Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

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Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 22:01:54 Tuesday, 14 July, 2015

Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR
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So yes! Another CK2 AAR, but solely with myself this time. I'll be playing the very buggy but very fun Middle Earth mod for Crusader Kings 2; it's very old and hasn't been updated with the newest versions, but it is a fun game.

Unfortunately the War of the Ring I've found less fun - from Sauron's perspective because of the way culture changes work, and from the Free People's due to the events being a bit buggy sometimes. So, I've decided to start 24 years before the events of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I shall be playing as Burin, son of Balin of The Hobbit Trilogy fame, seeking to avenge his father's death in Moria, and probably retake the High Pass from the goblins.

The AAR will be mostly driven by myself, but I'll allow a degree of interactivity if it's wanted. Key decisions I'll allow yourselves to vote on and debate, as ostensible advisors from the King's court. Thus, unlike in one interactive AAR we made, I won't need to have you all be in-game characters, but if you want to "create" a character, then by all means do so in the thread for the purpose of rp and how I'll phrase the updates. Hopefully it'll be enjoyable, for myself and anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of either CK2 or LOTR!
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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 22:03:22 Tuesday, 14 July, 2015

Prologue: The Looming Shadow

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Erebor, The Lonely Mountain. Home of Dain Ironfoot, King Under The Mountain and of Durin's Folk.
It is the Year 2994 of the Third Age, the 53rd year of the rule of King Dain II Ironfoot of Durin's Folk, who became King Under the Mountain after the death of Smaug.
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Erebor is the centre of a great dwarven realm, with the Longbeards, Broadbeams, Ironfists and Firebeards all united under his rule. From the Blue Mountains in the west, to the Iron Hills in the east, the people of Aule enjoy prosperity unparalleled in the centuries since before the Sack of Erebor by Smaug the Golden. Whether with Elfkind or Mankind, trade has prospered in all the lands between Rhovanion and the Misty Mountains.
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Yet all is not well in the halls under the mountain. Balin son of Fundin, Guardian of Erebor and one of the original members of the Company of Thorin Oakenshield, defied the will of the King to resettle Moria in search of the last of the Dwarven rings. He is missing, presumed dead along with his followers, and Khazad-dum remains lost to the sons of Durin, and his counsel at court is sorely missed in these troubled times.
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From Angmar to Moria, orcs and servants of darkness have retaken many of their old strongholds, their numbers replenishing in the years since the War of the Orcs and Dwarves. To the south, Sauron the Deceiver has returned to Mordor and wages war upon the sons of Numenor, his agents directing attacks on all the Free Peoples of Middle Earth. Eriador becomes more dangerous as orcs raid south, with few left to stop them; and even the Gap of Rohan has become perilous to travellers. Few merchants still risk the journey south-east to the dwarfholds of the Blacklocks of Rhun, or further south still into old citadels of the Naugrim high above the plains of Khand.
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And so, as winter closes in, Burin son of Balin, heart burning with a desire for revenge against the orcs and goblins of the Misty Mountains, has petitioned King Dain Ironfoot for an expedition west. Before the king, he and his kin propose a radical new move - not against Moria, grave of his father. Instead he seeks funds and permission to found a new dwarven colony on the eastern slpoes of the Misty Mountains, near to the High Pass and Goblintown, the better to guard caravans from Eriador, and perhaps in time clear the pass of goblin filth once more. Durin's Bane lurks still beneath Moria, but in Durin's Folk there remains strength aplenty to fight the creatures of Melkor.
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For game purposes, as you can see, I'll be starting off as Dain Ironfoot, King under the Mountain, and using him as a starting point to settle a mountain colony for Burin. Once he's set up and the province colonised, I'll switch to playing as Burin himself.
Last edited by Coin on 10:59:31 Monday, 20 July, 2015, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Huojin » 15:09:33 Wednesday, 15 July, 2015

I approve.

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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 23:38:06 Wednesday, 15 July, 2015

Chapter I: Strike the Earth!

