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Thread: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Going East, XI-4

  1. #1

    Default (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Going East, XI-4


    Sandwiched between the "Holy Roman" Empire in the north, and Rome in the south, the Italians of Pisa worry about their Romanness.
    But one day Podesta discovers something, or someone, which will shake the world.
    It is time for the world to embrace spear infantry!

    After having tried Sicily (a pretty easy start) I decided to give this faction a spin. They trade "having heavy cavalry easily available" for "a great crossbow unit which is apparently a bug". So there's that. But anyhow, they have a nice flag.

    On the plus side, as an Italian faction they at least have the Urban Spear Militia and Urban Crossbow Militia, excellent units which you can probably conquer the world with. You would want some cavalry, preferably heavy but that's for later.

    Chapter List:
    Dreadbolt Part I: Polishing Pavises

    1. Podesta's Aggression
    2. I'll Be Polishing My Pavise With Your Tabard Soon
    3. After-Slaughter Aftermath
    4. A Sicilian Holiday
    5. Fool Me Twice?
    6. Breaking Sicilians
    7. Regime Change
    8. Unified Italy Secured!
    9. Death and Mechanics
    10. Epilogue - Podesta Baldassare
    11. Epilogue2 - Phase I Commentary

    Dreadbolt Part 2: The Grey Army
    1. African Adventures
    2. Romans.
    3. Greeks
    4. Peace In Our Time
    5. Three Armies
    6. Knights
    7. Bases or Homes
    8. Roman Hearts
    9. The Young and Old Fight

    Dreadbolt Part 3: The Promised Land
    1. Assaulting Romans
    2. Special Taskgroup
    3. The Black Pyramid
    4. Chivalry vs Dread
    5. No Surrender
    6. Crossbows and Topography
    7. Tough
    8. Dead and Dying
    9. Danes of Desperation
    10. Danes Won't Stop Us

    Dreadbolt Part 4: Expansion Pack
    1. Cheapshotting and Sledgehammering
    2. Frankly Just Die
    3. Frankfurt, Just Die
    4. Not A Maginot Line
    5. A Grand Plan
    6. Ideological Purity
    7. Soderino's Long March
    8. The Fall of Romans
    9. Expansion Pack

    Dreadbolt Part 5: Colorful Armies
    1. Shape of Armies to Come
    2. The Greatest General
    3. Ceasefire Too Far
    4. Peace of the Pope
    5. Wages of Death
    6. Stop Right There
    7. Many Endings
    8. The Color of Blood

    Dreadbolt Part 6: End of Days
    1. Peace In Our Borders (Only)
    2. No One Escapes
    3. As Below, So Above
    4. Dead End for Danes
    5. The Second Crusade
    6. Retirement
    7. We Don't Destroy Just Anyone
    8. No Way, Norway
    9. Rectangular World

    Dreadbolt Part 7: End of an Empire
    1. Crusading Ain't No Cruise
    2. Long Way From Egypt
    3. More Muslims - Moors!
    4. Holding Europe
    5. Club in the Dark
    6. Hungry for Land
    7. We Lose Land
    8. Amazing Africa

    Dreadbolt Part 8: No Stopping Zone
    1. Maiden of Orleans
    2. New Era, Continuing Hope
    3. Calling In Help
    4. Demographic Change
    5. Land Switching Hands
    6. England's Land
    7. We Haven't Forgotten
    8. Getting Married Means Politics

    Dreadbolt Part 9: Filling The Land
    1. A Lot of Space
    2. Not Simply Diversion
    3. Look East
    4. Unbalance of Power
    5. Scottish Brave Hearts
    6. We Want Moor Land
    7. An Aspirational Speech
    8. Bravely Charge
    9. Massive Military Expenditures

    Dreadbolt Part 10: Forward, Advance
    1. In Which Spears...
    2. Toppling Dominoes
    3. Three Generations' Retrospective
    4. We Demonstrate Faith
    5. Harsh Change in Climate
    6. Continuing
    7. A Lack of Shade
    8. Moor Progress in the East
    9. Closing an Age

    Dreadbolt Part 11: Going East
    1. But Why
    2. Long Awaited
    3. Arrival
    4. Chipping Away
    Last edited by Alavaria; November 17, 2020 at 09:54 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, 1->1

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch 1-1: Podesta's Aggression

    One nice thing about Italian starts is your starting diplomats are pretty close to Rome, thus making your early life much easier. Pope can be treated as a machine you need to feed cash into to avoid getting into Trouble.

    Except that pope is also a maniac who will siege a lightly garrisoned town bordering him, thus instantly excommunicating you. You can definitely manage the risk but uh...


    This is clearly not aggressive expansionism, these are Pisan Rebels after all. You see, this is pretty much an anti-terror mission.
    Spoiler for Assault on Casteddu

    Nothing very special, sieges are sort of like a puzzle battle, you trick the infantry in order to get gate access and then you play games in the streets to kill everyone with crossbows and stuff.

    I'd go into more detail but really who cares, it's a victory so let's take it and move on.

    Very good results, though.


    Good for garrisoning, they have the lowest cost per effective soldier (2 peasants = 1 soldier for garrison effect).

    Though in this case, I really just need to have something there to avoid the no garrison penalty.


    I don't really get how the autoresolve works besides the obvious. It can give you better results in siege assaults (sometimes) but really the biggest gain is not having to do a tedious siege assault.

    There's another benefit... autoresolve tends to spread out casualties and kills, meaning your crossbow militia can help share the losses, while your infantry get a decent number of kills (and therefore experience). It's good to autoresolve when you can.


    Doing good here and rolling up. Note that Venice took Verona (north of Bologna). It's possible because the AI had half a stack spawned for it on turn 3.

    The Pisan armies are growing though, and it's best to snap up the rebel settlements we can.


    Pope being a standard faction, attacking because someone left a town with one unit garrison. It does mean after this I can start eating Sicily without being harassed by pope.

    There's the possibility that a faction gets double-owned, ie: you have pope call a crusade on them. Conversely, if pope stabs you be careful lest suddenly now everyone else is also stabbing you.


