Get the rest of the story: The Legacy of House Mlechchha
The decades running up to the turn of the new millennium were largely characterised by rapid expansion across the north of India, taking the kingdoms of Kosala and Rajputana in 943 and 984, respectively, as well as pressing a number of vassals’ claims to various counties, and even successfully simply asking border counts to vassalize.
This rapid expansion put me at odds with a number of neighbours, even those I didn’t end up conquering, in the form of defensive pacts due to my ever-increasing threat. There came a point at which I could quite comfortably handle all of the remaining Indian rulers combined, so from here it’s just a clean-up job, with lots of fabricating of claims and handling internal politics.
With so many kingdoms to administer, and so many vassals, it started to become difficult to guarantee I’d be able to change succession laws in newly-conquered kingdoms. This was a particular issue when the conquered kingdoms used Gavelkind succession.
Last time I spoke about Jainism and its benefits to stabilising my realm. What I hadn’t quite cottoned on to at that point is that also lets you appoint an heir rather than relying on the normal succession laws. This meant that Gavelkind succession was really my only obstacle to keeping kingdom titles, since Ultimogeniture and Primogeniture both succumbed to my appointed heir.
The solution to the problem of many vassals and kingdoms with backwards succession laws was singular: Kingdom Viceroyalties. In 957, between conquering Kosala and Rajputana, the lords of the Bengal Empire approved the institution of the Kingdom Viceroyalties Law.
Viceroyalties are pretty great. You can appoint a vassal as a viceroy king; when they die, you get the title back and choose the next holder (or keep it yourself). This solves the original problem of too many vassals, because one can transfer vassals to the new vassal kings. It also solves the problem of Gavelkind succession, because when the viceroy dies, the title returns to you. You therefore continually circumvent the succession crisis by choosing viceroys.
It also circumvents another problem in that it keeps your vassals relatively weak. Normal vassal kings can grow bloated enough, if you’re not careful, to challenge your power. A good emperor chooses the weakest eligible vassal to hold the kingdom viceroyalty, limiting the amount of power they can gain in a lifetime. At death, everything resets itself.
There are two downsides to viceroyalties: feudal vassals take an opinion penalty for every one that you give out (-2 for kingdom viceroyalties, I think); and adopting the relevant law reduces your vassal limit by 5. (I found this was acceptable given that I could have vassal kings without too much worry of their growth in strength.)
Somehow I’d made it this far in my campaign, and in my many dozens of hours with CKII, without knowing about retinues. I had seen the word “retinue” appear in some tool-tips, but assumed it was a synonym for “levy”. How wrong I was.
Retinues are a standing army of elite troops. It costs gold to form an initial troop regiment, gold per month to reinforce that regiment (this can be quite costly; when you initially form the regiment, it only has minimal strength), and gold to maintain a regiment at full strength (although this relatively low).
Despite all of this, it’s well worth having these guys around. Two words why: Medieval Blitzkrieg. You can keep retinues raised permanently, so they don’t disable declarations of war. This means they can be in position before you declare war. If you’re sizeable compared to your neighbours, your retinues might be capable of totally wiping out a war target, intercepting enemy levies before they can form up into a doomstack.
With my retinues maxed out and a large personal levy, I rarely need to call upon vassal levies when warring my weak neighbours. Funnily enough, the only time I need to resort to vassal levies is when I face an internal revolt! This may all change when I set my sights outside of India…
Eugenics and Concubines
I had tried to introduce good genes into my bloodline previously, but hadn’t got too far with it. Ultimogeniture went some way to helping in that I could just keep popping out heirs until I was happy with one, then divorce. This incentivised one to take the first acceptable heir, though. Perhaps a better one might be next? It’s difficult to take that risk.
Having discovered the ability to appoint an heir if my ruler was Jain (or Buddhist, as it happens), and knowing that I could switch between Dharmic religions once per lifetime, I felt free to have as many children as possible. Once I got old enough, I converted to Jainism and appointed my strongest son as heir. If a better one came along, no problem – I appointed him instead.
I also hadn’t, until this point, properly explored the world of concubinage. An Indian ruler can have up to three concubines. Children by concubines get the “Child of consort” modifier, giving a -1 hit to Diplomacy, but are otherwise legitimate heirs. Concubines can be cast aside giving only an opinion hit to the concubine. Given the potential benefits, this seems like a good trade to me.
