[C3C] Celts - Emperor - Random Tech


Oct 2, 2021
70 AD

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Learn Feudalism against my will. It causes an explosive growth in Celtic bureaucracy. A pyramid of overlapping, hierarchical government agencies spring up, and consequently mandate that all swordsmen wear armor at all times. I point out that this armor offers no protection, but regulators claim that it will prevent them from traveling at unsafe velocities. Despite being King, for once I'm unable to get my way, but I manage to insert a "grandfather" clause to protect - or not protect - my existing... 41,000 Gallic Swordsmen.

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Troops continue to advance towards Pamplona. Isabella panics and offers me 19 GPT for peace. I tell her to give me a few decades to think about it.
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I promise Ronan that if the Mayans besiege Tulum, I'll send a relief force, but it could take a while to get there, so he should try to muster some of the locals.

(Meta: I have never understood why, when you get a city in a peace treaty, all of the inhabitants are your nationality. My best guess is to give players a fair shot, because if culture flips were turned on, these cities would flip back virtually instantaneously and therefore be worthless - or in the case of Tulum, more worthless. Also wonder if gifted cities have the same one turn grace period against flips. In my experience they do.)
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On the Jaen front, the border patrol is doubled, and I mull a catapult-less assault on that city, but since my troops would probably accidentally destroy the town, I decide against it.


Oct 2, 2021
90 AD

The Celtic army finally arrives at the gates of Pamplona.

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In the south, we decide to source a horse resource, of course. Already have 3 but want to keep it from the Chinese, though they have another next to Beijing.

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110 AD

The world holds its breath as the battle of Pamplona begins. While my army is mighty and without peer, Isabella's troops have had over a century to prepare for the assault.
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Somehow, this was not enough time for the Spaniards to manage to construct walls around the city, and my catapults wreak havoc on the defenders - surprisingly only two companies of ill-trained spearmen!

Historians debate the cause of this unexpectedly light resistance - a tactical withdrawal from a doomed city? The "lost generation" of Spanish troops buried in unmarked graves in the grassy fields outside Danny's Pirate Party? Sheer ineptitude?

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Whatever the case, my Gallic Swordsmen rush into the city without suffering any losses, and raise the Black Shamrock over the citadel.


I immediately contact Isabella and, in exchange for peace, demand her entire treasury of 120 gold, and the towns of Santander and Jaen. She also sends a portrait of herself, the provocative nature of which, I feel, bodes well for an improvement in our future diplomatic Relations.

Santander is a tundra city surrounded by the Japanese, but provides another source of silk. I send another recalcitrant commander, Taran, to govern it.
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Oct 2, 2021
130 AD

The Dark Ages begin, defined by nobody learning technologies for us to get for free, and no wars.

I now know how Alexander the Great felt when he ran out of places to conquer that were not geographical nightmares. Set my sight on Piedras Negras because it will give us control of the inland sea, and the Mayan Iron, though they're too lazy to even clean up lava let alone hook it up.
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Have 15 turns left on our peace treaty, which I guess will give us time to build a road there and another city where that Spanish archer better not be still standing.

150 AD

Out of anything useful to build in Entremont, I figure I might give Sun Tzu's a try.
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Empire's got great size. Looks thick. Solid. Tight. I'll keep everybody posted on my continued progress with any new progress pics or vid clips. I'll show you what I got man. Wanna see how freakn' huge, solid, thick and tight it can get. Thanks for the motivation.
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Spend a few gold to nominally defend Tulum and Santander so Ronan and Taran stop sending me whiny missives.
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170 AD

Golden age ends. Now the Dark Ages are even darker. (Fact check: Gold does not emit light, but it is shiny, so can reflect it)

190 AD

Found Rutubega and Isengard on the Spanish frontier.
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210 AD

Found Glevum aka Horse Thief City. The dopey Chinese don't notice and continue to build a road for me.
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Found Mountgunticum in the middle of the former marsh. If I told you what that name meant in English, I would be banned for life from these forums.

