A lot can happen in the first two or three hours in Crusader Kings II. This is a game about people. Yes there are wars and taxes and revolts and all that. But it’s truly a game about people. Mostly rich people with nothing better to do than to stab you in the gut but people all the same.
It’s Scotland in the year 1066 and I am playing as King Malcom III. You can read more about him here.
This is about 250 years before William Wallace does his “freedom” thing.
Malcom starts 1066 in a tricky position. His wife is dead, but he does have two sons: Duncan and Domnell. (Duncan being the Heir and about 10 yrs old). His brother hates him – like REALLY hates him. He’s the “Pretender” so unless I die he’s 2nd fiddle. He’s not a fan of that situation. And while Malcom is “King” in 1066 the vassals pretty much run their own show. I can’t simply tell them what to do. I have “some” realm power – I can demand Realm Levies to assemble in a time of war but a lot of the day to day management of each area is under the thumb of the vassals. In addition, The Pope hates Malcom – and I have to give a lot of my money to Rome. What I want to do is gather enough prestige to assign an Anti Pope so that I can keep my cash. But that’s way down the road.
The first thing I need to do is find a wife…
In 1066 King Harald of Norway is in the middle of his famous invasion of England. Harald is the last of the great Viking Kings and he has a “claim” (according to him) to the throne of England and he’s on campaign to see that he gets it. You can read more about him here:
Harald, in real life, died in 1066 on said campaign. But as of now he’s doing rather well…and he has a daughter. His daughter Ingegerd is gregarious, beautiful, an aspiring falconer (quite high class for a Viking) …and is cruel and mean as a snake. But she’s hot…and I need a wife with strong political ties and I’m rolling the dice hoping Harald doesn’t bite it at Stamford again.
So I send a proposal. In the meantime my spymaster, who is by far my best advisor skill wise, tells me that my brother’s wife, Orabilia de Pitlochy is plotting to kill my oldest son, Duncan. This woman is a real piece of work. She’s fat, hair lipped and has a trait called “Impaler” which means she likes to tear the wings off of flies and burn ants with a magnifying glass. My bro sure can pick ‘em.
She’s arrested immediately. Arresting people is no guarantee – some try to escape and if they get away who knows what they’ll do down the road. You also can’t just arrest people when you want. Well you can but if you uncover a plot there is no prestige loss. You can play as a tyrant if you want but Malcom is trying to be a somewhat just king here. Anyway she’s locked up and six months later would come to me asking for better treatment. I lose the key to the cell. Let the woman rot.
I then hear back that Harald has agreed to let his daughter be the new Princess of Scotland and a year later we’ll have a daughter as a result. I need to keep this woman happy so I send her a gift and try to keep her smiling. No one wants a pissed off Viking Princess bored in Scotland.
About this time I send my admittedly somewhat inept Chancellor to try and fake a claim to the land in the west: Innse Gall. The Duke there is a complete bastard, crueler than my brother and his wife combined and I want that as part of my domain. So my Chancellor is off basically drawing up false documents to try and convince them that the area should be part of Malcom Land. All I can do now is wait to hear back. I don’t have high hopes on this front. I need a better advisor.
As I’m trying to build an infrastructure, I get a “call” of sorts from King Harald. He feels it’s time I honored my alliance with Norway; he’s launching another massive assault in southern England and he wants the Scots to invade northern England. Now you have to remember the England of 1066 isn’t the England of, say, 1466. It’s a tough chore but not impossible to at least keep the north busy while “dad” gallivants in the south.
I immediately raise realm levies and every vassal fields what he can – this is mostly archers, light infantry and light cavalry. Just like Braveheart…we have no heavy horse.
But we have a LOT of guys and so we march south toward Northumberland. English forces are weak due to the Viking invasions and I am left to lay siege to a castle that is nowhere near capacity. Doing this is risky and as a result I lose 15% of my force over the next several months due to illness and disease — in fact I catch a nasty fever and almost die. My brother would be so sad.
As I continue to wait out the army in Northumberland, Harald actually TAKES England! Whoa. Game changer. Northumberland surrenders immediately and Harald assumes the role of “Conqueror”. So now things are looking up. I caught the plot against my son, my father in law just became the de facto ruler of England, I have a new daughter, the people love me after throwing a wild summer fair party after the war, and I finally get a chance to breathe. For about five minutes.
My spymaster shows up again.
My lovely wife was discovered launching a plot to kill my NEWBORN NIECE. And the kicker is that it’s not even the daughter of my crazy hair lip loving brother. It’s my HALF brother, who runs the county of Atholl. What the hell woman? He LIKES ME! The spymaster says I have every right to throw her in jail…but I don’t. I need to think this through. If I jail Harald’s daughter…oh man.
A week later Harald comes calling again and tells me that it’s time to take up arms.
Apparently his son Magnus who he left as regent of Norway while on campaign has taken it upon himself to start something of a revolution to take control of Norway. Now remember in real life Harald dies in England. Well in this universe that didn’t happen. Now Magnus is hoping that it did.
I have no idea what the King wants me to do. I’m not about to launch boats and sail to Norway to fight Vikings on their home soil with a bunch of tired Highlanders.
And Duncan is now 15 and “of age” so I need to grant him some land but I currently don’t have the power to do that unless I want to piss off my vassals.
Oh and I still need to do something with my scheming wife.
Viking princess…what could possibly go wrong?