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Paragon Badger

Second Lieutenant
59 Badges
Jun 15, 2013
152
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  • Crusader Kings II
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A preface:

I did not expect this campaign to become anything noteworthy. However, after an exceptional first year and an exceptional second character... I reevaluated my options.

The start date was 769 AD but the AAR proper will begin at 838.

Difficulty is normal. I tend to play a mix of 'meta' and roleplay. For example, I used a bit of 'North Korea mode' but was doing so to permanently pillage the well developed holdings of the Middleeast, reducing Sunni moral authority and... well, you'll see. I'm playing all DLCs (except a few cosmetic ones)

My initial objective was simple; to start as a Muslim Tribal and eventually go Merchant Republic and achieve a trade monopoly over the Silk Road in the Mideast. I wanted to stay small and confine myself to the Arabian peninsula but also see just how broken I could make this realm by combining a number of disparate traits.

Muslim Merchant Republics ignore Decadence while permitting Polygamy.
Left-over tribal Retinues provide a powerful standing army. (Bedouin Camel Warriors are particularly deadly)
A Merchant Republic sitting on top of several Silk Road trade nodes should be very lucrative.
Lastly, the new Shi'a heresy, Qarmatians enable raiding even after I transition away from Tribalism.
 
Sultan Ubayd 'The Terror of Aden'
July 4, 838 AD

Sultan Ubayd took off his boot as he sat on his throne and let out a wail of relief. "Argghhh, I just can't stand it!" He spat, 'Wine! More wine! Please!"

His sons averted their eyes in disgust. To show one's soles to a guest was the height of Bedouin discourtesy, much less to drink before the eyes of God. He called himself a proper Sunni, but had plundered Mosques and razed cities to the ground. Petra was the grandest structure in Maan now, that ghost-town hewn into the rock. Yet who was going to stop him? The Caliphate was falling apart at the seams... maybe it was his fault.

In the east, Shi'a reigned in Iran. In the west, the Muhallabid Sultan ruled independently from Egypt. To the north, the Alan horde of Khagan Safrak was trampling into the Holy Land over the pitiful defense offered up by Caliph Sulayman III 'The Traitor'.

And in the south? The clan territory of Banu Tayy

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His youngest son and heir Jibril could not contain his contempt.

"Something to say, boy?" The Sultan spat, "I'll kill you, like I killed your brother!"

Aarif was the best of them, it was said. Quick of mind and strong of body. Patient, brave, and... ambitious. The Sultan had him beheaded before Jibril was born.

Murdering kin was a family tradition... it was said that when their grandfather, Ghalib ibn Mirza marched on the High Chief of Nefoud in April 769, he met on the sandy field of battle his own brother and slew him. In one stroke, he inherited the tribes of Rafha and Hajr by conquest. The desert sands wiped away the price paid in blood.

Ghalib was known to be a good man. He had not a single vice in the eyes of the Muslim world, except for perhaps his sympathy to the Pagan Zunists. The Abbassid Caliphate was wracked with civil wars. Caliph Ali-Mahdi 'The Wicked' had lost his subjects favor amid the revolt which led to the formation of the Shi'a Calipate in Persia today. It was in this time of strife that Ghalib struck out and declared the tribal Bedouin peoples of the Arabian desert as independent.

It was said that for years he endured constant battles back and forth from his neighboring Emirs, yet never one by the Caliph himself. Perhaps he understood the people of the desert could never be tamed.

Their grandfather died in in 791, succeeded by the Sultan exposing his soles to them all today. Jibril wondered what his father was like back then. He was named after his uncle, the brave soul slain at Hajr... surely he couldn't have been the blasphemous coward that sat before them today? He had killed thirteen men in personal combat. He had laid such waste to the lands of Sultan Mansur Arwadid that the world around knew him as 'The Terror of Aden'.

Jibril was the court poet. All of this was his duty to record for posterity's sake...

"My sons." The Sultan groaned, "This damned foot might be the end of me."

They stood in silence in the Sultan's grand tent at Basra. What was once a rich trading hub had been reduced to ashes and ruins by their father's conquests.

"Khaireddin!" Ubayd laughed. His eldest son looked up... "You're going to be the next Chief of the Keepers of Flame, eh?"

He smiled a toothy grin. That they should pick the son over the father to lead them... it was a testament to his contemptuous waste. "Lead them well. My eldest son will lead our society. Heh heh... and it is ours, isn't it? There's more of us than the Zunists in it."

"Jibril... my youngest." The Sultan said with a wheeze, "You will take my place as the head of the house."