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The wagon heaved and creaked as it rumbled westwards along the Men-i-Naugrim, the ancient road built millenia ago by the Longbeards from the East towards the Misty Mountains and the High Pass into Eriador. A pass which had been cleared of orcs and goblins countless times since; and after every war, every expedition, ever the Creatures of Melkor returned to their old hiding places once the attentions of the Free Peoples moved elsewhere. Though the Great Goblin had been slain during the reclaiming of Erebor, his descendant, Muzluk of Goblin-town, had returned from Mount Gundabad, rebuilding the nest of raiders and bandits. Everywhere the agents of the enemy were on the move.

But to Burin son of Balin, the great designs of the Wise and the Enemy were of little consequence. His heart burned for vengeance for his father, Balin - lost, presumed dead, while trying in vain to retake Moria. None had heard from them in over three years, and all who tried to go near found themselves waylaid by wargs and orcs. The East Gate was shut when last a dwarf made it that far; so far none had tried the West Gate through forgotten Eregion, where once the Noldor dwelt. It was a desire for vengeance he knew he could not quench without more knowledge - but there was no way now to find it. Not yet.

Instead, he had petitioned the King, his cousin, for permission to found a new outpost upon the fringes of the High Pass, to better defend the traders, travellers and messengers which were often waylaid by roving bands of orcish, and even human bandits. It was a bold move, yet of little immediate risk to King Dain - the resources required were not great, and Burin, his father lost, was allowed some privilege in putting his case thanks to his royal blood. It was lost on none that his father had, after Dain's son and grandson, been next in line to the throne, and Dain's heart also no doubt thirsted for an answer to yet another of the House of Durin being lost in the dark of Khazad-dum.
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The King had duly granted Burin his request.

So here was he with his several dozen companions, armed to the teeth and glad of the fresh light of day, now that they had passed beyond the forest. The wagon was large, unwieldy and prone to breaking down, but carried with it provisions enough to last them through the next winter. Woodsmen had given them - for some gold - information on an abandoned fortress on the eastern slope of Eithel Ninglor. With luck, they should arrive within a few weeks, and begin delving lodgings fit for the Sons of Durin.
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The weather became wetter and damper as they climbed westwards towards the mountains, and more and more they were forced to stop to rest the wagon, or to repair a section of the road damaged by rain and rock. Only once were they attacked - two dozen orcs tried to surprise the camp at night, but were driven off with great slaughter and no losses to the expedition. The fortress lay overlooking both paths of the High Pass, and not far from the eyries of the Great Eagles. Some among the party might have resented that, were it not for Dain himself swearing friendship with them some fifty years prior after the Battle of the Five Armies.

Burin's mood only darkened as they came closer, though. He had long suspected there was more to his father's quest for Moria than naked ambition or a desire to restore the glory of Durin's first halls, and the sight of the mountains stirred his restless mind. The more he thought, the more he remembered his father's brother's words - Dwalin, another of Thorin's companions, and now lord of Tamnogoth in Ered Luin.
"Balin never forgot the night beneath the eaves of Mirkwood, nor the journey west without our king. More than any of us, he could not forgive himself for Thrain's disappearance."
The fate of Thrain II was only ever guessed at. Servants of Sauron, it was said, took him in the night, and Balin, Dwalin and his other companions awoke to find him gone. With him went knowledge of the Ring of Durin's possession. Guilt for his lost liege, who had himself wished to retake Khazad-dum after the Battle of Azanulbizar and the War of the Orcs and Dwarves, led him to seek not only to reclaim Moria, but perhaps he had also hoped to reclaim the last of the Seven Rings of Power given to the dwarflords.

He could but guess; his mind soon found occupation upon their arrival at Eithel Ninglor. Orc raiding parties, it seemed, were indeed active in the area; Muzluk of Goblintown had sent a force to seize more of the lower passes, and further south, over the winter, Gazog, heir of the line of Azog the Defiler, seized the Redhorn Pass as well. Few were surprised when Mordor took advantage of this to raid Rohan, Theodred, son of the king, being killed by one of the Nine, who now rode abroad. But, whether through luck or skill, they managed to hide their initial delving from all the agents of Sauron in the Misty Mountains. Eventually, on the cusp of summer, word was sent back to the Lonely Mountain. Burin, son of Balin, was now Lord of Eithel Ninglor.
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SpoilerShow
This update was basically just fluff while I set things up. In a similar vein to the GoT mod, much of Middle Earth in the mod is "wilderness"; meaning you have to conquer and then colonise it before it becomes in any way productive. I was quite lucky and got it first time for 100 gold - it's done via decisions, and essentially is far easier than the ruin mechanics. From here on in I'll be playing as Burin himself, after granting him the province, and Dain will be AI-controlled.

