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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Peter Ebbesen

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The Byzantine Letters
being the only extant copies of the correspondence
of the relatively sane and, contrary to popular beliefs,
neither particularly inbred nor mentally deficient,
Emperors of Byzantium


”Inbreeding is how you get the best racehorses” – Constantine Ducas


Byzantion, January 14, 1066

My dearest wife,

It is with great pleasure that I inform you that I am now more important than ever before! Georgios, that holier-than-thou liftskirt has wisely decided to accept my command to give up his title to the principality of Varna. Thus I am now not only the Emperor of the Romans and count of Byzantion itself, I am the frigging Prince of Varna as well! Respect me, for I am a prestigious fellow indeed!

He’ll never make fun of my foot again.

Your loving husband,
Constantine “The Man” Ducas
(Coming soon to a bedchamber near you ;))



Byzantion, January 14, 1066

Ducas!

How many times must I tell you that if you want to talk, just send a page to arrange a meeting? I know that you are proud of the well-functioning bureaucracy but using the royal mail to deliver a message from your chambers to mine is stretching it a bit. I had to pay for the stamp as well since somebody, AND I MEAN YOU, DUCAS, forgot that slight detail.

And it had better be a bedchamber near mine, for you are still grounded as far as my bedchamber is concerned. You nearly brained me with that clubfoot of yours during your last “conjugal” visit and I get a violent migraine just at the thought of it. Think of my delicate constitution! Some positions were not meant for man to know or woman to suffer!

Pray be discreet though. I have a healthy little thing just fresh from the countryside of Trabzon, who may be impressed enough by the “Man” to suffer your predations with honour – unless you have drained the treasury, that is. My mother always said you were a philanderer and that I was too good for you. How right she was, God grant her peace.

Michael sends word that Maria is ailing. I knew that the country air would be bad for her, the delicate flower of Bulgaria, but somebody, AND I MEAN YOU, DUCAS, insisted that sending our only son and his fragile wife out in the wilderness to camp in the court of your good-for-nothing nephew Andronicus would, and I quote, “make a man of him”. Well, the weather is preventing Maria from breeding, which is bad for the dynasty! For the sake of the dynasty, order him back, RIGHT NOW!

Your obedient wife,
Eudocia Ducas



Byzantion, January 15, 1066

My dearest wife, the joy of my life, the light in my eyes,

Michael stays right where he is, and that is FINAL. Do not think for a moment that I do not know what you are up to. He will inherit in good time, but there are plenty of years left in me, as I proved to the tasty morsel you provided yesterday. I am in no hurry to leave, and I do not need a push either. Go tend to your duties of stewardship and tax a village till it bleeds if you are in that mood rather than taking your frustrated desires out on me.

Your affectionate, healthy, and vigorous husband,
Constantine Ducas, Emperor.


byz_1066_01_14_princeofvarna.jpg


----------​

Crusader Kings v1.01
Country: Empire of Byzantium
Difficulty: Very Hard
Aggression: Normal

Updates: Infrequent
Goals: Play until 1.02 fixes a lot of problems then probably dump it in order to play a new and improved game


PS: This is not a WC game, so do not even suggest it. As far as I can see, you need to play Catholic for a viable WC in 1.01 and then milk the crusades for all it is worth. Once you reach 20K-30K piety, it should be possible to grab just about all titles and annex away while BB magically disappears - that is not really an option for the Orthodox. (And since the Royal Posts are dysfunctional, it is probably too hard to run an "all your provinces are belong to my demesne" strategy as Orthodox at the moment)
 

unmerged(9269)

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May 11, 2002
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BYZ ? busy ?

Hell's bells. the man is back..
I wonder how this AAR will turn out ..
would this story reveal anything, or is it 'merely' a fancy tale ? ;)
I will be following this .. daily ..
 

frogbeastegg

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Brilliant, simply brilliant. :rofl:
 

Mariani

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glad you're not going WC. so which way, boss, west or east?
 

King of Men

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Sing the Serenity, no wait. I mean, sing the Te Deum, the Lord God is with us! He has seen fit to grant us another PE AAR! Alleluia! Alleluia!

*Wanders off humming happily*
 

Semi-Lobster

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Peter's back!! Hurray! :D You've already made a great start good luck!
 

Stuyvesant

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Nice... Any specific goals? And does the engine allow the inbreeding you were so wittily (the racehorse remark) referring to?
 

Nikolai

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Great, GREAT! :D I'm really exited now! :D Great start, very funny...! :rofl: Oh, and may I recommend an EC...;)
 

Judge

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Nice start, didn’t think you would bother writing an AAR already with all the bugs/crashes and the possibility of a “sudden death” always present. However that might just add some spice to the tale :)
 

unmerged(17248)

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It's good to see another PE AAR - I love all the past ones & can't wait to see how this works out. I do have the feeling though that YOU could make a EC with the Byz possible :p . Good luck & thanks for the story.

