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  • Tales from the Throne Room - Chapter Six

    Welcome back to Tales from the Throne Room, our regular piece on the Org's community of hotseat and RPG gamers! (written by Myth and phonicsmonkey, graphics by Quirl)

    The Throne Room is where we play collaborative and competitive games based around TW titles, including Hotseats, RPGs and Succession games. We currently have a group of 18 active players across 7 hotseats and one RPG.

    In Chapter Six we'll provide updates on the games in progress and show you our plans for upcoming games which might interest you. We'll also share another classic story from our Throne Room collection.

    Current RPGs:

    SS 6.4 Lords of the Danube

    A new TW RPG has started, sure to be full of roleplaying and storytelling and with a challenging position for medieval Hungary, pitted against the mighty ERE and the savage Cumans.

    King Pozsony, fresh from resolving the Civil War which threatened to tear his kingdom apart, wishes to hold his recent conquest of Constantinople against the forces of the mighty Eastern Roman Empire. His own resources are stretched, with the northern Counts tied up in battling their age-old steppe foes and with the looming threat of Venice in the west keeping Junior King Bokeny and his armies occupied in Croatia and Serbia. Meanwhile the insult of the excommunicated Holy Roman Empire occupying Esztergom, Hungary's spiritual birthplace, continues to fester...

    If you've never played a TW RPG, now is a great opportunity to discover this unique Org and Throne Room experience and understand why many veteran players have such fond memories of the past RPGs.

    Current hotseat games:

    M2TW: Kingdoms (Crusades) - "The Levantine Struggle"

    This long-running game is still reaching its conclusion in a titanic struggle between the ERE (controlled by Cecil XIX) and the forces of the Principality of Antioch (Thanatos Eclipse). The Romans have two allies in the Turks and Jerusalem but they are each close to defeat. Antioch's steel grip on the land and vast armies that are well suited to the game's rule that all battles be auto resolved give it strong chances for victory. However there is still room for error or inspired strategy which could turn the tables. Watch out for our next update by which time the winner may be known!

    Stainless Steel 6.4 "Wrath of the Khan 2"

    The Fatimid Caliph's betrayal of the anti-Mongol alliance and his vast armies joining the Khan's hordes has been the major event of recent times. The Fatimids (played by Zim) seized some Seljuk (Loosecannon1) settlements but the forces of the ERE (Silvershield) and the western Catholic Kingdoms are swooping towards the eastern battlefields. The major confrontation is still brewing, though the Mongols (phonicsmonkey) have all but defeated the Khwarezm Shah (Myth) and have now started to push back the Cumans and Seljuks.

    Third Age Total War 2.1 "End of the Third Age"

    Events in this team match have developed to the point where Rohan (Mithridate) and Eriador (Rougeman) have vanquished Isengard (deguerra). Gondor (Zim) is still holding out relatively unscathed as the enemy, Mordor(Nightbringer), consolidates near his borders. In the west, Eriador and the Elves (Myth and slysnake) expand unmolested, but the war and the Third Age itself is far from over.

    Stainless Steel 6.4 "Clash of Gods!"

    The conflict is nigh! Spain (Thanatos Eclipse) and England (Myth) are advancing side-by-side and are on the doorsteps of Cordoba, a Catholic target city, whilst the Crusader States (Silvershield) have debarked in Greece and together with the Seljuks (Mithridate) are beating back the AI-controlled ERE and have already drawn blood from Venice (Nightbringer). As both Cordoba and Venice/Rome are exposed to their respective enemies, this very well might turn out to become a race for Jerusalem, the final target city!

    Stainless Steel 6.4 "The March of Time"

    With the destruction of Norway (deguerra) and the abandonment by their respective players of France and the ERE, three player-led factions have already been eliminated. Tensions rise now and several superpowers rush to consolidate their positions. The Kwarezmian Shah is vast and a potential winner of this game. The spot is vacant as of now, so feel free to apply in the game thread! Don't miss the inevitable world-scale conflict!