    Um, ok. So Sicily got to me first I guess. Well this shouldn't be a problem. Note that this is Sicily's spawned stack. You can tell because Sicily can't train those Sicilo-Norman knights at this point...

    The stack should have spawned with a general, but who knows what the AI did with him.

    (PoV: Podesta)

    Having rampaged though Italy and being excommunicated along the way, Sicily reached us. We prepared for a hard fight by positioning ourselves in what would be the standard field formation for some time to come...

    The Infantry split up three ways, presenting a strong line to the enemy which had enough frontage for our missile troops behind them. Then guarding the flanks of the phalanx were the other parts of the army.

    We didn't have all the infantry we would have wanted (4+1+1), the ideal is of course somewhat like a square formation (4+3+3).

    However, the heavy bodyguard units of my heir and myself, compared to the one light cavalry unit the Sicilians had meant there was no issue. We also had missile supremacy and the bolt shooting out took down a lot of enemy horse.

    Many Sicilians attempted to run when our crossbows made the flanks and began shooting them in the side. Unsupported, this is what happens to enemy infantry. We chased them down and took them prisoner (for delicious experience).

    The knights, however, did not rout, and preferred to continue trying to stab our spearmen while being shot in the back. So be it, they are worth very little in ransom anyway. (Note: Mercs have a high recruit cost, so they ransom for a lot)

    So, the ransom didn't work out.

    So, we killed them.

    Why would you start invading if you didn't have enough cash to pay for your inevitable defeat at my hands?


    Lacking any good ways to obtain heavy cavalry, and seeing as Urban Spear Militia have problems dealing with knights such as a General's Bodyguard unit, the path was clear.

    Get more General's Bodyguards on the field by getting more generals. Selected rigorously for loyalty, of course.

    (Podesta's PoV ends)


    So the Roman wannabes took Milan before I could get there. Bah. Whatever, mass everyone up and take Genova.

    Now to think about taking on Sicily, I'd like to grab their cities and so on

    (PoV: Podesta's POV)

    By the way, according to Our Lady of mercy, Italy had become grossly overpopulated since the last time she was here. As a result, we have had to remove some of the population. Worry not though, according to her populations no longer affect recruitment at all.

    With the construction of an appropriate monument-barracks, our numbers can be maintained even if the city it is in was massacred... the soldiers are still perfectly loyal too, thanks to being trained in the "aura radius" of the monument. I don't really understand it.

    (Podesta's PoV ends)

    By the way, even though I dd a decent amount of Sicily campaign before this, I only really get a unified plan for settlements like 50-60+ turns into this campaign.

    But depopulating is good for public order, but also to get some Dread.
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:30 AM.

  3. #3
    waveman's Avatar Decanus
    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, 1->1

    Down with terrorists and such! Nice start, looking forward to seeing where this goes - and if you can keep the pope happy

    My AARs/writing: Link
    Letters for writing: ,

  4. #4
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    United Kingdom

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, 1->1

    This looks like an enjoyable campaign! It looks like Pisa's spear infantry and crossbowmen are highly successful against Pisa's enemies.

  5. #5

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, 1->1

    The funny thing is that now I am thinking about it, there are a few ways you can finagle with the AI by hurriedly sieging settlements so they can't.

    I found out that, for example, Venice has its units spawn and is scripted to siege Verona, and then on the next turn it will always assault and win. So if you first rushed over and sieged Verona... (similarly, blocking the HRE by first sieging Milan). The forces it has wouldn't be able to win an assault without this special aid.

  6. #6
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    the British Isles

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, 1->1

    This is great fun, Alavaria! I'm looking forward to the next update.

  7. #7

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, 1->2

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch 1-2: I'll Be Polishing My Pavise With Your Tabard Soon

    (PoV: Podesta)

    The Sicilians came at us again. Thankfully, the border they share with us is all the way north at Bologna (because Rome is in the way) so we know exactly where they will appear from.

    The scouts reported that this time they had brought heavy cavalry Miles and also some crossbowmen of their own. Too bad for them, they were vastly outmatched by us in terms of these capabilities.

    After an opening exchange of missile troops, the enemy was still reeling when our horse charged in and routed them (they would rally, but that's fine). The Sicilians thus tried to move up under our heavy hail of crossbow bolts.

    Once the Miles were in range, our crossbows started shooting them up. Horse are much higher priority than foot, by the way.

    Not seeing an obvious flank weakness, the Miles hurriedly charge into our spearmen on the side. And we were waiting for this, so our own horse charged into them!

    Broke horse, killed general, and then chased down the infantry as they ran. Victory!

    Since Sicily had been excommunicated, there's no need to worry. We straight up killed everyone. How Dreadful.


    But of course it wouldn't end there. Right as we were regrouping to prepare to head south towards Sicily... the Venetians invaded. How ridiculous. They must be feeling pretty sure of themselves to attack just as we finished retraining and reequipping.

    Our armory in Pisa was producing plenty of armor. Our Urban Spear militia were wearing new Brigantine armor, while the rage among Urban Crossbow Militia (more self-funded) was a fancy Scale armor.

    (Podesta PoV ends)

    Venice frequently held Pisa in scant regard, but viewed its sudden expansion under Podesta's leadership with great worry. Naimero Polani marched his men towards Bologna, being now the third major force to try and wrest it from the Pisans.

    As he eyed the Pisan line of shields, his men formed up and began to advance in order. But then suddenly crossbow bolts began screaming out from behind the Pisan lines. Naimero was shot in the eye and died instantly.

    Rushing forward to close this distance the Ventian infantry met the Pisans, and for a while were safe from the deadly bolts which continued to sail overhead shooting at their reserves or who were guarding their flanks. The Pisan force patiently began clearing the horse and any free infantry while spearmen on the front battled it out.

    Once the bolts started coming from the side though, and they realized the horse behind them were Pisan, the battle turned into a mad rush from the spears of Pisan infantry into the spears of the Pisan anti-router (cavalry) units.