His other sons all turned in shock as he continued, "I grant you the tribe of Ain Said and the High Chiefdom of Basra. In time, you'll have my army. The rest of you... obey your brothers. The Eldest and the youngest shall require your support. Family is all we have... heh heh... heh." His words trailed into sobs, "Aarif! Oh, why did you make me kill you!?" The Sultan wailed, slapping his throne and kicking his gouty foot in futility.

They all knew by now it was best to leave him when he got into these fits. Jibril left the tent first, closing his eyes and sighing.

"Brother." Khaireddin put his hand on the younger man's shoulder. Though borne from the same father, he was less than half his age, "One question..."

Jibril furrowed his brow as the others came out and joined him. "What are you going to do with that blasphemous statue of father?" The elder grinned.

"Statue? How about that damned Pyramid he started building in Dairya?" His brother Ibrahim chimed in and they all shared a laugh.

Sultan Ubayd's greatest achievement may not have not the pillaging of Madaba or Basra, the construction of any great works or his forty year reign over the tribes of Arabia... but rather, his sons.
 
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The embarassment of having parents :)
 
The Regency of High Chief Ramadan
November, 856 AD

Grand Vizier Ramadan liked to watch the children playing in his garden. In the shade of his great pavilion (which everyone liked for some reason), the aged wiseman smiled and closed his eyes, taking in the salty sea air of the Persian gulf. After the conquest of Kuwait, Jibril declared that he would do as his father did. He would not pillage the cities and mosques and burn them to the ground.

Though the great Sultan was currently marching west to sack and loot Mecca, he at least abstained from tearing apart the holy Kaaba piece by piece. Though a devout Shi'ite, Ramadan was not so eager to tear down everything of the old. He thanked God his son was wiser.

"Master!"

The elderly statesman blinked and shook his head, "W-what is it?"

A soldier, dressed in saber and armor all, rushed up to the old Emir, "The...The..."

"Get this man some water!" Ramadan cried out, rising up from his couch with remarkable alacrity for a man of his age.

"The Sultan is dead!" The messenger managed to spit out, his voice hoarse and desperate.

Ramadan closed his eyes... he'd last seen young Jibril just a few weeks ago, before he set off on another one of his raiding expeditions. Jibril was just 34 years old... how cruel that the father should have lived so long... and the son was to perish. Yet the realization dawned upon him. The gravity of the situation felt like a terrible weight upon that old man's frame.

There, playing in the gardens with the other boys... was young Idris, just four years old.

Jibril had six daughters and one son. One living son, at least. Little Khalil was murdered in his crib by Baydzar 'the Fairest of Basra'... Idris' mother. She was executed for the crime and Idris fell out of favor. The Sultan was hoping his Bolghar bride Dilek would produce for him a son... but alas, dyssentary took Jibril at Mecca, and this young child an orphan.

The Vizier inhaled through his nostrils and patted down his white beard. He sat up and hummed. Then that meant... as the boy's guardian, he was the Regent. He needed to get him away from his uncles, away from the influence of the firekeepers and the savages.

"Idris!" He called out, rushing to his feet and scrambling into the garden for the boy, "Idris!"
 
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Idris The Young
August, 868 AD

By the time Idris 'The Young' took over the Banu Tayy Sultanate, Basra had been rebuilt into a thriving trading hub. After nearly a century of isolationism, the far away Tang opened up trade and goods from China flooded Arabian markets. The pillaging of the former Caliphate resumed not long after old Ramadan's death...

Now that he was old enough, his courtiers asked if he would embark upon the Hajj, the sacred pilgrimage expected of all Muslims... the place of his father's demise. It was not so far- the sacred place was even within the Sultan's domain. Idris was reading his grandfather's work, 'The Book of Shadows'... taking notes in a sheet of paper beside him- things to incorporate into his own work on warfare. Ramadan had succeeded made an erudite out of a savage... were he still alive to see his young ward today.

"Why should I make the pilgrimage?" He asked, astonishing the whitebeards and veiled women of the court, "The Caliphate has been split asunder. Sulayman the Cruel commands the Shia in Iran. Akin the Shadow resides over the Sunnis in the East. To the north, reigning over Baghdad and Damascus, Itaz 'the Wise' desecrates the Holy Land with infidels."

He leaned back on his throne. Behind was a vast balcony looking out over the Persian gulf, cooling the room and silhouetting the young Sultan's figure in darkness from the blinding daylight behind him... Basra was looking more and more like a city every day, even if it was built on the ruins of another one.

