The Thunderbolt Way: Interactive CK2 AAR

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Gesar
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The Thunderbolt Way: Interactive CK2 AAR

Post by Gesar » 19:33:22 Thursday, 16 November, 2017

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The vajra is essentially a type of club with a ribbed spherical head. The ribs may meet in a ball-shaped top, or they may be separate and end in sharp points with which to stab. The vajra is the weapon of the Vedic rain and thunder-deity Indra, and is used symbolically by the dharma traditions of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, often to represent firmness of spirit and spiritual power...

...In Buddhism the vajra is the symbol of Vajrayana, one of the three major branches of Buddhism. Vajrayana is translated as "Thunderbolt Way" or "Diamond Way" and can imply the thunderbolt experience of Buddhist enlightenment or bodhi. It also implies indestructibility, just as diamonds are harder than other gemstones.


In Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana) the vajra and ghanta (bell) are used in many rites by a lama or any Vajrayana practitioner of sadhana. The vajra is a male polysemic symbol that represents many things for the tantrika. The vajra is representative of upaya (skilful means) whereas its companion tool, the bell which is a female symbol, denotes prajna (wisdom). Some deities are shown holding each the vajra and bell in separate hands, symbolizing the union of the forces of compassion and wisdom, respectively.


Far to the west, the barbarian followers of the ascetic Christ name this year the eight hundred andsixty-seventh since his birth. Nearer still to our Land of Snow, the Muslims -with whom we have clashed, and to whom we owe much the downfall of the former empire- claim it has been two and a half centuries since their Prophet's Hijra. Far away, they war among themselves, claiming the legacy of “Abraham”, for their own.

Domestically, of course, it is a different matter. The first Buddhist Emperor, Thothori Nyantsen, brought the Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra past the Himalas six hundred and twelve years ago, bringing with it the dharma of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, the primordial Buddha also known as Chenrezik, He Who Embodies All Compassion. But those teachings have long been lost – the superstitious Bonpo await at the borders of my realm, Nyima, and the Empire that was has fractured, lost in immoderation and aggression to foreigners and traitors.

But I am the Ngapo of three provinces, and of the line of Shambhala itself – the kingdom, it is said, that is ruled by the Maitreya Buddha, who will return when the Dharma is lost to the Sangha and the world. But with enemies all around us – within our own monasteries, even – I have begun to rethink my life of drinking, feasting, and wenching. What if this truly is the decline of the Dharma? Alone in my bed, I cannot help but ask that question.

What if the line of Shambala is to bring forth the Maitreya, submit Tibet with the vajra of our Dharma, and drive out the barbarians from Kham and Kabul alike cut through the forces of aggression with the wrath of Mahakala, who fights through all fear and aggression, and the wisdom of Padmasambhava, who tamed the barbarians and sorcerers that once ruled these lands?

And so I awake, and summon my true council.
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OOC Notes
-ALL DLCs enabled but no religious secret societies. I'll try to tone down the fantasy aspects unless it's get weird - Tibet did have quite a mystic tradition.
-Goals so far include the spread of Vajrayana Buddhism (I will only play Vajrayana characters unless something bad happens) to all the Tibetan Empire, which we're going after, as well as Greater Tibet. Control of the Silk Road and the liberation of Afghanistan will be secondary goals that the Second Council argues about.
-For the sake of story, I'm not playing in Ironman. Console commands will be used sparingly and mostly for story.
-This is a collaborative work - while I'll make all the final decisions, I'm going to use the console to create anybody who wants to join in by inviting a courtier and making them after the player. I'll try to get them honorary titles, and maybe eventually landed. If you want to sign up, state your interest and preferred education - I'll decide the rest based on how much I know of you.
-If any of your characters joins the council, I'll check with you on private decisions. For more major ones, I'll ask the whole inner council.
-I'm not going to update as much as AARs, because I fucking hate taking screenshots. They'll be posted during major events or anything involving your characters

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Gesar
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Re: The Thunderbolt Way: Interactive CK2 AAR

Post by Gesar » 20:19:19 Thursday, 16 November, 2017

THE INNER CIRCLE OF XIGAZE

SHARPA TAKTSAB (Coin)
Gnyma (Steward) of Xigazê

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A recent arrival to the Shambhala court, Taktsab - a renowned landlord and gardener who, despite his obvious talents, is also quite prone to distrusting even his friends and allies. With a temper to boot, it is curious that the Ngapo has elevated him so quickly. Perhaps, it's supposed, the Shambahala lineage simply recognizes a good tool when available - particularly when that tool claims heritage from the warriors and kings of the Kshaitrya caste.