    An excellent result, our losses did not prevent us from moving forward.


    (Podesta PoV)

    ____??: Change of plans, push on Verona.
    Podesta: Well, what should we do with all these prisoners?
    ____??: Well, if Venice gets them back they will run to Verona and we wouldn't want that...

    So, instead of sieging Sicily's large town to the south, instead we sieged Verona, which currently had no garrison (we had just killed them on the field!).

    But then...

    A message reached us in the siege camp from Rome. Apparently the pope demanded we cease hostilities with Venice, even though we were just sieging a city, just like they had done. And they declared war on us first...

    ____??: This is an excellent opportunity. Don't let up.
    Podesta: It will be troublesome, but I trust you have some plan for this?
    ____??: Yes. Delay any response until the assault.


    We were excommunicated. In response, we lowered taxes on most of our holdings. We carried out the assault. We won. We took control of Verona.

    The Sicilians sent a third force to siege Bologna. Honestly, I would have thought we would promptly send them to hell to keep the first two company, but Our Lady had different ideas.

    (Podesta PoV ends)


    Yes, I sent the stack west onto Venezsia itself. There's a trick here, you see there's a bridge with a tile behind it. If you stand on the bridge you can't siege Venice, but as it had no garrison, I had a few units build ladders while everyone else stood on the bridge. You'll see afterwards that Venice's stack decided not to attack my stack, and more importantly couldn't pathfind to stop the siege.

    So afterwards I had all the units join up for the assault. Since apparently taking Venice causes plague (what's up with that...) I had one unit of spearmen actually assault and everyone else just join in so they wouldn't enter the city proper. One click later and...


    (Podesta PoV)

    Venezsia fell without any real fight. With their defenders too far away to help them, the Venetians who had remained within their walls were unable to stop our army from killing them.

    Killing all of them, that is. It was a good thing too, as a plague began right as we left the walls. With so much of its fuel already dead, the plague would not be able to take a serious hold, though it would "help" us maintain order by keeping the population too sick or fearful about becoming sick to even consider an uprising.

    Truly, the city had never been so empty in a long time...

    The many canals of the Large City ran red with blood. Our Lady thoughtfully reminded us to dump the bodies into the sea rather than leave them lying about. It would certainly have been troublesome if the plague had broken out while we were trying to properly bury the three-quarters of the entire population (estimates still in progress) who perished in our purge.

    Thankfully only our one garrison unit was affected by the plague. This meant the bulk of our army was healthy and ready to revenge ourselves. Of course we weren't going to let this go!

    A certain cardinal, whom we are relatively sure was the one who had gotten the pope to excommunicate us was caught up in the purge. Someone ran him through, and his body wound up hanging from the highest belltower in the city. As we left and the plague began, no one thought to take him down.

    And this it was written that the corpse fell headlong and his bowels spilled out after it had decomposed somewhat. Gristly.

    Obviously the surviving Venetians were not appreciative, and there was a high amount of Unrest but there was no uprising. In part because we had taken away all the arms we could get, but also because a lot of the fighters were far away or already dead.

    And really, this was a turning point for them and history in general as...

    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:34 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, 1->3

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch 1-3: After-Slaughter Aftermath

    (PoV: Podesta)

    Now that Venezsia is ours, that Venetian army that was just to the west are now only Rebels. They are so shocked that their generals decided to dismount for some reason, which is an interesting choice...

    Most importantly they are blocking the road, and we can't go around them. So in order to retaliate against Sicily we must go through. It will be quite a major fight.

    I don't know what they expected of their crossbowmen. Massively outnumbered and without any sort of armor or real experience, they were cut down without accomplishing much at all. We simply shot them out and then quickly routed them to end the skirmish phase of the battle.

    One good thing is that our frontline infantry are quite used now to seeing missiles flying back and forth over their heads. Never underestimate the value of steady infantry.

    The rebels only have infantry and so simply charge into our line, which holds. It is worth noting that while the enemy has a great mass of infantry, most of these soldiers are not actually doing anything, similarly for our own. Infantry fight in melee, so even if they massively outnumber us there's no threat provided we quickly gain the flanks.

    And we certainly do so. There's no enemy horse to worry about, and if their own infantry try to reposition, we're ready for that too. All part of the plan.

    Like I said, the Venetian generals decided to dismount. Furthermore, both of them decided to attack our right flank, meaning that they were right there for our crossbowmen to shoot!

    Also, as they didn't decide to take their spears with them, we can charge in with our own bodyguard unit...

    Note the 0 shield. And they are using shields too, it's odd. However, our crossbows have an attack of 7 so 10 armor is pretty decent, really.

    Also this is apaprently a unit that Norway or such use. I guess this is what a generals bodyguard turns into when their faction is killed?

    Despite a doubtlessly brave attempt to wave swords at our spearmen, in the end, the two Venetian Rebels generals were honorably lanced on the field after their guard had been properly shot up.

    And then, well the expected occurred.

    As they turned into rebel scum once Venice ceased to be an official faction, the usual applies, that is to say: "And the sword is a merciful end to them, for they should face the gallows."

    The first thing built in Venezsia was a Gallows by the way, though by this point it only adds to the backdrop of corpses floating down into the sea.

    A pretty clean sweep of what had been the Venetian army not too long ago. We are still in excellent shape, as new units are still marching out from Pisa and so on.


    (Podesta's PoV)

    My heir's first child was a daughter. When she became of age, Lucrezia also became the first Princess of our faction to take up diplomacy. Her first assignment was a major one, replacing our diplomat near Rome. The man had been bribed to join Sicily.

    His defection notwithstanding, Our Lady seemed quite happy to have this 17-year old girl represent our entire faction to negotiate with the pope. But she probably had something in mind... I hope.

    (Podesta's PoV ends)

    (Innocentius' PoV)

    Innocentius II was not amused when the Pisan diplomat suddenly switched from pink to white-grey one day. From one excommunicated faction to another... However, what really left him unamused was when Pisa sent some girl as the replacement. They clearly weren't taking this seriously!