Jono
 

Peter Ebbesen

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  • J. Passepartout, Nikolai, CrazyBugger - No. I will play restrained while learning the game and not attempt a WC - especially since the AI is currently playing at the ability level of a concussed duckling. (Additionally, it is possible that a WC is impossible for the Orthodox on VH due to the exceedingly high prestige cost of claims and the negligible piety; I may not be playing for WC, but I have made projections, and they look nasty. Now, as Catholic, a WC should be possible in 1.01 if you get a young Crusader monarch and abuse the piety system, but that is a different issue)
  • Mariani - "All Will Be Revealed In The Fullness Of Time". (East)
  • Solmyr - Actually, he does. Just a shame that his heir Michael does not. Otherwise an empire of cuteness could be established, but Michael looks rather more like a skinhead.
  • Stuyvesant - I am afraid that inbreeding is going to be too hard to accomplish given how quickly eligible daughters are married off - I will be running the Kwisatz Haderach project instead and have developed a small tool to aid me in that mission
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  • Frogbeastegg, King of Men, Semi-Lobster (don't ask, don't ask!) - Deus Vult!
  • Judge - if I get hit by some bug nasty enough to end the game prematurely, that is quite fine with me. Writing this AAR is more about storytelling (which I enjoy) and stress relief than anything else. :)
 

Peter Ebbesen

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Letters #1

The Byzantine Letters
On the Merits of Piety And Clean Living


Byzantion, February 21, 1066

My beloved wife,

I have grown tired of the Trabzon tramp. She is so demanding, always begging me to perform “one more time” and she keeps walking around in a trance with a silly grin when I am not mastering her. Please return her to the rural district where you found her – she does not compare well to a real woman.

Your loving husband,
Constantine Ducas


Byzantion, February 21, 1066

Ducas!

Nice try, but you are STILL barred from my bedchamber. Somebody, AND I MEAN YOU, DUCAS, forgot to stamp the letter again. How many times must I remind you to keep the law? And do not go mouthing off about Royal Preorgatory; that may impress the princes and counts, but it does not impress me, Ducas.

As for my former maid of honour, I am afraid she is now a lady in waiting and will have to be disposed of. No bastards in this court! Think of the consequences of your actions, Ducas, and always, always, ask yourself: What would Jesus do?

Your patient wife,
Eudocia Ducas


Byzantion, February 21, 1066 (PRIORITY MAIL)

My sunshine, my faithful companion, the one who releases my vassal,

I am no theologian, but I am pretty sure Jesus would (in order of importance):
  • Forgive me, for I have sinned and repent (several times a day!)
  • Not look kindly on you killing off yet another damsel, who is no longer in distress due to the actions of aforementioned sinner.

Would you damn yourself to the everlasting hell over a mere trifle that JESUS would want to forgive? I am a new and better man today! I will no longer trifle with a trifle, so to speak, nor will I taste the tarts. I am reborn in the faith! – And, with all the awesome religious powers my lofty station grants me, I pronounce myself,

Your pious husband,
Constantine Ducas, Emperor.

Ps: Please send me maps of the northern barbarians’ holdings. Prince Michael of Koloneia and Count Isaakios of Dwim have been complaining of raids again. As I have now found myself again, praise God, it is time for the legions to do some marching.



Byzantion, February 21, 1066 (PRIORITY MAIL! URGENT!)

Ducas,

ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? The treasury is nearly empty, the princes are comfortable, and there is nothing, nothing, whatsoever to gain by killing pagans and muslims… Well, except for the satisfaction of a job well done, I guess, and some personal gratification, but it is not profitable. Need I remind you that we need to save up for a principality for Michael? – And no, Ducas, a Mongol yurt does NOT a good principality make. Michael is the sensitive type, I have always known he has artistic skills far beyond most of the so-called court “artists”.

Relax, Ducas. Take a deep breath and think of melons, big melons... Think of the big merchant fleet with its tall masts rather than the war fleet with the mighty rams, for the power of the empire is built on trade. Think of mornings on the beach, the sun rising over the warm blue sea and the nymphs rising out of the waves and dancing in the surf.

Sudden attacks of piety are an occupational hazard, so my good mother told me, God rest her soul, do not worry, they will pass as even the violent volcanic eruptions that burst with fiery might eventually do.

