isaakios Komnenos of Antioch and heir to his title (in contrast to me, Isaakios had produced no sons).


Despite being blessed with three sons already and the love of a good wife, I fell to the temptation of a woman while on campaign. My courtier Aigidia made clear her inner sin, as only women can, and corrupted me with her eyes.


I committed a great sin for which I am repentant, but was blessed with a child for which I am glad. Christophoros may be a bastard, but he is also a Palaiologoi by blood and I decided that he should be raised in the same fashion as my true-born Ioannes. When my second son, Nikolaos, came of age it was immediately apparent that he was a skilled diplomat and negotiator, much like his older brother.


At this time, with four promising young sons and a firm alliance with the Komnenian faction, I was truly grateful for what seemed like Divine Providence smiling on me. Soon after the birth of Christophoros the war with Constantine came to an end, with Ioannes installed in his rightful place as Emperor of the Romans.


Just as our realm became united once again, our great enemy in the east was beginning to fracture, with many local rulers revolting against the Sultan, Alp Arslan.


With Ioannes Komnenos now crowned as the rightful emperor and the future of the Paliologoi full of promise, I firmly believe that my actions during this fateful time were just and proper, and that they worked towards the common good of the realm and to the benefit of my family (a family which is dedicated to the service of the realm). My deeds have been guided by God, and although I sometimes falter, I have endeavored to act in a virtuous and Christian way."


------------------------------------------------
Developements in the rest of Europe:
Sicily: Robert Guiscard has made significant progress into Sicily, although complete control of the island is not yet his.
England: Against the odds, Harold Godwinson has successfully defended his crown against Harald of Norway and William the Bastard of Normandy.
 

EU3NOOB

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Interesting. Will you strive to become emperor at some point?
 

TomosCaerllion

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Interesting. Will you strive to become emperor at some point?
Long term, definitely. Short term, I'm playing a Nikephoros that is loyal to the Komnenos dynasty and his son and heir, Georgios will be too - but more intent on seeking glory. As long as a competent Komnenos sits on the throne, I won't be actively trying to take the Imperial throne.

I agree with Jarren that the mediterranean facepack can create some very odd portraits, and a lot of impressively large noses. On the whole, I like the increased variety between portraits to outweigh the increased frequency of ugly people.

Thanks for the comments, Wilkey and Orjasmo! There'll be a new update tonight, so check back tomorrow.