    Lucrezia made a graceful entry along with two assistants carrying a large chest.

    __Lucrezia: I am only here as a messenger. Please accept this letter and chest from my lord Podesta in Pisa.
    Innocentius: I see. Wait for me to prepare a reply to your lord.
    __Lucrezia: Of course.

    The letter was opened by one of the servants (but not read, of course) and brought up to the papal seat.

    The contents read something like this:

    "Please accept these as a gift for the reconciliation of the Pisans who have shed quite enough blood and desire only to revenge ourselves against the Sicilians who have caused yourself some worry.
    Look around you and see that if necessary there is more gold at hand nearby should you demand more of Our Lady."

    Having dismissed everyone and brought the chest up to his quarters to open it privately, he found there gold and various items which he had last seen in the cathedral in Venice. Without a doubt the other articles and coin had been brought to him fresh from the sack of the city. He could almost see the blood of the previous owners on some of them.

    Angrily grabbing the letter he noticed another smaller bit at the end...

    (Innocentius' PoV ends)

    It wasn't even that much cash to get reconciliation. Also I was sort of amused to see Sicily actually siege (but not take) Rome.

    This was not really the best decision. A crusade was called soon afterwards, but as Sicily was also excommunicated they couldn't have taken advantage of it (not that the AI is that clever, either).

    The easiest way to handle the pope (I find later) is a clean wipe so that you only have to deal with this him once. Take Rome and wipe out anything else he has. This way any new pope spawns by himself in the Rome region. It turns out a new pope with no soldiers but his bodyguard is super easy to assassinate. This is because as a high piety cardinal, he's hard to kill but as a faction leader he will start with no command, chivalry/dead, and very little authority.

    You can actually get reconciliation by just assassinating over and over until a new pope decides to give it to you when he takes office. And if you really want to be horrible, just keep on assassinating popes to clear out the whole college of cardinals until you're stuck with no option but your own cardinal for pope...


    Marching down, we retook Bologna with about as much fight as the Sicilians had to take it (so basically: none).


    Instead of actually fighting the Sicilians who were nearby we just raced south and took Ancona. As Our Lady predicted, they followed but did not dare to attack us, and we took that one easily as well.


    We're actually going to just "roll through Italy" as she said. Amazing!
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:39 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, 1->4

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch 1-4: A Sicilian Holiday

    Throwing money at the pope is a good idea, but in this case isn't really necessary as we're fighting Sicilians who are excommunicated. Though I think Exterminating settlements with high Catholic percentages still makes him unhappy, he won't actually excommunicate you for it, I think.

    Most important, neither will you get that mission of "stop fighting or else".



    The Sicilians do not dare to attack us. Perhaps they learned their lesson on the fields of battle. However, their cities cannot run away.

    So we continue to take territory while the pope watches smugly from Rome with all the gold we gave him.


    Spoiler for Northern Defense

    One of the cavalry commanders has been assigned to fend off any smaller Sicilian attacks, but really it is a small job. Their main army is just following us as we take land, and each city gained by us forces them to pull back south a little bit more.


    At this point the Podesta is rather old, and someone else will have to take up the mantle.


    Spoiler for Northern Rebels



    The Sicilians tried to block our path to the east side of Italy, where their last military center Bari was humming with the training of new soldiers. And thus we took a trip by sea, landed on the south tip of Italy and took the city there instead.

    And now we're just another short sea journey to Palermu on Sicily itself. Perhaps soon the Sicilians will not be able to enjoy the comforts of their own homes.
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:42 AM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-5

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch I-5: Fool Me Twice?

    (Podesta PoV)

    On the picturesque beaches of northern Sicily, I was listening to a report from Italy. Its sobering content was stronger than the wine I had in mind. The Papal States had sieged Ancona again, except now it was our territory (also with a one-unit "delay" garrison). That means we had just rejoined the Sicilians in the excommunicate club.

    Our Lady is shaking her head while holding it in both hands. It would be cute if I had somehow forgotten that she had just led us on an the First Exterminatus Italian Tour.

    Podesta: Since we're about to defeat the Sicilians is it just a question of more gold? There's plenty of it.

    Indeed, the treasures of Napoli and Reggio de Calabria had been loaded on ships and sent up to Pisa, where it was being distributed as needed to fuel our recruitment and construction efforts. It was fair to say that northern Italy was seeing a major economic boom. For the survivors, that is.


    I think she was in a bad mood because a lot of gold had been instantly wasted. The moment that siege & accompanying excommunication occurred all our "pope points" (as she calls them) disappeared. Points paid for in bloody gold.

    ____Aa: No, I've had it with him. This time it's regime change.
    Podesta: Well this means there's no chance of going on the crusade now.**
    ____Aa: That's actually a good point, I had been thinking of redirecting some crusaders but no worry.
    Podesta: It's a bit late for that since the Sicilians are just about broken, though?
    ____Aa: Not actually going on the crusade***, though that wouldn't work for you as it is too Chivalrous.
    Podesta: I honorably murdered my way through Italy.

    **(The crusade was called by the AI about turn 20)

    ***(FYI, and I hadn't through of this, if you start crusading and hire troops just before the crusade ends, you get to keep them. They then function as normal heavy spearmen, very similar statwise to the Mercenary Spearmen except you can't retrain them, of course. If you hurriedly grab all useful the crusader units from the Northern/Central/Southern Italy pools it will jump your strength up. They are also very affordable upkeep wise.)


    Podesta: Should we return north? The Papal States does maintain a military appropriate of a City...
    ____Aa: I'm not worried about that, but rather the Sicilian forces.
    Podesta: Are we finally going to take them on in the field?
    ____Aa: It will be necessary, but delaying that as long as possible is good.
    Podesta: They have shorter supply lines than we do, but our reinforcements can sweep them away once massed and join us.

    (Podesta's PoV ends)

    Look at that small number of casualties and kills. This battle is the shape of ones to come. The enemy comes up, we focus on the general (and horse, but there's none here) and then start sweeping everyone aside once a rout begins.

