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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

dublish

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That von Tirol curse is pretty annoying. I think you should invade Tirol and wreck up the place for revenge.
 

J. Passepartout

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You're right, maybe I should avoid schizophrenia. Also truffles, maybe, since all these kids raised on the stuff are having trouble.
 

stnylan

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That sounds like a proper mediaeval death.
 

Farquharson

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Jestor: Did you ever see a CK family that wasn't dysfunctional?? :rolleyes:

jordarkelf: Hmm, it seems that my Hohenstaufens are indeed following in the footsteps of the historical ones. It remains to be seen how long it continues.

Murmurandus: Funny you should say that...

AllmyJames: Well Fulco is out - not sure where he ended up - but so far Hugues is behaving himself. It probably won't last.

dublish: Now THAT is a very good idea, I might just take you up on it. ;)

J.Passepartout: Of course, there may have been a link between the truffles and the auditory hallucinations! :eek:

gabor: OK, I had a quick look - Fulco is actually serving as Hugues' Chancellor in the County of Pavia. Is he going to turn his brother against Adolf? We shall find out in the next epidsode!

stnylan: Absolutely! You won't find any improper deaths in this AAR... :D

Well the next chapter is half-written - should be up sometime tomorrow.
 

Farquharson

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Chapter 7 (1087-92)

Lebensraum

Adolf I Duke of Lombardia had turned out to be a crafty merchant. An excommunicated crafty merchant it has to be said, but at least he was a reasonably capable ruler.


His only vassal, Hugues d'Este Count of Pavia, got on quite well with him, but there was not a single person in his court who liked him. Adolf did not really care. As long as he could do what he wanted, as far as he was concerned they could all just take their petty complaints and bigotry and go and squat in someone's else's court. In fact over the next few years a steady stream of courtiers did just that. It looked as if in the end Duke Adolf would be the only person left in his own court - he found the prospect quite appealing.

There was just one thing bothering him - his wife Alberanda was not producing any children. Adolf put this down to her illness, but even after the Miracle Worker had called on one of her regular visits and healed the Duchess she still did not seem to be able to produce children. Adolf was faced with the horrific prospect of being succeeded by his elder brother Gebhard, who also happened to be his bitter rival.

It was Kunigunde of the Large Nasal Cavity who first noticed the strange smell in the castle during the winter of 1087-88. The kitchens and storerooms were thoroughly searched, revealing several sacks of truffles left over from the time of Adolf's mother Marta who had been dead for eight years. But even after these had been disposed of the odour lingered on. Finally the source was discovered - a yellowed parchment gathering dust in a corner of Adolf's study. His claim on the throne of Germany had gone way past its Crown By Date.


However there was good news later that year when Adolf's remaining sister Emma (the one who had not yet succumbed to the von Tirol Curse) became an Illusive Shadow. Adolf immediately made him his Spy Mistress
then in order to keep her in his court he married her to her sister's widow Marshal Giselbert. It was only after the wedding that he remembered that Giselbert was a von Tirol. Perhaps he wasn't the best choice for a husband for Emma. She did however seem quite good at producing babies…


In December 1089 some interesting news arrived from the County of Tirol on Adolf's eastern border. The present Count was not a von Tirol at all, but Siegfried von Nordheim, younger brother of Heinrich, Duke of Bavaria. The psychotic Count Siegfried found running anything more complex than a hen coop something of a challenge. He had recently made the unwise decision to declare war on his elder brother and liege.


What in fact went wrong was that Duke Adolf grabbed a claim to the Count's title and declared war himself, invading and capturing Tirol long before any of Duke Heinrich's armies got anywhere near. When the crazed Count came grovelling at Adolf's feet gibbering and drooling and offering him all his gold, Adolf decided he was exactly the sort of vassal he needed and let him stay on as Count. It was only afterwards that he realized that when he died the County would pass back to his elder brother Duke Heinrich of Bavaria. Rather annoyingly, if predictably, he died almost immediately. However before he did so, Adolf had proclaimed himself Duke of Tyrol, which was at least some consolation. Within a few months Heinrich had granted the County of Tirol to his son Eberhard.