"And here we are in the South. They say it was my grandfather who destroyed the Caliphate. That he plundered it for coin to build pyramids and statues of himself. If a man loses his house, he has only himself to blame. We come from the same place as the Prophet, praise be upon his name. From the Arabian sands he struck out and conquered a realm which now resembles our own..."

"The two Caliphs both claim to be his successor." Idris put his palms out, "One in the east. One in the west. Neither of them deserve our obedience. We're destined for a different path."

"Idris!" Chief Is'mail called out among the crowd of courtiers and vassals, marching to the head of the assembly, "Do you think... this is the end times? Are you claiming to be the Mahdi? Are you intent on bringing about Judgement Day!?"

The youth shook his head with a soft smile, "No, uncle. I... should hope not. We're already infidels to them. It is said that when his brother's blood splattered upon my grandfather's eye, he didn't even blink. That's why they call us 'red-eyed devils', right? Fine, it's as good a name as any. From this day forth, I am not your Sultan but your Wali-Malik. I am the protector of the Qarmatian State. All of you who are not of my grandfather's blood must renounce the Caliph in the east and the Caliph in the west. Those who refuse shall be removed from their offices."

"Uncle!" The Wali-Malik commanded, jerking Is'mail to renewed alertness, "Command of the armies is to you. We must secure the Halabanid Emirate before we can advance north and punish the infidels. We will establish ourselves by the sword, so that no one can claim we are some upstart heresy."
 
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Idris certainly has plenty of challenges ahead of him.
 
Intermission - META NOTES!

'North Korea mode' ended with Sultan Ubayd's death. From just spamming weaponsmiths in my tribal holdings, I was about to get a retinue of about 10500. (1500 Camels, 3000 Light Cavalry, 6000 Light Infantry) As you will see, this army was very effective. However, during Ubayd's early reign, it was small and the Abbassid dukes thought that low manpower meant I was weak. They were constantly invading from all directions which gave me a lot of scary negative warscore as I simply couldn't respond to every attack at once.

It excelled in the Skirmish phase, usually hitting the enemy so hard that they couldn't even go into melee before they started to rout. With Warrior Lodge Commanders and fighting battles only in desert terrain, I could safely take on armies twice my number.

For a long time, this retinue was pretty much the backbone of the Qarmatians. When the Caliphate split apart, its sheer size warded off nosy neighbors. I was constantly raiding my neighbors and was even able to fend off some of their amassed levies. So... yeah, Islam's plight is probably my fault. All the raiding undoubtedly tanked Moral Authority too. The danger of this strategy is that if I lost any units completely, which is very possible since Retinues are in small 'chunks'- then I wouldn't be able to replenish them. Sometimes this meant that I couldn't win too many battles in too short a time.

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You'll have to forgive me if I'm using a bit of creative license. I wanted to tell a better story. ;) For example, Idris the Young didn't just spontaneous generate the Qarmatian heresy. I converted Jibril to Sh'ia, since I had a holy site (right click on a holy site's crest in your demense and you can convert to its religion, which makes Jerusalem super useful to have in your personal control.) and then went HOUNDING the character finder every so often to look for a Qarmatian. I started converting my own provinces in the hopes that they would flip to the heresy- playing an odd juggling game where I wanted Shi'a moral authority to be good enough to convert but bad enough to flip to heresy.

In the end, I found an Afghan mayor who had converted to Qarmatian. I quickly gave him four wives and waited 16 or so years for him to produce a daughter, who Idris married and then immediately converted to her religion. Her name was Souzan and she wasn't really anything special so I couldn't think of a neat story.

Above, you see the state of the Caliphate when Jibril took over. Luckily Alania collapsed a few years later when old man Safrak kicked the bucket- but that was quite scary. I don't know why Persia was named Persia. Eventually it was ruled by an Abbasid dynast so funnily enough the 'Abbasids' reappeared. Muhallabid recreated the Sunni Caliph and when Alania splintered, its rulers settled down- thus creating two 'Arabian Empire's on the map.

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Yeah... it's a MESS. There are also a few Norse counts literally one or two counties away from Rome but I believe they were excised in a few years. Also, modern-day Slovenia became completely Hindu in 893.

This world has apparently been one of superpowers. The Karlings are Reconquista'ing all over the place. The Ashina are absolutely massive and to the east, there's a Tibetan Empire under another name. West Francia eventually HRE'd up so I'm really not looking forward to the Crusades.

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Also, it seems like the Mongols are a big fan of Jojo's bizarre adventure.