    It's wonderful what getting Dread on your general can do for these battles. Anyway that pretty much sealed the deal for Sicily.


    And having done that we can still carry out the assault, via autoresolve of course. Gotta save my sanity.

    Our nice big stack takes the settlement with no issue.

    (Podesta PoV)

    And thus we entered Palermu, the capital city of the Sicilians. It a huge city, flowing with blood and tears. As a very productive city, it would not pay taxes and trade revenue to us! Though many of the men hoped that this would mark an end to the Sicilian fight, I had my doubts.

    Not just because the Sicilians were unlikely to give up, but after all, we had to take all of Italy, not just leave them something as militarily important as a castle.


    Rumor had it that the Sicilians had been planning a reconciliation with the Circle. Their concern (as was ours before... and is again) is that a crusading army might pass through Italy and lay waste to one or both of us.

    Well, Our Lady seemed to think the danger was not so great as to hurry her own plan along. As part of that, we would probably need to prepare a golden gift and reconcile if crusaders do seem to be getting close.


    Our Urban Crossbow Militia are largely self-funded. Set apart from the infantry who did the melee fighting in tight formations, the crossbowmen could show off their expensively decorated Scale armor. Fancy helmets and bright tabards were quite common among those who could afford them. It wasn't long before someone realized the potential of our infantry shields.

    While useful in melee and against missile attack, an even larger one could be used to protect a crossbowman. Obviously this would require its own carrier. And that large shield could be decorated and shown off due to its sheer size and the expense of having a second or even third person along (to carry the shield, and to help winch the crossbow).

    (Podesta's PoV ends)

    ... look, this unit is bugged, it isn't supposed to be here, but let's roll with it, ok?


    Rather than continue to watch us knock over cities, the Sicilians regrouped at Bari and then began a two-pronged counteroffensive to retake the two south Italian cities. We immediately boarded a fleet and sailed for Napoli before it could fall.

    Caught by surprise, the Sicilians had to fight despite being outnumbered.

    It was a massacre, really. Splitting up their forces was precisely what the Sicilians should not have done, seeing that even with equal numbers it would be a hard fight for them.

    Their clever plan turned into a simple throwing away of men into our swords.

    And now Rome waits for a trial by combat...
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:44 AM.

  11. #11
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-5

    I like the combination of different points of view, and the bits of explanation (those are helpful for me, if not for anyone else!) The description of Our Lady with her head in her hands - and the First Exterminatus Italian Tour - made me smile.

  12. #12

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-5

    The funny thing is that I hadn't actually figured out some of the useful mechanics until later in the campaign.

  13. #13

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-6

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch I-6: Breaking Sicilians

    (Podesta's PoV)

    After raising our flag over Napoli, we left a delay garrison and turned west to Bari. If that seems like an odd strategy, our northern reinforcements were formed into a small army which would "deal with" the pope's military (whatever that means). Since Our Lady seems sure this will work out. I just want to finish off the Sicilians before the Romans decide to attack.

    So, Bari. Without it the Sicilians would not be able to bolster their numbers. But more importantly after Bari, the Sicilians would be isolated in Reggio. If all went well we would either destroy them outright, or if it came to a siege then our reinforcements would join up with us to apply maximum numbers.

    Although Bari had an elite garrison, they lacked the expected numbers. Our delay garrison in Reggio must have drawn away enough Sicilians, and our return being too fast for them, such that we didn't even have to retake Napoli. A report from our spies confirmed that the Sicilians were racing north to Bari but they would not be able to make it in time if we pressed the assault.

    The enemy were only able to send some mounted reinforcements to help. Our army positioned ourselves in a very clever tactical way and those horsemen "entered the battlemap" right into our spears. I don't really get it, but we had our own horse near the gates waiting for them to try and outrun the spearmen there (but only caught a few routers).

    After that we gained the castle walls and our infantry marched through the roads. There was minimal resistance, as the enemy had actually decided to make a last stand in the open square outside the keep. Unfortunately for them, there were various buildings around which had line-of-sight to their formation.

    We began to send crossbow bolts into their ranks, prompting a general "sally". But the narrow roads to the square now aided us, rather than them.

    Crossbowmen in vantage points were carefully trying to snipe enemy officers, while the majority down on the ground were sending bolts thickly into the enemy. In particular, at such close ranges, the bolts are flying nearly parallel to the ground. This means that the legs are in great danger of being hit, especially because soldiers tend to raise their shield and these ones are narrower at the bottom as well.

    The Sicilians could not maintain any cohesion as people were dropping in the front. If they had advanced even further, more crossbowmen were waiting around the corner of a building to double our missile number.

    The sound of bolts being loosed from crossbows drowned out the screams of Sicilians who had fallen the ground and were being repeatedly hit by bolts aimed at those still standing a little further back. However, those who were positioned on the building windows up above could hear it all too clearly, while also getting a clear view of the carnage while searching for high value targets.

    Unlike a stand-up melee battle, there were no real pauses, as our crossbowmen would shoot, prepare their crossbow and then just wait for another target. And we had plenty of crossbowmen and bolts, so they rotated around and kept up the pressure.

    Some of the Sicilians tried to pull their fallen allies out of the street, but our crossbowmen shot them as well. It was a relief when the enemy general finally rode out (while being shot at as well, of course) and we engaged them in a melee.

    Which didn't last long. By the way, horses really don't take well to being shot in the leg. And actually our spearmen came running out of the alleys and buildings to join the fight, making it a severely one-sided engagement.

    The defense didn't accomplish nearly as much as they had hoped to, I'll bet.


    After the fall of Bari, we prepared to march south to retake Reggio, but then the scouts reported that a large Sicilian army was marching northwards from there, along the same road we were marching south on! As usual, Our Lady didn't seem surprised, but instead pointed out a useful point to intercept the Sicilians.

    We were still relatively well rested and prepared so we immediately marched in good order south from Bari and stopped at the edge of a plateau which the road ran up to. And we had time to wait.