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230 AD

Found Axolotl on the inland sea.
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250 AD

The Spanish get Sun Tzu's. We get a Colosseum.

270 AD

Nothing happens

290 AD

I notice we founded Segusio up by Zaragoza in about 150 AD. Sounds suspiciously Spanish, but I'll allow it.

Found Diva as a way to resupply Glevum once we get the border expands.

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Mayans mucking about in "our" marshlands, but they don't have a settler with them. Guess they finally hooked up their iron, or have another source.


Oct 2, 2021
260 AD

Apparently turns have begun occuring every ten years, so nothing has been happening at twice the rate I've been informing readers of this thread. I regret this oversight.

Gilgamesh learns Monotheism, and will trade it for Literature, Feudalism and 4 GPT, but I patiently explain to him that this is not how technology trading works. Money is supposed to flow into Celtic coffers, not the other way around. Sell him Literature for 25 gold instead.

280 AD

Ragnar is broke and wants to renegotiate our Silks deal. I'm sympathetic, but 0 GPT isn't going to work for us. We sell to Mao instead for 25 gold and 12 GPT. Chinese sales of our fabrics are initially poor. We discover this is due to our slogan, "Celtic Silks - Feels Like You're Wearing Air" being clunkily translated as "Irish Clothing Product For Becoming Nude and Windy." Our subsequent, wordless, advertising campaign is more successful:



Sell Literature to the Hittites for 45 Gold.

295 AD

(Historical Recreation)

A Viking longboat drops off troops on the Chinese coast.

Mao: Ragnar, your %INSULTING_ADJECTIVE %DEROGATORY_REFERENCE_TO_SOLDIERS have been sighted near %CITY_NAME! Remove them at once!

Ragnar: How?

Mao: Why don't you put them back on the boat that dropped them off?

Ragnar: I don't know how to do that.

Mao: Fine, then they'll just teleport to the nearest unclaimed land.

Ragnar: I don't like doing that for some reason.

Mao: You realize your pathetic landing force has no chance of taking that town, because unlike a human adversary, I've garrisoned all my cities according to their value to me, without regard for their likelihood of being attacked?


300 AD

A horde of Scandinavian horse archers prance onto the steppes by Alesia, apparently planning to ride through my territory to attack the Chinese.


Meanwhile, thousands of heavily armored Chinese foot soldiers heft their battleaxes and trudge northwards to meet them, also without bothering to ask for permission.


Not going to have the Celtic countryside used as a battlefield. Holding my breath because the bulk of my troops are down by Piedras Negras. I order both Ragnar and Mao to get out - Ragnar first, because horsemen on plains are easier to kill. Both grudgingly withdraw their troops. This procedure is repeated every ten years, with the two forces growing ever larger and more threatening.

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305 AD

Fed up with the cesspool his coastal resort towns have become, Mursilis institutes a crackdown on vice.



This leads to both Barfind and Gilgamesh spending several days in a Hittite jail until their identities can be confirmed.

Booking officer: Name?

Gilgamesh: Greetings officer! I implore you to listen to me and believe that I am Gilgamesh, the great king of Sumeria. I am no ordinary man, but a demigod born to a goddess and a mortal man.

I have accomplished many great feats that only a being of my divine nature could achieve. I built the Numunburra of the House of Enlil, a magnificent temple that stands as a testament to my power and wisdom. I killed the monstrous Humbaba, a task that no mortal man could accomplish, and brought back the sacred cedar wood from the distant land of Lebanon.

I have also undertaken a perilous journey to the underworld and returned victorious, gaining knowledge and wisdom beyond mortal comprehension. And who can forget my valiant struggle against the great Bull of Heaven, a fierce beast that threatened the safety of all mankind?

My deeds are inscribed in the annals of history and my legend has been passed down through generations. I am Gilgamesh, the king of kings, and my name should command respect and admiration.

Officer (shaking his head): Get him some pants and put him in the drunk tank with the rest of them. And who are you supposed to be?