TSEPONG TRINRING (Smyg)
Count Tutor of Xigazê
Amche (Court Physician) of Xigazê
Lama Dampa (Bhikku)

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A former, if unremarkable, student of a local tulku, Trinring is well-read, sociable, and keenly considered about justice. While he can often be harsh and has rumors of doubts in the Four Noble Truths, he is nonetheless the educator for the children at court. His knowledge of both traditional medicine and, some say, traditional sorcery - knowledge that has saved my life - have led to his elevation to the rank of Lama Dampa - a revered guru in a secular tradition, in charge of overseeing the religious affairs of the monastics.


DRO ZHANGTSUN (Luc)
Chief Poet of Nyima
Khenpo

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For his recitation, in whole, of the Ge sar rgyal po for the sacred benefit of the Ngapo, Zhangtsun was awarded his position to the acclaim of all. A kind, amiable man, few have ill words to say about him - save when somebody's between something he wants.

Awarded, by the monastics, the position of Khenpo (abbot), after the war with Ü Tsang.


JAMBAY NYIGON (Serenissima)
Spymaster of Nyima


This character is deceased.

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A bright young warrior recently wounded, Nyigon was recalled home after a series of defeats against invading Khampa. He has since been assigned, rather curiously, the position of spymaster, for reasons yet unknown.

Killed in battle very recently. Without issue we can only hope that his reincarnation will be in a better realm - or if not, that he might serve us again.


PALRIN TAKNYE (BgKnight)
Gyagpön (Commander) of Xigazê

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The amiable Taknye came to court in the aftermath of my pilgrimage to the Bodhgaya. He has of yet been rather unremarkable, but led, along with Jambay Nyigon and myself, the forces of our new kingdom against the Ü Tsang. Originally a candidate for the position of Kasung (Marshal), he lost out to Chakhar Rinpoche for reasons unknown to the rest of court. Some whisper that Chakhar's political skills simply exceed Taknye's own...or perhaps the honored Rinpoche serves better in a bureaucratic role.


CHÖGYAL CHAKHAR RINPOCHE (Huojin)
Kasung (Marshal) of Xigazê

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Ambitious, more than a little dubious in his loyalty to the Vajrayana, and clearly politically-minded, Rinpoche's fixation on his "Tamil" culture - that of the people from lands so far south that they have no words for snow - has been a detriment to his aspirations. Nonetheless, as rumored above, he is a politician to the bone - and perhaps it is a bureaucrat that our new kingdom is in need of.

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Re: The Thunderbolt Way: Interactive CK2 AAR

Post by Huojin » 23:54:18 Thursday, 16 November, 2017

I love this. Let’s go.

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Gesar
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Re: The Thunderbolt Way: Interactive CK2 AAR

Post by Gesar » 20:08:11 Friday, 17 November, 2017

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As the Year of the Fire Dog brought with it some retreat from the snows on the plateau, court set about bolstering the security of the realm, surrounded as it was by kings and lamas practicing the sorcery of the Bon. Gnyma Taktsab set about -and, for almost the entirety of the next few years, would continue- to oversee the collection of taxation from the monasteries and nomad tribes who are so often reticent to give us our just due. More interesting, surely, was the voyage of Lama Nyigon, who undertook a quest to the furthest reaches of what remains of Daqin, that ancient empire of the west. His reports have been most useful, as well – I do look forward to what stories he has to tell of places the Dharma has not yet reached.