    As the Sicilians continued marching, we suddenly popped up above them on the road, which they must have found quite dismaying. It's not clear if they were aware that Bari had already fallen, but regardless they were not expecting us.

    However, we didn't stop there, as crossbow bolts began raining down on them from our vantage point. Without a good way to retreat, they vainly tried to regroup while we were leisurely shooting at them (and our spearmen were getting into their ranks).

    They didn't have a good choice, despite their admittedly greater numbers. We prioritized their horse and their crossbowmen, allowing the Sicilian infantry to advance in a dense shielded formation. It never had a chance to succeed when it reached us, though.

    They must have known that surrendering was pointless, as we weren't likely to let them return to Reggio under any circumstances. But in the end, it was dying to crossbow bolts or dying to knightly swords.

    They chose the swords.

    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:47 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-7

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch I-7: Regime Change

    (Albertino's PoV)

    Pisa had sent me a series of sealed secret orders...
    • I announced to the men that we were to "defend our territorial integrity"
    • We then (see above) cleared up some bandits
    • And then repelled some Sicilians
    • When the news of the Papal States sieging Ancona arrived, we sent them running
    • And then we marched south into Lazio to discourage any further attempts
    • And we marched even further south
    • And now, well...

    "This is certainly not what I signed up for." I probably wasn't the first one to think this while looking at the Large Stone Wall of Roma, which were similar to that which surrounded Venezsia. Still, the defenses of Roma were impressive to watch from outside, with the Papal States having called out its full army and militia to defend the city. As far as grandstanding provocations, marching a sizeable force in arms right up to Holy Rome was definitely not what I was expecting.

    _____Aa: Ah, there you are, my little general. You shouldn't stand within crossbow range of the walls.
    Albertino: Hmm? What, who? What are you doing here? There shouldn't be any children in the camp.

    When I looked around for the source of the unexpected voice, it took me a while to find the girl standing to my side. Which was where I had first looked (always immediately check your immediate sides and rear when taken by surprise). I'm pretty damn sure she hadn't been standing anywhere near me just a moment ago. For some reason, the guards who should be around didn't react at all.

    _____Aa: Stop gawking and pull out that last envelope you have.
    Albertino: How did you know about those?
    _____Aa: Just read it.

    The curiously timely secret orders, I kept them on myself at all times as ordered. There was one more left which I was supposed to read "you'll be told when." At this point according to the previous order we were encamped outside of Rome. I suppose to the defenders it looks like a fortified siege camp.

    "By the time you read this you should have met Our Lady. Try not to cause trouble for Pisa with her.
    P.S. Ok, you can stop reading as I will tell you the rest right now.

    Albertino: Hmm, I see. He could've warned me beforehand.
    _____Aa: Well, who knows. Anyway please prepare your men to assault the walls now.
    Albertino: Are you really fine with that?
    _____Aa: Yeah, separation of the Circle of the Savior and the Papal States, you know? Get it done.
    Albertino: How should I convince the men to agree to that?
    _____Aa: Oh, you don't have to, just give the order.
    Albertino: Very well then... oh where did she go?

    Indeed, like she said, the men didn't seem overly worried at the thought of taking the walls of Rome. I told them "Kill them. Our Lady knows her own." The city was taken in an amazingly short time, even given our strength. It was actually a little worrying...

    As I walked into the (only slightly damaged) central basicilia of Roma, I was surprised to see that though my men had been ordered not to enter it, there were nevertheless dead papal guards everywhere. The ones my bodyguard inspected all seemed to have died from a single sword-thrust though the heart. While pondering this, we walked towards the central chamber, not stopping for the large doors which had apparently been smashed to pieces. Besides myself and those who came with me, there were only two other people (but a lot of dead guards)

    Albertino: What the hell happened here?
    _____Aa: Ah there you are little one, I was waiting for you.
    Albertino: For me, for what?

    Our Lady was sitting on the pope's throne from which he held audiences. She had a really large scabbarded sword with her, the point was on the ground between her feet and the blade, resting between her legs, came up to where the guard which was about the level of her chest. She was tapping the side of the pommel impatiently.

    The throne's usual occupant was standing next to her looking very upset in his vestments, to say the least.

    Innocentius: I thought your Podesta might have the decency to come in person but no... and who are you his dog?
    __Albertino: What is all this about?
    Innocentius: You do know what exactly your lord did, do you not?
    __Albertino: No?
    Innocentius: He summoned the De---!

    He was abruptly silenced as a long thin point suddenly exploded from his chest. A glance to the side showed that the girl behind him had thrust another sword (she still had that first one) though the pope. As she withdrew the blade, he slumped onto the ground. The weapon disappeared somewhere. It took me a while to notice that he was actually still alive.

    _____Aa: Oh my, I must have missed.
    Albertino: Uh, I see?
    _____Aa: Are you going to finish him off or just watch him bleed out?
    Albertino: Er, well...

    The city was quite thoroughly sacked, and would take decades to recover, slowed as the process was by heavy urban population control measures. Though there was no lack of ability to raise urban militias and the like. Somehow.

    It was said that the soldiers from Roma were particularly fanatical in their following of... well, that's a story for another time.

    The Circle was not removed from the city, and in fact not long after papal elections took place. However, in a surprising turn of events the new pope would take up residence in a humble monastery outside the walls of Roma.
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:48 AM.

  15. #15
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-7

    An entertaining AAR! Pisa seems to be expanding successfully (and ruthlessly), I wonder how the neighbouring states will react.

  16. #16

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-8

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch I-8: Unified Italy Secured!

    (Podesta's PoV)

    ____Aa: Is everything ready?
    Podesta: Yes, we were just waiting for your command to assault the walls.

    The First Army had sat down in front of Reggio to build ladders and rams, in preparation for this assault on the Sicilians' last bolt-hole. It had been an oddly leisurely couple of weeks, the sound of hammering interspersed with that of crossbows shooting at the occasional exposed defender. The men were chatting about their post-war plans while maintaining their arms and armor.