I'll add these gameplay notes in as I go along. I should admit that, in order to quicken things, I cheated prestige for Dain, so that I could declare war via the settlement casus belli right away; you need 100 prestige to declare that kind of war. However beyond fixing bugs if necessary, I won't be cheating once we're underway proper.

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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 20:45:00 Thursday, 16 July, 2015

Chapter II: Kâlah-dum
Here follows the account of Burin son of Balin, guardian of the dwarrowhold of Eithel Ninglor, begun in the year 2995 of the Third Age of Middle Earth. High above the Vale of Anduin our new home sits, but it is a poor home at that. I have been given many honours by King Dain II Ironfoot, but few as great as the prestige he grants me. Not only have I now my own lands to develop, but he has granted me another above all - I am now lord in name if not in fact of many of the southern holds we still keep in the Misty Mountains.

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Though they are administered by the King himself, I do not reject the offer, which will do much to improve my standing in the eyes of other lords, dwarf, man, orc and elf. But in truth the lands I do rule are poor an undeveloped; beyond rudimentary shelter, it is nothing more than a well defended spring. The name the elves gave this mountain is well-deserved; Eithel Ninglor means "The Well of the Goldflood", Ninglor being their own name for the Gladden river. As our dwellings encompass the spring from which the northern tributary of that river flows, we name our halls Kâlah-dum - the dwellings of the spring.
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Though it is painfully slow progress, eventually we have repaired the roads of the High Pass near our own holding, and carve out expanded dwellings for more of our kin to arrive. The increasing activity of orcs in Eriador has left many former merchants settling here; their labours now add to our own. Small our numbers are, but eventually our forges begin selling arms and armour to the Northmen tribes to our east, in the Vale, and to the human kingdoms of Eriador. My own choice of marrying a young if commoner dwarf turns out well; she bears me three children. Two daughters, Karin and Sisa, and a son, named Balin for his grandfather. We shall not forget our duty to my father.

In kinder times, perhaps we would have toiled and grown from there - but these are not kind times.
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From traders passing through our halls, we learn of grave news indeed from the north. The hillmen kings of old Angmar are subjected and conquered by a fierce orcish chieftain. Seizing the majority of that desolate and evil country, and uniting trolls, orcs and men under his command, he takes the crown and fancies himself the heir to the witch-king. But in his folly, he does not pay homage to his paymaster; and the Great Eye of Sauron the Deceiver sees far. Doubly troubling is the news that his arm reaches far north also. In the year 3010 of the Third Age, I convene my council as we learn terrible news: the Witch-King has returned to Angmar.
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Fifteen years we have been settled here, and for fifteen years we have delved undisturbed. But in Erebor King Dain grows wary of news from the far north. In Angmar, the Witch-King resides for half the year, ruling both that realm and once-fair Ithilien for Sauron. Against him stand only the petty king of the southern hill-men of Rhudaur, and the mysterious Rangers, few in number. But that is not the only grave news. From Gundabad, orcs prepare to invade the Vale of Anduin by the end of the year, where a weak human king is ill-suited to the title of monarch. And in the Misty Mountains, both the scum of Goblintown and the heirs of Azog the Defiler in Moria might be next to pledge allegiance directly to The Eye of Sauron.

We are faced with a choice. Our numbers are perhaps few, but we can begin to stockpile gold in the hope of hiring dwarven axes for an assault on Goblintown, before it and the High Pass become directly ruled from Barad-dur. My uncle Dwalin, and cousin Durin, would doubtless answer our call to arms and I would trust in dwarfish steel. But, the odds of success are not certain; we might well be destroyed ere help can arrive and our reinforcements may be trapped on the western side of Hithaeglir. And if we fail, and the orcs seize the Vale of Anduin also, Mount Gundabad might turn her eyes to us.
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What say you, councillors?
  • Option 1: Attack Goblintown and seize the High Pass as soon as we have the gold necessary to hire mercenaries.
  • Option 2: Bide our time, spending our gold on delving deeper lodgings in Khalad-dum instead.