In June 1091 it was time for Emma the Illusive Shadow to bring a new baby von Tirol into the world. The result was fairly predictable.


By this time her husband Giselbert was no longer around, having been swept along by the tide of discontented courtiers who were leaving Adolf's court. Nevertheless Adolf was furious. Furious with Giselbert von Tirol and all his accursed family. He decided that it was time to wreak vengeance on the von Tirols - but how? It was then that one of the few advisors still remaining in his court suggested a plan. The man's name was von Dublisch.


Adolf: So, the von Tirols have struck again. I want vengeance, von Dublisch, and I want it now! What do you suggest?

von Dublisch: Sire, as I see it there is only one course of action open to you. If you cannot avenge yourself on the family themselves, you can still retake their ancestral lands. They are after all, rightfully yours now, even though that fool Eberhard von Nordheim is currently styling himself Count of Tirol.

Adolf: Hmm. I think you may have something there, von Dublisch. Yes, invade the place and wreck it up - that would make me feel really good!

von Dublisch: Plus it would give you back control of your stolen province.

Adolf: Exactly. Errm, there's just one thing though. Tirol is now part of the Kingdom of Germany. I'll have King Heinrich's hordes descending on me before you can say "lebensraum".

von Dublisch: Ah, that is where the cunning part of the plan comes in, Sire!

Adolf: Oh, I didn't realize it was supposed to be a Cunning Plan! Why didn't you say so, man?

von Dublisch: Sorry Sire. The point is, Duke Heinrich is currently Rebellious. In fact he is the very incarnation of disloyalty. Pretty soon he himself will probably declare war on his liege and have King Heinrich's hordes descending on him.

Adolf: Aha! That is, if not exactly Cunning, at least slightly more sensible than declaring war right away.

von Dublisch: Thank you, Sire.

And sure enough, just as von Dublisch had predicted, the Duke of Bavaria declared war on King Heinrich in the summer of 1091. Duke Adolf immediately declared war on Eberhard the so-called Count of Tirol, liberated the province he had been so provocatively occupying, and forced him to hand it over.

Now there only remained the business of persuading Duke Heinrich to accept this situation. Conveniently, by this time King Heinrich's hordes were massacring what armies he still had left, and it was a trivial matter to invade Kempten, the only province in his personal demesne and put it under siege. Then just when Duke Heinrich's castle fell to the Lombardian army, things took an unexpected turn.


Suddenly Duke Adolf saw a glimpse of the glorious future of the von Hohenstaufens. One Duchy was not enough, nor even two - the Duchy of Bavaria was clearly their rightful property as well. Oh, and look, how fortunate! The current self-styled Duke of Bavaria had just been brought to his knees and was ready to cede anything for peace. The treaty was signed, and Adolf was now Duke of Lombardia, Tirol and Bavaria. Not only that, but two weeks later Heinrich von Nordheim, now reduced to being the Count of Kempten, also accepted to become Adolf's vassal.


Duke Adolf now had no less than seven vassal Counts, all of whom were loyal. This was due to his now enormous prestige and also to the efforts of his Chancellor and sister-in-law, Natalia Guthkeled. Like everyone else in his court, Natalia hated Adolf's guts, but unlike everyone else, Adolf was bribing her to stay.


It was true that Excommunicated Adolf had particular problems with religious fanatics. Luckily none of his vassals were of this persuasion. However, Hugues d"Este Count of Pavia was harbouring his brother Fulco the Few-fingered in his court and Fulco had decided that he was cut out for the Crusades, despite his lack of fingers. By August 1092, he had won Hugues over to the cause as well. Between them, the d'Este boys promised to be a continuing source of trouble for Duke Adolf.
 

stnylan

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Ahh, another edition of Hohenstaufen happy families :)
 

Fookison

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So far, a very interesting AAR. Nice presentation. Especially the subtle humour, it adds to the whole story. Can't wait for the next chapter......
 