    M2TW: Kingdoms (Britannia) "These Sceptred Isles"

    Wales, commanded by Throne Room newcomer Mithridate, gave in to England's (Nightbringer) focused pressure as it remained unassisted by the other factions. Ireland (Myth) developed while Norway (phonicsmonkey) and Scotland (Ignoramus) battled and now the Irish-English alliance has been revealed. Two battles took place only recently, greatly damaging both Scots and Norse, while the powerful allies advance northward to a seemingly inevitable victory.

    M2TW: Kingdoms (Teutonic) "Winter Is Coming"

    With war raging since turn one the Teutonic Order (Myth) has all but eradicated Lithuania (phonicsmonkey) who stood alone against the invaders. Now Novgorod (Zim) declares against the Order, but is it too late to stop the powerful faction from taking the east? In the west, a conflict between Denmark (Nightbringer) and Norway (Rougeman) dragged the HRE (Cecil XIX) into the fray but so far the Danes have proven their mettle in this 2v1 scenario. In the background Poland (slysnake) quietly develops, seizing lands from the AI-controlled Mongols.

    Upcoming games:

    TWS2 RPG: This game is its final stages of development and coming soon! Check out the discussion thread if you are interested in participating.

    RTW / Europa Barbarorum succession game: a Succession game is a SP campaign where each player carries out the term of a faction leader until he dies. Then the save and control of the faction is passed on to the next player. Each player will provide a write-up and screenshots describing his reign, making this a unique collaborative experience. Post here if you are interested in taking part!

    Myth has been advocating for a rematch with the .net and a second "When Worlds Collide" game. Though things have been quiet as of late, just as the ancient Romans we will not rest until we reclaim the eagles and standards of our fallen legions! Send a PM to Myth if you feel confident in your ability to represent the .org in what could be the most challenging hotseat you've ever played!

    Interview with Cecil XIX:

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    - hi Cecil XIX, mind if I call you Cecil?

    It's very tempting to go 'YES I MIND' here, but unfortunately that kind of joke doesn't work over the internet. It needs an overly exaggerated tone of voice and facial expression. So I guess I'll just have to be boring and say it's fine!

    - I have to ask: why not Cecil the First?

    I first used this screenname on GameFAQs way back in 2002, as that was the first website where I ever had to register a name. I wanted a name that had a meaning, even if only to me. At the time, I had just recently played Final Fantasy IV and had come away from it with a strong admiration for the hero, Cecil Harvey, who ends the game as King of Baron. So I decided to name myself after his hypothetical descendent of the same name. I suppose I could have called myself Cecil XIX Harvey, but why complicate things?

    - You're one of the few players who is still around from the King of the Romans days, what are your recollections of that game and the Throne Room back then?

    It's funny, I joined the Org about a year and a half before I joined KotR. Initially I was just using the site as tech support for help with the perennially finicky Medieval: Total War, but one day I decided to look around and found people playing a game the likes of which I had never seen before. I'm usually more interested in working under constraints in games rather than being able to have it all, so being limited to only one general in a Total War game realy interested me. It was only well after KotR had ended that I took the next step and started looking at other games in the Throne Room, unfortunately.

    The thing that's amazing is that the game lasted about two years and involved about two dozen players and around four dozen memorable characters. Everyone did an amazing job giving the world life, and there was really a sense that you were interacting with fully fleshed out characters. Practically everyone had their own plotline or two, so even when the board was quite it seemed like things were happening. Another thing that really contributed to the atmosphere was how we all changed our avatars to your character's portraits and our user titles to you character's names. For me didn't really mean anything since I was only going to the Org for KotR at the time, but's impressive when you think about the people who must have kept those settings when they visited other parts of the Org.

