There is one banner which stands alone before the darkness.
Listen! Hear it crackle in the breeze, white for the purity of her people's souls, red for the rivers of blood spilt to ensure her freedom.
It does not stand alone.
No, it does not stand alone.
IT SHALL NOT STAND ALONE.
The year is 1220 AD
Deep in the heart of Eastern Europe, beyond the perfumed courts of France, beyond the fickle princedoms of the Reich, beyond the mountainous traverse of Transylvania and into the wooded lowlands lies a kingdom beyond memory. Poland.
Perennial underdog, champion of Catholicism and yet also tolerance. Founded by men who bent their knees toward the Vicar in Rome for the sake of their people; a mottled, mismatched, and tenacious people. A century has passed since the Church besought the mighty Capetian kings and Flemish Counts to intervene in Palestine. All Christendom knows of their victory over the Mohammadan in the Levant for the Kingdom of Jerusalem endures
, yet still Europe itself remains clutched in the talons of religious war.
Poland sits at the very epicenter of one such conflict.
Though the Polish dukes have sworn their souls and swords to Christ, their lands border those of Lithuania, the last bastion of Pagandry in Europe. Teutonic Knights, Germanic nobles with pious guises and plunderous hearts march against these pagans, and many a Polish villager has fallen victim to their "foraging." Many a Polish Jew, granted clemency by the Polish gentry, have been brought to confession and conversion at knifepoint. And this is but one horizon. To the West sits the Holy Roman Empire, benefactor of the Teutonic Order, a mighty state which stands astride Europe with holdings from the Rhineland to the Italian Alps. Even the Pope treads lightly in dealing with the Kaiser, for the German arm is lengthy and her influence longer still. To the East lie the Russian states of Novgarod and Kiev, both boasting brave horsemen and a blatant disregard for the Papacy in Rome. They follow the Patriarch in Constantinople, the most powerful man in the richest city in the known world, and though besieged and weakened the Byzantine Empire is no paper tiger. They may have lost Anatolia to the Seljuk Turks, but who is to say their eyes will not turn Northward? Hungary may stand between Byzantines and more continental ambitions, but existence does not guarantee survival; in the way that the Hungarians stand between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, so do the Byzantines stand between Poland and the terrors of the Jannisary armies of the Turkish Sultans.
And worse yet. Rumors spread from the lips of almond-eyed merchants, whispering tales along Black Sea wharfs of a power growing in the Orient. Before this even the Tartars, the Cumans, and the Turks quake. They hail from the desolate steps beyond the sunrise, from a land called Mongolia and they call their king Great Khan.
The Game is Medieval II: Total War and the mod is Stainless Steel. I will be playing on hard difficulty for both campaign and battle. Do not expect victory to come easily or cheaply. I am no genius of tactics and strategy. It is very possible that I will lose.
With Stainless Steel I will have to consider titles, retainers, supplies and politics more thoughtfully, and the enemy AI has been buffed considerably both on and off the battlefield. Units have undergone a total reworking, and the campaign map boasts 199 provinces, the maximum the game engine will allow.
Here is the basic information regarding our faction at the start of the campaign:
The first order of business is to churn out agents who will exercise our powers and influence in ways more subtle than our knights. Merchants, to trade in exotics and bring wealth to the Crown, Diplomats to speak for his highness, the Senior Duke, and most importantly spies to seek out our enemies so that no foe will cross our borders without our knowing. Polish Intelligence will be the finest in the Western World within the decade.
The daughter of the Senior Duke, her charms though somewhat lacking, is immediately dispatched to Hungary. Trade with my immediate Catholic neighbor is important, I must strive for good relations lest they turn to Byzantine embraces.
The family tree.
Honey is one of nature's strangest and most magnificent creations. The Egyptians used it as an antiseptic, and foreign merchants will pay well for honey.
First order on construction, chapels and churches in all regions that do not have them. The word of God must be preached, and men of the cloth must be trained to preach it. The Pope recognizes our fervor, and the Vicar sends his finest regards.
Thorn is the largest and most heavily fortified castle in Poland. It boasts a strong garrison, and is commanded by a fine young general of noble blood. Note the title granted to him in his info page. Thorn is the key to the kingdom, if it should fall to an invading army everything could be lost.
To that end I have commissioned ballista towers to be erected as part of Thorn's defenses. Following the churches I have instituted a series of far-reaching land reforms across Poland. Dark times are ahead of us, now is the time to sow crops and feed hungry mouths so they may be strong when the time comes.
Polish Intelligence has detected a Teutonic spy on our North-Eastern border. The arrogance!
Our beloved if somewhat homely princess has found her way to the Hungarian court, and has negotiated map information and trade rights. Noting her skill and intelligence, men's eyes have begun following her with rapt attention.
True, the Florins could go elsewhere, but Poland must stand above the rest in the Pope's eyes. Think of it as insurance. Excommunication; having one's soul cut off entirely from the sight and love of God, is a terrible weapon but one we must ponder wielding if we are to survive.
The Teutonic pawn has been dealt Polish justice for his spywork. I have
illuminated the event for your pleasure. Not how the Polish guard does not take joy in his action; only the grim face of duty and determination. We Poles are no warmongers.
Years of travel and strife await our diplomat, yet to Rome he must go. We must have an ear at the Pope's side and a boon for his purse should any difficulties with the Papacy arise.
Our Father on Earth, the Vicar of the Savior, the apostolic heir to Saint Peter the martyr, has begged our attention. It seems the Nords have turned their eyes from God, and their souls are in jeopardy of damnation. The Pope has asked us to blockade their port, but the city in question belongs to none of the major European powers. True, we have no navy yet to speak of, but if we should land an army and bring salvation to these Nords we might seize their revenues and lands without angering any of the major powers.
So I ask you, my Noble Councilmen of Entropia, what is a monarch to do? Do we weaken Poland's defenses to cross the sea in the hopes of claiming a cold satellite in the North? Or shall we simply send our fleets to blockade the port and achieve the bare minimum to satisfy our father in Rome?
Help me, Social Entropy.
I do not think I can do this alone.