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And this is the point in time where I start to wonder... since this wasn't originally going to be a serious game (though it's still Ironman), I can't remember what game rules I set for it. Sunset Invasion may or may not be on the table...

Up next, the tale of 'Idris the Young'! Possibly divided into three parts because... well, you'll see. I tend to write these after a session, going off of memory and screenshots (and even the chronicle) to get some things right. I wonder how other people write these so... professionally! I can't stop playing long enough to write down some things- so maybe I should take notes. CK3 should have an in-game notepad feature where you can hotlink people/places/battles...
 
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Idris the Magnificent
October, 874 AD

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"Eternal life?" Idris repeated, leaning back upon his throne. He was only twenty two... 'The Young' indeed, if these rumors were true.

Cynical by nature, the young lord did not think much of these rumors. Even the Prophet died on the day appointed to him by God. Yet these were strange times... The transformation from tribal desert clans to a fully fledged Republic had not yet been complete, and while his uncle Is'mail was subduing the remnants of the Sunni Caliphate in the south, Idris was building up the tribes in Basra, Aden, and Muscat- transforming them from tent dwellings into proper cities. The process occupied much of his attention... as too did the restoration of Petra and the construction of his grandfather's Statue and Pyramid.

Idris had a great silken cloth from the East draped over the blasphemous statue... yet he refused to destroy it as many of his subjects demanded. He even made a few contributions of his own.

So when Chief Fadil returned to his court in dismay, beating his chest in shame for his failure, the young master shrugged.

Idris was honest, diligent, and temperate. He took a sip of some wine beside him and licked his lips before smiling, "Worry not, my friend. I merely wished to see if you would find the Mahdi."

The one-eyed Chief nodded softly.

"This is good news." Idris took another sip, "It means the world hasn't ended yet."


February, 890 AD

Under Wali-Malik Idris 'the Young', the Qarmatian State came to encompass all of Arabia. Their merchants could be found in ports from Somalia to Sri Lanka. Though Idris always looked north to the infidels in Baghdad and Damascus, he had a nation to build.

Qarmatian politics had become dominated by five great houses; the Banu Tayy, the Basri, the Qadir, the Qatabid, and the Tatikid. Titles and land were revoked from what remained of his father's tribal vassals. Infidels who refused to follow his way were also removed from the court.

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Strengthening the sect and strengthening the state were one and the same. The remnants of the Alan horde had settled down in an 'Arabian Empire'- Idris could raid it as he pleased, but did not yet possess the strength to contest the infidels in a full blown war. The conflict was inevitable, however.


Without descent from the prophet, Idris the Young could not make any claim for Islamic orthodoxy. He would need to retake Damascus and Baghdad... take what the Shiites and the Sunnis had lost.

Though he remained temperate and even charitable as he grew older (the Wali-Malik had no shortage of exotic spices with which to season his meals... and no shortage of coin to bestow upon kindly frivolities either), Idris began to lose his hearty warrior's physique and succumb to indolence. He grew overweight and left the command of his armies to his loyal men.

As Basra boomed into a palace city, Idris began administering court from his royal chambers. He and his first wife Zara grew plump as melons (she was prone to eating generously during pregnancies, with the Wali-Malik's affable blessing)

The Banu Tayy estate and the office of the Wali-Malik had now become synonymous. While Idris proclaimed the Qarmatians a republic in his youth, his extravagant wealth (and a poisoned cup of wine delivered to Wali-Malik Mubarak Basri) ensured that even his youngest son could be elected to succeed him. The Banu Tayy's monopoly over the Silk Road was unquestioned.

May, 897 AD

Idris was not so young anymore. Three years ago he declared the invasion of Iraq, to retake the seat of the Caliphate from the infidels. Enemies had come from the east and the west and the Wali-Malik had to flee Basra, into the deserts where his grandfather had carved out his power base.

He was turning forty-six that year... and the war wasn't looking good. Idris reclined beneath a splendid purple tent embroidered in silk and adorned with gold. The sun was scorching hot... servants cooled him best as they could but he missed the cool salt air of Basra. Before him lay the army of his grandfather and father. Camels were good and hearty creatures for this kind of warfare. Horses were the next best thing. For every camel, there were two men on horse and four on foot. This was how his grandfather and father conquered Arabia. Ever since the Qarmatian state was founded, Idris found it difficult to strengthen the army. While he could maintain it, growing it was impossible...

The Wali-Malik looked over at his grandfather's other achievement... the half-finished Pyramid. It wasn't a pyramid then, Idris thought. Maybe a square frustrum, as the mathematicians would call it. His army had taken refuge from the sweltering sun in its shadow.