    ____Aa: This is the plan, early tomorrow morning you are to call in your officers and have them muster the men.
    Podesta: I see, yes. No need to delay.
    ____Aa: No, that's not it. Call them to arms again the next morning. And then on the day after. On that last day you will carry out the assault.
    Podesta: That sounds straightforward enough.

    The next time I saw her was after the city had fallen to us. I offered her some wine, an interesting mix of Pisan and Sicilian (from Palermu), but she didn't seem interested this time. Honestly, I'm rather old and I guess it's about time to think of future legacies. Huh?

    ____Aa: This one, have someone find and run him through. Discreetly.
    Podesta: That sounds straightforward enough...

    It was the Sicilian cardinal who had negotiated that reconciliation after the fall of Palermu.

    Podesta: You know, you really should stay for a drink some time.
    ____Aa: I'm trying to set up something, so later.
    Podesta: Though my son is quite an excellent conversationalist, I did teach him nearly everything he knows.
    ____Aa: Now, what's this about?
    Podesta: I don't think I'll be around for your plan...
    ____Aa: Ah, don't fret about that, we have some excellent water and wine on the other side.
    Podesta: Haha, I see.


    Diplomatic negotiations began with the new pope. In return for more blood money taken from the Sicilians, we regained perfect relations and reconciliation. The odd thing is that, as Our Lady mentioned, it only seemed to matter to the civilians in our cities. The soldiers didn't seem particularly overjoyed at this news.

    She must know something.

    This basically set the tone of future relations with the Circle. Having taken control of Roma as part of our complete Italian Unity Government, Our Lady emphasized that it would be very "troublesome" to deal with future excommunication episodes. Emphasized to my son that is.

    Essentially though, this mostly meant preparing plenty of gold and complying with ceasefire demands if they were backed by excommunication threats. Nothing too complicated. But what would the pope use all the gold on?

    The Pisan princesses essentially would continue to be the leading figures in important diplomatic matters. After asking a bit, I found out that the reason was because Our Lady was able to to use them somehow to... something. It's really confusing and I didn't get it.

    When I said so, she just shrugged and said it was a sort of enforced specialization between "General-Class" and "Princess-class" which wasn't surprising to her. It was to me though, after all a diplomat can come to me and we can have a negotiation.

    Any way, our standing sailed up into the heavens on a sea of bloody gold. I'd be cynical but somehow I think it's fine. As popes have never been known to demand a faction give up territories, or even to prevent them from defending them from a sieging army.

    We regained our alliance with the Papal States, as well. The Papal States would never take another ally and would not betray us again. She was pretty confident of that, which is pretty easy as they now have no settlements.

    Ok, so the princesses being our critical diplomats makes sense as they cannot be bribed by our enemies. However, the main question I have is...

    Why does their interest (or lack thereof) in having children** help when paying the pope gold to overlook massacres? What is going on here?

    (Podesta's PoV ends)

    ** FYI, storywise (in case I forget) they're actually supposedly married. But in-game children mechanics would mean actually doing it will mess up the family tree which is annoying.


    In the end, Albertino did not really take to the field any more. First he was governor of Roma, but then afterwards he took up governing another city which we will see soon...

    And that's what he did up to and through his retirement.


    This one actually went mad later on, becoming Giuliano the Mad. He spent the rest of his life building watchtowers for me and never gave me any trouble. He eventually died of old age while out building towers.

    Being attacked by himself while building towers gave me the first "Battle Lost" which is hilarious.
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:51 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-9

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch I-9: Death and Mechanics

    And with that, the first Podesta of the Greater Pisa died of old age. This brought an end to the open stages of what would be a grand Pisan history.

    One point of note is that using a ton of spies and assassins give your faction leader +Dread ancillaries and traits. So it's pretty much set that any FLs will be max dread characters. Also, from the next one and so on, they will pretty much become FL already equipped with a ton of +Dread and +Authority. Also, Piety just tanks because of how much they constantly kill people of their "own religion".

    The eldest son Soderino takes on the role of General-in-Chief of the forces of Pisa in the Unified Italy. Following from the previous example of the battle for Italy, we would see... well we will see what happens next.

    It's "multiple armies" by the way.


    (Soderino's PoV)

    With Unification came a great deal of productive growth, and not only military but also civil. Infrastructure in particular, for sea- and land-based transport was a priority as well as other things where gold could be well spent.

    Not that I really handled this, by the way. However, I do know that some sort of standardized "path of development" is being used to ensure that the various cities under Pisan governors will not neglect anything critical.

    [i](I think this ranking is based on the "Production" rankings. Which don't really mean much, I think it has to do with how much cash you have in building & training queues or something.)


    Most ominous was the establishment of an "guild" dedicated to the art of Targeted Killing in Venezsia. In time this would grow to become the headquarters of a wide-spanning network of assassins and saboteurs (they can do both).

    But for now they trained by killing bandit leaders and so on.

    (I found out in SSHIP that you get a +1/+2 from a Master/HQ in kingdom and a +1 from training in a basic guild, and only a basic guild. So to max the bonuses have a HQ and then train assassins in another settlement with a basic guild.
    And the fastest way to get them up to snuff is to stab people a lot. You can get up to +5 from a trait, and many ancillaries and a special trait are randomly obtained from killing people.
    You can add another +3 from sabotaging. Put together you can get 15+ effective Subterfuge and it does count when you're assassinating harder targets.

    I try to keep to the maximum 90% chance to kill, except for training on rebel captains, obviously.)

    "Who, or what, shall I dispose of?"
    "Do you want them to suffer?"
    "Do you want it to look like an accident?"
    "The problem, what is their name?"


    This is my younger sister (you already saw my older sister, who is the primary diplomat with the pope). I don't really get it, but it seems that people outside of Pisa find her to be very ugly. I remember asking Our Lady about it, and she mentioned that it was a "resonance effect" which makes her very effective but (apparently) somewhat repulsive to people who do not follow her.

