Well that escalated quickly...
|There are worse ways to go, but few as ignoble.|
The king is dead, long live the king! Except he wasn't a king. He was a Lotharingian Duke, and a pretty rubbish one at that. But he is dead. Very dead, leaving a 1 year old daughter on the throne. Bugger.
Anyone who's played Paradox Interactive's Crusader Kings II will know this is a less than ideal situation. If Europa Universalis is the equivalent of a documentary on foreign politics, then Crusader Kings is a gritty, hyper-violent soap opera where everyone is trying to snatch the reins of power. Sadly for me, the reins aren't that difficult to grab from a toddler.
Let's rewind for a sec. The year is 867, and Duke Primus Dunedain - yes, I've abused the power of the Ruler Creator DLC to combine Stardust and LOTR - has just entered this bloodthirsty version of Europe, full of vim and vigour. He is the Duke of Burgundy in the Kingdom of Lotharingia, right on the border to the Kingdom of Italy. A Grey Eminence, he's got the diplomatic skillz to pay the billz...or so I hope.
Immediately I spot an initial problem; my king dislikes me. More than that, he hates me *gulp*. What have I done to offend him? Frantically I try to figure out the problem, as the last thing I need in an heirless new game is the monarch's displeasure.
Turns out he's just a bit of a racist. I'm of German stock and he, unfortunately, is not. I could convert to his culture, but then I'd take a massive hit to my prestige, presumably because I'd be seen as an ass-kissing idiot by my subjects.
Turning my attention to marriage, I discover that despite Primus being a Duke there aren't many eligible ladies on CKII's version of Tinder. The sooner he gets hitched and starts churning out potential heirs the better really, but thankfully I manage to spot a Princess, Hildegard Karling, lurking in the list. She's related to a king, so there's a handy prestige bonus for marrying her. Somewhat to my dismay - and, presumably, Primus's, - she actively dislikes her new husband, despite having only just met him. He just can't catch a break.
|Let the baby-making fun commence!|
With a gnawing feeling at the back of my mind telling me that this isn't the greatest way to start a game, I tentatively suggest that Primus go on a hunt to earn some prestige.
A stag's been sighted! Should I let the bold Duke run gaily after it, hoping to earn praise in the eyes of his retainers, with only the slight risk of being maimed? Blithely, I select this option.
Duke Primus has gained the 'maimed' trait. Bloody hell.
I imagine him chasing down the stag on his horse, hair flying in the wind, before shooting himself in the leg with an arrow and landing on his spear point first, much to the amusement of those around him.
|I mean, c'mon, what are the odds?|
Now an ailing cripple, it seems old Primus still has a bit of life left in him yet, as not long afterward Princess Hildegard gets pregnant. Shortly after that, out pops his only daughter, and heir, Eowyn - surely, I desperately think, with a name like that things can only improve.
Job done, Duke Primus Dunedain promptly pops his clogs at the venerable age of 31.
Options for toddlers are understandably limited in Crusader Kings; in other words, I make prodigious use of the fast-forward button.
Deciding that the only way for Eowyn to survive is to make her as deceitful and tricksy as possible, her Spymaster becomes her tutor when she reaches 5 years of age. Unfortunately for her subjects, she also gains the 'cruel' and 'arbitrary' traits. I suppose King Joffrey wasn't all that bad a ruler, right?
The Kingdom of Lotharingia has a couple of civil wars, one of which Eowyn declines to join on the rebel side, reasoning that pissing off a powerful king probably isn't in her best interests. She doesn't even get invited to the other one, which is just downright rude in my opinion.
Age 15, and Eowyn gains the moniker 'the Younger' - apparently she's been ruling long enough as a child to earn a nickname, which is more than her father ever did. Only one year to go until Crusader King's version of adulthood rears its ugly head; badly-timed wars, aggravating assassinations and, most importantly of all, boys.
They grow up so fast, don't they?
Stay tuned for Part 2, where it remains to be seen whether the Dunedain dynasty will find a quick and ignoble end in the dustbin of the fictional European family tree.