Let me tell you a tale of The Comeback Kid.

First, I apologize for the lack of story-relevant visuals. I never remember to take screenshots, and considering how this scenario played out, I wasn’t anticipating it being anything other than a complete disaster. So close your eyes, keep reading, and envision this scenario for yourself.

I had fired up a new game of Crusader Kings III and decided that I would re-start the tutorial game in Ireland, but without the hints. That meant taking on the role of Murchad I mac Donnchad, Petty King of Munster. I kind of knew the “flow” of how this situation in this location would pan out, and during this period, this start was labeled as “Easy” on the game selection screen.

For the most part, everything was going swimmingly. I “owned” Thomond, and had claims on Desmond and Ormond because they are counties of Munster. I was easily able to roll in and push some vassals around until I was able to unite these counties officially under my banner. I then went and took Connacht and added that to the contiguous Dutchy, and somehow managed to score Ailech to the north. All of this was in service of filling the coffers, earning Prestige, and adding to my Court so should I need bodies to fill positions on the Council or something, I’d have a nice, workable network to draw from.

During this time I was also looking for ways to marry off family members to other folks of importance in the area. Some of these were within Ireland, but some were across the Irish Sea in Wales, and some further north in Scotland. Almost immediately I was getting called in to fight as an ally in my extended family’s wars, but it was OK since everything was going well at home.

Until it wasn’t.

After reloading a save game (because I had been AFK), I jumped across the channel to help a brother (in law) out, when the shit hit the fan. I sent my armies the wrong way which put them in the path of a vastly superior force. My army was completely decimated, my primary heir killed, and Murchad I was captured. After a few months, he was released, but his time in battle was not kind, and he died shortly after.

All hell broke loose as his surviving grandson, Murchad II mac Brian, only five years old, was now the Petty King. Murchad II didn’t have much going for him: his Bishop hated him (meaning no taxes from the Parish), he had no levies (militia to fight battles), and his granddad’s foray into Wales had brought back a bunch of marauders who were raiding our towns and kicking our treasury into the red. Oh, and everyone on the Council was dead (in the war) or died (of natural or unnatural causes).

Normally I’d say “fuck this” and restart, but the Kings of Olde didn’t have that luxury, so I decided that I wouldn’t afford it to myself either. Murchad II climbed out of the crib, put on his most commanding diaper, and went to work.

First order of business? Get terrorized by a nine-year-old who harassed the hell out of him up one side of Ireland and down the other. Literally, this bitch-in-training would not let up. As a result, Murchad II got a few long-lasting penalties against him for bot being able to stand up for himself.

Second order of business? Find that his Aunt, Cairech nic Murchad of Ormond, was raising a Faction to oppose his rule. If she drummed up enough support, she’d be leading an angry mob to Murchad II’s front gates to depose him and take over Munster.

Normally, an adult Liege would have tools at his disposal, like putting a dagger in this woman’s back while she wasn’t looking and that would be that, but CKIII doesn’t believe that kids should have access to murder. I couldn’t bridge the succession gap by marrying Murchad II into Ormond either. This is where CKIII gets confusing, because knowing how to deal with a situation like this is very important for a liege and his or her council. I did, however, have once ace up my sleeve: a change of government to open new possibilities.

There’s a four-tier setting called “crown authority” and this allows you to change how you rule over your vassals. I was already at tier 1: autonomous vassals, which I guess is one step above barbarism as it didn’t allow Murchad II to take any kind or preemptive action against bad actors within his own government. However, tier 2 — limited crown authority — did, in the form of title revocation and vassal retraction.

With this new law at my disposal, I was able to kick Earl Donnchad and his scheming wife out of Ormond, which caused the Earl to declare war on me. I called in my grandfather’s markers and brought my overseas allies in to help me out. While this was going on, the Earl sent his own forces to assault Murchad II’s holdings in Connacht. Although the Earl’s forces were four times the size of what Murchad II was able to field, the fact that the kid was battering down the door to Ormond’s HQ meant that Murchad II’s win shut down his uncle’s authority across the island.

As a result, the former Earl and his wife ended up in prison. Just to make sure no one fucked with Murchad II again, he executed the Earl and is keeping his wife in the dungeon. The only downside is that we now have the title of “kinslayer” and have gotten the cold shoulder from the Church. Still, Murchad II, now 11 years old, is a bit better off then his grandfather was in terms of land ownership, but worse off in terms of popular opinion, cash flow, and other resources. I just need him to get to 16 year old — alive — so he can marry his betrothed and have kids to continue the dynasty.

And I need to find that bully and slit her stupid throat.

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