    There's also another factor that I think really made KotR, and I really mean it in a good way: The people who weren't very good. There were some players who weren't very good at roleplaying, or writing, or politics or battles. (I think I'm part of that last group). And it's not that it was intentional, they were really giving an honest effort that, in my opinion, didn't work quite as well as it might have. I know that sounds mean, but the truth is I'm really grateful for them because that's what life is like as well! There are always going to be people who seem to have been given power and authority even though it seems like they don't deserve it. It makes the game more interesting for everyone, and I would assume they're still having fun as well if they're still playing. Certainly all my failures haven't discouraged me! So to end this on a positive, I'd say that even though TW RPGs can seem intimidating, there's no need to care about whether you're screwing things up or not. If you're good, that's fun, and if you're bad, that's fun too!

    - And how do you like the current crop of games? You're in two hotseats and an RPG right?

    Indeed, they're all quite different. One hotseat is autoresolve-only, the other isn't, and they're both my first time in either setting. I imagine I'll make a lot of mistakes, but I expect to learn a lot too! It's nice to be in another RPG as well, they're much rarer and more unique than hotseats, oweing to the greater amount of effort required of all involved.

    - Do you think you'll beat Thanatos in the Crusades game, or is your goose cooked?

    I'm still playing to win. Thanatos has done very well in taking on the world, and since the game has been my first real hotseat it's been a real eye opener. I've made some simple mistakes and at least one serious strategic error, so I can't deny that he's a better player. But victory and defeat are constant companions in war, and I'm confident that I can force an error and turn things around, no matter how long it takes. In any event, there's no way he can conquer Constantinople in the one hundred fifty-two turns we have remaing!

    - What is it with you and the Holy Roman Empire? You were in KotR, you created V&V which was also set there and now you're playing them again in our Teutonic hotseat! Are you German?

    Strictly speaking, my affinity is more for the Kingdom of Bohemia in particular than the Reich in general, although I do have German ancestry on my father's side. I suppose it's all due to KoTR, and my failure there. My first character was Sigismund von Mahren, and I had big plans for him: Nothing less than to become the greatest and most chivalrous knight in the Reich. It was a simple idea, and it give me a way to approach most every situation from an RP perspective. I had an interesting plot hook thrown at me when it was revealed that Sigismund's real father was the late Duke Leopold (Ituralde) of Austria, making Sigismund the older half-brother of the current Duke of Austria, Arnold (AussieGiant). An top of that, Sigismund struck up a strong friendship with the idealogically likeminded Jan von Hamburg (PrivateerKev), who had fought a series of bloddy duels with Duke Arnold and had become a strong enemy of his. It was quite a balancing act, but I was able to have some success. I even came up with some reasonably distinct personalities for four members of Retinue.

    Finally, the call came for Sigismund to take command of the Austrian Household Army for the purpose of launching a campaign to take Bran from the Hungarians. A series of four battles were fought, and boy was it was exciting. Normally fighting four battles to take one province isn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of what you have to do in a Total War, but when you're playing a TW RPG it feels like a grand adventure, a chance to make your mark in the world and show your quality to your peers. Another difference was that there were no reinforcements available, although he did unsuccessfully petition the Chancellor for the money to hire some mercenaries. There was just a single stack of soldiers and a target, with every other detail left up to the General in charge. The last battle was the siege of Bran, and to make a long story short Sigismund died because I got it into my head somehow that arrows from a tower would never kill a general. I can't tell you how frustrating that was.

    My next character, Edmund Becker, had his character planned entirely around the notion of minimizing danger in battle. He was a govenor, who would rather stay in Prague rather than command an army. He even went so far as to rebel against Duke Arnold to raise Bohemia's stature. That a was during the Cataclysm, perhaps the high-weather mark of KotR in terms of enjoyability. Tincow ran the whole thing, and he spent a lot of time to do a fantastic job. It lasted ten turns, and every turn each character was given a list of choices like it was a choose-your-own-adventure story. For example, Becker was given choices to raid neighboring provinces within and without the Reich, to protect Silesia when it was under attack from the Poles, or to go to Nurnberg and make a speech in order to gain military volunteers.