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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Huojin » 21:22:45 Thursday, 16 July, 2015

Rout the Goblins, seize the High Pass!

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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Smyg » 21:53:45 Thursday, 16 July, 2015

Onwards, I say. To High Pass.
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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by BgKnight » 21:56:10 Thursday, 16 July, 2015

My lord, we have shown that dwarfdom does not cower to the ilk of the goblins, now we must defend that reputation. Seize the High Pass!
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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 17:50:48 Sunday, 19 July, 2015

Chapter III: The Board is Set
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Here follows the account of Burin son of Balin, Lord of Kâlah-dum, begun in the Year 3010 of the Third Age of Middle-Earth.
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It is decided at last. I have returned from Erebor, with the King's blessing for our plan to clear the High Pass. At a feast to mark Durin's Day, I, my uncle Dwalin, and cousin Durin son of Thorin son of Dain, who rules over the Iron Hills, agreed to begin the assault once all was ready in Kâlah-dum itself. There is much work to do, and little time; lodgings for those hired axes who shall answer the call are needed. All in all, we expect it to take a year to gather all that is necessary. And time is running out - particularly for the human realm of the Vale, ruled by the skinchanging descendants of Beorn. Journeying through these lands on the way back home, we only just miss the first raiding parties, as Gundabad Orcs launch their long-awaited invasion.
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The young king of that realm is but a boy; a yellow one at that. He is not his grandfather's heir; his troops fleeing south, desperate for aid. Though his soldiers and vassals are strong, the world of men seems deaf to their plight, and we have our own war to begin. Should the Vale fall, we shall be surrounded by orcish tribes, and have little hope. News further south, that Saruman the White has turned to darkness, does little to cheer the mood, nor does news that Sauron has sent one of the Nine to seize the rest of Ithilien from Gondor.
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But finally, we are ready. Summons to our allies are sent. My uncle Dwalin shall move from the west, blocking the western entrance to the passes. Durin shall arrive from the east, and then move with us against Goblin-town. Though news elsewhere might be grim, I am confident in the odds. The Enemy is yet distant enough that no easy allies shall come to the goblin king's aid - Moria, where my father disappeared, is too distant; Gundabad is too involved in their own wars.

Almost seventy years ago, my father left the Blue Mountains to begin the Quest for Erebor. He played a part in the restoration of the fortunes of the Sons of Durin; I trust that I too may do this in honour of that very same cause. The board is set - the pieces are moving.
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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 18:55:27 Sunday, 19 July, 2015

Chapter IV: The Northern Wars
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Here follows the account of Burin son of Balin, Lord of Kâlah-dum, begun in the Year 3011 of the Third Age of Middle-Earth, on the War for the High Pass and the Orc Invasions of The Vale.

It has begun. Our armies are mustered, and by now the goblin-chieftains of the High Pass are gathering their own forces, their spies having heard of Durin's march to reinforce us from the Iron Hills, and Dwalin from the Blue Mountains. Since we first arrived on the eastern end of the pass, the goblins have multiplied like rats, with almost every cave in the lower paths infested with them. My axe feels heavy in my hand as I take command for the first time in years; I am not my father, nor indeed my cousins, well-used to leading men in war. My post of Captain of the Axes is mostly ceremonial; but I can swing my axe as well as any other, and the responsibility of command brings reward as well as risk. We shall give the bards material aplenty when this is done.

