Every Notable in the game that lets you recruit troops has Nobles on their friends list. Execute their friends and say goodbye to hiring their troops.
Picture if you will, the fledgling Empire of Calradia reborn. The story of Vasilio Rosso, bandit hunter, merchant prince, leader of men, and
I started by taking Mecalovea Castle from the Northern Empire when they were weak and down to three cities (boy did that change). I figured that would make it easy to return to Istiana as well. Didn't really think that one through considering Epicrotea was also in the hands of the Northern Empire at the time... But I digress.
With blood, sweat and tears (and a 64k gold
That proved short-lived because I quickly pinched Gersegos Castle from the Battanians (for exactly the same price as Mecalovea as it turns out), and then took Amitatys and Onica Castle from the remnants of the Western Empire (which cost mainly blood, sweat and tears because that reduced them to wandering knights-errant; and those only qualify for 21k apparently).
So what next? Well, every Empire needs to establish a succession. So, after a quick trawl through the eNcyclopedia, I found myself a woman, wooed her, tracked down her father, waited for said father to leave the army he was in, watched said army get attacked, watched said father get captured in the log at the bottom left of the screen and then traveled halfway back across the map just to negotiate his daughter's dowry. Which turned out to be somewhere between the cost of a tattered faction's honor and a strong faction's castle. And just like that, I had an Empress. To this day I still wonder what she would have cost in Sumpter Horses.
Then I fell into the grind of training up legionnaires, cataphracts, bucellarii, and hapless, rescued peasants destined to serve as
Around me the world turned. Two years passed and the cries of six children (with a seventh on the way) filled the nursery. My caravans roamed the lands bringing me gold and my war parties saved countless peasants, bringing me that sweet, sweet relationship with Notables.
My Stewardship breezed passed 200, sneering at the soft cap before nodding in recognition to the +8 Morale bonus from Food Variety. The other stats ignored my repeated glares, refusing to hit 100, even though they had so much green space to stretch. Of course, there was Charm. Sitting there. At 99. Just daring me to chase down a Noble and
In those two years much had changed politically. The once great Southern Empire, master of much of the continent, had been laid to waste when they found themselves at war on three fronts with Battania, the Khanate and the Northern Empire. In the final days of the war, even the Aserai launched an assault, returning Husn Fulq to its rightful masters.
When it was over, the Northern Empire controlled all of their original lands except Amprela, which was in the hands of the Khanate, as well as most of the lands of the Southern and Western Empire. The Khanate controlled the east, and Battania and Vlandia fought over the west. Sturgia had, according to the logs over the years, fought everybody and gained nothing.
But the lords of the steppe had not yet slaked their blood-thirst. Perhaps the Sturgians should have been readying for war rather than carelessly waging it. They had lost everything west of Omor to Battania long before I even planted my flag. So when the Horde came for them, the result was predictable. Castle after castle, city after city were washed away by the frenzied, cyan-coloured wave of the Khanate. Only Sibir remained in their hands.
Sensing victory at hand they sent their southern armies driving into the lands of the Northern Empire. Myzea, Argoron, Phyacon, Saneopa. One by one, the imperial purple fell from the ramparts to be replaced by the standards of the Khanate. Then Diathma fell.
One day the scholars will point to this moment as the moment. The turning point. The fatal mistake. Presumably the next large goal must have been Epicrotea. Presumably. Some Khuzait Elder, talking in hushed tones, must have suggested... Why not take Mecalovea Castle as well. Apparently Monchug agreed...
*** Khuzait Khanate declares war on Empire of Calradia ***
(actually, it said something like, "Rosso declares war on Khuzait", but... Early Access, nothing to see here, move along)
It was at this point that the upstart Empire of Calradia re-enters events. One clan with two mercenary clans as backup. Barely 2400 strength versus 6500. One man with a wife and a companion at his back, three companions with caravans, three companions with war parties, and one litter of kids. Versus a whole roster of Khuzait clans, bolstered by Sturgian and Empire clans that had changed allegiance (and wow, did that last bit end up being important).
What's an Emperor to do? Well, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Or in this case. One head. I won't bore you with all the details. As you can imagine, things went very badly for the Khanate. By the time he got to me he had obviously expended his best troops, so I only summoned the Army to deal with cities, and concentrated my 270 stack of tier 5/6 troops on hunting lords... And by hunting, I mean head-hunting.
Every lord that begged to be ransomed, I butchered. Every lady that spat defiance, I slew. Young, old, fair, ugly. It didn't matter. The brave and craven, male and female, all fell before my axe. Only the mercenary lords were spared. Entire clans were wiped from existence. Kuzait Elders, Sturgian Lords, and Imperial Archons alike lay headless at my feet. Entire, once-proud lineages ground to dust and consigned to history.
But even my elite army couldn't maintain the momentum forever. As the casualties mounted I would have to spend longer and longer waiting in cities to heal. I found myself constantly having to pop out and butcher another lord before he could get past me and menace the weak lands I had just captured. Every time I took to the field I did so with less troops and came back with increasing losses.
If Vasilios wasn't a haughty, imperial purist, he would stoop to hiring non-imperials (not including mercenaries, that's "fine"). But instead, I would have to head back west. It was at Agalmon, a village just north of Mecalovea Castle that I noticed something weird. The Notables troops were greyed out. All of them. A quick mouse-over showed relations with them were in the minus range. Wtf?
I thought... Maybe they got raided? Battania declared war on me for about 5 seconds before I offered Caladog 64k to go bash somebody else for fun and profit, so maybe they got a quick raid through? But I can't remember ever losing rep for being raided. Is it because I'm now -2 honour?
I put it out of my mind before stopping by the castle to switch out injured troops for fresh ones. After a few seconds of mulling it over I decided to fill my ranks up almost completely, the worrying factor not being leaving the garrison short-handed, but losing that ever important -2 food shortage to balance prosperity growth (seriously Taleworlds, un-link the keep stockpiles from the pops; soldiers commandeer supplies from starving peasants, they don't starve in solidarity).
Before heading back I decided to pop over to Gersegos, the only village I have that produces vigla and equitae. I still had 30 cataphracts on standby at Onica, but I thought it best to start in on a new generation while I had plenty of opportunities for "training". Greyed out. Again. -100 Relationship. What. The. Actual... So I right clicked on the portrait and the truth hit me like a Harpoon to the chest. It was at that point I knew exactly how all those poor, skewered bastards felt. Well, minus the pain part, I guess.
The Notables. The guys I recruit from. They have friends. Noble friends. Imperial noble friends. Imperial noble friends which the Khanate recruited. Imperial noble friends which I just decapitated by the dozen. OMG.
In a panic, I race down to my capital, Amitatys. One of the Notables there was all the way to 100 due to the accruing high-security reward. I open up the recruit troops screen and all emotion congeals into a hard floating pit and I have to keep reminding myself that this is only a game as my bowels turn to water. Grey. Almost all grey. The guy who was at 100 is now at 6. Only the gang-leaders seem untouched.
In a daze, I leave my city. I'll check on my other villages. Maybe they have Notables that weren't friends with the deceased? I spot a group of 24 Looters and figure that will lighten the mood. They offer to join.
It's at that point that I realise what has become of Vasilios. He is a man whose honour is so stained and blackened that only criminals, cowardly bandits, rescued peasants and turned prisoners will fight for him. That is the unforeseen cost of executing nobles.
AND OMG IF THAT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE AN AWESOME WAY TO PLAY MY NEXT CHARACTER!!!
I'm thinking Battanian... No, Sturgian... I'll take that castle on the peninsula and raid into the Empire... Mmm hmm.