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Perhaps it is simply an auspicious year for us, for it seems a pair of luminaries wish to join the growing court we have. I welcome both into our ranks: Kasung Taknye may have his faults, but with war looming on the horizon, decent help from a true follower of the Dharma is all we can ask for. Chakhar Rinpoche is a slightly more worrying case. I have made him my Marshal, and do not doubt his skill in combat, but ambition in one's followers is never cause for relaxation. Particularly when the one with the ambitions has adopted the culture of those far to the south, despite his own Bonpa heritage.

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In any case, they were both welcome at my wedding to a noble Turpan woman who, while unremarkable, is at least quick-minded and a claimant to two provinces within the western desert. I held a feast in celebration -and to announce the plans for our conquest of Amdo- in the traditional style, preparing butter-milk and momos for snacks, as well as the customary bits of torma left over from the statues supplicating Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara. My old rival Nan, however, refused to attend. Perhaps he ought be...dealt with.

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Or perhaps these are simply the thoughts of an impure mind, one that cannot quite grasp that all is emptiness. Mahamudra teaches us that mindfulness is the root of practice. That in essence is the Middle Way: mindful of what you partake in, and meditation shall become your natural state, thus bringing back more mindfulness. Although I claim to be no tulku, these thoughts have seemed as innate to me as the breath, or the coming of spring. And so I write, and continue to do so throughout the upcoming seasons, despite the war over Amdo, which will brief and successful, caused the loss of too many sentient beings to be truly celebrated.

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Om mane padme hum. Om mane padme hum. The familiar mantras enforce the discipline I attempt to maintain on my pilgrimage to the Bodhgaya, where Mara summoned visions of beautiful women to tempt Prince Siddhartha, only to be defied. Ah, but if I could rid myself of such wretched habits with a wave of my fingers like he! At least the voyage itself went well, with our brief attacks being fended off with the new mace I commissioned – a vajra in truth. Symbolic, no?

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Inspired by the pilgrimage, and with its reputation bolstering my name, I set about to make my name among a new era of scholarship, one in which the Dharma might begin to reveal the truths of the physical world -impermanent as it is- and the nature of samsara. With such scholarly new arrivals in my court, I have no doubt we will become innovators of the plateau....as soon as my nose stops running.

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The illness is brief, however, thanks to the treatment of Amche Trinring and the company of my court poet, who always manages to keep my spirits high. But we must return to more serious matters, my friends: our plan to expand to the south has been blocked by our fellow Buddhists, the powerful kingdom of Guge. They could make useful friends, certainly, or even liege lords...provided we maintain our own independence, of course. And while our victory in Amdo did seize us some glory, Ü-Tsang still threatens us with a might greater than Guge. Even if we have a just claim to their southern provinces, what good would our herders and huntsman do against the great army of the Bon? If we are to expand, it seems, we need allies – or to act quickly and make a gamble for what remains of the Qamdo.

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After all, we cannot forget what lies behind the buffer zone of the Qamdo. The Protectorate General to Pacify the West awaits us, as does the Emperor - one of the Tang, who are steadfast friends when they want something from you, horrific foes when not. Let us not forget that they unmade the empire of our ancestors - they could do so, or make a new one, once more.

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How then, should we proceed?

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Re: The Thunderbolt Way: Interactive CK2 AAR

Post by Huojin » 16:59:43 Saturday, 18 November, 2017

In the long run we should reclaim U-Tsang for the Tibetan people. In the short-term... Let's hope your pilgrimage and search for enlightenment left you with some holy insight.

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Re: The Thunderbolt Way: Interactive CK2 AAR

Post by Gesar » 19:09:43 Saturday, 18 November, 2017

OOC update: The war is won, and we're the Kingdom of Xigaze now. Seren is dead, but I'll reincarnate him. Will post more later.

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Re: The Thunderbolt Way: Interactive CK2 AAR

Post by Huojin » 04:36:58 Sunday, 19 November, 2017

I vote we build Tashilhunpo Monastery like 700 years too early. That place is great.