"Master!" A servant came up running to the grand pavilion, "The enemy's upon us! Come from the north!"

"They're attacking us?" Idris asked, heaving himself up onto his two feet, "Here?"

"Yes, master!"

"Hahaha!" He grinned and patted his belly, "Get my lance and armor! Distribute all the rations and water to the men! Whether they use it to drink or purify themselves, it matters not to me."

"All of it, my lord?" Wali Isa asked, "The Alans outnumber us two to one. They have just as many camels and horses as we-

"All of it!" Idris threw his arms out, "The enemy is coming to us of their own volition, on our ground. The ground of my grandfather's great works! The ground on which Ghalil ibn Mirza slew his brother! The ground upon which the Knight of God's Prophet subdued the unbelievers!"

"Those men coming for us- they may be my our brothers. Muslims conscripted to fight for a heathen..." Idris looked up to the sun, blocking it with the back of his hand as he gestured, "If we lose this battle, the army will never come back from it... we'll be driven out of our homes and will be killed... with no one to bury us. Yet if we win... we'll win the war. We'll win back Baghdad!"

"God is greatest!" Idris roared.

"God is greatest!" His men replied.

"GOD IS GREATEST!" He repeated, louder.

"GOD IS GREATEST!" They boomed.

The infidels' army was indeed mighty, it was true. They had a horse and a camel for every one of Idris'. Their footmen outnumbered his own two to one, including archers and heavily armored infantry. When they came upon the Pyramid of Dariya, the sun hung low in the western sky, casting the great pyramid as a pitch black monolith over the desert sands. The Khan's Muslim troops laid out their mats and washed themselves to perform the Maghrib prayer. The dunes were high in the west and the sun disappeared behind them early...

The army had interrogated a few so-called 'Qarmatians' during the siege of Basra. They refuted the Hajj and considered the Kaaba to be no more sacred than any other burial mound or mosque. As savage as the Banu Tayy clan had been, none of the Khan's troops could believe the supposedly erudite Idris would believe such nonsense.

So when the infidel's army prostrated themselves, facing southwest to submit themselves to God's House... Wali-Malik Idris the Young came from the northeast at the head of a mighty host. They too were facing Mecca.

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June, 902 AD

The victory at Dariya was decisive, though it would be another five years before the Qarmatian reconquered their lost territory and marched into Baghdad.

In that time, Wali-Malik Idris had started to grow weary. Age and excess had taken their toll, and he was infirm. The Shiek of Damascus, then an independent ruler, was offered a peaceful vassalization. He said it was better to serve the Alan infidel than an apostate who would attack faithful Muslims during the Salat.

Idris gave the order to attack without delay. Though the Muslim world had formed a defensive pact, his armies stormed the great city with such speed and ferocity that the siege was over in days.


His men carried the Wali-Malik on a palanquin into the city as his troops looted its mosques and vaults.

When the rioting and plunder had ended, he was helped out of his bed to deliver a speech to the men.

"Muhtesem Idris!" They cried out, "Muhtesem Idris! Khalifah Muhtesem Idris!"

Halfway between a laugh and a cough, Idris leaned on the banister of the governor's palacial balcony. He smiled and raised one hand up, waving and basking in the adulation of his men.

No more was he Wali-Malik Idris the Young, but Caliph Idris the Magnificent. Who could question their faith now? Who could call him a savage? Who could deny their power? He raised both his hands up to quiet the men and they eventually all fell silent.

"God is greatest!" He hoarsely let out, his throat sore and his voice weak.

"GOD IS GREATEST!"

So mighty was their response that the very walls of Damascus shook as if to collapse into rubble.

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This looks like it will be interesting :)

Idris has become a legend in his own time, going from a simple clan chief to one of the most powerful and widely-respected men in all Arabia (and perhaps all the East) in one lifetime. His successors are going to have quite the legacy to live up to.
 
So great and mighty victories.
 
Idris the Architect
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August, 911


The Qarmatians were soon regarded throughout the world as the most fanatic of faiths. Only Basra and a few other counties had fully embraced the ruling class' beliefs at the ground level, but those who did professed a zealotry that not even the Catholic Pope could command.

Idris had heard there was much wealth in Rome and Venice, more than could be found in any mosque at least... As Qarmatian merchants commanded complete control over the Indian Ocean, the Wali-Malik couldn't help but turn his attention west. The state had only one port in the Mediterranean at Arsuf... not enough to really compete with the Amalfi and Venician merchants.