    Well, it would be fine if she had just said it was a diplomacy thing, though (because Martinella is extremely Charming still).
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:53 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-Ep

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch I-Ep: Epilogue - Podesta Baldassare

    If you think this guy has a lot of traits, wait until you see the next FL to follow him. But as you see a life of enforcing Very High tax rates, Executing captured prisoners and Exterminating conquered settlements.


    (Podesta's PoV)

    After sending off my eldest daughter to deal with the pope on Our Lady's orders, I spoke with my youngest daughter (who will come of age soon) and listened as my two sons updated me on the state of Italy, newly unified under Pisan leadership.

    It was about then that I heard something, like the sound of soft chimes carried on a breeze. I asked my sons to step out of the room for a few minutes - they immediately understood. Bright kids.


    ____Aa: So, is everything good?
    Podesta: Italy is a settled question. Where are you?

    I turn towards the window, but she isn't there. However, when I look back towards the door, she's sitting on one of the chairs my sons had been using just before leaving. Well, I am quite used to her just randomly appearing, so it isn't particularly unsettling. By now.

    ____Aa: I think you know where you're at now.
    Podesta: I do, though somehow my body seems to have only just caught up with me. Your doing?
    ____Aa: Not consciously if so. Reaching 70 isn't bad since I think Old Age begins at 55.
    Podesta: After that last battle, I think this is probably my limit. I'm glad my sons can tend a unified Italy.
    ____Aa: Well, this is only the beginning for Pisa.
    Podesta: Well I'll take your word for it. I'm glad we met...

    With that I gave in to the heaviness and...

    (Podesta's PoV ends)


    (Soderino's PoV)

    From just outside the door (I wasn't eavesdropping on purpose) I could barely hear my father talking to someone. Presumably it was Our Lady (and the reason why he asked us to leave suddenly) but I couldn't hear any of the responses. Certainly it isn't that he's lost any of his mental sharpness.

    I step back to avoid being hit as the door swings open silently (I was standing at the hinge side, rather than the handle side). My yougner brother immediately gets to his feet. After a moment, Our Lady leans around the edge of the door and looks at me.

    _____Aa: There you are.
    Soderino: Father... the Podesta, is he-?
    _____Aa: Did your father detail to you the agreement between the two of us?
    Soderino: Yes.
    _____Aa: Very well. As the new Podesta you are empowered to coordinate all the military aspects of Greater Pisa. Please work together with the civic arm to attain future victory. Also...
    Soderino: I'm listening.
    _____Aa: With respect to the military, you only answer to me. Which means I expect you or a designated officer to report in on each front regularly. That's all.

    With that she walked back into the room, leaving the door open. When I mustered the courage to look in, there was only my father there. My late father.

    (Soderino's PoV ends)


    (Podesta's PoV)
    After a moment the pressure lifted and I opened my eyes to see Our Lady standing over where I was lying. But this was a different room!

    Podesta: Hmm, did you manage to do something after all?
    ____Aa: No, you definitely died. It's just that you're alive again.
    Podesta: You... actually brought me back?
    ____Aa: Tsk, such a lack of faith.

    She doesn't look upset though, actually she seems rather upbeat.

    ____Aa: Well, you passed the final test of your mortal existence. Welcome to the True Kingdom.
    ____Aa: There's some important people who will want to meet you, and vice versa.
    Podesta: I haven't even had time to learn the etiquette of your court...
    ____Aa Oh they'll be important to you. They're important on their own virtues as well, of course. But they will be under your command."
    Podesta: Give me a moment and I'll be ready.

    She left with a satisfied nod. Getting up, I dressed myself in the simple clothes that had been laid out before stepping outside into the wide corridor where she was waiting for me.

    She turned around and cheerfully said:
    ____Aa: You're a citizen of the Flower Kingdom now. Enjoy eternity, Baldassare.
    Podesta: You chose a damn girly name for it.
    ____Aa: You need a new name yourself. For a new life...
    Podesta: Ah, I... uh, well that sounds like a momentous decision.
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 12:54 AM.

  19. #19

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-Ep2

    Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises
    Ch I-Ep2: Phase I Commentary

    The video below is the map (with fog of war off) for the first 30 turns, which covers Phase I: Polishing Pavises.

    A few comments...
    • Pope: Ideally this starting position allows you to only need to eat one excommunication, and you might as well eat it early on. Being able to take Roma, as well as destroy all Papal States military (so Popes will spawn by themselves making them easy to "remove". After that just spend cash constantly. Later on (if I don't bring it up), the pope tended to call a lot of ceasefires with "your standing will suffer" rather than "you will be excommunicated".
    • Rebels: The game lets major factions (including the player) rather safely autoresolve rebel armies to death, which is useful when they are in the cities.
    • Autoresolving: This is useful as a way mainly to get your infantry units plenty of kills. It also kills a number of them (of course) but that's fine. Make more units if you need men right now, but try to keep retraining experienced units and using them to refill depleted ones. It helps a bit.
    • Experience: Infantry have the hardest time levelling up, but missile units and cavalry can frequently level up on the battlefield. In particular getting routers to level your horse to 9 XP can be useful.
    • Cavalry options: Italy doesn't have a ton of castles, and Pisa can recruit (in Cities) either Mounted Sergeants or, with a Merchant Guild, the Cavalry Militia. Later on with enough castles it's possible to mass Mailed Knights though.
    • Mercenary units: Mercenary Spearmen are very cost effective as reserves (339 upkeep). The Sergeant Spearmen unit is fairly expensive (560 upkeep) but a bit of a cut above the standard Spearmen (390 upkeep).
    • Early kill: Killing Venice early is helpful, and I managed to keep HRE from attacking until I had everything I wanted, and then... well we will see in Phase II

  20. #20
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

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    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Polishing Pavises, I-Ep2

    Great updates! I'm enjoying the impish, mysterious and unnerving character of Our Lady, the action, the dialogue and the humour. Your AAR looks like a useful source of tips on the mechanics of the campaign as well as campaign strategy. Looking forward to Phase II!

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