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Re: The Thunderbolt Way: Interactive CK2 AAR

Post by Gesar » 18:14:14 Monday, 20 November, 2017

This one is again kinda out of continuity (and I lost most of the war screenshots), because I only just got around to actually organizing the pictures. For the most part it's pretty straightforward, though.

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The Wrath of Palden Lhamo


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Palden Lhamo, hard to measure, who
Performs the magic of Method to the ends of space
O Bodhisattva’s emanation, to you
I prostrate in devotion with body, speech and mind.

In your utterly noble qualities
Which benefit beings and with perfect help to me
Delight me, with a joy without jealousy
I rejoice, and offer it to your mindstream.

The great tulku Trashi Rinpoche has finally arrived at my court. It was he who called upon me to heed the advice of my friends, and instructed me in the offerings and supplication to the Glorious Goddess, Palden Lhamo, the protector of the Tibetan sangha. Under his tutelage, I came to the realization that the Dharma requires us not to destroy the demons and sorcerers who plague us, but subjugate them to the Eightfold Path in the hopes that they, too, might escape samsara.

And so was my attention brought to the east, where the Purgyal Gyalpos practice their ancient, aggressive ways. War for the Xigazê region, if successful, would bring us within striking distance on Lhasa. At the behest of my inner circle, I arranged -though it grieved me greatly- the marriage of my daughter to a prince of the Indian Pala kings, known as much for their respect for the Buddha's teachings as their power, significantly greater than any realm on our plateau. Once the betrothal was agreed upon, I sent a second missive, proposing we stand together as true allies.

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To the delight of all but the Purgyals, they agreed.

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It seemed our timing was fortunate, for dire news then came in from the north, via the hardy traders who ply their wares on the great trail southwards.

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I cannot turn back our course now, however. The warriors from the nomad tribes are called up, and the lamas go out into the villages, bringing with them levies of peasants to match the guards of my vassals. The former prove most useful in one of the initial battles, which, while indecisive, provided me keen insight into the ways of warfare. The dralas are with us!

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The news of our victories over the barbarians -aided largely by our Pala allies preventing any successful grouping of the enemy forces- is made lesser only in comparison to the birth of another daughter, who may one day prove useful in keeping the Emperor to the east a friend of our lineage. I take this as a sign, and follow the instructions of Trashi Rinpoche in order to accumulate good karma for her upbringing. For I still have the Son of Heaven's wrath to contend with, a situation that grows only worse when I blunder, and in my haste offend his Protectorate, a mistake I ought make penance for.
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Surely, I thought, I might gain his favor by returning him as soon as possible...

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Fortunately, we at least manage to eliminate one threat, and soon proclaim victory over the Ü Tsang. Although we lose my dear adviser on matters of espionage to an enemy lance, and our defeats come at great cost to our military strength, Pala reinforcements arrive in time for us to lay siege to the whole of Xigazê. When the Qamdo attack the Bon kingdom from the north, they consent to a peace – and the council promptly affirms me as the Gyalpo of Xigazê, my new Lama Dhampa, Tsepong Trinring, calling the dakinis and dralas to witness my anointment.

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While our strength does not yet, in full, match those of our neighbors to the east and west, plans begin to be made for the subjugation of the Qamdo, a Buddhist realm who might benefit from our newly-prospering rule. If nothing else, it seems we are garnering some attention, as one of the Prophet's followers from the lands south of Kush soon approaches us.

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Thus, in our victory, we begin to seem a true kingdom. I grant my Gnyma the lands of Gyesar Tso, provide my influence to the poet Zhangtsun to be elevated to the title of Khenpo of a monastery within my lands, and name Chakhar Rinpoche the lord of Amdo. A mystic arrives at our court soon as well, with a reputation most unbefitting a woman – but perhaps useful nonetheless.

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And so ends the first fourteen years of my reign: from a band of desert monastics and hardy warriors to a petty kingdom, we rejoice, rebuild, and return to our search for enlightenment. I, meanwhile, have chosen to search for something else: the secrets of the stars, a solution to our quarrels with the Son of Heaven, and most importantly, a regent for the realm when I next ride off to battle.

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