Barfind: ... the Grand Admiral of the Ocean Sea?

While Barfind is used to this sort of treatment, Gilgamesh is not, and, upon his release, declares war on the Hittites, allying a strange nation called "the Netherlands" to his cause, however based on the similarity of this country's name to "nether regions," I suspect my men are playing another prank on the Foreign Advisor, who still hasn't noticed that they replaced his headdress with a waffle.
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Oct 2, 2021
320 AD

Science Advisor: We have learned Monotheism.

Brennus: And?

SA: Now you can build cathedrals.

Brennus: Usually I don't, but being Religious and not having many luxuries, I might throw up one or two.

SA: Okay.

Brennus: Hang on. If Monotheism is the worship of one god, and Polytheism is the worship of many gods, what were my people worshipping before we learned that?

SA: Erm... nothing.

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Brennus: So what were they doing in those temples?

SA: We are a backwards people.

Brennus: Since temples are always destroyed when cities are captured, every nation must have a different faith. I used to assume they worshipped their leaders, which makes sense, since I'm 4,320 years old and virtually immortal, but if this was the case, there would be no riots or war weariness. I mean if a god ordered his followers to smite the unbelievers, would they refuse unless they had enough Marketplaces and Luxury goods? Besides, if I were an actual deity, I could just level cities with fire and brimstone instead of having to order my troops to do it by hand.

Lately I've been considering the possibility that this world is actually a computer simulation controlled by an omniscient, omnipotent being.

SA: In that case, wouldn't the original programmers of the simulation be the actual deities?


Brennus: Perhaps, but what if they've abandoned this world and gone on to create other more complex simulations? In other words, what if the gods are dead?

SA: We must increase science spending.


We build Lezoux 200 miles north of Piedras Negras. War is coming.

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Oct 2, 2021
330 AD

After Lezoux is built, some of the Mayan citizenry and soldiers ignore the consequent shift of the borders and blithely linger on our lands, despite posted signs urging the contrary.

Understanding that not every nation is as literate as ours, I decide that a simple, color-coded demarcation will be more helpful, and supply my troops with green paint.

They enthusiastically begin recoloring everything on our side of the border.



Perhaps a bit too enthusiastically.





The Mayan populace is outraged, and demands that Smoke Jaguar declares war.

Me: You can't prove it was us. Plenty of nations are green. Like, um... the Aztecs.

Me: Oh.
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Oct 2, 2021
340 AD

Trade the Japanese Currency (the tech not the money) for two workers, who, based on the reports I'm getting from Santander, are probably glad to come work for me.

A little worried about future historians judging me harshly for starting a war with the Mayans when we're simultaneously invaded each turn by thousands of Vikings and Chinamen, so I decide to give an informal, impromptu speech on the steps of the Great Library.

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"People of... Celtic People! As your kingly monarch, I bear the responsibilty of bringing you some really grave tidings. In a completely unprovoked act of aggression, thousands of Mayan warriors, swordsmen, and limp-wristed javelin flingers descended from the mountains onto the innocent Celtic town of Tulum in the middle of the night..."
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"Although 2,000 brave villagers - not all Mayans are bad - gave their lives attempting to protect him, the governor, Taran, was captured. Then in an atrocious act of atrocity, these savages tore out his still-beating heart and showed it to him while it was still beating. Then they threw him into a volcano. Then they *ate* the heart. Raw! Then they heartlessly defecated into the volcano, right into the gaping chest cavity of Taran's blazing, but still-alive corpse where his heart would have been."

"I must remind you that as a missionary who devoted his life to helping impoverished Mayan youths, Taran would probably want you to you show mercy to their bloodthirsty, murderous parents who are too busy cannibalizing and human sacrificing to take proper care of their children, rather than rashly storming off in angry mobs to... REMEMBER TULUM!"
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"Yes, it is quite catchy, and indeed we must REMEMBER TULUM, but really now, must we REMEMBER TULUM in such a warlike manner?"