Not that he could complain. Between the western raids and the eastern trade routes, the Banu Tayy's wealth was unparalleled in the world.

As he retired to his office in Basra, Idris the Magnificent initiated an ambitious project across the state. He would not funnel his wealth into absurdities like pyramids and statues but instead would found dozens of cities, palaces, and mosques throughout the realm.

Though few could have claimed to be present at the Battle at the Pyramid or the sacking of Damascus, nearly everyone in Arabia bore witness to the construction of new settlements. Tribes became towns and towns became cities. In time, Idris the Magnificent became known as Idris the Architect.

Wherever nomadic raiders came, the Qarmatians' standing Army was there to repel them. For years, peace and prosperity reigned unadulterated in the state. Though Idris had few designs for external expansion, the founding houses of the Qarmatian State enthusiastically advanced their economic and political interests.

The Wali-Malik spent his days steeped in luxury. Confined to his bed on most days, he had servants waiting upon him hand and foot. He only left his office in Basra to engage in his favorite past-time, hunting. That was the secret behind how so temperate a man could be so obese- Idris never ate a single dish to excess... but rather filled his plate with as many exotic fruits and meats as possible. He partook in Elk, Zebra, and Dolphin. On one great hunt, he brought back an eagle fledgling and had it raised at court. Soon legend spread and people claimed Idris had a mighty Roc the size of a horse in his palatial aviary.

Wine, though... Idris could never refuse a glass. Curious that no one ever tried to poison him by such means. On one occasion, two men attempted to kill him in his bed with a dagger. The rogues confessed under torture that they were hired by his son Ubayd...

The Wali-Malik didn't know what to think of it. He wasn't dead yet... his appointed time had not yet come. His wives had been loyal and he retained them well into their old age. All of his subjects were grateful for the construction of cities and settlements in their lands.

Idris made his spymaster swear an oath of silence on Ubayd and put the matter to rest.

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February, 922 AD

"What do you say, good master?" Karadakh the Eagle Warrior slammed down his cup of wine. No one sat or stood- but rather the entire party lay reclining upon sheets and carpets and pillows. Slaves were never far, and with great alacrity and grace, the servants ensured that not a man in the room would go thirsty.

"There is nothing left for you to conquer here, illustrious Wali-Malik!" The warrior bellowed, "Let us journey to Khazaria and seek out the greatest fighters there! It will be... legendary!"

Idris turned sixty-nine that year. For twenty years since the conquest of Baghdad, 'the Architect' remained in his palace. What need did he have to go to the far flung reaches of the world in search of adventure? The world could come to him.

"I wish you all the best of luck." Idris smiled, inhaling the sweet fragrance of his cup, "Though... you must take my son Halil with you. And- and if you find a bear or something, could you try and bring it back to me? I'll reward you most handsomely..."

Karadakh blinked and furrowed his brow... and then set his cup down. He nodded with resignation and put on an affable smile to hide his disappointment.

The following year, Idris the Architect had become completely bed-ridden. Karadakh and Halil perished looking for legends in Khazaria, leaving Idris behind in Basra. When the court doctor declared he was incapable of performing his duties, the Wali-Malik nodded and begged for more wine. He left the rule of the state to his son Is'mail. He had memorized the Quran, was strong and sturdy... and most importantly, loyal.

November, 928 AD

For five years, Is'mail ruled the Qarmatian State as regent. The construction of cities, mosques, and palaces continued even as Idris was confined to the Basran estate. In that short time, over forty new settlements were built across the Arabian peninsula. Rumors were abound that the Caliph had already died and Is'mail was keeping it a secret just to secure his own power-base...

Basra had fallen silent. Silk, gold, and exotic spices were delivered to the palace every day... yet no one had seen the Caliph in years.

No one dared to stir up any trouble so long as he lived- even if he was completely incapable. How Idris the Young and Magnificent Architect spent the last days of his life- no one knew. Most assuredly, a cup of wine wasn't far off.

Nor was, it seemed, his youngest adult son.

Though Is'mail was favored by the father... Sa'daddin was just as often seen at court. Born with a cunning and intellect unparalleled in his generation, Sa'daddin was a recluse. Few knew his name, even if they saw him often at the palace. He rarely said it, if he ever spoke at all.

If one asked a well-informed Qarmatian who would succeed the great Wali-Malik, the response would invariably be, "Strong Is'mail ibn Idris! He has memorized the Quran. He has been trained in war by the easterners of Cathay. He has many good and loyal sons and everyone likes him."