Raiding parties scatter back and forth across the hills, but over the winter neither side does much fighting. Had the goblins attacked immediately and in force, they knew our positions would favour us. Instead, they prepare for our own attack, which we are finally able to do by summer with the arrival of Durin, King Dain Ironfoot's grandson, the young dwarf looking every inch his grandsire as he arrives in the foothills of the High Pass.
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Durin brings news of the Orcish Invasion of the Vale, for it seems he was not alone in his westward travels. The orc warlord of Gundabad had been given free reign of much of the Vale by King Beornward, and dismayed hearts thought this realm, founded with such promise, might fall. But the bounty from Smaug the Golden's death at the hands of Bard the Bowman, who became King of Dale, has proven plentiful. From Dale a great army arrives to help repel Golg, spawn of Bolg, the spawn of Azog the Defiler, and to defend the Beorning kingdom.
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Few know in truth what caused King Brand, the grandson of Bard the Dragonslayer, to join the war on the side of the Beornings. Some say his Beorning commoner to wife influenced him; others that Gandalf the Grey was behind it. What is clear is that Bard brought over three thousand men, armed with Erebor-forged steel and veterans of endless wars with the Easterlings of Rhun, to reinforce King Beornward's camp; and despite all the claims of Beorning cowardice, together they routed the Gundabad legions on Eredlangwed, in the narrow pass between the Misty Mountains and the Grey. The line of Beorn's skinchangers, with two northern kings, once more decimated an orc host.
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This news gives great cheer to our forces, which now number near eight-hundred axes. Together with my cousin, we march now north through the High Pass. The goblins, who must likewise have heard of the routing of Gundabad, move south to meet us, trying to avoid Dwalin, my uncle, approaching from Eriador. He seals any escape route west, and in the Vale of Eagles, Imlad Thoron, the orchost arrives and we do battle.
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In the remotest vale of the High Pass, where goblins have skulked and hidden from the Great Eagles for years, the battle is grim. Though goblin numbers are greater, in time the strength of dwarven steel is telling, as we surround and destroy the main body of their host. Some retreat north, only to be met by Dwalin. It is a moment of triumph when I meet my uncle once more; our casualties prove light. Their chief, Muzluk escapes into the tunnels of Goblin-town, but the glory I have won raises the glory of my father's house. Vengeance is mine on at least a part of those responsible for my father's death.
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Now the whole of the High Pass is controlled by Durin's Folk, and once more caravans may pass unhindered along the Great East Road our ancestors built. We have also seized the Goblingate and Goblin-town, the chief stronghold of the orcs in the mountains after Moria and Gundabad. We promptly seize the Imlad Thoron also, lest any of Muzluk's chieftains try to remove their people there. The siege of Goblin-town was bitter indeed; and great was the number we slew. But there is more yet to come; we must wipe every orc from the greatest warrior to the lowest pup out in the caves beneath the town where they have retreated. And in so doing, more battles - this time below ground - shall come our way.

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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 10:19:42 Monday, 20 July, 2015

So, played through till the end of the next chapter, and might get that written up tonight.

After that, I'll probably write up an intermission looking at the world in its entirety - from Angmar to Umbar, and the power of Sauron vs the Free Peoples.

Edit: nevermind, going to do it anyway :3

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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 21:19:10 Wednesday, 22 July, 2015

Chapter V: Clearing the Tunnels

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The last war has won us much glory and security. We have, at last, secured Goblintown's main entrances and the High Pass as a whole; scarcely could we have dreamt of this when first we settled the eastern entrance to this most strategic of passes. In addition, our own victory has ensured that there is no risk of the pass falling under the Dark Lord's control, while the Sons of Durin still stand. The victories of men in the Anduin Vale have also checked the ambitions of Gundabad... for now, at least.