    But as the game reached it's end at the Battle of Trent, Becker made a huge mistake. A Civil War was brewing, with the Illuminati on one side lead by Dukes Arnold and Lothar (TinCow), and the Loyalists on the other lead by Emperor Peter von Kastilien (gibsonsg91921) and his brother, Chancellor Fritz von Kastilien (Ramses II CP). Now Fritz was a real unsavory character, and he drove a lot of people into the rebel's camp. He was most famous perhaps for either sacking or exterminating his own fief twice, and it was behavior like this on the part of the Emperor's closest confidant that convinced Becker to remain neutral, rather than fighting for one of two evils. However, it turned out that this was intentional. Fritz was secretly working with the rebels, and betrayed his brother at the Battle of Trent, where they both met their end. Thus Becker, and therefore I, was tricked into not fighting for the side I wanted to see win. It was really a brilliant move, such that I specifically sought to work with Ramses II CP in the next game, Last of the Romans.

    The truth is, the greater portion of the reason I keep coming back to the Throne Room is to seek redemption on a stage as grand as that of Trent. Even though it's been almost four years, five since I joined KotR, every so often I'm still captivated by what could have been had either Sigismund lived or Becker fought.

    - I see you might be taking over the character of King Poszony in the new RPG, Lords of the Danube. Ever been King before? How will you approach taking over a character from another player?

    I have, and it's quite a responsibility. The first king of the game and really set the conflict for the whole thing, so I'm going to have to find and issue to divide the players and push it as hard as I can. It's a pretty tough gig honestly, but if you do it right it's quite worthwhile! I'd like to invite everyone to give Lords of the Danube a try, there really is nothing else like a good TW RPG.

    - Last question Cecil: hotseats or RPGs?

    Definitely RPGs. Hotseats bring out the true nature of Total War games, something I must say I've found to my liking. The only real problem is that Hotseats were an imperfect simulation of playing with other people. We need something more like the multiplayer campaigns in Shogun 2, but with more than two people! Having to engage in diplomacy with other people is the most distinctive aspect of hotseats.

    RPGs, on the other hand, bring Total War to a new level of gameplay. When you're only playing one general, previously minor details have vast consequences. Setting tax policy and decided what to build doesn't just affect the Reich, it affects you and your House personally. And when you go into battle, you risk a lot. Political clout is won and lost on the battlefield, and since you never have the full backing of the realm behind you there are serious limitation how you can replenish your army. In KotR you were reliant entirely on the Chancellor to get you fresh soldiers, while in Lords of the Danube you might at least be able to use your own money to recruit mercenaries or soldier from your own settlements. And unless you work with the other lords and develop good relations, you may not be able to enjoy the fruits of your conquest. It's really an unparalleled experience, and after having played TW RPGs I can even go so far as to say it might not necessarily be such a bad thing if The Creative Assembly made a Total War MMO.

    From the Vaults

    This time, in honour of our new Throne Room RPG starting, we bring you another classic tale from King of the Romans (KotR). KotR ran for 16 months and at its peak had over 20 players involved in the game.

    This story was written and originally posted by TinCow back in June 2007. Enjoy!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    “Back for more, are ye?” Adelman snorted and spat on the ground. “I hear they call you the ‘Count of Florence’ or something equally ridiculous these days.” He eyed Lothar Steffen coolly. “You still look like a spoiled pup to me. The ‘Count of Flatulence,’ perhaps.”

    “I may still be young, but I have learned a great deal since last we trained together. It is unwise of you to underestimate me,” the Bavarian noble deadpanned.

    “Underestimate you? For the love of… you go and win yourself a few minor battles and you think yourself a master now? By the Devil’s Tits, I swear I never thought it was possible for you to get even more arrogant than you were before you left.” Adelman popped his jaw; an act that somehow managing to convey immense disdain.