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My futile cries for peace unheeded, I shrug and descend from the podium to discover...

"The ghost of Taran!" I cry. While he does look rather pale, I admit this is largely for the sake of the few remaining audience members that hadn't already vengefully dispersed.

"I'm Ronan, your majesty. Taran is the governor of Santander."

I'm a bit taken aback by this, as Taran and Tulum both start with the letter T, and this alliteration was how I was keeping the two of them straight - or thought I was - but after a few minutes he's able to convince me of his identity.

"But what are you doing here in Entremont?"

"I came to ask you for gold to rush Walls."

Sigh. Hate throwing good money after bad, but I reluctantly agree.

"Now get back to Tulum before anyone else sees that you haven't died a grisly but highly inspirational death. Yet."

My army advances to the gates of Piedras Negras, pausing to repaint a few green-tinted companies of Mayan skirmishers blood-red.
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Oct 2, 2021
345 AD

The people are so pleased by my leadership in the face of the fictitious Mayan atrocities in Tulum that they award me my first palace expansion.

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I will be living in a cave for a bit longer, however, as the first thing I do is mow the lawn. After 4345 years, it really needed it.

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350 AD

Piedras Negras is defended by 1,000 each of Spearmen, Javelin Throwers, and Swordsmen. Two thousand Javeliners defend a volcano that I assume has some barbarous significance to their people. Another thousand Spearmen and thousand Javelinos choose to defend a sacred lava puddle. More Mayans outside of the city than inside. And they call us Religious - these are truly a pious people! I order them to be slaughtered to the last.
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My army is more than up to the task. It consists of 2,000 Archers, 140 Catapults, 10,000 Gallic Swordsmen, 2,000 Horsemen, and 5,000 Medieval Infantry. An extension of the Great Wall envelops the city, but in this district, it is no more than a wooden palisade and my catapults make short work of it. The defenders are massacred with no losses. The surviving citizens are retrained as accountants. Perhaps a little starvation will help them account for the foreshadowed war crimes of their countrymen.
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Speaking of Tulum, it seems that rather than return to the city, Ronan has absconded with my Wall money, thereby squandering the golden opportunity I afforded him of being remembered as a heroic martyr.
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Oct 2, 2021
355 AD

Taran the Treacherous! The Traitor of Tulum! I revoke his hagiography, and put a hefty bounty on his head.
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A little worried how the people will take the news, but they apparently like nothing more than losing cities - even the same one twice.
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I accidentally choose a tasteful European decor for the first floor of my palace, then change my mind and decide to go garishly Greco-Roman, but it's too late to renovate.
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We learn Engineering after... well so many years that I'm not going to bother to check.

360 AD

Send the bulk of my army racing over our newly built bridges towards the Scandinavian border. Catapults will stop in barracks towns to be upgraded by unemployed ferryboat pilots.

365 AD

Another palace expand even though we didn't lose any cities! I add some stairs so I can finally get back inside.

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(Meta: The real deal with Tulum is that I forgot about it, and rushed the walls a turn too late. Then I realized it would probably be better to gift the city to another civ: Felt like abandoning it would just let them replant and would deny my two warriors either the joy of defending a hill city, or a teleportation ride home. However I petulantly clung to the city in part because I'd already paid the Wall gold. In my defense, my combat record was like 26-1 at this point, and I figured I might be able to hold out at least one more turn and/or take a bunch of them down with me. I think they killed one javelin thrower. Consoled myself with the thought that I've disbanded more units than all the AIs together have killed.)
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Oct 2, 2021
370 AD
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At a small desert outpost 200 miles northwest of Alesia, Cuan, a fresh recruit to the Celtic Border Patrol, watches the horizon through a telescope. Since Astronomy hasn't been invented yet, this telescope has no lenses and is simply a metal tube, but it at least keeps the swirling sand out of one of his eyes.

And suddenly, there's a lot of sand. More than he's ever seen in his six months of service out here.

"Sergeant!" he calls urgently.