But there is work yet to be done, if we hope to wipe out the threat. Though the spawn of the Great Goblin has been destroyed and scattered, and though our soldiers garrison his filthy caves, the deeper tunnels remain inhabited by goblins and orcs. Through paths unknown to us, they are regrouping and will in short time attempt to retake the upper levels. This we cannot brook; while these goblins are there, we cannot attempt to settle the former orcish hold as a new dwarfhold - as once it was of old.
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To that end, I send Skalli, my own Captain of Axes, to purge the tunnels of enemies. My own retinue, and some of my uncle Dwalin's which remain, are sent to do so.
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We begin to block the goblin shafts leading to old secret roads under the mountains, and reroute an old underground river deep beneath the mountain to flood a dark route through the caves, that leads north to Mount Gundabad. Little combat is seen, the goblins fleeing before us. I begin to think that this is going to be easier than we had feared, but when a scout goes missing in the northern tunnels, and some of our dams are broken, I go to investigate the cause...
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Sixteen hundred goblin torches in the deeps of the caves greet me, their forces having amalgamated under the leadership of an orc warchief. They number more even than the initial force we met to conquer this place. Leading my best axes, we find our kidnapped scout - beaten, bloodied and tortured by the scum who leads this pack. We cut down the guards who keep him and cut our way through, back into the upper levels - but we are not alone as the orcpack rushes upwards after us.
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The fighting is then fierce, as the company of my Uncle Dwalin stands and holds them off while my own force regroups. We are still outnumbered three to one - but a dwarf counts for ten of these foul beasts, especially so poorly armed.
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Our victory is never in doubt - and when battle is done, we hunt the fleeing goblins back to their lairs deep beneath the mountains. Few escape, and none remain - our destruction of the goblins is total and irreversible.
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At last we may send word to Erebor of our second victory. The goblin chief, captured fleeing west, is sent in chains to Erebor for King Dain to do with as he pleases. I hear later, in a letter from the Lonely Mountain, that his tongue and eyes were cut out before he was thrown into the frozen north for the Gundabad orcs to find. There is no love, let alone mercy, between orc and dwarf. Not after the murder of Thror. But there is good news, too, in the missive - my son Balin learns quickly from his cousin the King's tutorage.
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All seems to be improving even in these most dangerous of times. But then, another herald arrives. Cloaked and with a message for my ears only, it seems the King has need of information our own kin cannot provide...
SpoilerShow
As I said before, the Middle-Earth mod, similar to the GoT mod, has added a culture to designate a province as unsettled - as a "wilderness" province. These are very common in Eriador and the mountains. Unlike in GoT, you can quite easily control many wilderness provinces, but they provide no income or levies.

When you conquer an "evil" cultured province (orcs, goblins, trolls, wights, etc) as a "good" character (human, dwarf or elf), you naturally cannot carry on as normal and vassalise the orcs. Opinion maluses ensure that on a character level between evil/good characters; on a province level, any orcish province you own as a dwarf or other good guy will have a high revolt chance. To solve this, you have to purge it of orcs altogether, before you can attempt a colonisation.

As you can see, you do this by sending your marshal to do that job. A special decision then becomes available; this leads to an event that fires for a revolt, which, if put down, clears the province of any culture. You then still have to settle it, as I'll try in later updates.

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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 10:43:54 Thursday, 23 July, 2015

The Shadow Arisen - Part I

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The wind buffeted the travelers along the narrow path, the cold biting the three companions as they led their ponies over the treacherous ice. The winters had grown harsher and longer, the summers shorter and wetter, since the Shadow had returned to Angmar. Though the High Pass, from Anduin Vale into Eriador across the Misty Mountains was safer now to travel without risk of an orc ambush since they had cleared Goblin-town, it remained treacherous to the unwary. The road was being repaired, but after heavy snowfalls had come early to the High Pass, Burin, Lord of Kâlah-dum cursed the need for haste before the thaw.

But it was needed. The herald that arrived from Erebor was none other than his cousin Gloin, accompanied by his heir Gimli. The sealed runes from the King, told much; the Enemy was moving in the south, and word had come from the Blacklocks, Dwarflords of the East, that soon the Easterlings, too, would move on the Free Peoples. Rumours even spread that the Grey Wizard, Mithrandir, had with Saruman fallen into Shadow. But the worst had not been committed to writing, and Gloin spoke in hushed tones of it. An emissary of Mordor had called at night at the gates of Erebor, offering friendship for information on the race of halflings.

So Burin, as Lord of the High Pass and Captain of the King's Axes, had been commanded to make with speed for Rivendell, to seek the counsel of Elrond. The King's message had further desired knowledge of Durin's Ring, and if the High Elves knew of it's fate, as the herald of Sauron had offered it in exchange for information. Finally - and most importantly to Burin - he was to ask of the fate of Balin. He had left overnight but taken only Gloin and Gimli, preferring to travel light and avoid watchful eyes that might spot a larger party.
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They spoke little until at last, they stopped climbing and began the descent into Eriador. Here the weather was more pleasant; but it felt darker to Burin than when last he had travelled these roads. A shadow lingered, unseen and almost imperceptible; but doom lay hidden over these lands. When he raised it with Gloin, the aged dwarf spoke grimly.

