Notes about the game:
This is a narrative LP of an Ironman Crusader Kings game I'll be playing. Ironman means no loading back from a previous save. If you are unfamiliar with Crusader Kings II, it is basically a medieval political simulator. Like, more in depth than you could possibly imagine. Feel free to post suggestions, thoughts, and advice here. I will summarize with a narration every 5-10 years, or sooner if things of import occur. I should note that this starting character is randomly generated, but I also re-rolled quite a bit to get him.
It was a cold winter.
The first day of the new year on the Roman calendar... but Rome was gone, or at least the Rome that everyone knew. Some Empire it was. As far as the Norse were concerned, there was no Empire. Never this far north in Scandinavia. Thorsteinn Hede
of Heidmark never gave much thought about Empires. His people were warriors but never conquerors. They've been fighting for as long as history can remember and that wasn't likely to change. It was the Norse way, the viking way.
Heidmark was an ancient place, the Hede's ancestral home, land-locked in the heart of Scandinavian peninsula. Vikings had talked for a long time about uniting the tribes, forming a kingdom like Pepin the short on the mainland. Half the tribal chiefs had such lofty ambitions, but there were only two worth mentioning.
They already called themselves kings, old Haraldr Wartooth of Zealand and Sigurdr Ring of Swedeland - the so called dragon slayer.
In a year, Thorsteinn would see his thirtieth winter with nothing to show for it. No one speaks about Thorsteinn's father or mother, no one tells of any great saga about the House af Hede. Thorsteinn paid his respects to Odin the allfather. He was nothing if not zealous in his convictions. Too long had he enjoyed the pleasures of flesh, cavorting gregariously with his subjects and pursuing his lustful desires... Thorsteinn was wroth, most of all with himself, for having grown so old and done so little.
He would become a king, not a petty king like Wartooth and Ring but over all the Vikings. This was the worst winter storm in memory... but it was a sign from Odin. He would be a conqueror.
In January of 769, Thorsteinn Hede of Heidmark embarked upon his quest to become a king of kings. He sent out a hundred letters to a hundred men and women, calling to join him at his court. Yet before any of them arrived, he met with the men of his tribe, his blood-brothers. Gudrødr was his standard-bearer, an exemplary warrior. His Hirdmen, his bloodbrothers- Gandalfr, Oysteinn, Kjartan, and Sigurdr. Gandalfr would go to speak with Sigurdr Ring and speaking soothing words as best he could. The King of the Swedes was not an enemy Thorsteinn wished to have. Not yet.
The rest would build up support in Heidmark, gather fighting men to his cause. Surrounding Heidmark were five chiefs, none of them were worth mentioning save Eystein Halfdansson of House Yngling. Thorsteinn himself gathered up his army and marched first upon Vermaland. Its chief, Haukr Vanso was trusting and cowardly, unfit to rule the people there.
By the 20th of February, Thorsteinn swept aside Haukr's army and began to pillage the lands. His men's reward for their victory. They captured Chief Haukr's club-footed wife. Ill-fitting for a concubine, but the chief would pay nicely for her return. By spring, Vermaland was Thosteinn's.
When he returned to his family home of Hamerhus, sixteen courtiers had answered his call. Mostly women, young lasses who found themselves enthralled with the man who was once a lusty socialite. The men were Weybrecht the Saxon, Occo the Frisian, Arnbjorn the dwarf, and Ailu the heretical follower of Suomenusko. Another named Thorsteinn joined him- a simpleton whom many seemed to discount for his lack of intellect. He was surprisingly cunning in the realm of court intrigue. An unconventional group to surround himself with, but they would be his first and most loyal followers. They may have been mistreated in their old courts, but Thorsteinn welcomed them. He took for three wives Gyrid and Mechthild, two lusty girls of sixteen, and the priestess Kraka, who was strong and fecund.