Conri, a grizzled old veteran, lays his hand on Cuan's shoulder.

"That would be the Vikings, son. They come through this way every ten years."

The first horseman gallops by, then another. And another.

"What should we do?" Cuan asks.

"There's nothing we can do - unless you want to try and stop them."

Cuan doesn't answer, just stands transfixed as the next 15,997 horsemen cross the border.

"Next will be the foot soldiers," predicts Conri.

Sure enough, several thousand Scandinavian spearmen, archers, and warriors march by their post, not acknowledging them with so much as an "eyes right".

As the last company passes, a Celtic messenger on horseback arrives. He hands a parchment to Conri, who takes a quick glance at it, then strides briskly out of the guard shack.

Cuan watches his comrade boldly approach a towering Viking captain, who ignores him utterly until Conri pokes his horned helmet off with the rolled parchment.

"What is the meaning of this insolent outrage?!" shouts the Viking, brandishing his battle axe, ready to cleave the old man in two.

Conri calmly unrolls the parchment and begins to read.

"By Royal Decree of King Brennus the Mighty..."

The Viking captain pauses with his axe held overhead.

"...Scourge of the Mayans, Master of the Inland Sea, Steward of the Great Library. All Scandinavian scum, scoundrels, and scalawags, not being in possession of a Right of Passage, are hereby ordered to depart Celtic lands or be utterly deprived of life, limb, and liberty, not necessarily in that order."

The Viking lowers his axe. A drop of sweat, and not one induced by the scorching sun, trickles down his forehead as he thinks.

"We're just on our way to fight the Chinese," he explains.

Conri shrugs, hands the man his helmet and the parchment, and begins walking back to the guard shack.

"About face," roars the Viking, and while an astonished Cuan watches, this command is passed down the line and soon the whole horde is reversing its course and retreating back to the Scandinavian side of the border.

"Never fails," scoffs Conri, spitting into the sand. "Every time they run home with their tails between their legs."

"But what if they didn't go home?" asks Cuan. "What if they Declared War?"

Conri considers this. "There's three, four thousand men in Alesia, and they could get a few thousand more from the surrounding cities. But if that city fell, the Vikings could use our roads to ride to Entremont, which if it had been stripped of its garrison to reinforce Alesia, well... maybe you'll find out in ten years, kid."


"I've sent them packing seven times. That's seventy years I've been out here in the desert. It's your turn. I'm going home to Granny Chicken's Pigs. Got a good gig as a security guard on that Forbidden Palace construction project. Besides, it's time to start thinking about settling down and starting a family."
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Oct 2, 2021
380 AD

The climate was a bit snowy for Governor Taran's liking, but his Japanese subjects were a friendly, if backwards, people. And their food was amazing. It was obvious they took the culinary arts seriously - the one time he'd met Tokugawa, the man had been wearing a chocolate cake for a crown. Over the years he had lost the Disdain for their Culture that many of his fellow Celts felt, and had adopted the native dress, fondness for desserts, and many other customs.

Am I turning Japanese? he wondered as his servants pulled his toboggan to the teahouse for his weekly Origami class. He really didn't think so, but there was no question that life in the former Spanish colony of Santander wasn't as bad as he had expected.

A ninja was strolling in the opposite direction along the roadless tundra. This was not in itself alarming nor particularly uncommon, as Samurais had not been invented yet, so Ninja was the fourth most popular career for Japanese men after Pastry Chef, Sumo Wrestler, and Ski Instructor.

But this ninja caught Taran's eye. For one thing, he was slightly taller than the average Japanese, almost Scandinavian in height. For another, a tuft of red hair protruded from the neck of his mask. Perhaps most unusually, he was not wearing a shirt.

As the ninja approached the official toboggan, he drew his sword.

That didn't look like a katana, Taran thought. It was the last thought he ever had as a living man.


"What do you mean, 'it's not the guy'?!"