J. Passepartout

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Pity about the excommunication, but hey, that gives us license to attack, right?

I love those rebellious German vassals, I had a nice game as madam de Canossa where I was able to parlay that into making myself monarch of Italy.
 

Tommy4ever

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Must hurt being excommunicated. Probably best to seize all your vassals' land and try to wait it out until your ruler dies? I don't know if its possible to be un-excommunicated.
 

dublish

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I made a cameo! :D

Pity that nobody likes you, but who needs friends when you have vassals?
 
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I have to say, this is really good. The last two updates had me laughig out loud several times. :)

I like your wry, dry sense of humor, and also your intelligent creativity in weaving the game-play into a comedy. Taken together, the two make for a cerain winner.
 

Farquharson

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stnylan: The trouble with Adolf's happy family is that he has the Mr and Mrs but he's missing the children... :(

Fookison: Thanks! The next chapter is coming right up.

J.Passepartout: The main problem for Adolf is that his courtiers are all leaving - nothing much you can do about that it seems, especially when the ruler is a fairly unpleasant person to start with. Madam de Canossa is doing not badly in this game too, btw.

Tommy4ever: Actually, Adolf's vassals are not a problem really. He has a good dip rating, a good Chancellor, and nearly 1000 prestige. And yes, there are events that remove excommunication - maybe Adolf will get lucky. ;)

dublish: I love doing cameos, but the trouble with CK is that it's more difficult to introduce "fictitious" characters since there's so many real ones already in the story. I may come up with a few more though.

Enewald: Is that what Guthkeled means? But what exactly does "good gold" mean then? "I'm as good as gold"? "I think gold is a good thing"? "I'm good at getting more gold"? Natalia probably qualifies for all three. :)

The_Guiscard: As I've said before, I think CK is a great game for AARs, especially if you're trying to write comedy. A lot of the humour gets handed to you on a plate! :p

OK, well thanks again for all the posts. Here's what happens next...
 

Farquharson

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Chapter 8 (1092-1101)

Duke Adolf Scratches a Living

Adolf I Duke of Lombardia, Tirol and Bavaria, was stressed. The trouble was that nobody liked him. In general, Adolf was not bothered by this, but with regard to certain people it was a problem. For example there was his Steward and stepmother, Tiburge, without whose skills the income of the realm would plummet. Then there was his Chancellor and sister-in-law, Natália Guthkeled, who ensured that his otherwise troublesome vassals stayed loyal. But most especially there was his Spy Mistress and wife, Alberanda de Hauteville, who had still not produced a son and heir for him. Finally it dawned on Adolf that this might have something to do with the fact that she refused to sleep with him, in case she was consequently damned to hell.

Then in 1093 a Papal Legate arrived in Milan requesting an audience with Duke Adolf. He had come to make him an offer he couldn't refuse: for a mere 2000 gold pieces Adolf could buy penance for his sins and be allowed back into the Church.



Duke Adolf: Two thousand gold pieces!? You have got to be joking!

Papal Legate: I can assure you, His Holiness does not possess a sense of humour.

Duke Adolf: Well I can't afford that much - I'd be paying back debts for years!

Papal Legate: Nevertheless that is the price of your sins, as set by His Holiness.

Duke Adolf: Well, wait a minute - just exactly what are these sins anyway? That's what I've always wondered.

Papal Legate: You murdered your own father.

Duke Adolf: Well, excuse me! My pathetic, deranged father walked of his own volition into a lake in full armour and drowned - it was nothing to do with me.

Papal Legate: Nothing? His Holiness has heard rumour to the contrary.

Duke Adolf: So - two thousand gold pieces for a vicious rumour, is that what you're saying?

Papal Legate: That is precisely the message that I was sent to deliver. You can pay up, or you can go to hell.

Duke Adolf: Yes, well since you put it that way… But what about my piety? Doesn't that count for anything? What about my enormous church donations every month?

Papal Legate: You are paying the absolute minimum, according to our records.