From 925 on (when I realised these benefits), I took as many concubines as I could, focusing on those with good genetic traits or highly-fertile women (e.g. those with the Lustful trait). I, of course, also had a wife with preferable genetics.
I now never have a ruler who doesn’t have some positive genetic trait (normally Strong). By 1004, my ruler had a son, Pushyavarman, who was both Quick and Strong, giving the following total benefits:
- +4 Diplomacy
- +5 Martial
- +3 Stewardship
- +3 Intrigue
- +3 Learning
- + 15 Rationality
- +10% Fertility
- +1 Personal Combat Skill
- +10 Attraction
- +5 Vassal opinion
This is quite an impressive head-start. Really, this is only inferior to a Genius, Strong ruler. The Genius trait has so far eluded me, and it remains to be seen how easy it is to keep these traits in the bloodline, but this is an excellent start.
Status of Women
Allowing female children to be my appointed heir would double my odds of a strong genetic lineage. I’ve made it a point to advance the Tolerance technology so that I can keep increasing the Status of Women law. It needs to be Full before I can change the succession law of my empire to Absolute Cognatic, but it will be worth the time investment.
The Black Death is a special event that can occur 200 years or so into any game (regardless of start date) and can spread across the whole map. I got unlucky and it ended up covering the whole of India.
With a Health modifier of -7, it is as deadly as rabies to characters in CK2. For this reason, one might choose to take seclusion in one’s court, with all the usual events to punish you for doing so (and then some). Your subjects can become quite unruly during this period of time… the one’s that are healthy, at least. Expect also a hit to your economy.
The Black Death hit the world sometime in the late 10th century, making its way into the Mlechchha Empire around October 988. I shut the gates to save myself, having only been on the throne three short years and having only a clubfooted heir…
I did horrible things for the sake of the dynasty: forcing my spymaster to pray in my stead; letting the dead pile up at the castle walls; blaming the Jews for bringing the plague and expelling them from the empire to pacify my people, despite my better judgement, damaging my economy for years to come.
Diamonds and Decadence
The many events that present themselves to a player of CK2 really make the world feel alive.
In 932, Sthitavarman found a huge diamond to place in his crown, perhaps a close relative of the famous Koh-i-Noor found several centuries later.
Despite its magnificence, it brought bad juju on House Mlechchha, so I disposed of it in the nearest river, not five months after its discovery.
Perhaps the Abbasids later picked up this haunted gem as a couple of years later, their great empire fractured.
With the Abbasids went my medium-term competition; they were the buffer between a united India and the rest of Europe, should I ever wish to go forth and conquer…
Income is not much better 75 years on.
The relatively-stable 25 year moving average takes into account the significant periods of monthly deficit due to ongoing wars. My hope is that as the realm stabilises and I have a chance to invest inwards, this will rocket upwards.
The Situation in 1000
The below shows the difference between 925 and 1000 India.
In the run up to the end of the first Millennium we’ve seen the following changes:
- The Mlechchha Empire continues to spread across the north, usurping kingdoms for Ayudha and Bhatti.
- Pratihara in the west has continued to fracture.
- The Kingdom of Ay in the south is the only realm besides Mlechchha that seems to be doing well for itself.
- Rashtrakuta has managed to swap with the old house of Maharastra.
- Kirtivarman has appeared as a major player in south India.
The difference between 925 and 1000 for the rest of the world is shown below.
- The Abbasids are slightly less threatening now; especially comforting are some new states on the border of India, giving a bit of a buffer between myself and the middle-eastern super-power.
- The Uyghurs have done a number on the Steppes. For now, they’re significant amounts of Terra Incognita between me and them, so it’s someone else’s problem.
- The Byzantines managed to quell their rebellion and even make some gains.
- Danmark is continuing to exert dominance over Scandinavia.
- There is an emerging eastern European powers of Avaria and Menumarotid.
- The Abdelrahmanids have maintained control over the Iberian peninsula.
- The British Isles are still in flux, though England has been unified for some time.
Unifying the north of India (DA KING IN DA NORF!) is a worthy goal for the next 100 years or so. After that, expansion becomes a little more difficult because the majority of rulers in the south are not Indo-Aryan, so I can’t subjugate them. I may need to do it county-by-county. It may be a good chance to invest inwards, improve the economy, and strengthen my personal levy.
Get the rest of the story: The Legacy of House Mlechchha