"The power of Angmar grows, Burin, and the Witch-King's malice with it. Eriador may soon become a far more dangerous place beyond the refuges of the Free Peoples. It is well that the men east of the mountains remain strong in Dale and the Vale; here in the west they are scattered and weak."

"Yet long has it been so, Gloin; and the Enemy might yet underestimate what strength there is here. And the Witch-King does not yet dwell in Carn Dum, they say; not all the orcs have answered their old master's call, even if they still serve the Dark Lord himself." Burin spoke sincerely, but his heart was troubled. Answers they must seek from Rivendell, if there were any to be found.

They carried on through the low foothills, Gloin taking the lead as they searched for the entrance to Rivendell. Still they met and saw noone - though the occasional watchful eye could discern birds and beasts of the enemy following them from afar. But nothing prepared them for the sight that met them on the road that next morning.

A man lay nailed to the trunk of a leafless tree, the stench of death strong about him. He was unclothed but for a medallion around his neck, and had not died peacefully - for arrowshafts protruded from his lifeless body. But no carrion beasts had touched him. For carved upon his forehead was a symbol few had seen in the north, but which all men, beasts, elves and dwarves knew. The Great Eye.

"Gimli, cut him down. We shall bury him before more see his disgrace. Make haste - we cannot tarry here. Our destination is not far, but I would prefer us not to linger where evil has so recently dwelt."

It took another day's travel for them to reach the borders of the Hidden Valley. Though none met them as they arrived, they felt watched from the first. Burin was sure that the watchers would have been ready on the roads, if he had indeed brought a greater escort. But none challenged the three dwarves till they reached, at last, the House of Elrond.
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Smyg
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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Smyg » 11:20:13 Thursday, 23 July, 2015

MORE.
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Re: Sons of Durin: A CK2 Middle Earth Project AAR

Post by Coin » 17:26:14 Friday, 24 July, 2015

The Shadow Arisen - Part II
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The three companions found Rivendell a pleasant enough place, but little to their liking. They spoke briefly with Lord Elrond, retelling the tale of the dead man on the road, and of the jewel he bore. A full council, it seemed, would be held upon the next day.

There was much lore to be found in Imladris - but lore of the West and of Valinor, tales of the First and Second Age through the eyes of the Firstborn of Illuvatar. There seemed little room for the Children of Aule in these histories. But upon the next day they nonetheless awoke strangely refreshed from their journeys. The darkness of the road seemed almost forgotten already, and as they were summoned by Elrond's household, their minds seemed clearer and less troubled.

They were not alone. Already in the hall, his face hooded but lit on occasion by the light of his pipe, sat a man, of rough appearance but noble stature. Here too was another man, his bearing tall and eyes gleaming. Though Burin did not recognise him, his cloak shone with the heraldry of Gondor.

At last Elrond himself arrived. He introduced each of them in turn.

"Men of the West, these here are three of the dwarves of Erebor. Burin son of Balin, Lord of Khalah-dum; Glóin son of Gróin; and his own son Gimli. Sons of Durin, you stand in the company of Imrahil, herald of Boromir the Steward of Gondor; and of Aragorn, son of Arathorn, commander of the Grey Company and last shield of the men of Eriador from Angmar resurgent - heir to the throne of Gondor."

At this the hooded figure that had seemed rough shone anew in the eyes of both Imrahil and the dwarves. For a fleeting moment as he rose there seemed a glimpse of the glory of Numenor and the line of Elendil; a glimpse of the Sea-Kings that were. But it was, for the moment, quick to pass.

"Fate has brought us, representatives of each of the Free Peoples, together here upon this day. There is much that can be discussed - much that must be discussed. Sauron has returned, and plans war."
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What followed was a discussion of each present's knowledge of the Enemy's movements; most prominent was Imrahil's news from Gondor. For in Barad-dur the Enemy was gathering all evil to him; orcs and trolls and dark men. Even once fair Ithilien was now completely subdued, and Lord Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, could do little to stop the rising darkness. Almost all land east of the Anduin was now under his command.
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He told then of his own purpose in coming here; he had been sent to call for aid from the free peoples, before Sauron launched his attack on Minas Tirith itself. "For the Lord Boromir is strong but stands alone," said he, "but the blood of Numenor is all but spent. We cannot face this unaided."