Instead it was Sa'daddin ibn Idris, aged thirty one, who had been declared the new head of the Banu Tayy house, the next Caliph and the next Wali-Malik of the Qarmatian State... He was childless, unlike his brother. He was full of vice, unlike his brother.

Caliph Idris the Young and Magnificent Architect had cast a grand shadow over the vast Qarmatian state. It was well and good then... after all, Sa'daddin preferred the shade.

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Well everyone has to have a few foibles, and Idris is hardly the first to find his in the fruit of the vine.
 
I didn't show it but numerous events from the Warrior Lodge involved drinking and he eventually got the drunkard trait from mourning the death of his friend (killed by a giant eagle...)

Also, holy crap I have 1200+ hours in this game and I never noticed the Eagle Warrior hero clothing has an ACTUAL EAGLE ON YOUR SHOULDER. I thought it was just some weird fluffy adornment for the helmet.

What the heck.

By the way, as a bonus, check out EMPRESS MAGNATRUDE THE GREAT, founder of the HRE. A left-handed seductress, groomed, baptized and christened by the Pope himself. I like how her statline is really unimpressive on paper but all those positive opinion modifiers are probably making her worthy of that nickname 'The Great'. I haven't looked over there in several years so I'm hoping she's still doing awesome things when I resume playing as Sa'daddin.

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Sa'daddin the Wise
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August, 933 AD


Everywhere Qarmatian merchants went in the Mediterranean, from Venice to Genoa and Gibraltar, they heard cries of "Hail Magnitrude, Queen of the Romans!"

She was known in Idris' time as a beautiful queen over the Franks, young and beloved by all her subjects. Rumors were abound by how... intimate the love between a Queen and her vassals could be. Now she reigned over the Romans in Constantinople, uniting East and West.

The following year, merchants reported to the Qarmatian court the ambitions of 'Grand Saltigue' Akoi Niakhate of Songhay. He had united the vast lands south of the Sahara and reformed the various African pagans living there. He was determined to sweep aside what remained of the Sunni faith in North Africa... and, more importantly, to resist Christian expansion from Iberia.

Islam was being driven out of Africa and Europe. The Sunni Caliph ruled from the small island of Socotra, a place of such little import that barely anyone seemed to notice when he called a Jihad on Anatolia. By 937 AD, the Shiites had completely lost their legitimacy and were widely considered a heresy. In all practical respects, the Qarmatian State had effectively become the head of the entire Ummah. In every legal respect, there was absolutely no continuity. The Banu Tayy had no lineage to the prophet for one. They rejected entire swaths of the Hadith and Quran in practice, even if they paid lip service at the Mosques.

The only claim they had was power and money. Luckily for them, there was more than enough of both to spare.

Yet still... rumors of this 'Queen of the Romans' and a highly expansionist African faith gave the Wali-Malik Sa'daddin much to contemplate.

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June, 941 AD

Sa'daddin 'The Wise' had become renowned as a man of learning. The world knew him as a scholar and a patron of the literati. His observatory was the envy of the world and within just a few short years of joining the Hermetic society, he had been appointed their Magus (a feat assisted by a few untimely deaths). On his forty third year, he published a Magnum Opus on Alchemy. A copy was sent to the Cheng Emperor, who privileged the Qarmatians with a lucrative trade contract. He held debates and great meetings of the minds.

At one point, the subject of immortal life was brought to his attention- just as it had been put before his father so many years ago. Ever curious... he indulged these fanciful rumors. A young woman by the name of Idunn was even brought before him. They were lovers for a time... but when he refused to host a lavish feast for some pagan warriors, Idunn left his court.

It was stories like this, legends that spread his name far and wide, which masked a darker aspect of his reign.

The Five Great Houses which helped found the Qarmatian State had been all but decimated during Sa'daddin's reign. Power within the Qarmatian State was consolidated- infidels banished and traitors extinguished. Idris had given immense status and power to the Great Houses, trusting them to act independently. In a few short years, Sa'daddin had retaken all the land and titles that was once granted- through intrigue and murder.

Only one great house remained- the Qatabid. Tha Tatikid were still a powerful force in the State but had renounced their position as a 'Great House' and instead ruled over Yemen as feudal lords. How exactly this occurred, it isn't known... but by doing so, they managed to avoid the Wali-Malik's schemes and plots.

A few years later, the western coast of the Qarmatian State had been developed to a sufficient degree that raids could be launched across the Mediterranean. By this time, the tribal core of the standing Army had been completely replaced with Camel-back knights. For the first time since Sultan Ubayd 'The Terror of Aden' established the army, it even grew!