    Lothar Steffen paced across the room to a rack of practice swords. He traced his fingers along the hilts of half a dozen, before he found one he liked. With a deft movement he lifted it, feeling the balance. He flipped it back and forth between his hands and swung it in smooth arcs. Satisfied with the results he turned back to face the weapons master. “Perhaps you should give me another lesson in humility.”

    Adelman stared at the Bavarian for a moment, then laughed. “Now? You’re not even armored! Even with the dulled edge, you’d take such a drubbing that your father would have my head on a pike!”

    Lothar shrugged and lifted a round wooden shield propped against the nearby wall. “Is this better? I would not want to put you at too much of a disadvantage. It would not be… ah, what is that word… chivalrous.” He looked his old trainer in the eye. “Or perhaps you are simply a coward.”

    There was no verbal response, but none was needed. Adelman lifted his sword high, bringing the hilt in line with his right shoulder. He held it two-handed, his fingers flexing slightly to achieve the perfect grip. Lothar could see his opponent’s weight shift as he adjusted his stance. Adelman’s body angled backwards, narrowing his exposed front. The shieldless man was preparing for a rush; a brutal direct assault on his opponent that was designed to overwhelm and subdue through sheer force.

    In response, Lothar slipped his hand more firmly into the leather straps of the shield. He held it lightly on his left, prepared to bring it up in front of him at a moment’s notice. The training yard was inundated with the silent expectation of combat. Several long moments passed as both men stared into each other’s eyes, in an effort to shake the other’s confidence; victory before the fight had even begun.

    Lothar grinned. Adelman charged.

    The speed with which the huge man moved was startling. Lothar himself could barely move that fast without armor, and he was half Adelman’s age. The intensity in the man’s eyes was disturbing to behold. Had Lothar not experienced such an expression dozens of times before, he might have broken at the sight. It was a berserker’s charge, being wielded by a man who never yielded to rage. Cold, calculating, and deadly. There was no way to deflect, dodge, or riposte. One could only endure and hope to survive. Lothar braced himself and raised his shield to meet the oncoming blow.

    Adelman swung his sword down with every ounce of strength he could summon. Rarely had he put as much effort into a single blow as he did at that moment. It was a stroke that would split a man in two in a real battle, and even with the blunted practice weapon it could seriously maim. The sound of the impact was so slight, the opposition to his blade so weak, that at first he thought he had smashed the eldest son of the Duke to the ground. It took him a moment to realize that Lothar was still standing, unphased by the blow. A loud clattering sound came from his right. It took him a moment to realize that his blade had sheered cleanly from the hilt. A moment after that he noticed the sharpened dagger at his throat.

    “You taught me well, Adelman.” Lothar cocked his head, the tip of his dagger drawing a drop of blood from his opponent’s throat. “Never fight a battle that you cannot win. Those are your words, not mine. I will never best you in even combat, so I will not engage in even combat.” He nodded towards the hilt still clutched in Adelman’s hand. There, clearly visible in the afternoon light, were fine marks spanning three-quarters of the width of the blade. The tool used to file through the hardened steel must have been incredibly narrow, to keep the split imperceptible to casual inspection. “I have learned a new lesson since the last time you trained me; Exitus acta probat.”

    Adelman smiled broadly, then let out a hearty laugh. “Perhaps you are not the dummkopf you were when last we met. Very well, then…” He touched the dagger gently, moving it away from his throat, and bowed deeply. “I yield, my Lord.”

    Triumph glittered in Lothar’s eyes. “Do not forget it.” In a flash, his dagger whipped out and sliced deeply into Adelman’s cheek. Blood poured in sheets down the side of the man’s face. He raised his hand to the gash, but was greeted with a boot to the chest. Adelman fell backwards in a sprawl. “That is for your many years of disrespect. If you ever fail to address me in the proper manner again, I’ll have your head.” The Count of Florence bowed.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Tales from the Throne Room started by phonicsmonkey View original post
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