He had made his way north to Edoras; but no Eothed would ride south to their aid. Saruman the White had cast aside the light and truth, and turned to serving the Darkness. Rumour even whispered of his desiring dominion over Middle Earth for himself. He had invaded Rohan, turning Dunlendings and Uruks to his service, and Edoras would soon fall. The worst of all the rumours, though, was that Saruman had corrupted another of the Istari, Gandalf the Grey.
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So he had made his way north, hoping at least to discover the truth of the rumour of Angmar reborn, in futile hope of it being but rumour. But arriving at Rivendell he had learnt the truth; though his wonder at the survival of the Dunedain of the North did not cease. At this Elrond spoke once more; Angmar was not yet truly arisen again, and remained weak. Carn Dum, the Witch-King's ancient stronghold, was but an orchold, for he had Ithilien also to rule.
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"But now," Aragorn spoke, "news from our friends from the High Pass has given us thought anew. The Witch-King's arm grows long. I had heard that the Hill-men were again being corrupted as in millenia past; but their king had been a friend to me, and to the Lord Elrond, though of lesser stock. He disappeared, but from Lord Elrond I hear of a discovery made by our dwarven friends."

At this Elrond cast a medallion upon the table.
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"A relic of Rhudaur, once worn by the princes of that realm, taken from the body of a man found dead by Burin and his companions only outside the Hidden Valley. A new king sits in the wild hills, and he serves Angmar. The fate of Balodis was unknown to us till today. The Enemy is gathering his forces in the north, and grows bold to leave his mark so close."
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He spoke long of his own realm; the sparse strength of the Rangers of the North. They had fortified much of the wild against any assault from the North, hoping to shield Bree, the Shire and the Havens, but if assault came, they had little hope in truth.

It was then that Balin spoke.
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"Durin's Folk at least can bring some good tidings. Though news of it doubtless did not reach far south, there was war but some winters past in the north between Gundabad and the Northmen. The Men of Dale and the Beornings managed to repel the orcish invasion, and we too had our wars to fight; the High Pass we cleared of goblins, and hope to make safe for all travellers. But darker questions remain. We know not of the fate of Balin, my own father; nor Ori and Oin and others of noble stock who accompanied him to reclaim Moria. No word of him we have heard in decades, and the East Gate we found closed to us."

Burin turned then to Gloin, who spoke almost in a hushed voice.
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"Then about a year ago a messenger came to King Dáin in Erebor, but not from Moria — from Mordor: a horseman in the night, who called Dáin to his gate. The Lord Sauron the Great, so he said, wished for our friendship. Rings he would give for it, such as he gave of old. And he asked urgently concerning hobbits, of what kind they were, and where they dwelt. “For Sauron knows,” said he, “that one of these was known to you on a time.”

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‘At this we were greatly troubled, and we gave no answer. And then his fell voice was lowered, and he would have sweetened it if he could. “As a small token only of your friendship Sauron asks this,” he said: “that you should find this thief,” such was his word, “and get from him, willing or no, a little ring, the least of rings, that once he stole. It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies, and an earnest of your good will. Find it, and three rings that the Dwarf sires possessed of old shall be returned to you, and the realm of Moria shall be yours for ever. Find only news of the thief, whether he still lives and where, and you shall have great reward and lasting friendship from the Lord. Refuse, and things will not seem so well. Do you refuse?”
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‘At that his breath came like the hiss of snakes, and all who stood by shuddered, but Dáin said: “I say neither yea nor nay. I must consider this message and what it means under its fair cloak.”[/i]

"It is likely," Burin continued, "that this messenger was one of the Nine. What his purpose in hunting Bilbo was we cannot guess; nor do we know of this ring he possesses. But he must be warned. And... that he would speak as if our rings of old were in his possession troubles us.

For - and I do not tell this lightly to those not our kin - it's reclamation was a part of that which Balin hoped to achieve in Moria. I must ask if any know of my sire's fate. Beyond our kin only Gandalf knew more of the fate of Durin's Ring - and now we hear he too has fallen into shadow."


"That," a voice from the doorway spoke, "is not entirely true, Burin son of Balin."
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