Duke Adolf: That's only because we have Church Supremacy in Lombardia - doesn't that count for anything either?

Papal Legate: And why do you have Church Supremacy?

Duke Adolf: Because my Diocese Bishop forced… er, that is, he advised me to institute it.

Papal Legate: You had no choice.

Duke Adolf: Well, technically no.

Papal Legate: So, you're saying that if you had had a choice…?

Duke Adolf: Listen, isn't there any other alternative?

Papal Legate, with a sigh: Well, there is one. Are you a gambling man, Duke Adolf?

Duke Adolf: Err… from a Papal Legate, that sounds kind of like a trick question.

Papal Legate: No, no, not at all. It's just that His Holiness has recently been experimenting with these…

From a small pouch he pulls out some small cards marked with the papal emblem.

Papal Legate: Papal Scratch Cards!

Duke Adolf, looking at them suspiciously: What's the deal?

Papal Legate: Well you buy them for a fraction of the cost of normal indulgences, then you scratch away this silver bit here, and see what you get.

Duke Adolf: And how much do they cost?

Papal Legate: For murderers, they cost 348 gold pieces each.

Duke Adolf: Hmm… well now you're talking. What are the odds of getting pardoned?

Papal Legate: I'm sorry, I'm not at liberty to say.

Duke Adolf: OK, well I'll take one.

Papal Legate: Certainly Duke Adolf - here, pick a card, any card.

Duke Adolf: I'll take… um - that one… no, no, wait, that one! Now let's see… * scritchy-scritch-scratch * Oh look! It says "It's your Lucky Day! You are no longer excommunicated!" Woo-hoo!

Papal Legate: Congratulations, Duke Adolf! Now perhaps you'd be interested in these Crusader scratch cards - a snip at just 250 gold pieces each. Scratch away the silver to find out what…

Duke Adolf: Er - if it's all the same to you, I think I'll give those ones a miss, thanks.

And so at last, everyone liked Duke Adolf again. Of course he was still selfish, stubborn and cowardly, so most people didn't like him that much, but he now felt he could risk his reputation with a bit of unjustified aggression. Conveniently, just at that moment his neighbour the Governor of Verona got into a furious argument with him. Adolf told him in no uncertain terms what he thought of Republics in general, and the Republic of Verona in particular, and vowed that he would soon turn it back into a Duchy as it should rightfully be.

Of course Adolf's wife Alberanda also liked him a lot better now. So much so that within a few weeks, the couple were expecting a baby. Adolf was overjoyed, convinced that the heir he had been longing for was finally on the way. And in December of 1093 his hopes were finally fulfilled.


Understandably, Adolf's brother Gebhard did not react well to this news. He became depressed and rebellious. What's more, on hearing how Adolf had received his pardon from the Pope via a scratch card, he had also become very skeptical about the doctrines of the Church.


There were a few other people who still hated even the new pardoned Adolf, and there was still a trickle of courtiers leaving his court. Some of them were literally dying to get away.


Soon after this, Adolf noticed that Alberanda was spending a lot of time with his Marshal Alamanno von Glarus, but being the trusting sort, and being convinced that Alberanda really liked him now, he thought it was probably nothing. Sadly for Alberanda, her lover was one of the people who still hated Adolf, and in 1094 he left for Venice. He pleaded with Alberanda to come with him, but, heartbroken, she said she had to stay, for the sake of little Arnulf if for nothing else.

In August of that year Adolf had finally amassed enough wealth to embark on a military expedition to crush the Republic of Verona, and he declared war. The plan was not exactly cunning…


… but it was very successful. Duke Adolf was even joined by a certain Zaccaria Papareschi who came over from the enemy claiming to be the rightful Count of Treviso. Adolf's army made short work of massacring the Governor's army and capturing Treviso. Adolf was made Duke of Verona and Zaccaria was made Count of Treviso.