In 943, a group of Qarmatian 'merchants' reportedly were in dispute with Venetian authorities at port... and after a 'riot' broke out in the streets, the suspiciously heavily armored and armed Qarmatians stormed the Doge's palace, looting and sacking the place.

Similar 'riots' broke out in Rome, Constantinople, and wherever there was vast amounts of wealth to be plundered within sailing distance of Arsuf.

From then on, Qarmatian pillaging of coastal territories along the Mediterranean became routine. A similar string of plunder occurred along the coastal regions of Hindustan- but as the distance was greater and the raids less profitable, these were discontinued within a year. To put it simply... it was far more profitable to trade with the east than to plunder it. With powerful merchant republics like Venice and Amalfi, the opposite was true in the west...

In private, Sa'daddin made no secret of his anxiety about the growing power of the West. The Catholics had united Rome and Byzantium once more.

"The State must be strengthened." He murmured to his confidants, "It needs a strong ruler for when 'they' come..."

"Who?" The courtiers asked.

"My son Sami. Spare no expense to get him elected." The Wali-Malik explained, "Age is the most important thing... the other Houses all want someone old- my brother Is'mail. That won't do. That won't do... it needs to be someone young- who will rule for a long time. Someone likable."

"N-no, master, what I meant was... who will come?"

"Who do you think?" Sa'daddin furrowed his brow, "They call themselves the 'Romans'- their Empress thinks herself a Caesar... How long is it before another Trajan comes along to contest us? If I were them, I'd want to drive us out of the Levant... cut us off from the Mediterranean."

The Wali-Malik stroked his beard and inhaled through his nostrils, taking in the salty air of Basra. Unlike his predecessors, he had barely left the capital... not even to raid or conquer as his father had done. Couldn't leave it to his enemies, he always claimed.

In the past, the Qarmatians' enemies were always from afar... not within the capital itself.

"I give it... a hundred years." The old man hummed, "A little more or a little less. It'll be my grandson's burden. They'll go for Egypt or Jerusalem... "

He nodded again and again.

"Yes, yes. That's what I would do. Appeal to the Christians' faith..." Sa'daddin the Wise continued to mumble, "The zealots will march to the Holy Land by foot if they have to... we'll have to be ready. We'll have to be ready."

In his advanced age, the quiet scholar was often heard muttering to himself, until the end of his days.

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Egypt or Jerusalem - but they will end up in Constantinople instead :)
 
I love this AAR
A Muslim merchant republic
Your writing is good enough to not make it seem generic
It has the right amounts of colour and action.

I wonder what will happen when the Crusaders start marching towards your lands!
 
It's a bit of a challenge but I'm glad you're enjoying it! It's my first time really writing something serious like this. The fun-having gamer part of me just wants to play and can't be bothered to document everything.

There's a three-way battle going on between my tendency to powergame, my desire to write a fun story, and the actual storytelling material given to me. I had big plans for Jibril and then he up and dies of dysentery! When I start a new reign, I think about where I want to take the overarching 'story'... but sometimes the game destroys all my carefully laid plans. More recently, that Holy Roman & Byzantine Empire split back up and the HRE is in the middle of a massive civil war so I hope all my prophesying about doom and gloom wasn't all a load of crap.

Sometimes a ruler dies (like Jibril) and their reign was so uneventful that I simply don't know what to write about. After Idris, I picked Sa'daddin as heir for the intrigue education so I could go on a 'housekeeping' spree, murdering all the patricians and faction troublemakers, replacing the tribal retinues, and upgrading the demesne. It wouldn't be too interesting to write about since, well, it was so easy! So I spiced it up by expanding the scope a bit to world events.

My powergamer is dying inside. The Qarmatian State has pretty much reached optimal size for High/Max centralization so I am not going to Jihad any of my juicy vulnerable neighbors. You're not supposed to land any of your dynasty members in a Merchant Republic but I feel bad for all my brothers passed over in inheritance (and I want them to use their gold! I'smail accrued 9k in his lifetime!)

In general, I try to make my gamey decisions coalign with the 'roleplaying' decisions. When Sa'daddin got the nickname 'The Wise', I pivoted more towards him making far-reaching strategic decisions. Sami is groomed, gluttonous, ambitious, and cynical. But he's only got a level 2 diplomacy education... so I think I'll use these traits towards accomplishing my goal of, uh, enlarging my dynasty with as many males as possible. I haven't been playing the breeding game nearly enough.