Brennus squinted at the severed head Ultan held up. It had preserved remarkably well considering its journey from Japan, but had long since thawed and was now dripping onto the tasteful European carpet in the first (and only) floor of his palace.

"I beg your pardon, majesty, but there can be no question. This is Taran."


"Taran the Treacherous," Ultan prompted, "The Traitor of Tulum?"

Brennus furrowed his brow and opened his mouth slightly as he thought, unconsciously mimicking the expression of the head.

Suddenly he leapt from his throne.

"I remember now!" he roared.

Ultan flinched. Only a little, but it was the first and last time in recorded history a barbarian-ninja-assassin has ever done that.

"It's Ronan the Republican!" shouted Brennus. "Taran the Tree Bucket."


"I knew there was some alliteration. Ronan was the one who used to pester me about Corruption and then ironically embezzled my Wall money. This is Taran. He kept pronouncing Trebuchet wrong and then when I called him out on it, he pretended he was doing it on purpose to be funny. Well, he wasn't the Tulum fellow, but I suppose he deserved it nonetheless."

Ultan hesitated.

"Don't look so glum. We all make mistakes, my lad, even the king... Oh ho, you want to be paid for yours, is that it?"

"It was a bit of trouble cutting out his heart and then finding an active volcano to throw it into. And... doing that other thing you wanted me to do."

"Should call you Ultan the Usurer. In lieu of currency, you wouldn't be interested in a job as governor of... no, no, I'd better get someone like Samhain or Sechnal so something like this doesn't happen again. Go ahead - get it? - and take that thing to my Economic Advisor. He'll see that you're properly reimbursed.
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Oct 2, 2021
390 AD

Smoke Jaguar: We'd like to discuss peace terms.

Me: Hang on one second.

Me:(Plops down Durocartorum just inside their border.)
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Me: Okay, I'm ready.

They will give us 115 gold and 6 GPT. Won't part with Chivalry but it's fine. Knights Templar is an overrated wonder.

395 AD

Learn Chivalry. Switch to Knights Templar in Entremont on the interturn.

400 AD

The Barfinder reaches German waters. About time, I was getting worried that the entire coast of the continent was settled by either the Sumerians or Hittites.

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Admiral Barfind, glad to be out of the puritanical oversight of "Mursilis the Moral" finds the country quite to his liking.




However, his reputation must have preceded him as I'm quickly contacted by an Annoyed Chancellor Von Bismarck.

Reassure him that the Barfinder is a peaceful vessel of exploration and not a "floating brothel". Explain that the Sumerian women aboard are being rescued, not "trafficked". Apologize for what Barfind was caught doing with the Statue of Zeus.


Me: He probably was just curious about how it works. By the way, have you ever tried putting in other luxuries besides Ivory?

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Me: I'm just saying, not everyone wants an Ancient Cavalryman. Maybe you could get an Ancient Cavalrywoman. Except not ancient. Just a regular woman. But hot..Wouldn't even need her to be a Veteran. Not sure what you would do with the horse, though, unless you were into...

Me: ...Yes, yes, fine. You have my word that they'll depart German waters as soon as you let them out of the Hannover jail. Goodbye.

Exhausted by this conversation. I've never met someone so Aggressive - figures that he hasn't learned Chivalry yet. I order one of my advisors to paint me the latest power graph. That always cheers me up.

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Stone \ Cold / Fish
May 19, 2009
Inside my skull
Artfiles can be swapped out midgame, yes.


Oct 2, 2021
410 AD

Cuan reclined with his feet on his desk and hands folded behind his head. Meanwhile, his underlings frantically counted passing Scandinavians through the swirling dust. Rank had its privileges, thought the commander of the Celtic Border Patrol - Alesian Detachment.

"18,000 Horsemen, sir," his lieutenant reported. "Their foot soldiers are preparing to cross the border..."

However, one had already crossed - suddenly a grizzled, ferocious-looking Viking began pounding maniacally on the window while hooting like an ape.