Your concerned wife,
Eudocia Ducas

Ps: Have you seen the scandalous dress the 16 year old virgin contortionist in the royal troupe is wearing? I swear you can see almost through it, the shameless hussy! What a body! If somebody does not protect her, it will all end in tears. Predators are everywhere in court these days, why, even the count of Varna is sniffing at her heels and his crotch, as it were, the old lecher. He is probably planning a conquest of his own in YOUR domain, while you are dreaming of the cross.



Black Sea, March 26, 1066

My most magnificent wife,

You are probably wondering where I am. To be fair, so am I. Contrary to what you may have been told, I am not visiting Count Fireblade of Lesbos. Rather, I am somewhere in the Black Sea with a seasick army. I wish you were here, but since you are not, I am comfortable that the mail will reach you anyway and that the admiral will find Abkhazia eventually. I mean, it is not as if the Black Sea is all that big. With a bit of work, I bet I could get the imperial architect to dam it and drain it, which should give us lots of fertile land in a generation or two... I suggested it to the admiral, and he just laughed nervously and began fidgeting – probably afraid of being put out of a job.

The weather is fine and I am enjoying the restful and respectful company of my senior commanders.

Your seasick (but nothing life-threatening) husband,
Constantine “The Visionary” Ducas.



Abkhazia, May 5, 1066

Dearly beloved,

We have made landfall in Abkhazia and are now busy fighting the infidels. I have two chroniclers attached to me and one to the army, so that should guarantee me a place in the history books. I am going to steal a page from the books of the Great Conquerors of the Past, and have decided to kill every man who opposes my rightful rule. That will teach the barbarians proper reverence for the Romans!

Your conquering hero,
Constantine Ducas.

Ps: Please send more money. The army eats money like grain.

byz_1066_05_24_attack_abkhazia.jpg


Somewhere in Manych, April 11, 1067

My darling Eudocia,

The longer I am separated from you, the more I appreciate your sterling qualities. Unfortunately, letter writing does not appear to be one of them – I have received no mail from you since Christmas! Now, some might see that as a grievous fault or consider it to prove beyond a doubt your lack of compassion, but I, who have lived you for many a year, know better.

As such, I am sure you will welcome little Manuel and his wet-nurse to court and make sure they are provided for. (You will find them attached to the mail) I happened to be busy razing a hamlet in Yegorlyk some months back when a pretty wench caught my eye, and one thing led to another, and pretty soon she and her sister were pregnant though I hardly touched them. Unfortunately the wench tried stealing the silverware so I had to turn her over to the soldiers, but I saved Manuel – I think he will have a great future in the Church.

Your compassionate husband,
Constantine Ducas, Healer in Chief

Ps: Please send more money.



Byzantion, June 27, 1067

Mr. Ducas,

This is an automatic notification that Eudocia Ducas is not currently receiving mail. She regrets the inconvenience and will, God willing, read the mail as soon as she has time from her hard work of funding a good-for-nothing army, which is, quote: ”as lively a bunch of whoresons as ever menaced the world”. It is estimated she will read the mail when hell freezes over.

Office of the Steward of Byzantium.



Derbent, August 15, 1069

My belle dame sans merci, my doorway to heaven, my one and true love,

I am returning in triumph! The tribes are vanquished, a generation of warriors put to the sword! From Abkhazia to Derbent (with the exception of Georgia), the banner of the Empire rises across the land. Soon it will be time to send in the church and the merchants and in just a few decades, a couple of centuries on the outside, this will turn into a prosperous backwater, just you wait and see!

For now, prepare a fourteen days feast in Constantinople to honour my victory, for now I join the ranks of my illustrious ancestors; undefeated in battle, expander of the empire, paragon of the church!

Prepare the bedchamber, for I am he who arises in might!

Your raging battle-lord,
Constantine “The Conqueror” Ducas

Ps: The Seljuk Turks appear to have begun conquering Georgia. Ah, well, I am certain that the jumped up “king” of Georgia will appeal for help in extremis. The situation is completely under control.

byz_1069_08_15_peace_northeast.jpg
 
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J. Passepartout

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Dear Mr. Ebbesen.

This is an automatic notification that you are writing a good AAR. We enclose a cheque for fifty Pounds Sterling and Two Guineas, and a pet tortoise. God willing, many more pagans will be slain by your hand.

Office of the Steward of Bananastan
 

Amric

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I love this format, and really enjoyed the part where the Empress refused his letter. I wonder if on top of it all he forgot the postage AGAIN! It wouldn't surprise me, really. It would be truly in character for him to forget again. I also really enjoy the interplay between the two with the frank talk of his mistress and the casual way Eudocia had her whacked when she came back pregnant. Great stuff, and I am glad you aren't doing WC...
 

Judge

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Awesome Peter this is really something more than just reading about the game mechanisms, moreover the content in this update confirm my earlier suspicions on your choice of the title “Byzantine Letters ”… :)