As eagle-eyed readers may have noticed from the last picture, King Heinrich was having quite a few problems with his vassals. This was mainly because he had a massive prestige deficit - his vassals were rebelling in droves. One of them was Hermanfried Bishop of Valais, on Adolf's western border. Bishop Hermanfried had been a personal friend of Adolf's father Friedrich, which had not stopped him from grabbing a claim on the Bishop's title, a claim now inherited by Adolf. Whether because of the friendship, or because of the claim, one way or the other the Bishop, after declaring war on King Heinrich, then pledged allegiance to Adolf.

Of course having a vassal who happened to be at war with the King didn't seem like much of a long-term investment. By February of 1095 Valais was under siege by King Heinrich's hordes, at which point Bishop Hermanfried agreed to Adolf revoking his title - after all he had nothing to lose. Adolf's realm grew by one more province, his reputation dipped even further, and King Heinrich's hordes went home in disgust.

Later that year a similar scenario was played out with the County of Geneve. This time however the Count was King Heinrich's eight-year-old grandson Albrecht. He refused Duke Adolf's kind offer of vassalization, so Adolf declared war on him. Unfortunately King Heinrich's hordes beat Adolf to it and took the County back for the King, who granted it to one of his courtiers, a certain Ludwig von Arnsberg.

In September 1097 Alamanno von Glarus finally gave up his efforts to persuade Alberanda to leave Adolf and join him in Venice. The two lovers had managed a few clandestine meetings over the past three years, but it was clear that the spark had gone out of the relationship.


A few months later Alberanda and Adolf fell in love with each other, bringing the roller-coaster ride of their eventful marriage full circle. Unfortunately Alberanda was now twenty-nine and it seemed a little late to hope for more heirs for the von Hohenstaufen dynasty, but little Arnulf was doing well.

Adolf's older brother Gebhard meanwhile was not doing so well. He was still depressed, still rebellious and still Adolf's sworn enemy, but now he was also the enemy of the Church. He had been declared a heretic and excommunicated for nailing pieces of paper to church doors about the evils of Papal Scratch Cards.

By 1098 King Heinrich had still not managed to sort out his prestige-deficit problem and the new Count of Geneve, Ludwig von Arnsberg, had declared war on him in his turn. Like his predecessor he declined Duke Adolf's kind offer of vassalization, but unlike young Albrecht, when Adolf declared war and sent a massive army to invade, he immediately offered to cede his title and all his gold. Adolf accepted. Now he owned precisely half of what was considered the Duchy of Savoie. Ownership of one more province, either Savoie or Piedmont, would allow him to add Duke of Savoie to his growing list of titles. But unfortunately, both of these were currently part of the still powerful Duchy of Toscana.

Next it was time for a new century. On 1st January 1100 Adolf celebrated the abundant prosperity of his lands by introducing some incredibly harsh taxes. In one fell swoop the coffers of the realm were swelled by over 2000 gold pieces. Needless to say, a Papal Salesman was round pretty soon with all sorts of tempting scratch card offers, but Adolf turned them all down. Instead he redoubled his efforts to modernize and develop his realm, with libraries, mines, castles and such like. The newly impoverished people of the land had never had it so good.


Adolf's brother Gebhard failed to see the advantages of this new age of prosperity. In fact, it was the straw that broke the camel's back and in October he declared war. As far as Adolf was concerned, this was excellent news. Finally the two brothers could settle their differences once and for all - on the battlefield. It was especially good news because the army that Gebhard managed to raise was so pitiful. While he invaded and looted Lombardia, Adolf quickly took possession of Chur.


And so the brothers' decades long feud finally seemed to be over. Gebhard fled to the court of his second wife's uncle, Ekkehard von Wittelsbach, Count of Niederbayern, while Adolf settled down to nurse his now rather bad reputation.
 

stnylan

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I do love the idea of Papal scratchcards.
 

J. Passepartout

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Those scratch cards are actually a good idea; if God wants your excommunication revoked, he will guide your hand.

I presume Alberade wanted to be buried under the Leaning Tower. Perhaps that's why it leans, because they had to do some tricky digging to get her under there.
 

Jestor

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Papal Scratch Cards are a bargain!