The Celtic soldiers leapt back in alarm, jostling the lieutenant and sending him sprawling onto the ground, scattering papers filled with tally marks. Cuan recognized the Viking - it was the same man who'd had his helmet knocked off by his old commander Conri some forty years ago!

"Somebody let him in before he breaks the glass," Cuan said dryly.

"This place is looking pretty fancy these days," remarked the Viking as he strolled inside. He looked largely the same, though his beard was a bit grayer. "I remember when it was just two of you and a tent."

Cuan rose to shake his hand.

"See you got promoted to colonel," he said, pointing out the dead sparrow pinned to the Viking's tunic. "Congratulations, Gunnar,"

"Full bird," Gunnar replied proudly.

"Have a seat. The messenger isn't here yet. Probably had a hard time finding a horse that hasn't been turned into a Knight."


Cuan sometimes forgot the Scandinavians didn't have iron. "They're like Medieval Infantry, Pikemen, and Horsemen rolled into one," he explained.

"King Brennus is always going on about how great they are and the Economic Adviser says maybe that means they could disband some older units and not, you know, pay 47 gold per turn in support costs anymore. So Brennus pitches him out the window. Now he's always doing that, but he forgets that the palace was just expanded again, and now they're on the second floor. Broke both of his legs."

All present had a good chuckle, as the defenestration of economists is the sort of humor that every culture can appreciate.

"How's Ragnar? Crazy as ever?" Cuan asked.

A troubled expression crossed Gunnar's face for a moment, but it quickly passed.

"Ahh, he's got this wild notion of having us attack cities directly from ships."

"That actually sounds like a good idea."

"It might be - if it worked. Just spent the last few months in Trondheim practicing - most of it underwater. We nail these long boards to the rails of the ship, and then we have to run across them and jump onto the city walls. Only if you don't run fast enough - kerplunk! Meanwhile, Ragnar stands on the ramparts and yells at us, 'Faster! Crazier! Berserker!' Like to see his fat arse get on one of those rickety things."

Just then the messenger entered and handed Cuan the parchment. Gunnar looked strangely concerned, he thought.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to bop you in the head with it."

Gunnar brightened. "Hear anything from that old rascal lately?"

"I'll let his son tell you," said Cuan. "That's his eldest boy right there."

"He was working as a guard at the Forbidden Palace construction site, but they finally finished that," related New Conri. "An' I guess he was going a bit stir-crazy sitting around the house. Last time I was home on leave, he comes in wearing a uniform. I thought it was mine, but it turns out he re-enlisted. Wouldja believe that? He's stationed up at Mommy Book Pigs."

Gunnar nodded, "Some folks just don't know how to relax and take it easy."

He looked over at Cuan, who had unrolled the parchment while the youth was speaking.

"The usual," said Cuan, "except a little more flowery. He's really into that Chivalry."

"Well," said Gunnar, "I'm afraid this time I got one of my own." He reached beneath his hauberk, produced a document, and read:

"The Vikings declared war on you!"

There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Finally, the lieutenant started to draw his sword, but Cuan seized his quivering wrist.

"Don't be a fool. There's 18,000 Horsemen out there."

"And 2,000 Spearmen, 3,000 Archers, and 2,000 Warriors," Gunnar added helpfully. "Those are all my guys. Your dad's lucky. He only has to deal with a couple thousand archers and a thousand horsemen out his way. I know you folks aren't Seafaring - so just reminding you there's also two galleys floating around in your waters. Don't know what's on them, but at least you don't have to worry about the one down south that's all beat up. It's coming back from China, so I'm pretty sure it's empty."

"But what if he attacks us?" protested the lieutenant.

"I beg your pardon," Cuan said to Gunnar, flushing at his subordinate's ignorance.

"We can't attack you yet," Gunnar patiently explained as he rose to his feet. "In fact, we can't march any further today. I expect the cavalry commander will push onwards, though." He shook his head. "Probably pitch camp right next to Alesia on ground with no terrain bonus. And on the same side of the river, too. Knute the Knuckleheaded, I call him."
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