He spent a night with each of them before departing again to wage war on Chief Ulfr of Naumadal. He would not pillage his lands, tempting as it was. The Temple of Maere was a holy site to the Norse, and Thorsteinn was a man of his gods.
On the campaign, Thorsteinn was starting to fear that perhaps he was overstepping his bounds. Sigurdr Ring of the Swedes had conquered Vestergautland, doubling his territory... Moreover, he dreamed of the many men he would make bitter enemies of in the wars to come. Thorsteinn grew paranoid, unable to sleep without his guards close by. He conquered Naumadal by march of the following year, setting his sights upon Oppland, ruled by Eystein Halfdansson of House Yngling. A regrettable enemy, but too dangerous to leave unattended. Eystein was a talented commander like Thorsteinn, but did not have the latter's zeal and conviction. The terrain favored his enemies, but Thorsteinn did not balk. Numbers were on his side.
On the third day of battle, word had come from Hamerhus. His wife was heavy with child. The one night they spent together was sufficient, it seemed. Good then. Eystein's army was scattered and his lands pillaged. He fled to the court of chief Sigtrygg of Herjadal. That made things simple. In August, the army of Heidmark marched east and removed Sigtrygg from the lands of his forefathers.
By November, Kraka had given birth to a sicky girl. She was named Karin and she would be strong like her mother. Zaeland's king Haraldr Wartooth died at the age of 80, old and infirm. An ill-fitting death for such a hero. His sons declared war on Sigurdr Ring, catching Austergautland between them both. Better his enemies fight amongst themselves than set their sights on Heidmark. Thorsteinn marched on Nidaros with a burden lifted from his shoulders.
Thorsteinn's name was starting to spread far and wide. In October of 771, he had called for a great army of adventurers, of true Norse sons. He declared his intention to take the lands of Hordaland, Halogoland, and Alfheimr. He made Mechthild
first among his wives. Kraka had fallen out of favor... she was the first to bear him a child, but Mechthild... was cunning and a had a way with words. Thorsteinn made her a true chieftess and later that year she bore him a daughter, Saga. Sigurdr would take the adventurers south, while Thorsteinn would take Hordaland himself.
By December, word had reached Thorsteinn's ears that there was a plot to kill little Saga. By tribal law, she was not entitled to any of his conquests and was not yet even a year old. He grit his teeth and fumed aloud the horrors he would inflict upon whoever would dare to hurt his little Saga. Mechthild suggested the girl be put into hiding, but Thorsteinn did not hide from his enemies. No child of his, son or daughter, would be sequestered from the rest of the world. To the south, Sigurdr Ring of Swedeland absorbed Austergautland into his territory, consolidating his power in the Scandinavian peninsula.
Hirdman Oysteinn grew sick and died. A sad day- he was one of the original men to join him on this conquest. The simpleton named Thorsteinn took his place, being the most loyal of his first courtiers. The conquests north continued...
In April, at long last, Mechthild gave Chief Thorsteinn a son named Bragi. Yet the Priest Sigurdr privately expressed some concerns about the auspices surrounding the boy's birth- the gods deemed it so to make the boy simple.
Thorsteinn was campaigning in Halogoland when word arrived. He was still young, and his wife Mechthild younger yet. There would be more sons, Frey willing. He had done everything he could to serve the gods, and this is how they repaid him...
It has been five years since Thorsteinn first set out to conquer the world as he knew it. He still called himself chief instead of king, yet Heidmark was now at the heart of fifteen tribes, rivaling Swedeland's eighteen and surpassing Zaeland's thirteen. The two were still locked in a bitter war, both of them weak and ripe.
Notes: Haraldr Wartooth
, and Sigurdr Ring
, Eystein Halfdansson
are historical figures represented in the game. Sigurdr Ring is also the father of Ragnarr Lobrok, the main character of the TV show Vikings. The little tyke is 7 years old at the moment in this game.
Who would try to kill a newborn girl that cannot even inherit anything!? None of my wives are envious, and I don't have any lunatics in my court.